Hey friends! Long time no talk read or write! Another month has come and gone. Let’s chat a bit!
Month Recap: August 2018
Oh, August … what a crazy month you were! Within a time span of 10 days, I ran a one mile road race, a 5K and a Ragnar Relay. Oh and somewhere along the way, I also registered for a MARATHON! Surprise! California International Marathon … I’m coming for you!
I took a down week with no stress workouts after Ragnar (which felt a bit like running a marathon in and of itself). I took a few days off completely before easing back into the swing of things. I’ve done a few workouts now, so I guess we’ll say that I am back in the saddle at this point. I took an unplanned break from writing training log posts, but when you aren’t doing any workouts there isn’t quite as much to report from each run. It’s like, “I ran. It was humid. The end.” I was almost ready to just scrap the idea of writing training log posts altogether, but I think I’ve changed my mind about that. I make no promises that I won’t change it again though.
My training for CIM will not officially begin until the middle of September (12 weeks out), but for my own purposes, I’m kind of using this past Monday as my starting date. That gives me 14 weeks until race day and with a two week taper, it’s only 12 weeks of training. Mentally, I need those few extra weeks so that I can tell myself that I have “plenty” of time to get into the shape that I want to be in.
I’ve got lots of fall races picked out to do along the way! I’d like to add a couple more as well, but for now a tentative schedule looks like this:
2 mi. WU, 10 X 2:00 hard (6:01 avg.) w/ 1:00 recovery, 2 mi. CD
Favorite workout: My favorite workout was probably the 3 mile, 2 mile, 1 mile cutback workout. Although it must be said, I really enjoyed the 8 X 300 workout as well! The 10 X 2 minute workout went fairly well and I didn’t *not* enjoy it, but man oh man, it was tougher than I was expecting!
I’d say it’s a good sign that I enjoyed the longer workout because I’m sure that’s exactly what I will have in store more as we progress throughout the training cycle. I’m planning to get VERY comfortable running at marathon pace. I don’t think that I’ve done enough training at my goal marathon pace in the past. Practice makes perfect and you certainly can’t expect your body to run comfortably at marathon pace if you haven’t practiced it a pretty good bit. The 3 mile, 2 mile, 1 mile workout was a good starting point as my goal for the 3 miles was just over marathon pace (6:55 was the goal there) and my goal for the 2 miles was just under marathon pace (6:45 was the goal there). Of course, goal marathon pace could change as the cycle progresses! In fact, I very much hope that it does.
Races: As I mentioned earlier, I ran 3 very unique races this month!
Favorite race: I thoroughly enjoyed the one mile road race that I ran. It was a small race, but I love a small, local race. It’s also really fun to test your speed at the one mile distance (in my opinion). With that being said, it would be nearly impossible to top the experience that we had in mountains of Colorado! There is so much more to an overnight relay than just the race itself. While the race itself was amazing, it was the trip as a whole that makes this race such a memorable experience and really seals the deal as its spot as my favorite race for the month.
Paces: My paces ranged from 5:25 (one mile race) to 10:41 (with Brooks).
Miles: 249.3 miles this month.
Longest run: My longest consecutive run was 13 miles. I did run 20 miles one morning (as an attempt to run my age for my belated birthday miles), but the run was really 13 miles with an hour or so “pause” for breakfast with friends and then 7 more miles, so I don’t think I can technically count that as a 20 mile run. While we are on that topic, I am officially putting my birthday miles tradition to rest at this point. Again, I make no promises that I won’t change my mind, but for now … it’s too much.
I attempted to run 33 miles within 24 hours twice during August. Once was at Ragnar. I was already running close to 20 miles as part of the relay, so I was thinking that an extra 13 wouldn’t really be too bad. Turns out … I was wrong. I was physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted from the race itself and there was no way I was running one more step after my last leg of the relay. The second attempt was much better and I even made it to 26 miles before deciding that I was done. There’s no doubt in my mind that I could’ve run 7 more miles that day, but the point was that I simply didn’t *want* to. The tradition used to bring me a lot of happiness, but this year it didn’t and that’s completely fine. I’ll find other ways to celebrate I’m sure!
Shortest run: 3.5 miles.
Rest days: I took two days off completely.
Strength training: I started doing Pilates and I LOVE it. I’m going once a week, but I really wish I could go more. I’ve been going for three weeks now. I’ve also been keeping up with my planks at home and have also added in some crunches. Somewhere along the way I forgot about crunches (not sure how that happened). I went to the gym one day and rediscovered medicine ball crunches. I don’t even think I did that many of them, but my stomach felt like it was on fire (in a good way (if that is possible)) for days afterwards! Apparently planks don’t touch some of those key core muscles.
I’ve got a post in the works about all the little things that I am doing this training cycle (outside of the actual running) that will *hopefully* help me meet my goal (whatever that turns out to be) at CIM! Stay tuned!
