Sunday, April 29, 2012

Peak Training Week and Saturday Off

Ain't they the cutest thing??? Nike Lunar MTRL+

Well, my "A" spring marathon race is exactly in two weeks from now. This is my peak training week, or was, I have the last 3 training sessions out of 7 left, the last hard effort is today 10x 1 km repeats, two more workouts and I am off for taper time. The knee is getting way better even though I did some pretty hard efforts on it, so I am confident that with the taper, it will be just fine. I just have to continue with all the exercise my physiotherapist gave me.

My greatest dad brought me two pairs of new shoes from the US, you can imagine I am just beyond excited! Not decided yet which ones I am racing in. One are Nike's racing flats - the brand new Nike Lunar Mtrl+ (that stands for Nike Lunar Montreal). Second pair are Brooks Pure Connect, with only 4 mm heel to toe drop, but with enough support, I did several training runs in those and they are definitely very usable for training for me as well. The Nikes are more speed work or race only shoes.

I started writing this post today morning and wanted to finish it before heading out for my run. I also wanted to configure a workout for the Garmin 910XT that I have for testing now. As you might have read in my previous post today, that didn't go quite as I expected. Thus I have spent two hours tweaking it around with no result. Fortunately, you can also create the workout inside the watch, so that is what I did. My well balanced breakfast already wore off, I sucked in a GU gel to have something to power my run with and went for my training.

Before I tell you about how my workout went, back to marathon training and yesterday's day off. Very warm spring weather with more summer like temperatures came to the Czech Republic in the past few days. Since nobody can predict how the weather will be like on May 13 for the marathon, I am trying to do most of my runs in the late afternoon when it is really warm. You might wonder why. Well, it's simple, I have done many of my runs in cold or mild temperatures, but there haven't been many chances to train in really warm or hot conditions. It is harder on my body, but I know it will give me the power and confidence if it is really warm on the race day.

As I said before, I am now finishing the toughest week of my training. I really could feel it Friday afternoon - I was hungry just few hours after eating my lunch. I had planned my 20 km run for after 8 pm to avoid the roller skaters, had two hours of free time when I came home. I ate bowl of cereal with milk but still felt hungry, so I went for an unhealthy candy treat. When else eat it than before a 20 km run when you burn it all. :) Fortunately, I still had one eye open to set up an alarm and fell asleep almost immediately after finishing the candy bar. And I slept really sound, I guess my body needed it. The run went well, I had my new running buddy to accompany me, so it was fun. Ate my dinner in the bath and went to bed just before midnight. I woke up when the sun came up, but fell asleep again and woke up at 10 am. Damn, my body really needed the rest!

Saturday was a day off, until I got in operational mode it was 11 am. I decided that is great time for a little brunch of scrambled eggs and cheese on homemade bread. Bread with butter and honey for the dessert :) And of course cappuccino by Nespresso, yum! An addiction, yes I know (for both - bread with butter and honey and the cappuccino). It was beautiful day yesterday, totally blue sky without any clouds. I was invited to come visit Andrea with little Emma who are spending the long weekend (it's bank holiday here on Tuesday) at Andrea's parents country house less than one hour drive from Prague. Great opportunity to take my cute convertible for a ride :) I picked Katka up (since we are thee high school bffs) and we went for an afternoon in the country.

Isn't she the cute??? :o)

We had a lovely afternoon, ate ice cream, played around with Emma. God, where do the kids take all the energy. That baby girl never stops!!! Fortunately we were five or more to split her attention among us. And then there was the barbecue. Yum! I am glad that Andrea's mom likes it when the guest eat a lot, because that is what I certainly did :o I brought non-alcoholic beer so I won't have to drin water only all the afternoon. You know, Czech Republic has the best beer in the world and it tastes really great especially when it is so hot outside. Even the non-alcoholic version which is great alternative of a sports drink :)

We were having so much fun!!!

