Buffalo half-marathon recap

(yesterday) AM workout: cardio: walked at 12.0 incline and 3.0 mph for 40 min. (TM) / weights: chest and biceps

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Week of race:  Kept up my water intake as normal, so I was hydrated.  I rarely drink juice or soda anyway and I don’t drink coffee, which is all very convenient for my running-self.  Cross-trained, weight-lifted, got in a few easy miles.

Day before race:  Decreased fiber intake.  Slept in, cross-trained [elliptical 45 min], lifted weights [shoulders & triceps], had a couple errands to do.  Went to the expo with my friend Carolyn, who I met and started running with 1x/week before we left for MN.  The expo was decent size with several vendors, running apparel, and gear for sale.  After the expo I showed Carolyn our loft we recently moved into, then went for an easy 4 miles.  My legs felt heavy and my calves tight the first couple miles, but by the 4th mile I felt loose.  Eh, we’ll see how that will determine my race tomorrow..  We also reminded each other that if someone wanted to speed up or slow down tomorrow that the other person wouldn’t care and to just go for it.  After the expo, I sent this pic to the Mr. showing him my bib and flag/cape-wearing buffalo.

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Race morning:  It’s a beautiful thing to live a 10-min walk from the start and finish lines of your race.  I woke up just before 5am, made some oatmeal, took care of business, grabbed my ipod, packed fuel, packed my phone, got my outfit on, grabbed my garmin, debated on socks, grabbed my sun glasses. Race started at 7am, I left my apt about 6:40ish and ate a honey stinger wafer on the way.  Carolyn and I had decided to meet at the 1:50 pacer to prevent starting too fast.  But when we saw each other, she suggested we move up to the 1:40 pacer…”It’s a race after all, right?!” [her words].  I had never ‘raced’ a half before and knew it’d be fun to race it with her, so I went along with it.

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The first couple miles I was bugged how tired my legs felt just starting out, but told myself they’d warm-up in a few miles..  7:48, 7:33, 735

IMG_20130531_185228       Picture 15

Just after mile three I told Carolyn to not worry about me if she’s feeling good, so she said she thought she could push it harder and off she went.  For some reason once she left I suddenly realized [?] I wouldn’t be able to finish the race without peeing my pants.  Hmm, guess I should stop.  So I did and had to wait about 30 sec for an open porta, lost about a minute and a half, but it was necessary and NBD.  9:03

Things were feeling fine, relatively speaking.  I turned on my music just before mile 5 to help distract me from my tired legs.  Normally I wait until the last few miles, but I felt like I needed the distraction.  It helped.  7:53, 7:59, 7:56

I hadn’t looked over the course map at any point, and I don’t know that I ever really do.  This works for me, it’s like the unknown and element of surprise help me mentally.  The part of the course details that I normally analyze is the course elevation map.  Mile 8 had a nice hill that wasn’t expected [I didn’t know Buffalo had hills?], but it wasn’t too bad.  I say it wasn’t bad, but I didn’t plow through, I just sort of coasted on up..  The hill was followed by an out-and-back, so you can tell when I was coming back up the hill during mile 10.  Also, I ate a serving of cliff shot blocks [3 squares] around mile 9.  Even though my paces weren’t any better after the shot blocks, I felt better.  I’m a believer of taking in fuel during races.

8:27, 8:16, 8:36, 8:22, 8:16, 8:12, and 7:00 for the final stretch.  Final chip time — 1:47:25

Looking at my splits, it looks like once I hit mile 8, I decided running sub-8 miles was overrated, because I didn’t see another sub-8 until the last 0.1 mile.  It was the kind of race where you stop to pee and stop twice to stretch [IT band].

Overall thoughts…  It was awesome to run a race again.  It’s like my soul needed it.  Ha.  Although it’s too bad my paces were the same as my training runs for that distance, literally.  There’s a few reasons I could think of that my legs were so tired on race day, but it is what it is and I don’t regret running it.  Besides, my approach to the half-marathon distance [or shorter] is more of a “quantity vs. quality”.

