Medtronic Twin Cities 10 Mile {Race Recap}

I was up at 3:30 am Sunday morning, starting my pre-race routine. Ashley was going to be picking me up at 5 to go to our friend Amanda’s house so we could all carpool together. After I ate my toast and foam rolled, I started to get nervous. I don’t know why. I run 10 miles regularly and this was supposed to be fun. I wasn’t sure if I was going to go for a goal time or just run the race as I felt comfortable. I figured I’d see how the first mile went.

By 6 am, we were downtown hoping that the rain wouldn’t start again. We met the rest of our Team OT Efers crew, snapped a few pictures and talked about the brunch that we were headed to after the race, before I went to my corral.

Once in the corral, I saw the 1:15 pacer. I heard him talking to another runner about the pacing strategy. I heard him say he was going to bank some time to make up for the two mile long hill that we’d hit around mile four.

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I knew that I did not want to even attempt to run with that strategy. Banking time never works out well for me. It was then I decided I was just going to do my thing. I’d run as fast or as slow as felt good.

Just as we were sent on our way, it started raining again. Not too hard, but enough to be a little irritating. The first mile I started slightly fast, but not so fast that I was going to regret it. It was really crowded but we were treated to a beautiful sunrise. As we approached mile three the rain really started coming down and a headwind picked up. It made me so happy that I was only running 10 miles and not the full marathon. We had to curve around a tight and narrow turn to cross the bridge over the river. That was my slowest mile at 7:52.

Once we were on the bridge, the congestion started to break up. This was the part of the course I really remembered from running the marathon three years ago and cheering for my friend Kirsten last year as she ran the 10 mile. I grabbed water at the first water stop I saw and unfortunately got more up my nose than in my mouth. The rain was letting up which was exciting, but it left large puddles all over the street. I tried to avoid as many as I could without weaving too much. I was still consistently a tenth of a mile ahead of every mile marker.

By mile four, the rain had stopped and I had run under the blow up wall. The steepest part of the long hill was starting. I began to slow my pace to compensate. When I ran through the five mile clock (38:33), I calculated I was going to have no problem beating my previous 10 mile time from Goldy’s Run two years ago. I distracted myself by gawking at the beautiful houses (mansions?) I was running by.

I continued to run at a steady, but slower pace as I gradually climbed the never ending hill. It’s so deceptive because it doesn’t look like I was going up hill, but my legs could feel it. After getting to the top I got a little downhill segment where I speed up. One more tiny hill and I was on the flat and downhill home stretch to the finish line. I picked it up some more as I started my final mile to the finish line. It was my fastest of the race, the downhill helped of course. I was still about a tenth of a mile ahead but I didn’t care. My watch was showing I had maintained a 7:34 min/mile pace. Woohoo.

I ran through the shoot with a big smile on my face. I had finally gotten a personal record. My first in any distance since Thanksgiving. I’d also negative split the race.

Official time: 1:16:28  Avg. Pace: 7:39 min/mile

My Goldy’s Race 10 mile time was bested by nearly six minutes. I expected to run it faster than two years ago, but that was a surprising chunk after my lackluster races lately.

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I made my way out of the finisher’s area and waited for the rest of the team to come through. Everyone did so well!

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We made our way back to Minneapolis and enjoyed brunch at Ike’s Food and Cocktail.

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It was a fun morning! Now we’re talking about a relay race next year some time. That would be really fun. I’ve been wanting to do a Ragnar or similar event.

 

Boston Marathon Training {Week 14}

Peak.Week.

What a week it has been. Mileage is all down hill from here to race day. I’ve been feeling more anxious about race day this week. I don’t think it is so much the distance, but the race itself. It’s the Boston Marathon. A marathon that is for many, like myself, the holy grail of marathons.

It was fitting that this week, as my anxiety levels started rising that this picture popped up on my Facebook memories.

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Exactly five years ago last week, on a work trip to Boston, I took advantage of my opportunity to visit the marathon finish line. I had my coworker take my picture to show that yes, I had been to the finish line of one of, if not the most, prestigious marathons in the country.

