Race Report: Flagstaff Half Marathon

Hello there! I thought I’d write about this race when it was nice and fresh in my mind. I didn’t run much during the week before it–about 9 miles total and nothing too special–so you’re getting this instead of a training log. Without further ado, here’s my experience at the Flagstaff Half.

The Flagstaff Half Marathon was held this past Saturday, September 19, at the Nordic Center, just north of Flagstaff. The race, all on hiking trails, boasted 1120 feet of elevation gain and was just shy of an actual half marathon distance, clocking in at 12.54 miles.

The start time was set for 9am, and my friend Jamie was coming to with to spectate. When I registered for the race, I had planned to do it for fun since it was here in town, and told Jeff not to plan on coming. He, therefore, made other plans and I was excited to have a friend come to watch me race! I told Jamie to be at our place around 7:45 since I wasn’t sure how long it would take us to get out there and I treat races much like I treat being at the airport: I want LOTS of time to use the bathroom and no chance of missing the start.

I climbed into bed around 9:30 Friday night, set my alarm for 7 and had a great night’s sleep. I’ll say one thing, I LOVE being able to sleep in my bed the night before a race. It happens so rarely for me that it’s a real treat! I woke up Saturday morning not sure how much time I had until my alarm went off. I went to check my phone and…it was off! Before going to bed the night before, I had had the grand idea of installing the new system upgrade. Turns out, when you do that, you have to walk through the set up before your phone turns on. Frantically, I started going through while screaming inside “WHAT TIME IS IT?!?!” (nevermind my perfectly charged iPad was laying right next to me). Relief flooded me when I saw it was only 7:15.

I hopped up, got dressed, put on the coffee and started making my toast with PB and banana. Luckily, since this was a fun run, I wasn’t terribly stressed. I ate and drank my coffee, chatted with Jeff and waited for Jamie. True to form she was there right at 7:45. I filled her cup with coffee, said goodbye to the man, and we headed for the race.

We got there in plenty of time. It was kind of chilly at the beginning which was nice. I was worried about it being so hot at by 9 am, but I was able to keep my sweatshirt on for a while before the race. I hit the porta potties a few times, drank some water, and enjoyed hanging around chatting before the start.

At about 8:55 we all started lining up, and the race director went over how the trail was marked and what to look for.

164 runners

Can you spy my orange Rogas?

(Sidebar: I’m due to receive my Oiselle singlet Monday. I was a weeee bit disappointed not to have it to run in on Saturday)

I made sure I had my picky bar in the my back pocket and tried to think of a game plan. I figured I’d take it easy on the uphills and try to gain some time back on the downhills. I didn’t want to go out too fast, so I decided to run completely on feel.

At 9:00 on the nose, we were off!

Heyoooo!

As soon as we were off and running, I felt the heat of the day. There was a nice breeze at the start line, but once we were in the woods, that was blocked and there were several patches that were exposed and in the hot sun. Despite that, I settled in, running at a pace that felt good and enjoyed the scenery.

A quarter of a mile into it, we started climbing. I settled into what I felt was a maintainable pace. Pretty soon, I looked up and realized I was sitting in second place for females. I got super excited and was all “holy shit. Maybe I’ll place!” Not too shortly after that though, a girl passed me. We then started to head downhill, I opened up my stride and passed her again.

My watch beeped for the first mile (yes. We hadn’t even hit the first mile and I was dreaming of placing. Not good) and I looked down and saw 8:18. Yikes. Way too fast. I realized then that I was pushing way too hard and my wheels were going to fall off quick if I kept that up. I reigned it in as we hit the next climb, said goodbye to the dream of placing and settled into a more comfortable pace: 9:33.

I stopped to run/walk on most of the inclines, since I knew that trying to run them all would only make me a mess by the end. The whole first half of the race just went up. Around mile 3, I started running next to a girl and we started chatting. She was great and it helped the miles fly past! Before I knew it we were coming out of the first loop at 6.5 and starting on toward the second.

The course was made up of two loops, that intersected each other at several points. The marathoners, that had started an hour before us, had to do the loops twice, and the 10k, which started half an hour after us, did the second loop once. At times the course was really confusing, and you weren’t sure who to follow, since you’d see marathon and 10k bibs. Overall, they did their best to make it as clear as possible, but I heard a lot of people complaining about getting lost on the trail.

