The Ever Elusive Sub 2 Half

I am in pursuit of running a sub 2 half marathon. I have run 3 this month. April Fools Half in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Delaware Marathon and Running Festival in Wilmington, Delaware and Greensboro Half in Greensboro, North Carolina.

The April Fools Half was my first half since my surgery. In all honesty, I was testing the waters. I wanted to see how my back would hold up. I chose to do the Galloway Method for this race. The weather was BRUTAL to the least. It was cold with 50 mph wind gusts that were blowing sand across the Boardwalk into our faces. I had an issue at mile 12 and finished with a time of 2:27.
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I was not happy with the time but I considered the circumstances and was happy that I finished. The highlight of my day was seeing my running friend Hollie who is awesome and blogs at (Fueled by Lolz) leading and winning. Congratulations again Hollie!

My second race was the Delaware Marathon and Running Festival. This race is held annually on Mother’s Day. I normally volunteer with my boys but decided to run it this year. I chose to run the half marathon. It had been raining almost all week and the weather was cool….well until race day. The sun was shining and the weather warmed up quickly. Mile 8 was where the trouble began. I had an asthma attack. The hills kicked my butt! I told myself to take it easy for the rest of the race and walk the hills. I walked the hills, felt ok and finished with a time of 2:09. I missed my sub 2 by 9 minutes but was 18 minutes better than April Fools. I’m getting closer.
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My third race was in Greensboro. So, my friends and I travelled to North Carolina to run. This is the 6th state that I have run in. We spent the weekend there. Food, shopping, fellowship and running with my girls. I was looking for the sub 2. My friends were very encouraging. They kept saying, “You’ve got this!” I was hoping that I could do it as well. The race was well organized but the course could have been better. The park was beautiful and scenic however the pathway was slanted in some areas and broken in others. I tripped once and almost turned my ankle twice. The part that scared me the most was one bridge with a clearance of 5’7” and I was worried about hitting my head. Luckily, I didn’t.

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Mile 9, I had an asthma attack. The hill turnaround at mile 7 triggered it. I had my inhaler and kept pushing through it. I finished with a time of 2:04. Five minutes better than the last race.

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I am going to see a pulmonologist and get my exercise-induced asthma under control. I am determined to get my sub 2!

What is your racing goal?  Have you reached it?  What has helped or hindered you getting there?

 

 

 

 

 

Trenton 5k -Race Recap

When I initially registered for this race, I had no idea that I would be working every weekend for a program at The Y.

Secondly, I was dealing with sciatic nerve issues for a while and has back injections on Monday to ease the pain.

As Sunday was fast approaching, I had a decision to make. Test out the back and get to work by 11 or stay home and work. I decided to test out my back.

I got up at 4:00 to make the drive to Trenton.  I was nervous.  I kept thinking about my back. Would I be able to make it? Would I be in pain? Would I make the walk back to my car? The questions just kept coming.  I had to shut my brain off.

As I approached the starting area I felt more at ease. My adrenaline started to kick in and I was in Race Day mode.

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I saw many friends and made a few new ones. Black Girls Run had 900 members running either the 5k, 10k, or half marathon.  Members who registeted received a BGR jacket AND a 2nd BGR finishers medal. It was awesome!

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As I approached the starting line the nerves kicked in. This was the race where I had an asthma attack in the 1st mile last year while running the half. I was prepared.  Take the 1st mile slow and increase my pace as I gained control of my breathing.

Mile 1: Slow and steady. I approached the hill with caution and I was happy that I made it with no issues.

Mile 2: I quickened my pace and felt good. I heard the cheers from the crowd and it kept me motivated.

Mile 3: I  got a little more pep in my step. I felt my stride getting back to where I wanted it to be.  I entered Arm & Hammer Stadium and I saw the finish line. As I crossed it I thought to myself,  not too shabby.

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My back was a little sore and I  expected that. I finished!! I  had to rush off to my car and get to work by 11. So I could not hang around for the results.  Later that afternoon, my friend told me that I finished 1st in my age group.  What??!!! I was shocked. 

My next race is the Philadelphia Half Marathon. My goal is to finish sub 2:00. I know I have it in me, I just have to make it happen. Any tips?

Happy Running!

Race Recap – Diva Half (DC Wine Country)

I was excited when I registered for this race.  I made my reservation and I trained with friends who are training for a marathon.  Some of which will be running their first. As race day approached, I felt ready for it.  

