Mapping Out the 2013 Race Schedule

One of the most overwhelming parts of reading running blogs is the exposure to the endless race possibilities.

A year and a half ago, I had no clue that more than 5-10 marathons even existed let alone what they were called.  I didn’t know that there was a Chicago Marathon, and while I think I knew that there was a Boston Marathon, I didn’t know that it was any sort of a big deal (now we’re all on a first name basis).

But with all this exposure comes tremendous race envy.  *Almost* every recap I read drives me to look at my bank account to analyze if next year’s race fits into our budget.  I mean, all of the sudden I want to go to places like Duluth and Cincinnati for fun? What is going on here? (keep in mind that I say this out of love if you live in those places.  Albuquerque isn’t a dream boat city either).

But we can’t leave town every weekend to run races, so choices must be made.

This will be the 2nd time that I attempt to map out our race schedule for the entire year.  Realistically, we can afford one, maybe two, major “destination” race per year (last year it was Chicago, this year it is Boston), so everything else has to be regional (Arizona, Las Vegas, Colorado, or West Texas).  And timing plays a big part.  We need to have plenty of rest in between races to recover physically and financially.  And as a glass half full type person, I’m always under the impression that at any given time I will injure myself and never be able to run again, so I want to run the “must-do’s” first whenever possible.  Running Chicago as my first marathon was no accident.  I wanted my first time to be with a marathon that I really loved.

This year I’ve had a few other considerations while planning our race schedule:

1) Boston.  Everything else this spring has to revolve around it include filing taxes.

2) Aaron has expressed that he’s getting burned out with our constant road racing, so I want to incorporate more “non-traditional” races in the mix.

3) Training for a triathlon.  I’m going to need a few months off of running just to focus on swimming and bike riding because this IS happening in 2013.

As of right now, I’m only officially registered for 2 races (Arizona and Boston), but here’s what we’re thinking for 2013:

JANUARY: Rock n Roll Arizona Half.

MARCH: Bataan Memorial Death March 14.2 miler (Las Cruces, NM about 3 hours south of Albuquerque): This race has a full marathon and a “half” option that is actually misleading since it is more than half a marathon.  This is New Mexico’s “big deal” marathon and it is really geared toward veterans and active duty service members.  Many members of the military will run it in full uniform with a loaded backpack.  Lots of uphill, REALLY warm temperatures, lots of loose sand, and likely some rattlesnakes nearby. This is actually considered one of the hardest courses in the country. My dad is planning on running the full marathon (WHAT????) and even my little sister is planning on running the half.  I don’t even know my family anymore.

SOURCE Photo by David Young

APRIL: Boston Marathon. Considered the most prestigious road race in the world.  Still somewhat in denial that I’ll be running it.

MAY: Run for the Zoo Half (Albuquerque):  This falls just a few weeks after Boston, so this is a BIG maybe even though it has become a yearly tradition for me.  It took me a month after the Chicago Marathon to be able to run again.  I’m hoping for a faster recovery time this go around, but I probably won’t register for this until the week of.

JUNE: Garden of the Gods 10 Mile Run (Colorado Springs).  This race is full of rolling hills, but at least each uphill is matched with a downhill. The views are gorgeous apparently.

SEPTEMBER: Imogene Pass Run 17 miler (Ouray-Telluride, CO): Aaron has run this race before.  It sounds miserable yet amazing.  The website says the following: “The reality is that despite whatever emotions we may have for the mountains and their environment, they are in fact unfeeling objects and they follow the natural rules of physics which are not always benevolent toward living creatures, great or small.”  I guess they all can’t be easy.  Check out that elevation climb!

Please note the trail. And the lack of trees. 

OCTOBER/NOVEMBER: We’re going to put in for the Nike Women’s and ING New York City lotteries (if New York opens it up).  Statistically we’re not likely to get into either one.  But a girl can dream.

DECEMBER: Rock n Roll Las Vegas Half (Full?).  It is pretty pricey/cheesey, but Las Vegas is close, and I think running the strip at night would be pretty awesome. And Las Vegas at Christmas time is actually really pretty.  Plus, the race falls right around our wedding anniversary, and I’m not opposed to renewing our vows along the course at the “Run-Thru Wedding Ceremony!”

SOURCE Photo by Steve Marcus

Other Possibilities:

Duke City Half (Albuquerque, October): This was my first half marathon.  Not the most amazing course, but it will be good to do if (when) I don’t selected for NWM or NYC. Plus, you can’t beat a local race where you can go home and nap in your own bed right after.

Tucson Marathon (December): A downhill marathon!  I don’t really want to get into the marathon habit, but if I decide after Boston that I MUST RUN MORE MARATHONS, I think a downhill one will be a nice option.

Rock n Roll Denver Half (September):  This is a back up if Imogene fills up before we register (last year it only took a few hours).

I plan on spending the summer in the pool or on a bike, so I don’t want any big races during those months.  Otherwise, everything is pretty open and subject to change.

Anyone else doing any of these races?  Any other good recommendations in the Colorado, Arizona, or west Texas areas?

I hope you have a WONDERFUL weekend!

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The Bucket List That Didn’t Get Crossed Off

Way back last December, inspired by other bloggers, I decided to nix the idea of New Year’s Resolutions and instead create a 2012 bucket list of experiences I wanted to have before the year was up.

If you don’t follow through with resolutions, you have failed. Failure is sad. If you don’t follow through with bucket list items, nothing happens.

Nothing especially happens when you don’t get very many of your BL items in the “DONE” category like me.

I did do some things.  Just not as many as I would have wanted.

I’ve decided to keep this sucker running.  I’m working on my 2013 list with 25 new items to be revealed tomorrow.  The rollover from 2012 will stay on there with the hopes that I’ll eventually cross those items off the list.  And as the years progress, I’m sure I’ll establish a pretty decent list of “gotta do before I die which hopefully won’t happen for 100 years” items.

My actual level of BL completion is below, listed item by sad un-crossed off item.

Items categorized as UNSUCCESSFUL didn’t happen or even come close to happening.  Items listed as ATTEMPTED were at least approached with cheerful effort.  SUCCESSFUL items (the few and far between) were ones that I was able to cross off the list.

How Amy Fared on the 2012 Bucket List

1) Get Passport stamp #4: UNSUCCESSFUL.  Though the possibility is MUCH higher in 2013 thanks to some college graduating sisters and their graduation present vacations.  I’m hoping we get invited (hint, hint, Daddy).

2) Pay off credit card debt: UNSUCCESSFUL: I don’t want to talk about this.  At all.  However, still thankful that my credit card debt load is tiny compared to the average American.

3) Ride in a hot air balloon: UNSUCCESSFUL. Shit’s expensive. And I’m kind of scared to go with the cheapest company because I don’t want to die.

4) Run a full marathon: SUCCESSFUL!!! Definitely a lifetime bucket list item.  AND I think I get bonus points for the BQ.  That was also a HUGE bucket list item that I didn’t bother adding to the 2012 list because I didn’t think it would happen for many many years.

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5) Run a race every month: ATTEMPTED.  I ran 10 road races and 1 virtual race, so I missed it by 1. I think doing the smaller ones helped me get better at racing, plus I snagged some age group awards, but the more longer races I do, the less excited I am about paying $10 per mile in a 5-k with no medal and a sad cotton t-shirt.  Sorry.

