Last year, Brendan and I signed up for a turkey trot in Salem, MA. It started really early in the morning and it was pretty far away… so we slept through it. Never doing that again! This year, I signed up for the race that was just a few minutes from our house and started at 9am… much better. Brendan was still not convinced it would go any better, apparently, so he just drove me to Starbucks and then to the start line. I take what I can get.
It was 40 degrees outside, so I was pretty pumped for a chilly, but comfortable 4-mile run. I started the morning off with a bowl of pumpkin pie oatmeal at home (old fashioned oats cooked normally, add canned pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, and brown sugar. Finish with a dollop of vanilla yogurt on top!) Then Brendan took me to Starbucks for a caramel brulee latte.
I pretty much wore all my favorite running gear: Lululemon tank, highlighter warmer-than-normal half zip, full length Zella tights, unisex Nike hat, Garmie, and Five Fingers. I ended up wishing I had worn a lighter half-zip when I got warm, but it was freezing at the start, so I think it was the way to go.
This race truly was my last race before jaw surgery, so I wanted to push it, but I also knew I hadn’t been watching my pace at all recently, so I had no idea what to expect. Brendan and I talked about my game plan the night before, and we decided a 9-minute pace was realistic. I knew I could do better since I ran last weekend’s half marathon at a 9:15, but I’ve historically not been very good at changing my pace. My marathon pace is my half pace is my 5k pace.
I know I’ve said this before, but there is just something so cool about people coming together to run as a group. It is so magical when you are walking to the start of a race and runners are appearing at every corner, all waking up to meet and share this common love. It’s like we are all in on a secret. Runners are scattered on the sidewalks creeping towards the start, until suddenly we are less discreet…
How cool is that?! I don’t have Garmie with me right now, but my splits were approximately:
Mile 1) 8:15
Mile 2) 8:15
Mile 3) 8:30
Mile 4) 8:00
For a 4 mile race PR (I don’t think I’ve run a 4-mile race before) of about 33 minutes! I was more than happy with my time! The race was hard. It was hilly, it was cold, my left leg sucked the whole time. Did I mention it was like REALLY HILLY! But it was really fun, too. A lot of people dressed up with turkey costumes or hats, a lot of families came out to run together, and a lot of neighbors brought their Thanksgiving coffee outside to cheer us on. It was a really awesome community event, and I will definitely be signing up again next year.
Last weekend I met up with my bestest friend from college, A.Jay, in her new hometown for a little run. Aje and I had initially signed up for the full marathon, but we both dropped down to the half as training went on. It was my first time in Philadelphia, and Aje sure made sure I fell in love with it!
Our weekend together included tons of shopping at our favorite stores: West Elm, J.Crew, Anthropologie, and the local farmer’s market. I even tried on some super awesome PJ’s at J.Crew!
And lots of awesome food! My favorite place we went to was Pure Fare, which is a cafe that was started by a nutritionist. The entire place is gluten free, and it has tons of vegetarian, vegan, and allergy friendly food. But mostly the whole place is crazy delicious and nutritious. I fell in love with the Quinoa cranberry muffin and the Kale-Apple smoothie!!
The race was AMAZING… It was super well organized, especially for a big race: 30,000 people! The expo was big and overwhelming as expected. We picked up our packets, bought some matching sweaty bands (pictured above), and got out of there! The start was less than a mile from A.Jay’s apartment, so we enjoyed a nice walk to the start while we drank our coffee. We decided to wear matching race outfits AND matching pre-race outfits!
The porta-potty lines were long, but they were just the right length because they gave me time to do my pre-race potty dance.
The race was well-supported with lots of bathrooms, water, gatorade, and Cliff Shots (eww). I brought sharkies! It was chilly, but the temperature ended up feeling great during the race. What really made this a great race was the AMAZING crowd support. MILES of this course were lined with people. Lots and lots of people. I have never experienced that much enthusiasm at a race. It made me realize how much I really want to do one of the famous races… mostly I really want to do NYC, which is famous for the crazy crowd support all along the course.
