The End of My Streak [Race Recap}

Four years. For four years straight, I set a new personal record at every single race I did. Regardless of distance, I was on a roll. Sometimes they were small, sometimes they were big, but they were always a PR. Last night, that ended and I’m not going to lie, it stings a little bit. It’s not nearly as fun to write about but as I share my triumphs, I should also share my disappointments.

Last night was the annual Maple Grove Esprit de She. You might remember last year the course was significantly short. Well this year, they got rid of the 10k option and changed the course which was actually the right distance, if not ever so slightly long. While I loath 5ks, I’m not one to pass up a race minutes from my house that always ends with booze and great company from my amazing running group friends.

Just after 5 pm I drove over to the Town Green where the race was starting. Unlike in previous years, the course was not a loop. We were now finishing at the newly completed Central Park. We hung around for a while sweating before taking our group picture. Unfortunately, thanks to bag drop being at the finish line, we were missing more than a couple members.

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After the picture I tried to stay in the shade as long as I could. I was dehydrated and it was HOT and HUMID (it was nearly 80 degrees still). Blah. You’d think I’d be use to it by now, but no. Does anyone get use to humidity? I was silently cursing them for moving the race from late September to early August. Anyway, I made my way to the front of the corrals with some friends and sweated it out for 10ish minutes until the race started.

I crossed the starting line quickly, going out a bit fast as I chased after a ton of high school girls that were ahead of me. I knew it was going to bite me in the ass. I finished the first mile in 6:50. Bad decision. After that first mile I was looking for the water stop. It was about 1.5ish miles in. I stopped, drank one cup, poured one over my head and continued on. The second mile was 7:13. Already positive splitting.

Once I hit 2.5 miles, I’m pretty sure I stopped sweating. I don’t think I had enough fluid in my body to keep it going. I was overheating bad. I posed for a picture.

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When I thought I’d safely passed the photographer, this is what I was feeling.

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I was done. I just wanted it to be over. I looked at my watch and new that my chance to PR was gone. My third mile was 7:39…ouch. That is a HUGE positive split. The finish line was setup really poorly. We had two tight turns to make a U and had to run on uneven patchy grass.

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I tripped a little bit, but was just so damn happy to be done, I didn’t care. I honestly was so hot I thought I was going to vomit.

Official time: 22:41      Avg. Pace: 7:19 min/mile

I was 22nd overall of 1430 runners and 5th in my age group of 501.

I missed beating my 5k PR by 26 seconds.I was really bummed. I hadn’t really expected it. Yes it was hot and yes I was dehydrated and sore from Orangetheory the previous night, but I’ve gotten so much faster since November. I was kicking myself for the walk break I took to drink the water I needed so badly. Honestly, if I hadn’t walked then, my streak would probably be in tact.

It had to end sometime right? I’m trying not to be too hard on myself, it’s not like I totally crashed and burned, and no one PRs every single race forever. I’m trying to tell myself that one race that broke my streak, doesn’t mean I’ll never PR again. It’s silly to think that right?

After the race I got some free food (which by the way, has gotten worse every year) and even better, free booze while I hung out with the girls.

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Not a total failure of an evening. It evened cooled off nicely after the race. Maybe next year, if it’s in August again, they can start it an hour later.

 

An Ode to My BRF

Two years ago this past week I made my way to the Chalet at Elm Creek in the early morning light. I was nervous, would I gel with the group, would I find someone who runs my pace, would I be too slow or too fast? As I pulled into the parking lot I saw a gaggle of women in brightly colored outfits standing around chatting. I made my way to the group and introduced myself. With introductions out of the way, we set out for a few loops.

As the group started running, we naturally fell in step. Slowly you and I broke away from the others. We easily fell into conversation and I felt at ease. The next few Saturdays, we found ourselves running together again. I started looking forward to my long training runs more than I had in a very long time. With the same goal of going sub-4 at the Twin Cities Marathon in the fall, I had found my training partner.

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All summer, we ran for hours at a time. While we ran we talked about a little bit of everything, getting to know each other. We talked about everything from our favorite post-long run treats to family and how we thought our kids would likely never give up nursing (thank goodness they finally did right?!). We found things we had in common like weaknesses for ice cold Coke and Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs. We learned how to push each other without making one another miserable. That fall, not only did we both achieve our sub-4 goals, we smashed them.

Since that first summer two years ago, between us we’ve trained for five more marathons. Every season growing stronger and faster. We’ve talked through losing loved ones, family discord and way too much about my nasty stomach issues. We’ve laughed and definitely complained as we trained our asses off. These runs served as therapy and entertainment. Your perpetually sunny outlook on life was infectious.

