29 September 2011

Black Diamond Half Marathon Recap

Acting the part of a "half fanatic"!
Last Saturday night I went to bed around 10pm- I checked the weather report one last time and it said that the morning would provide perfect running weather with temps in the low 60's and a slightly overcast sky (and no rain!).  So when I woke up at 3:40am to the sound of my phone vibrating I was quite surprised to hear it pouring down rain and our power flickering on and off (the reason my phone was making noise)- I could hear the wind howling and it sounded really stormy outside!  I checked the weather report again and there was a weather advisory for the Black Diamond area which included high winds, rain and possible thunder and lightning!  I fell back into a sort of sleep for a couple more hours wondering if they canceled triathlons due to lightning and why I always seem to have dramatic weather when I run?
Niko and I on the bus ride to the race area.  I think that was his favorite part!
Making sure my shoes are just right!
When it was time to get ready I decided to make just one alteration in my running outfit- I switched from regular socks to my black CEP compression socks for the added warmth.  I knew that this race was more of a "no frills" kind of event so I wore a black tank top, my blue Skirt Sport running skirt, my tall socks, black hat and my Kinvara 2's on my feet.  We were out the door around 7am and arrived at the event area around 8:15 or so after a quick bus ride from the parking area to Nolte State Park.  We wandered around and watched the triathletes preparing and getting warmed up.  The weather was actually really pleasant at that time- the rain had stopped and the temperature was mild.  The wind was still blowing but overall the racing conditions were great! 
One of the triathlons getting ready to start
I wore my jacket right up until the last second and it was nice to toss it to Will right before our race began.  The first round of triathletes were sent off, then 5 minutes later the half marathon began.  The race director had verbally explained our race course (since there were multiple events happening at the same time) but I was completely unfamiliar with the area so he may as well have been speaking Japanese.  I was sure I would get lost at some point along the course (luckily I didn't- thank you volunteers)! 

The "race course" in words.  Not so helpful for me!
And we are off!  I can't seem to find me here- can you see me?
 I know I am there somewhere!!!  I was by that girl in orange...
I didn't really have a goal time in mind- considering I had run my first sub-2 literally 7 days earlier and my legs were still a bit sore from that effort I didn't really know what to expect from my performance.  I went out fast, probably too fast in hindsight but the pace felt good and I didn't want to get run over in the first mile so I just ran with the pace of those around me.  The first several miles were pretty fast, then all of a sudden it hit me- my energy level was plummeting and I found myself wanting to walk in mile 4.  Uh oh.  I ended up taking my gel and trying to walk out this horrible cramp in my side.  A group of 3 passed by me and one of the guys offered me a gel- great, I must have looked like death!  I told him I had just taken one but thanked him anyways.  My fuel kicked in and I was able to keep going at a decent pace for several more miles.

Mile 1- 8:21 -Went out fast, just running with the group!
Mile 2- 8:47 -Toned it down a bit, settled into a decent pace
Mile 3- 8:52 - Wondering if it is possible to finish under 2 hours again?
Mile 4- 8:29 - Feeling good still, passed the llama's for the first time
Mile 5- 9:36 -Uh oh, feeling dizzy and low energy with an added side cramp.  Took gel.

The course was interesting, mostly out along some rural roads.  We went up and down one side road twice- there was a llama farm down there so we passed by there 4 times!  On my last trip down there I took my second gel- I was a bit worried because I was not quite at 9 miles at that point.  I was going to have a rough final mile because I knew I would be needed some energy source but I hadn't brought anything else with me.  I was taking electrolytes at the water stations as well so I hoped that would be enough. 

Mile 6- 9:26 - just running, happy to be halfway!
Mile 7- 9:15 - the cramp subsided and feeling pretty good here
Mile 8- 9:29 - enjoying the scenery
Mile 9- 10:05 -energy level low again, walk a bit and take second gel.  give myself a pep talk.
Mile 10- 9:32 -I tell myself no more walking, just finish the race already!

Coming into the park just before the trail.  I barely remember running on grass!
As I entered back into the park for the final 1.5 miles I was completely worn out.  At that point there weren't any other runners near me and the course went along the lake on a very rocky and hilly trail.  Will and the kids saw me and said hi really quick and then I took off down the trail.  There would be no way to have a fast final mile in this race!  The footing was tricky, there were several twists and turns as well as lots of large rocks- at least it took my mind off how tired I was!  I was really happy when I crossed that finish line, that is for sure!   