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6) Compete in a triathlon: UNSUCCESSFUL.  But I think I’m more prepared mentally to take on this challenge in 2013.

7) Learn to swim: ATTEMPTED.  I think I’m closer than I was this time last year.

8) Read my way through Newsweek’s Top 100 Books of all time:  UNSUCCESSFUL. I knew this would take more than 1 year.  I’ve read some books that I hadn’t heard of that I ended up  loving. But I’ve also been stuck on the 180 pager The Souls of Black Folk since August. I read 7 books this year (on the list anyway…I think there were 2 that I’ve picked up that weren’t on the list) which is better than the 1 I read in 2011.

9) Go on a White Water Rafting weekend expedition: UNSUCCESSFUL.  I’m starting to rethink this one.  I was pretty bored after a couple of hours of kayaking down the river in September. Could I really spend 4 days cold and wet with sore shoulders followed by sleeping on the ground for 4 nights?

10) Start dressing my age:  ATTEMPTED. I think some progress has been made. I tried to avoid stores where the majority of salespeople are in high school and I haven’t worn flip flops since it got cold out. I did however walk around Chicago dressed like this, so whateves. Although, maybe wearing black stretchy pants IS dressing my age. Sigh.

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11) Visit a new state: SUCCESSFULGot to experience Illinois in all of it’s finest! And by finest, I mean Chicago.

12) Send a birthday card in the mail to people on their birthdays. SUCCESSFUL. I did this at least twice.

13) Learn how to use my camera and take awe-inspiring photos: ATTEMPTED. I started looking up tutorials on Pinterest.  I’m still not Ansel Adams, but I least I know how to change shutter speed, ISO, and aperture, even if I have no idea what any of them mean. I did get a bokeh photo in of the Christmas tree!

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14) Relearn French: UNSUCCESSFUL. Although I’m listening to the French Cafe station on Pandora right now, so maybe I’m picking up a little bit? However, one of the potential graduation trips might require that I learn, at the very least, how to say, “I’ll take another glass of wine!” in order to get around (“plus de vin, s’il vous plaît!”).

15) Go horseback riding on the beach: SUCCESSFUL. It was fun.

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16) Write a novel: ATTEMPTED: I totally started one! I am 5 pages in.  At least I have the idea and the characters and the general plot line.  Now that the gingerbread house is done, I’ll have more time to devote.

17) Buy a new car: SUCCESSFULAnd I’m in love.  Aside from the fact that I spend twice as much money on gas. 

18) Do a massive house cleaning and reorganization: ATTEMPTED: I think this will happen pretty soon into the new year.  I’ve cleaned out a few closets and drawers.

19) Take the GRE: UNSUCCESSFUL.  I do want a masters degree, but at this point, I don’t know if it would be incredibly helpful or financially responsible.  And I still kinda don’t know what I’m doing with my life.

20) Go to a live music festival. UNSUCCESSFUL. I think this will require choosing one and planning a year in advance.  But with all of these potential vacations and Boston which is quickly shaping up to be as expensive as an all-inclusive week in the Caribbean, I don’t know if this is the perfect year for it.

21) Choose an NFL Team to cheer for: SUCCESSFUL. Though, now I’m questioning my decision.  How can a team go from winning the Super Bowl to scoring once in two weeks???

22) Win something (anything) in a radio contest: UNSUCCESSFUL.  I seriously tried though.  I even put in for a pair of Uggs last week.  I hate Uggs.

23) Invest in a piece of artwork: UNSUCCESSFUL.  Though I have decided that I want an abstract painting with warm colors.  So now I can be on the lookout!

24) Finish a Tough Mudder: UNSUCCESSFUL, mostly because it didn’t happen in Albuquerque like we thought it was going to, however it is scheduled for my birthday in 2013.  I’m rethinking this one because thanks to blog land and some detailed recaps, I’m not sure that I would have the best time.  I mean, cool that you are tough enough to do it, but it sounds mostly miserable. And I could think of better ways to spend a birthday.

25) Figure out what in the world I’m doing with my life and take steps to get there: UNSUCCESSFUL: but 2013 WILL be my year.  I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, and I still feel like I’m just in a holding area until my life really starts.  Considering I’m about 1/3 of the way through life already (if I’m lucky), I want to at least feel like I’m on the right path.

So, over the course of the year, I successfully completed 7 out of 25 bucket list items.  Here’s hoping that more items get conquered in 2013!

Are you creating a bucket list for 2013? 

So…Now What? Or, Accepting that Chicago is Over

This past weekend I went to cheer on my dad (and a bunch of other people I know/don’t know) at the Duke City Marathon.  I came bearing big race signs and I wore my Chicago marathon shirt so people wouldn’t think I was a non-runner just because I wasn’t racing! (just kidding…sort of…).

My dad had a great first half and finished in 2:06:something! AND he wasn’t even sore the next day! Pretty sure an addiction was created.

I rarely spectate at races (I know I should probably be volunteering more), so it was interesting to experience it from the other side.  For one, cheering is kind of awkward.  I have the same two phrases, and I was stressing the whole time that I was saying the wrong things and causing runners to lose motivation in the home stretch.

I was also pretty stir crazy, standing there with my race signs watching all of the runners coming into the finish line area.  I wanted to be racing!

But two weeks after Chicago, I’m still not able to run.  I have nagging issues in my calf/shin area.  As far as I can tell, it is just muscle tightness, but it is pretty annoying.  I’m doing all the usual rehabbing efforts, but I have to keep in mind that supposebly it will take 26.2 days for me to be all better.

Luckily, I don’t have anything to train for until the second week of November, so I’m able to not run without affecting any future race times.

I’m trying to really enjoy this time off, but boy am I really taking it off.  My workouts have included walking the dog, “weight lifting” (and by weight lifting I mean squats and curls), a single elliptical workout and my 1st swim lesson (attempting to put my head underwater without plugging my nose with my fingers…I think progress was made!).

I’m amazed at how sluggish I’ve become just from not working out regularly.  I always feel tired and I can feel my body slowly getting more lard-esqe.  Luckily I think I’m over the post marathon blues because of the excitement over the upcoming holiday season (OMGSOEXCITED), otherwise the combination of not working out and depression might have driven me to eat lots and lots of ice cream and potato chips.

On the plus side, all this lack of activity has given me the chance to reflect on what I’m going to do now that Chicago is over and establish what my goals are for my upcoming races.

First, in mid-November I will start half marathon training for Rock n’ Roll Arizona (January).  I’ve decided I want to train into running a fast half (1:35 or 7:15 average pace).  9 of my marathon miles were sub-8, so I feel like this is a reasonable goal to reach for.  It will require a lot of speed work (more 400’s instead of 800’s! Hooray!), but it is nice to have a base established.

I will start training for Boston the week following Rock n’ Roll.  I want to have a completely separate training plan for each of these races.  Instead of the 16 week training cycle, I’m going with a 12 week cycle.  After a training into a fast half, I should have the speed, so I’ll just have to work on re-building the endurance and focusing on becoming a strong downhill/uphill runner.  Unlike Chicago, Boston is not flat.  That little tiny hill felt epic at the 26 mile marker at Chicago.  I’m dreading the Newton Hills.

