Friday 5 Linkup: My FIVE Half Marathons

I’ve never done a Friday 5, but I figured I’d give it a shot this week. Mar on the Run, Eat Pray Run, and You Signed Up for What?! host a weekly linkup that anyone can join in on. This week is a freebe, so I can post on a topic of my choosing.

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My FIVE Half Marathons

1. A1A Half Marathon

I am from Fort Lauderdale, Fl and grew up in Coral Springs. I’ve been living elsewhere for the last 10 years, but I wanted my first half marathon to be in my hometown and on my home beach. It couldn’t have been a better experience! My parents (and in laws) were there to see me cross that finish line on the beautiful beaches of Fort Lauderdale. It was an automatic PR (1:56:46) and it was the race that made me fall in love with the half marathon.

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I’ll be running this race again on Feb. 14, 2016!!

2. Holy Half Marathon

Running the Holy Half is a bit of a right of passage at Notre Dame. I knew I’d be moving in the summer, so I needed to check that off my bucket list. It was crazy cold out… like in the teens. The race became my next PR (1:56:44), but the cold wore me out a lot. Despite the cold, I still had TONS of fun. Lizzy ran the race with me, and it was tons of fun to race with a friend.

Lizzy and I at the finish of the Holy Half with our medals!

Lizzy and I at the finish of the Holy Half with our medals!

3. Hospital Hill Half Marathon

This was a TOUGH race. There was about 1000 feet of elevation gain throughout the race AND the biggest hill was at mile 10. By the time I got to it, I was beat! I had a ton of fun though. I felt pretty accomplished having completed such a tough course in under 2 hours.

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4. Rocky Mountain Half Marathon

This race was a gem! There were crazy amounts of elevation gain, but I was on that day. The course was the most scenic I’ve ever been on, with the beautiful Rocky Mountains as my backdrop. I plugged in, hunkered down and kicked serious butt to get my new PR of 1:51:46. After the race, I hiked up Hallet Peak and to Chasm Lake to be in the Continental Divide Club and the Chasm Lake Club.

Hallett Autumn Classic

I couldn’t have had a better race and I can’t wait to run it again in 2016!

You may have noticed that I have only run 4 half marathons, but this post says 5. Well… that’s because I am running the Kansas City Half Marathon on October 17!

5. Kansas City Half Marathon

This race will be a dry run for the Route 66 Marathon. I’ll be running it right around marathon pace. I’ll be taking it pretty easy, since I don’t want to risk injury before my big day in November. A lot of people from my social running group will be there and it’s relatively close to Manhattan. Should be a fun day to run!

What is your favorite half marathon?

Hospital Hill Half Marathon Race Recap

There was one word to describe the Hospital Hill Run: Hilly. Oh boy was it hilly. I can confidently say that this race was the hardest one that I’ve done.

No, I did not PR. In fact, this was my slowest half marathon that I’ve run… and that is totally okay. In fact, I am sure that if someone PR’s on this course, they have a much faster PR in them on a flatter one. Even though I didn’t run this race as fast as I wanted, I still did my best and ran a pretty good race.

The Hospital Hill Run was in Kansas City, MO, which is about two hours away from Manhattan, KS. Frank and I left town after work on Friday to pick up my packet and check out the expo. There was a 5k on the Hospital Hill course that night, so we watched the winners cross the finish line. The winning woman finished around 21 minutes and looked unbelievably spent. That was when I knew I’d be in trouble on those hills.

Frank and I at the start line. I was pretty nervous.

Frank and I at the start line. I was pretty nervous.

I woke up in the morning at 5:30 am, ate some food, had some coffee, and quickly made it to the start line. I love how runners are the only group of people that have their biggest parties at 6 am. The music was blasting and there were people EVERYWHERE. Hospital Hill is a pretty big race with about 5000 people who run the course (there is a 10k and a half marathon).

I lined up right next to the 1:55 pacers and talked a little to some of the runners around me. The race began and we were off. The first three miles feature Hospital Hill, the biggest and longest hill of the race. I just ran comfortably with the pacer and felt surprisingly good. I was surprised at how well my body felt at this pace climbing these big rolling hills. At the top of the hill, we took off on a quick and rather fun downhill.