#5 done, and done. Picture 13

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Trail Quake Half-Marathon Recap

I was out of bed by 4:30am, busy getting dressed, eating a bagel with banana, and going over my mental check list, for the millionth time, of everything I could need for the race.  After forgetting my garmin at a race last month, I was super paranoid I’d forget something incredibly important again and not have anyone to save the day.
We were gone by 5:25am and on our way for our hour and a half drive to Saratoga, CA.  The race didn’t start until 8am and I wanted to get there by 7am, when bib pick-up started.
Small group of ‘half-marathon hikers’ about to start (30min before standard half-marathon started)
Honestly, I didn’t have a clue of what I was getting myself into.  And I underestimated the course elevation.  No joke.  Now on to more pictures.  I took a few pics of the scenery the first few miles, then felt I was putting my safety at risk with the multitasking while running on crazy terrain.
After the first quarter mile we hit our first hill climb and almost immediately, every single person was walking.  I don’t know that this photo even does the ‘steepness’ of these elevation climbs justice.
I swear there were some parts I could practically put my hands in front of me and crawl up.
But I was too embarrassed, so I refrained.  This is about the time I started thinking my time might be a whole lot slower than I had anticipated.
Remember how I joked about there being cliffs??  Um, no joke.
I wish I could have run with a video camera, maybe then you’d get a better idea of just how beautiful and earth-y it all was.  Definitely a change from the city/suburban scenery that I’m used to.  It looked better than some old forest in real life, trust me.
I believe this was the first downhill after over three straight miles of steep uphill.  My calves and lower back were harmoniously singing praises of relief.

 This was just past the 9-mile marker, almost to the last few miles of a very steep downhill, quad-tearing, shoe-skidding adventure.  The 64-year-old man behind me was a friend I picked up about mile 7.  We chatted during a couple miles of rolling hills before I lost him after an aid station and picked up the pace.  He helped distract me from my muscle soreness as he told me about his 40 half-marathons and 80 full marathons he’d completed.  He’s my hero.  When I asked if he had run this particular course before he said, “No I definitely haven’t, this is the hardest half-marathon I’ve ever run, and I’ve run 40 of them!  This is one of those races you just try to finish, you don’t run for time!”  Amen veteran runner, amen.

See that couple crossing the finish line behind us, I found a close up of them while browsing through the race photos…
I wonder how long he was carrying her..
 You’re not hardcore without a dirt-line
 I was excited when I found out I’d be receiving a second medal for placing 2nd in my age group.  But I was mostly laughing because I knew there must have been only one other person around my age.  I checked, there were four.  Score.  I was 1 minute and 20 seconds behind the girl who beat me in my age group and almost 20 minutes ahead of the girl who placed 3rd in our age group.
The race had the most intense and exciting course that I’ve run.  There were many areas where the trail was too narrow to fit more than one person, making it impossible to pass anyone.  There were many areas that were so steep, all you could do was walk and pray it would plateau soon.  Aside from running on dirt, these are things that made this course different than any other I’ve run:
  -the patches of rocky areas that were only safest to walk through
 -stretches of windy and zig-zag turns you had to stop and walk the corners of
 -a fallen tree completely blocking the path so you had to climb over
 -areas that fallen trees were partially blocking the path so you walked around it
 -a few areas of bushes to literally push yourself through
 -hundreds of tree roots sporadically dotted the course, random boulders and wet patches to leap over
 -hearing a guy tell someone {as we all walked up the longest, steepest hill} how in the last few times he had run this same course, there was a person or two who had torn their calf muscle from all of the steep uphill climbs–um, ouch.  Now I’m literally, rather than unreasonably, nervous my calves are going to explode for real.  Oh and my ears popped several times from the elevation change.
 -skidding on the downhill and trying to stop/slow down, especially during the final 5k, because it was that steep
 -stopping at mile 11 for a girl who had fallen, busted her knee open down to the bone and was waiting for medics to come.  I offered what little medical advice I could to her and her friends waiting with her, then continued running when they reassured me they’d be fine and someone was on their way.
-seeing several runners at the finish line with bloody scrapes all over them and feeling lucky I didn’t fall
 -The aid stations were awesome.  Each station had water, sports drink, orange slices, banana chunks, watermelon slices, pretzels, skittles, gummy bears, bite-sized cookies, m&m’s, salt capsules, and gu gels.  Who said you couldn’t please everyone?!  I had two cups of water and a watermelon slice at practically every station, banana chunk at one station, and pretzels at two stations.  Basically, I went all out for a 13-miler.  I mean heck, why not.
Just to show you how slow I am give you an idea of the intensity of the course, I finished this race exactly one full hour {down to the second} slower than the half-marathon I ran May 5th {while slightly injured w/shin splints}.  And the elite runner who took first place for women at this race set a new course record of 1:55:15, six minutes slower than the half-marathon I ran May 5th.
By the end of it all, I felt excited and so glad I was able to experience my first trail race.  The environment felt nothing like a road race, but it still emanated the same type of energy, excitement, and accomplishment of one.  My calves and lower back were tired and sore from all of the uphill while my quads were tired from the downhill.  But what I noticed most afterwards was how tired and sore my feet felt from running on rocks at random areas of the course, they felt all beat up–no wonder they make specific shoes for trail running, hello, news-flash.  I thought my body handled the run very well considering I was sick throwing up just a few days before the race, I had no complaints.
I’d love to do another trail race, maybe one with less elevation gains [or actually train on a trail with lots of hills, I’m sure that’d help], but I’d love to do another one.
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Any trail runner veterans out there?  I need advice.

