A1A Half Marathon Race Recap!!

Wow… it has been a long time since I raced. I was hurt in September last year, which put an early end to my fall season. Luckily I am back, healthy, and back racing! On Sunday, I ran the A1A Half Marathon in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I had intended to PR and was even shooting for my first sub-1:50. Unfortunately, it was not my day, and that is not how the race went. It was a grueling 13.1, but I learned a lot and I feel more confident heading into the 6th week of my full-marathon training.

Saturday

I went to the expo in the morning to pick up my bib. A1A always has a large expo with a lot of freebies and deals. I walked around, picked up some free food, and then went out to lunch with Kristina and Ali. It was great to meet them, and it kind of felt like I was meeting a celebrity or something! My mom had come with me to the expo and hung out with us at lunch as we discussed the pros and cons of Ali running the full marathon (and she did! She even PRed!).

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Kristina, Ali, me, and my mom all enjoyed some good pizza (and snacks) at Pizza Fusion!

After lunch, my mom and I made it home and we watched the Marathon Olympic Qualifiers. I gotta say… I need a friend like Amy Cragg. It was incredible how she pulled Shalane Flanagan through the end of the race and even caught her at the finish line. Seriously, Amy needs to be my training buddy!

For dinner, my parents and I went to a local Italian restaurant. This is probably where I screwed up my race. I typically eat a plant based diet and mostly keep to a vegan diet. I occasionally eat eggs, and very occasionally will eat something milk based. I decided to order pasta with a crème-based sauce, since it sounded really good. I can’t think of a worse thing to eat for someone who rarely (if ever) eats crème-based foods. And so it was not to my surprise when I woke up in the middle of the night with terrible stomach cramps. I told myself that they would subside, went back to sleep, and woke up at 3:30 am to get ready to race.

Race Day!!

I knew that my stomach did not feel right, but I figured it would probably go away after a few miles. I took a few trips to the port-a-john (which helped, for sure), and then got to my starting spot. I saw Ali as she was heading over to the corrals and tried to calm my nerves while talking to my parents.

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Ali and I hanging out at the start line. I was pretty nervous here!

Miles 1-5

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At promptly 6:00 am, the race began and I walked my way up to the starting line and took off. I wanted to hold just over an 8:30 pace for the first 5 miles, and then my plan was to take a few seconds per mile off for the rest of the race in order to PR. The only problem was, over an 8:30 pace felt labored and hard. I tried to hold it for the first three miles, but my stomach cramps kept getting worse. I pulled the pace back a bit for miles 4 and 5 in hopes to work out whatever was going on.

Miles 6-10

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By the 10K mark, I knew that I was not going to PR, so then I just told myself that I wanted a course PR. Despite the cramps, I held it together, but couldn’t stop thinking about how hard this pace seemed for me. Mile 10 was just over a 9-minute pace, which is normally a pretty chill pace for me. It did not feel chill at all. I had gotten to the out and back portion and kept telling myself that if I saw Ali or Kristina on the other side, I would take a 10-second walk break. I never saw them, but instead stopped at each water break. I usually run through the water stops, but I couldn’t keep myself from walking. By mile 10, I was starting to get worried that the 2-hour pacer would catch up to me.

Miles 11-13.1

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The last 5k of the race is along the beach with some beautiful views. I kept at it, pushing myself to get my course PR. I turned up my headphones, hoping that I could drown out my own thoughts (which were seriously telling me to just walk to last three miles).

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Even though I wasn’t feeling like I could run really fast, I did enjoy the scenery!

I looked at my watch and figured I could maybe eek out a very small PR if I busted my butt for the last three miles. I’m not actually sure if that is true. On a good day, maybe I could squeeze out a few 7:30 miles… I did at Rocky Mountain, but I was not going to manage that here. I told myself to just keep it comfortable-ish and finish. During the final mile, I saw my PR come and go. I didn’t care too much, and I was focused on just finishing. I saw my parents, Frank, and his parents by the end, and I barely had the energy to wave. I just gritted through and finished. After crossing the finish line, I doubled over hoping that would give my stomach some relief. It was definitely my most labored race finish ever.

My official finish time was 1:54:24, less than 3 minutes off my PR.

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Happy to be done!

 Post Race

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My whole family was there at the finish line. Even though I was tired, we managed to get this cute shot!