By the time we started the second loop, the heat was getting to me a bit. It was nearing 80* and I was starting to feel a bit lightheaded. Tess and I were running at a pretty good speed, maintaining about an 8:40 pace and chatting away. My legs were feeling good, but I don’t think I had taken in enough water. My stomach and head were starting to feel a bit iffy.

Just shy of mile 9 we started to hit the incline for the last BIG hill. It lasted almost 3 miles and I knew I was going to slow way down. I told Tess to go on without me and slowed to a walk to try to get my head and stomach feeling better before the big climb. When I started running again, I still had Tess in my eyeline and was going to try to catch back up to her. As I was looking ahead of me, I hit a rock and was suddenly facedown on the trail.

I hopped back up and immediately looked around to see if anyone had seen me fall, but luckily I was alone. I started running again and then figured I should stop to inspect the damage. My wrists were a little tender from breaking my fall, my legs were filthy and scratched up, but other than that I seemed to be in tact.

I started running again chuckling at myself when a pain shot through my back. (I should mention here that the Saturday before the race some friends had taken me out for a belated birthday celebration. I woke up Sunday morning terribly hungover and with a sore back. I knew I must have rammed into something, but I didn’t remember and none of my friends noticed. Over the week it got progressively better, so I felt confident it wasn’t a broken rib or anything like that, and figured it was just a deep muscle bruise. I had felt it a little during the early miles of the race, but nothing noteworthy.) I realized my fall must have tweaked whatever I had hurt the week before.

I took the next couple of miles extremely easy. It was hot, my back was hurting more significantly and we were heading up and up and up. It felt like it was neverending. I ran as much as I could, and walked the rest. By this point, I wasn’t terribly concerned with my finish time, I just wanted to finish. Finally, at mile 11 we reached the crest of the climb and the trail started to move back down the mountain. I opened up my stride, hoping to catch a few people that had passed me by, when I realized all too quickly that wasn’t going to work. Each step jostled my back, and the pain had started to move into my rib cage and it was getting painful to breathe.

I pulled back, ran as softly as I could and it was better. I knew I didn’t want to walk it in, and running was tolerable, if a little uncomfortable. I kept the pace easy coming into the finish, with my last two miles at an 8:30 and 8:10 pace.

I came into the finish area at 2:00:48. 2 hours on the nose! I was really surprised and happy about it, since I didn’t think I was going to finish anywhere near my goal time.

Finished

Final stats: 21st overall, 8th female, 1st in Age Group.

They didn’t do Age Group prizes, so that is completely moot, but I’m pretty damn proud of that since this race did not go as well as I had hoped.

This was a really hard race. There’s lots of things that went wrong during this race…my fall and my back slowed me down for the last few miles, my fueling and hydration was off, it was HOT. In spite of all of these things, I am so damn proud of this race. This was, by far, the most challenging course I have ever run. I didn’t have the best training behind me, and I went in with really low expectations for myself.

I’m proud of where I finished, in the shape that I was in. If I hadn’t of fallen, I’m sure I would have come in under that two hour mark, but I wasn’t going to place in this race regardless. And 21 out of 164 people is pretty damn awesome. It was so challenging, but I had such a great time. Everyone I met out on the course was so great and fun to talk to. Despite how I was feeling, I had so much fun!

I walked away Saturday saying I was glad to have done it, but I wouldn’t do it again. But, after having some time to think it over, I think I would like to run it again next year. Especially now that I know what to expect.

Best sign ever

Jamie made the best sign ever.

If you ever manage to make it up to Flagstaff in September, I highly recommend this race. Yes it was brutal and tough, but man was it fun. Aid stations were well stocked and the volunteers were fantastic! The crowd was great and the course was BEAUTIFUL! Full of Aspens and incredible mountain views. I didn’t bring my phone with me, but I’m tempted to go back out and run it again for those views. Man, it was beautiful.

Filth

You’re welcome for this incredible photo.

Plus, anytime when you get to come home four shades darker because of all the dirt you’re covered in is a good time.

TRM Hot Summer Nights #1: 7k Race Recap

So….I ran a race yesterday.

HSM#1

Team Run Flagstaff–a running group in town (it’s more then a running group though–you pay a fee to be apart of it every year) is putting on a small racing series this summer. The series is one Wednesday night per month, and there’s a 7k, 5k and 3k race. Last night was the 3k.

I had completely forgotten about this until Saturday when I was looking at a flyer given with my pint glass at the Extreme Big Pine and I saw it listed on there. And it went exactly like this…

“Ohhhh yeaaaaaaaa”…..

“Oh Shit.”

