Refreshed!

Hey-o! What’s up?! Happy Monday!

I wanted to stop by and share a quick update on what my 50K recovery weeks looked like and what “the plan” will be going forward.

Basically I’ve had two weeks of short easy runs only (with optional rest days at any point (I took two :)). My recovery weeks coincided with the second half of our Colorado vacation and also a quick trip to the beach with my mom, which I must say was great timing! I definitely enjoyed the break from workouts and early morning alarms. I slept-in more in the last two weeks than possibly in the last two years combined and it was glorious!

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I got a full body sports massage the Wednesday after the race, which was much-needed and quite amazing. I’m planning to do that once a month going forward. I’m looking at it as an investment in my health (hashtag worth it). I also tried two new to me fitness classes that I really enjoyed as well. One was an Orange Theory Fitness (OTF) class and the other was HOT YOGA (oh my).

After one workout, I must say that I am a huge fan of OTF. I would love to make it part of my weekly routine. I started out on the treadmill, which was great because I felt super comfortable there. We alternated between a base pace, a push pace and an all out pace. I equated those to easy run pace, half marathon pace and 5K pace. We ran for 15 minutes, did 750 meters on the row machine and then did 15 minutes of strength work (with free weights and TRX bands (which I had never used before)). You did that whole thing (run, row, weights) twice. I really felt like I got a great workout in. The running was lots of intervals and I ended up with close to 4 miles. Combining running and strength training is a really good incentive for me to actually get the strength training done.

The massage therapist that I saw strongly suggested that I incorporate yoga into my weekly routine. I promised her that I would at least try to give it a shot. It has been a hot minute since I have been to yoga and I have never done hot yoga before, so that was an experience. I got started off on the wrong foot because I arrived right at 4:30 for a 4:30 class (but of course, on time is late) and they had to rearrange the entire room to make a space for me. Let’s just say that I picked up some negative energy from the other yogis. Ha. I couldn’t for the life of me remember what a chaturanga was (or half of the other poses for that matter) and the instructor didn’t have room to demonstrate the poses.

I couldn’t get Rebecca’s favorite “honest meditation” video out of my mind the entire class. I almost laughed out loud a few times when the instructor told us to set an intention for our practice and then to breathe in … and breathe out … I don’t know if yoga is going to be a regular thing or not. We were packed in there like sardines, but I definitely got a good sweat in! Success … I think.

Now that I am all rested up, I am really looking forward to the next chapter, which will be a SUMMER OF SPEED! I’m going back to my original plan (from last summer) of focusing on shorter distances for a while. I enjoy trying to be a well-rounded runner that runs lots of distances. The 50K was a nice break (I realize that this sounds a little crazy) and I am so glad that I did it. Variety is definitely the spice of life (and training in my opinion). Now it is time to get back to the track and focus on some speed work.

I’m going to try to find a one mile race at some point this summer, I’m doing a two mile race in August and other than that, you’ll probably see lots of 5K recaps. Oh … and half marathon recaps … I’m still working on the one half per month thing!

“We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves; otherwise we harden.”
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

What are your running goals this summer? Other than not to melt in the heat and humidity (obviously that is a solid goal for everyone).

Full Steam(boat) Ahead!

Howdy folks! Long time no see!

We just got back from a wonderful trip to Colorado! I am going to share the painstaking details of our trip in this post for any of you who are interested (so … Mom, Dad, Nana … this one’s for you :)). I wrote the shell of this post while we were gone so that I could remember everything we did and filled in the details once we got back. We stayed pretty busy!

I will have a race recap up in a separate post (soon hopefully … in between laundry, unpacking and more laundry), so for any of you who don’t care about the details of my life and just want to read about running … hold tight for a little bit longer.

Edited to add: I’m not sure why, but my recap is showing up as an earlier post, even though I posted it after this one.

As a general overview: We took a 6 day trip to Steamboat Springs, Colorado. I think it was one of my favorite vacations to date! It was just long enough that I feel like we settled in and got a good lay of the land, but not too long that we ran out of things to do or got bored. We LOVED Steamboat and I could totally see myself living there (well … at least for a few months of the year). The temperature pretty much stayed in the sixties and seventies for the majority of our trip, which was perfect and there was even still some snow on the ground.

It was an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise and I definitely got my fill of the time in nature that I had been craving. I am typically a major homebody, but this trip definitely piqued some wanderlust that was stirring somewhere deep in my soul. Hopefully we will get the opportunity to wander around and explore more of the world (or at least the country) soon!

Day 1 (Travel Day): Our flight departed from New Orleans at 6 p.m. Wednesday evening. We left around 1 p.m. to ensure that we had plenty of time to get to the airport, find parking, etc. and in typical Daniel Gardner fashion we arrived at the airport about 3 hours before our  plane. We drove through some nasty weather and apparently flew out just in time to miss the next squall line that blew through the NOLA area. We had to adjust our flight path to avoid the storms as well, so the flight ended up being about 3.5 hours (instead of 3). Our pilot told us that if we had been delayed 10 more minutes, we wouldn’t have been able to make it out because the weather got so bad.

We definitely put our Garmin Virb camera to good use this trip. You will see lots of “selfie stick” pics included in this post and just a ton of pictures in general. I made most of them into collages so that they wouldn’t completely overtake the post.

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Not gonna lie, I was a tad skeptical of these $80 round trip flights that Daniel booked. I asked him a few times if he was sure that we had flights or if he had just paid for our baggage fee (side note: my bag didn’t exceed the 50 pound threshold for possibly the first time ever … major packing victory). We flew Frontier and as it turns out, yes, we actually had flights. On the front row! Seats 1A and 1B. We had a little turbulence and a couple of loud, chatty neighbors, overall the but flight was great! We got delayed on the tarmac once we arrived in Denver and all in all, we were about 2 hours later picking up our rental vehicle than we expected.

We drove off the lot in a Ford Expedition (we were supposed to have a “small” SUV) and first on the agenda was to get some food! Our options were very limited and we ended up getting dinner from a gas station right outside of Denver (side note: I DO NOT recommend eating an entire bag of dried fruit and a candy bar at 1 a.m. … learned that lesson the hard way). We then began the 3 hour drive to Steamboat Springs. We drove from midnight to 3 a.m. Even though it was dark, we were able to see some snow and get a little peek at a few of the mountain ranges. I even stayed awake for 90% of the drive. I took my contacts out at some point and *almost* lost a contact into the deep, dark crevices of the rental car. I didn’t bring a backup pair (note to future self: this would be smart) and so that would’ve been really bad. As Daniel was looking for a place to pull off the road so that we could search for it, I found it! In my eye! I think the delirium had started setting in.

We arrived at our hotel at 3:20 a.m. and immediately passed out.