I got my medal, grabbed some Gatorade and found my family. I’ve gotta say, there is nothing like a whole lot of suffering to appreciate a race medal. I ate a little bit, hung around the finish line and even got to see Kristina finish!!

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I was glad to see Kristina cross the finish line!

Overall, I had a fun race, even though things did not go as planned. I’ll have other chances at PRing in the half marathon. For now, I am focusing on Colfax. I have a few tune-up races in between, but none of those will be PR attempts. I am concentrating on slower longer mileage and making sure that I do as well as I can out at Colfax. I think this race was a good lesson and if nothing else, was an opportunity to run a little faster and hang out with my family!

Colfax Week 5: Racing, Fun, and Travel!!

Another week gone… another week closer to the Colfax Marathon! This week was a great effort. I kept to my training even while traveling to Fort Lauderdale, AND I raced a half marathon. Now that the A1A half is finished, I feel like the marathon grind is in full gear, and I’ve gotta say, I am actually pretty happy about that. The long slow paces feel good on my legs, and the slow increase in mileage has been really encouraging. I feel like my training is really helping out a lot. I attempted to PR at A1A, but missed it by about 3 minutes. It was just one of those days where you really can’t get your legs to move. I’ll talk more about that later in my race recap.

I did get to see Ali and Kristina, though! And it was totally fun. They were both incredibly awesome people. AND Ali got a PR!! Go Ali!! They both had incredibly awesome races. Congrats to them both!

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We thought something was very funny!

 

Monday: Rest Day + Yoga!

 Tuesday: 4 miles chill pace on treadmill + really tough yoga class

I started the morning with a yoga class that pretty much kicked my butt. I knew that I wanted to get out to run, but it was pretty chilly with some tough winds, so I decided to just hop on the ole’ dreadmill. Pretty much as soon as I got on, I was regretting my decision of not running outside. I stuck it out though, and it was miserable!

Wednesday: Goal Marathon Pace Tempo Run 5 miles

I went out around lunch for a quick 5 mile run. It was really a perfect day out with the sun shining and it was chilly, but not cold. I did a 1-mile warm up and cool down with 3 miles at goal MP. It felt easy and fun! Previously, I had been having trouble keeping at MP, but would instead run a little too fast and tire myself out. I was pretty glad to hit the right paces and feel really strong. I then went to the airport, where I waited forever for my plane and didn’t make it to Fort Lauderdale until around 11:30 pm.

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Perfect running weather.

Thursday: 4 mile easy run with fast finish

I went for a pretty chill run around my neighborhood. I kept the pace slow, but still wanted to see how I was going to feel in the heat of Florida. I have been training in Kansas, where it is consistently around 30 degrees. I wanted to make sure I could still run fast in the warm, so I busted out a pretty quick final mile. It was actually pretty fun!

Friday: Rest!!

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Even though I was resting, I did get to see some manatees!

Saturday: Rest + met Ali and Kristina

 

Sunday: A1A Half Marathon

I’ll talk more about this in my race recap. I went out hoping I’d get a PR, but I knew from the very first mile that it was not the day. I spent a lot of the race suffering, when really I shouldn’t have been. But I kept strong, finished, and still ran the 2nd best half I’ve ever run. I could have done without the suffering though.

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Tired and happy to be done!

Total: 26.1

Overall, it was a great week! After the race, I’m glad to be getting back to my marathon training. I can’t wait to get out there and do more goal MP runs and go longer than I ever have before! Colfax, here I come!!!

Next Week:

M: Rest

T: 6 miles goal MP

W: 4 miles easy

T: Some hills and speed (7 miles)

F: 5 miles easy

S: Rest

S: 14 miles LSD

Thanks for all of the encouragement heading into my race. I have a trail race coming up in April. I love racing on trail and I am really looking forward to it.

Anyone else racing this weekend? How did your training go? Any fun stories?

Made it to south Florida!

I made it to Florida! The way here was certainly not easy! My flight was cancelled and I was forced to change my entire itinerary. I didn’t make it home until about 11:30 pm, but after a good night’s rest, it seemed pretty worth it. It is nice to have some warmer weather AND I get to hang out with my favorite dog.

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I woke up him to take this picture. He has a case of bed head here.

Oh and my parent’s cat too (she doesn’t cuddle like Elly).

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I do miss Elly!