Since I raced on Saturday, I wasn’t expecting a whole lot out of yesterday, but I surprised myself! So, that’s cool.

It was held at the Nordic Center just north of town and we ran one giant loop. The course was mainly up, up, up and then we went down for a little teensy while.

7k Elevation

I ran most of the uphill, with a few walking breaks every so often on the steepest part. There were two girls that were maintaining a pace near mine, and I’d slow to walk and they’d pass me, then I’d start running again and pass them. At one point one of the girls said I maybe had the better tactic. Ha! I told her it was just a side cramp, she was doing great and to keep going.

We reached the top-ish around mile 2 and I decided to just keep running no matter what. My pace wasn’t anything outstanding, Mile one hit around 8:00 (ran that first flat and downhill a little TOO fast, then the uphill caught me), mile two was a 10:44 (oh boy), Mile 3 clocked in at 9:04, and mile 4 came in at 7:01.

I was running a sub-7 pace on the downhill and picked off a ton of people. I was chasing down a guy that had passed me and given some words of encouragement on the uphill. We picked it up and kept pushing me, and ended up finishing just a few seconds ahead of me.

It was a really fun race. It was nice and small. I finished 23rd out of 68-ish people and 8th female. Not too shabby! I didn’t have a whole lot of time to hang around after since I had J, dinner and the GoT finale waiting for me, but I enjoyed myself immensely. Looking forward to the next one in July!

Race Recap: Flagstaff Extreme Big Pine 13k

Saturday marked the first annual Aravaipa Running Flagstaff Extreme Big Pine Trail series. There were four separate races: 108k, 54k, 27k, and 13k. I was originally signed up for the 27k, but after hurting my ankle and not running for six weeks, I contacted the race directors to drop to the 13k (8.4 miles). I was pretty nervous going into this race since I’m not exactly in race shape. I’ve only been back running for about 3 weeks and 8.4 miles seemed like a looooooooooong way to go.

Saturday morning I woke up, made some coffee and ate peanut butter + banana toast (per usual). I packed a Picky Bar for pre-race consumption and my hand held water bottle to carry during the race, as well as my nalgene bottle for before/after. My friends, Cristi and Jeremy, came and picked me up at about 7 and we headed over to Ft. Tuthill where the race was being held.

The course consisted of a giant loop that covered parts of Solider’s Trail and Highlands Trail. I had run about 2 miles of Solders Trail before–and fell and sprained my ankle, so I was a bit nervous regarding the terrain. The crazy looking elevation chart also had me a weeee bit nervous.

That's a lot of up and down...

We got the parking lot about 7:15 and Jeremy headed off shortly after to begin his warm up. He was running the 27k which started at 8:00, while my race started at 8:30. I hung around with Cristi who was there to spectate and offer support.

This was a very small race. Since all four races were run on the same course (each race ran the loop x number of times. For the 13k it was once, the 27k was twice, etc) the participant number was capped at 400. My race had a total of 92 runners.

tents

The start line consisted of a refreshment tent–which served as post-race food and beverage, as well as an aid station for the runners. There was one other aid station set up at about mile 4 of the 8.4 mile loop. Because of this, the majority of runners carried their own fuel and hydration. I ended up carrying my handheld water bottle and I’m sure glad I did! It was quite warm out by the time I started running and the extra water definitely helped.

The races were run incredibly smooth. The 27k started promptly at 8:00 and it was fun to see Jeremy take off.

jeremy off to the races

Around 8:00 is when it started to get pretty warm out. The morning started off with a nice cloud cover, keeping the temps around 60*. By the time I was starting my race, the sun was shining at the temps had risen pretty quickly. I warmed up a bit prior to the start of my race and tried to figure out a game plan.

me at the start

Since I didn’t know the terrain of the race, and because it was so small, I started to develop the hope that I could maybe, possibly, place. I decided I would try to keep my pace around 9:00min/miles on the inclines and try to make up some time on the declines and see what I could possibly do.

At about 8:27, they gathered us around to explain trail markers and what to look for, as well as protocol in case anyone decided to drop out. Our bibs were chipped, but there were no checkpoints along the course, so we were to go back to the timing tent if we were to drop and let them know so they wouldn’t think anyone was out in the forest, lost.

Makes sense.

At 8:30 on the nose the airhorn was blown and we were off! I was feeling pretty good and near the front of the pack, running a steady and easy 8:15 pace. At about mile 0.45 we started the first incline. By 0.65 I was already walking.