I’m not quite ready to call my Boston time goal.  I obviously want to put in my best effort and train hard.  EVERYONE is fast at Boston so I’d at least like to not feel like the one slow person in the bunch.  But now that I’ve qualified, I don’t know if I want the same pressure to hit a certain goal. I kind of want to see how Arizona goes before I start thinking about whether I’m ready to prepare for a sub 3:30.

I do also want to learn to swim by the end of the year, per my bucket list.  Saturday showed that I really have a looooong way to go.  But with coach Aaron leading the way (did I mention he’s also an accomplished swimmer?) and a new-found confidence that I can do anything I put my mind to, I think it can be done.  I’ll consider myself sufficiently schooled in swimming if I can make it across the pool and back using proper free-style stroke, and employing a solid breathing strategy that doesn’t include keeping my head above water at all costs.

I also want to get back some of that muscle definition that I’ve lost ever since I started running half marathons last year.  It was near impossible to do any quality weight lifting while training for a marathon because my muscles always felt fatigued, but now that we’re back in half marathon land for awhile, I want to focus on a supplementary workout program.

I’m also excited (surprised but excited) to see most of my marathon buddies signing up for a second round! We must all be nuts.  But it will be awesome to follow everyone’s training again come spring!

What’s your winter/spring race schedule?  (or, if you’re in the southern hemisphere…your summer/fall schedule!).  

I hope everyone is having a fantastic week!

Bank of America Chicago Marathon: The Recap

So, I am probably the last person out there to offer up my Chicago Marathon story.  26.2 is a lot of miles to process.  The drawback is that the mile by mile play by play is fuzzy and making way for a more general race memory.  So, unfortunately you won’t get the most detailed report of what I felt during 3:33:55 hours of pure marathon goodness (and not so goodness).  BUT I think you’re probably cool with that. Even though this is still over 3000 words long.  It WAS 4,000 words long. And I think all of the pictures of the race (rather before and after the race) are on Aaron’s phone which is with him at work right now.  So, you may have to check back tomorrow!

THURSDAY

We arrived in Chicago on Thursday afternoon to temperatures much warmer than we’d been anticipating.  Our hotel was about half a mile from the start line, so our cab drove us right by the starting area.  I was amazed at how huge the marathon village was, and how many porta poties were lining the streets (this would seem like a lot less on Sunday morning while waiting our turn to pee). As I started unpacking, I realized that I had forgotten some essential items like  running socks, pajamas, iPod shuffle, and toothbrush. Oops.

FRIDAY

We went out for a 2.5 mile easy run along the lake front.  Temperatures were still warmish, though not as warm as they had been the day before.  The temperatures were predicted to get colder until Sunday.

Then we headed to the expo.  I love expos.  They combine running AND shopping! The expo was well organized and everything was labeled and easy to find.  But wow, were there a lot of people, and Friday was the slow day.  I’m scared to think what Saturday looked like! Nike had a whole store set up, and I bought myself a special marathon shirt (and some socks because I forgot mine).  I also signed up for my 3:35 pace group, and got a 3:35 bib to pin to my back.

SATURDAY:

We did a 2 mile shake out run, however this one was much colder.  But really, a few minutes in, I felt overdressed in my winter gear.

We opted to do the Art Institute Museum on Saturday morning.  Coach Aaron wouldn’t let me wear heels, but my jeans are all too long, so I had to walk around Chicago in my running capris and running shoes.  THE HORROR.  Seriously.  But the museum was huge and we were on our feet for easily 3 hours, so I’m glad I wasn’t in stilettos.  We also carried a water bottle and focused on drinking obscene amounts of water.

I did insist on changing into boots for dinner on the condition that we eat at the pub across the street from our hotel.  Awesomely enough they had a special marathon menu so I got my pasta carb loading fill! Aaron ate something with mashed potatoes (how does one carb load on a gluten free diet?). Bedtime was 9:30.

Why yes, carb loading included beer.  This means beer + marathon = BQ! And one of the few moments I got cell phone service! Aaron was annoyed. 

SUNDAY:

The alarm went off at 5 am.  I did my pre-race ritual of showering (one can’t dominate marathons with unshaven legs), and ate some Luna bar and some banana and layered on the winter gear. We got out the door at 6:15.  The city was dark but alive with thousands of shivering runners walking to the start.  We felt like cattle.  We may have moo’d.

The first thing we did was get in the potty line which was already pretty long (we waited about 20 minutes).  Gear check drop off was easy, but at this point it was time to head to the corrals (they closed at 7:20, no exception), so I didn’t get in my second ritual pee.  Aaron and I said our goodbyes as he headed to “B” and I headed to “C.”

This was post race, but it gives you an idea of what I look like when I realize that my husband is photographing me coming out of the porta potty. 

I couldn’t find my pacers.  And since everyone was wearing sweatshirts over their clothes, I couldn’t find any 3:35 bibs.  I kept inching up until I found a nice looking man and asked if he’d seen the 3:35 signs.  He said he was in the 3:35 group and as far as he could tell the people surrounding were all in it too. A few people turned and nodded in agreement, and grunted a “welcome to the pack.”  I took off my long sleeve and tied it around my waist because I knew I would get warm pretty fast and I didn’t want to attempt undressing while running.  I was cold in my racer back, but not miserable.

Looking around I also realized that Chicago was a pretty male dominated race.  And let’s just say I was one of very few women wearing hot pink, sparkle headband, and a running skirt.

The race started, and while I was anticipating a good 10 minutes before we crossed the start line, we actually approached really fast (within 3 minutes).  And we were off!

The first 3 miles

This is the official start line photo.  I found Aaron (he has a red circle around his head).

So, the first thing you do is run uphill into a tunnel.  Tunnels are dark.  Tunnels also have dividers in the middle. Someone ran into someone who ran into me and I ran into the next person because someone didn’t see the divider in front of them until it was too late.  Luckily nobody was actually knocked down in the confusion, but it was pretty funny to see.  I guess you had to be there.

We emerged from the tunnel, and I looked down at my Garmin to see that it had lost signal.  Fantastic.  I spotted the pacers way ahead so I figured I would just hang out with them since I no longer had pacing function. It was awesome (and warm) to be running with so many people (over 38,000 at the start), but hard to get anywhere.  I saw the pacers but I couldn’t actually get near them.  Luckily, my Garmin got it’s act together pretty fast.

I saw some soldiers with amputated arms, and the crowd went wild every time they ran past.  I saw a lady with a prosthetic leg.  I saw people in wheelchairs.  I saw people going out of their way to support other runners.  Marathons restore faith in humanity.

I allowed myself to not worry about pace (pointless since maneuvering around people was impossible), and take in the sights.  A huge shout out to the city of Chicago and the spectators!  I felt nothing short of  rockstar status because these cheering people with their crazy signs were amazing. Also amusing were the people starting to shed clothes.  They would attempt to throw them into the crowd, but 75% of the time the clothing article would bop a runner on the head.