Heading to the finish line
Mile 11- 9:24 -almost get my arm ripped off as I stretch and a red jeep zips by really fast.  yikes!
Mile 12- 9:41 -heading back into the park, say hi to the family, head along the trail
Mile 13- 10:11 -trying to be speedy in my last mile, but having a hard time with the terrain!

DONE!  Notice head to toe spandex girl behind me.
Finish line food!
This race was quite different from most others I have done.  It felt more like an "athletic" event than most do- the air was really competitive and there was more spandex in that park than I have ever seen before!  I only saw one other girl wearing a running skirt (it was black), however 2 girls were standing at the finish line when I crossed and they both commented to me how they really liked my skirt.  This was a speedy group- there were only 98 runners and half of them finished under 2 hours!  My stats were way better last weekend from the You Go Girl and there were 6 times as many runners!

Finish time- 2:02:07
Average pace- 9:19
Overall place- 55/98
Female place- 30/59
Female/age group place- 7/13

I felt pretty happy with that!  I kind of wanted to paint on my shirt that I had run a half marathon 7 days earlier or I would have run faster...but I just kept that to myself.  I was completely worn out after that race and my body was in some sort of rebellion- I just wanted to be home and sit on my couch with my feet up and my blankie!  Oh, and on the drive home the sky opened up and it absolutely poured down rain- glad that didn't happen while we were running! 
A well earned dinner at Johnny's Dock!
One more half marathon to go!  This Saturday (Oct. 1st) I will be running the North County Wine Run Half Marathon with my husband.  It is his first half ever and I will be running it with him which is really exciting.  Then I will be qualified to apply to become a half fanatic!!! 

23 September 2011

You Go Girl Half Marathon Recap

Waiting for the race to start!
Last Sunday I ran the You Go Girl Half Marathon- the first of my 3 half marathons in 13 days!  I ran it last year as well, so this is the second "repeat" race for me where I can really see my progress as a runner.  I headed down to the expo on Friday around noon with Alyssa (who was also running) and picked up my race packet and a pair of sparkle heart arm sleeves from the running skirts booth.  I am glad I chose not to wear them for the actual race though because #1- I would have been too warm and #2- people would have thought I was a pacer since they were all decked out in sparkle heart skirts and sleeves!  I will probably wear them in one of the other races coming up very soon though.
Trying on my outfit the night before the race.  Oh, and my new haircut :)
The morning of the race I woke up around 6am or so and it was raining pretty hard.  I know, shocking right?  It has rained in about 75% of my races, including the You Go Girl last year!  It doesn't really bother me, and as long as it isn't also freezing cold outside it usually feels pretty good once we start running.  Anyways, I got myself ready and chose to wear my black Skirtsports skirt, a blue shirt with pink script that says "dedicated", hot pink socks, my running hat and my Kinvara 2's on my feet.  I attempted to eat a pb&j sandwich and tried to calm my nerves.  Will, the kids and I headed out the door around 7:20 or so- I wanted to get down there with plenty of time to spare! 
Attempting to eat my pb&j
Soon we found Alyssa and Paul and watched as more and more ladies arrived to the starting area.  Will works in the building right by the starting line so we were lucky to be able to go in and use the real bathrooms (without a line) and wait where it was nice and dry!  Soon enough it was time to head out the door and find our place in line.  I was secretly hoping to get a sub-2 on this course even though I had only started my Run Less Run Faster training about 6 weeks ago.  It was familiar territory and I knew if I dug deep I had it in me to finish under 2 hours.  But at the same time, I knew I had 2 more half marathons to run very soon so I did not want to push myself to injury. 
See me?  About 5 people to the right of the sign that says 2:00! 
Behind the lady in the bright yellow shirt.
We hopped into the crowd near the 2 hour pacer and just in front of us and to my right was Mel- Tall Mom, Kim- (Just) Trying is for Little Girls, and Kerrie- Mom vs Marathon so I squeezed through and was able to say hi really quick.  I knew that Mel and Kim were shooting to come in just under 2 hours and Kerrie was GOING to get her first ever sub-2 so I was hoping to keep these ladies in my sights for most of the race.  Soon the gun sounded and we were off and running! 

