Monday, September 15, 2014

Marathon Monday: 2014 Fall Marathon Training Week 8


Good golly, I’m onto week 9 of marathon training already!  Over the past few days I pushed through my toughest training yet: my first ever 30+ mileage week, three tough runs in a row and a little bit of cross training have me beat.

Let’s take a look at the schedule:

Monday:  Rest day

I cannot tell you how much I look forward to Mondays.  It’s always a bummer going back to the real world after a weekend of lounging (and running).  I need my reality tv and ice cream to ground me.  Although I must say that Dancing with the Stars this season ain’t looking so entertaining, save for Alfonso Ribeiro.



That will never get old.

Tuesday:  Running, tempo, 1.14 miles @ 9:30 minute mile pace
+ Running, easy, 2.98 miles @ 10:09 minute mile pace—30 minutes

I hustled to make a group run, but I got to my destination right as everybody else was departing.  By then, everybody had already buddied up for the evening, and I was left by my lonesome.  Now I’m all about being an independent woman, but it’s pretty lame to be running alone in a group setting.  Feeling awkward, I separated myself from the group and did my own thang.

Lesson learned: next time I go to an entirely new-to-me group event, get there early enough to make friends. 

Wednesday:  Running, easy, 7.01 miles @ 9:45 minute mile pace—1:08:24 hours
+ Foam rolling—5 minutes

It’s getting harder and harder to find routes of appropriate distance in the city.  In the light, I can always venture out onto the River Trail, but with the sun setting earlier each night, I also need to find safe paths (the River Trail is not the most awesome place to be in the dark).

On this run I went exploring the Delaware River Waterfront.  I’m already a fan of Spruce Street Harbor Park, but this excursion also took me past the Race Street Pier (I haven’t been there since it opened a few years ago) and Morgan’s Pier, a popular local hangout.  I also got to see an uncommon view of my favorite bridge:

Yeah, I don't miss that beast at all.

Thursday:  Running, hills, 4.01 miles @ 10:18 minute mile pace—41 minutes

I was not psyched about running hills on the hottest day of the week.  Somehow I survived, although my shins and calves have still not forgiven me.

Friday:  Butt Bible, Level 1 lower body—20 minutes

Granted, this wasn’t the longest workout session, but it felt good to be strength training again.

Saturday:  Rest day

Sunday:  Running, long with hills, 15.02 miles (!) @ 10:21 minute mile pace—2:35:26 hours

The pretty scenery almost distracted from the agony.



Okay, I am seriously sore after this run.  According to my Garmin, I nailed over 650 feet of elevation gain—and I feel it!  I took on three of my hometown’s biggest hills, and I have the swelling to prove it.  I didn’t think I was prepared enough for Hershey prior to this weekend, but now I am once again well acquainted with Central PA’s murderous inclines.

Hershey Half Marathon, I’m coming for you!

And a sub-2:00:00 finish, too!

~Tomato Face

Monday, September 8, 2014

Marathon Monday: 2014 Fall Marathon Training Week 7


You’ve already heard a lot from me over the past week, so let’s just get right to the training, shall we?  Or, as Dancing with the Stars head judge Len Goodman would say, “no messing about.”

Monday: Rest day

Tuesday: Rest day

Yup, rest day x2.  I was still super tired from my trip.  Oh well.

Wednesday: Running, tempo, 4.53 miles @ 9:05 minute mile pace—41 minutes
+Foam rolling—5 minutes

Boom!  What a way to wannabe.  Despite taking walk breaks (I know, I know—that probably disqualifies this and many other runs from being truly “tempo”), I managed to bust out one of my fastest summer training paces yet.  Hopefully that pace will get even better as fall temperatures arrive!  For the record, this run was done in sunny 81 degrees.  Certainly not the balmiest day, but it was still fairly warm.

Thursday: Running, easy, 2.8 miles @ 9:57 minute mile pace—28 minutes
+ Running, easy(ish), 1.57 miles @ 9:41 minute mile pace- 15 minutes

I combined this run with the Philly 10k packet pickup.  After a leisurely and contemplative first leg (I’ve had a lot to think about in life lately), I was reminded of something unpleasant while at the race festival.  That lit a fire under me and I ran the rest of my route fast and angrily.  Were it not for the plethora of red lights on my way back, I am sure this portion of my run would have been sub-9:00 minute mile pace.  Rage may not be great overall, but it’s a darn good thing when it comes to running.