I immediately started to panic. My breathing was off, my legs felt heavy and I was thinking that if the whole race was this bad, there was no way in hell I was going to manage 8.4 miles. I instantly decided to let go of any racing plans and to just enjoy myself. I was out on a beautiful morning, running on a beautiful trail and I decided to let myself enjoy every minute–regardless of my fitness level and performance.

Once I took that expectation off my shoulders, I started to run a lot better. The first two miles were pretty up and down and the trail was quite rocky. I took it pretty slow, wary of my ankle and not wanting to push it too much too soon. By about mile 2.5, we got out of the very rocky terrain and onto a more paved path. It led us around Ft. Tuthill and we started to climb onto the Mesa. This was also where I saw Cristi, who had run a different trail to spectate! She cheered for me and I huffed and puffed and told her “This is brutal! I’m dying!”

Once we got onto the Mesa, I decided to stop and take a photo and catch my breath.

mesa

EW. Hurts my eyes.

This was the last time I stopped. Anytime after that moment I needed to rest, I walked. I told myself no matter what, keep moving forward.

Around the time we got to the Mesa we met with a lot of runners. This part of the course looped around to meet back up with the Soliders Trail which took us back to the start line, so there was a lot of intersection with other runners from other racers. We were also on very narrow, single track trail. It was difficult to be the one moving downhill and needing to hop around runners making their way back up. Most were very courteous and moved off to the side, but some simply refused, so I found myself running around bushes to avoid them at times–kind of annoying.

As we were moving down the Mesa, I was catching up on my breath and some time and I started to get nervous about having to climb back up. At this point, I had broken the race up into two. Getting to the aid station, and then getting to the finish. Breaking it up and focusing on the first four miles, and then the last four miles, seriously helped my mental state.

on the trailI managed to run a decent amount getting to the aid station–with the exception of a few walking breaks on some of the inclines. By the time we got to the aid station, I was getting kind of hungry–having forgotten to eat my Picky Bar. I have never been so thankful for food at an aid station! I was about to go for a banana when I saw a tupperware full of watermelon. I grabbed a slice and it was heavenly. It was nice and cool and I felt a million times better after eating it.

We started heading back towards Ft. Tuthill and the Mesa and I started playing leap frog with an older gentleman and a girl about my age. We’d all kind of run, someone would pass the other two and then stop to walk, then the others would pass them and start to walk, etc. While climbing the Mesa, I walked the steepest parts and ran the other parts. I figured if I could get myself a bit of space in between me and these other runners, I would be good. I don’t know WHY I thought this, but I suddenly was worried we were towards the back of the pack, and I just did not want to come in DFL. So, I pushed myself and got up the Mesa and let myself recover on the subsequent downhill.

We were at about mile 6 at this point and I figured “2 more miles is cake. You got this”. Shortly after I hit another steep incline that brought me to another walking break. About mile 6.5 we finally got out of the hills and were running trails that circled Ft. Tuthill. This was relatively flat and much more runnable than any other of the other trails were. I kept a steady pace and just told myself to keep moving forward.

Leap Frog girl caught up to me and we trailed each other for the next mile or so. We finally reached the part of Soldier’s Trail that I had hurt myself on and I stopped to walk around the gnarly terrain. Leap Frog girl got away from me and I was by myself for the rest of the race. I probably could have kept going, but I really didn’t want to take any chances on my ankle.

After the last big incline, I started running again and maintained that until I got to the finish line. I crossed in 1:25:48–nailing my sub-1:30 goal! I finished 28th overall (out of 92) and 12th Female (out of 58). I am crazy proud of the race I ran on Saturday. Considering my fitness level and the difficulty of the course, I don’t think I could have had a better race. I’m anxious to run it again next year when I’m in better shape, as I think I could have easily placed if I had still been in pre-injury shape.

*Bonus! One of my morning goals was to not have Jeremy pass me on his second loop on the way to the finish. I finished about 2 minutes before he came in the shoot, winning the 27k. NBD

podim

I LOVED this race! It was the best introduction to trail running I could have asked for. Everyone was incredibly friendly and supportive out there. Maybe it was because I was in the middle of the pack, but I didn’t get an overly competitive vibe from anyone. During road races, everyone has a goal time that they’re gunning for and chatter on the course isn’t often seen. Most people are wearing headphones and they’re in their own world. During a trail race, people are much more chatty. I got more “Looking good”s and “Way to go!”s than I’ve ever had in my years of racing. It’s such a different vibe! Everyone is just out there to run and it’s awesome.

