Sunday, December 1, 2013

5 Race Recap?!

I was pretty sure I had blogged more recently than I actually had... Turns out I have 5 races to report on. I don't think I have ever let this many races go by without a post. Oops. I won't even ask for forgiveness. I don't deserve it.

Let's cast our minds back to mid October. The weather was fine in Moab, as usual. The Other Half was waiting for me in all its hilly glory. The Other Half is one of my favorite races, although the course is also one of the tougher ones. A lazy girl like me should hate this race and its relentless hills, but I really enjoy this one. I think it has to do with the scenery, the race swag, and of course, the chance to go to Moab. This race is really well organized and the fire pits at the start are heavenly. Everyone huddles around to stay warm and it's a good time to get to meet new people. I met a very nice man named Kirt, who has been at many of the same races that I have. Hopefully, we'll keep running into each other. Meeting new running friends is always exciting. I was able to beat last year's time on this course by about 14 minutes. That felt great, since I had been sick for the 4-5 days before the race. I didn't really do any running that week because of the cold I had. I guess the rest paid off!

Gorgeous scenery!

A strong finish!

A perfect day.

Gotta love the pint glass.
Just 6 days later, I was on a bus, being shuttled up Provo Canyon to run the Halloween Half Marathon. Now I know I had said that I would never run this one again. And I wasn't going to. Then I learned that they had changed the course, the busing, and the start. This was intriguing to me, so I gave it another shot. This year was a much better experience all the way around. We didn't have to get on a bus at 4 a.m. for a race that started at 9 a.m. This was a huge improvement. The course didn't have the steep, awful switchbacks this time. Instead, it ran along part of the Utah Valley Marathon course. The packet pickup was also much improved from last time and I got a shirt that actually fits. It was a bit of a rough race for me, I was feeling tired and fatigued, but I got it done. And I managed a sub 3 hour finish, which surprised me, since I certainly felt like I was going much slower.

The closest to skin and bones I'll ever be.

It's a pretty sweet shirt.
I then had a whole week where I didn't have to run a race at all. It was strange, but nice. After my tiny break, it was time to pack up and drive to Las Vegas for the Ragnar! I was pretty excited about this one, even though I really wasn't sure how I was going to do. My total mileage was relatively low, 12.4 miles roughly. At first I was disappointed by the lower mileage, but then I knew it would be good for my body to take it easy this time. Last year in Vegas, I ran over 21 miles in the two days. I didn't have to prove anything this time around. 

Basil got decked out for his trip to Vegas.
I survived the solo 6 hour drive down to Sin City and met up with my team. It was good to see them all again, plus a few new faces. The team that I ran Wasatch Back with had invited me along for the Vegas adventure and I readily accepted. I wanted that Saints and Sinners medal real bad. We had an overall good time, no drama to contend with (at least in my van). I heard rumblings of some trouble in the other van, but our Ultra team and Van 1 were doing great. Van 1 rules! Woooo! Okay, now that I got that out of the way... Everyone nailed their legs, the sleep deprived shenanigans were many and varied. A rubber chicken cheered people on. It was a magical adventure through and through.

A beautiful finish line.

Love the double medals!

Van 1 rules! Yeah! Wooo! 

Sweet, sweet bling.
After I recovered from the riotous Las Vegas Ragnar, it was time to run the Mustache Dache. This race is a 5K with proceeds going to men's cancer research in conjunction with Movember. I had talked a few friends into running it with me but due to some unforeseen circumstances, only Jesse and I were able to run it. It was a cold, snowy day. But it was a short race, so it wasn't so bad. My face did try to freeze clean off, thanks to my lack of facial hair. Jesse was perfectly comfortable in his beard. We made sure to get a warm breakfast following the race. I finished in a fairly decent time, for me at least. I have been struggling with some serious calf cramping issues and was pleased with how I was able to do. 

