Monday, December 31, 2012

Goodbye 2012, you were something else.

I realized that I had not posted about my last two races of the year. So I'll just work that into my year end wrap up (since this is MY blog, I can do that if I want). I finished off my 2012 racing schedule with the Winter Sun 10K in Moab followed by the Rock n' Roll half marathon in Las Vegas. The most fun part of that back to back race weekend, was the 7 day stomach flu that I got the morning before the Moab race. At first I thought I had food poisoning, but it turns out there's a new strain of stomach flu that sticks with you for 7 whole days! Neat, huh?

So I spent most of Friday in bed, trying to pull myself together enough to drive the two and a half hours to Moab. I made it down there without throwing up, but it was close. Saturday morning I was up and at 'em, not feeling great, but well enough to stay upright, mostly. I surprised myself by finishing with my fastest 10K  race time. I think I was really just trying to get done so I could rest some more... I received the Triple Crown award for running all three races of the Moab race series in 2012. That got me a sweet pair of socks, a sticker, and a guaranteed entry into the Canyonlands Half Marathon for 2013 (Now with finisher medals! Woo!).

My mom, AKA my race photographer, loves to get shots of me stopping my watch. I even waited until I was a bit past the line to give her a clean shot. *sigh

As soon as I had finished the 10K, I managed to get some Gatorade down, and then it was back in the car to drive to Las Vegas for the race on Sunday. We stopped off in Green River so I could be super classy and take a baby wipe shower in the bathroom and change out of my sweaty race clothes. Oh running, you have given me a new appreciation of indoor plumbing.

Moving on. It's a long drive from Moab to Las Vegas. It was over 7 hours to get there but we made it in time to settle into the hotel and for me to try and lay very still. My insides were throwing a royal fit and the lack of eating after running wasn't adding to my feel good status. Thank goodness the race on Sunday didn't start until 4:30 p.m. Sunday morning, I tried to get some food in me, settling for a ridiculously over priced Vegas smoothie. I wasn't moving too quickly that morning, so by the time I was actually up and functioning, I didn't have much time before it was time to go stand in line for the port-a-potties and get a racin'.

It was really great to run on the Las Vegas Strip at night. It almost took my mind off of my intestinal distress. Almost. It was my slowest half marathon time ever, but honestly, I'm just glad to have finished it. I knew I needed to get my blood sugar up, but every time I even thought about eating a gel, I got nauseous. So I just kept plugging along, real slow like. At the finish line, they had some apples, so I plunked myself down on the curb, choked down the apple, and held back the tears. It was a rough race but my medal glows in the dark so I guess it was worth it. I trudged my way back to my hotel, which was sort of on the strip, but set back a ways. It was hard to find the entrance in my whacked out state (that's a scientific term, by the way, "whacked out"), and a nice man guided me to the doors. He could tell I wasn't doing well... There's nothing like running back to back races with the stomach flu. I don't really recommend it, but it sure was an experience.

Now for the gushy 2012 wrap up. 2012 was a year not to be forgotten. I ran my first Ragnar, my first marathon, I traveled all around the Western states in search of bling. I cried, a lot, which was new for me. Running makes me kind of emotional... I got blisters on top of blisters. My toenails fell off. I made it into the Marathon Maniacs, the Half Fanatics, and the Idiots Running Club. My race totals are as follows: marathons: 4, half marathons: 17, Ragnar relays: 2, 5K's: 2, and one 10K, to keep things interesting. I learned that things I thought would kill me actually wouldn't, even though at the time I may have felt like I was dying (Park City Marathon anyone? I have PTSD from that race). I have met some amazing, inspiring people. I now have running friends all over the United States and throughout the world. I've been invited to be part of relay teams and grand adventures. Running has added so much more to my life than just some heavy medal. I know I can't stop now. I just can't. Especially since there are some people I know who think this running thing is just a phase. Like I'm going to grow out of it or something. Yeah, right. I've even made the leap to acquiring a treadmill to keep me going through these frigid winter months. I've begun planning out 2013's epic adventures, the most intimidating and exhilarating being my first 50K. Here's to the year gone by and the year to come. And as always, happy running.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving Racing!

I have never participated in a Thanksgiving Day race before. Now there are a myriad of 5K's around on turkey day, I've just never been inclined to participate, until this year. But why just run a 5K when there's a half marathon available, with a medal and everything?! You all know how I feel about medals; it's become somewhat of an obsession I suppose.

So the Thankful 13 race helped me to earn my turkey and another sweet medal. What more could a girl ask?  The race was in Lehi, and much of the race was along the Jordan/Provo river parkway trail, which is lovely, by the way. The morning was clear, no snow to contend with thank goodness. There was a biting cold wind that spurred us along for the first few miles. As the sun rose higher in the sky, the wind became less of an issue. It even became quite pleasant. There were flocks of birds, large and small, flying overhead. There are a good deal of wetlands in the area and the wildlife was a nice diversion.

