Race Recap: Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon

Well guys, my first experience as a pacer was interesting. I paced the 3:25 group at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon Sunday morning in Biloxi, Mississippi. Technically, the race started in Pass Christian and ended in Biloxi.

We went over to Biloxi Saturday afternoon and hit the expo on our way in. The trip was really quick (less than an hour and a half!). I picked up my bib and pacer singlet at the expo, as well as a sweet Run Mobile bottle and some Goodr sunglasses from the Fleet Feet Mobile booth (I couldn’t resist). Um … the sunglasses are AMAZING! I ran the whole marathon in them and they are so comfortable.

We spent the night at the Beau Rivage, one of the host hotels. The hotel was very festive and done up “real nice” for Christmas.

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We walked all around and looked at the lights and the casino before settling in for the night. The air conditioner in our room was either broken or disabled and it was approximately one thousand degrees in our room (a slight exaggeration, but not a major one). I tossed and turned all night and eventually got up around 3 a.m. so that I could take an ice-cold shower. I don’t usually sleep well the night before a race anyway, so that wasn’t really a big deal.

The silver lining was that I was so excited to get outside into the 30 degree temps and run! Ha.

We left the hotel around 5:45 to make the trek over to Pass Christian for the start. I had a 26 mile car ride to mentally prepare myself for the race and see firsthand just how far we would be running. It was far … a long, long way to run. We arrived at the start line around 6:30 for the 7:00 start. I picked up my pacer sign at the gear check, waited in line for the bathroom and then before I knew it, we were lining up and taking off. Everything was seamless.

The weather was perfect! It was mid-thirties at the start and warmed up as we went. There was little to no wind (which on a point to point course could’ve been a major problem). Gear wise, I went with a long sleeve shirt under my singlet, shorts, tall socks, gloves, my rocking reindeer hat and my new Goodr sunglasses. I also held a hand warmer for the first few miles (and yes, just one … for whatever reason, I just assumed that a package of hot hands would have two in them since you have two hands, but apparently that’s not the case).

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We started right on time and I started right on pace. I planned to run even splits. I needed a 7:48 average to finish a few seconds under 3:25. I was determined to nail those splits and run exactly what I needed to run. Certain pacing companies won’t let you pace again if you don’t come within one minute of your goal time. I don’t think that was a stipulation here, but I still wanted to make sure that I ran what I was supposed to since there were other runners who were counting on me to do just that.

The course was beautiful. We ran right along the Gulf the entire way! According to the race website, the course is a “fast, flat, BQ-friendly path along the coast from Pass Christian to Biloxi. The course is a USATF Certified Boston Qualifier route and offers unobstructed beach views and a takes you past some of the coast’s most historic and beautiful homes.” There were aid stations and porta potties every mile and a half along the entire course. The aid stations had water, powerade and gels.

I wrote down the times that I need to be at in 5 mile increments and tucked the paper away in my glove for reference. For anyone that in interested in the actual details of my splits, here they are …

7:50, 7:47, 7:46, 7:47, 7:47
7:47, 7:47, 7:45, 7:47, 7:47
7:48, 7:50, 7:49, 7:51, 7:47
7:49, 7:50, 7:47, 7:50, 7:45
7:44, 7:45, 7:45, 7:38, 7:37

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I had a decent sized group for the first half of the race. Several of the runners seemed very appreciative of my consistent pacing. I was appreciative that they were appreciative. It was a nice little cycle of appreciation. One guy did ask me how many marathons I had paced, to which I had to awkwardly explain that this was my first time pacing, but he didn’t seem bothered by the response. So … since it was my first time pacing a marathon, here are a few random observations:

  • Running while holding a three-foot pole is difficult. I was SO OVER that pole by the end (heck, even by the middle) of the race. I hit a couple of people with it (sorry guys!) and kept shifting it back and forth, from right hand to left hand. Super annoying. Let’s go with signs taped to our backs next time!
  • Taking gels and water while holding a three-foot pole is even more difficult. I somehow managed to take the majority of a gel at mile 8 ish and at mile 16 ish, but it was NOT easy. The good news is that I feel like taking gels and water during a regular marathon will be super easy now in comparison.
  • Most of the people around you are going to be wearing headphones.
  • Most of the people around you are racing and not exactly looking to chat it up. I tried to make casual chit-chat, but no one was real big into it.
  • A marathon is a long, long way to run, regardless of what pace you are running. While physically I felt fine, mentally I struggled. I questioned why in the world I willingly signed up for this, why I was planning to do it again in a few weeks, why anyone would EVER want to run this far. Ha. Lots of negative thoughts that I really wasn’t expecting. I mean, I expect these thoughts when I am racing a marathon, but I wasn’t expecting them here. Perhaps I need to work on my mental game a little bit.

Basically everything was smooth sailing up until mile 23. My group dissipated between the half way point and mile 20, but I still had about 3 runners with me at mile 20. By mile 23, I had no one. I hated to be running alone, but I knew that my job was to keep running the pace regardless of who was or wasn’t with me. Oddly enough, while I was running by myself, I ended up with a bike escort, as apparently I was the third place female.

I was using my Garmin to keep the pace steady and the mile markers along the course all seemed in line with the mile splits on my watch. My watch was beeping a little before the mile markers the further along we got, which was to be expected, as it is almost impossible to run the tangents perfectly over the course of a full marathon (so keep in mind that up until this point, I expected my watch to measure a tad long when we got to the finish). I picked the pace up ever so slightly between miles 20 and 25 to account for the minor discrepancy between my mile splits and the course mile markers.

The course was essentially a point to point course for 24 miles with an out and back stretch for the final two miles. At mile 24 we ran up the interstate on ramp (gotta love that) and ran on I-110 for what I assumed would be one mile. You could see the finish line at MGM Park as you ran up and onto I-110. I was running alone (expect for my bike escort). We came to the turnaround before I expected to and so I asked the bike escort (several times actually) if this was right. He assured me that it was. My watch eventually beeped to signal the 25th mile, but I never saw the 25 mile marker on the course. I had very uneasy feeling at this point. Half a mile later, we arrived at the 26 mile marker. I looked down to see 25.5 on my watch. I knew I had [inadvertently] cut the course somehow, but I was confused as to how. I debated just stopping right there and waiting for the clock to catch up so that I could cross at 3:25, but ultimately decided that would be silly, so I ran on into MGM Park and crossed the finish line.

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As I ran into the finish, the announcer said, “Here comes our 3:20 pacer! Wait. No. 3:25?! Someone is a little ahead of schedule aren’t we?” At this point, I was really upset. I felt like I had royally messed up and I was still very confused as to how. I stalked my pace the entire race and I knew that I had averaged EXACTLY what I needed to. After talking to other marathon runners and other pacers, we learned that the course was marked incorrectly and everyone ran short. Selfishly, I was relieved to learn that it wasn’t just me, but I also feel terrible for … well, everyone that raced … but especially those that got PRs or qualified for Boston.

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Finish line confusion. Me being like, “What exactly just happened?!”

As of today, the race organizers are standing by the fact that the course was certified and that runners’ GPS watches are not always accurate. While I agree with these statements, there is no doubt in my mind that we didn’t actually run the certified course. You can actually see where the turnaround should’ve been on the certified map (below on left)and if you compare that to all of the runners’ Strava data (below on right), it is very apparent that the turnaround was not in the correct spot. Lots of runners have questioned it, but the race organization is adamant that the course was certified and thus, was correct.

The race director sent out a heartfelt, sincere apology email to the marathon runners Tuesday afternoon. He wrote, “I am deeply sorry for this series of events. I am sorry that I didn’t recognize it earlier and that our responses have not been on point due to that. I always trust my staff and my people and they confirmed they did exactly as instructed.  It wasn’t until later that I realized my instructions were wrong. I have always taken a great deal of pride in the fact that runners can have faith in us to have a correct, safe and complete course no matter what. It’s painful to let so many down in that regard. Unfortunately, BAA does not currently allow exceptions for people not running the complete marathon distance at a race even if it is the event producer’s fault. For those runners who were able to make your BAA qualifying time, I am deeply saddened by my mistake especially for you.”