A medal for a 5K? Don't mind if I do!
And finally, my last race of the year was on Thanksgiving day. I was originally supposed to be running the Seattle Marathon (actually, I would be running it as I type this, if things would have worked out) but life got in the way, not enough leave from work, not having the training to meet their strict 6 hour cutoff, money constraints, etc. But I didn't want to end the year with a 5K, so I decided to run the Thankful 13 again this year. I really enjoyed it last year, and this year my little brother would be joining me! It was his second half and he really had a good time with this one. The course was different than last year, but it was still quite nice. The finish line was a fun, party atmosphere with lots of families and kids having a great time. It was a perfect way to earn our turkey. I did have more of the calf cramping problem throughout the race, so I was happy to finish at three hours. It was slower than last year, but a finish is all that matters. 


Feeling much better this time around.

Bones go with Thanksgiving, right? Right?

Oh noooooo!

Such a fun race :)

Comfy shirt, and the medal has a turkey joke on the back!
So there you go. Lots of pictures and not a lot of explanation. What can I say? I'm a lazy blogger as well as a lazy athlete. I'm going to enjoy this bit of time off. I can't stop running completely though. I have a half marathon the second week in January... And then the training for the Ogden Marathon starts, as well as my 50K training. If I could just make myself go get a good sports massage, I think that would help with the leg fatigue and cramping that's been happening. I should probably make massages and foam rolling more of a priority if I think I going to keep this up. But like I said, I'm a lazy athlete! I've been doing this long enough that I think my next year's training will be a little different. I'll do my best to keep y'all posted!

Enjoy the holidays, and keep on running happy!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Worst. Blogger. Ever.

I have been chastised by my mother once again for my lack of blog posts. She will bring up other people she knows who hardly ever post and say "So and So has posted twice since your last one." (the name has been changed to protect the innocent). So now that I have been shamed by my mother, and So and So, I will try to redeem myself with another mashed up blog of many races.

Some really great and blog worthy things have happened in the last month + that I haven't written. The first of which is that my little brother completed his first half marathon. This was a proud day in Big Sister Land. And of course, he was able to run it much faster than I ever have. Isn't that always the way? You inspire someone to try the thing that you do all the time, and they're instantly better than you at it. I'm still proud though. As a slow runner, I don't have much of an ego anymore. I just try to have a good time and get my money's worth.

He's looking a little TOO chipper. Perhaps it's the excitement of being almost done. 

There. He looks sufficiently exhausted. I feel better now.

At least I LOOK sort of fast here...


Nice shirt, nice medal, as always. 
The next race in the mix was the Big Cottonwood Marathon. I had waffled back and forth for 6 or so weeks about this one. I knew I could drop down to the half marathon at the race and still get a nice medal and a decent workout. I was not trained for the full 26.2. Things hadn't really come together for a good race. After much debating, soul searching, and reviewing last year's training leading up to the Park City Marathon, I realized that I could do the full marathon. I probably wouldn't love it, but I could do it. I spent way too much time pouring over the course map, studying the elevation chart, and pep talking myself into believing everything would be alright. Okay, the amount of pep talking was probably adequate. I managed to be in a really positive mood the night before the race and even right up to the start. It was such a beautiful day in such a lovely canyon, I figured if nothing else, I could just enjoy being out there. 

I planned my nutrition a little differently for this marathon than I have for others. I know you're not supposed to try new things in a race but I did anyway. I ate a different pre-race dinner, a rice bowl with chicken instead of my usual pizza, which worked really well and will be my new go-to meal before an event of this nature. I packed a bag full of pain pills that also had caffeine in them. I don't usually take pain pills, but I knew I wouldn't make it the full distance without them and the caffeine boost definitely made a difference. I also had a wide variety of gels, shot blocks, and other tasty  things, depending on what my stomach would allow. I made sure to fuel early and often as well as taking a pain pill or two when the slightest twinge would surface. Someday, I would like to be able to run this distance without the pill popping. It's good to have goals, right?