After trying to get myself next to the pacers for the first few miles I finally succeeded at about mile 3.  Everyone was de-clothed and I could see the huge group of 3:35ers emerge.  The crowd started thinning, and I finally got myself into a rhythm.

Miles 4 to 16

Crowd support was amazing.  Every neighborhood/church/school had bands or DJs and motivation was high.  So high that I suddenly found myself running sub 8 miles with no effort, and the pacers were somewhere far far behind me. I knew I needed to slow my ass down.  But I couldn’t.  The energy was too much to handle.  I was on track to run a 3:30 marathon (noted that at mile 6 this is hardly confirmation of anything), yet here is where I made the decision to run a Boston qualifier.

Gangham Style was being played by three different groups (including a Korean church with nice Korean middle aged ladies in track suits doing the dance).  Aaron, who at that point was about 15 minutes ahead of me, said that those same groups were playing that same song so it must have been on repeat.

The pacer bibs turned out to be quite the conversation starter.  I had people come up to me saying I was ahead of schedule (as a compliment, not as a warning that I was running too fast). And indeed I was.  While there were a few 3:35er’s I was surrounded by 3:30s and 3:25ers.  But I was feeling great. Instead of wishing desperately to be done at the 13.1 sign, I was like, hey, half way done! Hooray! But I was still stressing that I was running too fast.

The course was awesome! So many cool neighborhoods and so many cool sights.  For several miles, the Sears Tower was in view. And the weather was perfect.  I was cold at a few points, but overall, I was feeling wonderful.

There was uphill.  Not anything crazy, but there are rivers to cross and bridges aren’t at street level, so we did have to go up them.  I figured if this is what the last hill at the end looked like, I should be in ok shape.

Mile 16: 

Potty break. My pre-race ritual calls for 2 stops at the porta potty, but I only had time for one.  I had to pee the entire time,  and while it was annoying, it wasn’t affecting my pace.  I put it off as long as possible and was looking for a pee station right off the course (a few required some detour efforts).  I had my chance at the mile 16 aid station. By the way, Chicago gets a HUGE thumbs up for their stations.  They were almost every mile and 2 full city blocks long.  A nice person yelled out where things were upon approach so no guess work was involved.

According to my Garmin, I was stopped for well over a minute which makes me sad.

Miles 17-22

I was still feeling good, and amazed that I was SO CLOSE to finishing.  But, this is when crowd support went from super energized on steroids to non existent.   I REALLY wished I had my music to turn on at this point, but alas my iPod was back home in Albuquerque.

And people started dropping like flies starting at mile 20.  Up til this point I hadn’t seen anyone have any major problems.  Now people were puking on the sidelines, stopping to stretch, and stopping to walk.

Meanwhile I was gaining a whole new crazy confidence.  I calculated along the way that I needed to be at the 20 mile point by 2:40 to be on track for a 3:30.  I hit 20 miles at about 2:41.  CRAZINESS.  I was going to pull this off!

Miles 23-25.9

Um….WALL.

Training at elevation made it so that I never felt out of breath or without energy in low altitude Chicago.  But at mile 23, my legs said NO with the stubbornness of a two year old.  My feet felt fine, but my calves tightened and I realized that I was ready to be done with this thing.

The whole race my pace had stayed pretty consistent   Here it dropped to about 8:30 (the same as my pee mile) and it never came back down. But this was also when I had the most support from my fellow runners. A nice man came up to me and said, “way to go 3:35! You’ve got this!” Another lady came up and said something about girl power. But, despite the encouragement, the marathon became a completely personal battle.  I had to make a decision to keep going or stop and no amount of course support or inspiration could do the work for me.

Last week Kelly left me a comment that said to “trust myself.”  I decided that I would use that as my mantra, and in my time of need, that was the only thing my mind could come up with.  Trust yourself.  It literally got me through.

Regardless, at mile 25 I wanted to stop and walk.  I was beyond ready to not be running anymore.  But then I realized that if I kept going, I only had about 10 minutes left.  With 10 minutes left I would hit my goal.  If I didn’t keep going, I would literally miss qualifying by mere seconds.  The prospect of coming in at 3:35:02 was far more painful than sucking it up for the last 1.2 miles.

So, I sucked up (after taking the last water station very slow). And wow.  A mile has never felt so long.

Somewhere near the end

Miles 25.9-26.2

I saw a sign that said “only 800 meters to go!”  I HATE 800’s.  Not helpful.

We turned a corner and there it was.  THE HILL.  It was humongous.  Much bigger than the rest. At the top was the  mile 26 sign.  But I had to get there first. I felt like I crawled.  It was the longest minute? 30 seconds? of my life.

I felt a huge relief in my legs and I knew that I had reached the top. The course turned and the giant FINISH sign came into view.  I couldn’t move any faster, but I ran in (no sprint possible).  My life turned into a movie with the Rocky soundtrack playing in the background (in my head) and the roar of the crowd somewhat muted behind my racing heart. I crossed the finish in 3:33:55!

The crossover was pretty uneventful.  I know I was happy.  My goal was met.  But I didn’t have the energy to be super excited about it.  A girl that came in right behind me screamed BOSTON! And I wanted to turn around and give her a Boston Sister high five.  But I didn’t because I needed to focus on forward motion. I didn’t cry at the end.  Strangely, aside from complete contentment, I experienced very little emotion until hours later.

Aaron spotted me pretty fast (hot pink does have it’s advantages), and we proceeded to go through the longest post race walk EVER (about a mile worth of walking).  We did get our medals and our space blankets, but it would have been ok with me if the walk had been shorter.

Aaron’s Race

Aaron had such a strong and awesome first 21 miles.  He was holding a really fantastic pace and should have come in right about 3:10.

But then he got muscle cramps.  He had already run through the world’s ugliest blister (2 inches in diameter and YUCKY to look at), but running through muscle cramps just isn’t very easily done.  His last 5 miles involved a lot of walking and stretching.  And at the end of that hill at mile 25.9, a medic asked if he needed her to walk him in, so apparently he looked pretty pathetic.

He politely declined (people actually started cheering for him when he got moving again) and made his way to the finish in 3:27:21.

When he found me after I finished we had to stop on about 3 occasions during that long, long walk for him to sit down and stretch.

He wasn’t in good shape. He was understandably frustrated and really has been playing out what he could have done differently in his mind.  But he still had an awesome finish time that he’s happy to brag about!

After:

Gear check pick up was kind of a cluster-f and it took a good 20 minutes for us to get our stuff.  Not impressed.  It was arranged by bib number and bib numbers were arranged by pace, so each line was bombarded by people finishing at the same time.

After that, we still had another half mile walk to the finish line festival. We redeemed our free beer ticket then started the long walk back to the hotel with all the other limping people.

About an hour after finishing my left calf tightened to the point that I couldn’t walk on it (and couldn’t for the next few days).  And my stomach which thankfully held up so nicely during the race, decided to go crazy on me in grand style for the rest of the day.  I may have reached my goal but I paid for it.

In Conclusion:

Chicago organizes a great race.  I’ve heard some complaints, but my experience was fantastic! Volunteers, aid stations, the course, the signage, everything was spot on (they did run out of medals for the last few finishers but I think most of them were in past the cut off time).

The crowd was so amazing, and I appreciated all the support, all the signs, all the costumes and all the music.

