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  1. Sometimes it’s difficult to know whether to toe the line or DNS. It can be even harder to know when a DNF would be the best call. I now know I should have made the first choice about the Indy Women’s Half Marathon, but if I had to start the race again I would have made the second choice, pride and other considerations aside. But I’m getting ahead of myself... Expo fun After I PRed at the Plaza 10K at the beginning of the month, I felt really good about trying for a half PR in Indy. Typically I don’t have to slow down much from a 10K to a half; last year my differential between the 2017 Plaza 10K and the 2017 Indy Women’s half was 8 seconds/mile. To hit my big goal time of sub-1:20 at Indy, I could slow down about 14 seconds/mile from what I ran at this year's Plaza. I felt really good about going for that, and thought if the weather was good and I could get in a fast pack that 1:18:59 would be realistic. Starting about 10 days before the race, I felt a niggle in my calf (another post coming with full details about this). Initially it was too tiny to even worry about, and loosened up after a few blocks or at most a mile into my runs, but 6 days before the race it started getting worse and I started worrying. I did not enjoy my runs like usual during race week, because I was worried that my body was betraying me. I also had a short but intense stomach bug on Tuesday during race week that certainly didn’t do my recovery or body as a whole any favors. I had ART for my calf twice during race week, hoping for relief. I really vacillated on whether or not I should start the race, and had pretty much backed out, but the lightened up mileage of race week had me feeling like a race horse and I became optimistic that I could race and then take a few days off afterward to address the issue. On Thursday morning I told my parents my decision to race, since they were traveling to my home that day to leave for Indy with me on Friday morning. When I went in for ART on Thursday evening my coach told me he did not think racing on it would make it worse or that it would jeopardize CIM in any way, so I felt validated in my decision. He didn’t even think I’d need time off afterward as I expressed. He said it was a minor strain to my peroneus longus, a stabilizing muscle on the outside of the calf. I also rationalized it away by deciding that if this turned into a season-ending injury, I would be happy that I went to Indy to go for a PR because I might never get to my current fitness level again. Worst case scenario, I wanted a last hurrah. Throughout this time, my instincts were screaming at me: “Don’t do it! This is a bad idea!” I wouldn’t listen; I told myself I would power through the pain, mind over matter. I was honored to be featured as one of the Five Women to Watch in the race, but this honor also greatly contributed to my stubbornness about a DNS. I was already printed in the race program; what a loser I would be for pulling out last-minute. The weather forecast was also perfect for racing, at 50* and light wind (bad weather would have made pulling out much easier). This was NOT the photo I submitted to be published, & IS the worst photo of me from the 2017 event...not sure what happened there, but it disappointed me Starting photo from 2017 - can you find me? Posing with bib #3 My sweet mom My sweet dad Race morning my calf hurt on my warm up, but I was used to the feeling from the week before. It wasn’t terrible and I figured I’m just power through. Prior to this race, I'd never really tried to race with an injury so didn't know the reality of your body simply not allowing it to happen, no matter what your mind says. As the race started, adrenaline took over, and I told myself, “See, you’ll be fine.” I could tell I was running tentatively but thought maybe it would warm up more and I could speed up then; I wanted to go out conservatively and negative split anyhow. I felt like I was in my own little world, just me and my calf, not like I was in a race; although I knew by mile 3 I’d moved up to 5th place in the all women's field. I looked at my first 3 splits and then stopped checking them, disheartened, because my leg wasn't working right. Trying to stay optimistic pre-race Start By mile 4 I was limping. I couldn’t focus on racing or the women ahead of me; all I could think about was my leg. I tried changing my stride slightly, varied my foot-strike, anything for some relief, but nothing helped. I went back and forth between telling myself “this was a terrible idea” and “you’re going to be just fine, it’s just getting warmed up, just don't think about it.” My body was fine otherwise; I wasn't putting out a race effort, which was discouraging. I kept telling myself to toughen up; to just power through. Mind over matter. Make that leg work; force it to feel normal. I made it through the halfway turn around in a solid 5th place. I knew by that point that my sought after PR was for sure out the window, but I hoped I could stay in the top 5. By mile 7 I was becoming increasingly concerned about my calf, and by mile 8 I was truly dragging my left leg along. My body kept saying, “just stop” but my mind wouldn’t listen. I thought about my seeded race ranking. I thought about my parents who’d traveled to watch me. I thought about how this could be my last run for awhile...what if this was my last race ever?! Mid-race By mile 10 I was truly worried my leg was going to give out with each step. My body begged me to stop, and my mind acquiesced that I would if I couldn’t hang on to a top 10 spot. I stumbled along, and a slight decline in mile 11 truly made my leg scream (had this course not been so flat I would certainly not have finished). At mile 12 I was still in 5th but I could tell someone was coming up on me. I knew I’d have no response when I was passed. She blew by me like I was standing still, and I figured several more were coming, but there was nothing I could do, and I was so close I knew I'd finish even if I crawled it in. Effort-wise I felt like I was out for an easy run, but my leg was shooting pain and wouldn’t move any faster. My positive splits told the story of my increasing discomfort. I was so relieved to see the finish line ahead; I was going to make it in. It's funny how adrenaline carried me to the line but not a step farther. I had no idea what my time would be, but it didn’t matter at that point. I crossed in 1:24:18 and immediately broke into tears. If I’d just had an off day and run this time it would have been quite disappointing, but it wouldn’t have shaken me in my pursuit of a marathon PR; my recent 10Ks showed me my fitness was at an all-time high. I cried because at that moment I was certain my season was over. I got my last hurrah race but I couldn’t show my fitness in it. I was too stubborn to quit but not stubborn enough to over-ride my own body; I couldn’t force my leg to be okay. Exactly how I felt photo 1 Exactly how I felt photo 2 Finally! Hindsight is 20/20, and I should have listened to my own body and head instead of what others told me. The whole week my gut told me no. I prayed about it and thought God told me no. I did it anyway. I was wrong. But I also didn’t know until I knew, and by then the damage was done. Post-race I couldn't walk without holding onto someone or something. My cool down mileage wasn’t an option, and my dad ended up walking to the car and coming back to pick me up. To add injury to injury, my poor mom tripped and fell while trying to get from the start to a spot a few blocks away where we would later run by. She scraped and bruised her face, broke her glasses, and bruised up her knee and body. I was just sick about this happening to her; I felt like it was all my fault for not staying at home in Missouri like I clearly should have. Instead of having fun in Indy post-race, we headed home since we both couldn't really walk. Most of the top 10, in no particular order Winnings We both visited the med tent for ice! I’m thankful I was able to finish, even though I shouldn’t have. I’m thankful I held on to 6th (video of the awards here; official results here). Happiness is based on happenings, but joy is based on Jesus. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t very unhappy, but I am aiming to choose joy. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” - Joshua 1:9 Going from running 80 miles a week to 0 is a huge mind-trip, but I know that is what I have to do until I'm pain-free. I’m not going to do anything to risk permanent damage. As much as I want to run CIM 2018 in 2:44:59, I want to run for the rest of my life so much more. The good news is that I've had significant improvements every day post-race, and no longer fear that this is season-ending (plus I was able to go to work on Monday then walk across the Missouri State campus to teach on Tuesday, both of which I'd been quite concerned about!). I didn't know I shouldn't have run until I did...now, I know. Post-race meal at Texas Roadhouse Fitting rest stop on the drive to the race 2 days after the race while I was on the spin bike my cat knocked my award on my workout room floor...it felt sadly symbolic
  2. eliz83

    Thelma & Louise 13.1 RR

    ... and I bet you local folks thought I was doing the Hospital Hill Half Marathon ... So that 13.1 that I was training for? It was the Thelma & Louise Half Marathon, a classic, run-with-your-best-girl, ladies only race set in the rugged cliffs of Moab, Utah. This race was an excuse for a girls trip with one of my closest friends. She's must faster than I am (former 400 m hurdler, that one), but she is the type that abides by the "run with", as opposed to "run at the same time" rule. In this race, it was especially fun to have a person that you run right beside every step. As Moab itself is at about 4,500 feet and surrounding terrain can get up to 7,000 feet, we decided to fly in Tuesday for Saturday's race - to get adjusted to the altitude change and to also take advantage of the national and state parks surrounding the town. We hit up Arches National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park (where T & L famously drove their convertible into the Colorado River), part of Canyonlands National Park and also some zip lining on petrified cliffs that somehow aren't part of any park, but are owned by the touristy places in Moab. For pics of those adventures, hop on over to my Instagram and check out #girlstrip. Race day was an early early wake up call. Our alarms were set for 3:45 am in order to get to the buses by 4:45 that would take us to the starting line. It's the desert. It's summer. The race started at 6 am. Friend, M and I agreed to join the sports bra squad on race day, but found ourselves needing long sleeves in the incredibly cool and windy morning that we awoke to. We literally had been moving about our tiny home rental, barely mummering to each other until we stepped outside and the cold air caused us to scream in surprise. That woke us up. The bus ride was relatively quick and uneventful. The race starting point was right along the Colorado River and surrounded by cliffs - an insanely beautiful sight. However, that early in the morning, before sunrise, it was cold and the wind was not helping. Luckily, we found a spot that blocked most of the wind, and wound up chatting with two other women who had traveled from Seattle. When it was finally time to head to the start, we shed our layers, dropped bags, hit up the toilets one last time and lined up literally at the very end of the pack. It was chip timed, so who cares, right? The course was described as a slight decline out and a slight incline back. So, the strategy was to keep things reined in the first half so as to not crash and burn in the second half. M let me control the pace, which I'm sure was painfully slow for her at first. We ticked off the first 3 miles in 12:24, 12:37 and 12:28. Starting at mile 3, there were aid stations every 1.5 miles - key in the heat and dry air for us Midwesterners who weren't used to this climate. Our goal was to run all the miles, walk all the water stops, because we both suck and drinking and running anyway. This was a great strategy, except for the part where it really messes with my split data, LOL. Around mile 4, we ran by an arch (jug handle arch) and this amazing group of women drummers, Moab Taiko Dan that energized us and quite frankly, made me so happy I've been trying to find a similar group at home. Miles 4-6: 10:48, 12:14 (water stop), 11:34. Slightly after this, we hit the turnaround and also the relay exchange point, so there was an amazing crowd, cheering everyone on. We both felt pretty darn good at this point, and we both were wondering when things were going to feel hard. For the first half, we'd been running in the shades of the cliffs, but the sun was up and over most of the terrain now. It was bound to get hot, right? Miles 7-9 ticked by in 12:01 (water stop), 11:04 and 11:26. We both kept making comments about how things still felt easy. Should they feel easy? There was a surprising amount of shade, and the wind was still blowing, keeping us relatively cool. Every now and then, I would glance down at my watch and see us nearing 10:00 pace, but then I would get scared and back off a little bit. Seriously, I need to stop running scared. LITERALLY. The last few miles I could feel myself tiring. It was a mix of emotions, because I was getting tired, but I knew I was doing well. I also knew M was full of energy and could have jetted off easily, but she stuck by my side, staying slightly in front of me to "drag" me along. UGH. Push, push, push, dig a little more. One last water stop and onto the finish. As we neared the finish line and hauled it in, I just felt all kinds of emotion welling up inside me. Tears were already forming and we hadn't even crossed. When we finally did, I just lost it. M's watch didn't have 13.1 yet, so she went off to "finish" her mileage and that was fine with me. I just needed to be alone in the crowd, half crying, half trying to not cry. I hadn't stopped my watch right away, but was thrilled by the time: 2:32.16. My previous PR was 2:35 and change. I actually did it. I finally broke that PR - set all the way back in my first half marathon. I was looking forward to seeing the official results and getting my actual chip time. Guess what? This race doesn't do chip time. Only gun time, which had us at 2:33 and change. Slightly frustrating, as I won't know my true PR. But hey, it's at least 3 minutes, maybe 4. Not too shabby. PS - this race has the best snacks Will I do another half marathon? Eh, I don't know. I know if the opportunity presented itself, I would do another race in Moab that is done by this race company and I would probably be willing to tackle this specific course again. After the race, I told M I'd love to actually be able to race her one day. She smiled - her goal is to get faster, too, so I may never catch her. But I'll have fun trying. BTW, girls trip came on the heels of a very exciting time in my life. The BF and I celebrated one year of dating ... and he asked if he could call me by another title for the rest of our lives. I said yes.
  3. SIbbetson

    Sometimes Random Decision-Making Pays Off!

