Monday, March 22, 2010

Shamrock 4 Miler...The women are getting faster!

I don’t run many of the GPx series races, but this Shamrock 4 Miler definitely would serve as an incentive for me to run more! The atmosphere was great! The participant numbers were massive (almost 1000!), the course allowed the runners to cheer for each other, and there was great competition for both males and females!

Going into the race, I had a great 1200m workout on Tuesday, so I was hoping that I could maintain a faster pace than I did at the Winter Flight 8k (5:47). Unsure of what the course was like, I was going on the conservative side for my race goal pace of 5:45 – 5:50 because all that I had heard about the course was bad: all downhill the first two miles, hairpin turn around and then straight back up the hill you just ran down. I would find out later that the course was not nearly as bad as I had prepared myself for (perhaps that was why??).

Unsure if there would be any women for me to run against, I was expecting to run with whichever random guy I could attach myself too. Fortunately enough for me, Friday night I received an email from Meagan Nedlo, a Queens University runner, and she asked if I would mind if she ran the race with me as a tempo for one of her 10k prep workouts. I was thrilled! Instead of emailing her back, I called her and we worked out logistics over the phone.

That morning, I warmed up with mostly Charlotte Running Club people, and learned from Meagan that Paul Mainwairing was planning to pace the two of us during the race, since he was coming back off a calf injury. I got to the starting line with four minutes to spare and I’ll make a mental note to do this more often with local races. Really, there is no need to get to the starting line 10 minutes before hand because you just end up standing around, without much room to stretch or do drills. Instead, I did all of this in a much calmer area, so I did not have to dodge runners during my strides or other pre-race drills.

At the starting line, Meagan was rocking some awesome flame tights that she informed me were really volleyball shorts. I think that all CRC women should buy the same! We jumped off the start line to some Irish jig which was very festive. In the first mile, I situated myself a safe distance from Chad Crockford, whom I know has made ample gains in his fitness. Paul, Meagan, and I settled into a nice rhythm and even enjoyed some small talk. Meagan asked me about my workout on Tuesday, and if my answer seemed short and curt to her, it was probably because I was starting to feel the effects of racing in my breathing. Paul also asked about what kind of shape I thought John was in, and I mumbled something incoherent about John’s sore calf.

I split 5:42 on the first mile – and felt bad because I had told Meagan I was hoping to run 5:45 pace in the race. At that point, I was worrying whether or not I was going to mess up her workout…We continued to press, using the next downhill to our advantage, coming through the second mile in 5:35. Right before the two mile marker, we ran a hair pin turn, so that we could see all the runners who were behind us. Surprisingly enough, there were several cheers for Meagan and me as we climbed the hill in the third mile (5:49). It was actually very motivating, so I thank all of those who did cheer for us, many of whom I probably do not know. Meagan was so surprised that she even asked me “Do you know these people?” Nope – but girl, you’re going to be a Charlotte running celebrity once you start running these races more often! ;o)

The last mile Paul pulled away from me, and I, in turn, pulled away a bit from Meagan. I knew I probably hadn’t put that much distance on her though because I could hear people cheering for both of us. Regardless, she was tempoing, and I was racing…So when she graduates and actually races, it should be really fun. Admittedly, I was almost expecting her to come blazing by me in the last 150 meters because I was definitely feeling the lactic acid buildup in my quad and glutes from all of the hills and did not feel like I move my legs as quickly as I would have liked. I crossed the finish in 22:48 – a 5:42 average for the entire race and with a 5:42 last mile.

After the finish, I congratulated Meagan, thanked Paul, and found my men to cool down with. I enjoyed a long warm down with Jordan, Bert, Thomas, Aaron, and Meagan for a bit. Since the cool down was so long, not much time was wasted between the finish and the awards ceremony, in which I got a free one hour massage!

me and my men

I would like to note that this is probably one of the fastest races for women in the Charlotte area in a while. I checked the results and compared them to previous years. This year we had two women under 23, and two women under 24. Last year, there was only one woman under 24! The reason why I bring this up is because I am excited for the race where all of Charlotte’s fastest women come out to compete against each other and use this as incentive to break some personal records.

If we put Megan Hovis, Alana Hadley, Meagan Nedlo, Danielle Walther, Kelly Fillnow, Jocelyn Sikora, Alice Rogers, Val Matena, Rebecca Thomason and me in one race, I think we would all be very impressed with the fast times that would come and with the overall camaraderie of the group. We are all teammates and ambassadors of the Charlotte running community and I would be inspired to race with such a fine group of ladies.