I was torn about how to eloquently word this post, but at this point, I think it kind of just is what it is. I feel that I did my best and did everything I could’ve done given the circumstances. It was a little bit crazy and not how I expected that to go down, but definitely an interesting experience. Pacing was fun and I hope that I get the opportunity to do it again one day!

Let it Snow!

Hey friends!

Last week was the fifth week of the marathon specific phase of my training for the First Light Marathon. Five weeks down and five weeks to go! Woo!

Here is what my training looked like the week of 12.04.17 – 12.10.17:

Monday AM – Easy: 5 miles (8:40 pace) + PM – Easy: 5 miles (9:20 pace)

A morning run with the Daniels and an evening run with Jessica. I love it.

Tuesday – Easy: 8 miles (8:31 pace) 

Another morning run with the Daniels.

Wednesday – Tempo: 12 miles (6:55 pace) 

My workout Wednesday morning called for a 1 mile warm up, a 10 mile aerobic threshold progression and a 1 mile cool down. I was not looking forward to this workout in the slightest. It was rainy most of the week and for some strange reason, I couldn’t convince anyone to run a 10 mile tempo with me (shocking, I know). I had to get this done before work and I was torn between the treadmill or the track. I don’t run by myself in the dark if I can help it. I decided to meet Young Daniel at the track. He had a three mile tempo workout to do, so at least I had some company for a little bit. It rained on us, but just a light drizzle, nothing too bad. Another runner that I know showed up to do a workout not too long after Young Daniel left, so I was only by myself for a couple of miles.

So basically I just ran lap after lap after lap around the track for 12 miles. It was a lot of laps (<– so profound). I had low expectations for this workout (since I was mentally not feeling it and usually physical performance is correlated to my pre-workout (or race) mental state). I was SHOCKED that once I started running, I felt AMAZING. It was one of those workouts where something clicks and everything just feels easy and effortless. I don’t know where it came from (actually, I do … it came from lots of hard work … ha), but I sure hope that it stays around for a while. I averaged 6:42 for the 10 mile workout portion! 6:46 for the first half and 6:39 for the second half.

My coach shared this on IG this week and I thought it was really good and on point with what I felt during this workout.

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He says, “The State Of Flow is the sweet spot where the challenge before you is roughly equal to your fitness and readiness. Learn to find this zone naturally by feel for each workout and race. This zone is where the magic happens. It is where you stay engaged but not anxious, challenged but not overly stressed. Use your watch only as a sanity check and feedback tool. Any pace guidance I give as a coach is designed to help the runner find this zone.” Yes! I love it.

Thursday AM – Easy: 5 miles (8:30 pace) + PM – Easy: 7.6 miles (8:28 pace)

Yes another morning run with the Daniels and an evening run with the group.

Friday – Easy: 7 miles (8:57 pace)

I went to the YMCA for the first time in months (/years). I like to think of my membership fee more like a monthly charitable donation (not that I count it as such on my tax return … don’t worry). It was cold and raining (/snowing) Friday and I wasn’t ready to brave the elements. Our treadmill was also randomly stuck at a 15% incline and I wasn’t ready to tackle that either, so the YMCA seemed like my best option. Our treadmill is fine now (thanks to Daniel).

Saturday – Easy: 7 miles (7:57 pace)

We woke up to a light dusting of snow! I think the last recorded snowfall in our area was in 2010 and before that it was 1993, so not something that happens often, that’s for sure!

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Someone had fun!

I ran a few miles with Kenny before the Holiday Half Marathon. It was a CHILLY (33* & windy), but beautiful morning to run! Daniel made a last minute decision to run the half and got second place overall with a 1:28. Yes! Way to go, DG!

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❤ this group!