    The short: I entered the Bill Snyder Highway Half at the last minute, mostly so I wouldn't have to run the monster workout I had scheduled alone. While the workout morphed from a split tempo to a continuous tempo when I found myself running around 2-3 other women early in the race, the outcome was much better than I would have predicted. I finished 2nd overall female in 1:21:41, in humid 70 degree weather and during an 82 mile week, following an 81 mile week (both weekly mileage PRs for me). There were a few wrong turns and hills that didn't help my finishing time, making me even happier to come away with the fastest half I've run in 2018. Although a part of me really wonders what I could have done if I'd tapered (tapering improves performance by an average of 3%), I am trying not to regret that and focusing on the benefit that running this with so many miles on my legs will give me in my marathon. I know more than ever that I have a 1:19 half marathon in me, but that goal took a backseat this season. Always dream bigger, but thank God for what you have more than you ask Him for what you want. Also, if you haven't tapered for any races all season, don't start doing the math on that 3% gain, hah! Another fun fact: My time was the 2nd fastest half marathon ever run in the state of Kansas by a 35-39 female, and the 21st fastest half marathon ever run by a woman of any age in the state of Kansas on a certified course. The rankings aren't updated online yet, but will be shown here. You may not recognize me smiling AND without a double chin in a finishing photo! The long: When I saw the workout I had scheduled for May 19, I thought it was just begging to be run within a half marathon race: 3 miles warm-up, 3 x 4 mile tempos at 6:07-6:14 with 0.5 recoveries (making the "meat" portion of the workout 13 miles long and at my half race pace), 2 miles cool-down. Around the same time, my friend Michelle mentioned that she was running the Bill Snyder Half as a workout in her Grandma's training. I've wanted to run this race for a few years, but it's never worked out before. For a few weeks, I was 50/50 on entering the race, with the main barrier in my indecision being the 4.5 hour drive. After running a lot of solo miles in the weeks leading up to the race, I decided that having others to run the workout with was my only hope to hit the workout on tired legs would make me more likely to hit my goal paces and make the drive worth it, plus based on past results I thought I could win enough prize money to at least cover the cost of the trip, so I signed up two days before the race. As it ended up, my brother-in-law's family also traveled to the race, so in the end we made the whole thing into an extended family weekend get-away! I was in an 82 mile week (only my third lifetime week in the 80s), but I had the workout on tap whether I ran it within the race or not. I'd run two halves already this season during 70 mile weeks (Rock the Parkway and Illinois), so I wasn't too worried about my lack of taper, plus I haven't raced anything tapered since the Houston Marathon, so racing on tired legs has become normal and I keep telling myself that surely it's good for me. But on the other hand, when I bumped up to 80 mpw it sure showed me that I'd gotten comfortable with 70 mpw but wasn't comfortable at 80. Side note: last season mileage in the 70s still seemed very big to me and 60s felt normal, but this season 70s became normal. Hopefully next season I can say that 80s are normal, but this time around I am feeling the increase! Race morning started with thunderstorms, and the buses poised to transport us to the start of the point-to-point course were delayed to ensure runner safety. The race director was great about giving updates and sharing his plans, but this is something that would have stressed me out if this had been a goal race. As it was, I just rolled with the punches and chatted with Michelle on the bus until we made it out to the start. I didn't have time for my full 3 mile warm up or strides, but I got in 2.2 miles and a few drills, with just enough time to spare to pee in a ditch. Again, this was something that would have bothered me had this been a goal race (I didn't even do leg swings - the horror!), but I was just thankful I'd had enough time for what I did; at one time the race had thought they wouldn't start sending the buses until 30 minutes before the start due to the weather, which would have been a really tight timeline since it took about 20 minutes to drive to the start. It sprinkled during my warm up and my shoes got pretty wet from puddles, but we didn't get rained on during the race. The first mile of the course had a significant downhill drop, so many people got out fast. I held back to what I felt was 6:20ish effort and ran a 6:05 first mile split (Strava said my grade-adjusted pace [GAP] was 6:21, so yay for my effort gauge!). I saw four women get out ahead of me, and I knew who three of them were from Midwest racing and Strava. I suspected one would be significantly faster than me, but I thought I could hang with the others so I didn't want to let them gap me by much (remember, I needed to finish in the top 3 to rationalize the cost of the trip!). Mile 2 was all up incline, and I was aware of not putting in too much effort too early. I pulled up with the ladies sometime in that mile and shortly after began chatting with Sharon. I'd never officially met her before then, but we have a mutual friend and I knew who she was. She mentioned that she was on PR pace at that point, and I told her I was supposed to run a split tempo workout but didn't see that happening anymore, so I hoped to keep plugging along at that pace, so we should go get her a PR. We caught up with Chantalle, one of Sharon's Kansas City Smoke teammates shortly after, and Sharon encouraged her to join us in pacing together, which she did. We also had men around us here and there. Mile 3 had a some drop, then mile 4 was again incline. If you've ever driven about any highway that goes into Kansas City, that's what the first 8 miles of this race were like - straight with long inclines and declines. Early on I could feel the long inclines, but they weren't a problem; however, I knew that I was in for climbs during the race's final miles and was conscious of that. I paid a lot more attention to my watch during this race than I have in any other race this season, partially because I wanted to hit the workout paces my coach had given me and partially because I wanted to help Sharon PR. This is somewhere between 4-8 You can see the wet roads & our female pack And you can see the long incline we are running up...also other female runners make me look tall! Mile 5 was fairly flat, then mile 6 had a huge drop. It was my slowest GAP of the race, which I wasn't surprised about because I felt like I had the breaks on. It was a mile you definitely could have hammered, but that could have come back to haunt your quads later in the race. I was also conscious of not wanting to pound my legs during the peak of my marathon training - I would go straight into my biggest mileage week ever after this race. Miles 7-8 had a gentle decline, which I enjoyed. At that point Sharon, Chantalle, and I were all together, along with a man named Juvenal who trains some with Michelle (cue It's a Small World After All). We came into town at mile 8 and I suddenly thought, "Wow, I feel good!" I felt better than I'd felt at that point in my last 2 halves, which was particularly nice since I was running with two other women (no one wants to feel not good when running with a pack they hope to outlast!). I'd been chatting most of the race and pushing the pace of our little pack without thinking much about it. Shortly after that, Chantalle and Juvenal fell back and it was just Sharon and I. Miles 9 and 10 had a little up and down but were generally pretty flat. I checked our total time at mile 10 and told Sharon it was time to pound the final 5K for a huge PR for her. I felt like it had become my duty to pull her along to a PR; I'd told her that we would be in the 1:21s, and in my runner's high state of mind I decided I was like Desi helping Shalane at Boston...helping someone else was helping me too! I always find it amazing the bond that you can forge with someone through running miles next to them. I was really excited to see her succeed! Somewhere in mile 10 we started the confusing part of the course, which entailed switching between sidewalks and the road. In several spots there were signs that had "right turn" indicated, but there were two paths to turn right on, and we made several mis-steps off the course. Mile 11 was The Confusing Mile (also my least favorite mile - especially after the wonderful straightness of the first 8 miles), because it was super winding on paths through campus and it was really unclear which way to turn in multiple spots. I assume the race wasn't allowed to spray paint on the campus paths because the rest of the course was better marked than that portion. On 4-5 occasions I took steps in the wrong direction and had to correct. I never went very far off course, but it affected my momentum more than anything. I was leading Sharon by a couple of steps throughout this time, so sometimes led her wrong and other times she was able to go the correct way when a volunteer corrected me, and then we would be side-by-side again when I turned back the right way. There were volunteers at all of the turns, which was nice, but most didn't voluntarily tell us which direction to go, so I also ended up asking more than I wanted to talk at that point in the race! Mile 11 had some short but steep uphills, but overall the weaving was much harder than the elevation. The drop from 6-8 was nice; the climb from 9-13 was not as nice I knew that mile 12 had some elevation gain, and when we turned a corner to see a long uphill it was intimating. I felt like I had a strong finish in me, but I don't think anyone wants to climb 70 feet during mile 12 of a half marathon. I'd stopped looking at my watch after mile 10, and was just pushing to get both Sharon and myself in as quickly as possible. I'm glad I didn't look at the mile 12 split because it was 6:34 - the GAP was 6:20 though, so although we did fall off pace a tad, it wasn't as bad as it looked. I was happy to get over the hill and to shortly after see the mile 12 sign. I'd pulled out a little on Sharon on the hill, and I think even though that climb hurt my time it likely was to my advantage competition-wise because I am more of a strength runner and generally good on hills. I knew it was go time for me in the final mile, so I pushed with all I had left. We had another long incline, then had to make a few turns in a parking lot going into the finish. It was a massive stadium parking lot, and I was certainly feeling the race and the high mileage leading up to it on my legs, but I knew I couldn't let up. I reminded myself that this wasn't about how I felt; it was about what I'd trained my body to do. Sharon's husband and teammates were around the final stretches, encouraging her to get me, and I kept thinking that I had to keep the pedal on the gas or she was coming! My final 1.13 was at 6:03 pace; my Garmin recorded it lumped together due to how I'd programmed the long forgotten workout into it. As I rounded the final turn, a man told me, "You've got about 30 meters on her" and I was able to enjoy the final stretch because I knew that there wasn't enough real estate for her to make up that much distance. I even remembered to smile for my finishing photos! Final stretch Clock shot by Jon Ibbetson Professional clock shots I really was smiling even though you can't see it! How's this for running through the finish? You can also see my sweat-soaked pony tail. 5 of the top 10 finishers were women running under 1:23:30! Sharon came through just behind me, elated with her bright shiny new PR, and we hugged in the finish chute. Michelle was in not long after that, and we all made quick fuel, water, and shoe change stops, then headed out for a cool-down together. Michelle needed 5 more miles to hit 20 for the day, and I told here I'd run the whole way with her unless I got too hungry (typically low blood sugar is my biggest barrier for race cool-downs, but I carried some chews with me this time!). Sharon wasn't going to go the whole way with us, but after we couldn't find through streets where we thought they should be to get her back to the stadium, she ended up running the whole 5 too. We look pretty good for having run over 20 miles! The way my splits are recorded is proof that I really intended to run the scheduled workout! We then headed to the awards ceremony and received our awards from the legendary K-State coach Bill Snyder, the namesake of this race and the highway the first 8 miles were run on (his highway was the best part of the course!). Luckily I did win enough prize money to pay for the trip! After the race my family played in Manhattan with Jon's brother's family, which made the trip even more worth it. When I told my coach about forgoing the workout and instead running 13.1 at the prescribed tempo pace, he responded, "I figured that might happen", haha! At least I'm predictable! Awards by Bill Snyder Everyone wants to PR, and I am no different, but I feel that what I got from this race was just as valuable, and I am so thankful that I went to it. I believe that if the final 5 miles of this course would have been more like the first 8, I would have PRed even without a taper. I believe if I'd tapered I would have broken 1:20 (that 3% math is in my favor, equaling a 2:26 gain). But none of that would get me to the Trials, and to hit a 1:21 half with 2 weeks of mileage in the 80s on my legs in warm weather was a huge confidence-booster going into Grandma's. If I hadn't run this, I wouldn't have the confidence that I can race well in a long event at 70 degrees - because historically, I haven't! Remember 4 weeks before CIM I couldn't hit marathon goal pace in the Bass Pro Half Marathon in warm temps (I ran 1:23:50)? Then there was my death march at the Dam to Dam Half Marathon, which was even a goal race that I tapered for (1:26:19 there when I was in at least 1:21 shape). I should mention that the wind was very light for the Bill Snyder Half at 5 mph, which was a change from the Bass Pro race and from the other two halves I ran this season. It was also cloudy, which feels cooler than the same temperature and sunny (fingers crossed for cloud cover at Grandma's!). I also now know that my race shoes function just fine on wet roads and when soaking wet from puddles, so that is one less thing to worry about if it rains at future races! I am excited to see what this all means at Grandma's in 4 weeks! This season has felt very different to me than last season. I've become more flexible and more thankful. Leading up to CIM, I spent the whole cycle obsessing about focusing on a 2:45, and even though I didn't think I was quite ready for it on race day, nothing else was going to be good enough and I didn't enjoy my PR like I should have. For most of my Grandma's build, I've felt like I have no chance of getting the standard this cycle. Just recently I've started to think that maybe, just maybe, it's possible -- still not likely, but I don't think I will ever be confident about it because 6:17 pace is just so darn fast for 26.2 miles! Whatever my best is on race day is going to be good enough though, and I am going to be thankful for it and for the process. Each time I don't run 2:45, I will remember to be thankful that I can start another training cycle and keep trying...and for that reason I'm also thankful that I didn't get it at CIM or Houston, because my Grandma's cycle has been good for me in many, many ways. My sister-in-law also raced, only a couple of months postpartum with her 4th! Cousins! Happiness
  4. eliz83