Back then I was a 5:07 marathoner who had not gotten through a race without crying because I was tired and questioning my sanity. I had an eight month old and honestly didn’t know if I would do another marathon. I NEVER thought I would be fast enough to qualify for Boston. That was my moment to ‘cross’ the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

Fast forward to today, now I have two kids and am just 20 days away from running the race I never thought I’d be fast enough to earn a spot in. I still cry occasionally at races, but they’re usually tears of joy as I cross the finish line. While I want to take a little break from the marathon distance after Boston, I know I’ll run another one.

The tears I shed as I crossed the finish line at Lake Wobegon, after smashing my qualifying time, almost seem like a dream. Did it really happen? Did I really qualify last May? Can I really run that fast again?

It really happened. I really did. I really can (I hope). I have worked hard. I worked hard to get back into running after having Ella and ran my first sub-5 hour marathon. I worked hard to get back into running after having Anderson and ran my first sub-4 hour marathon. I’ve worked hard to take off nearly an hour and 40 minutes off my marathon time to run my first sub-3:30 marathon. I’ve worked hard to qualify.

I worked hard. I earned my spot. I deserve to be there among some of the fastest marathoners in the world.

Now I just have to get through taper.

Monday – 9 miles w/7 at tempo
Tuesday – Rest
Wednesday – Orangetheory (3.68 miles)
Thursday – 6×1200 @ 6:40 min/mile w/2 mile WU and CD
Friday – Rest
Saturday – 22 mile long run
Sunday – Walk

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.

 

Chicago Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon {Race Recap}

I did everything I could do blow this race for myself. I ate like crap, drank a ton and spent hours and hours walking around Chicago. So obviously, I went into the race expecting a horrible race. While it was definitely not my strongest performance, it could have been worse.

We walked over to the starting line with plenty of time to drop our gear bags, hit the porta potties and find our ways to our corrals. With a whole four hours of sleep and an upset stomach, I was not at all looking forward to running. It was also about 70 degrees and humid. Blah.

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The race started on time and about four minutes after the start I crossed the starting line. The first mile cruised by. I obviously didn’t look too closely at the course map, because I mistakenly thought that we’d be running much of the same course as the marathon. Not so much. We ran maybe a few blocks of the same course.

My watch distance was off by the second mile likely due to going under lots of overpasses and the buildings of downtown. I realized I should just not look at my watch because it wasn’t reliable as far as distance or pace. With no goals in mind for the race, other than to finish, I just trucked along.

The course was boring but the music, when there was actually a band, was nice. It was pretty warm out, but I was doing my best to re-hydrate. I carried my fuel belt with my water bottles filled with Nuuns and took water at every water stop. A few sips in my mouth and the rest of the water over my head.

I was doing a pretty decent job of holding a steady pace. According to my results I was averaging about a 7:45 min/mile pace. As I got to the 10k mark, I started wondering how many more miles I was going to be able to go before I had to make a pit stop. Turns out two. At mile eight I veered off course to the lone porta-potty. Much to my dismay it was occupied. I took a gel and anxiously waited for the person in it to leave. Finally they did, I popped in and ran out as quickly as I could.

I got in two more miles before I had to stop again. Luckily there was one available and it was the last time I had to stop. The last few miles felt long. We went through a really dark tunnel under the Solider Field (I think) that was filled with potholes and so dark I was worried about tripping and face planting. They definitely needed more light there. When I came out of the tunnel we were near the lake as we approached the finish line.

I was so glad to be done when I finally crossed the finish line.

Official Time: 1:45:29       Avg. Pace: 8:03 min/mile

For a standalone half marathon, I set a new personal record. But this was about a minute slower than the second half of Lake Wobegon. I’ll take it as my streak continuing.

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Those two bathroom stops really slowed me down. All things considered, little sleep, bathroom stops, warm/humid weather, lack of training, boozing and eating like crap, I did pretty well.

Shortly after I finished, my girls finished just as it started pouring rain with some crazy thunder and lightning. With a small break in the rain we went back to the hotel for a little R&R before the Cubs game.

Would I do this race again? Not so much. Will I consider doing the Brooklyn Rock N’ Roll Half next fall as an excuse for another girls weekend? Absolutely.

 

Lake Wobegon Trail Marathon {Race Recap}

You are strong, you are ready, you are going to do this. Trust your training.