I feel like I am forgetting to tell you something … oh! I know what it is. I changed coaches! The McKirdy Trained group is set up in such a way that it is very easy to request a coaching change if you feel like the coach you are assigned to isn’t a good fit. There is no doubt in my mind that any of the coaches in the group could write a perfectly wonderful training plan. A lot of the reason that I switched comes down to communication (or lack thereof) and the way the feedback was presented. I’m working with John Raneri now. I’ve gotta say, so far I am VERY impressed with his kindness, his feedback and his attention to detail. I’m glad that I stood up for myself and explored the idea that there was a better fit out there.
I think we are pretty much caught up now! Happy Friday friends!
Hey guys! Buckle your seat belts and get ready for a wild ride!
I wanted to get this post done as soon as possible while the memories were still super fresh, but thankfully there are TONS of pictures that help with that. After reflecting back on the entire experience, I don’t think that words will be able to do this race and trip justice. We had a wonderful time in Colorado and the race itself was just icing on the cake!
We began planning this trip almost a year ago. Initially, we tried to get in to the Hood to Coast Relay in Oregon. My understanding is that Hood to Coast is essentially the Boston Marathon of relay races. There is a lottery to get in and unfortunately, we have been unsuccessful in securing a spot the last couple of years. Looking back now, I don’t think that Hood to Coast could possibly have topped our Ragnar Colorado experience and now I am actually thankful that we didn’t get in.
The planning phase of an overnight relay is quite tedious. We had to get flights, rent vans, find places to stay at the start, along the way and at the finish, and find twelve people who were crazy enough to want to join in on the adventure. In the past, finding twelve people has been challenging, but this time we actually had more than twelve people who wanted to go. Next time we might even be able to take two teams!
Our team was pretty incredible. The thing that I love the most about our team is that it was made up of some of our closest friends. I really consider most of these guys to be more like family than friends at this point. This was my fourth overnight relay type of event. In 2011 we did Ragnar Del Sol in Arizona and came in 2nd place, in 2014 we did Ragnar Northwest Passage in Washington and came in 4th place and in 2016 we did Ragnar Tennessee and came in 1st place.
The bar was set pretty high this year! Here’s how it went down!
We departed from Pensacola around 7:30 a.m. and arrived in Denver around 2:30 p.m., after catching our connecting flight in Atlanta. We immediately noticed the dryness of the air! It was quite amazing. After waiting for what seemed like an eternity at the Avis rental center, we loaded up in our van (that would be home for the next couple of days) and headed to the hotel in Denver.
Once we got checked in at the hotel, we decided to make a quick trip over to Colorado Springs to check out the “Garden of the Gods,” a public park that is a registered National Natural Landmark. It was absolutely beautiful! We hiked around for a little bit and saw some deer and also some rock climbers in their natural habitats.
We made our way back to Denver, went out to dinner (the only night we would eat out during the entire trip!) and called it a night fairly early. Thursday night would be the last “real” sleep that we got for about 48 hours, so I definitely wanted to make it count.
Elena and I did a short three mile shakeout run from the hotel first thing Friday morning (my birthday!). At this point, I was still planning to try to do the “birthday miles” thing. It turned out to be a bit more challenging than I anticipated, but we’ll get to that shortly. We left Denver early Friday morning, made a quick stop to get groceries and supplies for the vans and headed to Copper Mountain Ski Resort, where the race started.
The race covered 195 miles of mountain passes from Breckenridge to Aspen. We ran through the star-filled night, past six world-famous Colorado ski towns, through the White River National Forest and next to the Colorado River on bike paths, back roads and even a little bit of single-track trail.
It was so beautiful out there. It’s not just the elevation that will take your breath away.
Teams started as early as 5 a.m. on Friday and we were in the last group to start at 11:30 a.m. Each team member submits their most recent 10K time and each team is assigned a different start time based on their estimated finish time, with the goal being that everyone would arrive at the finish line at close to the same time. There were over 120 teams competing this year.
We planned to arrive at the start about an hour early, but we actually cut it a bit closer than we needed to. We didn’t even get a proper team picture before Bowie, our first runner, headed out.
Once Van 1 started running, Van 2 headed to get some lunch and tried to pass the time while semi-patiently waiting on our turn to start running. Honestly, I think these few hours were the longest hours of the entire race. We were ready to get the show on the road!
The course was designed so that Exchange 1 (the start) and Exchange 6 (where Van 2 takes over) were both at Copper Mountain Ski Resort, which made it nice for us. We hung out at Copper Mountain while we waited. Van 1 had 46.4 miles to cover before they made their way back to Copper Mountain. We put on our temporary Ragnar tattoos, had some mini dance parties in the parking lot and took pictures of pretty things while we awaited Van 1’s return.
Steve and I decided to do a one mile run just to stay loose. That mile might’ve been the most humbling mile of the entire trip. We were up close to 10,000 feet and the air was … sparse. We tried not to think about how hard it was to breathe at 10:00 per mile pace and hoped that our bodies would adapt … stat!