    Three weeks out

    On the last check-in, I had just finished a streak of post-surgery mileage PRs, which meant I had a cutback week coming up. And the timing was perfect for that, because I was freaking tired. Basically all my runs during cutback week were for time and not mileage, because, again, TIRED. I finally perked up when I met the BF for lunch at his favorite Korean place and I got beef. Ahhhhh. Red meat. Iron. <---- probs why I was so tired. That Saturday was the annual Corporate Challenge 5K. Some of you are familiar with corporate challenges, no? It's a spring/summer event put on by some organization (here one of the county parks & rec departments) and all the businesses compete against each other for team points. I'm still not sure what the winner in each division wins - besides bragging rights - but with my employer, you can get an extra vacation day if you participate enough, so I signed up for 1 event and 2 spirit team events (hold signs and yell loudly) in order to get my free day. My 1 event was the 5K. Going into Saturday morning, I knew I wasn't in 5K PR shape, but I figured I might as well test my fitness. This course is a monster. It's not rolling hills (my favorite), but rather a quarter mile slight downhill start, followed by a gradual 1.5 mile uphill, which is the worst. The. Worst. Total mind f*ck. Then you get one rolling downhill, followed by the rolling uphill before a mile gradual downhill "coast" to the finish. I don't know why everyone thinks running downhill for a mile is easy. It's not! Anyway, I found myself being passed by everyone and their co-worker for most of the race, because the start was a cluster and I just went in where I could. I think I started with the 24-minute 5K'ers. One day I'll be with them ... just not yet. Splits: 10:06, 10:11, 8:55, total time 31:08 Polly had that I went 3.22 miles, but I basically ran the opposite of the tangents because of the crowd, so that's not surprising. That last mile, though? I am so impressed with myself and simultaneously annoyed that I had that much left in the tank. I basically ran that last mile with a guy with a neon yellow t-shirt - sometimes he would slip ahead of me, sometimes I would slip ahead of him, but it was one of those carrots that you refuse to let get out of your reach. By the end, it was rough, but I think I'm finally learning to embrace the pain of a 5K. Should be an exciting fall if I choose to focus on that distance. Pulling just ahead of neon t-shirt guy. At the time, I thought maybe I had gotten a PR. No dice. If any week was going to really get messed up, it was bound to be this last week. I was traveling for work, getting back late Friday night and then heading to my parents' house to surprise my momma for Mother's Day. I was determined to get everything in though - and I did! All I had to do was move my runs up one day and skip my traditional Monday spin session. So Tuesday morning, I got in my 3 miler before I headed to the airport, did core work in my hotel room that night. Wednesday morning, I found a nice 5 mile route already mapped near my hotel ... got lost and ended up with nearly 6 (oops!) and got in another 5K Thursday morning with a colleague, after a quick strength/core session. Then, Friday morning, I found myself with enough time to do a yin yoga session before my flight home. Determined as ever, I got up early Saturday morning and did 10 miles solo. That 10 miler? Yeah. I HAVE to tell you about it. It was early. I was still travel-hungover from the night before. But I got up. Got my running clothes on. The threat of sprinkles was a tempting excuse to crawl back into bed and say, "meh". Actually, it wasn't that tempting. I just thought it would add to the drama. Water. Nuun. Cheerios. Extra long podcast. Visor. Sunscreen. And everyone thinks running is a "simple" sport. Also, yes, I'm high maintenance when it comes to long runs. At the very least, medium maintenance. Drive to favorite 4.22 mile loop spot. Check Instagram. Check Twitter. Realize there is no more stalling. Get out of car. Warm up. Fire up my favorite SURVIVOR podcast. Take off trotting. Think about SURVIVOR strategy. Feel a strong desire to watch the original Blood vs. Water season. Remember too late I was trying to figure out where the .8 mark was just in case the watch ran out of juice (which appeared to be dangerously low). Look at watch at 1.08 miles. Oops. Waking up a little bit now. It's humid. Sweat is dripping everywhere. Feel that gross trickle between my boobs (ladies, you know what I mean). Wipe sweat from my eyebrows. Realize there is a 5k/10K race starting at 9. Thankful I managed to start running around 7:20 - I'll miss nearly all, if not completely all, of the foot traffic. Finish the first lap. Desperately want to ditch my tank top and join the sports bra club, but don't, for reasons I can't even remember anymore. Drink a bunch of Nuun. I think I ate some Cheerios. <-- Seriously. Great fuel. Press on. Not really paying attention to my splits. Paying probably too much attention to SURVIVOR strategy. The podcast guest proposes a strategy of just winning everything, cuz then you can't get voted out and who can argue with the fact that you actually WON EVERYTHING? Consider this to be my strategy for when CBS inevitably casts me to see me become an emotional mess. Won't they be surprised when they write that million dollar check out to me? It starts sprinkling around 5.5 miles. It's cool, refreshing and I wish it was just a tiny bit more steady. My wish comes in full force two miles later, when it becomes a full on rain. Whatever. I feel good, I feel faster than when I started, but now my tank is just drenched and clinging to my body. Yuck. 8.4 miles. I stop quickly at the car to ditch the phone and headphones so they don't get too wet. The race has started, but I'm running in the opposite direction of the runners. Get a surprised look from a course monitor when I don't get in my car, but shut the door and keep running. The rain lets up half a mile later and I'm trying to do runner math to make sure I turn around at the right spot. I'm coming back and I realize I'm on the same path that the runners make, either for the final part of the 5K or to start the second loop of the 10K. A course monitor who is probably in junior high or high school looks worried when she sees me, but I give her a look that says "don't worry, i'm not that fast" and she thinks I'm a wierdo. Desperately want to be done now. Mile 10 beeps and I'm like, thank goodness. Another #psmPR Hobble to my car, stretch and head to get coffee. It's only then that I look at my cumulative time. 1:57:50. My last 10 mile on record was 2:11:52. My PR is 1:50:57. Had this been a race, who knows what I could have done. Which makes me think I might have a chance at taking down that EIGHT YEAR OLD half marathon PR. Yes, yes, I think I just might .... Do you listen to podcasts when you run? What would your SURVIVOR strategy be? Have you ever done a training run while a race was going on? Drag files here to attach, or choose files... Insert other media Feature Photo Choose Single File... Or drag and drop your file here Accepted file types gif, jpeg, jpe, jpg, png
  5. amarie2009