Sunday – [ALMOST] MARATHON: 25.7 miles (7:47 pace)

Race recap is here. I had lots to say. Ha.

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Yep. I ran the whole way in my reindeer hat, carrying that stick!

Total – 82.3 miles

That’s it for now! Have a wonderful week guys!

Pace Week is Here!

Hey friends!

Last week was the fourth week of the marathon specific phase of my training for the First Light Marathon. I am pacing the Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon this weekend!

Here is what my training looked like the week of 11.27.17 – 12.03.17:

Monday – Easy: 5 miles (8:27 pace)

I majorly procrastinated my run on Monday and didn’t end up running until almost 6 p.m. At that point, I decided to just hit the treadmill and get it knocked out.

Tuesday – Easy: 8 miles (8:33 pace) 

I had to be dressed, ready and out the door by 6 a.m. Tuesday. I knew that if I waited until the evening, it wasn’t gonna happen. This meant that I was up and on the treadmill again by 3:45 a.m. I don’t necessarily recommend that, but sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do.

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Brooks was sweet enough to come lay with me while I ran. He practiced his down dog on my yoga mat (that hasn’t been used for yoga in years).

Wednesday AM – Tempo Repeats: 12 miles (7:19 pace) + PM – Easy: 5 miles (8:40 pace)

My workout Wednesday called for a mile and a half warm up, followed by 4 X 2 mile repeats and a mile and a half cool down. This was the first time I have ever done 4 sets of 2 mile repeats, as the workout is typically 3 X 2 mile. I was a bit intimidated by the idea of doing an extra repeat, but I was also strangely excited to try it out and see how I felt.

Thankfully, I had company for the first 3 repeats. If I hadn’t, this would’ve been a long, lonely workout. One notable thing that sticks out from this workout was that Young Daniel got The Ballad of Davy Crockett stuck in our heads. You know the “born on a mountain top in Tennessee, greenest state in the land of the free?” Yep, that one. Problem was, at the time, I couldn’t recall the actual lyrics of the song, but only the lyrics that my dad made up when I was a kid which involved something about Davy Crockett being born on a toilet seat in Tennessee. Of course this also led my thoughts down a rabbit hole of other songs that my dad had “modified” the words to, such as Little Bunny Foo Foo, who in our version “went to take a crap” and “got her tail stuck in a trap.” So lovely. Thanks for that, dad! Haha.

I don’t recall exactly when my thoughts came back to running and away from toilets, but eventually they did. At some point during the workout (I think it was when Sasser and Young Daniel finished up their workout (so after the third repeat)), I changed my watch screen from current pace to average pace. I keep an eye on the current pace during my workouts usually, especially on long repeats, to make sure that I am within my prescribed pace range. In this case, I was right where I was supposed to be for the majority of the workout, but when I looked down to check my pace on the last set, I forgot that I had changed the view to average pace (which included my slog (slow jog) recoveries and was thus, a decent amount slower than my current pace). I had a momentary freak out where I was like, I really feel like I am running close to 6:30 pace, how can this possibly be 7:00 pace?! I was aggravated for almost an entire mile until I realized that I was looking at average pace. Silly rabbit.

My splits for the miles and 2 mile repeats were 6:48/6:32, 6:31/6:29, 6:27/6:35, 6:31/6:20. My goal range was 6:20 to 6:30, so I am very pleased with how this one went down.

After my workout, it was time for my weekly visit to Dr. Ryan. This week I got the extra special torture of having my hamstring wrapped in ice as it was hooked up to the e-stim machine. Fun times!

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Thursday – Easy: 8 miles (8:56 pace) + PM – Easy: 5 miles (9:02 pace)

My legs felt better than I expected them to on Thursday morning. Daniel got up and rode his bike with me while I ran, which was much appreciated. We did 7.25 miles and came back to the house so that I could grab Brookser for the last little bit.

We had an impromptu group run at our house Thursday evening, as our town got “lit” for Christmas and our usual running spot was in the middle of all that. I got to chat with Jessica for five miles and that was lovely.