Got home before midnight and went straight to bed. I almost forgot about the part where I went jealous about all the partying at the barbecue. I decided it was great occasion to catch up on the bloggosphere with a glass of stylishly pink prossecco that I won for the Best Czech Running Blog award :) Yum! Great end to a great day!

My body seemed to replenish the deficit because I woke up just after 8 am. It seemed that I could get my training under my belt in a reasonable time, the Garmin decided otherwise. And you've already read about that in the firs few paragraphs. Today's training went really well, it was around 30 degrees Celsius (89 Fahrenheit) and I had 10x 1 km repeats at 4:45 min each (7:38 min/mile pace) planned. I didn't think it was that warm before I got out to the park, fortunately I had my Isostar and another water bottle for my doggie. Well, the repeats went just great. I have finished the last one faster than required and still felt like I could go for several more. This workout certainly gave me lot of confidence. Went to ice bath (well not exactly ice, but the coldest water that I can get from our pipes :) ), refueled with chocolate milk and after that with delicious roasted chicken, asparagus and potatoes my mom made. Tasted delicious, even more delicious since I only had to heat it up and eat.

Really happy with the hear rate - I was expecting it to go higher in the heat.

I guess the workout was little hard, because after eating I wanted to read a bit, but fell asleep almost immediately. On the shoe question. I think I will be running the marathon in the Nike Lunar Montreal. I took two other pairs with me in the car in case it did not feel comfortable. I had a bit of pressure feeling on my left achilles when walking. But I felt nothing when running the repeats. Honestly, I didn't think about the shoes at all. Whereas the Brooks have great support even with the minimal drop and you can feel the support. Which is great for training runs, but I don't want to feel anything for my marathon, just my breath and my mental games and feeling strong mantras :)

What was your weekend workout / race???

Good night and good luck!

YAYYYYY, only TWO weeks to go!

Garmin 910XT SOS post

I have another post drafted for today on my marathon prep, days off etc. But currently I am testing the great Forerunner 910XT and have spent all morning trying to upload custom workout to it with no success :( My brain burned all that carb breakfast that was meant to fuel me through my 1 km repeat workout. The thing is: I have the ANT+ stick, my data normally uploads to Garmin Connect site so I can see data recorded with the watch, but I cannot send it to the watch. Garmin Connect says workout uploaded successfully, but I don't see anything on the watch itself :( I even downloaded the ugly software of Garmin Training Center to try to do the same thing through it. Only to find myself with the same result: it says the workout was successfully uploaded, but there is no workout on the watch.

Please, please pretty please help me!

I have the watch only for very limited time, so I would love to try out any features it offers to be able to give appropriate feedback. I really don't like when something does not work and I am unable to find out why ... GRRRRR.

It looks huge even when compared
to my relatively big hand.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Neběžcům nemluvícím anglicky (Runner's Beauty)

Photo by The Coach - positive attitude!
Exceptional post mainly in Czech, but English version follows bellow.

Zpětná vazba a vaše komentáře jsou pro mě opravdu důležité. A zaslechla jsem takové názory, že u toho běhání vůbec nevypadám (potažmo my běžci všeobecně nevypadáme) dobře. Dovolím si s tím nesouhlasit. Krása je velmi povrchní věc. V mých očích je krásný každý běžec, krása vnitřní vůle k tréninku, k dalším výběhům, k boji s počasím, s nepochopením okolí a v neposlední řadě sama se sebou. Krok za krokem se přibližujeme svým snům. Nikdo se nestal běžcem že dne na den a to je to krásné - vědomí společného údělu nás spojuje.

Myslím, že je za tím názorem taky takové klišé vlastní českému myšlení. A to že sportovci musí chodit pořád ve sportovním a že když se někdo obléká elegantně a stylově, tak určitě není nějakým aktivním sportovcem. Můj milovaný trenér je toho ostatně důkazem. Když jsme se poprvé viděli, měla jsem na sobě šaty a boty na podpatku. Kolikrát jsem od něj od té doby slyšela, že nevěřil, že vydržím jeho trénink déle než měsíc. A za chvíli už spolu budeme trénovat rok :) Za tu dobu jsem v neuvěřitelné pohodě uběhla svůj první maraton, zlepšila se na desítce o tři a půl minuty a na půl maratonu o celých dvanáct minut. Díky trenére!