    GO St. Louis Half Marathon RR

    Because I’d just run the Austin marathon February 18 I had a little bit of awkward timing leading up to the GO St. Louis half. Around 7-8 weeks. Since I take around a month of easy running after a marathon and a two week taper going into most half marathons I had basically 2 or 3 weeks where I could do speedwork. I wasn’t totally sure where my speed was, I’d run a 5k in January that was just off my PR, but my 5k PR is slow (very close to my half PR pace). Fortunately I had the St. Louis St. Patrick’s Day run to gauge just where my speed was. As I shared in my last bloop, I ran it at 2 hour half pace and it was clear I’m not there yet. Sunday morning my alarm went off at the painfully early hour of 4:30am. I was awake already because waking up every hour or two the night before a race is how I roll even when I’m relatively calm. I keep as quiet as I can because my housemate (also sister) has hours of sleep left ahead of her. Izzie is less concerned about being quiet and tells me all sorts of things by following me around and meowing. She got fed so it wasn’t that, she just likes to communicate. I got myself ready, ate breakfast and headed out the door by 5:10 so I could be in time to catch the Metorlink train into St. Louis (they run every 20 minutes on Sundays, by going at this time I had the leeway to miss the train I meant to catch and still catch the next train and be in time for the race, if I missed that train, I might miss the beginning of the race.) All went smoothly and I was standing on the train platform at 5:30 for the 5:34 train with a dozen or so other runners and one guy who kept singing random bits of songs. At 6:04 I stepped off the train at Laclede’s Landing and made a port o potty stop, dropped my bag at gear check and met my friend John (same John I ran Austin with). As long as I was moving around I wasn’t too cold. We walked around looking for a few other Team in Training runners but didn’t find anyone else before the race. We were in the corral when we were supposed to be 15 minutes before the scheduled race time, but the race ended up starting 15-20 minutes late. In that time standing still I got cold. My feet and hands especially. Finally we were moving. The race starts with a short straightaway before turning and going up a steep but fairly short hill. Apparently somewhere in that first part I ran right past Jackie Joyner-Kersee along the sidelines and didn’t see her. She does so much for the local running community in addition to all she does for E. St. Louis where she grew up. There was at least one wheelchair participant and I can’t imagine it was too fun to start out with that hill. It wasn’t fun for me and wasn’t trying to wheel my way up. We wound around and headed East across the Mississippi River on the MLK bridge. This part of the race felt like we were running on the interstate (which we almost were). Around the first water stop I spotted one of our TNT teammates but when I tried to say hello she slowed down to drink just as I came up beside her and I missed my opportunity. After a short distance in East St. Louis we headed back across the Mississippi on the Eads Bridge where the lampposts were bouncing back and forth like crazy. Good to know the Mythbusters showed it would be nearly impossible for marching (or running) feet to bring down a bridge. At this point I told John if he wanted to take off he should because he was running the 7k and getting to the final stretch. He took off and ended up getting 2nd in his AG for the 7k (but that distance apparently doesn’t have AG awards). Also at this point I was passed by a double amputee. One below the knee and one above the knee amputation. Those blades are engineered for running but still super impressive. The half turned south and headed toward the brewery and the Soulard neighborhood of St. Louis. We ran through the brewery complex itself, sometimes they have one of the Clydesdales out, but not this year that I saw. The crowds in general were much slimmer due to the cold but there were still some enthusiastic people out in clumps here and there. Soulard didn’t have its pajama group out but there were two guys dressed as nuns with one group shaking beer can noisemakers. We ran through Soulard, Benton Park and a few other pretty neighborhoods on the south side of St. Louis before heading back toward downtown. The full split off and I was really glad I was getting close to being done instead of just really getting started. One of the 2:10 pacers caught up with me and I said uh-oh. He heard me and said not to worry because he was a bit ahead of pace. Even so I took this as motivation to pick it up a little. I was past mile 10 so it was time anyway. Around mile 12 I started to push it a little more and mile 12 didn’t end up being super fast but it was my fastest mile of the day. We ran back down the steep hill from the beginning (which is what happens if you begin and end a race on the riverfront) and back along and past where the race started. The finish line was right in front of the Arch. I crossed the finish with an official time of 2:07:09. Nicely under my goal of 2:10. I did think about if I could have found that 2+ minutes somewhere, but hindsight is useless. (The answer is a firm maybe) Post race came the medal and all the snacks I couldn’t carry. I’m not sure how often I dropped things until I managed to stuff most of it in my jacket pockets. I missed a couple of the good snacks, but got the best one - the Ted Drews Ice Cream Sandwich. Even though it was cold that was still really good. Because of the cold I didn’t stick around, I just picked up my gear bag and headed home. I’m happy with how the race went and I think I have a reasonable chance with good training of getting back under 2 hours sometime. Maybe this fall depending on what I choose to focus on.
  6. HotPinkSneakers

    RnR New Orleans Runcation!

    About a month ago, I journeyed to the Big Easy to run a half-marathon with a group of friends from my LRS run club and, spoiler alert, it was awesome!! This was my first time in New Orleans, and my first time traveling with this group of people (they've done some other destination races together in years past, but I'm kind of new to the group), so I was a little nervous. I was also a little anxious about the race, because switching from the full down to the half meant that this was now a Goal Race, and would be the first big test of how my training was going with the new coach and leading up to December's Big Goal. We left DC on Friday 3/2, which was that absurdly windy day on the East Coast, with gusts in the 40-50mph range and sustained winds well over 20mph. Just the kind of day you want to be flying! We were incredibly lucky though - the majority of flights out of National were cancelled, but somehow Southwest was still getting its planes off the ground. On the plane, enjoying Southwest's open seating policy: After the most nerve-wracking, stomach-rolling takeoff of my life, we had a short, uneventful flight to NOLA. We landed around 7pm, checked into the hotel, and immediately headed out to the French Quarter for dinner. We ended up at an Irish bar called Erin Rose, which has a tiny po' boy shop in the back called Killer Po' Boys. The seared shrimp was delicious! We didn't go too wild and crazy the first night, and my roommates and I were up early on Saturday morning so we headed to the Warehouse District to find some coffee. We ended up at a cute little coffee shop and got fancy cups of pour-over, which were made with LOTS of flair by the barista. He even had different temperature water for different types of beans. That is a level of coffee snobbery that I will never reach. It might have been the tastiest cup of coffee I've ever had though! After our coffee outing, we met up with a few other people from the group for a 3ish mile shakeout run, which I ended up leading because I was the only person who had looked at a map to figure out a route. My route ended at Cafe du Monde, because I'm not stupid. (Also, after the cold, windy, gross weather we'd been having in DC for months, it was SO NICE to run in short sleeves and soak up the sunshine!) Some people spent the morning at a cooking class, others went to a yoga class to stretch out before the race the next day. I spent a couple hours wandering around the French Quarter, which is a very different place in the daylight! Later that afternoon, we walked to the convention center for packet pickup. I saw these beads adorning a mailbox on someone's house. This was a memorial to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, which was really poignant and interesting to see. We all reconvened at the expo, and managed to get one picture with the entire group! After the expo, I had an early dinner at a delicious Italian place with about half the group (the other half had made reservations elsewhere), and then called it an early night. But not before getting Flat Caitlin ready of course! I was up at o'dark thirty to eat my bagel and peanut butter in dark so as not to disturb my roommates, both of whom were cheering instead of racing and so didn't need to be up anytime soon. Thank goodness for back-lit Kindles! I left with most of the other half/full runners (the 10K started earlier than the half/full, so those runners had already left) to walk to the starting area, which was only a few blocks from our hotel. I dropped off my checked bag, did 5-10 minutes of light jogging and some strides to loosen up, and mostly just paced around nervously. It was already warm enough that I wasn't very chilly in my tank and shorts, and the sun was strong. My goal pace, according to Coach, as 7:41. Which just seemed absolutely crazypants! My prior half-marathon PR was 1:52:26, an 8:35ish pace. To be going out with a goal of a PR in the 10-minute neighborhood felt way too bold. But I figured what the heck? It's "only" a half! If I blew up, I blew up, and it would only be bad for a handful of miles. But I wouldn't know unless I tried. The course was totally flat; the biggest challenge would be the weather, since at 70+ degrees and sunny, it was solidly 30-40 degrees warmer than what I'd been training in. After a pep talk from Kathrine Switzer, the gun sounded and we were off! I definitely went out too fast, and that may have come back to bite me later. But I felt good for the moment! I got my pace back under control for the next 5 or so miles, but then the heat really started to get to me. I've learned that I am just not a warm-weather runner, despite 10 years of living in DC. I started to really feel off around the 10K mark, and struggled to keep my pace under 8:00/mile. I knew that I would be seeing our cheer crew at Mile 9, and told myself that I could stay strong and focused until then. I made it that far, and then no matter how many times I told myself that it's only 4 more miles, then only 3 more miles, I just lost it. My legs felt like stone and I was so very hot. The last 5K felt interminable. But I finally made it to the last stretch leading into the park where we finished, and I was able to push my pace back down for the final 0.1 to finish strong in 1:45:27! A PR by almost exactly 7 minutes! I was so very happy to be done! It is a pretty cool medal. I found a few of the faster half runners, and the 10K runners and we wandered back down the course to cheer on the rest of the people running the half. I stayed and cheered for a bit, but then needed to get back to the hotel to change for lunch. It turned out that an old friend and her husband happened to be in NOLA that weekend too, so I was able to meet up with them after the race! She's a runner too, and is currently training for her first marathon back after a 4-year hiatus to have her kids, so we had lots to talk about! She's crazy fast even after such a long break, and is going to be running Providence with a goal of BQing (again) so that she can run Boston 2019 for her 40th birthday. Later that evening, I met up with my run club crew again and we headed out to the French Quarter for some shenanigans now that the work was done! We were told by locals that Frenchman Street is way better than Bourbon Street, so we headed that way for some live music. Monday morning, I got up and went to Cafe Beignet to do a scientific comparison with Cafe du Monde. My verdict: Cafe du Monde's beignets are denser and chewier, and therefore better. But these were still delicious! Later in the morning, several of us did a cemetery tour in one of New Orleans' historic cemeteries. It was super interesting! On Monday afternoon, I went for a nice easy run with one other girl from the group. I hadn't met her before this trip (she used to live in DC and run with Pacers, but had moved to Tuscon for a job, so our paths hadn't crossed), so it was really nice to chat with her on the run. We ran through the Garden District, which was much more enjoyable this time around than it had been the day before while I was suffering in the race. The houses were beautiful, and the flowers definitely lived up to the neighborhood's name! One of my favorite things was that almost all the trees had Mardi Gras beads strewn all over them. We went four miles out, and then hopped on a streetcar and took it back a ways to meet up with some other folks for lunch at a Caribbean/Tiki place (what do those themes have in common? Rum!) While we were there, a sax player came by, and totally enthralled a baby a few tables over. Monday evening we explored some more bars in the French Quarter. At one point we successfully took over a cocktail bar and became the only people in it, which was a pretty solid accomplishment. Our flight out wasn't until 1pm on Tuesday, so I had time for one last beignet outing! I think these were beignets #10-12 of my weekend... Tuesday dawned pretty gross and rainy, so it was just as well that we were leaving. At the airport, my roommates and I enjoyed one last Abita Purple Haze before boarding. It was a blissfully short, uneventful flight back to DC! And this guy was definitely happy to have me back home. I'm so glad that I went on this trip! New Orleans was such a fun city to visit, and even though the race didn't go as well as I'd hoped, I'm really happy with it. I think if it had been 20 degrees cooler, it would have been a whole different ballgame. And who can be sad about a 7-min PR?? Next up: the George Washington Parkway Classic 10-Miler, one of my favorite local races! It'll be my 7th year running it, and apparently my goal pace is 7:30-7:40! My speed workouts have been going super well in the last month, and it's a fast course (net downhill, only 2 turns) where I've PRed all but one year (I was injured). So we'll see! But first, I'm heading down to North Carolina this weekend to hang out with some of my most favorite people in the world! Quadracool, Jenster, Zamgirl, and I will be volunteering at the Umstead 100 in Raleigh on Saturday for the second year in a row. And this time we aren't running a marathon the next day, so it should be even more fun!
  7. amarie2009

    Half marathon coming up Sunday

    GO St. Louis half is this weekend. In an unusual turn it’s going to be cold. Maybe record cold. (Mid 20s to start?) Maybe snow. I’ve run it every year but one since 2011 and it’s been warm to hot every time. But not this year! We got snow on Easter. That’s unusual around here. Generally we’re well into spring by now. The daffodils and some trees are blooming but it’s still cold. It’s also really wet. We got almost no precipitation most of the winter, but have more than made up for it now. Forget the weird weather – lets go back to talking about running. I ran the St. Louis St. Patrick’s Day 5 mile run March 17th. It was the usual crowd. Entertaining people watching but lonelier than usual for me because I didn’t know anyone in the crowd this time. (Well I’m sure somewhere I knew someone at least a little, but my usual running buddies were either out of town or in town but not running.) I was using this race as a tune up for GO to give me an idea of what might be realistic to shoot for. I started out aiming for sub 2 half pace just to see how that felt. It felt hard. But I stuck with it. I managed to finish in 46:10 by my watch which is a 9:10 pace. However, there is no way under the sun it felt like I could go another 7 miles at that pace. The reach goal of getting back under 2 is out (for the time being). I think under 2:10 is very possible. That is more like a sub 10 minute mile pace. Still likely to be hard, but doable. If it’s not snowing and icy. If it snows, pace is probably out the window. The GO Race people have posted that they are working with the city to make sure the roads will be safe and I don’t see them cancelling completely unless it’s really bad. But it will be cold! Maybe by Sunday the forecast will change and it won’t be quite so cold and no chance for snow. We’ll see! I've run in the cold all winter, I should be used to it, right? Goals - Sub 2:10 (assuming it's not snowing), Have fun, don't freeze!
  8. Gonzo Runner