Provo City Half-Marathon Race Recap

Let this race go down in history as our first road race together–just me and him, him and me, running and sweating side by side.  How romantic.  Let it also be known as my roughest road race in my racing history [in my rookie history of 5 races] to date.  Luckily I didn’t get sick and throw up all over the place.  And no, I’m not looking for a pity party, I just want to record it all so I can remember/learn from it.  Saturday morning [May 5th] began around 4:10am with us slowly crawling out of bed.  We quickly ate and put on our running gear.  Once I was dressed, I jumped up and down while shaking my head to wake myself up and get excited to run.  Bet that’s an interesting mental picture.  Z stared blankly with a “you’re crazy baby” look on his face before laughing at me and mumbling about how he wishes he was still sleeping.  The race started up Provo canyon, so they had the runners take buses up to the start, with the last bus scheduled to leave at 5:30am.  He’s excited, promise.
We got in line to wait for the buses at 5:00am.  And it was around 5:18am that I realized I forgot my garmin…too bad I can’t run a race without that cursed, blessed watch.  So I immediately began to panic and told Zuriel we had to go back for it.  HAD to.  He [lovingly] said “Yeah right, you go back, I’ll see you at the finish line”.  Ha ha…basically I would be cutting it pretty dang close if I ran back to the car, drove to my grandpa’s house, grabbed my watch, drove back, and searched for parking, all in 12 minutes before the last bus was scheduled to leave for the start line.  Honestly truly, I wanted to cry.  Then I had the brilliant plan to call my sleeping brother and his 9-month pregnant wife…and then they came to my rescue.  In my defense, they were sleeping 10 feet away from my garmin, they were my best [and only] option.  I ran out to meet them before the ‘road block’ signs and they handed me my watch.  I owe them something real big for that.
Once we got to the start line, the sun started coming up and I waited in line for 30 minutes to take care of business.  I had exactly enough time to wait for the bathroom, check my bag into ‘gear check’, jog to the start line, and scream with excitement before the gun went off to start the race.  I also had enough time to snap this shot of and quickly cheer for the marathon runners starting their race, I was excited for them.  The marathon started at 7:00am with 247 runners and the half-marathon started at 7:15am with 1,103 runners.
Then we were off!  The first 9 miles were basically downhill.  Which initially can sound ideal, right?  Better than the entire race being up hill, that’s for sure.  However, I was still healing from shin splints that had started the week before [note: downhill makes the shin splints much worse].  Zuriel on the other hand was ecstatic about the downhill because his injury he received the week before felt better on the downhill–lucky duck.  He strained his achilles during a 10-mile run the saturday before race day…  Needless to say, our ‘goal time’ for the race was kinda sorta thrown out the window.  [this is us super excited to start the race]
We were both going to be happy and satisfied if we both finished the crazy race…it was a little sad, a little romantic, but mostly just sweaty and intense.  We started out feeling great, with the beginning miles passing quickly.  But, this was the roughest race for me.  So mile 1 for me, felt awesome.  Naturally I’d feel awesome, it was only the first mile.  But hello mile 2, I suddenly feel miserable.  Basically Zuriel was [unexpectedly I might add] feeling fantastic and wanting to take advantage of all the downhill action by getting in some fast miles.  I was trying, I really was, to keep up and fly down those 9 miles, but my shins just would not let me.  I was frustrated.  And we had both thought I would be the one pacing us, with Z and his gimp ankle trying to keep up.  It was the complete opposite, and I was so glad Z didn’t get impatient but was instead encouraging me the whole way.  My lower legs felt like huge weights, but I ran as hard as they’d let me.
