Fall Racing: Schedule and Goals

Welp, it’s officially Fall.

I’ve lamented the end of Summer, but I am excited for Fall running! It also doesn’t hurt that I just ordered myself some fun new cold-weather gear and am excited to wear it.

With the first race of the season behind me, I’m starting to look at my calendar and get excited about all the awesome races I have coming up in the next couple of months! I’ve never raced so much in a short amount of time. In the past I’ve kept it to a half marathon weeks and then eventually a full marathon, and that’s all I do in a calendar year.

I wanted to do something different this year though. I wanted to race more, race differently, and have a lot of fun doing it!

Coming up I’ve got the following:

  • Soulstice Mountain Trail Race, October 10th. (11 miles with some insane climbs) Another trail race, with some intense elevation change, I don’t have too  much in mind for this other than to enjoy it. Soulstice is a huge event for the trail running community in Flag, and I’m really excited to be a part of it this year!
  • Ragnar McDowell Mountain. (November 6&7, 15ish miles total). I’ve never done a Ragnar and I’m really looking forward to my first and have it be a trail race as well. I’ve heard great things about it from people on my team that have done it before.
  • Girls on the Run 5k. (November 21) This isn’t actually a race, but I’m including it anyway. The AZ Oiselle gals are meeting up to run with a girl from Girls on the Run and help her finish her 5k. I’m really excited to do this. Right before I started working at the gallery, I had been looking into becoming a coach for Girls on the Run, but unfortunately didn’t have the time then. I’m excited to meet the Oiselle ladies and help out at such an awesome event. I’ll probably do a longer training run beforehand to get some marathon-training worthy miles in.
  • Tucson Half Marathon (Tentative. December 6). I haven’t registered for this yet, but I am seriously contemplating it. J and I would make a weekend out of it–my best friend and younger brother are in Tucson, so we could go and spend time with them, and I could run a half and have a solid test of my fitness with 10 weeks to go before the marathon. It’s a net downhill course and I got it in my mind that it would be fun to shoot for my sub-1:40 there.

Since marathon training will officially kickstart in November, I’m trying to figure out how I want to balance my training for a goal race, while also racing quite a bit. The thing I’m really quite excited for, is I’m going to have quite the base already built up before marathon training starts. I want to keep my long runs at about 10-13 miles for the next few weeks. I was considering “tapering” for the Soulstice Mountain run in a few weeks, but since I am taking this week very easy, I’ll treat the next few weeks as training, and include Soulstice as a harder effort long run.

With some of these things in mind, here are my goals for this training season.

  1. Stay Healthy. Run Smart. First and foremost, treat my body with love and care. I’m taking it easy this week after my back really started to hurt on Monday’s run. Since then, I’ve done a barre workout and a vinyasa yoga session. This morning, I put the treadmill at a 10% incline and walked uphill for 2 miles (good practice for Soulstice!) and then did 2 easy miles to test out the back. It felt much better and I’m confident that I’ll be back at it next week. The important thing was, however, that I realized I needed to let it rest, and that’s what I did. It’s no sprained ankle, but it did cost me a few miles, and that’s okay. I have plenty of time to run all the miles. I want to let my body rest when it needs to rest and be okay skipping a workout here and there. Maybe that’ll be an extra easy run one week, or an extra rest day completely. I’m not going to make myself stick to a hard and fast schedule with such a long season ahead of me. Keeping myself healthy and feeling good–avoiding the burnout–will be imperative to reaching my ultimate goal.
  2. Speedwork! I’ve neglected any kind of regimented speedwork for almost 7 months now, and I can tell. I’ve hit a few sub-8’s on runs, but overall an 8 min/mile pace still feels like a lot of effort–and that’s gotta change. Since my endurance is built and I’ve got a solid base to work with, the next few weeks are going to see an introduction to speed workouts. Eventually, I’d like to get one track-like workout in, a fartlek/tempo/progression run, and fast miles during my long run each week. My biggest barrier during a marathon is falling apart once I start to feel fatigued. I’m hoping that by incorporating more speedwork (and sticking to it!), will help me in the last few miles of the marathon.
  3. Stretch/yoga/roll: Again, something I always say I need to do and never do it. I recently signed up for a trial subscription to Jasyoga. It’s only $4.99/month and she’s got several short “reset” yoga videos (I’m talkin 10-15 min). It’s completely doable and will be hard to justify my way out of NOT doing them. If I can incorporate them after a hard run/longer run and give my body more TLC during training, I’m pretty confident I’ll stay more fresh and enjoy myself a whole lot more.
  4. Don’t be afraid to say no. I’m working full time, going to school, and training for a 3:30 marathon. If all I want to do is come home after work, crash on the couch and watch TV, I’m going to. I am not going to be afraid to tell anybody no, if I don’t feel like being social.
  5. Maintain balance. On the other hand of that though, I don’t want to completely become a hermit until February 14th. I do want to ensure that I’m spending time with the people I love, and enjoying myself. It’s all about balance people!
  6. Pay attention to nutrition. It happens every cycle. I get busy, my days get long and crazy and I start to eat like crap. I want to be better about meal planning/prepping on the weekends so Jeff AND myself are still eating well during the next few months.
  7. HAVE FUN! I want to enjoy every second of this. I want to work hard and see the results. I want to enjoy every race. I want to meet new people and maybe find friends to run cold, winter miles with. I want to toe the start line in February, after months of work, and feel excited for the 26.2 ahead of me. I don’t want to feel dread and burnt out from it!