We had lots of fun! And we finished in a great time!! I really couldn’t have done this without Aje. I was really hurting, but she was FULL of energy and speed. At mile 11, she asked me if I wanted to pick it up for the last stretch. I was like, “I am picking it up!!!” I am so glad I held on.
This was also the first time I’ve raced in my Vibram Five Fingers. It went great! My toes were a little chilly, but not too bad. I thought about my form quite a bit because I still struggle with heel striking when I get tired, and that really hurts when you aren’t wearing shoes!
This was my last distance race before my jaw surgery, so I was happy to end the year with a strong half. Here’s to a healthy resting period, so my leg can repair itself!! Thanks for a super fun weekend, Aje… and thanks for being my photographer!!
I just ran my first half marathon on the East Coast! Last year when I was training for the Eugene Marathon, I worked the Race for the Roses Half Marathon into my training schedule and I PR’d for the first time in YEARS! I had pretty high hopes for this race because I knew that my confidence with the 13 mile distance during marathon training had the potential to lead to a great half. Unfortunately, the race website refers to the “roller coaster hills,” but never says “WARNING: THIS COURSE IS SO HILLY YOU WILL DIE.” So I had some unrealistic expectations going into this race.
So here is my mile-by-mile race recap:
Pre-race: I picked Julia up around 8:45am at her apartment. I know, 8:45am! So luxurious. Most races are almost over by then. This race started at 11am, which is good because it was pretty freezing out at 7am. We drove the hour and 20 minutes to Newmarket, New Hampshire, which is a small rural area near the coast. I was feeling really prepared. I think I brought everything I own related to running in the car… OH SHOOT!! Except my GARMIN!!! Which I didn’t realize I had forgotten until we were halfway there. At this point I had a minor almost crying panic attack. Not because I NEED my Garmin to race, but because I had spent my ENTIRE day at work on Friday (so busy at work these days!) reading about a new pacing strategy I was going to try.
We got to the parking area and got on the race shuttle to the start without any problem. Of course, the bathroom lines were SUPER long, so Julia and I grabbed some paper towels and headed out to the woods!
At this point I hadn’t taken the time to calmly think through a new race strategy and I got a little caught up in Julia’s race strategy. She was planning to stick to the 8:00 pacer they had running the race and just try to hold on. So I thought, YEAH, I can just hold onto a pacer. WTF was I thinking (you may notice below that my lovely running partner is about 20 feet taller than me)!! I decided to start with the 8:30 pacer.
Miles 1-4: I started with the 8:30 pacer, but then I felt comfortable going a little faster, so I just decided to go a little in front of him… and then I didn’t know where he was. And then I knew I was an idiot because I had gone out too fast. My whole plan I had developed on Friday at work was to go out super comfortable like a 9 or 9:30 pace and then push at the halfway point or later. I had wanted to try this because I always always go out too fast in a race and then die and all running literature/scientific studies show that this is the worst race strategy ever for having a good time. So pretty much my plan went in the crapper. I started getting really nervous about the moment when the 8:30 guy would pass me. I was worried it would really mess with my head and I would feel like walking or slowing down a lot if I felt really defeated. And then it happened. at around mile 4.5 the 8:30 pacer passed me… and I dropped off immediately. Cool.
Miles 5-9: I kept trudging along. The course was ridiculous. The hills NEVER EVER STOPPED. I mean, this course was 100% rolling hills with some enormous hills dispersed throughout. I got my iPod out when the 8:30 pacer passed me so that I could get the negativity out of my head. I’ve been reading a blog by a woman training for a 50 mile race and she recently discussed the ebbs and flows of a race/training run and the importance of letting yourself believe that the bad times in a run or race will pass. It is so easy to struggle and immediately give in to the race just being “a bad race.” But really that hard time could just last for 2 miles if you decide to let it pass. So I tried really hard to just accept the struggle and not let it dictate the rest of my race. I also started thinking about this saying that I had seen on Pinterest:
I walked up the killer hills and I took an espresso GU at mile 6.3. PS… espresso GU is delicious!!! Coffee frosting in a pouch! I decided to try GU out today because I had a SUPER hard time getting myself to chew on anything during our 20 mile training run and I ended up really suffering during that run.