I felt really good through this whole race, which is a big change from my last few races. My last 5 half marathons have all been over 3 hour finish times. I realized around mile 5 that I was well on track to finally get back to a sub 3 hour half. And I was feeling pretty sassy about it. The sassyness continued through the rest of the race even. I began to pass people around mile 7 this time. Most races it takes me till around mile 10 to catch up with the people who don't pace themselves and bonk around there. I managed a really consistent effort for this race, and was pleased to come in at 2:50:41. My family was waiting at the finish line and I think it's the first time that they've all been there to see me finish a race. I ended up getting an apple pie along with my finisher medal too! Then we were off to enjoy Thanksgiving frivolity at my uncle's house.

It was a great way to start off a day of Thanksgiving and I'll definitely be doing this race again. I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday weekend and running happy :)

Monday, November 12, 2012

2 weeks, 2 races, 2 states

I am going to attempt writing this blog with a hazy mind clouded by whatever cold virus is circulating itself around these days. I had fought the good fight for at least a week, only succumbing to it after a weekend of Ragnaring. And now, the race reports.

The first weekend of November took me to Pocatello, Idaho, for the Just Cuz Half Marathon. Why? Just cuz! This little race had a theme to follow, a double theme actually. It was Zombie Apocalypse/Joe Fro. I didn't feel much like wearing a big fro wig, so I went as Shaun from Shaun of the Dead. I carried a toy shot gun for the entire 13.1 miles too. It was a fun, small race. I was expecting it to be mostly locals, but was surprised to meet a bunch of Utahans that had come up just to run. I ran almost the entire race with a nice lady from Salt Lake named Marva. It was nice to be able to run with someone who had the same pace. We were able to talk the whole way and that really helps the time go by. I really need to get some local running friends! Even a group run once a week would really boost my morale I think.

The course for the Just Cuz was down a little canyon and ended in a small city park. It was mostly downhill, but towards the end, it went to rolling hills. I don't like hills at the end of a race! But there was a delicious dutch oven lunch waiting for us at the finish line, so I soldiered on. Unfortunately, there was no finisher medal for this race, but that tasty lunch pretty much made up for it. They had a ton of random prizes to give away as well, most everyone walked away with something. Well, I didn't, which is strange since I usually have good luck at drawings like that.

I spent this last weekend down in Las Vegas, Nevada, running in my second Ragnar. Again, running with another group of complete strangers. It's a great way to meet new people, that's for sure. We all met up for dinner Thursday night and enjoyed getting to know each other a bit before we had to spend the next two days living in a van together. We went to bed early, since our start time was 6 a.m. A cold front was pushing its way through and the start line was all snow and ice up at Mount Charleston. I was feeling pretty lucky to be in Van 2, since we didn't start running until they had come out of the mountains. Van 1 survived the cold and ice, ahead of schedule even and without anyone slipping or getting injured. Hooray!

I always have the most anxiety waiting for the previous runner to hand off to me, and that was the case when runner 6 came through and I was up to run. We had a smooth transition though and I was off on my 5.2 mile leg (which turned out to be 5.51 miles instead). The wind was blowing the entire day and the air temps were low, which would prove to be a challenge when the sun went down. I managed 1 kill on this run (I'm not the best at passing other runners, since I'm pretty slow...). Our van completed our legs just before the sun set and we were off to grab some warm food for dinner. We had driven past the Cheesecake Factory on our way to pick up our last runner and it was calling out to us to eat its delicious vittles. With our bellies full and a few hours to kill, we headed to the next major exchange, where Van 1 would be handing off to us again. We expected the exchange to have a place to sleep. How silly of us to think that! It was a gravel parking lot and they told us we had to sleep in our vans. Needless to say, we didn't get much sleep.

By the time runner 6 came though the exchange it was around 10:45 p.m., pitch black, with a bitter biting wind blowing right in our faces. I bundled up the best I could and started out on my 7.9 miler (which ended up being almost 8.5 miles in reality). This leg was really rough for me. Not only was it dark and frigid, but it was a steady incline the whole way. I knew this before I started running and had a negative attitude right from the start. It was a slow, awful run, mostly walking really. I spent the entire time wishing it was over. Running is so much more mental than physical!

I lived through it and tried to get warm in the van while the rest of the runners did their legs. We were able to get some sleep intermittently and runner 12 finished just as the sun came up. Runner 10 had a brother in law in Henderson that let us come over to his house to shower and sleep that morning. It was a life saver. He even had food waiting for us. The man is a saint. After we got cleaned up and rested, it was time to head to  our last major exchange. My last run was scheduled to be 6.2 miles but turned out to be a whole mile longer than that! At least for this run I was feeling really good. I managed 6 kills even! One of them I fought pretty hard for and reveled in it quite a bit. It's the best feeling when you finish your last run of the Ragnar. It's one tough race mentally and physically. My total mileage should have been 19.3 miles but ended up being 20.96. It was a weekend of ups and downs but it ended on a high note with a successful finish. Most of our team qualified for an extra medal because of running more than one Ragnar this year. Nothing like extra bling to make it all worth it!

I know this blog hasn't been the most humorous, but at least I didn't skip 4 weeks this time! If anyone needs me, I'll be back in bed recovering from all this excitement.