Van 2 officially started running at 5:00 p.m. Friday afternoon. Daniel kicked us off with a 5 mile leg that climbed straight up! The hills of Alabama didn’t exactly prepare us for what we experienced out in Colorado, especially on this leg. Daniel’s first leg took him to the highest point of the entire course. He started at 9,700 feet and finished at 10,700 feet. Y’all. That’s A LOT of climbing in 5 miles. The air was VERY thin up there and it seemed impossible to breathe. On your next run, don’t take the ability to breathe for granted! It may be humid as all get out, but at least the air is readily available. Perspective.
Despite the terrain, DG had a great run. Things had just gotten REAL. He passed the “baton,” which was actually an orange slap bracelet off to Daniel Holley, who essentially got to run down the other side of the mountain that DG had just crested. Daniel’s leg was 9.5 miles with an elevation loss of over 2,000 feet! He absolutely CRUSHED it.
Daniel Holley handed off to me. My first leg was just over seven miles and was one of the flattest legs along the course. I gained about 250 feet, but also lost about 500 feet. While this doesn’t sound bad, it was actually tougher than I was expecting. My first leg was actually very interesting and very diverse in terrain. I started out downhill on a two lane road and turned onto the paved bike path that ran alongside the interstate. This paved trail is where the majority of our race would be run. I almost made two wrong turns on the trail, which wasn’t as well marked as I would’ve hoped, but luckily there was another runner in the general vicinity both times and together we figured out where to go.
After several miles on the trail, I ran right through the middle of a street party in downtown Vail. There were hundreds of people milling around and I came flying through there like a madwoman. I’m sure it was quite a sight to see. Shortly after that, I made a sharp turn off of the main road and ran straight down what I am assuming was a ski slope. It was rocky and very steep, but also thankfully very short! Shortly after that, I ran past a wedding reception. The band was playing Delta Dawn as I passed. I loved that! Just after I ran by the wedding party, I finally made it to my exchange. Approaching the exchange and seeing your next runner waiting for you is one of the best feelings in the world during a race like this.
I handed the bracelet off to Steve, who also had just over seven miles to run. Steve had some very tough legs during the race (tough legs could refer to both his actual legs and the segments of the race that he had to run :)). The first one was probably his easiest, but really none of the legs were easy out there.
Our van was down one runner (Jessica we missed you SO MUCH), so when Steve handed off to Erin, she ran two legs back to back. Thankfully these two legs were both shorter than most of the other ones, but it was still a mental shift to go from planning to run three miles to running six miles. She also had the first true night run of the race. Steve and I had to run during “nighttime” hours (meaning that we had have a reflective vest, headlamp or flashlight and a blinking light on us), but for Erin’s leg, it was dark, dark.
We met Van 1 at sometime around midnight in Edwards, Colorado. 1 leg down, 2 to go! While Van 1 headed out to run their seconds legs, Van 2 had about 3 hours to rest and regroup before it was our turn to run again. We drove to the next major exchange at the Gypsum Recreational Center, where we would be taking back over. We were all very tired at this point, but there wasn’t really enough time to sleep, as we would be running again in less than 3 hours. We passed the time by having a disco party in our van. We had light up emoji beach balls (that we named Betty, Yeet and Jacool), rings and glow sticks! It even sounds a bit crazy to me now, but at the time, it was a blast!
For the most part, it seemed like the night legs were shorter than the other legs. Van 1’s total nighttime mileage was just over 26 and Van 2’s was just over 28 (as opposed to 46 and 35, respectively, during the first leg).
At approximately 1:10 a.m. Saturday morning, Elena came into the exchange and handed off to DG. Van 2’s second legs were officially underway. I don’t have much of a play by play for the night legs. What I do remember vividly is that it was VERY dark and VERY lonely out there. We didn’t know this at the time, but we had passed all but 5 or so teams at this point already and runners were scarce. In past relays (except for maybe Tennessee), we were continually catching and passing people the entire way, but that was NOT the case here.
I was scared out of my mind at the thought of running by myself in the dark! I felt that way a little bit in Tennessee, but this was definitely a different, more intense fear. In other relays, the vans have been able to “leapfrog” the runners and never even really get out of sight, but that wasn’t ever even an option in Colorado (at least not on Van 2’s legs (I think Van 1 was able to do this some)). We were running on a paved trail surrounded by woods beside the interstate, but the vans couldn’t drive on the trail and also couldn’t see the runners from the interstate. Long story short, I was terrified, but my teammates really stepped it up and we were able to buddy up for the night legs!
Just two Christmas trees getting ready to run through the forest …
I ran two short legs during the night. Steve and Daniel Holley both ran parts of the first one with me and then my Daniel ran the second one with me. This might not have been the fastest way to get it done, but at that point, safety was more important (at least in my opinion (and I think everyone else agreed)). To say that I was ecstatic to have the nighttime runs behind me is an understatement. I told Daniel that I might not be able to do another relay, as I seemed to have become a liability instead of an asset for the team.
By the time we all finished our second legs, there were only two teams ahead of us!