Mile 9-12: Did I say I liked that GU? WTF was I thinking trying that out today??!! That was all I could think as the promised 2X caffeine in the espresso GU went rolling through my stomach. My portapotty radar turned on and I started feeling really angry that this was actually happening to me during a race. The 9:00 pacer passed me around mile 9 and told me he was on pace. I thought I would tag onto the group running with him, but then I just didn’t. All I could think about was my stomach. But then I realized I was still running pretty strong for such a hilly course, and he didn’t get tooooo far in front of me.
I passed the portapotty at mile 9.75 thinking I was okay for now and there would be another one soon. IDIOT!!! I spent the next 2 miles scanning the bare trees to see if any of them had a trunk wide enough to conceal my bare bottom. No such luck. So I did the penguin shuffle for 2 miles and continued to scan each rock, bush, and house to see if there was any sign of a bathroom area for me. I also considered for a good 5 minutes the diaper capacity of my running skirt. Conclusion: I would really rather not try that today. So there I was at mile 12.25 (SO CLOSE TO THE FINISH!!) and I went into that portapotty. In hindsight, if I had my Garmin on and knew how close I was to breaking 2 hours I would not have gone to the bathroom.
Miles 12-13.1: Even though I had a struggle in the middle of the race, I don’t think I have ever felt so strong in a race from mile 10-13. My legs felt pretty great considering how hard the course was. I realized that during the last mile and I felt pretty proud of myself for having a positive thought. lol. I also felt a lot better because I went to the bathroom, I guess. I ran a strong finish and I started kicking pretty darn early. I was SHOCKED when I saw the race clock ahead of me said 2:01 something. I immediately felt proud of my race and super angry about every moment I had spent in the bathroom or slowing down at all that had kept me from breaking 2 hours. If only I had known, I swear I would have kicked earlier. Think about the damage I could have done on a flat course. I know I would have PR’d. So I finished in 2:01:32. I felt like crying for a good 15 minutes for some reason. I was so mad at myself for not following my race plan. I really want to know how I would do if I started out slow. I guess I am still young, so I have plenty of time to work on new race plans.
Julia PR’d by like 11 minutes or something and finished in 1:46. WTF!!!! Why do I train with her!!?? I liked this race, I’m glad I did it, I will never do it again. WHY would you ever run such a hilly course? not cool. Next weekend I’ll be running 22 miles with that speedster.
I am a little late on this one, but I couldn’t bring myself to simply post the photos and add a little blurb about the course. That just wouldn’t be fair because this race was AMAZING! Normally my description of a race is based on my race, but because I was taking it easy and avoiding injury I was able to fully absorb and appreciate the external factors and separate them from my performance.
My mom was running her third half this month, Braedon was testing out a halfway healed knee, and I was determined to avoid any pain in my left leg. If I was going to push through the pain, I would have done the full like I had wanted. I was super excited for Braedon to see this course because it was my 4th race through the city (on slightly different courses) and I wanted to share that with him.
The first wave started just after 5am! Our wave was scheduled to start at 6am, but we were running a little late, so we started two waves back at 6:20am. As much as I do not like waking up early EVER, there is something super magical about early morning dark race starts that I just love. When we left our hotel in the morning, there were only runners in the lobby, and as we walked down Market Street, runners appeared around every dark corner, all headed to the same place. It feels like we all have a shared secret. We all sneak out before dawn to share our secret love for running, and I love it.