Happy running!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Race Montage Blog!

My friend Trevor suggested that I should do this episode of Plump Runner as a montage, since I have 4 races to report on (I'm not very good at the whole "timely blogging" thing). I only wish I had the technological skill set to add some epic 80's music while triumphant pictures and inspirational quotes filled the screen. Since I can't manage a montage, I'll just give a quick and dirty recap with plenty of pictures. Deal?

The last weekend of September, I completed my fourth and final marathon of 2012, the Huntsville Marathon. This was the final race to get me into the Marathon Maniacs. Mission accomplished, by the way, you're looking at Maniac #5880! Woooooo! Any way, the race was gorgeous. The canyon we ran down was very scenic. The leaves were at their peak of fall splendor and the weather was perfect. It was an easy downhill, nothing too steep and jarring. I managed to finish in my second fastest marathon time of 6:10 and some change. I know basically everyone in the world runs faster than that, but I was pretty pleased.

Those are cat ears with the medal shot, he just can't stop being a camera hog...

The second race to report on was the Utah Half Marathon on October 13th. It had spent the entire day before raining and being quite cold. But the weather held for the morning of the race. Thanks Mother Nature! My friend Jesse ran this race with me as his second half marathon. He wasted me by a good bit. It was a super hilly course, the first 6 miles were basically uphill. It was a nice run though. Lots of great old homes to run past. My best friend Krista came to the finish line and brought cake! Woooooo! Gotta love that chocolate cake.

The third race was The Other Half down in gorgeous Moab, UT. I loved this race sooooo much. Moab is such an awe inspiring place! The scenery can't be beat, the weather was absolutely perfect. The Taiko drummers at the top of the hill at mile 11 were goose pimple worthy. Great race swag too! I will definitely be running this one again. It's actually a fairly tough course, quite hilly, but who cares when you get to run in such a beautiful setting?! After the race, we made sure to hike up to Delicate Arch and enjoy the perfect lowering light, which set the red rocks aglow. 

And the final race of this report was this last Saturday, the Harvest Halloween Half in Syracuse, UT. It was a tiny little race, maybe a couple of hundred runners. I dressed in costume, as a runner. I'm so very clever. It was a nice little course, flat and easy. I didn't feel very good for the first 5 miles though. After a pit stop and a good mental reset, I just started plugging along and by mile 6 I was feeling pretty good. I was able to catch up to the group by mile 10 and was passing a few people in mile 11. There wasn't a medal, but there was a nice finisher glass, so I'll live. 

This weekend brings a half marathon in exotic Pocatello, Idaho. C'mon, you're all jealous. I'll leave you with a shot of my two favorite things :)

Happy running!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Denver Rock n' Roll Half Marathon

Woooweeee. Those Rock n' Roll people sure know how to bring in the runners. This was the biggest race I have ever been a part of. There was somewhere around 19,000 people running this thing. And I thoroughly enjoyed being part of such a big group. There have been a lot of times in my races that I end up all by myself, wondering if I'm the last person out there, or that I've taken a wrong turn. There was not a single, solitary moment in this run, which helped tremendously. Not that it made me any faster, this was my slowest half ever, coming in at 3:20:50. Honestly, I walked most of it because of the amount of pain I was in from the first mile until mile 12.5. More about that later though.

The energy that comes with such a huge race is phenomenal. There are so many different shapes, sizes, and abilities represented. Mentally, this race was fantastic. It was a really great way to see the city of Denver. Being able to trot around the big buildings and parks as one solid river of runners was something else. There were many wonderful spectators, and fluffy squirrels. I especially enjoyed the squirrels. The volunteers were all friendly, and the live bands along the course were fun (and some of those band dudes were quite attractive too. I may have walked extra slow past a couple of stages).

It's a good thing that this race had a perfect mental set up, because physically, it was a nightmare. The course was fine, not really difficult or anything. It was my body that was causing all the grief. I have learned that 8 hours of driving with minimal rest stops and stretching will cause your IT bands to tighten to a level you didn't know was possible. We all know how it feels when you take a long car trip, the stiffness, the aches. Well, I found out that trying to run a race after driving that far doesn't work out in such an awesome manner.

I was actually feeling pretty sassy before the race. I felt a tiny bit stiff, but nothing to be alarmed about. And then we started running. The first few miles of any race are always rough for me. I take a while to warm up. But this was different. The tightness in my hips and down my legs wasn't going away. And so I walked. And walked. And then I would shuffle along at a snail's pace, followed by more walking. And squirrel watching. I'll tell you what, a cute fluffy squirrel really takes my mind off of pain. Who knew? When I hit mile 12, I told myself that I had walked enough and I was going to run that last mile, even if it killed me. So I started into zombie mode, scuffling my way along. At least I was able to out-scuffle quite a few people in that last mile. I just kept it up until about mile 12.5, things finally loosened up, just enough to actually look like I was running. The last bit was a nice downhill slope and I was able to crank it up and cross the finish line looking like a running rock star. No one had to know that I was only able to rock that race for the last half mile.

