The Good Life Halfsy {Race Recap}

Throwback Thursday post to my last race of the season and my last race before surgery.

I was hopeful that I could beat my existing half PR set last year at the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon. As Josh and I talked about the race, he offered to pace me. While I took his offer with a grain of salt, I figured why not take him up on his offer. The worst that could happen is I annoy him or he annoys me and we part ways. I knew I should be able to run at least as fast as I ran the Twin Cities 10 Miler a month ago as the course was basically the opposite of what I’d be running in the Halfsy.

Sunday morning I woke up and did my pre-race thing. We kind of lounged around the house since the starting line was just a few miles from Josh’s parent’s house and the race didn’t start until 8:30 am. Both Jim and Nancy, as well as my sister-in-law volunteered to do traffic control for the race, so at about 8, we all got in the van and made our way to the start.

The starting line was well organized with huge pace flags lining the shoot. We snapped a quick selfie and lined up just ahead of the 1:40 pacer. Josh confidently told me that I could run under a 1:40 and I’d be upset if with myself if I didn’t at least try. I said ok and right on time, we crossed the starting line.

The start was a little odd, winding around a high school then out onto 70th Street. We saw all three Van Kirk’s in the first mile which was fun. We had some pretty good rolling hills in the first few miles, but nothing too challenging. I wasn’t looking at my watch, running by feel and talking with Josh a bit. When we passed the three mile mark, he pulled me back a little bit. I was feeling great. The temperature was in the mid-30s which is my ideal running weather. As we ran down 70th and into Holmes Lake Park, I knew there was a fairly significant downhill around the 5th mile. Josh told me that we were going to take advantage of the downhill and run the next mile at 7:15. Um, what?

The downhill felt nice and we covered that mile in 7:14. I was able to recover from the faster speed easily once the course flattened out again. Around mile seven I took my gel. It was a little early for me but I wasn’t carrying my own water and I remembered the next water stop wasn’t until around mile nine. A short while later we could see the capital building. There was a large crowd cheering us on as we ran by the halfsy point of the Halfsy.

We turned onto a really nicely maintained trail that I often ran portions of with Nancy. There were a few more small rolling hills. Everyone once in a while we’d pick up the pace, then pull it back. I looked at my watch and saw our average pace was sub 7:30 min/mile. I was running this race faster than the 10 miler by about 10 seconds/mile.

When we left the trail, the course got pretty industrial. It was not the most scenic but we were closing in. I was getting tired and the biggest hill of the race was coming at mile 13. Between miles 11 and 12, Josh pushed me to run a 7:20 for a quarter mile. I begrudgingly did it but told him I was done. I was going to try to sprint to the finish but I had to save some energy for the hill.

As we turned a corner out of a residential area, I saw the LINCOLN bridge and the hill I was going to have to climb to get up and over it to the finish line. Ugh. What sadist thought that was a good idea? I did my best to just chug up it. Once at the top I was struggling to keep my breathing steady. Working my arms, I started to make my descent to the finish line. Josh pushed me to pass people as I tried to sprint through the finish.

As I crossed the finish line I lifted my arms above my head and a huge smile crossed my face. I set a 3 minute, 33 second personal record. I think sometimes Josh has more faith in how fast I am than I do.

Official finish: 1:37:37     Avg. Pace: 7:26 min/mile

I was 11th out of 515 my age group (30-34), 57 out of 2919 women and 259 out of 4505 overall. That put me in the top 2% of my category and gender, as well as, top 5% of all the runners at the race. I was pretty excited!

This race was really well organized. Other than that hill at mile 13, the course was PR friendly and really well marked. There were plenty of volunteers at the water stops and at the finish line. Bonus, the lines for the post-race massage were so short, both Josh and I got to have one after only a five minute wait. We got really nice long sleeve tech shirts and the medals were nice. I definitely do this race again if it worked out for us to be in Lincoln.

This race helped me get excited for my upcoming marathon training cycle. I haven’t lost my speed and there will be more personal records to come.

 

Jeff Winters City of Lakes Half Marathon {Race Recap}

I knew I shouldn’t run it. When I woke up after only three hours of sleep. I knew. When I was having bad cramping from the cyst, I knew. When I felt cloudy headed and nauseated, I knew. As I drove to the starting line with a pounding headache and upset stomach, I knew. I just was being stubborn old Jess, justifying my bad decision by telling myself I would just being throwing money away if I didn’t show up, run the race and get my medal and beer glass. I knew these were stupid reason. Still, I lined up at the start and was off with the gun.

This was a small race and started fast. I got caught up in the crowd the first few miles, which were too fast for how I was feeling. But then I thought, the faster I run, the sooner it will be over and I can go back to bed. I knew better than that. I stayed in the 7:25-7:44 range for the first four miles.