Pod anglickým textem pár fotek o kráse běžců a běžkyň...

Your feedback and comments are really important to me. And I got such a notes and rumors that the runners do not look good running (be it me or anybody else). I simply do not agree with that. Beauty can be very superficial. For me every runner is beautiful. The beauty of the inner strength to go out and train, to motivate yourself for every single run, to fight the weather. To fight the people around who do not understand your passion and last but not least the inner fight with yourself. Step by step we are getting closer to our dreams. Nobody became a runner overnight. And that is where the beauty lies - in the knowledge of common purpose that liks us together.

I think that the idea of runners not looking good has its roots in a Czech cliché. That is the habit that athletes wear only sports clothes all the time. On the other hand, when someone dresses up, he or she is automatically expected not to be a good athlete. My dearest Coach is a living proof of this attitude anyway. When we met for the first time to discuss our possible cooperation, I was wearing an elegant dress and high heels. You wouldn't believe how many times he repeated to me that he thought I wouldn't survive a month of his training before I quit. And here we are, approaching one year anniversary :) During that time I managed to finish my first marathon while having an absolute blast, I improved my PR on 10 km by three and half minutes and my half marathon PR by more than twelve minutes. Thank you The Coach! You are the best!

Beautiful runners around me:

Janae from the Hungry Runner Girl - she is 3:04 marathoner and cutest person ever!!!

DSC 4147

Jitka & Ondra - charming couple, 
he is extremely devoted tri athlete, she is an aspiring runner:

Photo by Jitka

And of course my dearest sister / best friend:

Photo by Jitka

Photo by Dan Materna

And few of myself:

Photo by Dan Materna

Photo by AndreaH

Photo by AndreaH

Photo by The Coach

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Best Czech Running Blog 2011

Once again thank you all for your votes and support that brought me to the first place of this competition! We have known the results for quite some time, but yesterday was the day when most of the participants had opportunity to meet up. The results announcement was an excuse to meet with all the others anyway. Everything greatly organized by Leona as was all the competition and many other running related events she has organized for us. Thank you Leona!

Great crowd was present: Leona, Jitka & Ondra, 12Honza, David & Zuzka, Renda, Evžen se Sárou, Věrka, ll, MireQ, s0cketka, Machy, Jirka and Miloš Škorpil (who coaches Ivana Sekyrková who just qualified for Olympics in marathon!!!). I think I surely forgot someone, sorry about that!!! I am really bad at names :( Anyway it was great evening with lot of fun and running related stories. There was even announcement of the winners, we got a huge box of delicious Mixit muesli as a winners cup and second personalized part of the prize. 12Honza got 10 pieces of Fidorka chocolate biscuits - one for each 10 km of Silva Nortica run. He shared the 3rd to 4th place with Running Shadow who couldn't make it overseas, but sent us very cute message through Honza. He set off for Zanger Grey 50 miler today! David got a green package and of course pink for me. Rose prosecco and hot pink nail polish. Leona, you are the best!

I am really addicted. I didn't run on Thursday because my right knee was feeling tired and it took my physiotherapist one hour to put me together. So after almost 48 hours without running, I did an easy 3 mile jog after coming home from the bloggers' meet up. And the knee was still improving!

This would be me heading for my long run today. I am proud that I cut it short 2 and half miles because my knee started to feel tired again. But I am really happy with the 11 miles I got under my belt! Zensah leg & arm sleeves testing as you can see on the photo (sorry for the crappy phone photos in this post).

What are your weekend workouts / runs / races???