Normally, when I run with a pacer, I just trust them and try not to even look at my watch. So that’s what I did… I felt good, but a little too good. So around mile 5, I sneaked a look at my watch. We were about 30 seconds off pace, and I started to get worried. I had heard that the last hill at mile 10 would be a crawl and that I would need extra time for that mile. But, I decided to trust the pacer and figured we’d make up those seconds later.

The miles went on, and the pacer looked a little tired. I looked at my watch and we were now almost a minute off. Then, another pacer came up from behind us and took over our group. He stepped up the pace, told us we’d have to shave off 10 seconds every mile, and that was when I knew my 1:55 hopes were not going to happen. He took off with the group and I just couldn’t keep up.

This was when things took a bit of a rough turn for me. Suddenly, I was running alone. I no longer had the pace group to talk to and there were not very many spectators to keep me grounded. I was watching the people around me and they were TIRED. People kept stopping to walk on the uphills. To add insult to injury, a pretty scary storm swept through around mile 9. It rained pretty hard for the rest of the race and there was lightening all around me. In fact, I was pretty surprised that they didn’t pull me off the course.

Mile 10 was the start of Broadway Hill. This was by far the roughest part of the race. I was already on tired legs and this hill seemed to go on forever. I stopped to walk through one of the water stations and texted my mom to tell her how hard this race was. I don’t like to walk, but Broadway Hill was killing me. Then the 2-hour pacer caught up and I knew I was in trouble. I think the thought of having a “2” in front of my time gave me the final push I needed to kick me into gear. I gave it my all and tried to put some distance between me and the pace group.

Um... are these the worst splits ever? Possibly.

Um… are these the worst splits ever? Possibly.

At the top of the hill, someone was holding a sign that said “it’s all downhill from here”, and I breathed a sigh of relief. I was so tired that I practically threw myself down the last hill towards the finish line. I had about a mile left, but I found the determination to eek out a mile at 8:28.

After I crossed the finish line a wave of nausea came over me but someone handed me a cold wet sponge. I’m pretty sure this was the best idea anyone has ever had. I put the sponge on the back of my neck and instantly felt better.

Obligatory finish photo!

Obligatory finish photo!

My final time was 1:58:25… pretty far off my insane goal of under 1:50 and still off from my second goal of 1:55. Honestly, that is totally ok. Hospital Hill is a hard course with close to 800 feet in elevation gain. I know that I have it in me to run a faster time, but not on Hospital Hill. This is a race where you have to adjust your expectations and be happy with just having a strong and happy finish. Maybe I’ll run it again next year and go for a course record… but I’ll never come to this race with a PR in mind.

View of the finish line

View of the finish line

Well, this race is done and now the real work begins. Today officially starts my training for the Chicago Marathon. I’ll post about that soon, but I am glad to have gotten through Hospital Hill.

Help! This taper is killing me!

I have the taper crazies… So bare with this crazy person post.

Saturday is my big race and I am not ready, like at all. I hope that is just the taper crazies talking, but my running has been TERRIBLE lately. I struggle to finish runs, my long runs feel like a battle, and I just don’t feel right. Since moving to Kansas, I have had the worst allergies and I simply can’t breath. Not getting good, full breaths really messes up my running. I’ve tried several different medications (Claritin, Allegra, etc), but they all made me very drowsy… and a little high. I spoke to a pharmacist about it and he suggested Flonase, since it is a nasal spray and likely won’t give me the drowsy effects, so I am hoping that will work. I just don’t know if it will kick in before Saturday (I am still sneezing like every 10 minutes). It’s amazing how bad an easy paced run can feel when you can’t get a full breath.

 tapering-stress

So I guess I am adjusting my goals a little. I am going to run with the 1:55 pace group, which would be a PR for me… just not the one I wanted. I think given the hills and my allergies, even 1:55 will be a stretch. In fact, I am afraid that just finishing the race will be a problem. Paces that once felt easy are hard, and I don’t know how I am going to deal with those hills.

The hills are going to kill me...

The hills are going to kill me…

I can’t tell if this is an actual problem, like I am not ready, or if I am just scared (and crazy) because it is race week. My confidence is wavering and I am not trusting my training anymore.