That’s when the headache really started pounding again and my stomach started churning. I started to slow down. I even took a gel at mile five, which is long before I would normally take one. I also started to think about stopping around the half way mark when we ran by where I parked. This was the first time I’ve ever thought about just dropping out of a race. It would have been the first smart decision I’d have made that morning. Instead, stubborn Jess won out. I continued to slow down mile by mile (7:50, 7:56, 8:08, and 8:15).

Just after mile nine I had to stop. I wasn’t sure if I was going to throw up or poop, but I had to stop when I saw a porta-potty. Luckily I did neither but I gave myself a moment to regroup and figure out if I should just turn around. I was super hot, but had the chills. I wasn’t sure what was going on. That mile was obviously my slowest at 8:55. Still I trudged on.

At this point I just wanted to be done. I told myself just to run, not walk. Walking would make this last longer. The hills were getting more difficult. None of them were huge, but big enough to irk me. Mile 10 was my fast mile of the second half of the race at 7:58. Much slower than I started off but I was giving myself pep talks to get through to the end. At least I was closing in on the finish line, the last three miles at 8:08, 8:11, and 8:05. When I saw the finish line, I knew I had just enough left to sprint through. I flew past a man running in which elicited a laugh from the announcer as he announced me coming through the shoot.

My official time was 1:44:46 which is about an 7:59 avg pace. Definitely not a PR, but very respectable, especially for how awful I was feeling.

I grabbed my medal, beer glass and a cookie as I started the walk to my car. When I got in my car, I had to sit for a while. I had horrible cramping, nausea and dizziness. When I got home, I took my temperature to find I had a fever. No wonder I was super hot but had the chills. I was pale as a ghost and felt awful. I spent the rest of the day on the couch in and out of sleep. We were a little worried that I had gotten an infection from the cyst rupture, but when my fever finally broke, we figured I was in the clear. The next day I was still down, but felt like a new person a few days later.

Lesson learned, running post cyst rupture, is a bad idea.

Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon {Race Recap}

It was 2 am. In a fog of Advil PM, I wasn’t sure if I had actually slept yet or just shut my eyes willing my body to go to sleep. For the second night in a row it looked as though I wasn’t going to be sleeping. I did know that the Wild Beaver Saloon was really loud outside of our hotel room window. I got up, closed the blinds and tried to get some rest. Still no luck by three when I turned down the temperature in our room. Finally sleep came for a whole two hours before my alarm went off at 5:30 am.

My mom, Rachel and I got up, ate and lounged around our room until around 7:25 when we met Kelly (my mom’s friend and one of my trainees) in the lobby. I was so tired and trying just to put on my tough runner face. We made our way to the starting line where we huddled together outside my corral to keep warm. With about 10 minutes to go until the start we all wished each other luck and parted ways.

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I found myself in a crowd of anxious runners. I chatted with a marathoner coming back from injury and was trying to qualify for Boston again. A few minutes later, our entire herd started walking to the starting line as we began our journey.

The first mile was a bit rough. I was happy that it forced me to start slowly, but it was frustrating just how packed it was. I saw the 3:20 marathon pacer, but decided I was not going to follow a pace group. I was going to run purely on feel. It was a good thing because he flew by me with a pretty good size group by the second mile. By the 5k point I had pretty much settled in.

Splits: 8:18, 7:40, 7:44

After the 5k mark, I was feeling pretty good. My lungs weren’t burning as expected due to that darn cold and though my legs felt really heavy, I was easily keeping a sub-8 pace. I was pretty surprised it was feeling so easy. That might be why the second three miles leading to the 10k point were some of my fastest during the entire race.

Splits: 7:38, 7:39, 7:38.

10k Official Time: 48:19

I was starting to think about taking a gel. I was watching people around me, including one man who flipped off house after house that had political signs he disagreed with. Classy. There were pockets of cheering squads and many beautiful homes. I knew the split for the marathon was coming up, so just past mile 7, I awkwardly fumbled with my fuel belt to get out a gel and water bottle. Not going to lie, because I hadn’t been taking gels during training (they are too dang expensive) I was a bit nervous my stomach would revolt. Luckily as I turned away from the full marathoners and finished my gel, there was no GDF rumbling in my stomach. Miles eight and nine are total blurs.