Van 1 headed back out to run their last leg (we were so jealous) and we headed to our hotel in Glenwood Springs. Having a midway hotel is not really a necessity, but I highly recommend it if you ever do one of these overnight relays. Van 1 was able to go to the hotel while we were out running our second legs and then we were able to go to the hotel while they were out running their last legs. We had just enough time for everyone to shower and SLEEP for about ONE HOUR (mind you, this is the only sleep we got the entire time). Our spirits were rejuvenated as we headed back out to run our last legs.
We were also pretty pumped because Van 1 had taken care of those last two teams that were ahead of us (never mind the fact that they had started HOURS before us) and we knew without a doubt that we were in first place. Van 1 is looking very relaxed and thankful to be DONE. I must admit, I was a bit jealous of Van 1 at this point.
Daniel was on deck first! He saved his party pants for his last leg! Haha.
DG’s last leg was only 2.3 miles, so basically he was done and to the exchange by the time we got there in the van. We were the first team to arrive at the exchange, which would be the case for the remainder of the race. The volunteers weren’t even really ready for us at some of the exchanges! Daniel Holley was up next and he also saved his party pants for the last leg!
Daniel Holley also had a shorter leg with 2.6 miles and before I knew it, it was my turn to run again. I had 3.3 miles to do before handing off to Steve, who would then run what was deemed the “Ragnar Leg,” meaning that it was the most difficult leg of the entire race. There were a few others that were definitely in contention as well, but this is the one that the race officials decided was the toughest. He even got a special medal for completing his leg.
Steve picked a special walkout song for his leg and as I came into the exchange I could hear “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” playing over the speakers. We talked about each choosing a song to play at the beginning of all of our legs, but I think we either got distracted or decided that the selection process would be too tough. This one was absolutely perfect though!
Would you like a side of dancing to go with that running?
Steve ran 9.5 miles with over 1,000 feet of elevation gain. The leg was straight up. It was insane! After Steve finished his leg, I headed back out to run one last leg! Thankfully, it was only 3 miles because my legs were SO DONE at this point. I really felt like I was running from mile 23 to 26 of a marathon during this last run. The pain was real. The struggle was real. The mountains were real. It was just very REAL. I somehow survived (and by survived I truly do just mean that I completed the distance) and I handed off to Erin, who had an extremely challenging last leg.
Thankfully, it was THE LAST LEG of the entire race. We were almost done! Van 1 was already there waiting for us at THE FINISH!
Erin ran 8 miles with almost 2,000 feet of elevation gain and 1,400 feet of elevation loss. How’s that for a crazy tough final leg?!
Erin is a beast and she finished the race with a bang. As we were waiting, we realized that it was 11:20 a.m., which meant that we would be really close to finishing in under 24 hours, which was our loose goal going in. Almost on cue, Erin appeared at the top of the mountain. She made her way down the mountain and sure enough, our finish time ended up being 23:56:08! We were over 2 hours ahead of the second place team.
Post-race had us feeling like … sleepy!
Seeing as how I was laid out on the ground barely able to move, I didn’t exactly complete my birthday miles. Apparently it’s not super easy to simply add on a few more miles at the end of an overnight relay at 10,000 feet with no sleep (shocking!). I actually determined that I had covered 33 miles in 24 hours if you included the walking that we did. I decided to call this good! Done and done.
Our medals are pretty sweet! When you put them together it reads, “We are Ragnarians. We believe … together we can accomplish anything.” As cheesy as it is, I truly feel like this statement embodies the Ragnar experience. Our team really came together on a challenging course and worked together to support each other and dominate in the process. Ragnar is truly about doing something together that we could never do alone.
After the race, the real fun of the trip began! We stayed in an amazing house with epic views (special shout out to my Daniel for handling the accommodations!).
My friends surprised me with a birthday cake Saturday evening! We cooked all of our meals for the next few days at the house and we sat around the huge dining room table for every meal like one big, happy family. When I say “we cooked,” I don’t actually mean that I contributed to that. Thanks to Becca, Steve, Megan and everyone that cooked for us!
I usually crash pretty hard as soon as we get done with these races, but this year I was able to catch a second wind and I actually stayed awake and was social Saturday evening. Our house had a pool table, a ping-pong table, a hot tub and pretty much anything else that you could possibly want or need.
Sunday was a bit of a slower day around the ranch (our house was called Snow Bear Ranch). A few of us ventured out mid-morning for a shakeout run and a few of us also ventured out for a hike later in the day.
Other than that, the day was pretty chill. Lots of time was spent playing ping-pong (for some more than others :)), in the hot tub, and playing cards.
By Monday a few more people were ready to venture out for a morning run. Our route from the house was beautiful, but quite challenging. I don’t think there is a single stretch of road or trail in Colorado that is completely flat. I love running in new places and the area around our house was perfect for an exploratory run.
Several of us went white water rafting Monday afternoon! We went with Blue Sky Adventures in Glenwood Springs. I had a great time rafting and am so glad that I decided to go. It was quite an adventure. Our guide was hilarious and in general, we just had a good time. There are way too many pictures from this excursion, so I’ll just share a few.
Looking like we know what we are doing!
