Monday, August 8, 2011

I've moved

I moved my blog over to wordpress. I like the blog options over there better. I would love for you to check me out at my new home!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

20 miles and 2 skinned knees

This morning was my much anticipated 20 mile long run, the longest run of my marathon training schedule. Once I realized that my 20 miler was fast approaching, I started to get nervous about it. I was especially nervous about it since my 16 and 18 mile long runs were really tough. After both of those runs I was seriously doubting whether I'd be able to run a marathon. I'm happy to say that this morning was another story. I started out really slow, and was able to pace myself really well  for all 20 miles. I knew going in that the reason my last 2 long runs were tough had to do a lot with the pace I started the runs at and the heat, so those were the things I changed to make this run easier. I started my run at 5 am to avoid the heat as best as I could, and made myself run 2 minutes/ mile slower than my normal pace. It took me just over 4 hours to finish my run, and by the time I got back to my car this is what the temperature was reading according to my car!

I don't think it was quite that hot outside, but it certainly felt like it was in the low-mid 90's by 9 am this morning.

Besides being the first time running 20 miles, this morning also marked the first time I've kissed the pavement since I started running. Considering how clumsy I can be from time to time, I'm surprised I've managed to keep from falling for this long. This morning I completely wiped out not once, but TWICE! Even though it was slightly embarrassing falling the second time since people were around, I felt pretty tough running with bloody knees.
I fell the first time after running about .3 miles. It was still dark, so I didn't see a bump in the sidewalk. Luckily that fall wasn't too bad since I still had 19.7 miles to run at that point. The second time was about 15 miles into my run, and that's where I did most of my damage. I don't really know why I fell the second time, I think I was probably just getting tired and dragging my feet too much. I don't think I did any real damage besides a couple skinned knees and wounds to my hands. Hopefully I don't have a repeat performance on race day...

Overall I'd say this run was a great success. I finally feel like I can complete 26.2 miles on race day. Now I get to rest up and enjoy some shorter runs until race day in 5 more weeks!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Running with Dean Karnazes

This morning I woke up at 6:45 with plans to go run a 10k before racing to the Plaza for a fun run with Dean Karnazes at 10:00. It was cloudy, but no rain yet, so I was hopeful we would be spared from the full day of rain showers that the weather channel was calling for earlier in the week. I got to the race 30 minutes before the start and did a quick warm up run. Still no rain, but the gray clouds were ominous overhead. Finally about 5 minutes before the race was about to start we were advised to go back to our cars because there was lightning in the area. There was rain, lightning, and lots of wind for about an hour, and finally when the storm seemed to be winding down around 9:00 the race was called off. I was bummed that I didn't get to race since I've been doing so many 1/2 marathons lately, I haven't run a shorter race since March. Even though I was disappointed, I had more running plans for the day. I ran home to change out of my wet clothes and got ready for my next run in record time. I got to the plaza about 5 minutes before 10, and there was already a smallish crowd gathered outside of the North Face Store. I'm sure the early morning plaza goers were wondering why all these people were standing around dressed in running gear. If we were runners, why were we standing around instead of running? Right at 10:00 the reason we were all standing around showed up, Mr. Dean Karnazes. It is always weird to me to see people in person that I've seen so many times on TV or in pictures. This proved to be no exception. The race director for the North Face Endurance Challenge explained a few safety rules for the run, and then Dean talked for a couple minutes. He is very personable and humble. I know why the North Face chose him to be their spokesman.
After all the welcoming was out of the way, we headed out on our 5k journey.
I never run with other people outside of races, so this was a different experience for me. I went with the fast group of runners who were supposed to be keeping around a 9 minute mile pace (I may have secretly been very excited that my average pace was considered fast!) although I don't feel like we actually kept that pace.
I want to say that there were around 20-30 other people running this morning, but eventually the larger group broke off into several smaller groups. After 1 1/2 miles there were only about 7-8 people left in the group I was in, including Dean. It was pretty fascinating to hear him talk about his run across America, and all his other running journeys. He said that he would usually be running a 100 mile race on this day, but was here instead. I don't know if he had much of a say into the scheduling of this event, but it was pretty awesome that he was here running a short 5k with us instead of running a 100 mile race. Another run fact, someone asked how many pairs of shoes he burned through on his run across America, and his response was 53 pairs! I'm just now thinking about getting my 3rd pair of running shoes. I can't imagine running so much that I go through 53 pairs in 75 days!
After the run Dean talked again for a couple minutes, then had a meet and greet with the people who came out to see him.