On top of the crazy shin splints, my bowels weren’t so happy.  A port-a-potty break was mandatory just after mile 8.  A mile later, I about stopped again for the bathroom.  But then something magical happened, once I saw mile marker 10 ahead, I caught a second wind.  All of the sudden, my shin pain literally dissolved, my bowels calmed down, and my mental strength resurfaced.  Almost simultaneously, Z looked over at me with this tired look and told me it was getting hard.  I smiled back and told him “Well good because I feel awesome.  Lets do this, let’s finish hard”.  Now it was my turn to return the favor and encourage him the final three miles.  Just before mile 12 Zuriel said he didn’t think he could keep it up for the last stretch.  I told him to remember why we signed up for the race…that this was more than just a race for us.
We pushed ourselves the final and longest [it always feels that way] mile and TRIED to cross the finish line holding hands, but some guy kept getting in the way.  No joke, he and Z were throwing elbows the last ten feet.  We walked through the finisher’s shoot, with medals draped, and grabbed some water, bananas, then got in line for the finisher’s breakfast–french toast.  We didn’t think our stomachs would be in the mood for french toast after a race, but turns out it was just what we needed.  It was delicious.
We waited in line for massages…and it is always worth the wait.  My calves must have been doing a lot of compensating for the tightness in my shins because they were so incredibly sore.  Thank you masseuse lady for helping me realize just how tight they were.  After the post-race fun, we met up with a couple of our friends and Zuriel’s sister for breakfast [his sister and one of our friends had run the 5K].  I know we had just eaten some french toast maybe an hour ago, but it was time for a full breakfast.  I hadn’t had Magleby’s before, but they provided the french toast after the race, so we knew if we went for a full breakfast later–they wouldn’t let us down.  Egg white spinach omelet, potatoes, and english muffin–yum.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed running this race with my husband by my side the whole way.  Except for the last two seconds, crossing the finish line, when he got caught behind mr. competitive elbow thrower.  We should buy one of the finish line photos for the visual memory of it.
After Magleby’s breakfast, stretching, foam rolling, and showering, we went to lunch with my brother, his wife, and our good friend Max.  It might seem like our meals were unnecessarily close together, and that may be true.  I have no comment except that we ate when we were hungry.  We also had received coupons in our race bags for a ‘buy one, get one free’ deal, so we couldn’t pass those up now could we.
Running, food, relaxing, food, and now time for relaxing.  We couldn’t relax too long before needing to head up to Salt Lake to meet up with friends for a Cinco de Mayo party–it was May 5th afterall.
Since meeting Zuriel, we have celebrated Cinco de Mayo together every year, we could probably call it a tradition now.  But being out of town for this holiday for the race, we couldn’t throw our usual party of carne asada fajitas with fresh guac, pico, tortillas, rice, and tres leches.  Luckily, our good friends were throwing a party of their own and we got an invite [thanks!].  Complete with pinata and fancy drinks.
It was an enjoyable weekend of hard running, delicious food, and fun times spent with good friends. We were sad to have to go back to work Monday.
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How did you celebrate your Cinco de Mayo?  Even if you’re not hispanic, when there’s an excuse to celebrate with food and friends, you gotta take it.