I was amazed at how my legs just knew what to do and did it and at a much faster pace than I thought I could do.  I don’t think I would have been able to go faster at the end if I had slowed it down during those sub 8’s and if I had slowed down, I probably wouldn’t have met my qualifying time, so I’m happy that I ran faster than advised.  And really, my pace was so consistent throughout which really makes me happy.

I don’t think this will become a lifestyle.  I still enjoy halves far more, and I’ve never had such a long recovery period.  I’m still walking with a limp and trying to get my calves to loosen up.  And even though I am already forgetting the pain, I remember thinking how wretchedly awful it was to be at mile 25.  I’ve had some mean thoughts during the later miles in races, but I’ve never hated my whole existence as much as I did toward the end of the marathon.  It did make for a very sweet feeling when I pushed through it anyway but really, humans aren’t designed for this.

BUT, I will run Boston in April and earn my Unicorn (more on that tomorrow).

Thanks again for all of your amazing support this weekend!  I thought of all of you each time I passed a time sensor, knowing that you were getting a text message or seeing my little stick figure along the interactive map! It helped me so much going in to know that you were coming along with me. It was a great experience and I enjoyed getting to share it with you all and with Aaron, obviously the best running coach ever.  I questioned him many times throughout training.  We were running too much.  We were running on courses that were too hard.  We were running in the heat.  But in the end it helped me have a relatively uneventful and goal crushing marathon.

It was the proudest moment of my life to cross that finish line under my goal time, and THAT was worth all the training and pain.

Weekly Race Shout Outs and 33 + 2 Questions

Um, Hello Race Season!

Sending Fast Thoughts To:

Shantarella who is running HER FIRST MARATHON in South Africa!

Kelly who is running the Rock n Roll Denver Half this weekend!

Lindsey is running her FIRST half marathon this weekend!

Allison who is running a half marathon with her myTeamTriumph!

Hyedi who is running a 5-K this weekend (and is hopefully feeling better!)

GOOD LUCK!

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1) First: TWO WEEKS AND TWO DAYS!!! Oh my goodness, I can’t even handle it.

2) I admit…after the first game, I was pretty worried.  I asked Aaron if I could retract my decision.  BUT, I’m at peace now.  I mean, it takes me a few miles to warm-up, so why wouldn’t it take a team a few games to warm-up?  GO GIANTS!!!

3) So, aside from just more of the same running recaps (boring this week since the taper), I’m fresh out of things to say until next week when I anticipate a daily freak out session that you may have to help me through.  Should be fun.  But, until then, I thought I’d catch up on some Leibster Questions.

The lovely ladies Lindsey, Allison, and Shantarella each nominated me for the award (THANK YOU!), and provided the following questions to be answered. Incidentally, all three are up there racing this weekend!

Allison’s Questions

1. Why did you start blogging? I started out blog stalking.  Then friends started getting their own blogs.  I was like, I want a blog too! I posted for about 9 months before I figured out what I wanted to write about.

2. What three words best describe you? Short, caffeinated, competitive

3. What is your favorite comfort food? Sweet and sour pork.  And cookies. I’m a sucker for cookies.

4. What are the top three things on your Bucket List? Go to Europe (Like seriously.  There is this whole amazing continent full of art and wine, and I’ve never been there.  NOT COOL), Get Interviewed on The Today Show (I’m not above creating a crazy YouTube video to make this happen), Run the Boston Marathon (preferably BEFORE I’m 80).

5. What is one skill or sport you wish you were really good at? I wish I was good at any sport.  I really suck at sports. But I really wish I understood the financial realm and economics. Sloan on Newsroom helps me, but I’m still a deer in headlights when people start talking about advanced concepts.

6. What is one goal you would like to achieve this next year?: I’ll let you know AFTER the marathon.

7. Five things in your gym bag or purse are _____? Kleenex, lip gloss, wallet, pen, cell phone (this is my bag…I don’t actually carry a gym bag…that’s what husbands are for!).

8. When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up? A doctor.  And then a Disney Imagineer.  Not even remotely close to either.

9. Where is your favorite vacation destination? San Francisco (now that I don’t live 30 miles away), and Disneyland/ Disney World.  I do love me a nice beach though.

10. What was your favorite childhood TV show? Hmmm…Full House, and Muppet Babies. And of course World News Tonight with Peter Jennings.

11. If you could change careers, what would you do? Best selling author/professor.  The author of Jarhead taught at my college, and he’d fly in every week from his home in L.A. I could deal with that lifestyle I think.

Shantarella’s Questions:

1. What is your biggest achievement ? Endurance running.  In a few weeks, I will definitely say “running a marathon.”  I truthfully never had to try very hard to be successful.  This is probably the first thing in my life that I’ve actually worked my butt off for.

2. What is the best thing about where you live ? FOOD.  Green chile is amazing.

3. What is your favourite beverage? Water! And wine.

4. What was the last book you read ? Still reading The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois. Non-fiction is hard to read when you’re using it as a bedtime book.

5. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Hopefully living somewhere near the ocean or water

6. Whats your favourite blog? My own!

7. What would be your dream job? See # 11 above

8. Cupcakes or Cocktails ? BOTH.  Seriously, Shantarella….what kind of question is that????

9. Where would you like to go on your next holiday? I NEED to get to Europe. But first up, Chicago!

10. Whats your favourite Disney movie? This is like asking me to choose between children….hmmm…The Little Mermaid.  And Aladdin. And Peter Pan.  And Wall-E. Just, all of them.  I think that’s the safest answer.

11. What car do you drive? A black SUV that I’m in love with!

Lindsey’s Questions:

1. What is your favorite inspirational quote or motto? Dream as if you’ll live forever.  Live as if you’ll die today.

2. What is the #1 played song on your iPod? Hmmm…I haven’t kept track in awhile.  If I had to guess, I’d say Don’t Stop Believing. I love Journey so much it hurts.

3. What’s your least favorite chore? DISHES.  I HATE dishes.  I’d rather clean toilets.

4. If you could learn to do anything, what would it be? Play the violin. And I’d like to be able to talk intelligently about economics.

5. If you had to change your first name, what would you change it to? My name was SUPPOSED to be Aimee, the French version of Amy, so I’d start there.  I also really like first names that should be last names or names that make me sound like I play Lacrosse at Harvard.

6. What story does your family always tell about you? Either the pigeon that wouldn’t leave me alone when I was learning to ride a bike, or when I sped down the mountain on skis and had to wait for my dad and the bottom of the hill (I was like 7).  My sisters like to make up stories about how mean I was to them and I how I did things like lock them in the car.  I think they’re being overdramatic.

7. What was the first concert you ever went to? Hmmmm……I think Pavarotti.  He actually came to Albuquerque to perform maybe 11 years ago and my family is a bunch of opera crazies.  It was a big deal.

8. Do you prefer summer or winter? SUMMER! Although, running in summer is not fun.  I hate being cold.

9. How did you get in to blogging? See above

10. What is something you have always wanted to try? Backpacking through Europe.  I’m kind of past the right age now though. And I can appreciate the value of a comfortable bed and my own bathroom.