Over the 26.2 miles of the marathon, I repeated this to myself over and over again. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t forget it. I needed my head to be in the game. I needed to focus on the race and not be distracted by negativity or doubt.

I’m going to pause here and preemptively apologize for the length of this post and hello unflattering pictures. Obviously I have not learned how to be photogenic during races. Maybe the professional pictures will be awesome. Anyway, I honestly still feel like I may have dreamed it all and the race is still to come.

Pre-Race

I woke up before dawn after a restless night of sleep. I quickly grabbed my pre-race food and went to the breakfast area of the hotel. I sat listening to the wind outside and watching the sunrise as I ate three pieces of almond butter and jam toast. I returned to the room, did my usual routine and after checking the hourly weather forecast, decided capris, a tank top, long sleeved hooded shirt and my wind breaker with an ear warmer and gloves would be a good idea. Once dressed I met Amy and her husband for a ride to the buses.

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I was strangely calm as we boarded the bus and even as we made our way into the high school where we stayed warm before the race started. It was great, bathrooms, music, water and coffee. We were able to easily find our friend Megan for a quick picture before we were all lead outside for the start.

Pre-Race LWTM

My game plan was to stick with the 3:30 pacer until the half way point. I had Josh’s voice in my head telling me that I could easily run an 8 min/mile pace. After the half point, I would assess how I was feeling and decide how to proceed. I easily found my pacer Don and told him I was going to do my best to stick with him. I didn’t realize that it was a gun start, not a chip start until he told me. We were outside maybe two minutes before the bell sounded and we were off. I made sure I got across that starting line quick.

The Race

We had a few little curves before we actually made it onto the trail. It was a cold first mile with a nasty headwind and temperatures in the 30s. I was glad I opted for my capris rather than shorts and compression socks. Once we were on the trail, the wind became a more of a side wind and we had a little bit of insulation from the trees after a long open patch. The first 5k flew by and I was just so thankful that I wasn’t having to do any weaving or worry about working tangents.

I chatted a little bit with the Don (pacer) and a few of the people around me. I was surprised and a little leary about my ability to maintain the pep in my step. I tried to just enjoy the moment. I looked around at the scenery and read every single motivational sign put along the trail by the race volunteers. It was a really nice touch.

I took my first gel a little early, just after the 10k mark. I had finished breakfast at about 4:45 am, so I was starting to get hungry. Though I was extremely careful about I ate all week, I was fearful of GDF (gel digestive failure), but the gel went down just fine. Our pace group started getting smaller. Some people sped up and other dropped back.  I was feeling amazing. The weather, though windy at times, was actually pretty ideal. It was a beautiful sunny morning and cold but not so much so that I was shivering.

The next several miles are a little bit of a blur. I knew the only real ‘hill’ was coming up and that some time after the turn I should see my family. As we curved around with the trail, I looked forward to that turn and didn’t even notice the hill. Around mile 11, I decided it was time to lose my jacket. I had thought ahead and put my arm band with my phone under it so I only fumbled slightly as I tried to pull it off and tie it around my waist without dropping it or tripping myself.

After the turn I knew it was pretty much a straight shot to the finish line. I took my second gel around mile 12.5. We cruised past the half way point at 1:45 on the dot. I had just set a new half marathon personal record by a minute and a half. Woohoo! More exciting to me at that point was that I was still with the 3:30 pacer and continuing to feel good except for some grumbling in my stomach. Up until that point, I had seen one porta-potty. With the stomach threatening to act up, I started looking around for a place to peel off the trail into the trees. I starting thinking, oh shit, I may have to actually relieve myself just off the trail where lots of runners will likely catch a glimpse. I drank some more water and kept moving trying to think of anything else.

Josh called just as we closed in on the 15th mile. Knowing that it was going to be very cold for spectators, I told Josh not to worry about trying to see me prior to the half way point. I figured he must be close. He just missed me at mile 16 but I saw some friends which was exciting! It always so much fun being able to see people you know on the sides.

At this point, it was myself, Don and one other runner. Don said that if we were feeling good around mile 23-24, to speed up and leave him behind. If not, that was ok, but he wanted us to finish with him. He did not want to cross that finish line alone. I assured him I was going to do my best. He was very positive and kept telling me how strong I was looking as we chatted a bit. Right around then, a runner I had met during my last 22 mile training run, cruised up to say hi. Only at a small race like this would we have bumped into each other.