Overall, this race has enabled me to go into the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler with confidence. I believe that running sub 60 minutes in three weeks is something that is within my fitness range! Look out for the Charlotte Running Club men and women in three weeks on April 11 in DC - Ben Hovis, Jordan Kinley, John Compton, Chad Crockford, and Mike Beigay will comprise one team. Megan Hovis, Jocelyn Sikora, Kelly Fillnow, Danielle Walther, and me will make up the women's team! Dan and Val Matena will also be racing, but not on the team competition!

Garrett Bullock - Houston Astros Spring Training Games

The Houston Astros minor leaguers started their Spring Training games a couple days ago. For all of those who care about Garrett Bullock, he will be pitching in tomorrow's game against the Braves in Kissimmee, closing the 9th. Whoop Whoop.

Also, there is a Charlotteean who plays for the Astros too - Aaron Bray - so cheer for him too!

I frequently check out this blog because it tells me everything I need to know.

You can also filter on his name so that you can always see if they are talking about him.

Friday, March 19, 2010

A real pain in the butt

I have a real pain in the ass right now.

To elaborate....

This Tuesday, I ran a 5x1200m workout at McAlpine because we wanted to get in some quality intervals with a soft surface. I met up with my favorite running boys (Justin, Aaron, Jay, Jordan, and Will) and we all ran some good times on the back wooded loop, starting from the 3200m mark. Since Aaron is training for a marathon and I'm training for a 10 miler, Aaron was kind enough to run with me for my first 5 repeats around 4:00 min pace. This time he didn't come from behind, yelling "Choo Choo, here comes the Old Man Train!" Instead, he kept it more tame and gave me some encouraging feedback throughout the intervals, sticking next to me the entire time. It really helped on the last one, when I really wanted to get under 4:00, which we did. After that, he went on to run 3 more 1200s at a much faster pace around 3:45s. He reminded me afterwards that I would be doing similar sort of stuff this coming Fall for my own Chicago marathon training , and I tried my best not to cringe. ;o)

I cooled down with everyone else and my legs felt great. I drove home. I ate some eggs. I had spinach with olive oil and vinegar. I played virus buster on my Nintendo DS. I slept.

The next morning, I crawled out of bed at 540am to get ready to run to the Dowd YMCA...and all I could feel was my right butt cheek (aka glute). Really, it felt like the entire muscle had two baseballs lodged between all of the key muscles and ligaments that are essential for creating the running motion. I limped my way to my closet to put on my clothes, and crossed my fingers that once I laced up my shoes, it would stop hurting. Of course, the pain did not subside, and I walked out the door regardless. With that, I limped my way through the first mile, and the tightness eventually subsided so that it felt like I was just using a rusty lever to propel my legs forward.

Since with most runs, your mind tunes out any pain that you have, I didn't notice anything once I passed the four mile mark. Once I got home, however, I went into emergency recovery mode. I stretched extensively, did all of my Mark Kane physical therapy exercises and used a lacrosse ball to dig out the huge knots that had inconveniently situated themselves in my gluteus during my slumber. On my walk to work, however, I was limping slightly because it was too difficult to bring my right leg forward. I immediately made an appointment to get it rubbed out by a massage therapist that night.

Extensive icing, exercises, and self massages have seemed to solve my injury, but now I realize the importance of doing the injury prevention exercises that Mark Kane had given me a month ago. Now I know why Garrett is so diligent in performing all of his exercises...even if they decrease his chances of getting an injury by 25%, that's still better than nothing!

Charlotte Running Club Social - THIS SATURDAY!

I know that there are TONS of different races this weekend and that most of the running community is going to be out of town...but for those of you who love running (or don't care about running at all and just want to meet new people), feel free to come out to the Charlotte Running Club Social this Saturday at 7pm at Dilworth Neighborhood Grill! We'll have some yummy appetizers like spinach artichoke dip and you can buy some drinks on your own dime!

Let's have some fun and watch some NCAA Basketball too! (Wake Forest tips off against Kentucky at 815pm!)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Houston Astros Spring Training in Kissimmee, FL

This weekend I flew down to Orlando with Garrett's sister Elyse to meet their parents in Orlando, FL. On a mini vacation that revolved around Garrett, rollercoasters, and eating out, I had a fabulous time!