All in all, despite the pain, I had a fantastic time in Denver. I definitely want to do this one again, and I'm really excited about the Rock n' Roll half in Las Vegas coming up in December.

And thus concludes my 13th half marathon :)
Happy running!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Top of Utah Marathon

Running is teaching me things. Things like running 26.2 miles is really hard. The first 18 or so are kind of fun really, but then things go south. After mile 18, I start wondering why. Why am I doing this? Why did I think this would be a good way to spend my Saturday morning? Why does everyone in the entire world run faster than I do? Why do I keep signing up for races with a time limit I can't beat?

I know that all sounds pretty negative. But that's what went through my head on this, my third full marathon. But here's the thing. I'm not sorry about doing it. I'm not sorry that I am questioning things like my motivation, among other things. I probably should figure out why, in the last year, I have gone from an anti-runite, to a full blow insane race running fool. The current top theory is that I'm trying to fill a void in my life. Perhaps this is true. At least filling it with a healthy activity is much better than the other things I could be doing? But then again, this is only a theory. I have realized that I am in love with the idea of running. I have a runner's mind, just not a runner's body. Maybe one of these days the twain shall meet.

Enough of that for now, on to the race report. The Top of Utah Marathon has some really lovely parts. Basically, the first 19 miles are pretty delightful. Then it turns boring. And hilly. I don't really enjoy running hills at the end of a marathon. I'm not that level of crazy yet. We spent the last 7 miles running through blase neighborhoods. The final insult came at mile 23 when we had to run right past the finish arch for another 3 miles. There's nothing like the mental blow that comes from seeing the end and knowing you're still so far away.

I was doing quite well those first 18 miles. Sure, I was a little tired, but I was on track to finish in under 6 hours. But all the hills, boring scenery, and fatigue caught up with me and I finished in 6:31:22. I wish I could just get to the point where the last bit of a marathon wasn't so rough. I hope I get to that point before two weeks from now. I've got another one to run down the Monte Cristo canyon in Huntsville. And that one has a strict 6 hour limit... It's a good thing the whole race is downhill, I just might make it.

I know this hasn't been the peppiest of blogs, but look at the pictures. I'm smiling. During and after even. I guess it really wasn't that bad then, huh.

Happy running everyone :)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

3 race reports in one!

Let's hope this three for one is a one time offer... In the three and a half weeks since my Park City marathon, I have run three other races. The first one was a 5K called the Kiss Me Dirty 5K. It was a mud run for women's cancer research. It was a nice event, low key, no timing to worry about. Which I was glad of, since I was still in recovery mode from Park City.

The next weekend was the Only Half Crazy Half Marathon, which started in Herriman and ended in South Jordan. They had made it sound like it was this down hill course. And it really wasn't. Sure, the first two miles were down a little canyon, but then we wound up through some foothills. I was really not happy about how much uphill there really was. Even with it being two weeks since Park City, I was nowhere near mentally able to handle the hills. Talk about PTSD. I finished in my second slowest time, but I was just happy to finish. The race had to start half an hour late due to all the lightning that was happening. I met another Half Fanatic at this race. It's always nice to meet more crazy people like me. It was an interesting day all the way around.

The third race, my favorite race, the Mt. Nebo Half Marathon, was last Saturday. Some of you may remember that this was my first ever half marathon last year. I was so excited to be able to run this race for a second time. There's something wonderful in running a course you've run before. I finished this race in my 3rd fastest time, not as fast as my first time running it, but not that far off. I must say, I enjoyed it even more this time because I actually knew how to pace myself and didn't bonk at mile 9. It was a gorgeous day for a race. It never got too hot and I was prepared for the cold start with a blanket and thicker jacket.

The Mt. Nebo Half was also my last race for Run the Slam. This was a half marathon challenge to run 4 of 6 half marathons in Utah County. I ended up getting two extra medals for the alternate races that I ran as well. It was a fun little program, I love all the extra bling, of course :)

This September is my fullest month for racing. I have 3 more races before it's over, and two of them are full marathons. It should be worth it though, since it will gain me entrance into the Marathon Maniacs!

I'll do my best to write up better, more descriptive blog posts on a more regular schedule. Happy running!

Monday, August 20, 2012


My dear followers! I had previously stated that I was the last person to cross the finish line of the Park City Marathon. I have found out this morning that I was NOT the last person. It turns out that 9 other people came in after I did. And there were 15 DNF's as well. It's good to know that 9 other people fought their way through and made it to the finish, in spite of everthing.

Happy running!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

I've never cried so much while running.

Ladies and gentlemen, a word of advice. The Park City Marathon will break you. It will beat you senseless with never ending inclines and leave you sobbing on the side of the road. How do I know this? Dear readers,    I know this because I experienced it personally.

This race was small, and I was quickly left behind by the other runners, as per usual. But the gap between me and my fellow pavement pounders widened unusually quickly. This in and of itself made the race mentally challenging. The first few miles were rolling hills, nothing too serious. Rolling hills don't bother me because they're short and gradual and then you get to go down gradually. They provide a satisfying workout when it comes right down to it. But then the course changed, to a long, straight trail with a slight incline. Now a slight incline doesn't sound too bad, does it. But when you run up a slight incline for 10 miles, it's absolutely maddening. Add in the fact that during a 5 mile stretch of this, there were no aid stations. Nary a one to be found. Just a straight, seemingly never ending trail of bitter incline, and dust.