11. The best part of waking up is? LIVING!

AMY’ S QUESTIONS for everyone:

1) What is your favorite social medium?

After all this time, Facebook is still my favorite.  I love Pinterest but I liked it more before it was overrun with weight loss tips and “pin now, read later” captions.

2) What are you doing this weekend?  

The last 20 miler.  Unless something goes very wrong.  And then I’ll finally get to really taper too!

Have a fantastic weekend! 

The Cherry Garcia 10-K is a Mean Kid

First, I am officially my own person! I am now WordPress free.  And by that, I mean my new web address is http://www.LavenderParking.com.  It looks like everything is redirecting just beautifully, but let me know if things start getting funky.

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Wow. I was re-reading my Monday Reflection Marathon post at lunch yesterday, and I felt so sad for early Monday morning Amy.  She was obviously quite grumpy.  I’m already in a much better mood today, and ready to take on the challenge of training for a marathon in the summertime! But THANK YOU again for all of your encouragement and positive energy!

So, a big part of the reason I was grumpy was because of a disappointing 10-K on Sunday night.  In still keeping with my “a race every month” bucket list item, June’s race was the Cherry Garcia 10-K held at 7:00 p.m.  My sister joined the fun and ran the 5-K!

{It was an ice cream race, so I wore the most ice cream looking shorts I could find! Also, how awesome are Aaron’s sunglasses?!}

I kind of view this whole running thing like school.  You work hard all semester, studying and soaking up information, and at the end you have a test to see how well you’ve prepared.  The learning part is wonderful (at least nerd Amy thought so), but it kind of all rests on how well you do on the test.  That is where you prove your abilities and show what you’re made of.

So, if you don’t do well for the test, then what makes you think you can ace the final exam?

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I don’t think I will be doing another evening race (MAYBE RnR Vegas once they get their shiznet together).  Sunday felt like a waste of a day.  We had this race looming over us, and our activity and food consumption were limited because of it.  Plus, running a 10-K before bed made me really wound up, so I couldn’t sleep to save my life (which probably also contributed to the grumpiness).

Oh, and Sunday at 7:00 p.m. was somewhere between 96-100 degrees.  The pavement was radiating heat because it had been baking in the sun all day.  Though I do realize that it is probably more miserable in places where it is that hot and humid (we have no moisture in the air at all), or in places like Scotland where Rachel and Danielle are freezing, it is definitely not ideal for exercise.

My goal going into this race was to come in under 48  minutes.  This would constitute a PR since both of my last 10-k’s were either the first time I’d ever run 6.2 miles in a row, or when I tripped and twisted an ankle.  Plus, if I can’t run slightly under 8 minute miles for 6.2, then I don’t have much hope to run 8 minute miles for 26.2  At least that was my reasoning going in.

I am still kind of bummed that I missed my goal time by over 2 minutes.

My legs felt great.  I didn’t feel dehydrated (thanks Nuun!).  I actually felt like I was running a fast race for the last 3 miles.

But I wasn’t. I couldn’t do it.

I couldn’t make myself hit 8 minute miles.  Even though I started passing people toward the end, I didn’t make it down to my goal time.

I also apparently started and then stopped my Garmin at the start line, and didn’t realize for half a mile in, so I don’t really have an accurate breakdown.  I need to get better at using that thing under pressure.

In retrospect, I do think aside from the heat, what slowed me down was stopping at water stations.  I never stop at water stations for 10-K’s, but I stopped at all 4 for this race to take a couple of sips and pour water down my back.

Also, the course and timing were not laid out very well.  The course was a loop twice around a block, so as the 10-kers made our way around for 2nd time, we came across the 5-k walkers.  They also didn’t have most of the major roads closed, so we were running in the bike lanes right next to traffic, trying to weave around the walkers walking 2-3 people deep.  Aside from being slightly dangerous, weaving through walkers can slow people down.

The course ended on a sharp 180 on grass into the sun where again I had to navigate my finish line sprint around walkers.

Would all of these factors cause me to go two minutes slower? I don’t really know.

Final time: 50:16.  30th overall, 3rd in age group.  Yay for small races!

There was an issue with the timing chips, so some 5-Kers were classified as 10-kers.  Right after the race I was listed as 4th in age group and didn’t get a medal (I’ve tried emailing the race director).  Also, they didn’t take out the top 3 finishers from age group awards, otherwise I would have been 2nd in age group. Victory!

Aaron also came in over his goal time, but he finished 9th overall (woot woot!), 1st in his new age group!

{Aaron and his age group medal.  Little did I know that I earned one too!}

I had wanted this race to be some sort of confirmation that the training I was doing for the last few weeks was working and that I was on track to hit my ambitious goals.  Not getting that confirmation made me uneasy.  But life goes on.  Really, a 10-K in June isn’t the most accurate indicator for a marathon in October.  I still have time to study for that big final!

The Cherry Garcia race lived up to its name, and we got some Cherry Garcia ice cream post-race! At least that part was awesome!

We celebrated with a post race beer celebration at our favorite microbrewery! Aaron, who has been avoiding beer because of the whole wheat thing, figured this was an occasion worth getting an upset stomach for.   Sometimes, a cold beer is the only cure for a hot hard race, gluten intolerant or not!

{Why yes, that is a Range Roller in the background.  You gotta do what you gotta do}

Marathon Reflection Monday

One week down!

My plan is to designate Mondays as my weekly marathon report card in order to force myself into some self-reflection.   I hate self-reflection, by the way.

I will be recapping what I’ve done well and what I need to improve on, in what will hopefully become a log of what I’m doing to get myself to a 3:30 finish time.

Before my week 1 recap, I do want to start off with a quick clarification about my intentions in attempting a BQ time. I am not trying to qualify for Boston because I think it will be easy or because I think I’m some sort of amazing athlete who can conquer what many people spend years trying to do in my first try.  I am not an amazing athlete (shocking, I know), and I know the odds are not in my favor.

I want to do this because I want to be the best I can be.  I want to reach for the stars,  I don’t mind working hard to get there (let’s see how many cliches I can cram into one paragraph!). And I get to train at altitude, so if everything works out the way it should, running in the flat midwest should feel much easier.

I also know that if I go into this with an ambitious goal (and broadcast it for everyone on the internet to see), I will push myself waaaay harder than I would otherwise.  I know my performance will be better, 3:30 finish time or not.

{I would be so much less inspired without Pinterest}

So, how did this week go?

I am out of shape.  Our last run over 4 miles was over a month ago for Run for the Zoo.  The base is there, but it hasn’t been maintained.  It will probably take a couple of weeks just to get us back into half marathon shape.  We are a little behind were we wanted to be, but hopefully we will be able to make it up in coming weeks.

THINGS THAT WENT WELL:

Speed workouts: I feel like I pushed myself to about 85% of my max.

Passing on the french fries at lunch: I ate a side salad instead! It’s the little victories that help us get through the day!

Cutting down on booze during the week:  Unfortunately this did not carry onto Friday evening, the day before our long run.  Consider the lesson learned.

Recovery:  I’ve been keeping  a good pace for recovery runs, and rolling out every night.  We’ve also been doing good with recovery shakes and protein intake right after finishing workouts.