Day 2: We lazed around the hotel for a little while Thursday morning, as we were both pretty exhausted from the long day of travel and also not feeling *stellar* (see above warning re: gas station dinner at 1 a.m.). We scoped out a few things that we wanted to do (we don’t really tend to make lots of plans beforehand when traveling … we like to just wing it). We made our way over to Stagecoach State Park (about 15 minutes outside of Steamboat) mid-morning and went for a run around Stagecoach Lake. It was absolutely beautiful!

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This was our first run at altitude and we were anxious to see how that affected us. Given that we live at 100 ft. and we traveled to close to 8,000 ft., we really weren’t sure how our bodies were going to react. Neither of us had any headaches, nausea, shortness of breath or unusual fatigue the entire trip, so we were incredibly fortunate. I felt a whole lot better going into the 50K having gotten this first run under my belt.

After our running exploration around Stagecoach State Park, we decided to get groceries so that we could do a few meals in instead of eating out for every meal. We stayed at The Steamboat Grand and our room was the “apartment” option with a full kitchen, living space, etc. so that seemed like a smart decision. In hindsight, we didn’t eat many meals “in,” but we definitely ate most of the snacks that we bought.

Thursday evening we went into town and walked around. We didn’t realize it, but apparently we were there during their “mud season,” which is the time in between their busy winter season and the summer season. The name comes from dirt paths such as roads and hiking trails that become muddy from melting snow and rain. A lot of the shops and restaurants were closed, but that was totally fine with us. We were digging the “sleepy little town” vibe. We were also digging that we got almost an entire week’s stay for the price of what one night typically would cost!

Day 3: We started the day out with a breakfast adventure run! We scoped out a few good breakfast options when we were in town Thursday evening. We also scoped out a trail that ran right through downtown Steamboat along the Yampa river that we wanted to run. We decided to combine those activities and run to breakfast, eat and then walk back.

I love being anywhere by the water and was very content to be running next to the river. We stopped to check out a botanical garden on our way back. The flowers were beautiful!

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Friday afternoon we made our way to Lone Tree Colorado. It was about a three hour drive, but the trip flew by because there was so much scenery to take in. We stopped in Breckinridge along the way for lunch. I wish I could say that we stopped at some really cool local place, but we went with Which Wich instead. We don’t have Which Wich in Alabama though, so it felt like we were getting something unique.

We were also super entertained by the changes in the fullness of my bag of chips as the elevation changed throughout our drive. The air pressure is greater at lower altitude than at higher altitude. When the bag is sealed at a certain altitude, the air is pushing out at the same rate it is being pushed on. When the bag is moved to a higher altitude, the air in the bag is pushing harder on the bag than the air around the bag (middle right picture below). Fascinating stuff …

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We made it to Lone Tree just in time to pick up our bibs for the race, check into our hotel for and grab some dinner before crashing for the evening.

Day 4: Race Day! I’m going to do a separate post for the race (it was a LONG race and I have lots of thoughts to share (as per usual)).

We made our way back to Steamboat Saturday afternoon and found the perfect post-race activity. We went to Strawberry Hot Springs, a natural hot spring located just outside of Steamboat Springs. It is supposedly one of the most spectacular mineral springs in the world. We got to soak in 100+ degree mineral water, which felt absolutely ahh-mazing after running 31 miles.

We also made our way over to the Fish Creek Falls. It was a quarter mile walk down and not gonna lie, we almost didn’t walk down there (that seemed SO FAR!), but I’m so glad that we did. The falls were roaring from all of the melting snow.

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Day 5: We lazed around our room for a while Sunday morning as we were both pretty spent from the race. We eventually ventured out to do some hiking. Daniel had been really wanting to hike up one of the ski slopes, so that’s exactly what we did. If our legs could talk, they probably would’ve said, “C’mon guys … can’t we ever just catch a break?!” In actuality, we both felt much better than we expected to, which was nice because we had stuff that we wanted to do!

We went to the Howelsen Hill Ski Area and made our way up Quarry Mountain. There were lots of hikers, runners and mountain bikers out enjoying the beautiful weather. We made friends with a couple of guys who were hiking up as well. They asked us where we were from and when we told them we were from Alabama, one of the guys told us that he used to live in AL as well. He went on to tell us that he was “ahead of the dispensary curve” (his words) and as a result of a run-in with the law, he had to do some time at the minimum security federal prison camp in Montgomery, AL. He took up walking while in the pen and told us that he walked over 15 miles a day! Now he lives in Steamboat and owns a “bagel shop,” which I find to be highly suspect (but again, his words).

He gave us some great pointers on where to hike and told us that we were crazy (after hearing about my 31 mile running adventure the day before) and that we fit in perfectly in Steamboat. We definitely felt like locals at that point. We ended up hiking 5 miles with close to 1,600 ft. of elevation gain. This was probably one of our favorite things that we did the entire trip! The views from the top of the mountain were phenomenal!

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Day 6: We RESTED! We actually didn’t set an alarm the entire trip except for the morning of the race and the morning that we left. Even though we had a very active vacation (we wouldn’t have it any other way), we also got some good rest in as well. By Monday neither one of us had any desire to do anything but lay around and rest. We discovered that our hotel had a steam room, which was quite relaxing. The steam room was the only place that I actually broke a sweat the entire trip I think! The air is just so dry (and glorious) that you don’t sweat. I mean … technically you still sweat, but it just evaporates and so you don’t *feel* sweaty.

This seems like a good place to show you some of the delicious food that we ate. I didn’t get pictures of all of it … sometimes we were too ravenous to stop for a picture. There were mud season specials at a lot of the restaurants. Buy 2 entrees and get the lesser one for free? Pretty sweet!

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Day 7 (Travel Day): Our flight left Denver at 2 p.m. Tuesday afternoon. We had to leave Steamboat around 8 a.m. to make sure that we had plenty of time to get to the airport, return our rental car and get checked in for our flight. We stopped on the way out for one last snow pic!

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We came up with a new game to play in the car. There aren’t too many billboards out there and so playing the sign game is tough. We listed to ONEderland on Sirius XM, which is a medley of pop artists (with one big hit and that was it!). The game was who would be the first to name another hit by one of the artists. It is a tough game for the musically challenged. Over the course of our trip, we probably listened to over 5 hours of ONEderland and we only knew a second some for one artist … and it was Afroman. LOL! Definitely showing our true roots with that one.

We made it back to New Orleans around 6 p.m. and were back home by 9! Thankfully Mrs. Donna picked up our little booger from the Dog Ranch for us and so we were able to get lots of Brooksy cuddles and kisses when we got home. We had a wonderful vacation, but it is always SO GOOD to be home!

Tell me: where is somewhere that you have traveled that you LOVED? We need to start planning our next adventure!

Race Recap: Greenland Trail 50K

Whew. Where to begin?!

I ran the Greenland Trail 50K in Larkspur, CO last weekend. This was my first 50K and it was BY FAR the most difficult thing I think I have ever done!

