A “New” Garmin Record

Simon is dead; long live Simon Mark II.

(For those of you new to my blog, or for those of you who may have forgotten, since it’s been so dang long since I’ve written about him, Simon is what I call my Garmin Forerunner.)

My beloved first running watch kicked the bucket last year. It was a slow death… taking longer and longer to connect to GPS, deciding he didn’t want to save the occasional run, acting erratically.

The final straw came at the QEOP10K last September, when I ran my first international race and was excited to have my run saved in Garmin Connect for posterity, only to have Simon basically give me a two-fingered salute after I crossed the finish line, crapping out without saving anything. Oh well.

I found a replacement – a bigger, shinier, fancier Forerunner 230 – on Groupon Goods a few months after The Bairn arrived, and have been wearing it on my very occasional runs.

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It turns out the timing for a new watch ended up being pretty perfect.

I feel like I’m almost starting over with my running post-Bairn. I didn’t run at all between said QEOP10K last September and the end of May, and since then have been getting used to a body that’s a bit different since pregnancy and childbirth, on top of getting my running groove back.

Last Sunday I ran a mile for the first time in who knows how long. That is, a mile without needing a walk break. It was awesome. It was a gorgeous fall morning, and I set out on a new-to-me route with the intention of just taking it easy and seeing how I felt. I made it a quarter-mile and felt good, so I decided to try for a half-mile. Made it to that no problem, and thought “what the heck?” I made it a full mile, walked a half-mile, ran another quarter-mile, then walked the last .25 for a nice, even 2 mile excursion.

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Now, hitting that mile felt like a huge accomplishment in itself, but as a bonus, Simon Mark II gave me a fanfare at the end of my run because I had run my “fastest mile.” At first I was a bit dumbfounded, thinking back to the glorious day when I ran my current fastest mile, but then remembered that I was wearing a whole new watch, with no memory of my blazing record.

As I work my way oh-so-slowly back to running regularly and rebuilding my base, having little moments of fanfare with digital bling makes the whole thing so much more exciting and motivating. Old Simon wouldn’t have given me any fanfare for running an 11:18 mile, and that’s totally okay. But the bonus props from New Simon gives me a little mental push to keep working at beating my new PR. And there’ll be “new” records to break too – longest run, fastest 5K, etc. It’s like having a clean running slate, and I think that’s just what I need right now.

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Flashback Friday: My “Moby Dick” of a PR

Disclaimer: This was supposed to be a “Throwback Thursday” post, but apparently that wasn’t meant to be. Flashback Friday to the rescue!

It’s crazy to think that a year (well, 3 days short of a year) has gone by since my infamous Plymouth Race… a race that frankly sucked, but that resulted in an outlier of a PR – roughly 3 minutes faster than my previous PR – one that I have been unable to get close to since. But, much like Ahab, I will keep trying until I succeed!

[Confession: It probably makes me a horrible former English major, but I have never read Moby Dick. I should remedy that someday.]

Before the Plymouth race (full recap here, for anyone interested), my PR was 33:44, and I had achieved that PR a mere 2 weeks before Plymouth. I remember being ridiculously excited to achieve my first sub-11:00 mile during the AFA Veterans Fun Run, and even more excited that each subsequent mile was faster – 10:49, 10:28, 10:10. Boo yeah! Colin and I were well chuffed.

This is technically a "before" picture from the AFA race, but we still look well chuffed, don't we?

This is technically a “before” picture from the AFA race, but we still look well chuffed, don’t we?

At that point in my running life, my 5K PRs were all relatively close together – no “major” leaps in pace: 35:08, 34:25, 33:44. The odd thing about them was that they almost all occurred in a row… 35:08 was at the Jerry Garcia River Run in late July, then I came within 7 seconds of matching that PR at the Canal Diggers Road Race, then PR’d with 34:25 at The Dam Race in October, and my next “real” race (not counting the virtual Halloween run I did) was the AFA run and 33:44 PR. Cool, right?

