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.

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Training Log 9.7.15-9.13.15

Happy Monday–and Happy Boston Registration Week! I hope you all had a fabulous weekend. Ours was a lot of fun, and per usual, I’m sad to see it end.

It’s race week! It’s hard to believe I’m running a half-marathon this Saturday. It doesn’t feel like I should be ready for it. I’ll talk more about my goals for Saturday later this week, but I’m trying to just take it easy and not overly stress myself out about it.

I ended up “tapering” a lot more than I anticipated, which I guess is a good things. My legs felt pretty rough towards the end of the week, so I’m hoping to do some yoga this week to make sure everything is nice and stretched out before the race.

Monday – off

Driving back from Colorado.

Tuesday – 5 miles

I’ve been having a really tough time getting myself up and out of bed before 6 most mornings. Typically, that doesn’t leave me with much time to run in the mornings. Tuesday, I got up and decided to hell with it, and leashed up Rudy and we went out for two easy miles. After work and before class, I headed out for another three. I tried to run a little fast, and nailed a 7:06 as my last mile!!! That felt really, really good.

Wednesday – 4 miles

After work, I set off for four easy miles. This wasn’t anything spectacular, just some easy miles.

Thursday – 3 miles

I got up and ran early in the morning, but it wasn’t stellar by any means. My legs were feeling pretty tired. Kept it easy and short.

Friday – Strength workout

Alright, I’m just going to say it. I can’t do a strength day the day before a long run. I had a dentist appointment after work, which turned into 2 hours in the chair, and when I got home with a numb face, I just really didn’t want to run. So, I took Rudy for a walk and did a Deck of Cards workout instead.

Saturday – 6.5 miles

My last “long run” turned into “survive for at least six miles”. My legs were SHOT, it was hot out and I mentally didn’t want to be out there. My body was craving sleep after our pretty sleep-deprived weekend in Colorado, so I let myself sleep in on Saturday morning and then lazed around for a few hours. By the time I finally got myself out the door, it was almost noon and 80*.

summer long runI just wasn’t feeling it. My legs were pretty shot from the lunges and squats the day before, and the heat affected me pretty badly. I ran a hilly trail near the house, and it took everything I had to keep climbing up. I was trying to look at it from the perspective that I’ll be doing that a lot next weekend, and the start time isn’t until 9, so it’ll be warm. After getting home, I laid on the floor for a while before I was able to move again. 

Total miles: 18.5

Not at all what I was planning on for this week, but oh well. Sometimes that happens. The best thing to do–especially right before a race–is listen to your body and give it what it needs, and sometimes that’s a lot less milage than you would like!

Training Log 8.31.15-9.6.15

Happy Tuesday everybody!

I hope you all enjoyed your Labor Day Holiday! Jeff and I had an absolutely ah-maz-ing time in Colorado. I’ll be back this week with a full update on that, but it’s safe to say I’m head over heels in love and hope to get back very, very soon for a longer visit.

In the meantime, let’s recap this past week of running. It was my last week of training for this half marathon I have coming up. Oh, that’s right. Had some of you forgotten? I’m running a half marathon in a week and a half. To say I didn’t train like I normally would for a race is an understatement, but honestly, I feel pretty okay going into this race. Okay as in, I’ll definitely finish it. It will by no means be a PR (but on a course that gains 1100ft how could it?), but I am actually excited to see what I’ll end up doing.

Monday – 4 miles, 2 treadmill + 2 w/Rudy

I woke up this particular Monday feeling like I was getting a cold. My stomach hurt, my nose was all clogged and my throat was awful scratchy. I wanted to run though, so I hopped on the treadmill to see how things went, figuring it would be easy to get off and get back into bed. Once I started running, I felt a ton better. So after two miles I got bored, grabbed the dog and headed outside for another couple of miles right as the sun was beginning to rise.

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Tuesday – 4 miles

Honestly. I can’t remember anything about this run. I think it was in the morning, and obviously, pretty uneventful. It was my first day of school, and I was already feeling incredibly crazed that week. So, it’s a miracle I got any miles in!

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Wednesday – 3 miles

I was SO tired. My alarm went off in the morning and I just went, NOPE. I headed home from work with every intention of running the six miles I had planned. When I got home, I sat on the bed for a while and tried to talk myself into running. Rudy was wiggling around asking desperately for a walk, so I figured I’d do that first as a warm up. When I got home, Jeff was home and we ended up talking about our days so when I finally went to go run, my friend was going to be over in an hour to get the low down on watching Rudy while we were gone. So, my six miles turned into three. And that’s okay. At least I got some miles in, rather than skipping them all.