    The Crescendo

    For most of my childhood, my parents drove old cars. My mother had a 1985 Mercury Grand Marquis Colony Park station wagon, in fecal brown with some sort of plastic stick-on faux wood paneling veneer. This car was an absolute horrific creation whose very existence should have gotten at least 50 people at the Ford Motor Company fired and potentially jailed, from whomever named the damn thing to its entire engineering team. Assuming any engineers actually worked on it, that is. I remember before it hit 85,000 miles it had gone through three engines, two transmissions, and two exhaust systems. And not only was it the mechanical equivalent of New Coke, but it was so ugly my brothers and I actually wished our mom drove a minivan instead. The best way to describe its appearance would be to imagine the stereotypical ‘80s suburban living room, complete with thick wall to wall carpet in some regrettable earth tone and floor to ceiling wood paneling. Now slap some whitewalls on that sucker and you’re pretty damn close: And this is the brochure photo. I do fondly remember the jump seats which opened up in the trunk and allowed us to cram 10 people into this monstrosity, but we were eventually banned from them after someone ripped the felt headliner while horsing around back there and caused it to slowly pull away from the ceiling and hang down far enough to block the entire rearward view. The sagging headliner was soon complemented by the plastic wood veneer peeling off the sides, revealing more fresh fecal brown paint. This was actually going to be my first car until my mom totaled it when I was in high school, which is helpful background for the story of when I got grounded for a month for exclaiming “THANK GOD” when my mom called from the hospital to tell us about the accident. My dad’s car was a completely different story. For most of my childhood he drove a 1976 Pontiac Grand LeMans. It was the first new car he ever bought, and as much as he hated the station wagon, he loved this car. Living in Brooklyn all her life my mom didn’t get her driver’s licence until we moved to Jersey, so for years the Pontiac was the only car we had. It was the car that took me and both my brothers home from the hospital. It took us to school and sports practices and scout meetings and everything in between until the wagon arrived. My dad insisted we have a Dairy Queen ice cream cake for its sweet 16. Mom was too embarrassed to join us in the driveway to sing happy birthday, but we did it anyway. My dad taught me most of what I know of auto maintenance on that car. Some of it is still useful (changing oil, brakes, alternators, batteries, and the like). Some of it is not (how to tune a carburetor, how to replace a distributor cap, how to unstick a choke valve). But we all had a lot of great memories of that car, and the saddest I ever saw my dad was the day it finally died. To this day the fender skirts are sitting in his garage (his was a deep metallic green), and I still have the keys in an old valet on my dresser. By the time the Pontiac finally died, it had been showing its age. There were greasy spots on the driveway, rust was bubbling the paint, and a bad overheating incident on the Staten Island Expressway (seriously, to hell with Staten Island) had turned a throaty if underpowered V8 into an anemic, unbalanced, misfiring V6. The Mercury had rotted through its third exhaust system by this time and my father had refused to replace it out of spite, so when our family went anywhere, everyone in the neighborhood knew it. Now, to be perfectly clear, my parents may have driven old cars but we also had a nice house in an all-American suburb (we had a VFW, an Elks, and even a Knights of Columbus) with a big backyard and a pool and my brothers and I all went to Catholic school and were in the Cub Scouts and played Pop Warner football AND Little League baseball. But I was too young to understand any of that, so after anytime I rode in a friend’s conversion van with its TV and Nintendo and curtains (how CLASSY), I would be embarrassed when I could hear my mom coming to pick me up from a mile away in the battlewagon. When my father finally broke down and started car shopping for family transportation that didn’t require noise permits and EPA registration to operate, he decided that 20 years of savings was enough to splurge a little bit. Those years of savings also happened to be the go-go Reagan ‘80s and the Cold War victory lap ‘90s, so the ol’ portfolio had done well. And that’s how we ended up with a 1996 BMW 525i. This was the car that taught me that you weren’t supposed to have to reset the dashboard clock every time you started the car and air conditioning wasn’t supposed to smell like someone was blowing a fan over bad (good?) cheese stuffed inside a damp gym sock. It had heated leather seats. A dashboard computer. A CD changer in the trunk. And I never once had to hold the choke with a screwdriver while my dad, as he told me never to do this, sparked the starter to get us to school on time. It was during a trip to Sam Goody to pick out CD’s to fill up the 6 disc changer that I first learned about Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. My dad told me all about why it was such an important album and then took the long way home, playing the whole thing and telling me the story behind each song. I remember sitting in the driveway listening to the final track, 'A Day in the Life', while breathing in leathery rich new car smell and having my backside gently warmed and thinking to myself “curtains in a van..so bougie…now THIS is success...” Or something like that. I did a lot drinking in the intervening years, so I may not have the exact quote. Anyway, for the longest time afterwards, even after I developed a more mature understanding of success and meaning in life, I would always look for and savor those “Sgt. Pepper in the Bimmer” moments. Brief, fleeting snippets of time where I felt like I’d achieved something or attained some marker of success. And anytime I hear any Sgt. Pepper track, I think back to my dad’s tour of the album and smile. This is supposed to be a race report, so let’s get to that part. The Publix Georgia Half Marathon course is the typical quad busting tour of Atlanta’s rolling hills, the worst part being the last four miles which are almost entirely uphill from the lowest point on the course to just shy of the highest at the finish. And while my running of late has generally been good, it has been focused on short and fast intervals for the mile I’m planning on in May. Not on holding something just above threshold pace for 13.1 hilly miles. I had no real goals but knew I was going to try and race it anyway, so I prepared myself for it to hurt. And starting at mile 6, it did. A lot. My hips, glutes, hamstrings and quads joined in glorious four part harmony to protest the effort, and I felt like Pete Best telling them all to shut up and keep pushing. (Ah, yes, the Beatles. That’s how this is all going to come together.) Now, once you enter Piedmont Park in mile 10 the race is a series of long climbs with barely any breaks in between. As the pain and fatigue and oxygen debts from one hill piled on top of what was built up in the last, it occurred to me that these weren’t really separate hills. The pain didn’t build in discrete segments, it was more like an ever rising crescendo of suffering we had to endure hoping that there was something beautiful at the summit to make it worthwhile. So what about the Beatles again? Well, if you’ve ever listened to 'A Day in the Life' (if you haven’t, why the hell not?), you’ll no doubt recall the orchestral frenzy that precedes its final, haunting piano notes. In our driveway study of the song I remember my dad telling me how John and Paul hired an orchestra without knowing how to write for or conduct one, and for this part George Martin had instructed them to start at the lowest notes on their instruments and slowly build up to the highest. The resulting crescendo, written by novice composers and executed by highly trained professionals in a haphazard setting, is a barely controlled feverish symphony whose beauty lies in its tenuousness. So, the race hurt, and it wasn’t the time the books told me I should be capable of running. But when I got home I dropped the needle on one of my half dozen copies of Sgt. Pepper, sat on the couch with a cup of coffee, called my dad, and reveled in my success.
  9. onthebusrunning

    The Tune-Up

    I checked my watch. Seven minutes to the gun. Perfect. I took off down the Mall toward the Washington Monument for one last strider. Turn, turn, turn, I repeated, reaching top speed, holding it for a moment, then easing off the accelerator and slowing to a walk. A stiff, cold breeze rippled my singlet. This could be a factor, I thought, then pushed it from my head and wove my way through the crowd to my corral. Nervous fingers. Jittery legs. The announcements were static in my head as I ran through my race plan one last time. My coach and I never put a time goal for this tune-up half marathon. Rather, we set a pace range for various sections of the course, which allowed me to just lace up my racing flats and go execute without the pressure of hitting a specific time. We bolted from the starting arch with Constitution Avenue abandoned and stretched out before us. Get out. Get settled, I thought. Rhythm, rhythm, rhythm. That wind met me head-on and I did my best to relax into it without forcing the pace and burning through energy early. The course scraped the Lincoln Memorial then turned us down and alongside a choppy Potomac River and under the Kennedy Center. I nailed my first three splits, wanting to be between 5:45 and 5:50, and hitting 5:49, 5:48, 5:47. Mile four’s combination of uphill and headwind backed me off that pace but I recovered for mile five as we headed up Rock Creek Parkway. The pace was on point but the effort felt just south of comfortable. I willed myself to relax, understanding the irony. The course began to bend to the left and rise. “What exactly is going on there?” my coach asked me while we looked at the elevation profile earlier in the week. Having run previous incarnations of this race in the past, I thought I knew the hill to which he referred, but, faced with what lay before me, I knew this was not the same hill. “Your goal is to just get up it, don’t lose ground to anyone, and then take 60-90 seconds of easy running at the top to settle back into your pace from miles 1-5,” he said. Then ominously, “You might run 7:30 up that hill.” Volunteers lined the hill holding American flags. They called encouragement, but my mind blotted out their voices. Up on my toes, I picked my way up the incline and pulled even with another runner. My breath came in rasps now and I could feel the strain in my quads. We rounded the corner together, and I remembered my coach’s words. The other runner tried to take off, where I concentrated on letting the fatigue drain from my legs. My watch beeped 6:30 at the top, prompting one of my friends on Strava to ask later if I had paused for a bathroom break there. Take your minute, I thought. The course shifted downhill and I ironed out my stride. Relative normalcy returned. “Be ready to race at seven,” my coach said. Let’s go. I thought. I caught the runner who had taken off at the top of the hill and went by them easily now. They wouldn’t be the last. I aimed for 5:40-5:35 pace over the last 10K of the race. While I had recovered from the hill, the damage had been done. Fatigue had seeped into my quads and the wind over the first five miles had leeched strength from me. Be calm. Be present, I intoned. The Howard University drums boomed and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up, rounding mile eight. I rode the downhills and survived the up, dropping a 5:38 and 5:33, collecting racers as I went. With under 5K to go, I picked up Brian Glanville’s quote from coach Sam Dee in The Olympian, “Be strong in mind as fit in body.” Except in my head it went more like, stronginminstronginmindstronginmind. After a 5:44 at 11, I resigned to just race and forgo looking at my watch, just taking what came over the last two miles. I kept two other runners in sight, though was not able to gain on them, nor were they able to pull away. We ground up one final hill to get to mile 12 and that’s where I really came apart. A stitch gripped my side and somehow manifested itself in my shoulder as well. My right hip flexor tightened. My quads grew heavy. One. More. Mile. I let gravity do the work for me, just trying to turn my legs over in that final mile. RFK stadium rounded into view and I threw whatever I had left in that final .2 miles, furiously pumping my arms and closing with a 5:39. I clicked my watch and saw 1:17:05. Hmm, I thought, unsure how to feel about it. Though we had never put words on a time, I had expected to be faster, and yet, with the exception of a couple of miles, I had been in range. So, what to make of it? There would be time to ponder, but not for long. I took my medal and my water bottle, reset my watch, and began a deliciously slow two-mile cool down. Another race finished. Another checkpoint reached. But nowhere close to done.
  10. amarie2009