While we rafted, the rest of the group went hiking from the house. I’m pretty sure there wasn’t even a trail per say, but they just blazed their own. They had a blast as well.
Tuesday morning was a long day of travel. We left the ranch at 6 a.m., but our flights didn’t leave from Denver until around 12:30 p.m. We arrived in Pensacola around 9:00 p.m., after a short layover in Nashville. We found it very fitting that we had to make a short stop in Nashville, the site of our first Ragnar win, on the way home from Denver, the site of our second (and arguably most epic) Ragnar win!
We all got to sit together on our last flight (gotta love Southwest!) and of course, the laughs and stories just continued. I have a feeling that they will continue for quite some time!
Until you have experienced an overnight relay, I don’t know if you can truly understand how much fun and what an awesome experience it is. This was by far the best (and most challenging) relay that I have ever done. The camaraderie was incredible. Everyone on the team ran their heart out and we were truly a team. Friendships were formed, strengthened and tested. Everyone survived the test and if it is even possible, we are all closer than ever!
Tuesday evening I ran the Crime Prevention 5K in Mobile. The race is always the first Tuesday in August and it’s one that I try to do every year. I like to look at it as a good opportunity to gauge your fitness after your summer training. The conditions make the race challenging (it’s typically over 90 degrees), but the course is very good (completely flat with enough turns to keep it interesting). Here are my times over the years:
I had a really nice progression going and then I “accidentally” ran a PR here in 2015, which really made it tough to continue to chip away at my time (but it was obviously #worthit). I haven’t been able to get back to the same fitness that I was in 2015, but that is basically my goal. I know that progress isn’t always linear and I think this is a good representation of that. In the first few years, it definitely can be linear and you kind of get used to that. As you reach a certain level of fitness though, it becomes much, much harder to see continual progress.
Going into the race, I was using the one mile race to predict what I thought my 5K pace should be. I ran the one mile in 5:25 and I was hopeful that I could hold 5:55 for a 5K. I talked about it with my coach and she agreed that 5:55 was a good goal. If I was able to run 5:55 pace, it would put me close to 18:15, which would actually be a PR. I was so excited just to think that maybe this was within the realm of possibility.
Before the race, I looked back at my race recap from last year and was reminded of my terrible pacing. I had issues with my GPS and ended up running the first mile way too fast last year. My main goal this year was to try to keep the splits as even as possible. My coach basically told me to start at 5:55 and just hold on for as long as you can. As it turns out, this is easier said than done!
I tried to do a #fastbraidfriday, but it was a Tuesday, so … I don’t know what that makes it.
I arrived downtown around 5:30 p.m. for a 6:30 p.m. race start. The weather was iffy on the drive across the bay. There was a good bit of rain in the area, but somehow it seemed to pretty much avoid the race course altogether, which was wonderful! The rain also cooled it off a good bit as well. I must say though, we traded HEAT for HUMIDITY. The temperature was only 80, but the dew point was 75. Normally it is hotter than blue blazes, but since it is later in the day there usually isn’t much humidity. I honestly think this year’s conditions were equally as tough, if not tougher.
I ran the course with a few friends beforehand. None of my regular crew was racing, but a couple of them were out to do an easy run and to watch the race, so I had some good company on the warm up (and again later on the cool down). I ended up with about three and a half miles plus a few strides before it was time to line up for the start. There was actually a little bit of confusion as to where the start line was supposed to be (the course is certified, but hadn’t been marked yet that day). Eventually they found the washer and poured some chalk across the street delineating the start line. Sometimes I start a few rows back at this race, but I decided to line up essentially on the line this year.
In typical 5K fashion, the start was pretty fast. I was so glad that my race recap from last year had jogged my memory (running pun) about the GPS satellite issue downtown. I looked down at my watch at one point during the first quarter mile and saw a pace of 7:30, a little while later it was 6:30 and it felt more like 5:30! Last year I kept picking it up and picking it up because of the watch and this year I was a bit wiser. I came through the first mile in 5:57. Not too fast and not too slow! Just right.
I held the pace pretty consistently during the second mile. Also in typical 5K fashion, I was running in no man’s land. There was a group of guys up ahead of me that I could see, but they were too far ahead for me to be able to run with them. I tried to focus on staying comfortable and not worrying too much about the pace. I came through the second mile in 5:58. Again, not too fast and not too slow. If I could hold on to this, I was setting myself up for a really good time! If only it was easy to maintain your pace in the final mile …
I really started to struggle during the final mile. I didn’t think I had run the first two miles too fast, but in hindsight, I guess I did. I hadn’t specifically looked at a pace adjustment for the temperature and humidity and I likley should have done that. I think I might capable of holding the pace in perfect conditions, but not on a super humid, muggy evening in August. Silly rabbit. I wasn’t looking at my watch because I knew that I was doing everything that I could and seeing the pace wouldn’t do me any good. My third mile was 6:24 and I managed to pick it up to 5:40 pace for the last tenth, giving me a finish time of 18:43. I was the first female finisher and sixth person overall. It’s always a treat to place at this race because the top three overall winners get gift cards to McCoy Outdoors in Mobile. I got a $100 gift card! Sweet! Side note: if only I could find a job that paid $100 for about 20 minutes of work. That would be NICE! Ha.