Splits: 7:40, 7:45, 7:43

The home stretch. I only had four miles left. I ran by a group offering Pabst Blue Ribbon and immediately thought that I would definitely vomit if I attempted to drink one. I wasn’t sure where the family was going to be, so I was scanning the increasing crowds for a friendly face. By mile 11 my legs felt like bricks. I was calculating in my head how much I could slow down and still PR. I figured I could slow down to a 9-10 min/mile and still be ok. If it wasn’t for a guy right at mile 12, yelling at me that he could tell I was contemplating slowing down, and not to do it, I probably would have slowed just because I was feeling lazy. I was mentally tired and the lack of sleep wasn’t helping either.

As we turned the final two corners of the race, I picked it up. When I saw the finish line, I did my best to sprint, to empty my tank as my Orangetheory coach would say. I crossed the finish line, feeling good, great actually. I had surprised myself once again.

Final Splits: 7:37, 7:43, 7:40, 7:29, and 6:25 for the last 0.2

Official time: 1:41:10          Average Pace: 7:44 min/mile

I did pretty well working my tangents, running only about a tenth of a mile longer than 13.1. I think my new post-Boston goal will be to run a sub-1:40 half marathon.

I was shocked at my overall results for the race. I finished in 698 out of 8116 finishers, 33 out of 732 in my division, and 178 out of 4796 in my gender. That put me in the top 8-9% of all the half marathon finishers and the top 3-5% of finishers in both my division and gender. Never thought that would happen.

My stepsister Rachel killed her first half coming in just under two hours. My mom did amazing coming in at 2:16 and Kelly set a new PR! I’m so proud of all of us.

This race was nice, well organized and a pretty flat one at that. I would consider doing the full at some point, but we will see. I have others on my bucket list when I’m ready.

 

Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon Training {Um what?}

I was pumped, half marathon training was going well. I looked forward to my shorter runs and was hitting my goal pace ranges. I was killing it. WAS being the key. From my previous post you’ve seen we’ve been busy. Life and fun have gotten in the way. All the sudden it is race week. I’m feeling under-trained, over tired and surprise, surprise, sick with a nasty cold that just won’t quit.

Lately my training has consisted of one speed workout, Orangetheory and then my long run. I tried to catch-up on missed workouts, which I would never recommend because yikes, my body was not happy with me. I just decided to do what I had time for and leave it at that. Because I’ve been consistently running double digit long runs for about a year, I know that I can cover the distance. It is highly unlikely it will be my best performance.

This race is more about time with my mom. We have been planning on doing this race for about a year now. To get my mom ready, I wrote her a training plan several months ago and she’s been training hard to do her first half marathon in more than a decade. I’m really proud of her and excited to cheer her through the finish shoot! I also wrote a training plan for one of her friends, who happens to make the best almond cake I’ve ever had, who will be running too. I’m accepting payment in the form of cake, because yum. Also because they are two of my first clients as an officially certified running coach. I’m really excited to see how they both do. I’ll report back on how we all do as part of my running coach posts I have in my drafts.

The kids and I are flying to Indy at the end of next week. While I was not originally intending on bringing them, they are really excited to see their Nana, Papa, Uncle Riley and Aunt Emma. It should be a fun weekend with way too much food and a little running mixed in.

 

Indianapolis Monumental Half Training {Week Two}

I’m a firm believer in practice makes perfect and if it ain’t (I cringe at that non-word) broke, don’t fix it. That’s been my philosophy with my training for a few years now. I’m consistent. I found the marathon training plan that worked for me. While I deviate a tiny bit, I’ve stuck with it. It’s helped me go from a 5+ hour marathon to Boston. One thing this modified training cycle is giving me is an opportunity to do a little experimenting.

Here’s what I’ve been toying with:

  1. Warming up longer for short, fast intervals. I have always done a standard warm-up and cool down of one mile. I think adding the additional mile helps my legs loosen up a bit more and the 400 and 800 m intervals don’t feel so damn hard.
  2. The tempo run. Yeah, apparently I’d been selling myself short, which I learned in my class. Now I don’t include my warm-up/cool down in the total tempo mileage. So a four mile tempo is a legit four miles at tempo pace (not a half mile warm up/cool down and three miles at tempo), six miles total if I include my warm-up and cool down.
  3. Adding an easy paced run the day after my long run. My long runs are not what they usually are, but this week I really enjoyed my slow miles. I got on the treadmill to keep my pace in check. Come Monday morning, my legs felt good. I’m going to try to keep this up and see how it goes. Maybe I’ll keep them during my Boston training cycle.

You run and you learn right? Two more days until I get to register for Boston!

Monday -Rest
Tuesday – 1 mile WU + 4 mile tempo + 1 mile CD
Wednesday – Orangetheory
Thursday – Rest
Friday – 2 mile WU + 4×800 @ 6:27 + 2 mile CD
Saturday – 9 mile run
Sunday – 3.35 mile easy run