    Snowbuster RR

    This wasn’t my best race. I never intended to PR, but I was hoping to maintain a somewhat decent pace (for me). It didn’t happen. My legs felt heavy the whole time. I did do a weight workout on Thursday which absolutely contributed to that but shouldn’t have made me feel as bad as I did. It wasn’t the worst I’ve ever felt, but I just didn’t have much in me. Besides that, my left arch hurt a little, and my right shoe is still pushing on my inside heel bone for a still unknown reason. At mile 8 I wasn’t sure I’d be able to finish because that particular problem was so bad. After a couple of tries on adjusting the shoe it was enough better to keep going, but my shoe was now sort of loose…I never lost the shoe, so it worked ok. The weather was perfect though, cool and bright. Not much in the way of spring flowers just yet, but we’re close. A few warm spots probably have daffodils blooming but I didn’t see any. I started out with a group of Team in Training runners before we all spread out. John (who also ran the Austin marathon) ran the first 6 miles with me, but he is running another marathon in Hawaii next week and stopped at that point. The race photographer Doug always takes pictures of TNT runs. The first time around I didn’t get my “trademark” thumbs up out (and he called me on it too), but I was ready the second time when he caught me early in the second loop. Ironically, I actually felt worse at that point because of the shoe problem, but I wanted at least one good race photo. First loop with John (mile 1ish) Second loop solo (mile 7ish) Reflective finisher's photo at my car It was just a slow day for me. I finished the 13.1 right at the visitor’s center of Forest Park and was even given a bottle of water by a group promoting their fundraising for GO St. Louis. (The Little Bit Foundation) Then I took my finisher’s photo at my car and drove home. This was my last race as a 34-year-old. Monday is my birthday. New age group. Yay? I don’t believe the 35-39 AG is any less competitive. Two slightly different loops (see the difference on the right, plus a little out and back to finish up) Official time from mapmyrun Next Saturday I’m running the St. Louis St. Patrick’s Day run. Always a fun race, but very crowded as well. I think I’m aiming for a 9 or below pace. If I can do that and it feels super easy (unlikely, but you never know), I may consider a moon shot of going sub 2 at GO STL half in April. More realistically I am planning on aiming for under 2:10. That’s a big difference, but I need this race to tell me what I might be able to do right now.
  11. MaineJoe

    RR Millinocket

    Last week was the third annual Millinocket Marathon and Half and it was festive as ever. The race has gone from 50 runners, to 550, to more than 1,000 this year. The event was created to benefit a community hit hard by a mill closing. It is a free race. The timers donate their time. The community comes out in droves to support the race. The library and the economic development group have taken in thousands of dollars in donations over the last three years. Hotels are full. A would-be quiet December day in Northern Maine is filled with activity and runners contributing to the local businesses. The race is about an hour north of where I live in Maine. My wife and son were nice enough to make the day out of it with me. A runner friend joined us for the road trip. We were up at 6 for the trip, after my wife and I had attended a fundraising event, where she is a board member. Probably not the best rest plan to be standing around... and a little bit of dancing, the night before the run. The goal was to be there at 8. The volunteers are great but with the increase in runners, I expected bib pickup to be a little time consuming. Our timing was good and we had bibs in minutes! The volunteers were friendly and efficient. Registration was at the craft fair. We bought a t-shirt and a calendar raffle and some other things, contributing to the cause. So we had plenty of time before the race, and while it was "cold" at 29 degrees, with no wind, it was balmy compared to last year's wind chill. We still didn't want to spend too much time outside, so we drove the course. We took a few pre-race photos, including Mt. Katahdin. We returned to the start and layered up for the race. There were a number of festive costumes among the runners, including an very awkward moose costume with an extra pair of legs and large antlers. I decided that I needed to make sure I was started ahead of him. The marathon started at 10 and half at 10:10. We were in the half. I lined up in the middle of the pack. The starting line featured two loaded logging trucks. The starting cannon went off and I quickly regretted starting so far back. I hit the first mile marker at 7:35. Impossibly fast for the number of people I was weaving by. There were lots of people on the side of the road cheering us on as we ran into the Maine woods. A little while after passing the marker, my watch beeped, at 8:43 for the first mile. I guess the marker wasn't in the right place. It was relief because I hadn't wanted to start that fast, but it provided more evidence of starting too far back. Someday I'll figure that out. Although, it never ceases to amaze me the number of folks going a different pace at the starting line. The poor volunteer by herself after the first mile marker couldn't pour water fast enough. I ran by without stopping, then got drinks at later stops. One station was providing fireballs. I passed. I picked up a cup at one stop that was empty. Went back for a second one. One station had mini bottled water. That was a nice touch. The course started in town, then became a dirt road, the "Golden Road" that drives toward Mt. Katahdin. We took a right onto another dirt road around mile 6, then headed back into town on a rolling paved road. On that paved road, I continued to pass some runners, although I couldn't tell if they were marathoners or half runners. And some passed me. I came along a younger runner who was cold but I had already given up my gloves and couldn't help him. I had stopped to try and help but was useless. My wife and son had taken my gear and I couldn't find them at the moment. In the final couple miles, a couple of runners, appearing to be in my age group passed me. In one case it was because I was eating a cookie. Last year in the final mile, I had come along a nice lady handing out cookies to the runners. I didn't take one. You can't eat cookies in a race! But I regretted it ever since. This time I took a sugar cookie with red icing and sprinkles. My wife took a picture of me showing her the cookie. If I had to do that over again, I would have gone for the chocolate chip or molasses, and put in my pocket for later. After a couple bites of the frosted cookie I was breathing too heavy and covered in frosting. I had to dump the cookie for the final stretch. Disappointing but more fulfilling than last year. I ran pretty good up Main Street. I knew I was 1:42 something last year, and could see I was around the same time. As I crossed the finish it appeared that I was better, 1:41. When I think about all the weaving and stopping for the cookie, and trying to help someone, I feel like I was better than a year ago. Then again, part of last year's race was spent breathing through a frozen face mask and running into a head wind! My running friend, in my age group, had beaten me by 10 minutes in his first half. He had done very well. We gathered after the race and had a meal at a local restaurant, tipping generously of course!. We hit a downtown shop and picked up a few more items. My wife and son, between the library and a bookstore had gathered 8-10 books. My son picked up some driving time on the way home as the 3-5 inches of snow predicted for the evening has started. Overall it was a great day. You can't help but feel warm on a cold winter day when you are doing something you love (run), with people you love (family), and helping out a community working hard to make you feel welcome. Here is a link to the Facebook page with lots of stories about the race and next year's date. But be careful, because it might just draw you to Northern Maine next December. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1313318738729689/
  12. SIbbetson

    Bass Pro Half Marathon: Call it heat training!