I got this shirt for being registered for the marathon! I think the swag from the race is going to easily outweigh the registration cost.

I was pretty excited to get a chance to meet Dean and talk with him. Since the North Face Endurance Challenge is going to be my first full marathon, it was awesome to get to hear tips from Dean, along with other runners during the morning.
Dean asked if I was nervous for my first marathon, and I told him that I truthfully wasn't too nervous. I've been sticking to my training, and I'm confident I'll cross the finish line. I told him I wasn't sure how long it would take me, but I would get there sometime in the 7 hour time limit. Dean signed my book with "see you at the finish :)" I can't wait!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Lucky 13.1 1/2 marathon

I've never gone to bed dreading having to get up for a race the next morning. I've been nervous before, but that's not what I was feeling on Friday night before this race. I had the day off of work on Friday, and had such a lazy day. I did almost nothing all day, and it was so nice! Thinking about waking up to go run a 1/2 marathon the next morning was the last thing that I wanted to do. I wanted to sleep in another day, and relax again. Luckily I got out of bed when my alarm went off Saturday morning, and off to my 6th 1/2 marathon I went.
I got my new cute strappy tank in the mail Friday, so I did what I shouldn't have done and wore it for the race...

When I left for the race it was sprinkling some, and windy. Some pretty strong thunderstorms had come through the night before, and there was a fair amount of debris in the road from all the wind. The exit ramp I had to take for the race was partially blocked by a tree that had fallen by the side of the road. When I got to the race location it was still raining and windy. I was glad I grabbed my rain jacket before I left because the rain pelting against my face was not a good feeling. The rain was just leaving the area, so the race started about 5 minutes late which gave the rain time to stop before we started.

This race had a 5k option or the 1/2 marathon. I think there were only about 150 people running the 1/2 marathon. I wish there would have been a separate start for the 1/2 marathon and the 5k because I definitely started out too fast. It kind of turned out to be a blessing in disguise though. I've been really bad about doing my Galloway intervals during races, so when I started getting tired 2 miles into the race I started to run intervals. I got passed by a lot of people on my walk breaks, but I was okay with that because I kept reminding myself that this was a training run and not a race for me. Soon everyone settled into their pace and I didn't really have anyone right in front of me or behind me.

The scenery was nice. It reminded me a lot of the smaller 1/2 marathon I ran last month that I really enjoyed. One thing that bugged me about this race was that the road was open to traffic. I understand that 13 miles (or 6.5 since it was out and back) is an inconvenient amount of road to close for a couple hours, and there weren't that many cars on the road, but it just made me nervous. I wear headphones when I run, but I usually run on trails where I don't have to worry about cars. Another thing that bugged me were the roads we ran on. Some of the roads were in really bad condition, and the different terrain was hard on my feet.

There were a lot of big potholes that you had to either run off the road for, or run over to the other side of the road. This isn't the race's fault though since they have no control of the roads in the area.

The race went by fairly quickly considering how much I was not enjoying it at the start. I remembering thinking at mile 3 about how happy I was going to be when I finished in 10 miles, and then not long later I was done. I think it helped that I downloaded some new songs to listen to while I ran. Good music always gets me through my long runs!
This was about 9 miles in. Definitely not as hot as the last 1/2 a few weeks ago!
Hardly any other races to be seen...
The second half of the race I started passing a lot of people. I went back and forth with one girl who seemed like she might be close to my age group for about 1/2 a mile. After the last water stop I got a second wind and left her behind. There were a lot of people I passed that had nothing left to give. I was glad I'd started my intervals early because they helped  me keep going until the end. I ended up finishing the race in 2:17:38, which is my second best time to date.

I thought the race shirt was cute. It's a tech shirt, and it's not white! I like the play on words with the 'run strong' instead of 'live strong.'

After the race I went home and made myself a homemade dole whip with pineapple sherbet and juice!
Not quite as good as Disney, but still pretty yummy!
My next race is the weekend, although it's just a 10k this time. My next longer distance race is my marathon in August!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Fun run with Dean Karnazes!