Pardubice Half Race Recap

As you might have read in my previous post, I had special plan for Pardubice half marathon. I wasn't tapering prior to it and it was my 6th day in a row of quite challenging workouts. I should have been running with Jitka, but unfortunately she has a stress fracture, so I was on my own with no excuse. Well, there is The Coach, who made The Plan. Plan not that easy to stick to, since it pushed me to start really conservative and slow. How did I do?

Photo by Jitka - check out here photo report from the race.
Let's start from the beginning. I picked up Leona and her daughter/fan club president Sara with some delay at 9:30 on Saturday morning. The race start was at noon and race number pick up was open until 10:45 am. There was quite some traffic, but we managed to arrive on time, pick up our numbers and get ready for the race. We met with Jitka and her husband Ondra, abused local restaurant to go pee yet a millionth time and were slowly getting ready to start. As I took off my jacket, Leona refused to join me in the starting corridor. Something about my arm sleeves, compression socks and running skirt attracting too much attention. True to be said, I don't think I saw another skirt among the runners :o

Photo by Jitka - check out here photo report from the race.
Since my supposed starting pace for the first 5 km was quite slow (8:51 min/mile = 5:30 min/km) I didn't pay too much attention to warming up and stretching, because I knew the slowish pace will give me plenty of opportunity to warm up. The starting field was relatively cosy of about 1200 runners, nothing to do with the crowds in Prague. I got my spot somewhere in the middle of the pack and was waiting for the starting gun to go off. The conditions were just perfect. It was supposed to be really cloudy with rain later in the afternoon. Not that bad as in Prague, but nothing pleasant. Finally, there was some sun and the temperature was little higher than predicted (around 12-15 degrees Celsius) = perfect running conditions. At Least for me, I knew as it was getting warmer, things were getting tougher for Leona. But I didn't have chance to see her until after the finish.

The course were three 7 km loops in the city, which was super cool because the spectators could see plenty of action. There was also a section around the starting area where at around 3rd / 4th km we were coming back and seeing the people who were either ahead or behind. The starting gun went off and sooner than later I crossed the starting line (advantage of smaller races). I started at conservatively slow pace, but still I was too fast according to what The Coach planned for me. I did an inner pact with myself of going slightly slower than the supposed pace of the second 5 km (8:26 min/mile = 5:15 min/km). I maintained the pace around 8:30 min/mile and still was feeling strange because there were people passing me who shouldn't be passing me at all!!! I know I am a spoiled kid and this was tough on my attitude. I wanted to explain to everyone around that this is my training run and that is why I am going so slow. Not such a good idea, I know and fortunately I resisted the temptation to do so (almost every time).

The crowd was cool and friendly and since my effort was relatively easy I had a chance to look around, smile and enjoy the atmosphere. I got a guy approaching me just to tell me that I look really cute in the skirt. Awesome! I know that this might sond silly, but people in the Czech Republic aren't really used to do such things. So I thanked him and told him that I wear the skirts to motivate other runners to run better (now I know thanks to Honza :o) ). I also met an English speaking blog reader asking me "Are you Barborka On The Run?", that was awesome!!! I know your name started with "J", I am really bad at names, sorry for that. (If you are reading this, drop a comment or email me at: barborkas(at)me(dot)com.) That really lifted my spirits.

I didn't use auto lap on my Garmin and pushed the lap button on every 5 km mark - that is how the course was marked anyway and it went well with dividing the four different section according to my plan (plus the tiny bit at the end). So the first "leg" of the race should have been at 8:51 min/mile (5:30 min/km), but I finally averaged at 8:30 min/mile (5:16 min/km). I was glad I didn't go faster than the supposed pace for the 5-10 km part. When entering the second loop of the race I saw Ondra coming towards me, cheered him like a crazy one, he was totally rocking it and I was little bit jealous that I "cannot". But I know this was for bigger picture of my marathon training. Back to Ondra, he really ROCKED this race!

