Monday, April 26, 2010

CPCC Skyline 5k Race Recap

Like most races, I woke up naturally at 615am before the alarm even went off. I ate some oatmeal with soymilk and then got my race gear on. I was ready earlier than expected and was in the process of putting on my Charlotte Running Club t-shirt when there was a knock at the door, promptly at 655am. I knew that people were coming over around 715am, so I was slightly surprised to open the door to a smiling Meagan Nedlo and a groggy Jordan Kinley. Of course, Jordan forgot his bib at home and had to sort out how to get a new one, so Meagan and I just played with Cicero and talked on my bed until the rest of the gang got there. It was definitely a great way to spend my time before a race. I felt like Meagan was my teammate chatting me up before a race.

By 720am, Boriana, Thomas, Michelle, Matt, Jay, Lauren, Meagan, Jordan, John and myself were all ready to warm up and pick up our chips two blocks away in front of CPCC. We ran parts of the course backwards and then just made our way back to my house, where we dropped off our trainers and switched into racing flats. John and I arrived at the start with about seven minutes to spare. I did a couple of strides and settled into the front of the race pack next to Val and all the fast guys.

As a way to signal our start, a small woman barely murmured “GO” and we were off, definitely without a bang. I settled myself a safe distance from guys that I know can beat me like Will Isenhour and Stephen Spada. I wanted to keep them within sight because I work out with Will and know what kind of fitness he is in. I had run this course about 3 times the week prior, and I felt familiar with the terrain. I saw Stephen Spada right in front of me and settled into a pack with about five other men. I saw Spada pat a baby jogger on her back and then he pushed a little harder and made a wider distance between the two of us. Megan Hovis was cheering everyone on, but I don’t think she could see me tucked in with all the guys. I went through the first mile in 5:42, but it felt like a 5:35 to me. To my right, Michelle Hazelton was screaming her lungs out for me, forcing me to smile. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see she was jumping up and down like a cheerleader so that made me forget about my slower than expected mile time.

The second mile boasted a nice downhill, followed by a slight incline with a grade of about 2%, so nothing too drastic. Will was about 10m in front of me, so I felt comfortable about my placement. I went through the second mile in 5:40.

The third mile featured the most turns and the best downhill. Once I turned right onto Elizabeth, about 800m from the finish, Alejandro came up alongside me and started telling me to push it and that I was faster than him. I thought he was absolutely delusional because I could have sworn he’s beaten me in almost every race we’ve ever run against each other. He repeated “Come on, you are faster than me!” or “You can get him!” or “Go faster! It’s a downhill.” Needless to say, his encouragement allowed me to push a little more on the hill than I would have had he not been there, and helped me to run a 5:35 third mile. I definitely did not feel good doing it, and then he blazed past me with 200m to go to finish in 17:30. I finished four seconds behind in 17:34. I was happy with my race time, but was disappointed I was not under 17:30. Also, I would like to run sub-17 at some point in one of my next 5ks, so perhaps that will be the goal for Beat the Heat 5k in July in Winston Salem.

At the finish line, I found all the top guys to figure out how they ran: Jordan Kinley 1st, Dan Matena 2nd, John Compton 3rd, Ben Hovis 4th and Paul Mainwairing 5th. Tim Rhodes gave me a high five and so did Paul Mainwairing. Mike Beigay, Greg Isaacs, and Stephen Spada also had some great times! I found out after talking to John Compton and Paul that they felt a little sluggish in the muggy weather, which made me feel better about my own race. I looked to find out if Chad Crockford’s hip had survived (it did!) and saw that Alice Rogers blazed to a sub 18:10 5k to place second, five days after the Boston Marathon!

I did find Alejandro later to tell him that he was much faster than me, and he assured me that I had beaten him before (at the Shamrock Four Miler).

A big thanks to all those who came out to cheer us on and also to Run for Your Life for being patient with me as I figured out our Charlotte Running Club team. The open Mixed Team champions went to Jordan Kinley, Paul M. and me, good enough for a $50 gift certificate to Mac’s on South Boulevard. Second place went to my roommate John and Dan and Val Matena.
For all those who did not stick around for the raffle, you should have because they just chose the winners for the door prizes by looking at the visible race numbers on people in front of the stage. It was pretty awesome.

All in all, I think that this course is conducive to fast times and boasts a spectator friendly atmosphere. The post-race beverages were good because they had big bottles of gatorade.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Regeneration Vacation Bliss

After Cherry Blossom, I turned down the volume substantially in order to recuperate and prepare for the next 24 weeks of marathon training. My best practices for a down week? To ignore that incessant alarm, run in the evenings, erase workouts, and jet off to LA for a quick romp with my sister. The cherry on top? Eat fine vegan cuisine, including one scrumptious vegan red velvelt cupcake.