THINGS I NEED TO WORK ON:

Quitting Fried food: I only made two bad meal choices all week, but my goodness did I pay for them. If your stomach rebels when you eat it, it obviously isn’t meant to be eaten!

Getting back into shape:  This Saturday we had our first long run. It was only 7.5 miles, but it felt much harder.  I took the whole idea of easing myself back into things with a comfortable pace a little too seriously.  My pace was ridiculous.  I know the first couple of weeks will be getting back into the swing of things, but WOW, do I have a long way to go.

Hydration:  I live in a desert.  I feel like no matter how much water I drink, I can’t get properly hydrated.

Attitude: I hated every second of that long run on Saturday.  I need to work on motivating myself through the pain instead of giving into it.

So, for the next week my goals are:

1) Drink more water.

2) Have a 100% success rate with healthy meals (we’re also going to go more gluten free, so that should help limit our bad food options more).

3) Push myself harder during the long runs and let happy cheerleader Amy go crazy when it starts hurting. Would it be weird if I carried pom poms?

Thanks again for the continued support and motivation! This is going to be quite the interesting road to marathonhood, and this week reminded me that I have a long way to go.  But I’m still up for the challenge!

HAPPY MONDAY!

And Marathon Training Begins!

Well, here we are.  Just a little less than 18 weeks until I cross the finish line at my first 26.2!

Today is the symbolic start and the first day of training (3 mile run…groundbreaking stuff).  Yesterday, our official kick-off was an 8 mile climb up a mountain (more on that tomorrow).

I’ve been nursing my knee like crazy, and while it isn’t at 100%, I’m ready to jump in today.

I feel like I haven’t really trained since January (and really….not since October) and I am so excited to get going, improve my speed, and get back to being proud of what I’m doing.

I also have a really ambitious and slightly ridiculous goal for this first go-around.

I want to qualify for Boston.

I know that your primary goal for your first marathon is supposed to be just to finish.  My longest pre-race run will be 20 miles, so I will have no clue how the last 6 will feel  until race day.  And well, qualifying for Boston is hard.

But people qualify on their first try all the time.

I got the idea in my head after Rock n Roll Arizona, and I have been obsessed ever since (Maybe Leo planted it in my brain?).

Unfortunately, my marathon falls 2 weeks after the 2013 qualifying cut-off.  The best I can hope for is running the 2014 race.  So, I suppose even if I don’t qualify, I at least have a full year to make up for it.

As of this morning, the B.A.A. hasn’t released the qualifying times for 2014.  For my age group, 2013 hopefuls have to have a time under 3 hours and 35 minutes (5 minutes less than the 2012 time), so my goal is to run my first marathon in 3 hours and 30 minutes.  That means I will have to train up to running my fastest half marathon pace for twice the distance.

Insane and probably pretty painful? Yes. Impossible? No.

So, how am I going to get there? I obviously  have no experience, and the only marathons Aaron has done came after 120 miles of biking/swimming (and at that point, it is less about running and more about just not dying).  Thank goodness for the running blogger community! I’ve had the privilege of seeing so many wonderful and inspiring journeys to marathon-hood, and I’ve picked up a few things along the way.

1) Keeping to the training plan and putting 100% into every workout

2) Rolling, icing, massaging, and actively recovering

3) Lots of cross training: spinning, swimming, yoga, weight training, core work

4) Cutting out red meat and fried food as much as possible (NOT fun)

5) Reducing booze intake.  I know I talk about drinking a lot, but I promise I’m not an alcoholic!  I do however have 1-3 glasses of beer/wine/margarita every day.  I am going to try to limit this to weekends only.  I make no guarantees whatsoever.

My Biggest fears going in:

1) Not reaching my goals.  I really want this.  Not reaching my goal time, or worse, missing it by 1 minute, would be devastating.

2) Injuries.  They suck.  I want nothing to do with them.

3) Plantar Fasciitis: I know this is an “injury” but I consider this the holy grail of all things suckage.  Up to  a year out of commission.  No thank you.

4) Burn out.  I don’t want to reach week 16 of 18 and decide that I hate running.  I think 26.2 miles would be pretty miserable to run if I hated running.

5) HEAT.  The race getting cancelled, or having to try to run a marathon in 90 degree temperatures and getting heat stroke, or passing out at mile 20 (I am not above crawling to the finish line!).  This seems to be the year of uncomfortably hot races.

So, we’ll see where the next 18 weeks takes me.  THANK YOU for all of your support thus far.  Sometimes I don’t think I would have the same self-confidence or the same excitement for running if I wasn’t part of this running social media community! I hope to have great things to report in October.   Until then, I will be working my butt off to get there!

HAPPY MONDAY!

Albuquerque’s Run for the Zoo Half Marathon Recap

Sunday, at the Run for the Zoo Half Marathon, I made a huge  running blunder.

I forgot to start my Garmin.

As a result, my mileage was about .11 off the whole time, and I had no idea how much time had gone by.

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Albuquerque’s Run for the Zoo is the city’s biggest race.  Just about everyone in town has either run it or supported a runner at some point.  Although still a “hometown” race, it is obvious that Run for the Zoo is working to slowly establish itself as Albuquerque’s destination race.

For example, last year they added the half marathon event to the 10-K, 5-K, and 1 mile Fun Run line-up (though, still no medals for half finishers).  This year, packet pick-up was moved from a local athletic store to a hotel ballroom, and it had the beginnings of an expo!  Even though the half marathon cap is at 600, it is a well-organized race, and I think it has the potential to grow.

{Packet Pick-Up Bloody Mary Bar!}

Run for the Zoo also holds a special place in my heart because it was here two years ago that I ran my first ever race.

The day before the race was Cinco de Derby (my boy Bodemeister came in 2nd), and since Whitney from Racing the States and her friend were in town from Denver to run, we met up and enjoyed a pre-race margarita.  It was very cool to meet a blog friend in real life.  I wish I could meet all of you!

The next morning we got up early and did our pre race routine of wandering around half asleep while trying to pin numbers to shirts somewhat straight.

As mentioned last week, I wanted to shake up the routine a bit and see if any tweaks would help performance.

I started off by eating a bigger breakfast.  Typically I’ll eat a banana pre-race.  This time, I ate a bowl of Cheerios and some soy milk.  I think this was a bad idea.  My stomach felt upset.

The half marathon started a full hour and a half before the 10-K which was perfect in every way from more parking to a less crowded course.  This also meant no porta pottie line (the half only had 425 participants)!

The bad side of the early start was the complete lack of crowd support.  The one thing I’ve always loved about this race is the amazing community cheerleaders who line the streets to encourage runners, no matter what the weather is doing.  I guess the crowds don’t get up that early?

We started right on time (Yay, Race People!), I got my Garmin going about .11 miles in, and I started SLOW.  I was shooting for negative splits, so I wanted my first mile at about 8:15.

Turns out trying to run slower than you want is actually a lot harder than it sounds.  With the initial excitement, everyone is going fast, and oh my goodness, I was passed and passed and passed. Super competitive Amy was not happy.  But I kept working at going slow despite my adrenaline pushing me otherwise.

I also opted to start off without music.   The first three miles where everyone is just jockeying for position is actually distracting enough, and I didn’t need it.