I was comfortably maintaining the pace just bellow 8:26 min/mile (5:15 min/km) through the 5th to 10th km. Honestly, I had some respect with the second half of the race. It was my sixth day of intense training in the row. What is more, I did a 10 km in 8:00 min/mile (5:00 min/km) pace on Friday evening and it didn't feel good at all. I was busy at work, went for a meeting on other side of town and at 4 pm I realized I didn't have lunch, so I got some fast food junk just to get some calories in. Lesson learnt, I won't do that any time soon again! I felt like throwing up on my Friday training the first 3 km, but as I was continuing with my run, I was feeling better and better. Yep, thank you running for making me feel better yet again!

Back to the race, the second half was actually a blast. Honestly, I know it kind of isn't fair, but it felt awesome not being passed and passing people all the time. Yes I was passed by the elite, but that felt also awesome seeing them in action. Oh my God, the length of their steps!!! What a stride! At the 8 min/mile pace, it was still decent passing yet another runner, and another. I remembered the Hungry Runner Girl's motto she has on the website: "It's rude to count people as you pass them. Out loud." I felt really good, took my first gel at about 10th km and the second somewhere between km 16 and 17. When I kicked in the high gear for the last 5 km, that was some fun. I fixed my eyes on the next girl ahead of me and the simple task to help me go with the pace was to pass her. My average pace between km 15 and 20 was 7:33 min/mile (4:41 min/km).

This lady doesn't know that she definitely helped me
going few seconds faster.
Just before finish and yes, I passed her :)

The most fun was the final stretch after the 20 km mark. The mark itself was actually in a small climb, so I waited until I was on a flat surface and started picking up my pace. The good thing was that I wasn't that much worn off as I would have been, if I averaged around 7:30 min/mile (4:40 min/km) through the whole race. The other thing is that the speed training really gives you confidence, because I know that I can push myself pretty hard for the last 800 m even on really tired legs. Average pace for the last 1.1 km was 6:56 min/mile (4:18 min/km). Really happy about that. What is maybe more important was that my average heart rate for this bit was 180 BPM and peaking with 184 BPM. It has been quite some time since I have pushed myself this hard - pace wise and hear rate wise.

I met with Jitka after the finish line. She was saying something about how handy it is that my arm sleeves simply shine out from the crowd. First race in those Zensah babies and felt really awesome! More detailed review will follow after I got more experience with them. We all met in a nice restaurant for post race meal and beer (non alcoholic for me as driver) and were off to Prague again. It is really cool to spend time with people who have the same addiction and passion as you have. We spent the whole way to Prague chatting about our training, the possible different approches to training, race plans and so on. Great race, great day, great friends!!! Thank you all!

Ooops, I almost forgot to include my finishing time - 1:46:09, 575th overall (1190 finishers), 45th woman, 20th in my category. But this race wasn't about time and age group podiums, it was about fun and friends!

Yes, I chose this photo to show off my leg muscles :)
Photo by Jitka - check out here photo report from the race.

So far, I am loving these pink babies.
Photo by Jitka - check out here photo report from the race.

Photo by Jitka - check out here photo report from the race.

Chilling out after the race with friends, very cool day indeed!
And yes, my iPad goes wherever I go and has pink cover. Thank YOU!!!
Photo by Jitka - check out here photo report from the race.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Training Race Challenge

I am really good at pacing myself in my trainings - correction, at my relatively comfortable pace trainings. In the last session with The Coach, I was supposed to do 3x 800 m at 3:10-3:15. Since that is damn fast for me, I tend to go "as fast as I can hold for the 800 m", so I did the first one at 3:01 - wooops. How did I suffer the other two ... I managed to do 3:10 and 3:11, but I learnt my lesson. But back to business ... I am just having breakfast and heading out to Pardubice for a half marathon.

Actually a bib from the Prague half, I am yet to pick it up for this race...