Who knew that running 40-50 miles in a week would practically feel like nothing? It took so much less time than running 60-70 miles a week so my body almost feels like it got new limbs! Not to mention, my mind got that much needed break from the daily grind. I enjoyed doing things that I don't typically have time to do, including finishing two books (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played with Fire, anxiously awaiting the third in the series!), watching four movies with my sister, kitty-proofing my box spring, and drinking homemade margaritas.

This week I'll be running 55 miles a week and I'm hoping that it feels as simple as 50 miles did last week. Starting the week of May 10, I'll be running about 70 miles a week again to start my first phase of marathon training for Twin Cities. In August, I won't be bragging about how much free time I have any more because that's when the legit marathon workouts start, in which my mileage will be peaking around 80-85. Until then, I'll continue to enjoy the 50-Miles-A-Week bliss.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Cherry Blossom Ten Miler Race Recap 4.11.10

I woke up Sunday morning at 557am to the voice of a monotone, groggy John saying "Caitlinnnn...." I had been wearing my earplugs during the night because my mom was snoring in the same bed as me. I could not hear the incessant ringing of the alarm clock, and John wanted me to turn it off!

I jumped out of bed and immediately grabbed my Trader Joe's version of a nutrigrain bar out of my snack bag. I also made up a quick batch of oatmeal, which tasted disgusting and opted to eat a Kid's Clif Bar instead. Once I had all of my gear on and ready, I made my way downstairs to run a couple of extra minutes with Megan at 640am. Soon, the rest of the crew was out ready to warmup to the starting line, which was approximately .88 miles away.

Mike led the group and dropped Megan and I off at the expo, where he continued to warmup with Matt. From there on out, Megan and I were left to figure out the race start logistics on our own. We immediately went on a search for a short line at the porta-johns. Of course, there was not a short line, but we waited anyways. After that, I realized there was actually an elite tent that Megan and I could be utilizing! We ran off, asking every race official if they knew where it was. After three unsuccessful attempts, we finally found a person who pointed us in the right direction.

For what I will be most thankful for in the elite tent: private restrooms! I feel very lucky that I was given this opportunity and I thank the Cherry Blossom Elite Cooridnator for providing both Megan and I with such a privilege. In the tent, Megan and I were the only people who actually brought the plastic bags that were given to us at the Expo. Everyone else had brought their own Nike sports bags because they knew their stuff was going to be secure in the tent. Clearly, we are novices at this game.

With 15 minutes until the start, a man started pushing us out of the tent to go to the starting line. They were going to take all of our sweats for us, so we got to keep our warm clothes on. I shed my pants, but kept my CRC long sleeve for my strides at the start line. Once we were there, I noticed that Joan Benoit was not in the advance start corral with us. I had about 5 seconds of panic because I thought there would be no one for me to run with. I calmed myself down and revised my goal to stay relaxed through the first mile.

Megan and I strategically placed ourselves in row two of the start so that the Ethiopians who were much faster than us would not have to trip over us. The gun went off promptly at 730am, and we were off in a race that included only 20 women in the advance start.

From the get-go, it appeared to me that two main groups formed, and Megan and I situated ourselves comfortably into Group 2. Our group comprised of two women that I had competed against while running at Wake Forest - a runner from NC State and one from Duke. This made me feel more comfortable with the people I was racing against. The group of six or so settled into a nice rhythm and the pace didn't feel out of control fast. In fact, it felt comfortable. We went through the first mile in 551. Perfect!

The second mile I felt Megan at my side and felt safe. It was nice to know that my occasiosonal long run buddy was right there beside me. After a little ways though, I noticed that she was touching her side, and knew that she was not feeling too hot. I sent my feel good vibes her way. We continued to run together and apparently the 2nd mile we slowed up a bit: Mile 2 - 6:00.

Going into the third mile, Megan fell back and I was still catching a break from the wind behind Lucinda Hull (her name might have changed now). I could tell that the pace had quickened because all of the girls had seen the 6:00 2nd mile and panicked. Beyond our small group, there was not a runner in sight, so I knew that I needed to stay with this group as long as possible. Third mile: 545.

During the fourth mile, I could see some of the runners from the big race, and two people cheered my name. I have no idea who they were, but that alone encouraged me to stay with the group for as long as I could. I fell off a little bit, but made a slight surge to catch back up. Mile four: 552.