While the pacing didn’t go exactly as planned, I KNOW that I will get this nailed down. I am actually very hopeful that I might be able to squeak out a 5K PR this fall! I know that my fitness is really solid. Now I just need the weather to cool off some and help a sister out.
Another fiscal year is coming to an end for me (i.e., my birthday is tomorrow), so in the spirit of continuing with birthday blog traditions (here is year 30 and here is year 31), I decided to take a look back to remember what all went on during the last year. I think it’s important to take time every now and then to reflect back on things. Before I wrote this post, I actually was thinking that not much happened this year, but after looking back … I was wrong!
Here are 32 memorable events (most are silly, some are more serious) from the year! They are not numbered, which is only driving me slightly crazy, but the list formatting just wouldn’t work with the links and pictures that I have included. I promise that there are 32 things. I counted. Multiple times.
I celebrated my actual birthday by running 32 miles! This is one of my favorite yearly traditions. I’ve got a 5 year streak going with this now and I’m hopeful to continue the tradition this year. The Ragnar Relay we are doing in Colorado is actually on my birthday this year! I’ll be running close to 20 miles as part of that, so I just have to figure out how to squeeze in another 13 miles afterwards. Piece of cake (hopefully literally and figuratively)!
I joined Salty Running! I have been a reader of Salty Running for quite some time and somewhat on a whim, decided that it might be fun to write for them as well. The idea of writing posts that aren’t as personal in nature (i.e., not a list of 32 things that happened in my life) is appealing to me. My favorite piece by far was a collaborative effort called #MeToo – Women Runners’ Experiences of Sexual Violence, Assault and Harassment. It has been really cool to be part of a group of such fierce, intelligent and strong women. I also started doing some editing work for the site this summer and I really, really LOVE editing. I wish that I was qualified to do that as my actual job.
Brooksy joined IG and got a little bit into running. He averages a mile or two per week. His insta game is not exactly stellar and he still prefers swimming and fetching over running, but regardless, he enjoys an early morning trot every now and then.
I coached girls on the run! I loved being part of the GOTR organization! Their mission is to “inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running,” and their vision is to “create a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams.” Yes, yes and more YES!
We celebrated our 7th anniversary with matching cards. We really did get each other the same card! You might think, “What are the chances?” but really … there are two golden retrievers on the card. We’re pretty predictable like that. Next to you … is my favorite place to be!
Daniel did his first Ironman 70.3! This was quite an amazing feat. After spectating this event, I have mad respect for all of you triathlon types out there. What you do is incredible!
I ate candy corn and got a tiny candy corn figurine. Candy corn is definitely one of my guilty pleasures in the fall. What’s not to love about pure sugar? AmIRite?
A client brought me eggs from her chickens (which indirectly impacted my decision to become a vegetarian). Side note: I do *now* realize that there aren’t little baby chickens in these particular eggs. This great egg incident (the “egg-cident”) of 2017 was the primary driver of my decision to become a vegetarian.
Brooks turned 6! I can’t believe our little buddy is so grown up. He brings so much joy to our lives.
Halloween meant dressing myself up as Galen Rupp (for a Salty Running post) and dressing Brooksy up as a lion (for funsies). We don’t typically do the Halloween thing, but it was fun to “celebrate” in our own little way.
We got a Christmas tree and decorated our house for Christmas! This was our first Christmas in our new house and we thoroughly enjoyed our tree and our lights. We haven’t done much decorating in the past, so this was definitely special.
We saw ELF the Musical at the Saenger Theatre in Pensacola! It was a great show and definitely had me laughing out loud on multiple occasions!
I went to the chiropractor more times than I can count. I had (err … have) a nagging left … leg. It’s primarily in the hamstring and glute area, but it likes to show up in the calf, hips and IT band sometimes as well. Thankfully, it is mostly under control and the staff at Coastal Chiropractic has been extremely helpful in keeping me up and running!
It snowed! Twice. This is not typical for lower Alabama. I found out pretty quickly that I was not cut out for frigid running temperatures. I thought I was going to lose my fingers to frostbite. I wish I could say that I am exaggerating, but I’m not … my hands have never hurt like that in my life.
I ran the Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon as a pacer. This was my first time officially pacing a race. You can read more about this race (if you so desire) by clicking on the link in the first sentence. The key takeaways are that pacing a marathon is a lot of fun, but short courses are the worst.
I became a Run Angel ambassador. It’s really cool to partner with a brand and a company whose sole focus is on personal safety. Safety is always a top priority for me and the Run Angel brings me a lot of peace of mind in the event that I am out running alone.