Thursday – 6 miles

I rallied and was up at 5 am for 6 miles before 6 am. It was a great run, I felt strong and happy I got those miles in.

Friday – Rest day as we drove to Boulder

Saturday – 12 miles around Broomfield

This run was magical. I had googled Broomfield when we got in on Friday and found that they had an extensive trail system in the hills! Perfect. I headed out early Friday morning- 6 am – so that it wouldn’t infringe on our other plans for the day. I was nervous about how this run was going to go, since I didn’t do anything over 10 and my last 10 miler was a complete disaster.

I headed out into the beautiful morning as the sun was just beginning to rise.

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After running aimlessly looking for these trails, I finally asked a nice old man out walking his dogs and he pointed me in the direction of the trails. I found the dirt easily and settled in to explore this system for twelve miles. It was beautiful. It climbed in and around the hills in Broomfield giving me amazing views of the Flatirons in the distance.

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The first 7-8 miles of the run were great. I felt strong, I was running well and enjoying the hell out of myself. The fatigue started to set in around 9 and my legs got heavy goin up those hills. Overall, I felt really strong, and finished the run feeling good.

It made me excited about this race coming up. Even if it’s not the best race ever, I know I’ll have a great time running.

Sunday – Miles walking around Boulder and Longmont.

Total miles: 29

And now to “taper”! I’m going to try to keep my mileage kind of on the higher end of things this week–somewhere between 20-25 and then next week I’ll just run a few days before Saturday’s rest. I’m not tapering like I normally would since this isn’t a goal race and I’m just jumping back into training for Soulstice, which is just a few weeks later. Fall racing season is in full force!

Training Log 8.3.15-8.9-15

Hey guys! Sorry this has taken me so long to get up–I know you’re all anxious to read about my running this week 😉 Things have been a little crazy in these parts the last week or so! And it seems like it’s just going to stay that way. In the meantime, I’m trying to get in as many great workouts as possible.

The theme of this week was: hills. I didn’t run as many miles this week, but every time I threw on my running shoes, I aimed to run UP as much as possible. I haven’t been doing too much in terms of speed work, so I’m hoping that the hill training I’m giving myself now, will translate itself when I start to incorporate speed again. With my endurance finally feeling like it’s getting on board, I’m hoping to start running fast again soon!

Monday – 3 miles

It was HOT out there! Major sweatfest. I only managed to hang on for three miles, but I was running up for the majority of it, so I felt like it evened out pretty well.

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Tuesday – 4 morning miles

I love morning miles. When I’m able to get my butt up and out of bed, it really is my favorite time to run.

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Plus, I found a new trail! I was running the same hilly route as I had run the day before, but wanted kept going up the hill, rather than turning off onto another road that is equally as hilly. I was running along and saw a trail going off to the side, so I popped on over and tried it out. I was already at about 1.75, so I didn’t go very far on it, but I made a mental note to try it again later that week.

Wednesday – 3 treadmill miles

Oh man, I was not feeling it Wednesday. Not at all. It was hot and smokey out and I did not want to be running. I got on the treadmill for a few miles and called it a day.

Thursday – Rest

Friday – 5 miles

When I got off work on Friday, it had started to rain and a big storm was moving in. I waited a little while to see if it would settle down out there. There was a break in the storm, so I headed straight out. I headed back to that trail I had found on Tuesday and had a blast exploring. By the time I hit about mile 2.5 it had started to rain hard and I was hearing rumblings of thunder in the distance, but not before I climbed a hill and got one heck of a view!

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I turned around and started a mad dash back to the house. When I was about a mile away the lightening was right on top of me and it was POURING. The kind of pouring that the rain drops actually hurt. I called Jeff and was like “Come get meeee!” Which he did. Because he’s the best. I finished my last mile on the treadmill when we got home.

Saturday – 6.5 miles

I had planned on running part of the Soulstice Trail Run course, but I got lost and couldn’t find the trailhead. Rather than spend the entire morning looking for it, I found a different trail head, parked the car and headed out. It wasn’t nearly as scary elevation-wise as my original plan, but I figured I’d continue to take it easy and maintain my same mileage plan. The storm the night before had made everything SO GREEN and clouds were lingering over the mountains.

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It was absolutely gorgeous and a ton of fun!

Total miles: 21.5 miles

It was a good week. My mileage wasn’t terribly lower than it has been, but I took it easier and focused more on the type of runs I wanted to do. They weren’t fast, but they got my legs used to running up and up. That’s kind of my game plan for the next few weeks, except for adding in more mileage!