It was around the 4.5 point that I fell off of my little training group. From here on out, it was going to me, myself, and I. I knew that I needed to focus a ton in the final half of the race in order to reach my goal of sub-60. If I fell off the girls that I was feeding off of, it was going to make that a much harded endeavor. Luckily, my mom was around taking pictures and she screamed her lungs out for me. You can see in the picture me falling off the pack.
Mile five: 555

I really hadn't looked at my splits up for the entire race; I was going mainly off feel. The next five miles could best be described as meditative because it was really a race against myself. I discovered new focus techniques that I had not used before in efforts to keep my pace honest. Since I was in no-man's land, I knew it would be a long day out on the roads of DC with few people to pick people off and use them as prey to catch. Therefore, I kept my eye on the next woman ahead of me (about 15m away), focused on my breathing and sometimes even counted each time I took a breath in. During these key miles, I repeated to myself whatever phrase someone had cheered to me. For instance, one man said “Keep it going Number 56!” and I just turned that phrase over and over in my head for miles six and seven. In fact, at mile six, I forgot to split my watch because I was too busy trying to grab water while running six min pace. It was during mile seven when I hurt the most, and I'm guessing I ran about a 608-612 for this split.
Combined 6/7: 12:14

Mile 8 was when the Kenyan males (who had started ten minutes later) began to pass me. Of course, I knew they were coming when the lead police motorcycle passed by me. However, I was not prepared for the speed in which the number one male passed me with. In fact, I found out later that he was running about 415-420 pace so it makes sense why I sped up a bit on this mile. I didn't want to completely look like a turtle compared to these guys.
Mile 8: 554

For the 9th mile, I was really ready to have the finish nearby. I saw the Washington Memorial in the distance and knew it was almost time to finish. Unforunately, the mile marker was completely in the wrong spot, and my watch told me I ran 630 pace. Slightly disheartening, if you ask me.
Mile 9: 630 (however it was probably more like 613 or something)

For the tenth mile, more men continued to pass me and I just didn't want any white guy to pass me, especially not Bert. I ended up accomplishing that goal and in the final 800m stretch, there was a hill strategically placed - the one and only hill on the entire course - and I was mad at that hill. I thought of the Twin Cities marathon and how miles 22-25 are all uphill, and told myself I was just preparing for that in a mini way. After the hill, I could see the finish and began to really push it in. Unfortunately a woman with a stroller decided to run in front of me with two children in tow. Luckily, an official yelled at her and she stopped just before I would have plummeled into her.
Mile 10: 543 (however, since mile 9 was off, this was probably more like 6 minute pace)

Overall time: 59:48! Woohoo! In the finish chute, I congratulated Phoebe and thanked a girl named Caroline for helping me out during the race. I saw Megan come in and we shared a half-hug and made our way to the tent to get some food and drink real quick. I hijacked my camera from my mom and we ran to cheer the guys in as they came in to the finish. That was pretty exciting to get to see the guys finish for once.

Once John, Dan, Jordan, Ben, Chad, Matt all came in, we said our congratulations and went our separate ways to get our cool down gear on. Megan and I never found Jocelyn or Kelly, but we found Danielle, so we cooled down with her and Chad around the WWII Memorial and other monuments. It was an absolutely beautiful cooldown on a sunny cool day in DC.

On the cooldown, I was able to reflect on a couple of things. First, I feel very honored and appreciative of having the opportunity to run with the advance start. On the other hand, running by myself helped me appreciate the company of others on all the training runs I’ve enjoyed with the Charlotte Running Club. I realized that I truly benefit from the camaraderie and energy in a large field of runners. I find running with others keeps my energy focused and pace on target for the duration of the race. There’s something unique about latching onto a runner, who ends up being your racing buddy throughout the rest of the race. At the finish line, there’s a shared moment because you both helped the other accomplish their goals. I didn't really get this with the advance start, so next time I will opt to start with everyone else.

After the cool down, Megan and I rushed back to the hotel to shower because we thought we would be getting an award. We were wrong. They just announced our names. On the website, however, it says the top 25 females will receive an award, so that was definitely false advertising.

We walked back to the hotel to get ready to enjoy some lunch! On the way back, my Uncle Joe took Megan, my mom and I through the Smithsonian Gardens!

In the end, all of the various CRC members and cars made their way back to Charlotte. However, the caravan of Caitlin, Matt, John, and my mom wanted to enjoy the weather in DC and we headed to Adam's Morgan to eat a delicious brunch/lunch and walk around. I got a double serving of Mochi in my frozen yogurt, so Matt and I were in Mochi heaven. We also hit up Dupont Circle and departed DC around 3pm.