Then, just after mile 13, we got to the big hill. The big hill that went on for nearly 2 miles. Really Park City? Really? Like you couldn't have done something different than this?! So I am completely alone, trudging my way up this trail while random people whiz past me on mountain bikes and look at me, puzzled. I finally make it to the aid station at the top of this hellish hill, the volunteers tried to stop me from continuing the race. I had read the rules on the race and it said there was a check point at mile 16. They wanted runners to be at mile 16 by 10 a.m. There was another checkpoint at mile 21, at noon. Now tell me if those numbers make any sense. They want you to be at mile 16 by 10, but don't expect you to be 5 miles further up the road for another 2 hours? That's a pace of 2.5 miles per hour... So why on earth are they trying to stop me at mile 16 when I can get to mile 21 before the noon cutoff?! I had to spend 5 minutes arguing my point with the volunteers so they would let me continue. I wasn't going to let anybody stop me, no matter how awful I felt.

Now if anyone in the organizing party of the Park City Marathon is reading this, let me just say something. DO NOT cut people off at mile 16/three and a half hours into a race with a 6.5 hour time limit!!! That is completely asinine. You people realize that doesn't make sense, right? When I hit mile 16, I still had nearly 3 hours to go another 10 miles and beat your course time limit. I could have walked that entire distance and made it on time. Whoever wrote that rule should be fired, or shot, or fired then shot.

So after this debacle, my morale was shot. It was getting really hot, the volunteers further up the course had left, I took a wrong turn because of this and had to back track. I was the only runner out there anymore. Curious onlookers watched in wonder at this lone girl, race bib and all, running through the streets of Park City, apparently in a race of one. When I reached mile 18, I turned a corner and saw another enormous hill. And then I swore. And cried. And swore some more. Out loud too. I hope no tiny tender ears heard what I said... And then I slogged my way up that @$%&* hill and tried to keep positive. Which lasted maybe half a mile. Then the negative set in. I was hot, I was tired, I was starting to ache all over. I wasn't so sure I was going to make it to the 21 mile cutoff on time. And all I did was walk, and cry. At one point I sat on the side of the road and sobbed. Because I have never felt so beat up by a race before. I just knew I was going to DNF (did not finish) and it was devastating. What made it even worse were the random citizens who cheered for me when they saw me. They yelled things like "You're doing great!" and other encouraging words of support. This just made me cry harder, because I knew I wasn't doing great.

I had resigned myself to the DNF and just kept walking down the course. I approached the mile 21 aid station 7 minutes after noon. I was prepared for the volunteers to yank off my bib and toss me into the van, like some sort of bizarre kidnapping. But when I got there, they just said "Do you want water or Poweraid?" I said "water", got my water, looked around a little confused, and then just took off running when I realized that they weren't going to stop me. I didn't look back, I just took off like a shot. This little glimmer of hope blossomed in my bosom. I could finish. I could actually finish this race! I still had time! I'd like to say that I found this amazing inner energy to run the last 5 miles of this race. But I didn't. I ran when I could, but my body was beat. I could walk at a pretty brisk pace, so that's what I did, and jogged when I felt up to it. And you know what? I made it. I finished! I was the last person to cross that finish line. But I did it. It took me 6:32:15; I would have finished under the 6:30 mark if I hadn't have had to fight with the volunteers for my right to continue. But they gave me an official chip time and my medal, and that's what counts.

I learned an awful lot during this race. I'm still sorting through the emotional toll it took on me, but I'm not sorry for the experience. It's these really difficult things that help us grow. And I'll leave it at that for now.

On another note, I also completed the Mapleton Moonlight Half marathon two weeks ago. It was a fine enough race. The object of the race was to cross the finish line at midnight, no timing devices allowed. I followed the no timing device rule. Unfortunately, most of the other racers didn't. Because of all the cheating that I saw, I doubt I'll run this one again. I crossed at 12:11. And I have to admit, I've never been 11 minutes from winning a race in my life.

Here's to running, sobbing, and doing the best you can in any circumstance :)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

A new PR?!

As you all know, I am a very slow and steady kind of gal when it comes to running. I like to plod along, taking in the scenery, while thinking about how yummy that chocolate milk at the end will taste when I eventually get there. Something happened to me in my half on Saturday though. I was actually kind of speedy for once... Now averaging an 11:17 min/mile pace isn't going to win me any awards, but you guys, I felt like I was flying! I actually finished a half marathon in under 2:30! Not by much, but a 2:28:06 felt like someone should stick me up on a podium and play the national anthem. When the last half that I finished was about 20 minutes slower, it certainly felt like quite the accomplishment.