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This spring as we trained for what we both hoped would be our first Boston qualifying marathon, we reflected many times on our previous training. We’d come so far. Training with you had pushed me to a place I never dreamed possible. I knew that we were on the brink of achieving something we never thought possible that first summer. I had a feeling as we got on the bus together that morning, we were both going to do it. We were both going to qualify. After I crossed the finish line, I hurried back to watch you. Watching you, my BRF, cross the finish line, arms in the air, brought tears to my eyes. I was so proud of you! Proud to be your training partner and your friend.

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On our runniversary, I needed to take a moment to thank you. Thanks for spending hours on end with me before anyone should be out of bed on a Saturday morning. Thank you for bitching with me all the way up that damn Fernbrook hill.  Thank you for pushing me, motivating me and inspiring me to do more. Thank you for believing in me. Thank you for helping Minnesota feel like home. Thank you for just being you.

Party with Another Mother Runner

Last week I had an evening with some fellow mother runners that did not involve spandex, gels, or Garmins. After enjoying a yummy dinner at Ginger Hop, we walked down to Mill City Running to meet Another Mother Runner. Yep, Dimity was in town to promote the newest Another Mother Runner book.  As soon as I walked in the door I was excited. We got there slightly early so we had the pick of the shirts. I saw this one and had to have it. Lucky me, the book was just $10 extra.

Purchase in hand, off we went to fetch glasses of wine and add our contributions to the badass wall.

They said if we stick it on there is has to come true. Fingers crossed.

With good juju coming our way for adding our dreams to the wall, we made our way over to meet Dimity. I knew she was tall, but I was amazed at how short I felt. We helped represent Sarah by holding her picture up for our group photo.

She was so friendly. All I wanted to do was gush about how much I miss Colorado, but how happy I was to have found such an amazing group of women to run with. I settled for telling her I was aiming to qualify for Boston in October as she signed my book. Maybe it will bring me extra luck?

Buy cute shirt and book. Check. Drink glass of wine. Check. Meet Dimity and have my book signed. Check. I was ready to listen to the speakers and some of the essays from the book.

As I was standing there listening, I kept looking at a woman next to me. I was thinking to myself she looks so familiar and definitely looks fast. I checked out her name tag and decided to Google her. Yeah, obviously I’m not from Minnesota or I would have known she was a local Minnesotan Olympian. Carrie Tollefson shared her own running tips, struggles and personal trials and triumphs. She kept it real about not always wanting to go running and sometimes having to motivate herself by sleeping in her running clothes.As I listened to the essays being read and the stories being told by women there, I found myself laughing, nodding in agreement, sighing with empathy and on the verge of tears. I was inspired by how much these women were putting out to the world, to their fellow mother runners. It made me proud to me a member of such an amazing tribe of women.

Walking to my car and driving home, I thought about how lucky I’ve been to having running to lean on. It’s gotten me through the stress and anxiety of moving to a new state with no family or group of friends.It helped me put myself out there to meet new people and push myself to accomplish more. Even a year ago I’d never have set a goal to qualify for Boston, not believing it was ever going to be possible. Now I know I can do it and I have a group of people (other than  my family of course) providing encouragement and cheering for me every step of the way. I don’t think I would have adjusted as well if I had not found my running group. It’s amazing what running can do.

At the end of the night we were sent home with a goodie bag full of awesomeness. Too bad it didn’t include a sports bra because when I got to the gym that night, I discovered my bras were on my bed, not in my bag. I made it four miles in my regular bra, tank with a built-in bra and my t-shirt before having enough. Ouch.

Taking the Plunge

Last summer we were all about jumping in the many lakes around us. When I told Josh that I was going to jumping in a lake in February, he questioned my sanity. Honestly I was questioning it myself. I’ve heard about Polar Plunges for years. They hold them all over the country but I’ve never been brave enough to partake. Well, this year was different. Maybe it was the running group encouragement or me just deciding to make the most of my first Minnesota winter. Which side note, has been extremely mild. I’m actually jealous of all the snow that other places are getting. If it’s going to be cold it needs to snow.

Anyway, back to the Plunge. The Polar Plunge events benefit The Special Olympics both locally and nationally. Each participant is asked to raise a minimum of $75. Thinking about race fees, that’s nothing. I posted a couple status updates on Facebook and thanks to my awesome friends and family raised $125 in no time. With my funds raised, I was ready for the big jump.