I tend to be serious about my races, so I wouldn't normally sign in for a half that is two weeks after my "A" half of spring and 4 weeks before my "AAA" marathon. But Jitka seemed to stop being frieds with me if I don't come and run the half marathon of her hometown and what is more her first half marathon! I agreed that I will run with her to pace her under 2 hours and take it as an easy training run. But unfortunately, the bad ugly demon of stress fracture came and Jitka cannot run :( :( :( I am really pi$$ed with the stress fracture! I already paid the entry fees and everything, so I said I would run anyway. The Coach didn't like the idea at all, he wanted me to take it really easy. But I guess he knows me and that wouldn't work, I need a plan that I am relatively comfortable with.

Here is the plan:

0-5 km 8:51 min/mile = 5:30 min/km
5-10 km 8:26 min/mile = 5:15 min/km
10-15 km 8:02 min/mile = 5:00 min/km
15-20 km 7:38 min/mile = 4:45 min/km
20-21.1 km ??? (I should be doing the 7:38 pace all the way to the end, but I have my own plan :D ... hope The Coach does not read this :o) )

The race should stand for a long progression run ending little slower than is my current half marathon pace - or little faster than my current marathon pace :D

Finishing my breakfast and in few minutes I am heading out to pick up Leona and Pardubice, we are coming!

Do you run races as a part of your training? Do you find it tough not to go all out when you are in competition? Even though you know it could screw your A race???

Definitely tough thing for me ... we shall see how it goes today.

Have a great weekend running everyone! Tell me about your runs / races!

Saturday, April 07, 2012

In Love & Night Time Running

I am in love with several new things - exactly two. The new tech toy I am writing this on. Those who know me for a while might be aware of the fact that I am an Apple addict and vivid brand ambassador. And now my portfolio is a bit more complete again :o) That is mainly blogging related love. But now to the more important love the one that involves running! My brand new running shoes! Let me introduce you to the Brooks Green Silence:

I got them in my mail the day before the half marathon last weekend. You can imagine how hard it was to let them just sit at home. But I knew that race day is not the day to break in the new shoes. So far I have run three times in them and I am seriously in love with them. I have to force myself to switch to my old Nikes for the every other runs. It is a big deal for me getting other than Nike running shoes. I have been running only in Nikes since I started in the summer of 2009. Unfortunately, you cannot get the Lunaracers in women's sizes here in the Czech Republic. I saw a deal on these Brooks, read few reviews and since Amanda is a part of Brooks ID, I was hooked. 

On the night time running note. Since I am giving myself a bit of break from the really strict pre race regimen, I was again able to enjoy bit of social life. I did my runs in the morning from Monday to Wednesday, but then I felt I needed sleep sound on Thursday so the run was left for the evening. With the circumstances, I started my run at 9:30 pm and since it was almost 9 miles, I was done with it slightly before 11 pm. It used to be unthinkable for me to go running later than 7-8 pm. But I realized it was only a mental block. Since I am totally addicted to running and my training I just do anything to get my runs in. Of course I also need to get enough sleep and proper nutritional I have the energy to complete my training. 

Little did I know that my Friday run will be even later! I got tickets for the tennis Davis Cup game. It was great fun, but I didn't know that a tennis game could actually take more than five hours! What is more it was five hours of constant battle and really interesting to watch. The outcome being that I got home at 11 pm! Since I had only 5 miler (8 km) planned and knew I could sleep in, I simply headed out on my run. Kind of crazy, but I loved it. In my Brooks Green Silence of course! Today was an easy 11 miler (18 km) and tomorrow a day off to get myself some important rest. 

What are your weekend runs/races?

Refueling after the long run, it was cool to come home and have the lunch ready.
I was starving!

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Three Things Grateful Thursday

1. I am grateful for the mantras that have been helping me with going through life and running. Here are two of my favorites, right now decorating my screen on post-its:

Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional!

I love you and I am thankful for you! 

(This one is great to tell to your friends, family, close ones, or you can at least think about it in your mind when you approach them. They will definitely feel the kindness in your attitude and will appreciate it.)

2. I am grateful for late night runner who's ego made him keep up with my pace, so I had a running buddy today for the last four miles of my 9 miler :o) (Yep, the guys kind of don't like girls passing them...  what do you think about this one?)