Because of the better fueling, I had less gastrointestinal issues this race. Thank goodness. At least this race had ample port-a-potties. I was more than a little thrilled to see so many of those blue boxes lining the course. After the Utah Valley Marathon port-a-potty debacle, it has become one of the top things on my list of what makes a good race. 

I started out in the back of the pack, as usual. I knew I shouldn't push too hard at the beginning so I just tried to settle into a good rhythm and let the gradual downhill do its thing. I'm surprised at how the miles flew by. I felt fresh and good and happy to be running. From mile 9 to 10, I walked and ran with a guy who was having some trouble with his foot. He was staying upbeat and positive, so it was nice to share that mile with him. After the mile 10 aid station, I knew it was time for me to move on though; I was feeling good and wanted to keep putting those miles behind me. We wished each other well and I kept on trucking. I hit the halfway point around 2:40 and felt great about that. I hadn't pushed too fast but was still making good time. I was on track to beat six hours. Now in every other marathon, there has been a point when I WAS on track to break 6 hours and I have always missed the mark. So I tried not to get too caught up in that. 
Feeling strangely fine.

We came out of the canyon around mile 17 and continued into town. We ran on a nice paved trail that was by the creepy old mill. It is haunted. I know, because even in the daytime, it makes you shudder. The mill was about mile 18. I was being awfully chipper and a man asked if I was having fun yet. I said "Of course! We're in the single digits now! And there's a creepy haunted mill! What could be better?!" He looked at me like I was a little crazy and tried to run a little faster. My chipper mood lasted all the way until about mile 22. I couldn't believe that I had felt that fine for so many miles, especially because of my lack of long training runs. I had to walk quite a lot of the last 4 miles, but when I was walking, I made sure to keep it at a brisk pace. I tried to maintain a 15 min/mile while walking. It paid off. I was able to complete this marathon in 5:53:11, a personal record by almost 16 minutes! I couldn't believe it. Sometimes, things actually work out, even if the training didn't. 
This is my favorite race picture ever. My mom snapped it just in time. She was yelling "You beat 6 hours!!!"

So happy with this race!

The medal is almost the size of a salad plate. My kind of bling.
After this most epic race, I had about two weeks off. I tried to just rest and recover without too much stress on my body. After the rest period, it was time to run the Huntsville Half Marathon. I ran the full last year and wanted to just do the half this time around. The half was rough for me. Maybe I wasn't fully recovered, maybe it just wasn't my day. But it was another gorgeous day here in Utah and I just tried to enjoy the day for that. It was one of my slower races, since my feet started to hurt around mile 9. And I mean hurt to the point that walking was difficult. So I walked the last 4 miles, while trying to run when I felt I could. 

Just happy to be done with this one. 

Nicer medal and shirt this year than last. Good work, Huntsville!
The last race to talk about in my mash up race blog is the Undead Race 5K. I don't run many 5K's, due to the lack of medals. However, for this race, people I actually knew wanted to run it! WHAT. I don't know many runners in real life, I have many internet running friends that will occasionally be at races where I am. But this time, people who were already my friends wanted to run. So we have been training for this one as a group for the last 3 months. It was so much fun to see everyone out there and enjoying themselves. Everyone in the group did better than they thought they would too. I bet I can talk them into another one soon enough. The other great thing about this race was that is was zombie themed. Some of us were zombies, and some were humans. The humans got a two minute head start and then the horde was unleashed. I was a zombie and it was pretty enjoyable chasing down all those humans. 

The best zombie makeup I could put together in the last minute. I procrastinate sometimes...

The zombies and the humans, coexisting for a tiny moment. 

How can you not like a race for charity that is also zombie themed?!

