Race Recap

Race Recap: Hurricane Run 5K (PR!)

You guys. I am over the moon! I hadn’t run a 5K PR in over 3 years … hadn’t (past tense) … until TODAY!

I plan to give you all of the painstaking details of this race. From what I did the days and the week leading up to the race, to what I did before the race, to what I wore, etc. It’s all getting documented 1) because I just want to remember it and 2) because I want to be able to replicate it in future races!

Let’s start with the basic details:

Who? Me! Ha.
What? Hurricane Run 5K.
Where? Dauphin Island, AL.
When? September 8, 2018 at 8:10 a.m.
How? With lots of hard work (years of hard work, actually).

I added this race to my calendar a month or so ago. At the time, I wasn’t even sure if I would run it or not. I figured that it might be a good opportunity to get in a shorter race before the marathon training cycle ramps up too much. My coach was totally on board and even mentioned that I might be able to PR at this race. Hmm … very interesting indeed. Seeing as how I hadn’t run a 5K PR in over 3 years, I wasn’t so sure. I mean, I was totally willing to test this theory, but I wasn’t sold on the outcome.

Let’s back up a bit and talk about what I did the week leading up to the race. I’ll be posting my regular training log either tomorrow or Monday, but for now, here’s a super condensed version:

Monday – 60 minutes easy
Tuesday – 2 mile WU, 5 X 1000 @ threshold pace, 5 X 200 @ repetition pace, 2 mile CD
Wednesday – 70 minutes easy
Thursday – 60 minutes easy
Friday – 45 minutes easy + 45 minutes of Pilates

Two weeks prior (training log is here) was also fairly low-key with just one workout. Basically, I was well rested going into this race. While that isn’t always feasible when you are in the middle of a longer training cycle, it certainly helps you to have a better chance to run your best on race day. I’ve never been one to over-run my workouts or my easy runs. I like to save the magic for race day! You know?

I made sure to focus on getting lots of good nutrients and plenty of fluids in on Friday. I made a smoothie after my run Friday morning with UCAN protein powder and frozen berries. It was delicious! I drank lots of water with Nuun (really I do this every day). I worked all day Friday, so I was not on my feet much at all (thank you desk job). I knew that I wanted some good carbs for dinner Friday evening, so we went to Moe’s (really we do this a lot too). I got the Ear Muffs bowl, which had lots of rice, beans, vegetables, guacamole and tofu. Oh! I also had a pint of Halo Top with a few spoonfuls of peanut butter. I guess I’ll have to eat that before every race now! Darn.

Saturday morning I woke up just after 5 a.m. We had about an hour drive to get to the race and we left the house just before 6 a.m. Daniel pulled the whole bit where he bribes me to get ready on time by telling me that we can stop at Dunkin’ Donuts on the way (but only if we leave the house by (insert whatever time here)). Apparently that is all the incentive I need to get ready in a timely fashion! Coffee in tow, we made our way across the bay and towards Dauphin Island.

We got to the race around 7 a.m., which gave me plenty of time to get registered, go to the bathroom, etc. I planned to do a 20 minute warm up, but we ended up running the entire course beforehand. When we got there, I noticed that the finish was set up in a different spot than when I had run this race before. At that point, I was little bit nervous that the course was going to be different and I wasn’t going to know where to go. I’d rather be certain where I am going and if there are any tricky turns, etc. before the race so that I am not relying on a foggy, mid-race brain to make a decision about where to go. I’m glad that we did this too, because I was pretty much all alone out there!

After the warm up, I switched into my new Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4% shoes. I’ve had lots of questions about these shoes. In short, I love them! This was only the second time I have worn them though. I ran the 5 X 200 portion of my workout Tuesday in them and that was it until this race. According to Nike, the shoes “feature Nike ZoomX foam (which is ultra-lightweight, soft and capable of providing up to 85-percent energy return) and an embedded full-length curved carbon fiber plate (that increases stiffness to provide a sensation of propulsion). Together, this delivers an average of 4-percent improvement in running economy when compared to Nike’s previous fastest racing flat.” I’ve not run in any of Nike’s previous racing flats in order to compare, but you can definitely feel the propulsion when you run in these shoes. It basically feels like you have springs under your feet.