3. And finally, I am grateful for my new toy that helps me keep up with the blogs, emails, work etc. Can you guess what it is? :)

Monday, April 02, 2012

Hervis Prague 1/2 Marathon Race Recap

Photo by AndreaH

The D day was here, first serious test of the effort I have been putting in since after the ING NYC marathon in November 2011. This was gonna be my third start in Prague's half, but first without Guillaume! I can understand that it is not as easy to get in here from the great Big Apple as it was from London :) So I found myself the evening before the race thinking about what should I get ready, when exactly do I want to be at the start and so on. I prepared all my gear, fueling and change clothes the evening before and was ready to go to bed.

Yep, I was in bed, but sound sleep it was not, I was awake several times during the night. But it is the nights in the week before the race that count and I managed to get in at least 8 hours every single one of them :) Shower, power breakfast and then I realized that I missed on very important racing equipment - hot pink nails! Fortunately, I still had enough time to squeeze in one layer of nail painting job :) Walked the dog who truly couldn't understand why I am wearing running gear and we are not going for a run??? Then double checked several times and was ready to go. One return to get a plastic waste bag to put on before the start to hold in as much warm as I could. It was around 7-9 °C (45-48 °F) and with strong wind. Great temperature, the wind, not that much!

I took the tram and walked last few hundred meters towards the start area. Was drinking my Isostar, looking around, cued for the porta pottys which took just enough time to meet with Andrea who came in to support me and take some photos. I went to get a plastic bottle of sports drink so I can trash it at the start area (I am environmentally responsible kind of girl and only have my reusable Sigg hot pink bottle that I definitely do not want to trash :) ). And with 40 minutes to start it was time to get ready. I applied the warming massage lotion on my thighs and arms to keep my muscles warm in the crazy windy weather, took on the arm warmers and the plastic bag. The final decision for clothes: NB running skirt, CEP compression socks, bottom layer sleeveless Nike Pro t-shirt with Nike hot pink shirt over it (very boring I ran most of the races in this t-shirt). And arm warmers from Running Skirts that are great because a) you can hide your fingers in them to keep them warm and b) they each have a pocket to stash a gel in it. And of course my fuel belt and Nike cap.

Photo by AndreaH

Warm up strides - can you see the elegant trash bag outfit? :)
Photo by AndreaH

Photo by AndreaH
Time to say good bye to Andrea, drop my bag, go to the porta pottys one more time and head to my starting corridor. Very logically the lowest numbers (= faster runners) were towards the direction of the slower corridors. Therefore I had to fight through the crowd to drop my bag and then the same way back towards my corridor. At least it took just enough time to leave me with not much to wonder in the starting corridor. I had a greatest running blogger moment there when for a first time ever a reader that I did not know before, dear Monika, approached me asking that surely based on the outfit I must be "Barborka On The Run". It was very pleasant mood uplifter. Thank you Monika!

And there we were running to the sounds of Bedřich Smetana's Vltava. Honestly, every year that is very touching moment. I crossed the starting line with 2:50 on the official watch. It seemed to me more crowded that the previous years. It is true that this year was maximum with 11 thousand runners, but I also think that fact that I was in corridor going for 1:45:00 and I was aiming for 1:40:00 pace actually. I couldn't know The Coach will help me get that fast :) Thank you Coach! On the other hand that was really helpful, because first time ever I didn't overspeed the beginning. I planned to do the first kilometer at 4:50 and I did it exactly at 4:50 (7:46 min/mile). Yay! I planned on going at 4:45 min/km (7:38 min/mile) for the first 5 km. You can see at the Garmin log that I went slower on the first mile, held to that pace in the second mile and then got to my general target pace of 4:40 min/km (7:30 min/mile). Giving myself little bit of "cushion" for going under 1 hour 40 minutes.