Let’s start with some tips (or lessons if you will) of things that I learned:

If you are planning to run a TRAIL 50K, for goodness sake, do some training on trails! This race was not on technical trails (twisty trails with lots of rocks, roots, etc.), but it was on DIRT (think running in sand). I was NOT prepared for that from a training perspective. I knew it was going to be on dirt trails, but in my head I didn’t think it was going to be a big deal. My head was wrong.

Side note: every time I type trails, the iPad is auto-correcting it to trials, which seems very fitting.

A course that has an elevation gain of 2,100 feet, but also an elevation loss of 2,100 feet will NOT, and I repeat, will NOT net out to feeling as if you are running a flat race. The green mountains below shows the course elevation. The race started at close to 7,000 ft. and was a lot of up and down. You will notice the very negative correlation between my pace and the elevation below!

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I didn’t actually think that this would feel like running a flat 50K, but at the same time I also tried to convince myself that it would. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. Again (from a training perspective), I was NOT prepared for the climbs! Just to give you some context, the hill repeat workout I did a few weeks ago was only 700 feet of climbing total. There isn’t really much I could’ve done about that though … we just don’t have many any mountains in lower AL!

Let’s move on to the race itself:

I got up at 5 a.m. and had some coffee, some Nuun and a Luna bar. The race start was about a 30 minute drive from our hotel and so we left around 5:30 to get there about an hour before the start (the 50K started at 7 a.m.).

Once we got to the start, I started to feel extremely unprepared all of a sudden. I wondered what in the world I was about to get myself into. People were wearing and carrying things that I didn’t have and in general I just felt like I was out of my league (or more accurately, out of my comfort zone).

The temperature was about 50 degrees at the start and it rose to about 80 degrees at the finish. The winds were about 10 – 15 mph.

I was a little chilly at the start and ran the first loop with gloves.

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The 50K was a 4 loop course. While this may seem undesirable, it was actually great! We were able to leave a drop bag at mile 8 and we ran by that 3 times before the finish. I had all of my gels and water bottles in my bag, so I never had to really carry anything with me. I also had a change of clothes, an extra pair of shoes, sunscreen, chapstick and a lot of other things that I definitely didn’t use. Better to be prepared though! There was also an aid station with water, electrolyte drink and snacks around mile 4 that we also passed by 4 times. The first half (ish) of each loop was a steady ascent and the second half was a steady descent.

During the first loop, there were several people to run with and everything was new. I enjoyed taking in the scenery and chatting with a few other runners. I tried not to think about the fact that I was going to be doing this 3 more times, but it was hard to escape the reality of it at that point.

I got to see Daniel at the mile 8 turnaround point before I headed out on my second loop. He ran the 4 mile race and it started at 8:30, so the timing worked out great that he could see me after my first loop before heading out to warm up for his race. I stopped briefly to get a gel and drink some water and also decided to get my iPod since the runners had started to get a little spread out at this point.

Turns out there was also a 25K race that started at 7:30 and an 8 mile race that started at 8 and the 50K runners merged in with the 25K and 8 mile runners during the second mile of our second loop. I didn’t really realize this beforehand, but it was nice to have more runners out on the trails. A lot of the other runners were utilizing a run/walk strategy and so I decided to jump on that bandwagon during my second loop. I was hoping to make it further into the race before doing this, but I quickly realized that I would be wasting precious energy by trying to maintain my pace up the hills.

You can see Pikes Peak in the background.

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Even with the walk breaks, I was still able to maintain a fairly decent overall pace on the second loop. I was LOVING the downhill stretches and was even able to get my down below 7:00 for a couple of miles (I paid for this later … of course).

Daniel was out running his race when I came into the turnaround for my second loop. He did the four mile race and placed second overall!

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I remember thinking that the next time I saw him I’d only have one more loop to go. I ditched my sunglasses after the second loop. They weren’t bothering me per say, but I thought I might be able to see the grooves in the trail a little better without them. I grabbed a gel and drank some Nuun and set back out on my merry little way.

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Things started to get REAL during that third loop. It was almost as if someone came along and made the hills steeper in between my second and third loop. I’d like to have a word with whoever did that … not cool! I don’t remember a whole lot from this loop other than it was getting incredibly HOT. I even debated taking my shirt off and running in just my sports bra, which is something I have never done. I didn’t do that, but the fact that I even thought about it should at least tell you something.

There were still a decent amount of 25K runners on the course during the third loop so that was nice. I was not looking forward to that last loop when it would just be mostly 50K runners left because we were all very spread out at this point. When I came into the turnaround for my third loop, the volunteer that was standing there said, “Great finish! Keep going straight to the finish line.” I told him, “Thanks, but unfortunately I still have to run 8 MORE MILES.” Everyone had the same bib and with different start times, it was nearly impossible to know who was doing what race or which lap each person was on. A lot of the 50K runners ended up dropping down to the 25K because of the heat. I’m honestly glad I didn’t realize that this was an option (they didn’t advertise that you could drop down like some races do), because it would’ve been REALLY tempting.

Daniel was waiting for me when I came in to start my last loop. I got another gel, drank some more Nuun and we headed out on the LAST LOOP! Daniel ran a mile or so with me and then headed back to be at the finish. I told him to go on back. As much as I love him and was incredibly thankful to have him there supporting me, I was having a hard time maintaining conversation at this point and I just needed to ride (the struggle bus) solo for a while. Before he turned around I asked him if they had diet coke at the finish line. I don’t know why this seemed super important to me at the time, but when he said that they did I was ELATED! Then he told me that he had already had some and I was JEALOUS and perhaps a little ANGRY.

Are you filming me right now? Please stop. Okay, thanks. Bye.

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Physically, I would say that I felt decent (all things considered), but mentally, I was falling apart.

That same person that came and made those hills steeper in between the second and third loop came back and replaced the hills with mountains in between the third and fourth loop. Holy moly. My legs were on fire! The rest of my body was on the verge of being on fire as well. The temperature had gotten up to 80 at this point and there was no shade. All I really wanted was some ice. I was really hoping that they would have some ice at the aid station that was out mid-way on the loop, but they didn’t. I was so bummed. I drank two cups of water instead (which gave me a side stitch like a complete newb).

Miles 27 and 28 were by far the toughest if the day. We were still climbing and it didn’t quite seem like the end was in sight. I remember feeling the same way in my first marathon. I was ready to stop (i.e., drop out) and just lay down on the side of the road at mile 25 of my first marathon and I was definitely ready to do the same at mile 28 here. There were actually some little patches of snow that I could’ve laid in and I’m pretty sure that would’ve been quite heavenly. About the time that I was thinking about stopping to lay down and make some snow angels, another runner came up beside me (seemingly from out of nowhere).