    So there you have it! Bring it on fall! Let’s see what you’ve got!

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.

Training Log 7.13.15-7.19.15

Hello! I’m sitting here Sunday night, not quite ready to say goodbye to the weekend. To say we had a good one would be an understatement. There were lots of trails (for both running and hiking), DIY house projects we’ve been talking about doing for ages, brownie-baking mishaps and brownie-baking successes, and wine. It was one of those weekends you need after a week of crazed vacation madness. It was great and I am not ready to go to work tomorrow.

What I am ready for, however, is training week #2. After feeling blah about my first week of training, I had a long run that helped me fall in love with this process all over again. It was on a killer trail and I enjoyed every minute of it. But, before I talk about that, let’s look at the rest of the week, too!

Monday – 4.5 miles, hill repeats

This was my first set of repeats that was merely to run up and up and up. Usually, my hill workouts include a shorter hill–something around the 0.10-0.15 of a mile mark and are generally pretty steep. I run it all out as many times as I can stomach. This time around, I wanted to get used to running up a lot further than I was used to, but to do it at a speed that was manageable.

hill repeats

I chose a hill that I HATE. It’s long. About 0.40 of a mile long. And it’s a steady, steady incline. it’s a hill that generally makes me feel like crap. I always have trouble with it and it makes me question the shape I’m in, REGARDLESS of the shape I’m in. So, I ran up it 5 times. I needed it for the workout, but also for the mental toughness. I needed to conquer that bastard. It was brutal, but I felt SO GOOD afterwards.

Tuesday – 3 recovery miles with Rudy

I decided to take the Ru-dog with me for an easy morning run. It was MY mistake to take him on a trail for our first run back at home. The dude was let loose at J’s parent’s huge backyard for a week, and allowed to chase all the squirrels he wanted. Let’s just say my arms hurt after this from pulling his leash so much. I cut it at 3 because I couldn’t handle it anymore! The good news was that he wanted to sniff at everything, so our pace was nice and slow.

Wednesday  –  5 miles, 8:08 avg

I had seen a trail on my warm up before my hills on Monday that I wanted to check out, so I went on it Wednesday after work. Turns out, it was just another way to get up to Buffalo Park. So, since I found myself there, I decided to turn the workout into some kind of speed work. I ran some fartleks: 30 sec hard x 30 sec rest for 3 miles. It was my first time doing any kind of speedwork since February and let me tell you…it was rough.

thatviewthough

But that view cannot be beat.

Thursday – Deck of cards workout x 2

I did the Deck of Card workout twice. Once focused on abs with the following : Sit ups, crunches, reverse crunches and leg drops (is that a real thing? I think I just made that name up). The second time around I did push-ups, tricep dips, squats and leg lifts. BRU.TAL.

Friday – 3 miles, 8:17 avg

Nothing remarkable. Just some easy miles after I got off work and before a storm hit. It was refreshing and joyful.