The race was the Timpanogos Half Marathon, coming down the American Fork canyon. It was a gorgeous morning, although a bit chilly at the start line. The course was a nice downhill, not too steep, for the first 8 miles or so. Then as we left the canyon, we started on a lovely path past a golf course and through some nice wooded areas. The path had a bit of the rolling hill thing going on, but it really didn't phase me. I surprised myself by passing the 2:30 pacer just after the mile 10 marker. I started having a small internal freak out, realizing I was set up to run my fastest half ever (the first one I ever ran was a 2:30 and I haven't come within 10 minutes or so of it since). There was the little voice of doubt that kept trying to sneak in and ruin my mojo by thoughts like "What if you trip and sprain your ankle?" "What if you burn out at mile 12?" and "You know if you have to take a walk break, you won't beat the pacer".  Rude huh? But I managed to quiet that voice and just keep truckin'.  I didn't dare look behind me though, I didn't want to know how close that 2:30 sign was to me. I did see one poor woman at mile 12 who was in an ambulance, her young daughter standing there, camera in hand, looking pretty disappointed. There are reasons I always try to go easy at these things.

You want to know something interesting about finishing in the 2:20's? That's where a TON of people finish. I mean whole massive gobs of people finish around that time. It's so very strange to be surrounded by that many people as you cross the line. I think this may be the first race where I wasn't totally by myself at any point. I've never had a race like this before. I was passed by people, sure. But I'm quite certain I've never passed so many either. It was an overall strange experience, and one that I'm actually still sore from, but enjoyable all the same. I've realized that PR's take a lot out of you, and I won't be gunning for another one anytime soon. My schedule is too full to be sore for 5 days after a race. But it was thrilling. My mother was beside herself. She kept asking me "where did that come from?!" and honestly, I don't know. I suppose I could be becoming a "proper" runner. Maybe this body of mine has decided it doesn't want to be out on the course for that long anymore. Whatever it was, my lazy body wanting to be done sooner, or some new found running prowess, I'll take it. And I'll take that big shiny medal too. *cue the the Star Spangled Banner  :)

Happy running!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I ran a relay! And it was fun.

I finally got my chance to join the Ragnar family by joining a group of complete strangers in a place I had never been. Exciting? You betcha! One of my lovely Daily Mile friends, whom I had never met in person, asked me to join their team to run the Northwest Passage Ragnar relay race. For those of you who don't know what the Ragnar is, it's a 200 mile relay race, staged in various states across the nation. You have a team of 12 people (an ultra team has 6), 2 vans, and 2 days to finish. So I joined the team Imaginary Friends, so named because most of the team members only knew one or two other people in the group.  So I bought my plane ticket and headed to the lovely, green state of Washington for an epic adventure.

We started out at 7:15 am. I was runner 2, so I had a nice morning run after runner one finished. Except for the part where it rained on my through my entire run, it was lovely! A stretch of the run was right along the coast and I could watch herons fishing in the shallow water as I ran past. It was pretty level, which was nice but running in humidity like that was new to me. It got to the point where it felt like a large person was sitting on my chest while I was trying to run. I got used to it by my second run of the day, just before the sun went down. Our van completed our first 6 legs (sections of the race assigned to each runner) right on schedule and headed to the Olive Garden to carb load for the next stretch. We enjoyed the chance to use a real restroom instead of a porta-potty. You take your simple pleasures where you can on these relays.

After lunch, we headed to the next exchange where we would me up with the other half of our team who were finishing up their legs. The exchange was at a school and they let the runners use the gym to lay out sleeping bags and try to get some rest. Guess what? I can actually sleep on a hard gym floor. I didn't think I'd be able to, but you take your sleep where you can on these relays.

When we started up again, the sky was getting darker, but it was only around 7 o'clock. I was worried it was going to rain on me again, but it held off. I started my second leg just after 8 pm and was feeling a little fatigued. I haven't ever really done two runs in one day like that before, but once I got warmed up, I settled into a nice rhythm and managed my fastest time for my three legs. I had to dodge slugs for a good three miles of the 5.7 mile run. Those things are everywhere up in Washington! And they are BIG! You don't want to step on one, you'll slip and fall right on your tushy. Not only does that hurt, but you're also covered in slug goo. I managed to dodge all of those slimy booby traps.

Our van finished our second set right around midnight and headed to the next exchange, where again, we did our best to sleep on the gym floor of yet another high school. This school had showers that people were using. I was just happy to brush my teeth and close my eyes for a bit. We were up and out of there by 3:30 am to head to the next exchange and hit the Starbucks as soon as it opened. Unfortunately this was the one day the manager of the coffee shop slept in and we stood around outside for 45 minutes before my restless team members could get their coffee. I'm not a coffee drinker, but I wanted a muffin. Real bad.

Muffin in my belly, my team caffinated, it was time to start our third and final set of runs. It was foggy and misty but it kept things nice and cool. I started my last leg, what I thought was going to be a breezy little jaunt, after all, it was only 3.1 miles, when it turned into a hill-fest. Ugh. Every time I turned a corner, there was yet another hill to go up. And it wasn't like they were little rolling hills either. They were beasts! I had to walk so much, I was really concerned about keeping on schedule. But I finally hit a downhill section and was able to make up my lost time. Until the final stretch. Guess what! It was another hill! A long hill, not to steep, but looonnngggg. And I ran that whole damn thing. A girl tried to pass me but petered out and I just chugged along like the little engine that could. I wasn't fast, but I was steady. It leveled out enough for me to sprint to the end and hand off to runner three. And then I was done. My contribution to the 200 miles being just under 16 total miles. Our team finished in 32:54 and we were all quite pleased with that. Now please, enjoy the photos from this amazing race.

