Monday, March 31, 2014

NYC Recap Day 1

I got in to NYC Thursday night, slightly later than I had expected after a delay out of Chicago (here's my surprised face) and having to wait forever for the bus to make my way toward Susan. Once I made it to Susan's 'hood I finally accepted defeat and asked her to start walking toward me. I was starving (I had major turbulence on both flights so my stomach was upset, and I hadn't eaten since a banana and a breakfast bar, ugh) and ready to be done traveling for the day.

She took me to Shake Shack for immediate burgers and beer and all was right with the world. 10pm dinner? Why not. We caught some basketball and called it a night.

Friday was my first full day in the city and we started it at Alice's Tea Cup which is just absolutely adorable and if I have a daughter, her bedroom will likely look like this. We then were scoffed at by our table neighbors for ordering coffee instead of tea. Whatever.

After lunch we made our way to packet pickup, and some touristy stops along the way.

I was really tempted to go ice skating at the Rockefeller Center as I've always wanted to, it was gorgeous weather, and it's on my list of goals for March, but after calculating the fee and rental I decided that just watching was good enough. :)

Packet pickup was quick and I shockingly didn't find anything I needed for a 20% off discount. Susan offered to carry my bag and when we got back we realized that we didn't know who's bib was who's. I told her I wouldn't be mad if she set me a monster PR (and I would "gift" her a PW in exchange). Luckily we remembered that mine said W.S. for shirt size, and hers just said S. Crisis averted (I guess).

Empire State Building.
Then we set out for some more of our walking tour of the city (this is ill advised the day before a race, FYI).

Grand central station

And then we made our way over to Brooklyn.

Probably my favorite building: the Beekman Tower. 

They were filming something on the steps but we couldn't recognize anyone, so we're not sure what. Bummer.

And the Brooklyn Bridge!

Me and Susan! 

This is as close to the Statue of Liberty as I got. At least I chose to match her outfit.

And then it was time to find some food, so we settled on some amazing pizza in Brooklyn. We ate all of this minus to slices. Mmmmm. Pizza.

We made our way back to Susan's to watch more basketball and for me to elevate my feet against the couch, per usual. Our mileage tally for the day: 9. Uff da. Just a little more than I normally do. Haha.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Race Report: Michelob Ultra NYC Half Marathon

Saturday morning started early-ish, but not nearly as early as I could've, thanks to a 9am race start. We were out the door by 7am to make our way out to Queens. The weather was gorgeous when we stepped out of Susan's door, but when we finally got off in Queens it was cold and super windy. Rude.

First subway selfie!

We got there around 8 and were treated to indoor bathrooms with the heat cranked to approximately 110 degrees. I was sweating. And then freezing again. What a treat. We dropped our bags and extra layers of clothes and walked a ways to the race start. I was wishing I still had my grumpy pants from the Madison Marathon to wear and drop at the start. Brr. I said goodbye to Susan as she made her way up to the fasties and I had time to do my hip swings/stretches before the race started. I had to chuckle when I got up to the starting line, as they had "corrals" 1:30, 1:40, 1:50, etc set up about 2 feet apart from each other. Needless to say there was a lot of holding back in that first mile, but that was ok. My game plan was 9:40-9:50 for ~5 miles, and then 9:30-9:40 for the next 5 and then BTTW the final 5k.

The crowd cleared out during mile two and that's when we started running in to the winds. Blech. It was around this time that I noticed my HR was a bit higher than it should be. My legs also felt like trash. According to Susan's fitbit, we hoofed it 9 miles the day before the race. My legs essentially felt like I was running the second half a marathon. Uff. I adjusted my goal to 2:05 and kept plugging away.
Mile 1 9:34
Mile 2 9:36
Mile 3 9:55

I knew the race was really twisty turny and that we went through the same route multiple times, so I honestly never knew where I was in the race route. And because of that, I have a hard time really remembering specifics about the race. However, I know I was counting down to the 10k mark, because I was planning on seeing (=meeting) fellow Packers fan Kristin, who was going to be cheering there after running the 5k 7 months preggo, nbd.

I almost missed her until she spotted me (I was expecting a much more major baby belly, she's teeny!) and she surprised me with this AMAZING sign and many cheers via megaphone.
Amazing, right?? I died.

Mile 4 9:54
Mile 5 9:55
Mile 6 9:51

When I saw Kristin it was on a very abrupt up and downhill, so of course my knee and hip started squawking on the downhill portion. Ugh. Around this point I re-adjusted my goal to sub 2:10. I found that doing this really helped me from just giving up and walking. I really just wanted to be done.