I took my third gel at mile 18. I was starting to get tired mentally but physically I was feeling strong, really strong. I knew the wall could be coming but was hoping it would be just a tiny fairy-sized (as Ella would say) wall that I would easily overcome. After all, I was strong, I was ready and I could do it. I was doing it. I saw friends again who snapped this picture. That’s my friend Megan’s brother to my left.

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Our group was down to just Don and me by mile 19. I guess it was up to me to not let him finish alone. I saw Josh and the kids at mile 20. I screamed out to them in excitement and tossed them my ear band. Don yelled to the kids, “Mommy is going to Boston!”

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It was then that it hit me. Unless something went drastically wrong, I was going to qualify for Boston. I started calculating in my head what my time would be if I slowed to a 10 min/mile. I knew that wouldn’t happen but it’s a lot easier to do that when running that to calculate an 8:30 or 9 min/mile over 6.2 more miles.

The next two miles started to feel a little more difficult. I decided to take a fourth gel between 22 and 23. I fell back behind Don a bit but no more than a few seconds. He kept looking back for me and I’d yell I was still there. Mile 24 was my fastest mile as I tried to get back on track with Don at 7:43. With us side by side again, he told me that he wanted me to finish before him. Jokingly he said then I’d be able to say that I beat the 2011 winner.

We ran past mile 25 and slowly, a red dot appeared before us. He asked me if I saw it and said, that is Boston. Right there. I warned him that I was going to hug him at the finish line. We inched closer and closer to the finish line. He said I had lied, the first half marathon wasn’t my new PR, this half was because we were going to negative split the race. Right as I got to the last trail crossing I heard Josh cheering, Don said go, go and I did my best to sprint through the finish line.

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As I passed under the big red arch, I saw 3:29:2X on the clock. What?!

Official time: 3:29:28      Average Pace: 7:59 min/mile

Post Race

I turned around and hugged Don, thanking him for keeping me going. Keeping me steady and helping me get my first Boston qualifying time and huge new personal record. I picked up my medal and t-shirt then went towards Josh and the kids.

Ella ran up and hugged me saying she was proud of me, which of course made me start to cry. As soon as Josh hugged me I started blubbering a bit. I was in shock. I had just run, like actually ran every single step of 26.2 miles. I negative split the marathon by 32 seconds (not huge, but a negative split) and qualified for Boston with a 5+ minute cushion.

Family at the finish line LWTM

I knew Amy would be coming through the shoot soon so I hurried, well as fast as I could, back to the sidelines to cheer her in. A few minutes later I saw our friend Dawn cross and qualify for Boston. I cheered her in and then waited anxiously for Amy. When we saw her we all yelled and cheered. She came through, hands in the air, celebrating her first BQ.

 

BRF Finish Line LWTM

We celebrated a little bit before we parted ways for showers and cleaning up. A little while later I heard that my friend Megan PR’d by 25 minutes too! It was a banner day for all of us. Josh, the kids and I grabbed some lunch before heading home because I needed something other than gluten-free bread, almond butter, jam and bananas which was basically all I ate last week.

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Of course I was pretty excited to check out my Garmin stats. Thanks to my awesome pacer, I ran pretty evenly throughout the race. Only six of the 26.2 miles were at an 8:00+ min/mile pace. The slowest of which was 8:03. My fastest miles were miles 24 and 26. I guess those fast finish long runs really helped.  The first half was done in 1:45:00 and our second half was done in 1:44:28. I was 70th out of 326 finishers, 5th of 25 women in the 30-34 age group and 13th of 114 female finishers.

This was a wonderful race. I wasn’t sure if I would like such a small race, but I loved it. It made me want to find other small races to do. The volunteers were amazing, even bringing candy, pretzels and homemade treats to the water stops. The trail was beautiful and flat. This course is meant for personal bests. Everything came together for me, the weather, the course, my training and fueling. I did it and I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to duplicate it again.

When we got home, I booked a hotel room stat for April 17, 2017. OMG, I’m going to Boston!