I'll have another race report after the Timpanogos Half Marathon this Saturday! Happy running everyone :)

Do you want to run a relay race

This video helps to explain what I spent my weekend doing :)


Friday, July 13, 2012

Long blog, lots of pictures.

I have finally mustered enough motivation to blog. This summer heat has been draining me! Even though I am sitting in an air conditioned room, there is some sort of oppressive mojo hanging in the air. But I must blog! My race reports won't write themselves you know. I'll start with the Freedom Festival 5K. There was a 10K option, but I figured I could cut myself a little slack and just do the 3.1. There were thousands of people in this race! And when I looked at the results, it was obvious most of the people in it didn't do much running. My finish time was ahead of thousands of people! Thousands! That never happens to me. I feel pretty good if I can just pass a few people at the end of a race. I spent this whole 5K passing gobs of people. And that was on 2 hours of sleep. I was also really trying to focus on my form, since for this race I whipped out the Vibram's Five Fingers to get some minimalist action in. I ended up with my 2nd best finish time for a 5K (34:46) and even a medal! Not that I did anything special, every finisher got a medal. But still, kudos to the Provo Freedom Festival folks for giving bling at a 5K!

Then 3 days later, on July 7th, I ran my 8th half marathon, the Hobbler Half. This race was enjoyable for the simple fact that it was practically in my back yard. I run the Hobble Creek trail all the time. I got to sleep in a bit, since the meeting point to get on the bus was 5 minutes from my house. It was a really nice day too. It got a little warm towards the end, but there was a cool breeze for most of the morning. The guy at aid station 12 really liked my shoes, so did a little girl on the side line. You can never go wrong with blinding neon. Never. My finish time was 2:47:50. I was honestly thinking I would have done this one faster. I can attribute 5 solid minutes to waiting in line at a porta-potty. Not much I can do about that. Running with a full bladder in not my idea of a good time. At least I got an entertaining show while I waited in line. There was this one girl laying on the ground, screaming while her friend was trying to stretch out her legs. Screaming. Loudly. The best part was this was only at mile 3. I was feeling really good about my fitness level at that moment. There were misters at the finish line and I stood under them to try and get rid of the massive amounts of sweat off of my face. And that way, people would think, "oh hey that girl is just wet from the water" and not "eeeewww that girl is a sweaty beast". They had the delightful frozen treat, Creamies, at the finish line and it was most welcome. My mom also made it to this race to capture my great form at the end of the race. (I've been doing a tremendous amount of form work. I think it's paying off.)

I realized that I never posted any of the official photos from my marathon finish, so I'm adding them into this blog. And besides, who doesn't like pictures! The first picture is from the marathon (look how jubilant!), then the lower ones are from the last two races. Just ignore the fact that I'm wearing the same shirt for both races... White is good in the heat, okay you guys?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

7th Half Marathon: Done!

I honestly cannot believe what has happened to me. In less than a year I have become a Half Fanatic, joined the Idiot's Running Club, and now I am on track to become a Marathon Maniac. It seems strange that for 29 years of my life, I hadn't the slightest idea that any of these things existed. I sort of knew that crazy people ran marathons, I sometimes saw people out jogging but never paid that much attention. And now when I see people running, I am instantly analyzing their form, seeing what shoes they're wearing, and feeling extremely tempted to roll down my car window and yell motivational slogans. I suddenly know when every race in the state of Utah is and am signed up for most of them. My new regrets involve things like not being able to be in two races at the same time, owning too many running shoes to justify buying more, and not having enough Body Glide.

Anyway, on to the race report. I ran the AF Canyon Half Marathon last Saturday. It was a really lovely race down the canyon. I'm glad it started nice and early because that summer sun is getting brutal. It was a really well put together event and 100% of the proceeds from the race went to cancer research. So I got a neat medal and shirt, and got warm fuzzies! I got to meet a few of my Daily Mile friends out there as well. It's so nice to meet my internet friends in real life, you guys. Sometimes I get to wondering if they really exist, you know? But they do, and they're great. I have been having a bit of a weird issue with a muscle at the top of my right shin though. It cramps like a bugger for about three miles of every run, thus forcing me to walk A LOT until it finally figures out that I'm not going to stop running and it gives up the fight. I still managed a decent (for me anyway) finish time of 2:46:41. That's my second fastest time this year and my third fastest overall. And the best part, well besides the shirts and medals, was the Kneader's french toast at the end! You all know I'm a plump runner; I love to eat. I had thought that maybe distance running would make me thinner, alas it just made me hungrier. But I digress.

A wonderful race for a wonderful cause. I highly recommend it and will most likely be running it next year as well. I'll be back next week with two new race reports since I decided to do a 5K on the 4th of July and a half marathon on the 7th.