To top it all off, our women's team won the Running Club, Open Female Team Division by over 12 minutes!!

1. Charlotte Running Club Feline Fatale

59:48 1:00:48 1:01:52 (1:01:55) (1:03:28) = 3:02:28

Caitlin Chrisman, Megan Hovis, Kelly Fillnow, Danielle Walther, Jocelyn Sikora

Our men's team placed third!

3. Charlotte Running Club

53:29 53:33 53:58 ( 56:19) ( 59:09) = 2:41:00

John Compton, Jordan Kinley, Ben Hovis, Mike Beigay M, Chad Crockford

Friday and Saturday Cherry Blossom Prep

This past weekend I competed at the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler as part of the Charlotte Running Club Open Women's Team. Essentially, this weekend served as the culmination of all of my training since December of 2009.

Of course, the race was defintiely fun, but the entire trip in itself was a great time, so I'm going to fill you in on the whole thing!

On Friday, Matt Jaskot, John Compton and I all met up at my house to start our road trip to Richmond, where we would stay at Matt's parent's house to split up the driving. Matt and I switched off driving throughout the trip, so it went by pretty fast. John served as our reliable co-pilot, ensuring that we always had good tunes playing through the speakers. We arrived at the Jaskots' house around 1015pm and shared some small talk with Matt's parents. John and I were ridiculously tired, so we said our good nights pretty soon after our arrival.

The next morning, I jumped on Matt and John in their separate bedrooms to wake them up for our morning run together. After they groggily got out of bed, the three of us ran an easy four miles, spotted some white squirrels, and did some light strides. Matt's dad made us some delicious waffles, which I topped with some yogurt and fruit. Once we all cleaned up, we were back on the road, heading towards DC.

Of course, we ran into some traffic, and I don't like driving in traffic. Once we made it to DC, we had Matt giving me directions, John repeating what the GPS was telling us to do, and me pissed that we were still in traffic. Overall, it made for an interesting interaction amongst the three of us, but we finally found our hotel and safely parked the car on the side of the street. John used his patience that he must use on the freshmen high school students he teaches as he was navigating us through DC.

Once we got to the hotel, we began our trek to the expo, where we would meet up with the rest of our Charlotte Running Club team Ben, Megan, Danielle, Chad, and Mike. The walk was not far at all so we decided to grab a subway sandwich before we made our way in. Once we arrived at the National Building Museum, we were directed to the packet pickup. I spotted Joan Benoit Samuelson but was too scared to ask her for pictures because she looked like she was ready to leave. Megan and I did try on some crowns though. Not quite sure why they were being sold at an expo for a ten miler, but whatever.

After the expo, Matt, John, and I went to China Town so that Matt could get some authentic Kung Pao Tofu. While he got his food, John and I sat on a stoop and people-watched. I saw a man with a beard all the way down to his shins and with one huge dreadlock down to his thighs. I wish I had gotten a picture. I also ate a huge chocolate chip cookie because I was hungry. I hadn't had a cookie in forever, and I decided it wouldn't be THAT bad if I ate it less than 16 hours before my big race. HA!

Once we returned from China Town, we relaxed in the hotel room by watching "Saving Private Ryan." Then we made it down to the hotel restaurant to enjoy a nice pre-race meal with Megan, Ben, Dan, Val, Mike, Andrea, John, and Matt. I had spaghetti and a big romaine salad. Afterwards, we all felt like we had gorged ourselves on spaghetti and decided it would be a good idea to take a walk. I got a great picture of the Capitol!

After dinner, Megan and I discussed our race strategy and how we could work together. We figured that we would probably end up going out in 550 pace, which would be fine, and then try to hang on from there on out. Once we had that conversation, I met Jordan to give him his packet, and waited for my mom to arrive at the hotel.

I crawled in bed around 9pm, and fell asleep around 930. However, my mom arrived around 1030pm, so from that point forward, my sleep was on and off. Matt also came into the room a little bit later, and I had to open up the door for him. I wasn't too worried about my lack of sleep though because I felt pretty lively once I awoke the next morning.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

All Play, All Fun, Little Pay

"Minor leaguers marry love of baseball and little pay."

--Baseball America

Nuff said.

Baseball America has a great article on the miniscule pay minor leaguers receive here.

Marathon Swap - Chicago for Twin Cities

I'm most likely going to be switching my fall marathon from Chicago on 10.10.10 to the Twin Cities Marathon on 10.3.10. The main reason I'm doing the switch is because one of my old teammates from Wake Forest (Matt Owen) is getting married the same day as Chicago! Of course, a wedding only happens once and it is more important than a marathon! So...Twin Cities it is.