She was running up the hills and walking down, which is the opposite of what I was doing so we flip-flopped back and forth a few times. She told me this was her first 50K as well. I started to walk up one of the hills and she came up behind me and put her hand on my back and gently pushed me forward, encouraging me to run with her. She told me that this was the last hill (I was skeptical … did she not know about the ones they were coming in and adding in between each loop?!) and that my stride still looked great. She told me to go get it and finish strong. I was blown away by her kindness and sportsmanship!

After my two slowest miles of the day, I finished the last three in 8:34, 7:40 and 7:42! My time was 4:44 and I was the third girl to finish (eleventh person overall).

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When I got to the finish all I wanted was ICE! Oh, and diet coke! I never felt sick at all. My legs were definitely tired and a little stiff afterwards, but I actually felt so much better than I have after most of the marathons I have run. I think I did a decent job of fueling and staying hydrated throughout the race and the run/walk strategy was definitely clutch.

For anyone who is interested in the fueling (which is mentioned throughout, but here it is all in one place): I had a Luna bar, 8 oz. of coffee and 16 oz. of water with Nuun pre-race. During the race I took 3 Huma gels (at miles 8, 16 and 24 roughly) and alternated water and Nuun at the aid stations (I had Nuun in the bottles that were in my bag). This comes up to just over 500 calories (5g of fat, 100g of carbohydrate and 10g of protein). I am obviously not a nutritionist or qualified to be giving nutrition advice, so I definitely urge you to figure out what works for you. This worked for me.

For anyone who is interested in the splits (the good, the bad and the ugly): 7:53, 7:46, 7:56, 7:57, 8:21, 7:16, 7:10, 7:23, 8:23, 8:15, 8:46, 9:35, 8:20, 6:58, 6:51, 8:28, 10:08, 8:54, 10:51, 10:26, 8:34, 8:54, 7:27, 12:39, 12:35, 10:44, 15:57, 14:01, 8:34, 7:40, 7:42.

Apparently my socks were super breathable because my feet were disgusting by the end of the race. The socks get bonus points for being both breathable and super cute (because obviously that’s important :)). I got lots of compliments on them!

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I didn’t have any specific pace goals going into this race. My coach (being the wise person that he is) suggested that given the amount of variables we were dealing with (a new distance, the altitude, the hills and the race day weather), it really didn’t make sense to place a concrete time or pace goal on this race and I am SO GLAD that we didn’t. This is the same approach that I took when I ran my first marathon as well. I was happy just to finish and the same applied here!

This was the longest run that I have ever done consecutively (by almost 5 miles). The distance demands respect (as does a marathon). I definitely have A LOT of respect for the 50K distance at this point. I don’t know with certainty if I will do another one yet or not. If you asked me at mile 27 or 28 the answer would’ve been a resounding NO! Now that I’ve had a few days to recover and to think on it, I’d give it a solid MAYBE!

Isn’t that the way it always goes?

April Recap

Hi, hey, hello!

How’s it going? Can you believe today is the last day of April? Me either!

Month Recap: April 2017

Workouts: There were several long runs and a few other workouts this month.

26 mile long run

Easy run w/ 10 X 1:00 pickups

2 mi. WU, 12 X 400 (ish) hill repeats (1:37, 1:35, 1:35, 1:34, 1:37, 1:37, 1:39, 1:39, 1:37, 1:36, 1:37, 1:38), 2 mi. CD

24 mile long run

2 mi. WU, 8 mile AT tempo (7:02, 6:53, 7:05, 7:04, 6:44, 6:40, 6:42, 6:44), 2 mi. CD

16 mile long run w/ fast finish (7:10, 7:01, 7:00, 7:13, 7:31)

2 mi. WU, 2 X 2 mile (6:36, 6:26, 6:07, 5:50), 2 mi. CD

Favorite workout: My favorite workout was the last workout of the month (and last workout before the 50K). It was a 2 X 2 mile progression workout. We had a really nice, cool morning (which unfortunately seem to be becoming few and far between) and we had a good group at the track. I negative split each mile (which was the goal of the “progression” part) and ended up running faster than I was supposed to (which rarely happens). Goal paces were 6:50, 6:40, 6:30 and 6:20 and actual were 6:36, 6:26, 6:07, 5:50.

I ran the first two mile set slower than the Daniels and so my mission on the second set was to catch them. Having someone to chase down definitely helped my motivation. I caught up with them with about one lap to go on the last mile of the second set. As soon as I caught up to them, they kicked it up a notch and left me in their dust. Nothing like a little friendly competition to make you run a little faster!

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Races: I ran the Gulf Coast Half Marathon in Pensacola this month and I also participated in the Race the Town Scavenger Hunt yesterday in downtown Fairhope.

While I didn’t do a “formal” recap of the scavenger hunt, I want to do a little “mini” recap here because it was so much fun! I wasn’t originally planning to do this event at all, but a few girls from our old small group had a team and one of the girls wasn’t able to do it. They needed a last-minute fill in and I was happy to do it. I honestly wasn’t entirely sure what I was getting myself into.

Each team received a clue book the day before the event and there were 15 clues or “stops” scattered throughout downtown. There was a bar code at each stop that you had to scan to get your assigned challenge and once you completed the challenge you got a stamp in your clue book. We did things like push ups, squats, jumping jacks, wall sits, etc. at each stop and the race ended up being just over 2.5 miles total.

One of the challenges was to take a selfie and post it to social media. There was a team right in front of us and when I saw them stop to take a selfie, I was like “c’mon girls … they’re stopping to take a selfie, we can totally catch them.” Turns out it was part of the race! Ha.

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The event was hosted by FIT by Jessica and benefited the Fairhope Education Enrichment Foundation (FEEF), which provides educational enrichment opportunities for students who attend Fairhope schools and the Baldwin County Foster & Adoptive Parents Association which provides care and resources to local foster and adopted children and their families.

It was a great event that supported great local organizations. We had a blast and ended up as the third place team! Our prize was three months of meal plans by FIT by Jessica (includes meal plan, recipes and shopping lists). I will take any and all help with meal planning that I can get. I’m pretty excited about that!

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Favorite Race: The Gulf Coast Half Marathon was one of my favorite races this year (not just this month)!

Paces: Paces ranged from 5:50 to 9:31.

Total miles: 336!

Distances: Distances ranged from 5 miles to 26 miles.

Strength work: I stayed pretty consistent with my stretching, core and upper body weights this month.

Current book: Baby Love by Rebecca Walker.

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Nobody freak out on me here (Mom, Dad, Daniel … I’m talking to you).

Here’s a little snippet: “Beneath the promise of “having it all” were mixed messages about motherhood: a woman risked being emotionally drained and intellectually stunted, losing herself in the process of caring for another. As Walker’s entertaining and insightful memoir attests, these messages created a new kind of struggle for many young women, and the decision to have a child became fraught with ambivalence.”