First I'll start with Garrett. He was definitely in his element. It was obvious that he was happy to have broken up the monotony of training alone in the offseason in Greenville NC by coming to Spring Training in Florida, where he could train with 140 other guys at various levels of the minor league system. As a side note, we should all be jealous that he gets to play his sport for his living considering that baseball is the one thing in life that he quite arguably loves as much as his family and girlfriend. ;o)

For those that do not know me, I am still struggling to learn all of the acronyms used in baseball, what all of the statistics mean, how the baseball farm system works, and the list goes on. Although Garrett and his mom have told me most of what I need to know, I will admit that I bought a book called Watching Baseball Smarter, which helped a little. Despite my attempts, I still annoy Garrett and his mom with all of my questions that they have probably already answered twice before.

Getting back on track, on the last day in Florida, Garrett's entourage of his mom Ann, dad Scott, sister Elyse, girlfriend Caitlin, Aunt Robin, and Cousin Meghan all headed to the Astros spring training complex to give us a glimpse of what the system looks like. After seeing George Bush Sr's entourage of Escalades pull into the field ahead of us, Ann knew the gatekeeper who let us into a semi-secret entrance. Since Ann and Scott had already been to the fields a couple of times before, Ann led the way and we sat quietly on some bleachers, so as to not disturb the players.

Unfortunately we did not get to see Garrett practice because his field was off limits to the public. Luckily, a couple days prior, Ann got to see Garrett throw a Live Bullpen (aka Live BP), in which Garrett struck out some guys. On this day, we did get to see other minor leaguers go through various conditioning drills so I got an idea of what Garrett does every day. Everything was very organized and the players on the five different fields all finished up around 1pm. Garrett came striding towards us, which is when I got to take stalker photos of him (see below).

Garrett running away from the Entourage
Notice here Garrett is touching his butt as he goes into the locker room

If you look past the fact that you have to stay in a hotel room for an indeterminate amount of days, weeks, months...and the fact that you have to eat out every single meal of the day, it's really quite a fabulous gig that Garrett has going on. At least he has his parents to take such good care of him when they visit. :o)

Other than watching baseball, Meghan, Elyse, Scott, Robin and I all went to Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios to ride lots of roller coasters and other 3D/4D rides on Saturday. My favorite was definitely the Hulk and then the Krustyland 4D ride. The Disasters ride in Universal was closed so that was a bummer. We also got to see the construction of the new Harry Potter park, which was sweet!
Combined with several yummy meals out to eat, I enjoyed spending time with Garrett's family members and running through the beautiful streets of Celebration, FL. Not sure when I'll be seeing Garrett again, but I'm hoping it's definitely before September. HA!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Chicago Marathon 10.10.10

Last Tuesday, practically on impulse, I signed up for the Chicago Marathon! This will mark the first time I will have ever trained for a marathon, run over 16.5 miles, and ran for over two hours in my entire life...and I'm extremely excited!

I chose Chicago for a multitude of reasons including:
1) Bank of America is the official sponsor which means I got a $50 discount.
2) Chicago = Illinois = my homestate = my parents and high school coach can come.
3) Timing - allows me to get my feet wet in a marathon as my first serious effort, and gives me ample time to run another one if need be.
4) It's somewhat flat. Although there are lots of turns, and the weather can be iffy, it's got great crowd support!!

Luckily, there is an Athlete Development Program that both Danielle Walther and I qualify for, in which we get private toilet facilities, separate start/finish tents, and private gear check! It will be pretty cool to toe up to the third largest marathon in America with a fellow Charlotte Running Club teammate alongside me. :o)

Just signing up for the marathon showed me who really cares about me, and I was very appreciative of all the feedback I've received from people over the last week.

First, I was more thankful than EVER to have parents who love running and who have run a handful of marathons in their lifetime. Upon hearing the news, my dad immediately went into planner mode as my official Chicago guru. Since he wants me to have the most comfortable, stressfree experience as possible, he immediately recommended that I stay as close to the start line as possible. Upon hearing the somewhat expensive rates, he did not bat an eye, and said, "Trust me, Caitlin, it will be worth it...." Putting complete faith in his words, I clicked to reserve the Official Headquarters Hotel for the marathon, at the Hilton Chicago...approximately .4 of a mile away from the start!