I have two more half marathons coming up this month and then another Ragnar Relay plus a half for the month of November. Then things die down for the winter months. I did just find out that I got into the Ogden Marathon, so that training will begin in January, in concert with my training for my first 50K in June. Also, in the last two weeks, I have started to weight train seriously. I can feel a difference in my body already and I am hopeful it will lead to faster finish times next year. Here's the point in the blog where I promise to try and post more often and you all say "Yeah, right.". But I will try. I will. 

Happy running!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Three weeks, three races. And more to come!

I like to do this thing where I race every weekend for a month or more. I like it for two reasons: lots of medals and shirts in less time, and it makes my mom upset. She thinks that it will turn out like last year where I wanted to die for 7 weeks straight. I keep telling her this is only 5 weeks worth and last year was 7. No comparison at all, right?

I completed my fourth relay, the Grand Teton Relay with the team Bear Bait.  Here we are at the end, looking quite unmauled.
I'm chewing on my medal while everyone else is being normal. Story of my life right here, people.

The Grand Teton Relay is a nice small relay. I enjoyed that my night run was basically by myself. I was off on my own on a rails to trails section. I could see the vans on the road a ways off but I was only passed by one runner that whole leg. And she was running scared. I had my can of bear spray but I really wasn't worried that anything would happen. And nothing did happen. It was incident free and really quite pleasant. We finished in 31 hours and 18 minutes. I'm assuming that's an amazing time, because, let's face it, we're amazing.

The next weekend brought the Run Elevated Half Marathon down Little Cottonwood Canyon. This was a great race. The canyon was gorgeous. I honestly can't remember the last time I was even in that canyon... It rained on us for a bit around mile 2, then hailed on us for less than 30 seconds but you should have heard the whining!  I found it quite refreshing, and the hail wasn't that big. Just tiny little pellets that didn't even sting. It was over quickly and I continued to sail down the mountain. I rocked a nice finish of 2:37:something and then couldn't walk down stairs normally for the next 3 days. That down hill will really rough you up.
I was recovered enough to feel sassy for my race last Saturday, the Hel's Half Pound. Let me show you what that course looked like.
There was no time limit for this race. It's their first year so they weren't sure how long it would take people to complete this beast of a course. I took them at their word and signed up. I could walk the first uphill part and then make up time on the downhill. Which is exactly what I did, which is exactly why I came in last. Last place. As in everyone beat me. But let me tell you something. I was the only "average' runner there. I was surrounded by ultramarathoners, Boston qualifiers, and crazed trail runners. I knew right when I got there that I would be last. And that's okay. There were a total or 38 runners, there would have been 39 but that guy DNS (does that mean I beat him at least?). In a pool that small, I don't stand a chance.

I really didn't mind coming in last. I made it look good. And the best part was the way everyone was cheering me on, they all knew my name, and at least three people were snapping pictures. I was basically a running celebrity right then. I even got a bunch of extra swag they had because they didn't want to take it with them. Who doesn't love free stuff?

The course itself was really beautiful. It helped take my mind off of how much it sucked to run straight up and then straight back down a mountain with 16% grade. I saw some squirrels fighting, some grouse grazing, a fish in the stream, baby goats in a field, some cute chipmunks, and lots of confused townsfolk (they were all wondering why I was running the streets of their fair city with a number on and no one around).

I still haven't decided if I'm coming back for this one next year. I may actually have to try running some of that uphill if I did... We'll just wait and see.

The next two weekends bring two more races, the Mt. Nebo Half Marathon and the Big Cottonwood Marathon. I may be dropping down to the half at Big Cottonwood, we'll see how I'm feeling. I may just be feeling crazy enough to take it on, despite my lack of 20+ mile training runs as of late.

Until then, happy running!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Another threefer!

Do you ever get into an anti-blogging funk? I do. It's called "most of my life". But here I am, to recap the three, yes three, races that haven't been immortalized in blog land.