I’ve been doing a bit of a taper heading into A1A. On Tuesday, I went for a run on the dreadmill because it was just way too cold! On Wednesday, before my flight, I managed to get myself out and moving for a marathon paced tempo run, despite the cold. I finally managed to feel comfortable holding my goal pace for Colfax.

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The river was looking super nice!

I am definitely feeling a little nervous heading into A1A. I feel tired and a bit overtrained and I am just not sure if I can hold a PR pace for 13.1 miles. Although the extra mileage that I’ve been putting on my legs during marathon training has certainly improved my fitness, I’m not sure that it has improved my SPEED. I feel like I am ready to run a super long distance… but just not very fast. Maybe I’ll wake up Sunday morning with super legs. It’s just hard to imagine holding under 8:30 paces for over 13 miles. I know that I tend to show up strong at races, but I do tend to feel inadequate during training. Unfortunately, there will be no pacers to help me reach my goal of under 1:50:00.

Whatever happens… happens. Regardless, I plan on having a good time!

I am excited to see both Kristina and Ally on Saturday! It’s going to be great to finally meet and wish them good luck on their races. Also, Lizzy is doing the LA marathon on Sunday, so wish her good luck nabbing that new marathon PR!

Anyone racing this weekend? Do you usually feel unsure of yourself heading into a PR attempt?

A1A Half Marathon Goals

One week from today, I’ll be heading down to South Florida for some warm weather, family time, AND to run the A1A Half Marathon. Although I have been focusing on my training for the Colfax Marathon in May, I think it might be time to talk a little about my goals and expectations about this race.

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I’m not sure if it can get any better than last year’s race!

Original goal when signing up for A1A: 1:45:00

When I signed up, I had imagined that I would have had a full training cycle devoted solely to this half. I thought I would be fresh off the Chicago finish line and ready for some faster races. However, that’s not how it happened. I got hurt, sidelined, distracted, and a little discouraged by my ankle injury in September. I did not devote a training cycle to this race, and I am in the middle of my training for Colfax. I have been training for longer, slower times… not the quick ones that would get me that goal time. I have not been practicing 8-minute miles or anything close to it. And really… even if I could do that pace, I am not sure that I would want to. I think a very fast time would burn me out and make it hard to continue my training for Colfax the next week.

So what now?

My PR is 1:51:48. Now, you probably think (for all of the reasons listed above), that I am in no shape to go for a PR in the half. However, my current half marathon PR was in less than favorable conditions and during my training cycle for the Chicago Marathon. The race was in Estes Park (7000 ft above sea level) with 1000 feet of elevation gain throughout the race. The night before the race, I was camping and sleeping on the hard ground of Rocky Mountain National Park. The race was fantastically beautiful, which I am sure helped me get that time, but it was not a race most people would go for a PR at.

A1A is at sea level and is a pancake flat course. It runs along the beautiful Fort Lauderdale beaches AND my entire family is going to be there. I’ll also have the luxury of a good night’s sleep on a bed the night before. Although I am not sure if this is going to be a PR blow out, I think I have a chance to sneak just under 1:51:48.

These are my goals for A1A:

 A: 1:49:59 – 8:24/mi pace – a little unattainable… but maybe if I have a crazy awesome day

B: PR – so anything under 1:51:48 (8:30ish/mi)

C: Course PR – Under 1:56:48

The way some of my training has been going lately, a sizable PR is possible. But my legs are tired and I’m deep into my training for Colfax. This race suddenly isn’t as important as I thought it would be a year ago.

So, I guess next Sunday begins my race season for 2016. Hopefully it begins as well as 2015 did and that I nab that PR. Either way, I’m going to go out there and have a good time! I’ll be enjoying some much needed time with my family, some sweet weather, and I get to see Ally and Kristina! PR or not, A1A is going to be a ton of fun!

Colfax Marathon Week 2: Kickin’ Butt!!

Week two of my Colfax Marathon training cycle is over, and I only have 110 days to get myself ready! I know that sounds like a long time… but it’s not. However, it will be more than enough time if every week goes as well as this week did. Basically, mostly everything went right. I had a few weather snafus that stopped me from hitting my paces, but the effort was there, even if the clock didn’t say so.

Monday: 8 miles LSD – Long run pushed off from week before due to weather

I wrote about this run here. It was a pretty good long run, but was pushed off to this week due to arctic temperatures in Kansas.