Thanks to the advice of seasoned plungers, I knew to wear old running shoes and clothes I could get off quickly. I also was told not to wear anything that might weigh my down because I’d want to get out of the water quickly. I brought my favorite sweatpants, warmest boots and a coat for my post jump warm up clothes. Come Saturday morning I was really excited that we were going to see temperatures in the 30s.

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The event was really well organized. I meet my teammates, went into the warm-up/changing tent and within a few minutes we were getting our picture taken as we prepared to jump.

Pre-Plunge

When we entered the final little tunnel before our jump, I said to my teammates that I wasn’t sure I really wanted to do it. Of course there was no turning back. I was about to jump in water they had to cut through ice to get to.

As we were announced, we lined up and waited for the countdown.

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Here we go!

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Live action :

It was cold and took my breath away.

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I was slightly worried I wasn’t going to be able to move my legs to get up the steps to get out. I felt like I was moving in slow motion, but I made it out and ran into the tunnels that lead to the changing tent. For once I was thankful for the few extra winter pounds I’m carrying around to keep some more warmth in my body.

Post Plunge

By the time I got into the tent to change I was warmed up. I was actually sweating by the time I was dressed and went to me Josh and the kids.

It was fun and for a good cause. Maybe I’ll do it again next year. If you’re slightly crazy, there are tons of events happening the rest of the winter all over the country. You can find one here.

Twin Cities Training Part I

In the midst of the craziness of moving, I decided that it was the perfect time to train for another marathon. I needed something to make me excited to be in Minnesota. I know I said I never wanted to do it again in the last few miles of my last marathon, but I haven’t met my sub-4 hour goal just yet. It’s like a carrot dangling just out of reach.

The runners I know told me how amazing the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon course and crowd support are, so I started to consider it. During my birthday weekend when I was talking to my friend Kirsten about it, she convinced me to stop talking about it and just register. So I did, right then.

That was a few months ago and here I am with 10 weeks until the race. Training is going well – for the most part. I am using the Less is More plan that I used for Nike Women’s. My body responds so much better to three runs a week. My plan includes a tempo, interval and long run every week. I’ve been killing my paces and getting in some hill workouts now that I live in a valley – there is no avoiding them though this chart makes me feel like a wimp. They don’t look so bad.

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Week day runs are easy to tackle. I try to do my tempo runs outside unless it’s too dark or raining. Intervals I typically do on the treadmill so that I can keep my paces where they should be. Unfortunately for me, when I’ve tried intervals the past few weeks, my knee has started pulling. It doesn’t hurt, but it’s uncomfortable enough that it stops me immediately. I think it’s due to super tight IT bands and the fact that I always carry Anderson on my right hip, leaving my hips a bit uneven. I’m taking a few weeks off of intervals and then slowly adding them back in. Luckily I have time to work on speed before the race and the pulling only happens on the treadmill during intervals.

One of the biggest things that I’ve had to get used to is humidity. It is amazing to me how hard a run can feel when it’s humid. It’s like running with a blanket around me. I’m prone to overheating anyway, but the humidity makes it worse. I think it if I didn’t have a group of ladies waiting for me on the weekends, I’d be running inside a lot more.

Speaking of the ladies, I joined a great running group Moms Run This Town. They have runs or walks just about every day of the week. I only make it to the weekend runs right now, but am looking forward to doing some week day runs once we move into our new house in Maple Grove. I look forward to my long runs knowing that I will have some company. A few other women are also training for Twin Cities at similar paces so I’m in good company, even on muggy Saturday mornings.

Mother Runners

A lot of the women live in or near our new neighborhood so that is really exciting. We’ve even had a few playdates for the kids with happy hours planned soon. I need some new friends too.

Long runs are going really well. At conversation pace, we’re still averaging 8:45-9 min/miles, the 9 min pace typically includes a few walk breaks. To get a sub-4 marathon, I need to average a 9:09 or faster pace. Right now I really think it is a possibility. I just need to make sure to take care of my knee so that I’m healthy.

On non-running days I’m cross-training. I finally joined a gym since we have another month before we move again. I went to my first Spinning class which I really liked and am going to try out a few strength classes this week. If I don’t make it to the gym, I’m busy pushing the kids up and down the hills in the stroller and climbing stairs in the building. It counts right?

This week will be my longest run since the marathon over a year and a half ago – 17 miles. I’m thinking about starting at 5:30 am to avoid some of the humidity, as 6:15 was just not early enough last weekend. It will be interesting to do my 18 mile run in Denver when we go home in a few weeks. I have a feeling the altitude is going to kick my butt.

Who else is training? How’s it going?