I ran the First Light Marathon. You can also read more about this race (if you so desire) by clicking on the link in the first sentence. I tried to keep races off of my “memorable events” list, mainly just because if I included all of them, that would’ve been 22 of my 32 things! Ha. However, I feel like a marathon is pretty significant event that indeed deserves a memory of its own. When I first started training for First Light, I was hopeful that I would have a shot at breaking three hours. As the race got closer, it became fairly evident that this wouldn’t be the race. Getting sick a few weeks before the race was definitely the main factor, but now looking back, the whole training cycle really fell apart about six weeks out. Even though I didn’t get that sub three, I really enjoyed training with so many great friends and I crossed the line as the first female at my hometown marathon, which was incredible feeling!
I taught corporate tax at a local university. If we are talking about things that I did this year that were outside of my comfort zone, teaching would likely be at the top of the list. I have always had teaching in the back of my mind as a potential “second career,” and I was able to get my feet wet and see what that was all about. There are definitely pros and cons. At this point, the cons outweigh the pros and I don’t see myself pursuing this more in the immediate future. The door isn’t completely closed though!
Mom and I took a quick trip to Birmingham. We always have a good time wherever we go and I am definitely thankful for the time that we have to spend together.
Brooks and I mastered the puppy plank. Y’all. Isn’t he the cutest? If I am ever doing planks or pushups (or anything on the ground really), he loves to get right under me and sprawl out.
I played lots of ping-pong and a little bit of tennis! We set our ping-pong table up in our living room (kind of by accident). It was supposed to go to a friend’s house, but we had car issues with the delivery and it ended up staying at our house instead (it had been in my parents’ garage before that). We ended up using it a pretty good bit. From table tennis to regular tennis, I played more tennis this year than I have in the last few years for sure. I only played regular tennis a handful of times, but it’s always fun to get back out on the court.
I survived yet another tax season. I don’t know how this keeps happening, but I can’t seem to get out of the tax world (and believe me, I’ve tried!). This was my tenthtax season! In all seriousness, I am thankful for my job and for the ability to use my brain.
We officially cleaned out our storage unit. We moved into our house last February and likely should’ve cleaned it out long before we did, but better late than never. The most notable items that were discovered were my magical “PR” shoes from 2010 and my wedding dress. These bad boys carried me to a lot of big running milestones, including my first sub-20 5K, my first sub-40 10K, my first sub-1:30 half and my first marathon. Those were some good shoes right there!
We rescued several baby birds. We noticed their nest well before the birds hatched. Once they hatched, those little guys (or gals) were on a mission to fly the coop. They were jumping out left and right and we had to keep our eyes peeled when we were outside so that we could safely return them to their nest before they were able to fly.
I started working with Sarah Bishop of McKirdy Trained! This is also on the list of things that has pushed me outside of my comfort zone (I kid, I kid … kind of). I have done several challenging workouts, many of them have left me looking a bit like this …
I went on a bike ride with Daniel and rode a bike without a kickstand. Biking is definitely not my thing, but I had fun riding that day. I don’t think that I have a future in biking, but I had a lot more respect than normal for the guys riding in the Tour de France this year. A little perspective can change a lot of things.
Mom and I took our annual trip to Watercolor! I look forward to this trip every year and it’s always wonderful. Again, I am just SO thankful for the time that we get to spend together.
I went paddle boarding and skiing and, in general, enjoyed #baylife. I have always enjoyed being on the water and Mobile Bay has always held a special place in my heart (hence the name of this blog).
I had the opportunity to share my story on two podcasts! This would definitely be another thing that was out of my comfort zone. Speaking up and speaking out against sexual assault is very important and it has been a big part of the healing process for me.
I got a state record for the one mile! I would love to do more one mile races. Of course, this might be because I’ve been reading “The Perfect Mile: Three Athletes, One Goal, and Less Than Four Minutes to Achieve It” by Neal Bascomb. The book tells the stories of Roger Bannister, John Landy and Wes Santee and details their training in pursuit of breaking the four minute mile. It’s been really interesting to read about their training. To quote Roger Bannister, “We run, not because we think it is doing us good, but because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves. The more restricted our society and work become, the more necessary it is to find some outlet for this craving for freedom.”
Last, but certainly not least, we are flying to Colorado for the Ragnar Colorado Relay! I will definitely be sharing all of the details (probably more than you want to know (because I tend to do that)) of our trip when we get back, but for now, I am spending the last day of 32 flying across the country with some of my best friends to do something that I enjoy more than just about anything else. I can’t think of a better closing to year 32 or a better start to year 33!
Obviously running was mentioned in several of the memories already, but here’s the “run down” of what year 32 looked like from a purely running perspective.
I ran 3,382 miles while I was 32. Included in those miles were 22 races. The breakdown of races by distance is below.
This week was pretty chill on the workout front (i.e., no workouts). I did a tough workout last Sunday and then this week was primarily easy running getting ready for and subsequently recovering from the mile race.
Here is what my training looked like the week of 07.30.18 – 08.05.18:
Monday – Easy: 10 miles (8:53 pace)
I started the week off with an easy run with Rebecca and Bowie.