Friday – Easy: 5 miles (7:40 pace)

Since I am pacing a marathon next weekend at 7:45 – 7:50 pace, I decided to practice that pace during my run on Friday. It took me 3 miles to settle into it (the first mile was a tad slow and the next two were a tad fast), but once I did, I nailed it for two miles. I’m glad I tested it out a little bit and I’ll likely do that again this week just to make sure my body is used to what it feels like.

Saturday – Easy: 10 miles (9:46 pace)

I met Jessica and Joy in Mobile early Saturday morning to knock out a few miles before the Girls on the Run Fall Celebratory 5K. We ran several miles on part of the First Light course, so that worked out quite nicely. The girls ran great and had so much fun! Hopefully we’ll get some of the official pics soon.

Sunday – Long Run w/ AT Tempo: 18 miles (7:54 pace)

My long run Sunday included 8 aerobic threshold tempo miles in the middle of the run I did a 5 mile warm up, 8 mile tempo and 5 mile cool down. My goal range for the tempo portion was 6:40 to 6:50. Most of my usual training buddies ran long on Saturday, but thankfully Bowie volunteered to run my workout with me on Sunday. My AT pace is not a tough pace for him to run anyway, so that worked out. He kept me on track and I definitely needed the extra encouragement. At one point, a dog named Sam decided to come out and chase us for a little bit. I know this because the owner was frantically calling him (or her perhaps) back with “Come here Sam!” and “SAM! Get back here.” It was pretty funny.

Our mile splits for the tempo miles were 7:05, 6:44, 6:44, 6:43, 6:47, 6:42, 6:41 and 6:39 for a 6:45 average, which was exactly within the prescribed range. I would describe it as a comfortably hard effort (if that makes any sense). The idea of having to 18 more miles at just a slightly slower pace is still quite intimidating though.

Total – 76 miles

November Recap

Hi! Hey! Hello!

It’s time to recap another month of running and randomness. I’m so glad that December is here! I am feeling quite festive. I know I already showed you our Christmas tree, but just in case you missed it …

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Out of the 8 years that Daniel and I have been together, this is only the second year that we’ve ever even gotten a Christmas tree and I am so glad that we did! It smells amazing and it was actually a lot of fun to hang up all of our medals and reminisce on some fun race memories.

Month Recap: November 2017

The Running

Workouts: I had several good tempo runs and long runs this month! Marathon training is officially here. After recovering from a mild hamstring strain at the end of October, November was definitely a strong month. I am still trying to be very careful with the hamstring and am seeing my sports chiro weekly to stay in tune.

10 miles w/ 10 X 1:00 pickups

1.5 mi. WU, 3 X 3 miles (6:46 avg., 6:44 avg., 6:35 avg.), 1.5 mi. CD

10 miles w/ 5 easy (8:28 avg.) and 5 brisk (6:45 avg.)

20 miles w/ 10 easy (7:56 avg.) and 10 brisk (7:02 avg.)

22 mile long run (8:16 pace)

1.5 mi. WU, 4 X 2 miles (6:40 avg., 6:30 avg., 6:31 avg., 6:25 avg.), 1.5 mi. CD

Favorite workout: My favorite workout was probably the 10 miles with 5 easy and 5 brisk. The brisk pace is about 20 seconds slower than lactate threshold pace and 10 seconds slower than aerobic threshold pace, which makes it fairly close to goal marathon pace. It was my favorite primarily because the weather was perfect the morning of this workout. I felt strong and it was a good confidence builder.

Races: I ran 4 races in November and that’s exactly how I like it! I got a little bit of everything with a 5K, a 10K, a 12K and a 10 mile race.

Race Recap: Senior Bowl 10K

Race Recap: Battleship 12K

Race Recap: Turkey 10 X 2!

Race Recap: Turkey Trot

Favorite Race: My favorite race was the Turkey Trot, but the Battleship 12K was definitely a close 2nd! I think the weather, the friends, the cause and the homemade medals were the biggest contributing factors to choosing the Turkey Trot as the favorite. I love the course of the Battleship 12K, but the weather wasn’t great and not as many of my peeps ran that one this year.