I arrived at the resort and picked up my packet at the expo. At check in, I was asked if I wanted a glass of champagne. YES PLEASE! (I still don’t like it and drank it anyway).
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Later that evening, I went to the high carb buffet they had for the runners and I filled up on salad and 2 rolls. I walked around the exposure again, I purchased a medal rack and Black Girls Run T-shirt. I went up to my room to get my gear ready and relax.
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The alarm went off at 4:45.  I got up, showered and got dressed.  I packed a banana and peanut butter for the 30 minute ride to the race.  As I was eating my peanut butter, I look up and saw a sign on the bus that read “Peanut Free Zone” D’oh!  It was already too late.  I wish the bus driver had notified us.  Peanut butter is a running staple.  I told the bus drive r as I departed and he assured me that it was ok and the buses were going to thoroughly cleaned.

The start of the race was about a mile or two from the shuttle drop-off.  As I trekked through the gravel and grass I felt more and more excited.  I was ready to get going.  The music was playing and we were dancing and chatting with other runners.  

There were 3 waves, I was in Wave One.  I lined up in my wave. I was ready to go.  I had never run this race before so I did not know what to expect.  The emcee says, “Once you pass the hill at mile 3, it’s smooth sailing.  The rest of the hills are rolling hills.”  I am not a fan of hills and I was happy about the warning.  

The horn blares and I am off.  I had my Nike running app on and my music I was about a half mile in and pulled out my earbuds.  They were distracting to me.  I was just listening to my feet hit the pavement, focusing on my breathing and muffled sounds of those chatting around me.  That was all I needed.

Miles 1-3

Those were easy miles.  I was finding my pace.  I started hitting my stride and the hill came into play.  I pumped my arms and I made it up.  I found my breath again and I was right back into it.

Miles 4 – 6

The miles were coming a little easier.  My stride was where I wanted it to be.  There was another hill.  I slowed it down, pumped my arms and made it.  Those hills were killing me.  My breathing started to be a little irregular.  I slowed down, told myself to relax and caught my breath.  Whew!  

Miles 7 – 9

I felt pretty good, I was chatting with another runner.  She told me she loved my tights. We started talking about running gear.  Mile 8 was a disaster for me.  I had an asthma attack.  I had trouble catching my breath.  I pulled out my inhaler and took my 2 puffs.  I walked until the medicine took effect.  I told myself to walk the hills and run the flats for the remainder of the race.

Miles 10 – 13.1

The hills didn’t seem to go away.  11, 12 and a slight hill at the finish were waiting for me.  I walked them and ran the rest.  I was determined to finish strong and I did.  I was rounding the corner for the finish, there were cheerleaders there handing out crowns and boas so I grabbed one of each and threw it on and kept my focus on finishing. I was back on gravel for the final stretch of the race.  I dug deep and finished.  Once I crossed that line I had my fist in the air.  I was done.  My time was not a PR.  I was upset with myself. I went over the race in my head and quickly forgave myself.  I had an asthma attack and finished 9 minutes faster than my race in June.  
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*photo courtesy of the Run Like A Diva Facebook page.

Here are the official results:
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I have my final half of 2015 in November.  I know that I have it in me.  My plan is speed and hill training.  I know I can do this.  I BELIEVE!  

I am sore but I would definitely run this race again.  Maybe I will see you next year!!

The Philadelphia Marathon – Race Recap

Goal: FINISH!

I slept well. I woke up at 3:30 am excited, nervous and ready to run. I kept telling myself, “You’ve got this! Trust your training and listen to your body. You are stronger than yesterday.” My nerves were calming and I realized I can and WILL do this.
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As I approached the start line, the nerves were coming back to the surface. Again, I calmed myself down. I was to meet Black Girls Run on the Art Museum steps (Rocky Stairs) for the group photo. The pep talks by the different members were uplifting and encouraging.

I lined up in the blue chorale. Since it was my first marathon, I registered with the slowest time. I decided not to run without music or a partner because I wanted to experience the race without the distraction, alone with my thoughts and one with myself.

I approached the start and the nerves turned into excitement. I was off! I started slow because I wanted to be able to finish strong and running.