This got me so jazzed for my other trail races coming up in the fall. I have three lined up currently and I am so excited! I definitely fell head over heels in love with trail racing this weekend.

Finish

Instead of medals we got pint glasses. YES.

I then spent the afternoon with friends and J-Money at a giant beer festival. It was an awesome Saturday!

Made in the Shade

Race Recap: BMO Phoenix Marathon

Or, “The Race That Probably Shouldn’t Have Been a BQ, but I Somehow Managed It Anyway”

I’m sitting here Sunday afternoon, watching the snow fall and trying to figure out how to write this post. I don’t exactly know how to organize all my thoughts about yesterday, so I’m just going to jump right into it.

(I took barely any photos because I am a bad blogger. So, you’ll have to use your imaginations, or read other blogger’s recaps that did a better job of taking photographs).

Friday afternoon J-Money, Rudy and I hopped into the car to head down to Phoenix. It was raining and kept me checking the weather obsessively. Luckily, it was pretty dang warm in Phoenix (almost 80* when we got there) and sunny. The drive down was pretty uneventful. There was way more traffic than either of us expected, but other than that, fine. Google took us on a really roundabout way to Mesa, including getting on the wrong direction of the 10, then getting off and making a u-turn to get on the right direction and we sat in a fair amount of traffic once we got into Phoenix–Friday rush hour, I guess. We pulled up to the expo at around 3:30, so I missed all the blogger meet-ups, which was disappointing.

We walked in, grabbed my bib, I bought a new pair of Pro Compression sleeves for the race, and then went inside Sports Authority to get my shirt (side bar: this is the nicest race shirt I have ever received. It’s a super cute tank and I kind of love it). We rushed through it pretty quickly since we had Ru-dog with us and it was a tad overwhelming for him.

expo

Trying to get a Bib photo…#reallife

After the expo, we headed over to our hotel to check in and unwind a bit. We were both kind of stressed out, so we decided to order out some pasta from Olive Garden. We carb loaded up while watching a marathon of Modern Family on USA. After eating, I spent some time getting everything laid out and ready for the morning, and was heading to sleep by 8:45.

alarm

I got up at 3 and started moving. I made some coffee, ate half a peanut butter sandwich (took the other half to eat before the start) and a banana. After checking obsessively that I had everything I needed, we headed out the door at about 3:50ish.

We had a bit of difficulty finding the bus drop off due to closed streets and detours, but we managed to find it. I kissed Jeff goodbye, he wished me luck and I headed over to the buses. I got onto one pretty quickly and ended up sitting next to a fellow Flagstaff runner! We chatted and right before our bus exited the freeway…it stopped. Our bus driver came over the speakers and said “Uh..the check engine light just came on and the engine just shut off…I’ll call this in and get you another bus.” Not exactly how you want your morning to start. We got a new bus pretty quickly though, and got to the starting line with over an hour to spare.

I went immediately to the Porta Potties and got in line. One thing I will say negatively about this race is the lack of porta potties. The lines were HUGE. I waited in the them twice and ended up finding a bush twice (one was RIGHT by the start line. I think we had about 3 minutes left before the start and I was like oh crap I gotta pee again! Sorry if I mooned any fellow runners. You gotta do what you gotta do.) The time before the race was pretty uneventful. I kept walking around to see if I could recognize anyone and then settled under a heater for the last few minutes. I ate my sandwich and hung out.

They played the National Anthem before we all moved to the start line, and shot off some fireworks (which was so great! I wish I had gotten a photo, but I had kept my phone in my Spibelt and couldn’t get it out in time). I found the 3:30 pace group at the start and settled in slightly ahead of them. Pace groups always mess with my mind, so I wanted to stay just slightly ahead of them, so I wouldn’t have to worry about falling behind (or the crowds that inevitably follow the pacer). I took my jacket off right before the start and crossed the start line about 30 sec. after the gun went off (and more fireworks).