The weather was great! We took off our long sleeves before the race even started!! Did I mention we were in San Francisco?! Crazy! The course starts right by the Ferry Building and goes North along the Embarcadero. It is so fun to run along Fisherman’s Wharf where you can smell the fresh sourdough bread at Boudin and hear the sea lions barking. Before we knew it we were going by Ghirardelli and over to Crissy Field. I probably sounded like a broken record during the whole race because I couldn’t stop telling my mom how cool/beautiful/interesting every single thing was along the course. I even liked the electrolytes. That never happens.
Next thing we knew we were up the dreadful hills and over the bridge. We weren’t sure if or where we would see Brendan because he had stayed out late the night before with his coworkers, and we weren’t able to come up with a solid plan for him, but we spotted him on the Sausalito side of the bridge! YAY!! I am seriously addicted to having people I know cheering for me at a race. It is the BEST thing ever!! Plus he took this stunning picture with the bridge in the background. He was even nice enough to not write “proof” over it!
I loved being on the bridge on such a (relatively) clear day. It was so fun. Coming down the hill after the bridge is super magical because you can see so much of the city on your left and a beautiful view of the ocean on the right. Of course I raved about it. After the downhill my mom started struggling a bit, and I was all for delaying the end of this experience, so we walked up a hill and slowed our pace down a bit after that.
I happen to know from other race pictures that this is not my usual arm position, so I am not too worried, but it is unfortunate. This might sound dumb, but I think I was trying to squeeze myself away from potential photo bombers because the bridge was super crowded with runners trying to ruin our race pics.
The rolling hills through the neighborhood streets were tough, but there were some good spectators and it went by pretty quickly. Once we were in Golden Gate Park we knew we were close, and we picked up our pace. My mom had a seriously killer kick for the last 1/4 mile and then blew me away with her sprint at the end. I guess she wanted to beat me. I may or may not have done that to her last year at this race after she had waited for me while I stretched at mile 12.9.
We had such a fun race. My leg hurt a little, but I really felt so great. I even told my mom around mile 10 that I wished I was doing the full! I have NEVER thought anything like that at mile 10 before. I can’t think of a better way to say goodbye to San Francisco before I leave in less than two weeks. This is definitely a race that I will come back for, and I definitely consider it a good candidate for a future full marathon because the changes in terrain and scenery were so entertaining.
My mom and I ended up having a more positive experience that Braedon who made bathroom stops and had a lot of leg discomfort, but guess whose race picture always comes out looking better no matter what?!
It has been a crazy busy few days with my mom and Braedon in town for the race, and we didn’t have internet at the hotel in the city. I’m a little behind on some posts I want to write, but here is a look at the day we spent in the city before the race.
We started the day out with a fancy breakfast in The Grand Café in the Hotel Monaco.
I told my mom I think she should use this picture on dating websites. How pretty does she look!?
I guess this picture probably won’t work for my dating profile!
Next we headed over to the expo, which was pretty far away, but we thought it would be a nice walk. Well, it was super hot out, and the walk got pretty dreadful pretty quickly.
The expo was packed, but it was also pretty well organized, especially considering the variety of events people could register for. Every event was sold out. They had a sweaty bands stand that was super popular, but we opted for the BIC bands that were $6 cheaper. I can’t believe how expensive sweaty bands are!?
We decided to take the free shuttle back to the Embarcadero, which was much closer to our hotel. They had enough shuttles running, so we didn’t have to wait for more than a couple minutes.
We spent the rest of the day walking around SF and then shopping for our race outfits. It was a super fun day in the city.
Maryanne, my mom and Braedon ran the Lacamas Lake Half Marathon this morning in Camas, Washington. It has become somewhat of a tradition for them to run this race as a celebration for my mom’s birthday, which is this weekend! This year they also met with friends for brunch at a cute place in Portland after the race.
I have never run this race, but they make it sound like a pretty hard, but beautiful course. It is hilly and hot, not a PR race, but a good race to dedicate to friendship and a love for running.
Maryanne sent me some pictures from today because…
she feels famous when I talk about her on my blog she wanted me to be jealous of all the fun I missed out on she wanted me to dedicate this post to my mom for her bday
well… I’m not really sure why she sent them to me. She just sent a blank email with these super cute pics! jk, Maryanne! Thanks for the emails!