Hospital Hill Half is not the only thing on my mind these days. Next week I officially begin training for my first marathon. On Saturday, after Hospital Hill, Frank and I are headed to Boston for his job. I’ll just be tagging along for the ride (and to get some much needed work done). However, this means that my first week of training for the Chicago Marathon can be on the Boston Marathon course. Couldn’t be more cosmic, right?

I don’t feel ready to start training for Chicago either. I’m scared of the long runs, especially since just finishing an 8 mile run has been a struggle these days. If this is just the allergies, I need to get it under control.

Tomorrow, I am going to the expo to pick up my packet, and I’ll try to write a quick post then. Keep some good vibes coming my way this weekend, as I think my lungs will need them. 🙂

Do you lose confidence before a big race? Do you have any good allergy remedies? 

Some moving, some training, and lots of pictures!

Guess what! I have a furnished apartment! I have a desk, a table, futon, bed… I am a real person with a real place and I love it! I live in a historic building that was a hotel in the 1920’s. My apartment is pretty tiny, but it suits Frank and I (and our two fuzzy animals pretty well).

So what does having an apartment mean? Well, it means that I am going to get back to being a person again, who writes on here more than once a week. I’ve been struggling trying to even fit in time to run, no less blog, so things have been kinda tricky.

This week went pretty well, and I really enjoyed running in lots of new places. I must say, the hills here are a bit of a change, and will help my running immensely. However, it does have me rethinking my goals a bit for my next half marathon on June 6.

Monday: Ran 4 miles at 8:55 + morning yoga

This was a slow and sluggish run. We had moved in our stuff the day before, and I was exhausted from all the driving. Frank had his first day at work, so I figured that I HAD to get out the door to go for a run. I only went 4 miles and my legs felt tired. It was a pretty run and I was excited by all the new scenery. I took a yoga class in the morning, which was awesome.

Beautiful river views.

Beautiful river views.

Tuesday: 3.2 with running group + morning yoga

They have a running club here in town, so I went out with them for their weekly run. There are three routes that they cycle through, and this week was the “hilly” route. I am sure to all of you from more mountainous areas, this would have been a piece of cake, but for me and my Indiana/Florida legs, this was a pretty substantial task. I managed to keep an 8:40 min/mi overall pace, but I felt pretty beat at the top of the hill. I guess this will get me ready for Hospital Hill.

So, that's a hill there. Us Floridians never see those... neither do the people from Indiana.

So, that’s a hill there. Us Floridians never see those… neither do the people from Indiana.

Wednesday: 4.5 at Konza Prairie + morning yoga

This run was probably the highlight of my week. I drove down to a preserve just south of town and expected it to be a pretty leisurely run. It was not. The prairie is in the heart of the Flint Hills, and they were pretty crazy. I had about 350 ft of elevation gain and I ended up taking a few breaks to take in the scenery and to text/complain to Lizzy about the hills (she didn’t know that I was in the middle of a run while I was texting her). Anyways, I was pretty spent afterwards, but it was a pretty awesome run.

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Thursday: Morning Yoga

I did yoga. It was awesome, as yoga always is.

Friday: More morning yoga

I did more yoga. I was supposed to run, but a thunderstorm rolled in and I pushed it back, since I don’t have anywhere to run inside.

Saturday: Hiked 6 miles + Ran 4 miles

I made some new friends and we went hiking! It was super fun. We went to a state park just north of town and hiked about 6 miles along a network of hilly and forested trails. After I got home I slipped on my running shoes and went out for what I was hoping would be a 5-mile run. However, towards the end of mile 2, I saw lightening strike pretty close and decided to cut my run short. I haven’t quite gotten used to the unpredictability of the weather here.

Running during a thunderstorm!

Running during a thunderstorm!

Sunday: Biked 16 miles + hiked 6 miles + ran 8 pathetic miles

So I did too much and paid for it on my long run. Frank and I woke up early to bike out to the prairie about 8 miles from town. We hiked a 6-mile loop (and saw a bunch of wildlife) and then biked the 8 miles back. I was pretty tired, but we went to check out the Flint Hills Discovery Center for a talk about Prairie Chickens, an endangered bird found in this region. A few hours later I went on my long run. This was hands-down the absolute worst long run I’ve ever done. My legs felt like lead, I was sunburned from the bike ride earlier, so I felt a little dehydrated, and I just generally felt unmotivated. I was supposed to go 10 miles, but at 8 miles, I felt like my legs could go no further. I kept a 9:20 pace, but had to walk a few times. It was just bad…

Pretty new running trails. Too bad I felt too unmotivated to enjoy them.