But I kept going. There were a few out and back portions were I hoped to see Susan, but no such luck. I was passed by the lead dude at mile 9? I think as he was doing his second lap toward the finish. Can't say that I've ever been lapped in a half marathon before, but there you have it. :)

Mile 7 10:00
Mile 8 10:20
Mile 9 10:31
Mile 10 10:58

I walked through the water stop at mile 9 and the start of mile 10, my fingers were super swollen and I had only been drinking water, so I took in some gatorade as well. I should've probably brought some salt packets, but I was expecting to it to be in the 30s. Oops. I kept recalculating my finishing time based on a ten minute pace, completely oblivious to the fact that I wasn't running a 10 minute mile, at all. 

My heart rate was crazy high the second half of the race, and I couldn't bring myself to push harder the last 5k as planned. I thought I would flatline. With 1.5 miles left I kicked it in (perhaps kicked it in should be in quotes there) because I figured I could handle 15 minutes of a super hard effort (again this was me assuming I was running a 10 minute pace, hah). 
The last mile and a half seemed to take forever. We did a weird curviness so it was hard to tell where the finish actually was. 
(ouch, clearly my form still blows when I'm tired)

When I got to the final stretch, I realized I was going to be close to my Sioux Falls Half Marathon finishing time, and I wanted to be faster than that. I couldn't remember what the time was, but I knew it was a 2:14:something so I started counting down the seconds to 2:14.

Mile 11 11:15
Mile 12 10:44
Mile 13 10:22
.14 1:07
I finished in 2:14:09.

Many thanks to Susan for all of these finishing photos even if I am displaying a most horrific form. Part of the reason I didn't want to run any slower than I already was is because I didn't want her to weight for me to finish (turns out she did anyway, she's so speedy!).
Here we are with our super sweet signs from Kristin.

Her outrageous pants really helped me pick her out in the crowd. :) I'm standing with my legs as far apart as possible due to the fact that I have zero skin left on my inner thighs. #ouch

Originally this race was chosen a) because I was going on vacation to NYC and wanted to run a race while I was there b) I wanted a more immediate race to keep me training through January-March despite of our ridic winter and c) I wanted some confidence going in to my April/May halfs that a 1:55 is a possibility.

Well, 2 out of 3 isn't bad, right? One thing this race did give me is some insight on my training. The longest tempo run I've done is a 4 miler, and that showed massively. Once I got about an hour in, my heart rate became almost unmanageable. Also all of my long runs have been plain long runs, no pick ups, no fast finished. Part of that has been that I wanted to remain injury free in upping my long run mileage week by week, but now that I've run up to 14 miles, I can add some fast finishes and pick ups to half of the long runs.

I also need to make sure I stick to my plan and not go out too fast. If you check out my first two mile splits, despite all of the bobbing and weaving that I did, I still ran them about 10 seconds per mile too fast. That resulted in my heart rate being high almost from the beginning instead of starting out slower, bringing on a mini-bonk just past the halfway point.

Also I have no clue why I wore the shoes that I did. I've been wearing them for speed work of about 3-7 miles at a time, but I should've been smarter and wore a more substantial shoe. They certainly didn't help my form falling apart issues. Uff.

Regardless half marathon 19 is done, and numbers 20 and 21 are in 4 and 5 weeks!


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Weekly Reads: Good Luck of Right Now

The Good Luck of Right Now is the second book I've read by Matthew Quick, (Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock was the first, my review here). The Silver Lining Playbook's author went back to an adult book with his latest release. The story is told in letters from our main character, Bartholomew to actor Richard Gere, and I'm quite the sucker for unique perspectives (I really enjoyed Where'd You Go, Bernadette for this same reason). I wasn't as immediately sucked in to this book as I was Forgive Me, LP, and I wasn't as emotionally drained after finishing it either, which is a good thing. I'm currently trying to take a break from soul crushing, spirit draining reads that make me want to save everyone from everything. That gets exhausting.

Definitely a worthwhile read, but if you're only going to read one thing by Quick, I would still recommend Forgive Me Leonard Peacock as the one to read.

My rating: 3.5 stars.

Summary from goodreads:

Call it fate. Call it synchronicity. Call it an act of God. Call it . . . The Good Luck of Right Now. From the New York Times bestselling author of The Silver Linings Playbook comes an entertaining and inspiring tale that will leave you pondering the rhythms of the universe and marveling at the power of kindness and love.

For thirty-eight years, Bartholomew Neil has lived with his mother. When she gets sick and dies, he has no idea how to be on his own. His redheaded grief counselor, Wendy, says he needs to find his flock and leave the nest. But how does a man whose whole life has been grounded in his mom, Saturday mass, and the library learn how to fly?

Bartholomew thinks he’s found a clue when he discovers a “Free Tibet” letter from Richard Gere hidden in his mother’s underwear drawer. In her final days, mom called him Richard—there must be a cosmic connection. Believing that the actor is meant to help him, Bartholomew awkwardly starts his new life, writing Richard Gere a series of highly intimate letters. Jung and the Dalai Lama, philosophy and faith, alien abduction and cat telepathy, the Catholic Church and the mystery of women are all explored in his soul-baring epistles. But mostly the letters reveal one man’s heartbreakingly earnest attempt to assemble a family of his own.