My mom, Braedon, Maryanne
Now, in all seriousness… how awesome are my mom’s friends (including Maryanne)!? What a fun way to celebrate your birthday! My mom’s other friend, Emily, texted me a few weeks ago to see if I could steal all of my mom’s old race shirts that she doesn’t wear so that she could make them into a t-shirt quilt. We were a little unsure about which shirts I should steal, and whether or not my mom would mind, but I think it all worked out. I stole them from her closet and avoided any that I thought would fit well, and I didn’t take any from the laundry. She didn’t even notice when I took an entire stack of t-shirts from her closet. What!??
Well, it turned out super cute, and she was completely surprised. Yay! I love surprises so much. This is such a fun way to keep and remember race shirts that you will never wear.
Jeeeeez… Not to mention how cute my mom and Braed look!
If you are going to run a race that you know is super challenging, do you decide to just have a fun race, or do you try to take it head on?
Do you have PRs for different geographic areas or course types (hilly PR and flat course PR)?
Today was 4th year running the Sauvie Island Half Marathon in Oregon! It has become a major 4th of July tradition for our friends and family, and it is reason #43 that I love the 4th of July more than any other day of the year! I have so many.
This year was especially fun because we prepped by going shopping for matching holiday attire at Dick’s AND at the party store.
It would be your favorite holiday, too if you had this little hat to try on!
We all piled into the car this morning at 5:30am and headed out for pre-race coffees. I had a caramel latte before my last half marathon at Helvetia, but this time it gave me a serious case of the shakes, which made me nervous about how that would turn out during the race.
The race started out fine… I suppose. I was really surprised by how windy the course was. It was almost as windy as running on the bay! I was completely worried about the race when I got to mile 3 and I couldn’t get my splits under 8:55-ish. I’ve headed out in most of my more recent races with an 8:30 pace. I couldn’t get over how worried I was about that. That is when I started to really wish Braedon was there to carry me through the first 5 miles. I’m always just cracking up with him for at least the first 3 miles while we hit 8:20s without trying. Oh well… I tried to keep my thoughts as positive as possible, but I wasn’t really succeeding.
I ran with Hannah, my friend from high school who is pretty speedy, for the first 6 miles. I stopped at mile 6 to eat some Chomps, but I never really started back up after that. I caught up to my mom and Maryanne, who were a little ahead going out of the water stop, but as soon as I caught them I had a mental crash with “I can’t keep up with them… this is too hard” thoughts overwhelming me, and I stopped to walk.
While I was walking I noticed how NOT tired I was, and I just couldn’t understand why I was even walking. I reminded myself that the race clock was not an all-or-nothing gauge. Staying consistent at a pace that felt comfortable was a much better option. I ran pretty consistent 9:30s after that. At mile 9 or 10 they had Otter Pops, and I was stoked. I didn’t even think about saying no to one of those bright blue tubes of goodness. It slowed me down by quite a bit that mile because those things are kid/disgruntled runner proof. If you give a runner an otter pop… they are going to want scissors too. Hello!?
I tried pushing it again at mile 11, and I had a pretty strong last 2 miles. I broke 9 min for my last mile. I finally came in at 2:00:38, a few minutes over my PR.
The best part was being there for the excitement of my mom’s and Maryanne’s race. My mom set a goal and seriously went after it!! She ran a PR under 1:57 and Maryanne broke 2 hours for the first time!! Yep, that’s two major PRs in a row for Maryanne. She PR’d by about 7 minutes at Helvetia, and then took about 7 MORE minutes off of her time today!! WOW!
I recommend Sauvie Island for anybody that likes flat courses. It’s fun because it’s on the 4th, on BEAUTIFUL green farmland, organized by hot firemen and fresh strawberry shortcake is served at the end. But… I have never had a good race at Sauvie Island. It doesn’t really give me much race vibe/energy, which I really LOVE at most races. What a great start to a great holiday!