Pretty new running trails. Too bad I felt too unmotivated to enjoy them.

I think I may have over trained a little this week. I did a ton of yoga and hiking, and I just think my body wasn’t quite ready for that much activity. Unfortunately, next week probably wont be much better because I am going to Rocky Mountain National Park for Memorial Day. I am going to try to get better sleep, and now that I’m all moved in, I wont be spending my free time moving stuff to a third floor apartment. The good news is that I feel totally injury free, no aches or pains, just general tiredness.

How was your week? Have you ever just had a TERRIBLE run?

Training Update: Running Longer!

My training has been all over the place this week! I skipped a run on Tuesday because I had a weird strain in my quad (likely due to sitting for over eight hours EVER SINGLE DAY). However, I really redeemed myself by the end of the week. I was excited about signing up for the Chicago Marathon and did a great job on my long run. Overall, things are looking good for the Hospital Hill Half.

Monday: Rest
This is usually my rest day. Felt good, but I had a weird feeling in my quad so I was a little worried.

Tuesday: Yoga
I still had a weird feeling in my quad so I took another day off from running. I did some hot yoga and felt pretty good by the end!

Wednesday: 3.1 Miles at 8:58 min/mi
This was the usual Wednesday Fleet Feet run, but I decided to do a fast finish run. My mile splits were 9:24, 9:13, and 8:12. I was feeling great by the end! We then stayed for a bit at the bar to drink and eat nachos. Overall, great day!

The Wednesday crew!

The Wednesday crew!

Thursday: Hot Yoga
I went to my friend’s place to do the Bikram series in her heated yoga room. It was awesome and we spent the whole time laughing and making fun of ourselves. The Bikram series is always great to work out any kinks and I felt great afterwards and into the next day.

Friday: 5 miles at 8:32 min/mi
I went down to campus and ran around the lakes there. I saw a few people I knew from my department running and it was a PERFECT day to be out. I took it at a pretty good pace and felt great. I had great runner’s high and was so glad to be out and about. My going away party was that night and I got the chance to say goodbye to all of my friends.

Saturday: Biked 1.5 hours
I’m not really sure how far I went; I just know that I was out about 1.5 hours. It was a pretty beautiful day!

Sunday: 14 miles at 9:26 min/mi
This was the longest run I’ve ever done! I was so excited to start getting longer runs in, especially now that I’m running Chicago in October. I always get really nervous about running half marathons, so I think running further really helped me get a little more ready mentally for the Hospital Hill Half. Frank rode his bike with me while I ran so I’d have someone to talk to. I think he thinks I’m nuts for running so much. I did yoga after and stretched out, although I am feeling a little sore.

Beautiful day for a long run.

Beautiful day for a long run.

I’m really gearing up to leave soon. I said goodbye to Lizzy today, who left to go back to Los Angeles. She has been a great running buddy and really helped encourage me to run further. I hope to see her again soon!

Lizzy and I at the finish of the Holy Half with our medals!

Lizzy and I at the finish of the Holy Half with our medals!

I’ll be doing my last few runs in South Bend over the next few days. This week will be a tough one, but once I make it to Friday, Frank, our two kitties and me are heading to Kansas!

Do you have any big life events coming up? What are you excited for this week?

Training Update: Hospital Hill Half training, with a little slacking off

Last week kicked off my training for the Hospital Hill Half Marathon. As you know, I have some lofty goals, so training has been kicked up a notch. However, I’ve already slacked off a bit and skipped my long run (Boooo…) because my mom was in town. I figured that was a good reason to skip, and well, one skipped work out isn’t going to kill me.

Monday: Rest Day

Tuesday: 4.8 miles at 8:33 min/mi overall pace (tempo run) + hot yoga
This was an awesome run… like the reason I run is to go out and feel like I did this day. I started off at an 8:58 pace for my warm up and shaved off a few seconds each mile until I was at a 7:27 pace for the last 0.8 of a mile. I felt like I could go forever. It didn’t hurt that I saw one of my committee members while I was out running and totally flew by him twice (I lapped him on the loop I do). Let’s hope that I feel like this for Hospital Hill.