    I was waiting on my professional photos from this race to post this, but 2 weeks later I've decided I might be waiting until my next race so here it is! This race was November 5, and I am now 2 weeks out from my big goal race marathon at CIM. The Short: Based on the crap weather (72*, dew point of 70*, 15-25 mph south wind), my goal for this race shifted from aiming for a solid time to running it at goal marathon pace (6:17). I also cut out the small taper for it, running 70 miles for the week instead of the planned 61, because there wasn't any reason to sacrifice marathon training volume when there was no chance at a fast half. My goal that stayed constant was to get the overall female win, and I accomplished that one despite not being able to quite hit goal marathon pace (I averaged 6:20 pace...but let me tell you, 6:20 sure felt like 6:05 pace!). However, I loved the hometown event and ran with a smile on my face the entire race! God doesn't always give us what we want (such as nice race weather), but He always gives us what we need (perhaps the way things turned out will be more beneficial for The Big Goal). The best part about the race was that two of the ladies I train with took the 2nd and 3rd overall spots, effectively giving our group the 1-2-3 sweep! Oh, and Albani's shirt was also a hit, and she couldn't have worn it in cooler temperatures. But her dad gives her junk food while her mom races! The Long: I included this half in my race schedule because it's local, the organizers do a fantastic job, and it was 4 weeks out from my goal marathon so I thought it would be a good checkpoint -- also because my coach recommended that I not run the Bass Pro full marathon as a B race like I usually do. The course isn't fast because it has one million turns, the final 2 miles up inclines, and the field at my pace is always very thin/nonexistent, but those cons are usually balanced out by nearly perfect weather and by it being a hometown race (typical routines, no travel, sleeping in my own bed, eating at home). But, alas, the 40*/sunny/light wind combination we usually get for this race was not to be in 2017! Instead, it was 72* with a dew point of 70* (i.e., painfully humid) with 15-25 mph south winds. Midwest weather is predictably unpredictable, but our high of 83* on this day set an all-time record, so it's usually not quite this extreme in November. I knew I couldn't run a PR or anywhere near it in those conditions, because anytime the dew point is in the 70s my performance nosedives. I've read that humidity that high reduces your VO2 max, and based on how my races go in those conditions I fully believe it (not where I originally read it, but it is mentioned here and here so I did not make this up!). Pre-race my goals shifted from gunning for a fast time to mainly working for the win and running around goal marathon pace. I also ran 70 miles during race week, so I figured to some degree this could simulate the second half of a marathon. Race morning I woke up in my own bed after the time change (meaning an extra hour in bed!), headed to the race with my husband and daughter, and warmed up with my dear friend Missy. It felt more like a workout day than a race, and I felt no pressure. I hoped to keep my pace between 6:15-6:20, and I knew I shouldn't bank on a negative split because the course started off working its way north (tailwind) and finished working back south (headwind), plus the beginning has more decline and the end has more incline. After the gun I found myself in first female position for the half (the first female in the full was just ahead of me, but I know her and knew she was running the full...she is also my coach's wife and he was running with her!). This seemed like a great sign for me, because I was running around 6:20 pace. There were a handful of men around too. The half and full courses split just after the 1 mile mark, and I saw 3 men in front of me. I also got a female lead cyclist at that point, and despite my experience with having a lead female cyclist without actually leading in Kansas City two weeks prior, I trusted that I was leading this time since it was a much easier gauge in less of a crowd and complete daylight. Around 2.5 The race itself was pretty uneventful, while at the same time very enjoyable -- the awesome local race feeling! I locked into the effort that felt sustainable for 13.1 and ran familiar streets. I drove the course twice the week before this race to prevent any re-occurrences of The Bass Pro Wrong Turn Incident of 2016. I thought driving the course beforehand helped me run the course tangents, but sometimes I couldn't run the tangents due to cars parked on the side of the road, aid stations, or huge mile marker signs blocking the path; however, I thought I did a much better job than my watch indicated. I later learned that the current half course isn't certified anyway, so perhaps I did do a better job with tangents than my watch showed. There are two certifications on the USATF website for the event, but neither is the course we ran (see here and here for the certified ones), also making me not feel so bad about missing the Missouri State road racing record for age 37 (1:23:11), since it wouldn't have counted anyway. Nor would a PR have really counted had I run one, so maybe I can even say I dodged a bullet there (just being optimistic)! Excuse the tangent - pun intended. My pacing was very consistent when considered with the elevation and headwind/tailwind situation, so even though I wasn't running my fastest I thought I did really well at zeroing in on the effort I could sustain for a half in these conditions. I got to see my husband and daughter around 2.5 and 9.5, something that I don't get to do in non-local halves. Elevation I really enjoyed all of the amazing spectators and volunteers out on the course. Many took the time to shout "First female!", "Girl power!", etc. as I passed. I am so thankful for our amazing running community! Around the 15K, I heard one spectator say to another, "Wow, she looks so strong and fast", and that made my day. I ran with a smile plastered on my face the whole race. It's such a fun race to win. Even though I never felt stellar, I loved being out there and having the opportunity to race locally and see so many people I knew. My lead cyclist was awesome, and I asked him to let me draft off him going south, but we could never quite work it out -- I think it's difficult to maintain consistent 6:20 pace on a bike, because that's very slow cycling. Around 9.5 - running into the wind & trying to draft I have often struggled with the last 2 miles on this course, but I got a boost from my friend Danielle cheering around mile 11 and a man passing me a bit before mile 12 (he went on to beat me but I hung with him until the last half mile or so). It felt great to hear the race announcer mispronouncing my name as the overall female winner for the half Running happy around 11.5! I look like I'm haulin' here (although I was not necessarily) Sweet finish stretch Clock shot I then got to see two amazing ladies I train with come in 2nd and 3rd overall females! I was so proud of them and that our group dominated this one. I will also add that I know they are both in 1:25-1:26 shape and that this race did not show anyone's true fitness level (the overall male has run 1:12 recently). Official results can be found here, and a news article about the race here. After the race (and an I'm-dehydrated-and-starving cool down to make it an 18 mile day), I enjoyed socializing with our amazing running community. Albani and I also volunteered at the expo the day before the race and enjoyed plenty of that there too. Runners really are the best people! Future marathon pacer Missy's daughter Emma ran a 5K PR with Danielle's help! Awards Results Splits that reflect the headwind/tailwind miles well (7-10 headwind) Although it would have been nice to have a confidence-boosting speedy half going into CIM, maybe I got more benefits from skipping tapering for this race and the heat training adaptations that I hope occurred from it (in a timely coincidence, I read this blog post regarding the benefits of heat training the day before the race). On one hand, I think if I want to run a marathon at 6:17 pace, I ought to be able to hit a half at that pace under any circumstances, but on the other hand I averaged 6:10 pace for a 10K on Labor Day in similar weather, and then managed 6:07 pace for half a few weeks later with decent weather, so I haven't lost faith. And, I ran far better at Bass Pro than I did at Dam to Dam, so I guess I can call this my 70* dew point PR! Hopefully this also means that I'm due some really, really nice weather at CIM! I know that God will give me what I need, even if it isn't what I want, then too.
  13. The Short: The biggest lesson I learned from this one is that achieving your goal becomes a let-down if you first think you've exceeded that goal. I ran this race as a progressive split tempo workout, and expected to finish in 1:23:40 if I executed the workout as written (yes, I did the exact math). The weather was craptastic (68* and 25 mpw wind), the course is hilly (around 750 ft gain), and my Garmin freaked out, but I ran the workout the best I could under the conditions I had, and I finished the race in 1:21:36. I later learned that the female lead cyclist guided me though a wrong turn that cut 0.28 off the course, meaning that I should have run a 1:23:16 (I did the exact math on this too). Oh, and despite having that female lead cyclist with me from mile 2 through the end, and having her and multiple spectators tell me that I was winning the race, I actually placed 2nd overall female. I would have been thrilled with hitting the challenging workout on the challenging course, and perfectly happy with 2nd overall when running it as a workout had I not thought I ran a 1:21 and won for hours (and posted it on social media). Oy! The smile of someone who *thought* she was about to win, hah The Long: I love the Kansas City Half Marathon and have run it 7 times now: 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 (I ran the full marathon with the event in 2005, 2007, and 2011). In what was perhaps the luckiest win of my life, I won a free entry for life into the race in a 2011 photo contest, so I will obviously keep running it every year! I highly recommend the event and would run it most years even without the free entry too -- even after what happened this time, though it's going to take me a bit to get over it. 2017 was a year that this event didn't work as a goal race for me. It's a challenging hilly course, but I've PRed on it twice in the past (with a 1:24 in 2015 and a 1:28:36 in 2010), and wouldn't be against trying that again, but the timing for that wasn't right this year. With the way the weather panned out I am so glad I did not make it a goal race. When I sent my coach my list of races for this season, I noted "can be done as a workout" by several of them, including this one. I expected to perhaps run this unrested at marathon goal pace, but I didn't exactly expect the workout I got, which was a split tempo workout of 4, 3, 2, 1 miles with 0.5 mile recoveries (and the last 1.1 with "all you've got left"). Essentially this meant the race was supposed to be 10 miles at tempo, 2 miles at recovery, and 1.1 of hammering. The tempo goal paces were challenging (6:15-6:20 for the 4 mile, 6:10-6:15 for the 3, 6:05-6:10 for the 2, sub-6:00 for the 1), and I knew if I hit them I would end up with a pretty solid half time. I had some pretty big concerns about being able to hit them in the wind and on the Kansas City course though! I was still glad I was running the workout during the race, because I didn't exactly have any training partners jumping up and down to run this one with me, and I was also able to combine it with my once a month-ish work trip to Kansas City. Getting ready to roll to the race solo I treated the race like a workout day, but it's also hard not to get extra pumped in a race environment. I tried to time my warm-up jog to go straight into the race, and ended up with 2.5 miles total plus some drills and strides. Then we were off! The 10K, half, and full marathon all started together, it's a huge race, and it's still mostly dark at the 7:05 a.m. start, so I saw a handful of women out ahead of me but I didn't know which event most of them were in, and then it was difficult to track as the masses spread out. I was fully invested to sticking to my pace plan, but I also knew that 1:29 won the half in 2016 (the first year the race stopping giving prize money), so I thought I'd have a chance at a top spot. I hit mile 1 in exactly 6:20, right where I wanted to be. During mile 2, I looked at my Garmin to check my pace and it was reading 4:33 average pace for that mile, which I was definitely not running. Just before the 2 mile mark the 10K course split off from the half and full, and a cyclist started riding just behind me. I checked my Garmin again and it read 8-something pace, which I was also definitely not running. I ended up using the course miles for mile splits 2, 3, and 4, because my Garmin was being funky. I knew I was right around my range of 6:15-6:20 for those miles, because math was work-able off the course markers at this point. I had my workout programmed into my watch, but since my watch was screwing up pace and distance, it made my half mile recoveries not fall when they should on my watch, and I started getting stressed out about not having my workout splits. I thought about starting to manually lap by the course miles and just using my watch distance for the half mile recoveries, but since I was running the pre-programmed workout I thought I'd really screw it up by starting to manually lap, advancing it and making it end early, so I ended up just doing the best I could with doing the math on the course markers when I could (which is not easy when running hard!). Because of all of this the splits my Garmin took were often a mix of hard running and recovery running (and also not even correct -- I think my Strava data were close to accurate but were also a mix of hard running and recoveries). I don't have my actual workout splits at all, aside from knowing my first 4 miles were right on. When I was on my first recovery, I asked the cyclist with me if she was for me, and she told me she was the lead female half cyclist. I then got excited that I was leading, but worried that someone was going to pass me on my recovery jog. But I stuck with the workout plan and did the recovery jogs! The factors that really helped me stick to this was that I knew it wouldn't be a good day to race fast due to the temperature and wind speed, and no one (men or women) passed me on my recoveries, but since CIM is the big goal I think I'd have stuck to the workout regardless. The miles went by pretty quickly, I think partially because I was focused on each segment of my workout and not 13.1 as a whole -- and probably also because I panicking about screwing up the workout due to my watch issues and trying to do math on my splits. Several people on the course told me "first female", which spurred me along, and the cyclist complimented me several times, which was quite helpful. I was also very ready to get out of the crazy wind, so anytime we were running into it I was pushing to get to the next turn for some relief. The face of someone trying to do mental math on splits In the final 2.5 miles or so, the half course met back up with the 10K course, and then I was pushing to get to the finish and out of the 10K masses! For the final quarter mile or so, the road was divided with the half finishing to the left and the 10K finishing to the right, so that was helpful. The announcer said my name as I was coming in, and I kind of expected a finishing tape and a "first overall female" announcement, but there was none of that. I was, however, pleasantly surprised to see a 1:21 finishing time; when I was a bit farther away I thought the clock was on 1:24 instead of 1:21! Happy finishing stretch shot, with 10Kers on the left I specialize in ruining finishing photos by stopping my watch Forced smile for this one My friend Michelle, who ran an awesome 10K, was at the finish waiting for me, as we had planned to meet there and cool down together (she had a 10 mile cool down and had already started it). She told me that she got to break the finishing tape, although she actually placed 2nd (perhaps they thought the winner was in the 5K), and I commented that I didn't get the tape for winning either. She told me that I was 2nd, with 1st female coming in at 1:18. I then explained that I'd had the lead cyclist for the whole race! I feel bad for the 1st girl, but I guess the cyclist missed her coming by. It just pretty much sucked to think that I was leading for 11 miles only to find out that, nope, I did not win. Michelle made it in my picture here! Later, another friend who lives in Kansas City and who had been out on the race course told me that she saw me and many other runners make a wrong turn that cut some distance off the course. From her description, the course map, and my Strava map, I was easily able to figure out where the error was made. I used MapMyRun to determine how much we cut off the course, and we were 0.28 short or about 1:40. I was extremely disappointed because the lead cyclist took me this route, several men around me also ran this way, and it meant that my 1:21:36 was incorrect. I should have run about 1:23:16. What I ran What I should have run Now, I would have been perfectly happy with hitting my workout and running a 1:23 as calculated, and with placing 2nd overall if I hadn't thought I'd run a 1:21 and won! I felt like I got short-changed, because I would have been pleased with the actual outcome (especially considering the stupid wind), but with how it all played out I ended up unhappy with reality. If I'd have known I was in 2nd (or at least just not thought I was winning) the whole race, I'd have felt fine about it. I was coming in the final mile thinking, "I'm going to win the KC half!" and crossed the finish line thinking that, only to learn that, nope, I did not! The race results initially had a bunch of 10K runners mixed in with the half, so for awhile I was listed as 11th, which I knew was wrong but I was wondering if there were others in front of me I didn't know about too. I was also upset about not having my workout splits to know if I executed the workout well. From my overall time, I know I had to have been close, but I also doubt I did the splits just like I was supposed to, especially not having the feedback. I'd like to compare this to the similar workouts I've done before others marathons. And the 1:23 that pre-race I thought would mean a super solid workout now feels sub-par since I thought "Wow, I had a really good day to run 1:21 in a workout on this crazy course in this crazy wind; maybe I can actually run a 2:45." Nope!!! For a couple of days I was also worried about posting anything publicly about this and made my activity view-able by only me on Strava, because I was worried I would get disqualified (I've since changed it back). The cyclist provided by the race took me the wrong way, so I don't think I should be penalized, but if I'm out a plaque after writing this then so be it. It did not affect my placing, as the third female ran a 1:29, and I was among many runners who made the same error. Perhaps this is my race karma for running about the same distance too far in the Bass Pro Marathon last year. The universe owed me that 0.28 in my forever race results, hahaha! The run really tired me out; I suspect it was a combination of running this during a 71 mile week, the wind, and the elevation, but I was much more tired in the 2 days after than I was after the Indy Half. I'm thankful for another solid week in the books, and I'm thankful for this run (give me a few weeks and I will be more thankful). I will definitely wear a pace band at CIM, which is helpful for many reasons but also really nice in the case of Garmin error. This is not an easy course Official results can be found here. A fun article on the race, particularly the women's full marathon winner, can be found here (I'm listed at the end). Results Well, the placing is correct
  14. SIbbetson