At about mile 3.5, the crowd was thinning, we were starting down a long straight away next to the river, and I was ready to start kicking into gear, so I decided to turn on Amy’s Workout Jams.  I think delaying music worked well.  Aside from the few minutes I spent getting everything situated with untangling headphones and trying to figure out which button was “on” without looking, it gave me the kick when I was starting to loose the race excitement.

The trail itself was full of shade.  I had taken allergy medicine and Musinex, and I didn’t feel the same suffocation that I felt two weeks ago.  I was hydrated.  There was just a slight breeze.  Overall, everything seemed to be in prime condition.

Except for my negative split skills.

I started out slow, and even when I thought I was picking it up, I was staying pretty much the same, or getting slower.  I’ve already determined through multiple races that I’m pretty good at starting out fast and slowing down, but apparently I have a much harder time starting out slow and getting faster. Plus, as a smaller race, there were fewer people to use as pacers.  I ran by myself for most of the time.

I took my Clif Shot at mile 7. It didn’t create the same gag reflex that I got two weeks ago, but I may consider less gooey fuel options. Although Aaron took the Jelly Belly sport beans and said he could only stomach one.  They didn’t provide sport drink along the course.

Finally, at mile 10, I managed to get my act together, and started to speed up.  I was actually feeling really good at this point in the race, which I think spells total failure on the effort part, so I tried to use up as much energy as I could in the last three miles.

This is where our lack of speed training really hit.  I had the energy, my legs didn’t hurt, but I’m just not trained to run that fast right now.  But, I was still passing people, and stayed motivated by passing more. Who’s boss now, early passer people?!?!

I crossed the finish line in 1:47:25, twenty seconds faster than my race time two weeks ago.

{Sprinting toward the finish!}

Also, because this was the Run for the Zoo, I sported my zebra print Bic Band to celebrate the occasion!

{Double fisting like a pro!}

I didn’t really accomplish a true negative split because… it was hard.  Starting off slow is hard.  Having people pass you left and right is hard.  Though, I discovered passing people at the end is actually more motivational than passing people at the beginning, but by that point, it was too late to make up time lost during the first 10 miles.

I truly think I could have run the first few miles 5-10 seconds faster each, and I don’t think I would have exhausted myself, and at least I would have taken some time off the clock.  I chose 8:15 as a starting point because that was the slowest I wanted to go, but I think I should have started out faster.

I didn’t have any miles that were as slow as last race, but I didn’t have any miles that were as fast either.  And I feel like because I felt so good the entire race, I should have pushed it further.

And after all is said and done, it only made a 20 second difference, and that could have been because the race conditions and my overall disposition were better, not necessarily because I started off slower.

Maybe I just need more practice at this.

There were 425 finishers.  I came in at 91, Aaron came in at 28.  He was 6th in his age group, and I was 9th.

{Three legged Aaron, going toward the finish}

My dad ran the 10-K, and actually did really well!  We waited with my mom, cheering on the other half marathon finishers and 10-K finishers until my dad crossed the finish line.  I’ve actually never stood at a finish line before, and I saw some pretty interesting things.  I saw an older lady running fully barefoot which sounds just like a bad idea all around, but she looked great.  I saw another man who maybe didn’t heed the warnings of training into Vibrams, because he walked in obvious pain barefoot with his 5-fingers in his hand.  I saw a little kid (maybe 7-8) bust out, and finish probably in the top 10 of the 10-K.  I saw a lot of determined people, a lot of victorious people, a lot of tired people, and a lot of people who looked very ready for a cold shower and a nap.

{Aren’t we the coolest? And I love how this picture accentuates my shortness}

The great thing about the Run for the Zoo is the free admission into the zoo after the race.  We went with my parents and hobbled around for a couple of hours before the muscle pain started to set in.  I hadn’t been the zoo in several years, so it was fun to see the new exhibits.  Albuquerque’s zoo is actually pretty nice.

Overall, this was an enjoyable race.  It didn’t hurt, the miles went by fast, and I’ve recovered nicely. Truthfully, even though I didn’t come in at my goal time of under 1:47, I’m not really all that bothered.  It is obvious that I have plateaued, and it is time to take it up a notch.  Thanks to everyone for all of your support and encouragement! Half marathon #5 is in the books! Not my best, but definitely not my worst.

*CORRECTION: I don’t really know what I was thinking…I ran this race only 6 seconds faster than I did the Albuquerque Half Marathon.  Sigh.

May the Fourth Be With You and Friday Pre-Half Thoughts

HAPPY FRIDAY!

Is it just me, or has this week been particularly trying?

Weekly Race Shout-Outs

First, To Shantarella  who did the Safari Half in South Africa on Tuesday, and ran her best time ever!

Erika, fresh off Ragnar, is running the OC Half Marathon on Sunday!  Good luck, and run fast!

Jack has been planning on running the Great Western Half Marathon on Sunday.  I’m not sure if he still will, but if so, I hope he get’s his PR!

Hyedi is competing in a triathlon on Sunday, and I hope she beats the 12-year-old in her wave (because getting beat by a 12-year-old is a little ego deflating).

And…to Whitney! Good luck running your 10-K in my neck of the woods!

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I LOVE celebrating holidays, especially the slightly less conventional ones.  Tomorrow is a doozy.

Both Cinco de Mayo AND The Kentucky Derby are tomorrow.  It has been declared Cinco de Derby. It will be a day of sombreros, margaritas, horse races, mint juleps, big hats, and mariachi music. Ideally these two celebrations would fall on different days, because that sounds like a lot to handle for a Saturday that will also include packet pickup and the usual house cleaning.  But I am determined! I still need to choose my horse for this season. I usually choose based on the names. The weirder the horse name, the more likely I am to put money on it.

{SOURCE}

So, I have a half marathon on Sunday. The half marathon two weeks ago made me realize that I need to change-up my approach if I want to not hate life and give up at mile 10.

1) I will start out with an 8:15 pace.  This freaks me out because I’ve never started out that slow, and I think that means that I will have to start further back in the corral than I want in order to avoid having the speedy people run over me and my 8:15 pace.  I’m going to try for negative splits, so we’ll see how that goes.  I’ve never tried a formal approach to this.

2) I’m going to try running the first 5-K BEFORE turning on my music.  I never train with music, but I always race with it.  Apparently the motivational effect of music wears off pretty fast, so I’m going to run my designated slowest miles without it.  Hopefully delaying music will give me the motivation when I’m needing it.

3) I’m going to switch to Clif Shots.  I’ve used GU for the last few races I’ve done, but I’ve been training with Clif Shots for the last month.  I have no idea if there is such a big difference between the two, but Chicago provides Clif Shots, so I’m trying to get more used to them since now.

Since this is the last half before the great marathon training begins (and probably my last until September), I’m going to use this race as an experiment on shaking things up. By the time I get to September, I want to be running a 1:35 half marathon (yeah, I’m a little doubtful too), so I need to get my act together and figure out how I perform best now because I have a long way to go.

Any weird tricks or switch ups that you noticed helped you perform better? 

I hope to have good things to report back on Monday.

Until then, MAY THE FORTH BE WITH YOU! (If you just said, “and also with you!” in your head like I just did, then you get double cool points).