I’ve mentioned this a time or two, but having children is not something that I am 100% clear on (or even 50% clear on) and I have a lot of guilt about feeling this way, as there are so many people who yearn for children and struggle to have them. Throw in the fact that I am an only child and 1) my parents will not have grandchildren if we don’t have kids and 2) only children get a bad rap for being selfish and this just furthers my complex about that (as human beings we are all selfish, I get that).

The good news is that Daniel and I on the same page of ambivalence and we are still young.

Current music: I don’t typically download music to my phone, but every now and then I will hear a new song that I really like and I will buy it. This month I bought one song, “Warrior” by Demi Lovato. This song hit me like a ton of bricks when I heard it and I was immediately drawn to it. While I love an up tempo song as much as the next person, I also really love music that makes me *feel* something.

All the pain and the truth
I wear like a battle wound
So ashamed, so confused
I was broken and bruised

Now I’m a warrior
Now I’ve got thicker skin
I’m a warrior
I’m stronger than I’ve ever been
And my armor, is made of steel, you can’t get in
I’m a warrior
And you can never hurt me again

Out of the ashes, I’m burning like a fire
You can save your apologies, you’re nothing but a liar
I’ve got shame, I’ve got scars
That I will never show
I’m a survivor
In more ways than you know

Current craving: Sunshine and crisp air. It’s been overcast and overly humid (more than standard LA humidity) for several days and I’m ready for that to be gone. When it is cloudy out I am even more sleepy than normal.

Current guilty pleasure: We have a new Whit’s frozen custard location about a mile from the house, so we decided to try that out this weekend. We walked up Friday evening and got some custard. I went with the weekly flavor, which was lemon (I like anything lemon) and Daniel got an O’Henry George Whitser. We both liked it a lot and I’m pretty sure we’ll be back.

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Brookser got some leftovers …

Current drink: Currently sipping on (my second cup of) Starbucks Creme Brulee flavored coffee. It’s not my favorite, but I’m a sucker for any sort of flavored coffee.

Current food: Eggs! Daniel has been making eggs (either in scrambled or omelette form) in the mornings and I am loving it. Oh the joys of having a kitchen!

Current obsession: Stalking the weather in Colorado! It’s definitely a bit chillier than I was expecting it to be (um … it’s snowing today). It actually does look very nice towards the end of the week though.

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Current need: I need to be packing! We leave this week!

Current indulgence: I woke up this morning without an alarm and I honestly can’t remember the last time that I went to bed without setting an alarm. Of course my internal clock still woke up fairly early, but I was able to snooze it for a little bit longer.

Current bane of my existence: We have an armadillo friend that is slowly destroying our yard. We are really trying to keep our yard nice (which has not been our strong suit in the past), but this thing is making that increasingly difficult.

Please be impressed by our dipladenias that we planted this week.

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Current procrastination: At the beginning of the month, I would say that my procrastination list was at an all-time high, but thankfully I have crossed off the majority of my to do list items in the last two weeks (such a great feeling)! I took a big pile of clothes to the consignment store, renewed my car tag, filed for our homestead exemption, changed our address with the post office and took the last few items to the frame store.

Currently I am back to status-quo with a fairly standard laundry procrastination. The clothes are washed, dried and even sorted on the bed. Now if only someone would fold them and put them away!

Current confession: I changed my contacts this morning for the first time in way too long. I guess the confession would be that 1) I wear my contacts until my vision becomes “fuzzy” and 2) I don’t remember the last time that I changed contacts.

Current quote: “When God gives you a new beginning, it starts with an ending. Be thankful for closed doors. They often guide us to the right one!”

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Current excitement: Our new treadmill came yesterday! Our workout room is almost complete. We just need to hang a few more things and then we’ll be set.

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Current companion: This little goober is resting while I blog. Everyone needs to take a lesson in relaxation from Brookser.

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I hope you had a great weekend! See ya soon!

50K Training: Week 11

Hi there! I hope you’ve had a wonderful weekend. It’s been a good one here. This week was the last big week of 50K training. It’s officially taper time now! Before we recap this week’s runs, let’s take a step back and chat about this whole, “I’m running a 50K in less than two weeks thing.”

If you’ve been reading for a little while you might recall that I decided to “take a break” from marathons last year. My last marathon was NYC in fall of 2015, so we are coming up on two years “off.” I have been focusing on shorter distances and increasing my speed. I haven’t met all of the goals that I set for myself by any means, but I did get a couple of PRs (2 mile, 10K, 12K) and came really close to a few others (5K, 10 mile and half marathon).

While I am still not ready to tackle another marathon quite yet, I decided that what I was ready to attempt was a 50K. In my mind, the training was going to be less grueling … so basically more long, slow runs than speed workouts. To an extent this has definitely been the case. It’s also been a tad grueling as well though.

A few thoughts as to why in the world I would want to do this:

One of the reasons that I want to get this done now as well is that I ran my first marathon when I was 26 and I want to run my first 50K (31 miles) when I am 31. You know I am a numbers person.

I have been craving time in nature (being stuck working inside all day during tax season gives you a new-found appreciation for time spent outdoors and in the sunlight). Our trip to Colorado has been planned since Christmas (Daniel found some awesome $80 flights … major score). We are planning to do lots of outdoorsy things while we are there. I can’t wait! As we were browsing the interwebs of things to do, I stumbled across a 50K (by stumbled across I mean that I googled “50Ks in Colorado during May”) and I found one the weekend we were going to be there. I think it was meant to be!

The race I am doing is called the Greenland Trail 50K. The race advertises itself as “Colorado’s fastest 50K.” We will be running on dirt trails with Pikes Peak in the background. With the wide, smooth double track trails, the Greenland Trail 50K is supposed to very beginner friendly (which is great to hear). There are several shorter distance races as well and Daniel is going to run the 4 mile race.

There is about 1,900 ft. of elevation gain and also 1,900 ft. of elevation loss. I feel like that is probably “easy” to people who are used to running on steep terrain, but I don’t know how well my legs are going to handle that. The whole race is at over 7,000 ft. (2,000 ft. higher than Denver (the Mile-High City)). It says that if you are traveling from elevations below 2,000 ft., be prepared for some shortness of breath. So yeah, I’m traveling from an elevation of 100 ft. We’ll see how that goes!

A few thoughts as to what the training has looked like:

I started building my long runs up in February. I kept 16 miles as my long run even during training for shorter distances, so my base was still pretty solid. There is a big difference in running 16 miles and 20 miles though. I still remember miles 17 through 20 mile of the first 20 miler of this training cycle. Rebecca and I ran the entire run together and averaged 7:50 pace. I remember thinking to myself at the time, “this is why I don’t run marathons anymore.” It was a solid run, but a struggle nonetheless.

My long runs steadily built up from there. 26 miles was my longest training run. I ran 26 miles with Rebecca the day of her 50K race.