Not even 1 km in the race and I look worse than after the full marathon!
... it was really cold, needed some running to warm up :)

Photo by AndreaH

The other measure to check was the heart beat. If I was reaching towards 177 BPM in the first part of the race that would mean slowing down. But yay, I was well below 170 BPM in the first part, really happy about that. Honestly, I have to admit that I still need to be getting used to going that fast for such a long distance. Man, I want to run marathons faster than that pace, so I better get used to it! :) So back to the race, I saw Andrea and my mom just after the start before the 1st kilometer mark. Then dad and grand pa around 3 km. Honestly, the kilometers are flying by quite fast at this pace, cool!

I only had one little moment of trouble before the 10th km, I felt strong going back to the right bank of the river. There was mom, Andrea & co. again and they were great at cheering me up (check out the videos bellow). I waved at them and got out my gel to get it in because I was just before 10 km mark so slight after 45 minutes into the race. And there I got the side stitches (píchání v boku in Czech) ... grrr. I got some more water to help the first half of the gel get down and had to run with the gel in my hand for some time so I can put myself back together. Luckily, I was able to breathe through that and I don't really remember how it ended. I was just back to my pace working hard to continue. Got a little bit slowed down by the huge marketing group around the famous football player Pavel Nedvěd. Man, he got like 8 guys around him to chat with him and give him pace I guess, all in orange t-shirts saying something like "Pavel Nedvěd team". I wanted to say something little provocative, but then I told myself that seeing a girl in a skirt with pink socks and basically pink everything passing him might be just enough :) See you at the marathon Pavel!

Running in the second half towards Holešovice, it is where you know you are in the second half, but you also know that you will turn in the ugly last 5 km that were gonna be really windy this year again as they were in 2010. And yes, these were some windy kilometers. As the Ethiopian winner Atsedu Tsegay said the wind took the world record away from him, and I would say it took the under 1:39:00 time from me. Back to the winner, he is just 20 and he ran the half at 58:47, he missed the world record closely and it is the fastest half marathon time ran in 2012 so far. And he ran the last 6 km on his own speeding up all the time. Bravo!

The last 6 km for me? I know I was putting in more effort since there was the strong head wind with no buildings to cover us up. I tried to hide behind some guys, but it simply did not work (not many girls around there). The field wasn't that crowded by that time and there were either the really good guys who were speeding up and I couldn't catch up with. And the others were slightly slowing down. It was good to be passing people, but on the other hand I had to fight with the wind most of the time. At around 17 / 18 km for some time there was a really tall guy in green t-shirt and dark blue shorts and I was barely hanging on his pace which was great for me. According to my heart rate, I knew I could push little harder, because I wasn't still reaching 180 BPM, but I was really afraid of breaking down if I pushed too hard.

I lost my tall pacer just before 20km mark on the turn to the bridge away from the finish to come back with the next bridge. There I knew I can start pushing it. I am glad that at least the 13th mile was at under 7:30 min/mile, the last tiny bit was even bellow 7 min/mile!!! The official real time:

1 hour 39 minutes 21 seconds

average pace: 7:35 min/mile (4:43 min/km)
fastest miles (5th & 10th): 7:25 min/mile (4:36 min/km)
slowest mile (1st): 7:54 min/mile (4:54 min/km)

I am also including the official splits, Honza will love this, I managed to do my second half of the race in exactly same splits: 23:33 per 5 km :) The last 1 097.5 meters I did at 4:55 minutes which equals 7:18 min/mile (4:28 min/km). Called The Coach, who was really excited! Yep, so was I. Met with my fan club and went for the well deserved hot chocolate. Can you understand that they first brought it without whipped cream on the top??? Enjoy some more photos, I am off to bed, since I couldn't really sleep well last night after the race.

Happy running everyone! What are your next planned races???

Photo by AndreaH

Searching for my sweat shirt ...
Photo by AndreaH

... to find out I have it already on :D :D :D ... it was really freaking cold!
Photo by AndreaH

Photo by AndreaH

Afternoon recovery with Zensah :)

Victory burger with my favorite boys!