SOS: Week #1

Welcome! Happy Memorial Day!

For your reading pleasure today I will be sharing the first installment of the summer of speed weekly recap. Hopefully I won’t be sending out too many distress signals over the course of the summer, but I know it will be getting rather warm and I likely will be in distress at some point. SOS seems to be a fairly appropriate title for a summer training cycle.

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I don’t have too much to say about the easy runs. The average pace ranged from 8:10 to 8:30 on those and most of them were run with the Daniels.

Monday: 5 easy

Tuesday AM: 2 mi. WU, 15 X 1:00 hard with 1:00 recovery, 2 mi. CD

The first speed workout of the training cycle was a nice little one minute on, one minute off combo. This is a great way to ease back into the speed work. I really didn’t expect this workout to be all that challenging. Going into the workout I told myself that it was only 15 minutes of hard work (which is a true from a mathematical standpoint). We woke up to lots of rain Tuesday morning, which forced me to take the workout to the treadmill. I’m still enjoying the newness of our treadmill, so I wasn’t all that upset about this turn of events.

I did my typical warm up progression of starting at 6.0 mph (10:00 pace) and bumping the speed up by 0.2 mph every two minutes until I have done 2 miles. At that point, I alternated between 10.0 mph (6:00 pace) for my minutes “hard” and 8.0 mph (7:30 pace) for my “recovery.” The hard minutes seemed to last way longer than the recovery minutes! I was definitely working by the end of this workout and I was very happy when I got to my last hard minute. Only 15 minutes of hard running. Psh … right. Next time I’ll know better.

Tuesday PM: 5 easy

Wednesday: 8 easy

Thursday AM: 2 mi. WU, 4 mile progression tempo, 2 mi. CD

Thursday morning we woke up to glorious weather! The humidity was low and the feels like temperature was in the low 60s! It was in the mid to low 80s the rest of the week, so this felt quite amazing. The temperature made my tempo go much better than I expected or that it would have otherwise. I did this workout on the track (mainly just because several folks were meeting at the track anyway and it’s really as good a place as any to do a workout). I used to never do tempo runs on the track, but I’ve really started to enjoy a nice track tempo. There is something about running on the track that really just makes you *feel* faster.

The goal pace range for the progression was to start at just under 7:00 pace and to work my way down to the mid to lower 6:00 range (something like 6:50, 6:40, 6:30, 6:20). I always like to try to get 10 seconds faster each mile. Well … since the weather was so nice, I got a little carried away with the first mile and ended up running a 6:28. Whoa! I was not expecting that. And shoot! That’s gonna make the next three miles a little challenging. Haha. Somehow I was still able to get 10 seconds per mile faster each mile and the finished the tempo portion with a 6:17, 6:07 and 5:54 mile. I was over the moon happy with this workout and I’m pretty sure the endorphins carried me throughout the entire day! It felt great to be back at the track.

I was even more pumped about the summer of speed after this workout.

Thursday PM: 5 easy

Friday: Orange Theory Fitness (3.1 miles)

I mentioned in my last post that I tried out an OTF class and really enjoyed it. I went to another class this week and enjoyed it equally as much. The workouts are heart rate based and are specifically designed to keep you in certain heart rate zones throughout the workout. The goal is to stay in the blue to green zone (60 – 80% of your max heart rate) for 30 to 35 minutes and to get in the orange or red zone (85 – 100% of your max heart rate) for 15 to 20 minutes.

The “theory” behind it is that spending time in the “orange zone” helps to increase your excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), also known as the afterburn (i.e., so you burn more calories for up to 36 hours even after the class is over). The heart rate monitored, high-intensity workout is scientifically designed to keep heart rates in a target zone that spikes metabolism and increases energy. I’m not concerned with the calorie burn at all, but I do enjoy understanding the science behind it.

All OTF classes are made up of three components: treadmill intervals, rowing, and weight training. In the class that I went to Friday we only switched between the stations one time (we switched twice in the other class that I went to). I started out rowing and moved on to the strength training after that and ran last. My heart rate barely got into the blue or green zone during the first half of the workout (runner problems), but once we got to the treadmills I was able to push myself and get into the orange and red zones for a little bit.

The running incorporated hill intervals this week (my favorite … not really). We took the incline up to 4, 8 and 12% during the run, which was definitely tough!

Saturday: 10 easy

Sunday: 1 mi. WU, Half Marathon (7:18, 7:16, 7:22, 7:23, 7:20, 7:29, 7:29, 7:29, 7:32, 7:35, 7:33, 7:29, 7:32, 0:48 = 1:37), 1 mi. CD

Sunday morning I did a new thing … I registered and ran a virtual half marathon. I went back and forth (a few times) as to whether I wanted to go do a half marathon in Georgia, but ultimately decided that it didn’t make sense to drive 5 hours each way, pay for a hotel, etc. just to be able to say that I ran a half marathon this month. During the final round of deliberations, Daniel came up with an excellent idea. He suggested that I could try to find a virtual race to sign up for and I could still get my half in without having to travel. Genius!

Within about 5 minutes or less, I was easily able to locate and register for the Lest We Forget Half Marathon via Virtual Strides. Could I have run the half marathon distance without signing up for a “virtual race?” Absolutely. However, a portion of the race proceeds go to help support the National Military Family Association, which is a great cause and I will definitely be counting this as my half marathon for the month of May, so I was happy to “officially” register for a virtual race.

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I started my run around 6:30 Sunday morning, which was a little later than I typically run, but was earlier than most races would’ve started. The temperature was 77 degrees and the humidity was 95% when I woke up. Argh. So much for that wonderful weather we had a few days ago. I was originally hoping to run around 1:35 for the half, but I decided to go ahead and plug the temperature and dew point into the pace adjustment calculator before I even ran to see what a realistic pace would be. It converted 1:35 to 1:38, which seemed like a reasonable goal.

I kept it really simple and ran an out and back route along the bay. I picked a route where I knew lots of people would be out running and biking, which was great. I ran by myself and listened to a few podcasts. Let me just go on record and say that running a race by yourself is a bit of a challenge! I found it hard to push myself, which in actuality is best because I wanted this to be a solid effort, but not something that would derail my next week of workouts. I finished in 1:37 and I am totally fine with that … happy with that!

Have you ever done a virtual race before? How did you like it?

I hope you guys have a wonderful (short) week! Talk to you soon!

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?