Waving to Will, up above us
About 2 minutes later I suddenly felt my ipod swinging freely from my pocket where I ALWAYS clip it!  This never happens, I must have yanked on it or something.  I grabbed it, hooked it back on (or thought I did) and tried to keep up with the pace for fear of being run over!  Then I heard it- my ipod shuffle disconnected from my headphones and had fallen on the ground.  I turned around to look for it and must have had a look of terror on my face- there was no way in the world I was going to find it in the sea of women running at me.  Then this lady right behind me put her hand out and gave me my ipod- she had seen it fall and picked it up for me.  I was shocked- if I could have hugged her I would have!  So then I had the task of reconnecting my ipod and earbuds all while maintaining my 8:47 pace- what a mess!

Once I was put back together again I put my focus back on running.  I had intended to do a quick warm up but had decided to skip it- I tend to take a couple of miles to warm up and was hoping to have a fast enough first mile (they are typically around 10 mins or so).  I think it helped it was slightly downhill because my first mile was plenty fast!

Mile 1- 8:47:  Slightly downhill, ipod went flying, passed Mel and Kim (yikes!) and felt great
Mile 2- 8:51:  Saw Kerrie, Mel and Kim at the turnaround, headed back towards Wright Park
Mile 3- 9:27:  Up, up, up the hill to Wright Park, really thirsty- happy for the first water stop!
Mile 4- 9:37:  Recover from the hill, around the familiar and muddy track, wave to my family.

Getting muddy at Wright Park!
After seeing my pace for miles 3 and 4 I knew I needed to step it up a bit, but I also knew the course was going to be much flatter so I wasn't too worried.  I had been meaning to practice taking gels while running during my training but I figure if I can hook up my ipod while running certainly I can take a gel without breaking stride right?  Once we reached Dock Street I pulled my Espresso Gu out and popped it open.  I managed to take it little by little while we ran, the only problem was there wasn't any water stations near to chase it down!  Runner fail.  At least I like the flavor of espresso!  We passed to 10K turnoff and kept going up the slight hill towards the waterfront.  I liked running on Dock Street- it was like my feet knew they were supposed to be running fast since I have been doing all my tempo runs down there!

Mile 5- 8:59:  Leaving downtown, past the spot my BFF was last year, took gel on Dock Street
Mile 6- 9:07:  Realized we were halfway done, playing leap frog with Mel and Kim
Mile 7- 8:52:  Wave to family again, head down the lovely and flat waterfront
Mile 8- 9:31:  Super thirsty, stop to drink entire cup of gatorade

Heading towards the waterfront.  Mel and Kim are behind us (Mel is eating a chomp heehee)
As we are running down the waterfront we can see the faster runners heading back at us which is fun.  I cheered on the leaders as they passed and kept an eye out for speedy Kerrie- I had not seen her since the turn around in the first couple of miles!  I finally spotted her and cheered her on, she looked happy and like she had energy to spare!  I knew she was doing great, and I was taking comfort in the fact that I was still just ahead of Mel and Kim.  I was also surprised Alyssa was still right by my side, but it was nice to have some company!  At this point I knew there was a real possibility I could finish under the 2 hour mark if I kept my pace up.  I decided to take my second gel around mile 9 or 10, this time I knew there was a water station just ahead to wash it down though!  I ripped the top off of a tangerine powergel and it didn't open.  I tried just squeezing really hard, hoping it would open up in my mouth but no such luck.  What the heck to do now??  I ended up using my teeth to get the edge open and luckily was able to get some fuel in me!  I immediately felt a bit nauseous after taking it, but about 5 minutes later it settled and I felt much better. 

Mile 11 something.  Time to step up my game!
As we hit mile 11 I was doing some quick math in my head and realized just how close I was going to be to the 2 hour mark.  Also at that time Mel and Kim were ahead of us and then I saw Mel pull away from Kim and push ahead.  I knew I would need to also pick up the pace- I had about 17 minutes to run just under 2 miles and I knew that last mile had a couple of decent hills to conquer.  I saw Will and the kids again and told them they better hurry if they wanted to see me finish- I WAS going to be done in the next 17 minutes!  I pushed my tiredness aside and pulled out every last drop of energy I could find to pick up my pace. 