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You can see the other workouts that I have done on my February and March recaps. As the long runs got longer, so did the other workouts. The paces were slower, but the workouts were still tough. It wasn’t exactly the easy, breezy 50K training I envisioned in my mind, but it was very enjoyable. If given the choice I prefer the training of longer, slower miles to shorter, quicker miles (I like both … don’t get me wrong).

I like the idea of having different seasons of training. I will probably go back and focus on speed again at some point in the near future, but I’m not entirely sure when or what that will look like at this point.

Now that we’ve gotten the overview out of the way, here is what this week’s workouts looked like:

Monday: 5 miles @ 8:40 pace

This week started off similarly to last week with an easy 5 mile run recovery and again, I was pleasantly surprised that I wasn’t too sore and my legs felt good.

Tuesday AM: 10 miles @ 8:21 pace

Tuesday morning I ran while Daniel biked. We went opposite ways on our loops so that we could see each other every few miles. He biked 4 loops and I ran 2 loops, which worked out great for both of us.

Tuesday was tax deadline day at work. Thank goodness! One more year is in the books! Our coffee pot saw us through to the end and conked out on the day of the deadline (it has been on its last leg for quite some time, but it’s almost as if it *knew* that we needed it to pull us through to the end).

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Tuesday PM: 6 miles @ 8:06 pace

I got to leave a little bit early Tuesday afternoon and even had time to sneak in a quick nap before the group run Tuesday evening at RW.

Daniel came through with some beautiful flowers. He never forgets a deadline day! I’m pretty sure he has the flowers on auto re-order at this point, but still … sweet and smart. I think I’ll hang on to him for a while!

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Wednesday: 2 mile warm up, 8 mile aerobic threshold tempo (6:51 avg.), 2 mile cool down

Workout Wednesday struck  again and man oh man, this one was tough! Thankfully Jill joined me for the majority of this run. I don’t know if I could’ve done it without her. The goal range for the tempo portion was 6:40 to 6:50. It took us a few miles to settle into the pace, but once we did, we clicked off some steady miles. I ended up with an average of 6:51 for the 8 mile tempo, which I was definitely happy with.

I decided to stop by the track for my two mile cool down (this seemed easier than trying to come up with a 2 mile route somewhere else … when all else fails, just run in circles around a track). Our neighbors Mollie and Corey were at the track doing some intervals and I got to run my cool down with them, which made the miles fly by! P.S. Check out Mollie’s blog → here. She is training for her first marathon, which she will run in Utah on the actual day of her 26th birthday. So cool!

Thursday AM: 8 miles @ 8:25 pace

Young Daniel and I ran 3 miles while My Daniel rode the bike trainer for 30 minutes and then we all ran 5 miles together.

Friday: 8 miles @ 8:24 pace

I was off work Friday and I did a new thing! RW has a group run on Friday mornings at 9:30, so I decided to take advantage of my day off and ran mid-morning. I guess it’s not really so much that I did a new thing as I did a normal thing at a new time. Haha. I enjoyed waiting until a little bit later to run (even thought it did get a tad toasty out), especially because it meant that I got to run with Lizzie and Jill! I think we stayed at the store chatting for close to 2 hours after our run (luckily my schedule was wide open :)).

Friday evening we celebrated the end of tax season with a crawfish boil. I don’t do crawfish (it’s too much work for not enough meat (IMO)), but I do enjoy all of the sides (potatoes, bell peppers, mushrooms, etc.). It was delicious!

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Saturday: 16 miles @ 7:57 (with a few “brisk” miles (7:10, 7:01, 7:00, 7:13, 7:31))

The last long run is officially DONE. I was technically supposed to do 18 miles, but I couldn’t seem to recruit anyone to join me for any additional miles. Daniel was nice enough to get to the group run a little early and bike with me for 4 miles before everyone else got there. Everyone else did 12 and so I called it a day at 16. I felt good and got a few brisk miles in at the end of the run as scheduled. No complaints here.

Of course we did the usual post-run coffee and breakfast thing and I got to spend some quality time with Rebecca and Jessica. I hadn’t seen them ALL WEEK and that is just plain unacceptable.

Daniel did his first swim of triathlon training mid-morning on Saturday. Brooks got to play fetch and swim a little before we got started. Here is our “old man of the sea.”

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We hoped that he would get nice and worn out so that he would “ride” on the paddleboard with me instead of jumping on and off while Daniel swam. He will ride with me sometimes, but turns out he does NOT like to ride when “daddy” is in the water. Swimming w/ daddy > sitting on the paddleboard w/ mommy.

He looks content in the picture below, but as soon as Daniel took off … so did Brooks (which left me in a bit of a pickle). I had our shoes, Daniel’s shirt, our camera (it’s waterproof) and Brooks’ leash as well as my paddle to keep up with. I definitely had a lot going on. Brooks got on and off the board about 10 thousand times (which is every bit as challenging as you can imagine it would be).

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Daniel had a really good swim. He will be swimming with the current in the Savannah River river during his race, so swimming in the bay is much tougher (i.e., great training). Brooks made a really good training partner too! Daniel outswam him, but Brooks stayed right on his heels (when he wasn’t taking a break on the board with me).

I’m pretty sure this will become a semi-regular thing. Daniel has biked with me A LOT over the years as I trained for various races, so this is a great way for me to return the favor … not that I mind one bit. It was a beautiful day out and there isn’t anywhere else that I’d rather be.

Sunday: 8 miles @ 8:21 pace

Sunday morning brought more quality friend time! We did an easy 8 miles and followed it up with coffee and breakfast again. I’m so glad that I got lots of quality runs with friends in this week. It made celebrating the end of tax season even sweeter.

I’m headed to play tennis this afternoon. It’ll be the first time I’ve played in well over a year, so who knows how that will go down. It might take me a minute or two to get back into the swing of it (see what I did there :)). I hope you enjoy the rest of your Sunday!

See ya soon!

50K Training: Week 10

HI! Happy Marathon Monday! Good luck to all of the runners in Boston today. I can’t wait to stalk track you guys!

Also … we are ONE DAY from tax day! Whoa. I have been waiting for this moment all of my life (or the last 3.5 months … you know … same thing).

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I figured that I would try to get back into the swing of things around here with some weekly recaps. I’m linking up with Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC for her weekly training recap.

My 50K is only 3 weeks away, which is pure craziness. I don’t really even feel like I’ve trained for it (probably just because I haven’t documented my training on the blog like usual). If you didn’t blog it, did it even really happen? Weekly recaps of weeks 1 through 9 are nonexistent, but my brain is toast and I couldn’t come up with anything more clever to call this novel of a post.

I plan to go back and write a general overview of my training, but don’t hold me to that.

Monday: The week started off with a 5 mile recovery run (recovering from the Gulf Coast Half Marathon). I was pleasantly surprised that I wasn’t too sore and my legs felt really good! I was able to wait a little later than normal and run once the sun started to come up, which was really nice.