I've heard that the course is beautiful, with a good set of hills from miles 22-25. This is a bit intimidating, but I'm crossing my fingers that some good mental training and hillwork can help me own those hills.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Taper me Forward

Over the past couple of weeks, I've felt pretty rotten on the majority of my runs. I'm sure it has to do with the massive amount of pollen in the air and the sudden heat wave that has forced me to turn on my air conditioning in April. Despite having garbage legs in workouts over the past two weeks, the effort was still there, which is important to remember.

Instead of letting this overall bad feeling bring me down, I’m still heading into Cherry Blossom with an optimistic outlook. Back in the fall of 2007, I regularly had absolutely horrible workouts at Wake. The top five runners would always beat me in practice. However, somehow I was able to pull it together in races and always finished as either the 1 or 2 runner.

Now I’m in full taper and ready for that to propel me forward in this race. I did a light fartlek yesterday of 1-2-3-3-2-1 with half rest. My legs felt the best they had in weeks, with a light spring to my stride. The goal is a PR (faster than 1:00:50)!

Some cool things to look forward to other than the race:
1) At the expo, Joan Benoit Samuelson and Bill Rodgers will be presenting and signing autographs!
2) Matt and I are going to a pre-race dinner at the race headquarters hotel.
3) Megan and I are starting in the advance women’s start, so we might be running with Joan Samuelson
4) Yogurt with mochi in it after the race in Georgetown
5) My mom is going to be there to cheer

Most importantly, I’m excited to share the experience of this race with my Charlotte Running Club friends in a team competition and to see the DC sights on a run!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Spoiled Rotten

Over the past two months, I’ve had two workouts in which I was supposed to run 55-60 minutes at a pace faster than 6:30 minutes per mile. For both of those workouts, I was lucky enough to have a pacer the entire time.

My gracious guest? Jordan Kinley. You’ve probably heard of him. If not, I’ll spark your memory. He won Charlotte’s Thunder Road Marathon after deciding to run it the night before. He placed third at the Shamrock 4 Miler two weeks ago. The following morning, he bounced right back at 3am for a drive to Raleigh to eventually place 2nd at the Tobacco Road Marathon.

Of course, Jordan uses a much better term to describe pacing me, but I’ll let you read it on his blog. To further prove how studly Jordan can really be, he ran a 60 minute tempo with me approximately five days after achieving a new marathon PR. Selfishly, I was pretty happy that his legs were recuperating from 26.2 miles because it meant that he would be keeping me company.

The clouds were looking pretty ominous as I drove out to McAlpine after work, but luckily the rain came after the workout. At McAlpine, we started running and enjoyed some casual conversation. I noticed that Jordan did not wear a watch and knew that he was really just out there to help me get through this workout successfully. We didn’t really warm-up because I started pushing the pace after the first mile (640).

After that, I just wanted to get the workout done as quickly as possible so tried to work hard at what I thought was 630 pace. I was wrong. We went through the second and third miles in 612/613. At that point, I was still able to hold a decent conversation with Jordan, which is a feat I am rather proud of. I learned more about his job, and also about Meagan’s options post-graduation. After the fourth mile (606), I stopped talking for obvious reasons.

It was also around this point when I was stressing about my ability to finish the workout because my quads were screaming. This in turn made it much more difficult for me to breathe. When I psych myself out and tense up, my breathing goes crazy. You can see this mini mental breakdown with my times in miles 5 and 6 – in which I ran 611 and 620 respectively. During the sixth mile, I gave myself a mental “break” and told myself that it was okay for me to go slower since I was already going faster than 630.

Eventually I saw that Jordan was trying to maintain the same pace I had been running because he was a couple of meters ahead of me. I decided to man up and pushed aside thoughts of not finishing the workout and replaced them with thoughts of getting my breathing back under control. This helped me finish up the last 2.5 miles because I had something to focus on rather than the lethargic feeling in my quads. My last two miles were 613 and 608 and the clock could not have turned any sooner than it did!

Jordan and I ran very slowly for the cool down and I told him how horrible I felt and then told him I owed him a beer. Overall, I am very appreciative of the cameo appearances Jordan makes in my workout schedule. I still owe him a beer or three, and didn’t even buy him one that night when Matt, John, Jordan, and I all went to Dixie’s. I’m sure there will be a CRC Social in which I can repay him for his speedy legs.

To further prop him up onto a pedestal, I found out that the next day, Jordan paced Ben Hovis in a tempo. Now that’s what I call awesome. Jordan also officially joined the Charlotte Running Club, so I'm sure you'll see his name more often in the newsletter.