A struggling priest, a “Girlbrarian,” her feline-loving, foul-mouthed brother, and the spirit of Richard Gere join the quest to help Bartholomew. In a rented Ford Focus, they travel to Canada to see the cat Parliament and find his biological father . . . and discover so much more.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Michelob Ultra NYC Half Marathon Goals

When I first signed up for the Michelob Ultra NYC Half Marathon, I had hoped I'd be able to run close to or under 2 hours. I haven't run under 2 hours for a half since May 2012, almost two years ago. Uff. My hopes for the race were to give me a goal time to work toward that could put me in a position to make 1:55 a possibility for my spring goal half marathon.

And I feel like I was mostly on track to do that, and then I had a horrible no good very bad long run a couple of weeks ago and it totally shook my confidence levels. I ran 14 miles and it took forever, and it was hard, and I was sore for 4 days after it. Ugh. Not the confidence boosting last long run I was looking for. :(

Luckily I ran a fairly decent 5k last weekend which has helped give me that tiny boost I need for this weekend's race. According to the McMillan race calculator, my 5k time puts me at a 2:01:48 half marathon time, and a 9:17 pace. Which sounds.... kind of doable. Right?

I think my current plan is to run in the 9:20-9:30 range for the first 8-10 miles and then push hard for the remaining 3-5 miles.

It should be perfect Jerbear running weather with a low in the high 30s and high in the high 40s.

A Goal: Sub 2 hours. 9:09 pace. Uff.

B Goal: 2:02 9:18-9:20 pace.

C Goal: Sub 2:05 9:39 pace.

All three of these goal times would put me at my 10th fastest half out of 19 half marathons.

And regardless of my time, I'll get to knock another state off my race list (and brunch it up with Susan!)!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

St. Patricks Day Shenanigans

My favorite holiday has come and gone. So long! Farewell! Auf Wiedersehen! (<--I had to look that up to spell it correctly). Our city celebrated the holiday on Saturday so I was sure to have that day off from work to help the city celebrate!

I started off the day with the 5k, that I wrote about previously. And then I went home to stand in the shower for hours to warm up. I'm normally the warmest runner in the history of warm runners, but when I get cold, it takes me hours to warm up. I think I have a poor bodily thermostat. :/

Jenn and I met up downtown to watch the parade, and as we arrived at our lunch meetup, it started to snow. And kept on snowing through the duration of the parade. Sideways snow, no less. Thanks monster wind gusts! We ended up snagging a table at a restaurant near the window so we could watch it from indoors. Which is great, because I wore flats without socks and may have gotten frostbite on my feet. Derp. Tom joined us later in the afternoon.

She's fast and pretty. 

Tom & Jeri.

Our eyes look slightly satanic in this picture, but it's the only one of my head to toe green, so plz deal with it.

Once the parade was over, in record timing, I met up with TJ and his lady friend Katie at an Irish bar.

Where I may have found a few of these guys.

(Which I later learned I'm allergic to, or so I think.... uff)

Me and TJ. We tend to dress alike, and I swear I have an almost identical flannel. And glasses. And chucks. TWINSIES!

After we were bored there, we headed to a different bar to watch one of Katie's friend's bands. I dunno if this is the Guinness talking, or not, but I thought they were pretty good!

These guys are sham-rockin! (<--Yeah, I went there)

Me and Katie. I was wearing enough green that she didn't have to.

And after a long day of work, this guy showed up to keep me company (and give me a safe ride home).

Don't worry, I'm still going strong in wearing green everyday to work this month. Tuesday was the first day I did. not. want. to. do. it. but still did anyway.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Weekly Reads: Just One Day

  Just One Day is by one of the author's I'll get to meet when I'm in NYC. WHOOP! I've read If I Stay by Forman, and enjoyed it, and had heard good things about Just One Day. As soon as I started it, I couldn't stop reading it. I wanted to book a ticket to Europe asap. Talk about a major case of wanderlust! The love story was also enjoyable and fairly realistic. I hate books that are super predictable and that wasn't the case with this one. Great read and I can't wait to read the sequel: Just One Year.

My rating: 4.5 stars

Summary from goodreads:

Allyson Healey's life is exactly like her suitcase—packed, planned, ordered. Then on the last day of her three-week post-graduation European tour, she meets Willem. A free-spirited, roving actor, Willem is everything she’s not, and when he invites her to abandon her plans and come to Paris with him, Allyson says yes. This uncharacteristic decision leads to a day of risk and romance, liberation and intimacy: 24 hours that will transform Allyson’s life.

A book about love, heartbreak, travel, identity, and the accidents” of fate, Just One Day shows us how sometimes in order to get found, you first have to get lost. . . and how often the people we are seeking are much closer than we know.