Tuesday AM: Tuesday morning Daniel and I turned our covered porch into a makeshift gym and I ran on the treadmill while he rode his bike on the trainer. He is officially registered for his first half Ironman and training starts now! He will be doing Augusta 70.3 in September.

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I didn’t know it at the time, but this was my last run on our old treadmill. When we moved we couldn’t get the treadmill into the room we wanted it in without either destroying the house or dismantling the entire treadmill. Neither of these seemed like good options. We decided that it was likely time for an upgrade anyway and decided that we would try to sell the old one first. I didn’t realize it until Daniel told me someone wanted to buy it, but man, I was oddly attached to that thing. I put some serious miles on it over the years!

P.S. If you are in the market for a treadmill, Daniel found this article with a comparison of the best treadmills for runners. We are getting the NordicTrack Commercial 1750 and we had the Sole F80. I would highly recommend the Sole F80 (it lasted us 6 years and still worked well). We wanted to try something new this time around. If you are going to log lots of miles, I would definitely just recommend going with the commercial grade of whichever one you choose.

Tuesday PM: Tuesday evening we did our usual group run at Running Wild thing. I ran 6 miles with Jill & Ashley and felt good! As much as I enjoy morning runs, I also really enjoy evening runs as well. It’s a good chance to clear your head after a long day at work. I rarely do a workout in the evening, but give me an easy evening run and I’m happy as a clam.

Wednesday AM: I ran 6 miles easy with Jessica and Young Daniel Wednesday morning. My Daniel decided that sleep sounded better than running. Sometimes I think he is smarter than I am …

Wednesday PM: Daniel spent some time on the bike trainer Wednesday evening and texted me to see if I wanted to do a loop when I got home from work. He said he wanted to do a “brick run” (you bike then run and your legs feel like bricks). I told him, “Yes! Let’s tri it!” ← I couldn’t resist. The triathlon puns are out of control around here right now.

Thursday: HILLS! Holy hills.

When I saw the hill repeat workout pop up on my training plan, I knew that it would be a mental and physical struggle. I debated on whether or not to do the workout on the treadmill (remember my post about that → here), but when I came home from work Wednesday evening the treadmill was gone (sold!). That made my decision a little bit easier. Ha.

As it turns out, our new house is on a hill. I’ve gotten used to running up that thing each day as we start our run (and by gotten used to it, I mean that I have accepted the fact that it is there (insert serenity prayer here)). The thing is, I don’t really like running on hills and that’s probably because I am not a strong hill runner … which is precisely why I NEED to run on hills.

The street that we live on is exactly half a mile if you start at the bay and run up to the top. As a side note, Ron (Daniel’s running doctor friend (the one who fixed my face)), has run up and down this entire hill 15 times before when training for hilly trail ultra-marathon. Seriously! That took some extreme mental fortitude! I only needed a quarter-mile segment for my workout, so thankfully I didn’t have to run the entire hill 12 times. I only had to run up the really steep part 12 times … joy.

I actually ran up and down the entire hill twice in order to get my two mile warm up in before starting my repeats. I figured that I might as well embrace the hilliness (not a word) and get over it. I didn’t have any super specific pace goals for the repeats. They were supposed to be at a tempo effort. You run “fast” (relative) up the hill and then you “jog” back down. By the way, this is the only time is it acceptable to refer to running as jogging … “I believe it’s jogging … or yogging. It might be a soft J. I’m not sure.” Gotta love a good Anchorman quote!

So yeah, there isn’t too much to say about this except for that I ran up and down the hill 12 times at what I thought was a tempo (ish) pace. I lost count somewhere along the way as well. I had to do math in my head while running to determine what number I was on (it was 7).

At one point I thought to myself that this workout wasn’t very glamorous. I don’t know why that popped into my head (I don’t know what a glamorous workout would even look like), but it did. Then of course I started singing Fergie (in my head … at least I think it was in my head). G-L-A-M-O-R-O-U-S. Flossy. Flossy. Oh the random thoughts that pop into your head during a workout …

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The picture definitely doesn’t do it justice, but I promise the hill is steep. It’s actually a 7.5% grade in some places, which was a tad too steep for purposes of the hill repeats (5% is ideal).

My splits were 1:37, 1:35, 1:35, 1:34, 1:37, 1:37, 1:39, 1:39, 1:37, 1:36, 1:37, 1:38. I felt like I was pushing myself a good bit. Once the workout was done and I looked at the data on Strava I realized that my pace for the uphill parts averaged somewhere around 7:40 because the quarter mile segment I was running was closer to 0.20 instead of 0.25, which was kind of a bummer. I really felt like I was running closer to 6:40 effort! My coach reminded me that the focus was getting the work done, not the specific paces … I definitely did some work.

Friday: Daniel and I ran an easy 8 miles Friday before work. It had been a while since we have run our 8 mile route, so that was a nice change of pace. We’ve had to relearn all of our mile markers since we moved. Luckily all of our routes are pretty much the same (not gonna lie … that was definitely one of the requirements when we were house-hunting), but now we just have a different starting and stopping point.

Saturday: Saturday’s run was a logistical work of art. I ran with Daniel and his buddies and everyone had different distances in mind. I started at 5:30 with Cody. We did a 3.5 mile loop and then came back to pick up Daniel, Bowie and Ali at 6. We all did another 3.5 mile loop and then came back to pick up Kenny at 6:30. We all ran 6 after that. It was a nice, cool morning and the miles flew by (figuratively). As usual, the run was followed with coffee and breakfast. After breakfast Daniel headed out to ride his bike and Brooks and I met my mom for a walk.

Sunday: Sunday was the last long-long run of the training cycle. I still have an 18 mile run next week, but that’s only seeming like a medium-long run at this point. I wanted to make this a “dress rehearsal” for race day. I wore the socks, shoes and shorts that I am planning to wear, carried a water bottle, gel and my phone with me and practiced my fueling.

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Rebecca suggested that we could do part of the special occasion route and that sounded like a great plan to me. After all it was 1) Easter, 2) almost Marathon Monday and 3) almost the end of tax season. We had plenty of special occasions to celebrate! Being the super-supportive spouse that he is, Daniel drove us across the bay to the Battleship at 4:45 Sunday morning. He dropped us off and we started our journey back across the bay.

Our journey turned into a bit of an adventure around mile 5 when we approached Meaher State Park. We have run this route several times and this is always our go to bathroom stop. As we approached the entrance of the park, we noticed that there was a (new) very tall gated fence around the entire park. It’s almost as if they don’t want random runners off the street to come in and use their bathrooms. Crazy.

Rebecca was in “emergency mode” at this point (if you’re a runner … you get it) and so we were going to try our darndest to get inside that park. As we were about to abandon hope and almost on cue, a truck pulled up to the gate to exit the park right and the door magically swung open. We made a run for it. We briefly pondered how we would get out of the park, but figured we would cross that bridge when we got there.