Wednesday: 4 miles at 9:19 min/mi overall pace (recovery run) + yoga
This was a pretty chill recovery run that I did with my running group. We kept it slow and steady. I kept having to pull myself back a bit but I wanted to keep it chill.

Elly is always there to cuddle post run. :-)

Elly is always there to cuddle post run. 🙂

Thursday: 4 miles – hill repeats with warm up and cool down + hot yoga
As far as runs go, this one was brutal. It was hot out, I was tired, and somehow my 40-foot hill seemed like Everest. I did a 10 minute warm up, and then 8 times up the hill at an all out pace and then back down at a VERY slow pace. I felt good during my warm up, but I tired out fast. I guess I need to do more hills. I was a bit discouraged after this run, since Hospital Hill has some pretty intense hills that I’m going to have to tackle and I need to be a little more with it than I was for this work out.

Friday: Rest + Picked up my mom from the airport

Saturday: 4.5 miles at 9:05 min/mi overall pace (foundation run) + yoga + hike
I had a pretty bad headache the whole time and kept it pretty slow. I think I hadn’t drank enough water before and it was the first really hot day out. I spent the rest of the day hanging with my mom.

Frank decided to do a little climbing while on our hike.

Frank decided to do a little climbing while on our hike.

Sunday: Unintentional rest day + hot yoga
I was supposed to do 9 miles. Oh well. I don’t get to see my mom all that often, so I figured I had a good excuse. J

Total Mileage: 17.3 – pretty sad given I was supposed to do around 26. Oh well.

This week will be a bit more intense, and if I’m feeling any aches or pain, I might go ahead and skip a workout so that I don’t up my mileage too quick.

M: Rest
T: Speed work
W: Recovery
T: Foundation run
F: Long run (14 miles… ugh!)
S: rest
S: tempo run

I’ll probably be pretty tired by the end of the week, but that’s ok. I’m feeling strong and ready to kick some butt. And… by the way, it’s snowing right now.

How do you feel about skipping workouts? Are there any occasions (besides injury) that call for a skip?

Hospital Hill, here I come!

I have started training for my next half marathon, which has gotten me to thinking about what my goals are. I am way more confident going into this next half and I’m hoping for a BIG PR. I also realize that it might not be possible… and that’s ok. But I am going to use this race as an opportunity to find out what is possible. Now, I’ll reassess my plans when we’re a little closer, but as things stand now, I think my goal is mega-hard, but reachable.

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The Hospital Hill Half is one of the oldest half marathons in the US. This year marks the 42nd year for the race. Last year they had over 9,000 people on the course, and they expect even more this year. And to top it off, this will be my first race in my new home!

However… training for this race is tough. I currently live in Northern Indiana, where it is flatter than a pancake. Kansas City has a bit more topography. Here’s the elevation profile of the race:

Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 4.13.22 PM It may not look like much… but it’s substantial. My poor Indiana legs are used to doing hill repeats on a hill with a 40-foot gain, so a gain of 180 feet over a mile is certainly a challenge. My last two races were nothing in the way of hills, so I am sure to be in for a rude awakening.

All that said and done, what are my goals?

A goal: 1:50:00 – I know crazy… but I’ll be with a pace group.

B goal: Sneak under 1:55:00. There is a 1:55 pace group, so this is very doable

C goal: See if I can run the exact time I ran at the A1A Half (I nearly did this at the Holy Half and it would be funny if I did it again)

So, you might think I’m nuts. And I might be. However, I think I have it in me. My biggest obstacle is not my endurance or my legs… it’s the mind game. I hate suffering on runs, and the Hospital Hill Half is going to be a bit of suffering. I’m ok with that. If I crash and burn, I’m ok with that too. I’ll never know how hard I can push until I push a little too hard.

I do have a plan of attack, and so I’ll be incorporating these things into my training:

More speed work including some track work
Stairs – Shoutout to Hanna and Maddie on this one
Hill repeats on my 40-foot hill
More mileage
More strength training, with body weight of course (cause I hate weights)

I think I can do this and I’m gonna try. It’s absolutely key that I keep a positive attitude going into my training and that I learn to kick that mental game. Whatever happens, I can’t wait to at least try!

Have you ever crashed and burned in a race? What’s your craziest goal?