Paces: My paces ranged from 5:49 (last mile of the Turkey Trot) to 9:10.

Total miles: 316! Phew. Highest mileage month in quite some time (perhaps all year). Again, marathon training is officially here!

Distances: Distances ranged from 3 miles to 22 miles.

That’s all I’ve got for today. Have a wonderful weekend and I will talk to you guys again soon!

 

Easy runs with friends + a 5K + a 22 mile run = My week of running

Hey friends!

I’m a little late with this one, but better late than never I suppose. Last week was the third week of the marathon specific phase of my training for the First Light Marathon. I am also pacing a marathon in less than 2 weeks!

Here is what my training looked like the week of 11.20.17 – 11.26.17:

Monday – Easy: 7 miles (8:28 pace)

I ran on the treadmill Monday mid-afternoon. I listened to an episode of the Man Bun Run podcast and had an enjoyable run.

Tuesday AM – Easy: 7 miles (8:41 pace) + PM – Easy: 5 miles (8:26 pace)

Tuesday morning I did 6 miles outside by myself, which is fairly rare. I came back, grabbed Brooks and we ran one mile together. Daniel and I did an easy loop after work on Tuesday.

Wednesday AM – Easy: 9 miles (8:22 pace) + PM – Easy: 5 miles (9:07 pace)

I got to run with Rebecca Wednesday morning! Woo! Her schedule has been crazy lately and we haven’t gotten to run in the mornings very much. Thank goodness for Thanksgiving break.

I got to run with Jessica Wednesday evening! Woo (again)! I love running friends and running with friends.

Thursday – Race: Turkey Trot 

Race recap is here!

Friday – Easy: 8 miles (8:19 pace)

I ran with Rebecca again Friday morning. We both had long weekend runs planned and so we tried to take it easy on Friday.

Saturday – Long Run: 22 miles (8:16 pace)

This was my longest run so far and was supposed to be done a little quicker and actually was supposed to be done on Sunday, which would’ve given me another day to recover from trotting with turkeys. Several of us are training for First Light and we are planning to do a few of our key long runs on the marathon course. Saturday worked best for the majority and so that’s what we went with.

I’ve run this marathon two times before and so, I kind of know what to expect from the course. However, this run was definitely eye-opening. The middle section of this race is tough!

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I drank my UCAN and did my typical pre-race routine for this run to try to simulate race day conditions. My stomach felt off for the majority of the run and I was never able to get into a good grove. Honestly, I had lots of doubts in my head as to why I am running this race and whether or not I will be able to run as fast as I hope to. Basically I finished the run questioning whether or not I even want to run the marathon. I guess we’ll just chalk it up to an off day and keep on keeping on at this point.

Sunday – Easy: 10 miles (8:56 pace)

My legs weren’t sore Sunday, which I guess is a good sign. We still took it easy, but I was happy to get a decent run in. The run was good and the company always makes it even better!

Total – 82.3 miles

Race Recap: Turkey Trot

Hey guys! Coming at you today with my annual Turkey Trot race report.

I love the idea of doing a race on Thanksgiving morning. Well, let’s be honest, I love the idea of doing a race on any morning. Thanksgiving is one of the most popular running holidays of the year, if not the most popular. I’ve been celebrating this age-old tradition for four years now by running the Turkey Trot for Hope 5K in Mobile. The race benefits Camp Rap-A-Hope, a local organization that provides year-long programs and a week-long summer camp to children between the ages of 7 and 17 who have, or have ever had, cancer.

Thursday morning was absolutely beautiful here on the Gulf Coast! I’ve been going on and on about how “one of these days,” we are going to have nice weather on a race day … well, Thursday was THE DAY! It was a crisp, clear 40 degree morning, perfect for running! There were 980 runners in the 5K (that’s a lot for us). I am so glad that there was such a good turnout to support this cause!