After we went to the bathroom and filled up our bottles, it was time to cross the bridge of figuring out how make our exit. We quickly realized that we had the options of going up and over the 12 foot barbed wire fence (didn’t seem like a viable option), calling for help (even then, we weren’t sure that our rescuer would be able to open the gate … the sensor seemed to be on the inside to get out and not on the outside and I REALLY didn’t want to call Daniel 30 minutes after he dropped us off and tell him that we were “stuck” inside of a state park) or shimmy-ing under the 10 inch gap under the fence. Shimmy it was!

We laid on the ground and debated whether we would fit under the fence. Our heads were definitely the main problem. It was touch and go for a minute, but ultimately we escaped. Whew. We made it safely back across the bay and added on some additional miles to get to close to 17. We stopped one additional time for water and to take a gel, but that pit stop was very uneventful in comparison. After 17 miles we came back to the house and Rebecca handed off to Daniel, who ran the remainder of the run with me. I was supposed to do 24 to 25 miles and by the time Daniel and I started running together, I was contemplating stopping at 22. We did our 5 mile loop and I felt better than I expected. I knew that I was capable of 24 and I needed (mentally more than physically) to make that happen.

My two longest runs of the training cycle were somewhat broken up (one with a gap of about 4 hours and one with a gap of less than 30 minutes, but still … I took a break) and I needed to prove to myself that I could run a consecutive long run without cutting it short. We finished up with two miles on the track and mile 24 was the fastest of the day at 7:03 pace. I felt great!

After church we took a little boat ride with my dad. Brooks has been swimming a couple of times already, but this was our first boat ride of the season. Brooks says, “This is my happy place!”

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I hope you all had a wonderful Easter! I’ll see you soon!

Race Recap: Gulf Coast Half Marathon

Hey friends (and lovely internet strangers)!

I crossed my April half marathon off the list today by running the Gulf Coast Half Marathon in Pensacola Beach, FL. I also did a little bit of recon this week and I think that if I play my cards right (translation: I may have to drive to Georgia a few times this summer), I just might actually be able to pull off this whole run a half marathon every month thing.

The race today was part of the Gulf Coast half marathon series, with races in Gulf Shores, AL, Pensacola Beach, FL & Mandeville, LA. This was my second year to do the Pensacola Beach race and I’ve also done Mandeville twice, but I’ve yet to do the race in Gulf Shores (which oddly enough is the one closest to where I live). I think the Gulf Shores one is sometime in February, so I need to try to shoot for that one next year!

The race starts at 7 a.m., which meant that we had to get up fairly early (4:15) to meet friends (5:15) and carpool over to Pensacola Beach. We arrived just after 6, which left us plenty of time to warm up (2 miles), go to the bathroom (twice), freak out about random details … you know … all the typical pre-race stuff.

My plan for this race was to pace my friend Jill to her first sub 1:30 half. I don’t think she really needed me at all, but we had a blast running together! Running with friends is the best, so naturally it makes sense that racing with friends would be too!

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We needed to average less than 6:52 pace to break 1:30. Our plan was to start out at 6:50 pace and hold that for the first few miles and then check in and see how we felt. We executed those first few miles quite nicely, if I do say so myself. We ran 6:52, 6:50 and 6:50.

We settled into a little group of 4 or 5 runners, which was really nice. We tucked in behind two of the guys that we were running with and just ran their pace for a few miles. Miles 4 through 7 are the toughest of the course. The course is somewhat of an out and back. The first few miles wind through some neighborhoods and the last few do as well, but that middle stretch is just straight out (and then back). You have water on both sides of you, so the scenery is wonderful, but there is just something about running away from the finish line towards a turn around that is tough. You also have to deal with some wind along that stretch. Thankfully today it was much calmer than it was last year! You feel any wind that is in your face though.

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All that is really just to say that our pace fell off a little bit during that stretch. Mile 4 was 6:40 (whoa girl … let’s reign that in a little bit), and then the next three were 6:59, 6:59, 6:56. While these miles were a little over our goal pace, we knew that those were going to be the toughest of the day and we were prepared.

The plan was to make it to the turn around point feeling strong and pick it up some, which is exactly what we did! Miles 8, 9 and 10 were 6:38, 6:44 and 6:44. The suffering of miles 5 – 7 was well worth the reward that we got once we turned around! At that point we had a slight tailwind and we were headed home. I really enjoy out and back courses because you get to see all the other runners as you run back. We saw lots of friends and got lots of cheers, which was a great boost! When we passed the Running Wild tent we even got an extra pacer for about 100 yards as Cherie ran out to cheer us on (in her Birkenstocks and a dress). I wish someone had gotten a picture of that! She told us that if she could keep up with us in her Birkenstocks, then we weren’t running fast enough. Ha!

We told her that we were just waiting until mile 10. Mile 10 is where the fun begins! We did a training run a week or so ago that was 12 miles with the last 3 miles between 6:38 and 6:42. When we got to mile 10 we were right on pace for our 1:29:XX finish. I told her that if we kept it right where we were, we would be golden. In the same sentence, I also reminded her of that 12 mile run with the fast finish. It was time to put the fast finish into play!

Miles 11 and 12 were 6:36 and 6:29! YES! I was getting like super giddy and mushy at this point and I just kept telling her that she was doing it … she was going to be a sub 1:30 half marathoner! Mile 13 was the fastest of the day by far. I finished with a 6:02 mile and Jill finished right on my heels. I honestly don’t know if she really even believed me when I was saying that she was going to be under 1:30 until she rounded the corner of the finish line and saw 1:28 on the clock. Her face was priceless!

We stayed at the finish line for a little bit and saw some other friends finish. After lots of sweaty hugs and #allthefeels, we headed out to do a few cool down miles. We even got to see Jessica and baby Olivia on their way to the finish!

The post-race party is at Flounder’s on the water. It was a BEAUTIFUL day. We had a great time hanging out with friends and soaking up the fresh air and Vitamin D.

These are some of my favorite girls (minus Rebecca … we missed you)!

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It was a wonderful morning! I absolutely loved tackling the race from the perspective of a pacer and I ended up running what was probably my smartest half marathon of the year thus far. I have a hard time holding myself back at the beginning of a half marathon (more so than other distances for some reason). I used to have a hard time pacing myself regardless of the distance, but I like to think I am at least a little smarter than I used to be (thanks to my wonderful coach)!

There is definitely a difference between having the knowledge of how to approach a race and having the patience and persistence to actually execute the plan and make it a reality. I knew that someone else was depending on me and in turn that helped me (and now I am reminded of the Friends episode where they determine there isn’t truly a selfless good deed). I would do it all over in a heartbeat (well … after some recovery days). Who needs a pacer? Sign me up!