Saturday – Long run, 7 miles

THIS RUN WAS BEAUTIFUL #trailporn

long run 3

long run 2

long run 1

I had heard so many people tell tales of how amazing this trail was, and have been trying to get out there to run it for over a month now. I finally made it, and it did not disappoint. I was originally planning on doing about 8 miles, but found that the elevation changes–minor as they were (started at 8750 ft and went up to about 9k)–plus a harder week than I had run in a while had killed my legs. I decided to cut it down to 7 and work on building my mileage over the next few weeks.

I have a new favorite trail and I will be returning soon.

Sunday – 4 mile hike with my guys

We woke up to quite the gloomy day. It was overcast and we were threatened with rain all day. But, we had plans to hike and hike is what we did.

boys hiking

hiking

Anytime I get to spend on trails, especially with J, I’m not going to complain about.

Total miles: 22.5 

Pretty significant jump from last week (14 miles) and a solid first week back in training. I feel pretty good about it and am looking forward to continuing my momentum. I was having a tough time finding motivation earlier this week, but after that stellar run on Saturday, I remembered why I was out there doing this. Because I LOVE to do it! I love spending my weekend mornings out in the woods doing what I love. For the time being, my focus is on enjoying the trails I have access to. Come November, that’s going to change as I shift into marathon training and winter forces me back onto the roads. Until that happens, I’m going to enjoy my time exploring new areas and trails, and look at my upcoming races as opportunities to continue building my endurance and strength and enjoying time with others that love what I love to do too.

Thanks for your continued support and encouragement! You guys are the best and I so appreciate your presence on my little corner of the interwebs here.

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

What’s Next

Ever since I decided to run a second marathon, my goal has been getting a ticket to Boston. I finally have that ticket and came to realize something: I hate the marathon. After Boston, I don’t think I’ll tackle the 26.2 distance again. The training is hard, both on your body and mentally, it’s time consuming and just plain exhausting. It’s an unbelievable achievement and the knowledge that you ran 26 miles is awesome, but when it comes down to it, there’s other running goals and experiences I want to do, other than continuing to run marathons.

So, after last Saturday’s race, I began thinking of what those experiences were. What did I want to do, now that I’ve got my BQ and have a shot at running Boston in 2016?

I have no desire to run an ultra. If I think the marathon sucks, it would be silly to want to run further than that. I think ultra runners are amazing. But, my body doesn’t really enjoy running that many miles, so ultras aren’t for me.

I really enjoy the half-marathon distance. It’s a fun distance, not too long, but you still get to do a decent amount of training, and it’s a distance I think I could work on running faster. So, yesterday, I registered for the Flagstaff Half-Marathon in September. This will not be a goal race. It’s simply the opportunity to run a distance I enjoy, in my hometown, in a situation that is a new challenge for me. It’s all on trails, and the elevation is no joke.

Flagstaff Half Elevation

For the half, you run each loop once. That’s a lot of incline and decline. I have no goals for this race other than to simply run it and experience it. And I think it’ll be a fun, new challenge for me.

Additionally, I also entered the lottery for the Soulstice Run in October. The lottery pull is April 1st, so I’ll know soon enough whether I’ll be running that race. Again, it’s a trail race and it’s about 11.5 miles.

I was perusing some other websites, looking for trail races in Phoenix in the late fall to tackle, when I found this run: The Flagstaff Extreme Big Pine. It’s the inaugural race and on trails I’m familiar with. I haven’t registered yet as I’m still deciding what distance I want to try out. I’m leaning towards the 27k (16.8 miles). Again, there wouldn’t be any actual racing involved. This race is in early June, which gives me plenty of time to build up to the mileage. I enjoy 16 miles. I think it’s a great distance and one of my favorites during marathon training. Since I was hoping to maintain a base mileage of 13-14 mile long runs after this marathon, running a 16 mile race wouldn’t be a stretch. I’m pretty confident I’ll be running that distance, I just need to take the plunge and register.

I don’t want to overload my schedule with races, but I enjoy racing. I like the atmosphere and the time spent with other runners, and I think running three hometown races this summer/fall would be a lot of fun! I would love to do a few 5ks and even try a 10k, but for now this is all I’m going to put on my calendar.

While I have no goals for any other these time-wise, I’ll use them as a way of maintaining a  good base, so when Boston training begins in late winter, I won’t be starting from scratch.

I’m excited to try some new distances and something besides road racing! I have access to such amazing trails in Flagstaff, it’ll be fun to race on some of them.

What’s your favorite distance to race? Favorite terrain? What running/racing experience should all runners try out?