I'm pretty stoked right now. I posted awhile back about how I signed up to run the North Face Endurance Challenge Marathon in Kansas City this summer as my first marathon. Well today The North Face announced that there will be a fun run in about 2 1/2 weeks with Dean Karnazes in Kansas City! I'm already signed up to run a 10k race that day, but the fun run doesn't start until 10 am, so I think I can swing it. Hopefully the incentive to finish my 10k so I can run with a famous ultra runner will motivate me to run my 10k quicker. After all I'm really hoping to finally break 1 hour in the distance...
Here is the info on the event for anyone in or around KC interested in this fun run!
Dean Karnazes fun run info

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Hospital Hill Run 6/4/11

My 19th race and 5th half marathon is in the books. It was a horribly hot and miserable race, but I did it! I actually took more pictures this race so I could do a proper race recap, so without further ado here is my report...

It all started at packet pickup on Friday afternoon. I usually don't pick up my packet early for races that are over 15-20 minutes away, but there was no race morning packet pickup, so I didn't have an option. There was an expo this year though, so it made having to drive downtown a little bit more worthwhile. First stop at the expo was to pick up bibs. My brother and Sister in Law came into town for the race, and my Sister in Law that lives here also ran the race, so we had lots to pick up!

After grabbing the bibs we had to go pick up the rest of our stuff. Hospital Hill has some of the best race goodies. This year there were tech shirts and reusable water bottles before the race. After the race you get finishers flip flops and your medal of course. Here's a couple pictures of the pre-race goodies.
I saw on the Hospital Hill Facebook page that you could sign up at the expo for next years race at a discounted rate and you'd also get a free gift. I plan to make this race (in any distance 5k, 10k, or 1/2) an annual thing, so I signed up for the 1/2 again for next year. I got a visor for signing up, and only had to pay $39 for the race. Considering the awesome race swag you get for running this race I thought that was a steal, especially since there were people paying $45 to run the 5k at the expo. Here is the visor I got! I've been needing one really bad, so it was a great freebie!

After getting all the race stuff it was time to look around the expo for a bit. First stop was the bondiband booth. I LOVE my bondibands. They are awesome at absorbing sweat and water, I have pictures from the race to prove it! I got 3 new bondibands, a blue 13.1 band to match my half fanatics shirt (pictured later on), and the other 2 below.
I stopped by the garmin pacers booth to get a pace band to wear for the race. I heard it was a tough course, so I thought 2:15 would be a modest goal since my PR is 2:10 on another hilly course... If I only knew what the hills in my future were really like, I would probably rethink that decision.
I also signed up for a new 15k race in the fall. It was $10 off and you got a free gift for signing up. I had been holding off on signing up since I thought the price was a little high at $40, but $30 seemed a lot more reasonable. I like that it's a 15k, not a distance you see often. This is the gift I got for registering.

After looking around a little longer nothing else caught my eye, and so packet pickup fun ended.

I went home and laid out everything I would need for the morning. I didn't want to forget anything since I had to get up so early in the morning!

Ok, fast forward to about 6:50 Saturday morning. Race day is finally here!
We got to the race plenty early, but made the mistake of not getting into the starting chute until the last minute. My best attempt to get into the starting area near the sign that designated the 10 minute/mile pace runners was to stand outside the actual starting area near a fence someone had opened up. I think this race would benefit from having corals. Last year the 1/2 started 15 minutes before the 5k & 10k, so there weren't as many people crowded into the start area at one time. Here is my view of the start, and the people behind me. There were 7,600 runners this year!

A few minutes before the race was set to start, the wheel chair athletes were sent on their journey. Right after 7AM the rest of us started. It was slow getting to the start line, it took me over 2 minutes from where I was standing to cross the starting mats. Here is everyone in front of me about a 1/4 mile into the race.

I was trying to run slower than usual so I wouldn't lose steam too early, and still managed to run my first mile in under 10 minutes. I knew I wouldn't be able to keep up with that pace, and tried to slow down even more, especially with the first hill coming up fast. Shortly after the marker for mile 1 was hospital hill, the hill that the race is named after. I am fairly certain this was the only hill that I ran up in it's entirety the whole race. I shouldn't have pushed myself up that hill so early on. I managed to keep a good pace for about 4 miles, and then my energy started draining fast. This was around the time that the 2:15 pace group passed me, and I gave up on that goal. It was super hot, and humid. At every water stop I grabbed 2 cups of water, one to drink and one to pour over my head. I would cool down for a couple minutes and feel good, but then I would start getting hot again all too soon. The rest of the race was kind of blur from that point. I was pretty miserable, and just wanted to finish the race. I was very thankful for all the people who were cheering us on with their garden hoses to cool us down and bags of ice. The spectators were so awesome for this race!
Here are some of the pictures I took during the middle of the race. There were several bands along the course, this was the only picture that you can kind of see the band in.
I ran behind this couple for awhile. Their shirts said "13.1 days to go."
Fast forward to mile 11 now. I was really struggling at this point, which is not normal for me. After running 4 other 1/2's and numerous double digit training runs, my stamina and endurance is pretty good. I saw this billboard for the race that motivated me to keep pushing through the pain.