Friday: Rest day

Correction to my previous note: rest day X3.

Yes, I totally slacked on the cross training this week.  I’m not going to defend myself, but I really wanted to catch up on valuable rest post-Chicago, and I wanted to be in tiptop shape for my weekend one-two running punch.

Saturday: Running, race, 6.1 miles @ 9:16 minute mile pace—58 minutes (official chip time 57:34)
There’s not much to be said here that I didn’t already cover in my race recap.  The race was fun, the weather was not.  I didn’t PR, but I did better than I expected given the crazy heat and humidity.

Sunday: Running, long, 14.01 miles @ 9:44 minute mile pace—2:16:26 hours
+ Yoga for Runners—36 minutes

I am so proud of this run!!!  I started off with two solo miles before joining my run group for our marathon training session.  Although we usually cover Kelly Drive/the River Trail, our group leaders decided to take us on a little preview of the race course this time around.  We ran up Chestnut Street and made the turn onto 34th before heading towards the Philadelphia Zoo.  After that came the dreaded Lansdowne Drive hill, aka the hill that all Philadelphia Marathon runners warn their successors about.

I know hills thanks to Hershey, but hills built into a 26.2 mile course are different animals.  I am SO thankful that I got to experience this part of the route before race day.  Yes, it was brutal (and that slightly inclined stretch along all of 34th Street wasn’t so pleasant either), but fear of getting lost kept me stuck to the 9:30 pace group like glue.

Once we hit the group’s mile 4 (my mile 6), I dropped back slightly to take occasional walk breaks.  I tried my first GU (!!!!  It was Powerbar brand, sour green apple flavor, and it wasn’t disgusting like I thought it would be!), and I finished with a sub 10 minute mile pace.  What’s even better was that I nailed a half marathon PR during this training run: 2:07:50.  That’s almost four minutes better than Hershey last year!  I’m feeling more confident about my sub-2:00 goal for 2014!

That’s a lot of exclamation points in one paragraph!!!!!!!!!!!!!

On the downside, my stomach was on the verge of eating itself on this run.  I think the previous day’s race made me extra hungry.  I had a pack of Scooby Snacks and the aforementioned Powerbar Gel, but it wasn’t enough.  I thought I could get away with refueling every hour, but my body might demand more regular nutrition on these long runs.  I’ll experiment again this weekend and see if my hunger subsides or increases with an additional mile.

How was your training this week?

~Tomato Face

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Philly 10k 2014 Race Recap



Races in Philly are an uneven batch.  Some are hallowed traditions whose popularity demands lottery drawings (Broad Street) while others are corporatized creations that cost upwards of $100 yet still clamor for participants just weeks before race day (ahem, Rock ‘n’ Roll).

So Philadelphia Runner shocked the local community when its inaugural Philly10k sold out its 3000 slots in just a few hours.  I, however, was not surprised: I’ve been a longtime supporter of Philadelphia Runner, even before I was running (when I was in college, they were one of the few businesses who responded respectfully to my student group’s advertising inquiries; an undying love thus began).

Pretty much anything Philadelphia Runner does is awesome, so even though my fall race schedule was already loaded, I knew I had to try to gain entry.  Thankfully, after almost an hour of page refreshing, I became one of the lucky few signed up for the first edition of the race.


The Philly 10k is unique on many fronts, but especially in its course.  This year (Philadelphia Runner has hinted that the course might evolve), the 6.2 mile route went through several city neighborhoods, including East Passyunk, Bella Vista, Queen Village, Midtown Village, Callowhill and Old City.  No other city race crosses into such residential territory (you can basically count on most 5ks blocking off West River Drive and all longer races except for Broad Street going by the Art Museum).

Packet pickup was unique as well, as it was incorporated into a pre-race “festival” in the Italian Market.  Vendors had tasty nibbles for sale, and Philadelphia Runner was selling several race souvenirs.  Unfortunately, the merchandise was just too expensive for this girl-on-a-budget (t-shirts ran $35-40).  Although the festival location was far away from my office and apartment, I was able to combine my bib pickup with a training run, and it worked perfectly!