    Indy Women's Half: Thankful, but Not Satisfied

    This is a copy and paste from my personal blog page, but I wanted to start somewhere! The Short: I ran a bright, shiny new half marathon PR of 1:20:50 under circumstances that were not nearly as ideal as those I had for my previous PR of 1:21:26. I walked away from this race feeling like I'd nailed one of my best workouts ever, but not exactly like I'd raced or PRed (you'll have to read The Long for an explanation of why). However, the more I analyze this race the happier I become with it. I placed 5th overall, netted some cash, and best of all enjoyed an amazing weekend trip to Indianapolis with my parents. Official results can be found here. Sunny clock shot courtesy of my mama The Long: I looked at a lot of fall halves trying to find the "perfect" goal race before deciding that none were. The major things I was looking for were: A) fitting into my schedule (marathon training and non-running), B) likelihood of good weather, C) straight course/minimal turns, D) flat course, E) competitive field, and F) within driving distance. The Indianapolis Women's Half fit the bill on 5 of the 6, only missing requirement C), but the more courses I looked at the more I realized how hard it is to find one as nice as the White River half (which, alas, does not meet requirement A) this year since it is only 2 weeks before my goal marathon). So I landed on Indy, and was accepted as an elite entrant and honored as one of the "5 Women to Watch" in the race. The race organizers were amazing and I was fortunate to be a part of this event. The race was on a Saturday, so I made the trip to Indy on Friday with my parents. Since I won't pull Albani out of school for a race, she and Jon weren't able to come. I treasure my time with my parents so greatly, which also meant that even if I bombed the race, it would be worth going to! I never got nervous for this race, and I think that was big part of why. From the event program Expo fun More expo fun I was quite excited for this checkpoint in my marathon training cycle. After 10 consecutive weeks of mileage in the 60s plus 2 weeks with mileage in the 70s, I had a 50 mile week the week of this race. While I may not have been completely rested since I ran 20 miles one week before the event, I was the most rested I'd been in months, and I also had the opportunity to race in NOT 70-80* with 100% humidity for the first time in months! I felt like a new woman! Feeling like a new woman in the hotel room pre-race Based on the "5 Women to Watch" and a handful of other elite entrants, I expected to have several woman right around my pace. I lined up on the starting line feeling very relaxed and ready to give it a go. I kept reminding myself to trust my training and to trust God, and to go get what I'd trained for! Nothing is ever guaranteed in these long races, but fretting about it never helps. I planned to aim to keep my pace at 6:05-6:10. I'm looking weird on the starting line as per usual At the gun, a lead pack eased out, and a check of my Garmin around a quarter of a mile in showed 6:05 pace as I settled in right behind the leaders. For a brief moment, I thought, "Perfect! Maybe this will be the 6:05 pace pack! Couldn't be better!" After that brief moment, I could feel 5 of the girls accelerating (the 2 others who were not accelerating were 2 I expected to drop off before the mile at 6:05 pace). I couldn't decide; should I risk going through the first mile in 5:55-6:00 for the benefit of running with the pack, or should I stick to my plan? I let them go and stuck to my pace. I knew that if they could maintain sub-6:00 pace, I could not compete with them, and if that was too fast for them, they would come back. When 6:05 pace was briefly happening The 5 quickly pulled away from me, and at the mile I gauged them as over 20 seconds ahead of me (I later spoke to one who said they went through in 5:45). I came through the mile in 6:08, right where I wanted to be, but so alone. I felt antsy during mile 2, and really had to hold myself back because I wanted to chase the leaders, and kept questioning my decision about not going with them. However, the gap grew and I settled into complete no man's (no woman's?) land. Somehow I could feel that no one was close behind me. With the turns on the course, I simply couldn't see anyone. I had to start paying attention to the course markings/signs, which the event did a really good job with (including course marshals at all turns), but which just takes extra work. In regards to the course markings, in many places the cones on the road were set up in a way that did not allow you to run the tangents on turns and curves. When a course is certified, it is measured on the tangents of the road, but I noticed early on that many of the tangents were blocked. I knew I was not running the shortest route, but I didn't want to risk disqualification by going outside of the cones (and in some places the tangent was occupied by an aid station in the road, which I clearly could not go through). I was frustrated about this early on because I knew I was picking up extra distance, and there was nothing I could do about it. We all know I dislike anything out of my control! Between miles 4-5, I picked up a cyclist escort. I believe there were 10 cyclists, for the prize money positions, but I am not sure why they didn't pick up with the runners until that far into the race. I sure needed my guy earlier! Having him was a great help in regards to navigating the course, but I think the cyclists were probably told not to aid the runners (as they should be), so it wasn't helpful pacing-wise. I was extremely thankful to have him to keep me on course though - no more thinking about markings and signs! Between about 5.5 and 7.5, the course doubled back on itself, so I could see the runners ahead of and behind me. The leading 4 ladies were still pretty closely bunched when I saw them, significantly ahead of me (about 1:30). There had been 5 women ahead of me when I lost sight of them, but one of them was in the 5K (I hadn't been able to see the 5K turn off, but confirmed the 5K winner from the bib number in the photo above). At the time I thought maybe someone dropped out or stopped in a porta-potty, but regardless I knew I was in 5th at that point, with little chance of moving up. As I turned the other direction, I saw that 6th was farther behind me than I was trailing the leaders, so I also had little chance of being caught. I checked my watch at the 6.55 mile mat, and I was at 40:23, which was about what I wanted (the online results have the 6.55 splits wrong for everyone). I pressed on, feeling solid at the pace I was at and happy with my splits, and also really channeling those long tempos that I'd done solo. I kept thinking, "This is just like that 8 mile tempo, only 5 miles farther" -- which I am really not sure was the most encouraging mantra I could have invented, haha! I've really been working on pacing by feel, and after the first 2 miles when I used my Garmin to ensure I didn't go out too fast, I only looked at it when it beeped mile splits. I believe all of my tempo runs have really helped me pace consistently. My pace felt like exactly what I could maintain for a half marathon, but at the same time it's intimidating to try something you've never done before so I hoped that the wheels didn't fall off before 13.1! I tried to focus on trusting -- trusting my training and trusting God -- but I kept coming back to, "It's just like those 8 mile tempos, just 5 miles longer." Hah. Around mile 9.5, for the first time since about mile 1 I could see someone ahead of me! I realized that one lady had fallen off the lead group and even though she was still uber-far ahead of me, I was gaining. I told myself to give it my all to finish strong and to pull her in. I looked at my total time when I passed the mile 10 marker, and when I saw 1:01:35 (a huge unofficial 10 mile PR), I knew that it wasn't my day to break 1:20 because I knew I couldn't close with an 18:24 5K, but I also felt confident that I would PR. I worked on pulling in #4 throughout the final 5K. Mile 11 felt great, and then the final 2 miles were into the wind. I truly believe that I maintained a 6:00-6:05 effort on those 2 miles, but when you're running into a 14 mph wind, that does not translate into 6:00-6:05 splits. Although this was a tough time to encounter the wind, I am thankful that much of the course had fantastic wind block, because the main other time I felt it was at the beginning of the race (which makes sense, since we started and finished in the same area). Also, for what it's worth, Strava gave me a grade adjusted pace of 6:02 for mile 13. I was happy to see the mile 12 sign, and I knew I could gut out one more mile, but I was sure ready to finish! As we turned onto the final stretch, the finish seemed so reachable yet so far. I gained a lot of ground on #4, but not enough (she went on to finish in 1:20:40), and it was apparent I wasn't going to catch her by the long final stretch. It was a mental battle between easing off since I couldn't pass her, and going with all I had left to get the best PR I could. My kick was a far cry from my best (5:59 pace), but it was what I could do mentally and physically at that point, and that final half mile or so was the most prominent incline of the race (still very minor, but I could feel it!). I crossed in 5th in a new PR of 1:20:50. My dad's video of the finish is here, and the announcer even pronounced my last name correctly! Splits I guess I called it quite well when I noted here that I felt ready for a half PR but not ready for a 1:19! Although I'm very thankful for this race, I could also identify key factors that, if different, would have led to a faster time: A) less wind, B) people to run with, and C) being allowed to run the tangents. My Garmin read 13.19 at the end of this race, and in my last 3 half marathons it has read 13.10, 13.09, and 13.08, and it almost always reads slightly under on certified courses (it read 26.10 in my last marathon and 6.15 in a recent 10K). Whenever someone says their Garmin was right and the certified course was wrong, I am the first to say that, nope, your Garmin is wrong and the course is right; but we were not allowed to run the shortest route on the road, which is how courses are certified, and I think that cost me about 30 seconds. The course was right, we just didn't run the shortest route that it was measured on. My pace on my Garmin was 6:07.X (must have been 6:07.9+ because Garmin Connect rounded up to 6:08), and per the course was 6:09.96 (no, I am not rounding up to 6:10, bahaha!), so not a huge difference, but when you're chipping away at your PR, every second counts! A 1:19:59 takes 6:06.07 pace. Fun fact: my last 8 mile tempo was 6:07 pace, so this pretty much was just like that 8 mile tempo, just 5 more miles! One of these distances is not like the others... However, I've decided to let these factors boost my confidence that I can run faster. When I ran a 1:21 in Arizona, I wasn't sure if it was something I could top because everything aligned so nicely for that one; I am very pleased to beat that time when things did not align as well. The lower you work down your PRs, the more you really need that White Unicorn of race day conditions to improve them. I got a bit spoiled because I actually had those conditions for not one, but for three winter/spring races (Arizona Rock 'n' Roll half, BMO Mesa-Phoenix full, and the Wash U Distance Carnival 10,000 m). Maybe I can find them again at CIM, God-willing! When I told my coach about the race, he said, "You need to see what you can do on a straight course", and I look forward to doing just that. I've also been thinking, we often discuss trusting God when things go wrong, but it's just as important when things go right! Throughout the race, I kept reminding myself to trust Him, and to relax and just remember that whatever He had in store for me that day was far better than anything I could have planned myself. Luckily, things went right in the form of a new PR, but regardless I trust Him and I trust the process. "God is within her; she will not fail." - Psalms 46:5 Awards ceremony My sweet dad My sweet mom One of these things does not belong (that would be ME!), w/ podcast affiliated runners & the race director I got to post-race brunch with my dear friend Briony who was in Indy from Kansas! Bling Results The trip home Now it's back to marathon training! Less than 9 weeks until CIM!
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