When I got to the next water stop I poured 2 waters over my head and ran through the sprinklers. I felt like a drowned rat, but it was so hot. I didn't really care that my outfit was soaking wet, and had been soaked for several miles. The cool water was so refreshing. Check out how awesome my bondiband is! I don't know how I managed a smile for this picture, maybe I was thinking about the fact that there was only another mile to go...
Shortly after the last photo and the 12 mile marker I was faced with trinity hill. I remember it being awful last year, and it didn't disappoint again this year. I took this picture about half way up the hill...
I made it to the top and was ready to run the rest of the way in. It was finally all downhill to the finish! Unfortunately I got a horrible cramp in my side and had to do a really pathetic jog/walk for the last half mile. It took all I had to run the last 1/4 mile through the finishers chute. I was in so much pain trying to run with the cramp in my side, but didn't want to stop and walk in front of all the people watching. After 2:25:24 I finally crossed the finish line. It wasn't my best time, but I'm pleased with it. I've heard people talk about how they have a 1/2 marathon PR, and a HHR PR. This course is definitely not a course to PR on, but it is a course for those who want a challenge. After crossing the finish line I got an ice cold wet towel, water and my medal. Once I found everyone else, I got my flip flops and we got our post race BBQ, which I wish I could have enjoyed. Eating a meal after the race wasn't as appetizing as it initially seemed. The BBQ was good, but I was only able to eat a few bites.
Finisher Flip Flops
We saw this guy as we were walking to the car. He runs a lot of local races, and carries the Flag for the entirety of them all. Google Strides of Pride, he has a website about what he does!
Even though the race was tough, hot, hilly, and pretty miserable, I actually had a great time. I can't wait to come back next year and try to beat my Hospital Hill time. Now that I know what to expect I can train better for next year.
Here are some pictures of the medal this year. This year along with the medals for the next 2 years are supposed to fit together to form a super awesome medal to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the HHR in 2013. I'm hoping I can run the 1/2 the next 2 years in order to complete my collection!

My medal hanger is starting to fill up. All the medals on the left are from my 5 1/2 marathons, the others are from shorter distances and one of my age group awards.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Scenes from a long run

I learned while training for my first half marathon that long runs can be daunting. The first time you have to run a double digit distance can be scary and exciting at the same time. I ended up doing my first 10 mile run the night before I was scheduled to run it because the thought of running that far had my head spinning. It was all I could think about. Now that I'm training for a full marathon, a 10 mile run is on the shorter side of the long runs I have scheduled.
I discovered a park near my house while I was training for my second half marathon with some beautiful running trails. Now I do all my long runs there for several reasons. First, it's nice not having to worry about cars and busy intersections. I would plan my long runs before in areas where there was less traffic, but couldn't ever avoid a couple semi-busy intersections. Second, it's got some great scenery to distract me while I run. I took some pictures on my last run to show you how awesome this trail is! Finally, the terrain is helpful in improving my speed. I had to think about the most positive way to word that last one. The first time I ran on the trail I was put off by the hills, but came back to run it again because of the first two reasons I listed. During my third half marathon I set a really awesome over 10 minute PR on a course that many people complained about because of the hills. I attribute my ability to run that course so well to the fact that I trained on hills, and my body was used to that type of terrain.
I highly recommend searching for running/biking trails in your area if you haven't already found them. Sometimes I'll head to the trail for a short evening run if I'm lacking motivation to run around my neighborhood. My long runs are something I look forward to now instead of dreading them!
Now here are some pictures (Sorry some are blurry, I was juggling a lot of stuff when I was trying to take them.)
The trees help keep it a little cooler during warmer runs
There trail runs along a river, and there are several times the trail crosses the river
It's hard to tell, but this is one of the steeper hills on the trail. 
What goes up must come down. The other side of the hill.
More views of the river
One of the bridges that runs over the river
I had an awesome 11 mile run here on Saturday! The thought of running 20 miles is still a little scary to me, but at least knowing where I'll be running those 20 miles can give me some peace of mind.