Right away I felt pretty good. I couldn’t really see my pace as it was still pretty dark out, so I just went out on feel. I didn’t want to go too fast, but wanted to see what was going to be comfortable. The weather was perfect. It was cold at the camp before hand, but the minute I started moving I felt fine. I had kept gloves on, but ended up throwing those away within the first two miles. The first miles felt great and easy and I was moving comfortably

7:49, 7:45, 7:54, 7:57

I was worried about moving too quickly, but since I didn’t feel like it was taking much effort I went with what my body wanted to do, keeping as close to a 8 min/mile pace as I could. Around mile 4.5 we started the only major climb of the course. I pulled back and ran the next mile and a half easy. The course at UVM had a few big hills that I ruined my legs on by trying to maintain pace and I didn’t want to make that mistake again. I figured taking it easy on the incline would give me room to make up for it on the decline. Around mile 5, the 3:30 pace group caught up to me and surrounded me. I got blocked in for a while and couldn’t get around them. I finally ended up just squeezing through two people since I couldn’t deal with the claustrophobic feeling. I jumped just ahead to get out of the crowd.

8:17, 8:27

Mile 6 beeped and we were heading back downhill. I opened up my stride and let my legs do what they wanted. This was also about the time where we really hit the wind. It ended up being a headwind for almost the entire race (so much for the hope of a tailwind!) and at 20 mph, it was killer. I found myself counting down to the halfway mark over the next few miles…which I realized was not a great sign. I tried to stay positive, telling myself I felt good and I can handle the wind.

7:42, 7:49, 7:56

Around mile 10, I really started looking forward to the halfway mark. I already wanted to be done, which scared me. The 3:30 group had caught back up, and I stayed just about even with them for a while.

7:53, 8:00, 7:42

We were hitting some rolling hills at this point, going over and under freeways, and the wind was so brutal! I found myself listening to the pace leader as he yelled out turns, eagerly anticipating the moment we would turn away from the wind.

Mile 13 was a 7:52, putting me at a 1:44 half (7:58 avg). It was here that I really started to have some mental game issues. I told myself, regardless of anything else, maintain an 8 min/mil pace. The 3:30 group was still near me, so I ducked in, hoping to draft off them and block some of the wind. It didn’t help, but I was still feeling okay through mile 14. Mile 15 I was starting to tell myself to just get to 16 and then only 10 miles left—5 mile halves. Easy.

8:01, 8:02, 8:06

Mile 17 is where I entered the Pain Cave and I stayed deep, deep, in the cave for the rest of the race.

I started doing mental math–an 8 min mile pace was getting too hard, so how about an 8:10? That would still give me a qualifying time.

8:11, 8:15, 8:18.

Mile 20 is where I broke. I was fighting, fighting, fighting, with myself. Telling myself to suck it up and get through it. It was only 6 more miles and then I would have a BQ! I texted Jeff and told him I didn’t think I had it in me and he texted me back all the right things; I did have it in me, to just push through it, I was almost there.

I fought with myself a LOT during the next few miles. The 3:30 pace group had long since passed me and left me in its dust and I was struggling just to put one foot in front of the other. My quads were burning and I could feel the beginning of a blister on my left foot. I just couldn’t get my legs to move any faster.

8:32, 8:50, 9:10, 8:29

I thought for sure I had lost it. I had slowed down so much and was trying so hard to push myself and just wasn’t moving. During mile 24, I was doing the math and wondering if I could push myself to an 8 min pace for the last 2 miles. I tried, and my legs just weren’t turning over the way I wanted so desperately for them to.

8:28

I slowed to a walk at an aid station, and started debating whether I wanted to try to finish for a BQ and miss it by a few seconds, or just keep walking and accept that today wasn’t my day.

I texted Jeff again saying I didn’t have it in me and he replied “Don’t give up now! You’re SO close!” And I realized that even if I didn’t qualify, I would be more upset at myself for giving up a mile and a half from the finish then if I pushed myself to the end.

9:21

The last mile I gave it everything I had. It was mostly downhill and I kept thinking “Pain is temporary. Do you really want to have to do all this again? Keep going”. I hit 25.7 and was in so much pain and so badly wanted to stop. I had 4 min to get to the finish line in order to BQ. And I just ran with everything I had

7:46

I got to the chute and couldn’t see the finish line and almost started to cry. I actually stopped for a split second and then yelled at myself “WTF ARE YOU DOING? YOU’RE .2 MILES AWAY”. I started running again and almost immediately saw Jeff and Rudy. I grabbed his hand and kept going. I turned another corner, and there was the finish line. I ran as fast and as hard as I could, picking people off at the end, staring down the clock, desperate to finish before it hit 3:35.

I crossed the finish and almost fell to my knees. I managed to make it to a chair near the finish where I collapsed and kept my head between my knees until I stopped seeing spots and I could breathe normally again. I got up shakily, and started making my way out to the food. I grabbed a water, my medal and a towel (instead of a space blanket??? I couldn’t believe they didn’t have space blankets at the finish with the weather) and slowly started moving to find Jeff.