Tuesday: 3 miles easy pace on treadmill + Yoga

It was still bitterly cold out on Tuesday, and I had kinda lost feeling in my legs by the end of my 8-mile long run, so I decided to take this one inside. I hate the treadmill, and even though it was an easy paced run, mentally, this run was pretty tough. I have such a hard time keeping my mind occupied while running indoors.

Wednesday: 3 miles in snowstorm + Yoga

I went out for a run during a rather nasty snowstorm. I figured that since the temps weren’t too bad, that I could take the snow. I was hoping to hit close to marathon pace, but couldn’t stop my feet from slipping on the snow, so I just did put a medium amount of effort into the run. I was pretty glad to get home and dry off a bit.

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This is what Elly was up to when I got back from my run. It was apparently too cold to be awake.

Thursday: 3 miles easy pace on treadmill + Yoga

Kansas doesn’t believe in plows and salt… so I ended up taking my run inside… again. By the end of it, I was ready to swear off the treadmill forever. I did some yoga after, and that made me feel better about being cooped up indoors.

Friday: 5 miles Marathon Pace… but not really + Yoga

I intended for this run to be at marathon pace. Frank and two of our friends came out for the run (although Frank only did 3 miles). It was icy and cold, which slowed us down a lot. Dodging the ice and snow made for an interesting run that almost felt like trail running. We kept it about 30 seconds per mile slower than MP, although the effort seemed pretty tough.

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The reads and sidewalks were caked in ice… and it really only got worse as we went along.

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Obligatory post-run selfie. Frank had already run inside to get away from the cold.

Saturday: Rest Day – Went to see the largest ball of twine in the world… and yes, that is in Kansas!

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Artsy shot of the twine. Kansas is a strange place…

Sunday: 10 miles LSD + Yoga

I went to a yoga class in the AM and ran in the afternoon. One of Frank’s co-workers expressed interest in training for a half marathon, so I took him along for 7 miles of the run… and he did great! This was the first long run that has actually felt like a long run in a while. It was a real milestone to hit double digits. I actually don’t think I have done that since my Chicago Marathon training back in October. It was a great run, and I even got to explore a new route. Frank joined me for the last three miles and really pushed the pace. I ran a negative split with the last mile well below marathon pace (Thanks Frank). I had intended to keep this run pretty slow, but with the ice gone and fresh legs, I felt too good to slow down.

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Zeb is learning how fun running can really be!!

Total Mileage: 32.4

Overall, this was a great week. I needed it too! With the A1A Half Marathon coming up, I think I needed a few confident long runs under my belt into order to go for a PR in Fort Lauderdale. Also, the higher mileage felt good on my legs, so I’m pretty glad to be back! This week, Frank and I will be heading to Boulder on Thursday night, so I’ll be doing a few runs at altitude!

This week:

M: Rest

T: 3 miles easy

W: 6 miles MP

Th: 3 miles easy

F: 6 miles

S: Hiking in Colorado!

S: 12 miles LSD through Boulder

How was your week? Anyone hit by bad weather? Also, I know Kristina and Ali are doing the A1A Marathon/Half Marathon. Is anyone else gonna be there?

Colfax Training Week 1: Strong Start

I finished my first week of training for the Colfax Marathon, and things went great, despite the rather frigid temperatures and icy conditions. I took it slow, but getting back to higher mileage feels good. A few of my friends in Manhattan have been training with me and holding me accountable to my mileage as I start to get my fitness back. I began the week kinda feeling like I had lost a lot of fitness by taking time off, but I ended the week with a few solid runs and a bunch more confidence.

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I WISH!

Tuesday: Yoga + 3.1 miles at easy pace

I went out with the local running group in the afternoon for an easy paced run. I was definitely suffering more than I should at the pace we went, but that may have been the cold. Unfortunately, I don’t seem to do well in cold temperatures. I did some gentle yoga on my own but added a little core work at the end with inversions.

Wednesday: Yoga + 4.0 miles with fast finish

I started the day with a pretty basic vinyasa practice on my own before going out to teach at Meadowlark Hills where I teach yoga and fitness to people with Parkinson’s Disease. It’s pretty much the most fun job! In an afternoon class, one of my favorite students walked for the first time in 3 years (Go Jo!). We were both crazy excited, and we’ll be trying that out again this week. In the afternoon, I went for a run and finished with the last mile at half marathon pace. It felt good to go a little faster.