I'll  start with the Ragnar Relay, Wasatch Back race. I ran with a new set of strangers this time, but there were a couple of familiar faces for as well (for once). The main bulk of our team was from Southern California who had come out for the race. Utah put on her finery for their visit and didn't disappoint. The oppressive heat that had been lingering broke for the weekend and the mountains stayed lush and green from the more than usual rain we'd gotten.

The first leg that I ran was slow. I walked more than I had wanted to. I still was able to finish close to my projected finish time and even had a few kills. The second leg I ran felt really too warm. At least it was a short 3 mile run. I had to walk only once due to a side stitch that came on about a mile in. Once that passed, I finished really strong, only missing my target time by a few seconds. Strangely enough, my third leg was my best of them all. That hasn't happened to me before in a relay. I didn't have to stop and walk, I nailed my pace right on, and no one passed me the entire leg. I repeat. NO ONE PASSED ME. That has never happened to me before. I hunted one woman down like an antelope on the African plain. Every time I got close to her, she would speed up, just out of range. At the home stretch, I resolved to take her out with extreme prejudice. I could see the exchange and I just kicked it into high gear and took her and another lady out. It was an impressive way to finish my Wasatch Back experience. Like a freight train, baby. Oh yeah.

My team was really fun. Many of them are originally from England and Wales. They were friendly and easy to be around, which is key when you have to spend two days living in a van with them. I will be going up with them again for the Las Vegas Ragnar in November. I'm quite looking forward to it.

 Most of our team, one runner is out on her leg.

 I had just finished my leg. Ice cream time! Conveniently, there was an ice cream shop right across the street!

Five of van 1's 6 members, by the reservoir.

Enjoying my post race pizza :)

 Some sweet bling from the 10 year celebration. The medal is huge!
I love this picture that Chris took of me. I look so happy! Running looks easy and fun. And sometimes, it actually is. Everyone should check out Chris's pictures. He's one talented photographer. Chris Holcroft. Google him, you won't be sorry.

The second race I ran was the weekend after Ragnar, the Provo Midnight Half Marathon. It was run on the Provo River Trail, at night. We started in town and ran down to the lake and back. It was so hot in town. So very very hot. June decided that it had been too nice during the last week and cranked the temperatures up. It was 85 degrees at 10 p.m. The heat got to a lot of people, slowing everyone down. I felt like I was running a strong race, but actually had one of my slower finish times. Darn you heat! I did take fourth place in my division, AKA, the fat girl division. I just hope there were more than 4 fat girls running this race... It's really called the Athena division, but it's based on your weight, so potato potahto,
The medal has LED's in it that flash. It's a fun one :)

The third race to report on is the Hobbler Half Marathon on July 13. It was fun to run 13 miles on the 13th. It was also fun to be running this race for the second time. I felt fantastic through this race and was able to beat last year's time by almost three minutes.  I like this race because it's on a route I run often. There are no surprises, I'm close to home, and it's a nice downhill slope for most of it. My friend, Melissa, ran this as her first half. I was so proud of her! I'm trying to talk her into some other ones, we'll see if I can coax her into it. It seemed like she had fun. Upright and smiling at the end equals fun, right? The shirts and medals were much better this year than last, always a bonus.
Love me some Roman numerals. 
I've had my ups and downs with my training lately. I went on a vacation that lasted over a week. I tried to keep up with my running, but it was difficult. Also, going down to sea level for over a week made running back home much more difficult. I finally had a really good double digit run today. I'm hoping that will continue. I've bought some new shoes to try out, the Hoka brand. They're very different from all the other shoes I've run in and I'm still trying to figure out how I feel about them... They're supposed to be amazing for down hill running and I've got three predominantly down hill races coming up. We'll see. 

I'll do my best to post timely about my next race, the Grand Teton Relay, in a couple of weeks. Until then, happy running!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Angry Blog

Usually my blogs are all happy running stories and fun pictures. Maybe after I get done venting out the anger, I'll throw in some fun pictures. Let's see if I can get my emotions into words... Maybe it will work best in an open letter style.