Happy running!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Marathon: Complete!

I did it. I actually did it. I ran (well, ran and walked) 26.2 miles. And not spread out over weeks either. This was all at once and everything. And I really enjoyed it. Really. Even when I got tired around mile 15 and had to walk a fair bit. Even when I felt a blister rising around mile 16. Even when I was standing in line at various port-o-potties. I may have even loved it, a little. Last year at this time, I hadn't even entertained the idea of running a marathon. I had only just decided to train for a half someday. I am completely amazed at what has happened over the last 11 months. I have gone from being terrified of a 7 mile run to willingly waking up at 2:30 a.m. to go run 26.2 miles. Body Glide, LSD's, Fartleks, and Gu have become integrated into my life and vocabulary. Every run leading up to this race taught me something. Some taught me patience, some gratitude. An awful lot of runs taught me humility. And most of all, running has taught me about myself.

It was the perfect day for a race. The most beautiful June 9th on record (in my mind, okay guys? Just go with it). It was a gorgeous morning up Provo Canyon in the tiny town of Wallsburg. It wasn't even cold like we were all expecting.  A pleasant 60 degrees. The Marathon Maniacs chose this marathon as a meet up. There were Maniacs everywhere. I wanted so badly to go and talk to them, but felt like I would be intruding. I am a member of the Half Fanatics, the Maniacs younger sibling, so to speak. But I remained timid. I listed to them talk about all the races that they had run. Many had completed over 150 marathons. The best part is, most of the Maniacs that I heard talking, were planning on finishing nice and slow, like me. They talked about running ultras and how it was so great to walk the hills, chat with other runners, and eat. I instantly thought that maybe ultra running could be my thing. I like to eat, okay?

There were so many nice people running. All the Maniacs were fun and friendly to me as I ran. I shouldn't have been worried about trying to talk to them. The Gear Guy even ran mile 3 to 4 with me, since I finally got up the nerve to talk to other runners once we started. I was wearing the brightest neon pink calf sleeves on the face of the earth. That garnered much approval from my fellow runners and also the aid station people. One of my favorite things about running is all the neon apparel available. But back to the marathon. The course was beautiful. The canyon was alive and green. There were verdant pastures filled with frolicking horses. The half moon stayed in the sky all through the run. There were a few windy sections, but I just imagined myself flying through the air, like a super hero, cape flapping in the wind. A true champion of justice  and all that. Running is a very mental sport. I have to use all sorts of visualizations and self talk to get through the long ones.

I had a bit of a scare when the sag wagon pulled up to me around mile 16 and asked how I was doing. I guess I was falling a bit behind. I politely waved him on and started booking it down the canyon. I managed to get back on track and beat the time limit. By mile 21 I was actually getting my second wind. It got to the point where I didn't like stopping for my walk breaks because it was harder to get going again after. So I just kept on truckin'. I was passing people there at the end too. I was actually passing people! After running for over 5 hours! There were so many people who looked so miserable. I couldn't quite understand it, since every step I took was taking me closer to the finish line. I could feel the smile on my face grow with every inch of ground gained. I didn't feel fresh as a daisy, by any means, but after training for so long, the last thing I was going to do was hate this experience.

I crossed that finish line in 6:08:54. And I was beaming! Other runners had finished in nearly a third of my time. But I bet they weren't as thrilled as this plump runner. I hope I enjoy the Park City Marathon as much when it rears it head in August. At least now the fear of the distance has dissipated. Now I know I can go that far and my heart doesn't explode and my legs don't fall off. Because, before, I thought that maybe that could happen...

Here's to living, learning, and running happy :)

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Busy girl, busy life.

Hey everyone in blogger land! I am still here. And I am still running. But life is busy and then when your little brother breaks his neck while mountain biking (he's mostly okay, not paralyzed at least), one tends to forget to blog. Anyway, I have now done the previously unthinkable, I ran 23 miles, on my birthday even (3 weeks ago, now I'm in taper mode). If someone had told me last year that on my 30th birthday, I would wake up early and run 23 miles, I would have laughed in their faces. Short, fat, white girls don't run that far. But you know what? Turns out, they do. And it doesn't even kill them.  I hope that by being able to run 23 miles without dying that means that I can run my first ever marathon next week without dying. I guess when you've already gone that far, what's another 3.2, right?

I had a lovely little race today, so it's time to share the race reports and fun photos! This was my third year in a row running in the Dirty Dash. This year, I actually had a team of people with me. That's so much better than running it solo, like last year. Team Rocket got down and dirty and had a great time. It took two shampooings to get the mud out of my hair... That means it was a most excellent mud fest. This is a good race, for pretty much anyone really. You can skip the obstacles if you don't want to do them (or can't, like when I couldn't jump over the wall that was as tall as I was). There's a gigantic slip n' slide, which is by far my favorite part. And the big ol' mud pits are a blast. That's some cold mountain water they've got in them though. It's a good idea to get in on the earlier start times. The course is not as crowded and it's over nice and early, plus you can actually get a good parking spot.


Please enjoy theses mud filled photos and run happy :)