Miles 1 – 8

I was taking in the sights, sounds and people. I was feeling good and the crowd was cheering for everyone. I heard a few cheers for me “Go Francine! Looking strong Francine!” Then I heard a cheer I was not expecting “Go MOM! You can do it! We love you!” It was my boys. They surprised me! My day was made and I had a permanent smile for the rest of the race.

Miles 9-16

I was still running and feeling good. No issues breathing and I was on pace. I was on a roll. Then I felt s pebble in my shoe. I had to stop to get it out. I was back on pace. A big THANK YOU to the spectator that had Dunkin Donuts. That glazed donut was a needed boost of energy. It was the best donut I have even had!

Miles 17 -20

This was the quiet part of the course. I was alone with my thoughts. My head was clear and I was enjoying myself. I was picking up my pace and then I saw an ambulance go by with someone with an IV and oxygen. I slowed down to make sure I would not have an asthma attack and end up the same way. It was a reality check for me.

Then, I ran into one of my training partners. She was in bad shape. She was crying. I stopped to ask what was wrong. She put a new plan in place and she hadn’t stopped for water until mile 10. She was dehydrated and cramping. I had given her rolaids to help with the cramping. She assured me that she was ok and to keep running.

Miles 20 – 26

This was the toughest part of the course for me. I was mentally drained. Then I heard a voice “hey Francine!” It was my coworker Denise. I was so happy to see her. She was feeling the same way and we vowed to finish the race together. We would run for 2 minutes and walk for a minute. The quiet course became filled with the cheering spectators again. We started to feel that energy again. We got to mile 25 and she said, “We can walk and then pick it back up in 1 minute.” I said, “No, I am going to finish this and finish strong.” I saw the finish line and got a burst of energy. I took off! I wanted to finish. I HAD to finish running and strong.
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I DID IT! I ran my FIRST and LAST marathon. It was worth it!
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I could not have done this without the support of my family, friends and Sole Sisters of Black Girls Run. You are ALL amazing. I appreciate and love each and everyone of you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Stay tuned for what I’ve got planned for the rest of the winter.

Race Recap – Trenton Double Cross Half Marathon

My intention for this race was to use this as a training run for my marathon and pace myself throughout it.  I was hoping for a sub 2:00 time which would have been a PR.  I can honestly say I learned a few lessons during the race.

It was cold the morning of the race.  Since this race was a Black Girls Run race, all members who registered received a special medal along with their finisher’s medal.  I was unable to run it last year due to injury so I was excited to run it this year.
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The start kept getting delayed.  I was getting frustrated.  It was supposed to start 8.  They kept saying they were checking the course. Everyone was anxious.  We were ready! This is the first time I have been to a race where everyone started at the same time.  The half, 5k and 10k all started together. That was odd to me.

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It was time for the start! BOOM!  The muskets (yes, muskets) sounded the start of the race. I started to run and immediately came to a stop.  We had bottlenecked at the start.  What was going on?  Nothing except the start was overcrowded.

Miles 1-5:

The first hill was immediate.  It was a steep incline and the cold air was stinging my lungs.  I felt my chest getting tight and I was having shortness of breath.  I told myself to calm down, slow down and breathe.  I could only take short, shallow breaths not the long ones that I needed.  I was getting worried, almost in a panic.  My friend looked back and knew something was wrong.  She shouted out “are you ok?”  I shook my head no because I could not speak.

I started to find my breath and was breathing a little easier.  I kept running.  

Mile 5.5:

My friend said “we can run the 10k, if you cannot make it to the finish.”  I said “no, I am finishing what I signed up for. I am running the half.”  She said, “I cannot carry you but I will stick with you through this.”  She did and I truly appreciate her.  

Miles 6 – 13:

I decided to walk the hills.  It was too hard to breathe when I ran them.  I decided to take another 2 puffs of my inhaler.  I felt some of the tightness release and I was able to run for a mile or 2, walk a quarter and that is how I finished the race.  I finished in 2:17.  

I was so happy that I was able to run across the finish line.  It was one of the toughest races I have ever run! I have exercised induced asthma and have never had an attack like this one during a race.  If I use my inhaler before an exercise or race I am usually fine.  I pushed through this race by listening to my body.  My legs wanted more but my lungs were not able to give it to me.
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Lessons learned:
Cold air triggers a sever reaction, listen to my body and ALWAYS carry my inhaler.