Tuesday – Easy: 10.5 miles (8:38 pace)
Tuesday morning we had a special treat! Tia (@arkansasrunnermom) joined us for our weekly hill run (815 feet of climbing). She and her family were on staying close by on vacation and we were able to meet up for a run. We have been “internet friends” for over three years at this point and it was so cool to meet her in person. She is a lovely person and was a wonderful running buddy.
I did a short five mile treadmill run before work on Wednesday. I was trying my best to take it easy and rest up for the race Thursday.
Thursday AM – Easy: 4 miles (9:40 pace) + PM – RACE: 6 miles (7:41 pace)
I ran a few easy miles Thursday morning. I wanted to keep my legs fresh and also stay in my regular routine the morning of the race. I figured that if I didn’t run, my legs would be stiff and I would feel a bit stale that evening.
Thursday evening I did a three mile warm up, raced the mile and did a two mile cool down.
Friday – Easy: 8 miles (8:38 pace)
Tia joined us again Friday morning before heading home to Arkansas. Rebecca and I did four miles and then Tia met us for four more. I expected to be a bit sore from the mile race, my legs felt surprisingly good!
Thursday evening I ran the Fairground Road One Mile in Robertsdale, AL. I had been looking forward to this race for quite some time (i.e., probably since last year’s race!).
I really enjoy the challenge of a one mile race. It’s not everyday that you get to go out and see how fast you are truly capable of running. In fact, I would venture to say that a lot of us have not tapped into our true potential as far as our speed goes. A one mile race is an excellent place to test your limits and find out what you are really made of!
Going into the race, I had a few goals in mind:
A Goal: < 5:20
B Goal: < 5:23 (which would give me a PR)
C Goal: < 5:40 (which would give me the 32-year-old female AL state record)
I knew that the A goal was a bit of a stretch, but some of my recent workouts pointed towards 5:20 as being a reasonable stretch goal (if that makes any sense). I didn’t give myself much “wiggle” room in between the A & B goals, but when you are talking about a one mile race, seconds can really feel more like minutes. The C goal was purely dictated by the fact that the 32-year-old female one mile record in the state of Alabama was 5:42 and I wanted to get the record.
Daniel and I warmed up for close to 3 miles before the race. The majority of that was purely easy running, but I also threw in a few short, quick strides towards the end to get the blood pumping and the muscles primed. It is quite a shock to the system to go from running 9 or 10 minute pace during the warm up to racing at a 5 or 6 minute pace, so the strides help you “ease” into that a bit and signal to your brain and muscles that it’s about to get real.
The course is an out and back road mile. I knew that the turnaround would slow me down a touch, but I wanted to try to run as evenly as possible for the four quarters of the race. With a goal pace of as close to 5:20 as possible, I needed to be close to 1:20 for each quarter (i.e., 1:20, 2:40, 4:00 and 5:20).
Our friend, Kenny, generously offered to pace me for the race, which was AMAZING. Maybe he didn’t exactly offer, but when I heard him say that he wasn’t planning to go all out and do the race himself, I chimed in with something along the lines of, “You should totally just run with me instead.” He did and it helped me so much! He actually forgot his watch, which would’ve made pacing a bit tricky, but he was able to borrow Daniel’s watch for the race (Daniel didn’t race either), so that worked out.
I didn’t lap my watch at each quarter, so I don’t have the exact splits to share. I know that we started off a touch too fast, but we settled into the pace within the first quarter-mile. Kenny was doing a better job of tracking it than I was and he said we were at 79 for the first quarter.
I tried to cool my jets a bit during the second quarter, but still keep the effort where I wanted it to be. I didn’t really have any room to be cooling my jets, but I knew that I needed to rein it in just a touch if I was going to finish this thing strong. We got to the turnaround in 2:42, so I lost a few seconds on that quarter.
While it might not seem like a big deal, you have to slow the pace WAY down in order to do a 180 degree turn. I made a concerted effort to pick it back up immediately after the turnaround so that my pace wouldn’t lag at all. I was mentally prepared for the third quarter to be really tough. You are working really hard at that point and your brain tries to tell you that it would feel so much better to just relax and not worry about finishing this thing. We ran exactly 80 seconds from the turnaround back to quarter, getting there in 4:02.
The last quarter-mile was TOUGH! I was really struggling to maintain the pace. Kenny encouraged me and kept reminding me that we had less than a minute to go, less than 30 seconds to go, etc. and I tried my best to stay strong. In actuality, I faded just a tad during this section, but nothing crazy. In order to get that 5:20 though, I know that the last quarter is where I am going to have to make up my mind to really give it every ounce I can muster.
The split on my watch shows 5:22, which would’ve been PR, but my official time is 5:25. I know that I can’t count my watch time, but it’s still fun to have that as a reference. I am thrilled with 5:25 and am super excited to have gotten a state age group record.
Daniel and I ran two miles after the race to cool down and my legs felt better than I expected. The Kona Ice Truck was on hand after the race, which was a very nice touch. I got a large wedding cake flavored snow cone and it was quite delicious! I also won a trigger point massage roller as a door prize and a fancy insulated water bottle as the overall award. All in all, I’d have to say that it was a very successful evening!