Before the Race

It was like Christmas morning (except for the whole it was Thanksgiving thing) when we woke up to temperatures in the 40s! Woo to the hoo! A brief moment of jubilation quickly changed to concern as I realized that I didn’t remember how to dress appropriately for a 40 degree 5K. Do I need tights, long sleeves, arm warmers, gloves, ear warmers or all of the above?! I mulled it over with a cup of coffee and decided to layer my singlet over a light long sleeve top. I threw all. the. clothes. in my bag and took them with me for good measure.

We got to the race about an hour before the start. Several of our friends ran too (yay! for racing with friends) and several of us needed to register. We got registered and ran the course before the race as our warm up. The course is the same course as several of the other local races except for that it starts (and thus, ends) at a different point along the way. I’ve run this race several times now, but I’ve run the other races along the course way more times and it’s always a mental adjustment to get used to the “different” route.

I warmed up with tights over my shorts and a long sleeved hoodie over my long sleeve shirt and singlet. I was chilly for a mile or so and then got nice and toasty. So toasty even that I decided to shed the base layer long sleeve shirt that I was wearing and get down to just my singlet, shorts, gloves and arm warmers. I have never run or raced in arm warmers before. I always talk myself out of it somehow, but this was a last-minute, game-time decision and I just went for it. The verdict: not for me. I felt like they were cutting off the circulation to my arms and I ended up pushing them down about a mile in (I’m glad I tested it in a 5K and not in a marathon :)).

We made our way to the start line with less than a minute to spare! I didn’t realize that we had cut it this close, but before we even made our way into the street to line up for the start, the horn blew and all of a sudden everyone was running. Alrighty then!

The Race

Since I am in the midst of the marathon-specific phase of my training right now, I didn’t really have any big expectations for this race. I wasn’t sure how my legs or lungs would react to running at VO2 max pace, as most of my workouts have been focused on strength and not speed. My coach thought that I should target somewhere in the 6:00 to 6:05 range. He is usually spot on with his pace recommendations (even though that is not a wide target pace range at all).

Spoiler alert: I averaged 6:01!

Let’s back up a little bit though … Daniel and I planned to run the first mile and a half together. His plan was to pick it up at a mile and a half and really go for it and I wanted to wait until about two and a half to really go for it. We talked about it beforehand and were each comfortable with our respective plans. We ran pretty much stride for stride through the first mile. I figured we would start fairly quickly (within the goal range) and run the first mile between 6:00 and 6:05 pace.

I have been really trying to not look at my watch during races except for at the mile splits. I want to learn to trust myself to run by feel and not worry or obsess over whether I am running too fast or too slow. I want to be a zen runner and be one with the pace. I am definitely not there yet! When my watch beeped to signal the first mile split, I looked down and saw 6:19. What?! I said out loud to Daniel, “Wait. What?! 6:19? That can’t be right. What does your watch say?” I legitimately thought that my watch was wrong. Fake news. Unfortunately, he confirmed that yes, the watch was accurate (go figure) and we weren’t actually running as fast as it *felt like* we were. In hindsight, I think there was a bit of a headwind during that first mile, but of course, I didn’t realize that at the time.

At the time, I was just mad (so not quite to the “zen runner” stage yet). Anger isn’t an emotion I typically experience while racing, but I think it actually helped me in this case. All of a sudden, I made a conscious decision to run faster and work harder. Daniel stayed right by my side, just as we planned, through the first half of the second mile. As soon as we got halfway through the second mile, he took it to a whole. nother. level. and promptly left me in his dust. I was mentally prepared for this (thank goodness) and I just focused on chasing him as best I could. I hadn’t looked at the pace again during the second mile (in fear that it would be slower than what I had deemed “acceptable” in my head). When the watch beeped to signal the second mile split, I looked down and saw 5:57. Yasss! That’s more like it!