When I finally found him and Rudy, I gave him a huge hug and said “I did it.” My Garmin read 3:34:44. I had done it…just barely.

IMG_2289

Final Sats:

Chip Time: 3:34:43

Division Place: 15 out of 99

Gender Place: 88 out of 851

Overall Place: 342 out of 1900

First Half: 1:44:11

Second Half: 1:50:32

20 Mile Split: 2:43:06

Last 10k: 51:37

This race took everything I had in me. It was the hardest race I have ever run. I am so incredibly proud of crossing that finish line with a BQ, even if it was only by 17 seconds. I so easily could have given up and decided that I wasn’t going to do it that day. Do I wish I had a bit of a faster time? Sure. I’m aware that if I hadn’t stopped to walk and text Jeff, or walked at the aid stations, I would have crossed that finish line sooner, but I didn’t give up. I wanted to–so, so badly. I didn’t let myself quit, and for that I am infinitely proud. I know getting this BQ doesn’t guarantee I’ll be toeing the line in Boston next April, but I’m staying optimistic about that. The goal was a BQ and I achieved that on Saturday, despite the shitty wind, despite the way my legs and mind quit.

Overall, this was a really well organized race. The announcers at the start line were INCREDIBLY annoying (or was that just me?) and they needed more toilets, but other than that, it was great. The aid stations were extremely well organized and all the volunteers were great. The spectators along the course were amazing. I saw the same people several times and they all cheered so loudly each time. I can’t really say much for the course, however. The beginning was beautiful and then you were mostly in neighborhoods. At one point we ran by a grove of orange trees, but I was battling the wind and trying to hang onto my pace that I didn’t really notice much else. On a better day, I think this would be an amazing course to PR at. I’m already thinking about running the half next year.

Thanks for all the support and good wishes sent my way last week! It was an incredible experience, as painful as it was. I haven’t been able to process everything about it (perhaps a post on that later), but I did learn one thing: I can do hard things.

Quick Updates

Good morning friends! Happy Saturday.

I’m headed off to work in a few (djfhadsfhahd ugggghhh) but wanted to stop in and let you know I finally did some updating around here. The monthly recap page has been updated with December & January, and the Fiesta Bowl Half recap link on my Race Recap page has been fixed. I noticed it was busted a while ago, so I finally fixed it!

Check ’em out if you haven’t yet!

Hope you all have a glorious weekend! After work, I’m off to a housewarming/birthday party for one of my best friends and then I plan on cleaning and running on Sunday (and sleeping. Lots of sleeping!).

Toodles!

Race Recap: Fiesta Bowl Half Marathon

This might be a little long…so, settle in with your coffee, friends!

I wanted to start writing this on Sunday after the race, but I decided to give myself some time to process it. I am not happy with how I ran this race. I do not believe that this race shows what I’m capable of doing–physically, sure, but mainly mentally. I fell apart. I bonked. I bonked hard. But, we’ll get to that.

The Fiesta Bowl Half Marathon and 5k is held in Scottsdale, AZ near the Civic Center. It’s a loop course, which is great for people with spectators. Jeff was able to see me take off at the start, walk half a block, and watch me cross the finish line. The Half Marathon start is separate from the 5k, and the 5k starts five minutes after the half.

It was very easy to pick up my bib and shirt. The only real issue I had was with the (lack of) facilities. There were a few real bathrooms nearby, but the lines for them were absurd. There were about 10 porta potties, which just didn’t seem like enough for the 1100 half marathoners + 5k runners (not sure how many there were). I was waiting in line, and when I got down to ten minutes before the start time, I ended up popping a squat in a bush nearby, since there was no way I was going to make it in time if I continued to wait.

The race takes you down Scottsdale Road for about 5 miles and then you begin to loop around. The first 8 miles are on the street, which has one lane blocked off for the runners and it got a bit tight in sections. At one part, I got blocked in and had to jump up on the sidewalk to get around the group. It also gets to be kind of bothersome when you catch up with the walkers (they allow walkers to begin about an hour or so before the official start, so I started catching up to them around mile 5 or so) and have to start dodging them. The last 5 miles are on a bike path that goes through golf courses and a park before bringing you back to loop around to the finish line.

Overall, I think the race is extremely well run. The volunteers were very friendly and helpful. There was one table around mile 10 where the volunteers (all kids about Jr. High age) were just standing there talking and making the runners grab cups of water off the table–THAT was annoying, but that is really my only complaint. And the porta potties.