Here goes nothing.

Dear people of the world,

Stop telling me what I can and can't do. You have no right to try and get in the way of what I want to do with my life. Just because I had a rough marathon (details of said marathon will be provided after my rant), does not mean I should never do another one. What really burns my biscuits (yeah, I said "burns my biscuits") is that pretty much all of you naysayers have NEVER run a marathon. What would you even know about it? Where do you get off telling me not to do any more? Are any of you running coaches? Do you have any sort of basis for advising me in this? No. No you don't. So stop it.

Is it because you're all threatened by the fact that I'm doing things that scare you? Is that it? Is everyone so insecure that when they see others pushing his or her limits, they're driven to try and stop them? Is the crabs is the bucket analogy really so true? My successes and failures have nothing to do with you. They never have and they never will. So stop trying to keep me at your level of stagnant complacency.

And for all you runners out there who have decided to chime in with your opinions and tell me to back off my running, maybe you should back off. Because I'm fat and slow doesn't mean I can't do these things. I just do them with more jiggling and at a more leisurely pace, okay? I've finished every single race I've ever started. That is more than most runners can say. And if I keep this up, my guess is that I'll get thinner and faster.

I do a tremendous amount of reading. Lately, I've been devouring books on ultra running. These people are no different than I am. I have just as much resolve and will power as they do. I can do great things. I have already done great things and I will not stop. Not only will I not stop running marathons, I will continue to train for my first ultra marathon. My body and mind are capable of things that I haven't even contemplated yet. And if I haven't found my limit yet, how on earth could any of you know what my limits are? I heard something today that sums my feelings up nicely: "Just because something is difficult, doesn't mean I shouldn't do it.".  I'm of the opinion that if something scares me and excites me at the same time, that means I should give it a go.

You don't have to do what I want to do. Go out and live you own crazy dreams. No matter how stupid or insane or any of many other adjectives it may seem, it's your life. Go nuts. And if you want to be stagnant and complacent, go nuts. It's not my place to tell you how to live. But it is my place to run my own life, so I'll keep doing that no matter what you say.

The Girl You'll Never Stop.

Now I can do a race recap on my last three and throw in those fun pictures mentioned earlier. I ran the Alpine Classic Half Marathon, the Thelma and Louise Half Marathon, and the Utah Valley Marathon in the last three weeks.

My friend wanted to run the Alpine race so I thought, sure why not? It was a tiny little race, but the shirts and medals were nice and I enjoyed the chance to run somewhere new.

The Thelma and Louise Half was really pleasant. A nice flat course down in Moab. You all know how I love racing in Moab. The scenery can't be beat. I did have some rather debilitating GI issues the second half of this race, making for a slow finish but it was still a lovely day and a great little race.

And finally, the Utah Valley Marathon. The race that I loved so much last year seriously let me down this year. The first major issue was with the total lack of porta-potties along the course. As in not a single one. Apparently there was a mix up with the company and they didn't deliver any of the porta-potties that were to be placed along the way. This wreaked havoc on my mental well being. It was hot, I was thirsty, and I was also worried to drink too much because of the lack of facilities. This year, they also had some kids on a four wheeler herding us down the mountain. Last year, there wasn't anyone behind me, pushing me along, making me think they were going to pick me up and take me out of the race. I was 40 minutes ahead of the canyon closure cut off time and I knew it, but the anxiety that was caused by having a four wheeler on my heels nearly the whole time was very upsetting.

I finished 5 minutes slower than last year. And it wasn't for lack of physical training. I did the work, I put in the time, but running distance is more about the mind than the body. And mentally, I just wasn't prepared for the trials of the race this year. But next year I will be back, stronger and more prepared for whatever they throw at me. Bring. It. On.
Now I'm going to go out there and run the hell out of Ragnar Wasatch Back. And don't try to get in my way.

Happy running, or whatever it is you enjoy doing.