The best part was that I still felt good (really good even). At this point, I knew I could maintain the pace for another mile, if not pick it up slightly. During the last mile, I kept telling myself that I can do anything for one mile. Less than 6 minutes to go, less than 5 minutes to go, less than 4 minutes to go, etc. It’s important to stay mentally focused during a 5K because if you let up, even just for a minute, you can lose your momentum. I focused on Daniel ahead of me. I was running by myself and so was he. We were both making ground on the runners in front of us, but we ran out of real estate before either of us were able to catch anyone. Before I even knew it, my watch beeped to signal the third and final mile. I looked down to see a 5:49 split!

I even managed a finishing “kick” for the last tenth and dropped my pace down to 5:20 for a few seconds. I don’t usually do that. Ha. I finished in 18:45 according to the results (18:42 according to my watch … I wish we could go with watch times :)). I was 1st female and 10th overall. Daniel finished in 18:32 and was 9th overall.

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Missing a few of the regulars, but thankful for this crew! 

After the Race

We ran the course again after the race as a cool down and swapped the deets of how the race unfolded for each of us. Everyone in our group did great! I think we were all in the top 20. After the cool down, we hung out for a little bit and waited on the awards, which thankfully didn’t take too long. The race was very organized and that is much appreciated, especially on a day when most people have other plans and gatherings to get to.

I always look forward to getting a pie and a handmade medal at this race. The kids make the medals during their summer camp, which is really special. I love unique awards like that.

An added bonus this year was that the overall winners also got a gift card for a free pair of shoes from Running Wild! Major score. After the race we got cleaned up and headed to my grandmother’s (apple pie in tow) for a nice Thanksgiving afternoon with the family.

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Brooks was hoping to snag some of that pie, but he didn’t. 

I have so much to be thankful for, not only on Thanksgiving Day, but also on every other day of the year. Thanksgiving can be somewhat of a bittersweet holiday for me, as that is when the attack happened (12 years ago now), but it also a wonderful reminder to just be thankful and that every day is a blessing. There will be days (or years even) that are hard, but those days make you stronger and more appreciative of the other days (and years).

Happy [late] Thanksgiving y’all! Talk to you soon!

Unicorns & Turkeys

Hey friends!

Last week was the second week of the marathon specific phase of my training for the First Light Marathon. I am also pacing a marathon in 3 weeks! I didn’t make many notes about the easy runs last week, so this will be fairly brief.

Here is what my training looked like the week of 11.13.17 – 11.19.17:

Monday AM – Easy: 5 miles (8:40 pace) + PM – Easy: 5.1 miles (8:41 pace)

Tuesday AM – Easy: 5 miles (8:43 pace) 

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Girls on the Run poster of things that bring the girls joy … lots of unicorns!

Wednesday AM – Brisk: 10 miles (7:38 pace) + PM – Easy: 5 miles (9:10 pace)

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So peaceful.

Wednesday morning my training plan called for a 10 mile run with 5 miles easy and 5 at a brisk pace, which is very similar to goal marathon pace. The goal range for the brisk portion was 6:45 to 7:00 pace. It felt great out Wednesday morning (once we got warmed up :)). It was a brisk 50 degrees with a slight wind … perfect weather for a brisk run!

I had company for this workout! Workouts are a million billion trillion times easier with friends. We averaged 8:28 for the first 5 miles of the run and then it was time to pick it up a little bit! We averaged 6:45 exactly for the second 5 miles, so right at the low end of the goal range! Woo! Our splits for the brisk miles were 6:57, 6:53, 6:45, 6:32 and 6:39. We got a little overly ambitious on those last two miles, but it felt good, so I just went with it.

Thursday – Easy: 8 miles (8:32 pace) 

Friday AM – Easy: 5 miles (8:39 pace) + PM – Easy: 5 miles (8:56 pace)

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Love a good sunset!

Saturday – RACE: Turkey 10! Fast Finish Long Run (aka Turkey 20!): 20 miles (7:29 pace) 

Race recap is here!

Sunday – Easy: 6.8 miles (8:28 pace)

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A winter runderland! 

Total – 75.0 miles (so even!)

That’s all I’ve got for today. I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving! Talk to you guys soon.