Thursday: Yoga + 5.0 miles at marathon pace

I took a morning yoga class and in the evening a few friends came over to go running. We kept it just under 9:00/mi, which I think is close to my marathon pace. This run went perfect! We ran each mile a little faster than the one before and finished with lots more gas in the tank. It’s great to have runs like these to bring up my confidence.

Friday: Yoga + 4.1 at easy pace

I took another morning yoga class that left me feeling a little sore for the rest of the day. Since I had been running for 4 days in a row, and doing tons of yoga, I figured an easy run was in order. Frank came out with me on his bike and we went around looking at houses that are up for rent (we are looking for a new place).

Saturday: Hiked 15 miles at Tallgrass Prairie

A group of us went out for a long hike at the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. It’s a beautiful place with about 40 miles of trails. We wanted to make sure we hit some of the harder to get to spots of the park, so we embarked on a 15 mile hike in 6 degree weather (at least the sun came out). I got a blister on my foot, but besides that it was crazy awesome!

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The grass and hills go on forever!

Sunday: Long run got pushed back until next day due to ice and below 0 temps (do you blame me?). Kansas doesn’t salt the sidewalks or roads, so the conditions were rather treacherous. I did go to Ikea, though!

Monday: 8.1 LSD with last mile at MP

This run went as every long run should. I started slow and finished strong. Frank and Zeb came out to do 5 miles with me and I finished 3 more. It was cold out, but I stayed steady and strong. Let’s hope all of my long runs this cycle go this well! After my run, Elly was being super affectionate, so I snapped this little gem:

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Elly is perfect.

This was a solid week, and I needed it to kick off my training for Colfax. I do have A1A coming up in a few weeks, and I feel a lot more prepared for that than I thought I was. I’m super excited to up my mileage this week and keep on with this momentum.

This week:

T: 3 miles easy

W: 5 miles with hill work

Th: 3 miles easy

F: 5 miles @ MP

S: Rest

S: 10 miles LSD

How has your training been? Have the temps been cold by you? If they are, hopefully your state is better at salting and plowing than Kansas.

Gone with the old and in with 2016!

Hey everyone! I hope you all had a fun and safe holiday with your family. I have been gone for quite a while and I missed the running community a lot.

I am back in Kansas again (finally!) after traveling pretty much all over our hemisphere. After Utah I left for Virginia for a week and then I went home to visit family in South Florida. Frank and I then flew from Fort Lauderdale to Cabo San Luca in Mexico and traveled up the length of the Baja peninsula to San Diego before heading home. I have been pretty exhausted from travel, but now I’m back and ready to train (although I should have been training prior to now, but really, that’s water under the bridge).
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Frank and I enjoying Mexico

 

Elly was pretty thrilled to see me after I got back. Honestly I was a little worried she would forget about me.
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Elly burrito-ed herself into my blanket. I guess she was cold. She still remembers and loves me.

I have some crazy stories about our travels, but now I’m just glad to be home and getting back into a rhythm.
I want to take a moment to reflect a little on 2015. I had a crazy year, with a big move, big travels, new friends and jobs, and a whole lot of running. I ran my first half marathon, and then PRed twice on the half (including at Estes Park, CO). I trained for the Chicago Marathon, and even though I turned my ankle and couldn’t run it, I still trained hard and learned a lot about what I am capable of.
So 2016 is here and I have a few goals. I guess it’s easiest if I list them out…
1. Get back to real training again. I haven’t really gotten back to the level of training I was at before I turned my ankle, so first and foremost, that is my goal. I know it’s possible because I already did it. I want to get back to running 35+ miles per week.
2. PR the half marathon either at A1A in February (that’s so freaking soon), or at Rocky Mountain in July (this is where my current PR is).
3. Run the Colfax Marathon in May… and not get injured this time, so no mountain biking for a while. I have no time goals. I just want to finish injury free.
4. Run the Chicago Marathon in October. I need to redeem myself from last year.
5. This may seem like a crazy one… but PR in the Marathon at Chicago (since I’ll have a time from Colfax).
and finally (and most importantly)… go injury free this year. No ankle turns, no knee issues…just some good ole’ injury free running.
I think in 2015, although I did manage a lot, I got too caught up in race times. This year I want to run by feel, and if I run a little slower sometimes, honestly, I don’t care. I don’t want running to stress me out, which it occasionally did last year.
So, there you have it… and I can’t wait to see how it all goes! I’m super glad to be back!
How was your holiday? Any cool new travels? What is your big 2016 goal?