It’s a good race that I really enjoy running. So, let’s get to that.

Jeff and I were able to find parking nearby, and got to the start area a little after 7am. I picked up my bib and swag bag, and then decided to hit the bathrooms. After that, we started walking to the start and I ate half a Picky Bar. This was about 5 min before the race. Which, in hindisight, was not a good plan. The start occurred right on time at 7:30am. It was chilly–in the low 40s, so I had on a long sleeve and shorts. I got kind of warm towards the very end, but for the most part, I was pretty comfortable.

7:34

The first mile felt fine. I was worried I was going too fast, but I felt good. I got a little swept up with the rush of the race, but it didn’t worry me too much. My breathing was steady and I didn’t feel like I was going too fast.

7:50

Almost immediately after I crossed the first mile marker I got hit hard with a killer side stitch. Like, bad. I slowed down, slowed my breathing and tried to get it under control. It lessened around mile 3 and was gone by mile 4. I think it had a large part to do with that Picky Bar I ate so quickly before the race.

7:43

7:47

7:49

Around mile 5, I wasn’t really sure what I was doing–pace wise. I didn’t know what I should be targeting, so I was just running as hard as I could at a pace I thought I would be able to maintain. Things were starting to get hard, and I never felt like I was getting into a rhythm. I think I was pushing too hard, trying to run faster then I should have been.

7:40

Around mile 6 is when the 1:40 pace group caught up to me. I tried to settle in to draft them for a bit. I figured if I could just hang on to them, I would still be able to run a sub-1:40, since I had banked a bit of extra time and started after they did. I had my gel around here as well, and just tried to ease in.

7:37

7:31

The pace group started to pick it up and I started to struggle. I just couldn’t hang with them and I let them get away from me.

7:56

7:51

8:00

8:16

Man. I was trying so hard. During miles 9-12 I just kept telling myself “Hang on for under 8:00. You can do that”. And then the time just kept clicking and clicking and I was slowing and slowing…During mile 12 there was this awful “hill” (it was an incline from a bike path. I think we all know those don’t actually constitute as hills) and moment where I was convinced I was going to hurl. So, I stopped. And walked.

OH THE SHAME! I was so unhappy at this point I almost started crying. I was so mad for not running the way I wanted to and that I couldn’t make my legs work the way I was expecting them to.

Mile 13 I tried to push it. I told myself, “one more effing mile. You can do that.”

7:51

At least it was under 8 minutes.

I crossed the finish line in 1:42:35 (chip time–Garmin was a little different).

ChronoTrack Live    27th Annual Runners Den Fiesta Bowl 1 2 Marathon

I don’t actually know if it was a PR or not–I didn’t keep the seconds on my other race, so I don’t know what to call it. Garmin said my pace was an average 7:48 and I do remember it being 7:50s on the race previous, so I guess it is? Technically? It sure doesn’t feel like it though.

I’m a smarter runner then this race shows. I think the main mistake I made was overestimating my fitness level, and underestimating the distance. After running three marathons, I’ve gotten kind of jaded. I definitely thought to myself “Oh, well I’m just running a half.” There is no “just” about it. A half marathon is STILL 13 miles and that is a considerable distance.

1:42 is not a bad time by any means. It’s still a really solid pace, and I’m not upset about the time. I’m mostly upset over how I let myself get swept away with the notion that I should have been running faster then that. Hell, two weeks ago I ran 5 miles at a 7:40 pace and wrote on the blog that I wasn’t sure I could maintain that for 8 more. But, there I was on Sunday thinking I could easily maintain a sub-7:40 pace, and instead of listening to my body, I kept pushing and pushing and was spent with 5 more miles to go.

On the flip side, it helped me identify the things I really want to work on in the coming weeks. Mainly my fueling–as I have a feeling this played a role in the way I bonked on Sunday (and it’s something I really struggle with)–and running fast. Currently, I dedicate one day a week to speed work, and I think I need to change that. I’m going to start incorporating some miles at MGP during my long runs, and incorporating either a tempo, progression, or fartlek run on my longer runs during the week. I think this will really help me get a lot more comfortable running at the pace I’ll need to maintain during the marathon.

After having a day to digest the race, I can appreciate the crappiness. I’m mad at myself for not running intelligently, but it was humbling. My ego is checked, and I know I have a lot to do before I toe that start line in Mesa on February 28th. And I’m ready to work.

fiestabowl