In an effort to rationale paying two hundred some odd dollars for a room, it will reduce the stress of worrying about logistics of getting to the starting line. Most importantly, the closer I am to the start, the later I get to sleep in! It will also be a mini vacation for my parents and they always deserve to be spoiled. :o)

Next, I am tremendously grateful for Mark Hadley's advice as to which marathons would be good for me and also for allowing me to consult in his coaching expertise for some marathon training plans/ideas. He believes in me and is so enthusiastic in helping me to achieve my running goals.

My high school coach, Gary Holda, has run 50 or more marathons and he also has been instrumental in figuring out what the next steps are. Of course, Garrett Bullock is offering his undying support because he knows that I'm also doing this marathon to keep myself occupied when he's off playing for the Houston Astros on a minor league team somewhere.

Of course, all my CRC buddies have been awesome...Aaron might even train for an ultra, so that he can train with me some in the fall for my long runs. :o) With the shape that Chad is in, he and I might even be able to run the marathon together!

My goal is to go into this marathon and make the most of it as I can, given all of the circumstances at the time. Afterwards, you can definitely be assured that I will be attending a show at Second City, my favorite improv comedy club ever...that I have not been to in over 10 years.

A True Appreciation for Organization

My parents first visited Charlotte in September of 2008 for a short weekend trip. Since my parents are just as passionate about running as I am, I figured they would love to participate in a road race uptown. Admittedly, I also was using this race as a way for me to make friends in Charlotte since I was having a hard time meeting people. The race we chose, the inaugural Hog Jog 5k, is in conjunction with the Blues, Brews and Barbecue Festival that occurs annually in the fall, in which the main drag uptown, Tryon Street, is closed off for the entire weekend so that people can drink beer, eat pork, and watch pigs race each other from Brevard to MLK street. An ironic race for my family to participate in, considering both my mom and dad are vegans and also raised their kids (from birth) to be vegetarians as well, the three of us still woke up, exuberant about the running tour of Charlotte we were about to embark on.

The three of us warmed up the mile to the start of the race and picked up our numbers and chips. Eventually, it was time to start, and despite having a hellashish cloud of barbecue smoke hovering over the start line, everything was perfectly organized. The gun went off at the punctual time of 730am, right on time, and we were off.

At every turn, I was directed which way to go. At every mile marker, someone screamed out my splits. At various points in the race, a professional photographer snapped an action photo. At two points, they had water stops to relieve us all of the sticky summer heat.

Horribly out of shape, I finished the race and didn't really think too much about how great of a job the race director had done to ensure that the inaugural Hog Jog would be a pleasant experience for all runners. It was my mom, after she crossed the line, who made me aware of such a feat. She immediately asserted, "WOW! I don't think I've ever run a local 5k race where they closed a lane of traffic! There were police officers everywhere directing runners! There was plenty of water! That was great!"

Keep in mind that my mom has been running for as many years (if not more) as I have been alive. Despite that, Charlotte was the first town she had seen to successfully put on a race, even though it wasn't necessarily very large. Coming to Charlotte allowed her to see that local, small-sized races could still be well-organized, flawlessly engineered to cater to every runners' needs.

While I noticed the same organization at Hog Jog that my mom raved about, I did not think much more about. Subsequently, I continued to be impressed with the organization at other local races I've participated in Charlotte (Greek Fest 5k, Hit the Brixx 10k, South Park Half Marathon, Corporate Cup 5k), but I never truly appreciated the organization that takes much time, effort, and money for a race director and volunteers to make a race successful.

After having ventured to some other small towns for races, I have seen that what Run for Your Life and other race organizers in Charlotte have done is not a small feat to go by unnoticed. Races in Charlotte tend to be, for the most part:
1) High in numbers of volunteers
2) Extremely well directed (aka - people don't get directed off course often)
3) Fairly quick in the compiling of results for the awards ceremony
4) Safe - plenty of police to block traffic or close lanes
5) Accurate with their timing systems

Just two weeks ago, several of my fellow Charlotte Running Club teammates were directed off course and could not even finish a half marathon that they had paid over $50 to run. This past weekend, several runners in a 10k race were misdirected and missed out on potential prize money and a top three spot.

People put a lot of time and effort into their training and racing. It is refreshing to know that race directors realize this and, in return, put a lot of time and effort into their race organizing.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Save the Date!

2012 Olymic Women's Marathon Trials!!!!


Houston, Texas

B Standard that I am aiming for: 2:46:00
(6:19 pace is 2:46:00)
(6:16 pace is 2:44:18)