I looked at my arms where I had put some tattoo's for decoration and found what I needed there- the simple word RUN.  That was what I was here to do, what I had put so much time and focus on for the last year and a half.  I COULD do this, and I WOULD do this.  Cynthia had asked me to run a fast mile for her so I decided that mile 13 would be for my dear runner friend.  I willed my legs to turn over and pulled in front of Alyssa, then passed Kim - I could just barely see Mel up ahead of me so I did my best to chase her down.  That last hill was a killer but I just kept my feet moving until I finally reached the top.  As I rounded the corner and headed down to the finish I saw Paul on the overpass and did a quick pose for a photo (thanks!) and rounded the corner.  I still wasn't 100% sure I had made it in time so I was waiting for a glimpse of the clock.  As soon as I saw it I was so happy- it said 1:59:10 or so and I just sprinted over that finish line!  I did it!  And right behind me came Alyssa, she also finished under 2 hours!  My official time was 1:58:55 for an average pace of 9:05.  Happy is an understatement!

Mile 9- 8:54:  Cheering on faster runners, the turnaround was a relief!
Mile 10- 9:42:  Took my second gel, drank a full cup of gatorade, Mel and Kim passed us
Mile 11- 9:10:  Need to pick up the pace, passed Will and the kids- told them to hurry!
Mile 12- 9:13:  Tired, ready to quit- finding my determination in my arm tattoos!
Mile 13- 8:34:  Knew I needed to give it my all, my mile for Cynthia was the speediest!

I survived going up the final hill- now to finish this race off!  Hi Paul (thanks for the photo!)
Paul captured me crossing the finish line from up above!
Me and my running buddy Alyssa- DONE!  Both under 2 hours!
After the race we wandered around a bit chatting with friends and other runners.  I felt great overall, nothing was hurting which I was thankful for!  Alyssa ended up placing 3rd in her age group which was cool!  I placed 24/100 in my age group and my time was 25 seconds faster, go figure haha!  This race is a definite must for my calendar next year!  Oh, and about last year- my time was 2:14:53 so I shaved 16 MINUTES off of my time!  Wow.  Although last year I did have a pulled quad so I was happy to be able to just finish last year.   
Happy runner girl!  See my RUN tattoo? 
My first sub-2 half marathon completed!

12 September 2011

Out of Whack

First day of school!  Niko started Kindergarten and Devan started 4th grade!
Wow, has it really been 2 weeks since my last blog post???  Where has the time gone?  The kids started school on September 1st so we have been busy getting into our new routines and work schedules!  I am finding myself running/working out at very different times than I am used to- for example last Thursday I was scheduled to work 11am-7:30pm and on my training plan I was supposed to run 8 miles.  I had to drop the kids off at 9am so my options were to get up extremely early and do it on my treadmill, rush home at 9am and do it before work or get it done after work. 

I chose to do it after work and found myself running on my treadmill at 9pm at night in my hot and stuffy treadmill room after an extremely long day that started at 7:30am.  It was terrible- I am not a fan of running in such conditions mostly because I like to actually ENJOY my run!  The only good part about that particular training run was that I hit my tempo goal pace which was 6 miles at a 9:05/mile rate.  And I probably lost an entire pound in just sweat, which I promptly gained back as I then decided to have a bowl of ice cream for dinner.  Ice cream makes everything better :)

So, short story long or long story short (you decide) I have not been writing in my blog because my schedule is all out of whack.  My eating schedule, my sleeping schedule, my running schedules are all over the place- as soon as my body gets it all figured out and I don't feel like taking a nap every time I sit down I will be back to fill in the gaps on my crazy life! 

I have been keeping up with my Run Less, Run Faster training plan and getting all of my cross training in which is awesome.  I have not been able to get to my usual yoga class for a couple of weeks but I am going to go to a new class tonight at my gym because I miss it!  Soccer has also started up again and we had our first game Saturday which was SO much fun!  I am going to take my training easy for the next 3 weeks.  Well, except for the 3 half marathons on my calendar!!  Yes, that is correct- I am signed up for 3 half marathons over the course of 13 days in order to qualify to become a HALF FANATIC!! 

Here is my race list and times- come cheer me on if you are around!!

Sunday, September 18th- You Go Girl 1/2 marathon starts at 8:45am downtown Tacoma, WA

Sunday, September 25th- Black Diamond 1/2 Marathon starts at 9:05am at Nolte State Park, just     north of Enumclaw, WA

Saturday, October 1st- North County Wine Run 1/2 Marathon starts at 10:00am at Rusty Grape Vineyard near Battleground, WA

That is all I have time for, the kiddos have interrupted me about 30 times since I started typing this so hopefully it is grammatically correct and makes some sort of sense!!  Time for me to go make some dinner and hit the gym!