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.

 

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.

 

Surly Loppet 13.1k {Race Recap}

Trail running is intimidating to me. Sure I run on trails, but they are lovely paved or crushed limestone trails. They are not grassy, muddle, steep, single track hills. Nope. I’ve only run on such terrain once, last winter in the snow on the coldest morning of the fall. It was fun, but not something I thought I’d do often. I was right. It took me six months before I did it again.

Last weekend, with some of my friends and fellow Daisy Troop moms, I ran my first official trail race. We decided on a whim last spring that it would be fun to run the Surly Loppet. If it wasn’t, we’d still get beer at the end. There were three distance options: 5k, 13.1k, and a half marathon. I opted for the 13.1k figuring that a little over 8 miles would be doable. After all, I had no idea how my fall race schedule would shape up.

I won’t lie, I was a little nervous. One because I didn’t run on a trail even once before the race and two, because this is how the course description starts:

“The Trail Loppet is challenging. There are big hills. There are narrow trails with rocks and logs. There are many intersections.”

Eek. I just hoped I didn’t get lost. And those hills…which don’t look so bad here. Only a few of them really sucked.

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Like several places in the country, we were having unseasonably warm weather. Like 80-100 degrees plus intense humidity. Not ideal at all. Luckily with such a race, there was no time pressures or performance anxiety. I only had to go as hard and fast as I felt like it. There was also going to be ample shade which would give us some relief from direct sun on top of the oppressive heat and humidity.

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We got to Theodore Wirth Park with about 10 minutes until my race started. I quick hit the porta potty and ran across the parking lot to the starting line. It was really crowded at the start and we started right uphill. The first tenth of a mile was paved before we moved to some grass and onto dirt trails through the trees.

I won’t go mile by mile because I rarely knew where I was at mileage-wise and it’s kind of a blur. I was happily running, music free, enjoying the scenery and the challenge. There were several times that I was forced to walk because those in front of me were walking. On a single track, there was no room to pass. Frankly, the few walk breaks were welcome. There were usually up very steep, root and rock ridden hills. I only almost bit it three times. I recovered and was happy that I didn’t end up scraping my face because we had family pictures later that afternoon.

I chatted with a few runners here and there as we ran. While I considered wearing my CamelBak I’d decided I didn’t want anything extra on my body. It was just too hot. I wished I had carried my own. There were only two water stops and I was sweating so much that I needed every drop I could get.

When I finished, I decided I wanted to do it again! It was so much fun. It was hard and dirty, slow and steady. It kept me on my toes and I didn’t once look at my watch wondering how I was doing. I didn’t care. I was far out of my running comfort zone and soaking it all up.

I met my friends who had done the 5k, grabbed a beer and waited for our other friends to join us. We already decided that we are going to make this an annual race. Maybe next year I’ll do the half.

 

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.

Six in One

I’m solidly in the camp that you do not need to run every day to be a successful runner. I’ve adhered strictly to my run only three to four days/week rule for years now. That is, until last week, when I was reminded why I don’t run so much.

Monday morning I was excited to try a strength training class that I hadn’t done in years. I’ll admit, I went in a little cocky thinking that it wouldn’t be a big deal since I’ve been doing Orangetheory for more than a year now. I.was.wrong. Holy cow, an hour of strength training did me in. I was sore before the class was even over. Come 7 p.m. I get a text from my friend Ashley asking to go for a short, easy run with her. Couldn’t pass that up. We did about three miles.

Tuesday I had my usual run. I did a six mile tempo and my butt and legs felt it the entire time. I knew I was in for it on Wednesday night at OTF.

Wednesday, Orangetheory. Usually I run between 1.5-3 miles total. Yeah, not this week. This time I ran 4.16 miles of pushes and all-outs. Now I was up to three days in a row of running. That’s ok, I do that fairly frequently.

Thursday I did my first 400m intervals in a long time. With warm up and cool down, that was a total of 5.75 miles. That was my third day in a row of intense running, fourth day in a row of running. My body was feeling it.

I took Friday completely off. In fact I think I only took 6000 steps the entire day. I had the Rice Lake Classic to run Saturday morning and I didn’t want to totally blow it after four days and 19+ miles.

Saturday morning, I really did not want to go to the race. It was hot, humid and I was tired. Tired from my intense workouts, tired from having company all week, tired from not getting enough sleep. As soon as the race started, my legs made it known they were done. I felt my sore glutes with every step. I tried to move my legs faster, but they didn’t listen. Instead my bone fragment pulled in my leg causing burning and by the second mile had a minor locking incident. I just wanted it to be over. Turns out, I ran the exact.same.time as I did two years ago and came in third in my age group. I should be happy right? I placed in my age group. I was so disappointed. All I could think about is that I am stronger and faster than I was two years ago, so I should easily be able to run a faster time.

After talking to my mom last night I realized, I am stronger and faster. Two years ago if I had worked out that hard leading up to the race, I would have run way slower. I would have walked more and been in pain. I guess I needed someone else to help me look at it from another angle.

I was supposed to run 10 miles total Saturday, but after the Rice Lake Classic, running the kids run with Ella, and spending two hours at Maple Grove Days in 90 degree weather, I was exhausted. Sunday afternoon when we got back from camping, I went to the gym and slowly, ran my 10 miles. I wasn’t going to do all 10, but slowing my pace down made it doable.

Monday morning, I was so tired and sore. My body was not happy. I went for a walk and called that good.  It’s amazing how a few unplanned runs and an additional session of intense strength training affected me. Lesson learned, six days a week of running doesn’t really work for me. At least not when I have four intense runs. Not when I want to excel. I am considering adding a fifth day, just a short recovery run maybe on Sundays. We will see how it goes.