Cool, except that Colin and I got a bit cocky. We were basically PR machines at that point, and we may have let it go to our heads. The worst part about our cockiness is that we weren’t really training… we were just going out there and running races, with only one or two 2-ish-mile mid-week runs in between. So it all seemed so easy.

Then came Plymouth. It was frikkin’ cold that day – temperature in the teens (F) but with an ocean windchill that brought the feels-like temp down to single digits. And that ocean wind was strong. I broke out the big guns kit-wise: fleece-lined pants, knee-length wool socks, fleece-lined base-layer shirt, tech t-shirt, running jacket with the hood pulled up, gloves, and my swag from the race – a nice wicking hat. And I was still freezing.

Goofing off in an attempt to stay warm before the race started

Goofing off in an attempt to stay warm before the race started

Thankfully the restaurant at the start/finish line let everyone hang out inside where it was nice and toasty (and where there were real bathrooms!), but it felt like it took FOREVER for the race to start once we were lined up. Then our first mile was directly into that cold ocean wind. My face was completely numb, my fingers all turned white despite my gloves… it was good times.

When the starting gun went, Colin took off like a bat out of hell. I mean, straight-up sprinting and dodging around everyone, since we had started at the back. (I assumed it was because of the cold and he just wanted to run fast to warm up, but he recently said he thinks he started fast because of the sprints we did for warmups, which we usually don’t do.) I chased after him, desperately trying to keep up while simultaneously trying not running over anyone, and we made it about a mile before my body finally warmed up enough to realize what it was doing and started protesting. My chest tightened, I was fighting to catch my breath, I had horrible side stitches, and my right foot ached like crazy (I didn’t know it at the time, but my shoes had essentially given up the ghost). I was miserable, and was only able to run – much more slowly – little bits and pieces of the next 2 miles.

I remember walking at one point and feeling so disappointed that I couldn’t continue my PR streak because of all the walking I was doing. I didn’t have Simon at the time, and hadn’t brought my phone to use MapMyRun because it was far too cold for that nonsense, and Colin hadn’t brought a phone either for the same reason. So I had no idea how I was doing for time. But I felt wicked slow.

Imagine my surprise, then, as I rounded the last corner and saw 30:whatever on the finish line clock. Holy schnikes! That made me pick up the pace! I finished with an absurd 30:49, with an average pace (according to the race results) of 9:55. What fresh hell?! I had manged to keep the streak going, but had somehow PR’d way out of my league, if you will, and that 30:49 is still my seemingly unreachable Moby Dick of a PR. The closest I’ve gotten is 33:08, at the Shamrocks on the Rocks 5K back in March, and I only just registered my fastest mile on Simon as 9:50 during a recent speed workout. How did I average 9:55?!

(source)

(source)

That first mile must have been uber fast. Given how much I had to walk for the rest of the race, I’m extremely curious about how fast that mile was. Of course that had to be the one race neither Colin nor I were using a GPS tracker thingie! Colin and I did try to replicate the first-fast-mile tactic at our next race, but it didn’t go quite so well. For me, my dead shoes made my feet hurt SO bad that I practically limped the course, not to mention I got separated from Colin and our pacer, Shauna, after about 30 seconds because the course was so packed. I finished in 33:31. Colin managed a 31:something but felt dizzy during the run and nearly fainted at the finish line. Thankfully (for me, because I hate blazing out fast and then wanting to keel over!) we haven’t tried this tactic again… though I think Colin would nearly always be game to give it another go.

But the question remains: when will I catch my Moby Dick? Part of me really wants to go out guns blazing during a race to see what I can do, but most of me wants to a) enjoy the race, and b) not faint or puke or do anything else unseemly. I’m trying to stick with Steve’s speed workout tactic of getting used to running my average race pace and then slowly work at getting faster, but that “PR Machine” era has made *actually* working at getting faster more frustrating than it probably should be. One day I’ll get there. One day.

What do you prefer – going out fast and then possibly having to slow down, or starting slow and either trying to stay steady or negative split?

Do you have any “Moby Dick” PRs that haunt you?

Have you read Moby Dick? Is it worth reading?