I was a little stressed the night before the race.  Google Maps had mistakenly told me that the Broad Street Line subway was only running every 30 minutes Saturday morning.  I went to bed not knowing how I was going to get to the race start in East Passyunk or what time I needed to leave the house.
I woke up at 5:30 am and decided to check Septa’s website for transportation information.  Whaddya know: the BSL was in fact running every 10 minutes.  SO MUCH BETTER.

I had a fairly leisurely breakfast before making the walk to the subway stop.  From Center City, it only took a few minutes to get to South Philly, and my train was packed exclusively with other runners, a la a scaled-down Broad Street.

From the subway stop (I got off at Ellsworth Federal—there was another stop a few blocks south), it was about a 10 minute walk to the race start.  I followed the hoards of fellow racers to the parking lot of the Acme Market, which was right across from the race corrals.




When I first arrived (it was about 7:10 by that time), I was flabbergasted by the queues for the porta potties.  I resolved not to get in line, but I changed my mind just a few minutes later, when the crowds appeared to diminish.  I was in and out of line in less than 5 minutes (by far the most minimal wait for a porta potty ever).  At this point I happened to be right next to my B corral, so I funneled into the gates and got ready to race.


There were minimal announcements before we were off with a staggered gun start.

The crowd was tightly packed for the first half mile, which was a bit awkward since there were still cars parked on our race route (there was plenty of bobbing and weaving by runners).

Since everybody was so close together, and also because I was toward the front half of runners, the setup kept me at a good, even pace.  It was important to take it easy in this race: it was 79 degrees and sunny with 84% humidity during the race.  In other words: uh oh.

We cruised by the famous Pat’s and Geno’s Steaks before passing the Italian Market and turning north on 13th Street.  From there we saw Reading Terminal Market and a portion of Broad Street before turning again onto Spring Garden.

Let me be honest: this portion of the course was brutal.  We were running directly into the sun, and everybody was already covered in sweat.  There wasn’t much to see along this stretch, but it was entertaining watching grown men jostle for the few feet of precious shade along the shoulder of the road.

When we turned onto 4th Street, there was palpable relief.  There was more shade (ah, shade!) and slightly more interesting scenery.  

There were two water stations along the course, at miles 2.7 and 5.  On a normal day, this would have been enough for a 10k, but because it was so damn hot, we runners really could have used another stop.

Another weird thing was that I noticed a major discrepancy between my Garmin and the course mile markers, up until the final turn.  Through most of the race, my Garmin was ahead (or the markers were behind) by anywhere from .3-.5 miles.  At our last turn, however, my Garmin was suddenly in sync with the course.  This did make it slightly harder for me to pace myself, but during the run I was mostly focused on staying upright.  Had I been seriously attempting a PR, I might have been more flustered.

The final .2 miles were a welcome stretch: I could see the finish line in the distance!  I did my signature sprint at the very end, reeling in a respectable 57:34 final time.

The volunteers gave us water, bananas, Kind bars and a commemorative race print (pretty nifty!) before we walked the few blocks to the post-race festival in Passyunk Square.  Shake Shack was handing out Termini Brothers cannoli custards (delicious!!!) and Philadelphia Brewing Company gifted a special Philadelphia Runner’s Pale Ale to participants aged 21+.  The lines for both treats were crazy long, and in the end, I didn’t feel like waiting for a beer.  

Race print and t-shirt all in one shot!

Sweat, sweat everywhere.



Course: B
While the course was unique, I would have loved to see more spectators, and a quicker detour off Spring Garden would have saved many a runner’s sanity.  And although Philly PD did a great job of keeping us runners safe, I sensed more than the usual level of frustration from would-be drivers stopped at the barricades.

Packet Pickup: B
I appreciated the pickup being in the Italian Market, but the race merch was at Rock ‘n’ Roll levels of overpriced.

Post-Race Experience: B+
Come up with a better system of distributing the runner’s brew, and I would bump this up to an A.

Event Organization: A

Overall: B+

Pretty solid for a first year event!  I would not hesitate to participate in some form (torn between running and volunteering at this point) next year.

Did you run the Philly 10k?  What are your thoughts on the race?

~Tomato Face