After the warm up, I also made the executive decision to ditch my singlet and run without a shirt. This is actually the first time I have ever run outside without a shirt on. I know this may seem like a silly and insignificant detail, but it was honestly a big step for me. My hesitation about running without a shirt has been two-fold and has resulted from things in my past (things like being a victim of sexual assault and having an eating disorder (and just having really poor body image in general)). I made a decision to put those things aside. My body isn’t perfect and no one cares. It gets me where I need to go (sometimes quickly :)) and it has treated me well over the years even though I haven’t always treated it well. The clothes that I wear (or don’t wear) on my body do not make me safe (or less safe) when I run. It’s time to move passed all that (both in my life in general and in this blog post specifically).

The bottom line is that it was over eighty degrees. The dew point was seventy-five. I was miserable in my very lightweight singlet. I decided that I didn’t want anything weighing me down (literally or figuratively). It was time to run free! As far as other clothing items go, I wore my Lululemon Train Times 6″ shorts, a plain Nike sports bra (I think it’s the Pro Classic Swoosh compression sports bra) and my Injinji toe socks. These are my favorite shorts, bra and socks by far. The shorts are perfect if you prefer compression shorts and you don’t want them to move when you move. They also have a pocket in the back, which is a plus.

With about ten minutes until the start, I did a few strides. People have also asked about this and basically you just want to run a few short, quick intervals. I didn’t time them or even count them actually, but they are about 20 to 30 seconds each and you want to run at close to your 5K pace. The goal is to stir up the aerobic enzymes and prime the engine before heading to the start line. It helps your body to know that it’s about to get REAL.

I had an excellent pacing strategy going into the race (thanks to my wonderful coach)! I wrote the paces on my arm Friday afternoon. I find that the process of thinking about the paces and having it “tattooed” (albeit temporarily) on your body, makes me more accountable and more invested in the plan. Not sure if that makes sense, but it seems to work for me. The plan looked like this:

Mile 1: 6:00 – 6:05
Mile 2: 5:55 – 6:00
Mile 3: 5:50 – 5:55

If I ran at the upper end of the range for each mile, I would’ve been close to 18:40 and if I ran at the lower end of the range for each mile, I would’ve been close to 18:25. My previous PR was 18:23, so I really wanted to be at the lower end of the range. I had a good chat with my coach before the race and he really tried to reiterate the importance of not running the first mile too fast. As a reference, my splits for my last 5K were 5:57, 5:58 and 6:24 (insert facepalm). My “strategy,” if you can even call it that, at the last race was to start out close to 5:55 and see how long I could hold on. As it turned out, I held on for exactly two miles. That race was an excellent example of how not to race a 5K and I definitely took away some good lessons from that performance. I was all about starting conservatively and running smart this time around!

So where does that leave us? Oh, the race!

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I basically led the race from the gun. The guy in the red shirt above was in front of me for about half a mile or so, but once I passed him, it was just me out there doing my thing. I guess in the back of my mind I knew that there was a possibility that this might happen, which is why I wanted to be sure that I knew the course. I figured that I might have someone to run with for a little bit longer than I did though. I had no one to blame if my pacing was terrible. I was setting my own pace!

I told myself to be smart and I tried to run at an effort that was hard, but not all out hard. I didn’t stalk my Garmin. I didn’t want to psych myself out by seeing a pace that was too fast or too slow than what I was expecting. The first mile was straight as an arrow. No turns. No nothing. I approached the clock and saw 5:51. A tad fast, but … whatever. It is what it is. I told myself that as long as I didn’t slow down, it was fine! I still had a chance to run a smart race. I just had to run a smart, fast race!

The second mile looped around a neighborhood. There were several gentle turns and there was also lots of shade! I was so happy to have a bit of a reprieve from the direct sunlight. I suddenly realized that I probably had less than 10 minutes to go. For whatever reason, I have never thought about this during a 5K before, but that thought really perked me up. I still felt good (thankfully) and the thought of only having to hold on for 10 minutes absolutely seemed doable. Nothing super noteworthy happened during this mile. I just put my head down and did the work. When I got to the clock at mile two, it read 11:38. This meant that I had run a 5:47 second mile. I didn’t look at my watch to check the split and I honestly didn’t even try to figure out what it was. I know it seems like a simple calculation, but doing math while running is far from simple. I knew that I hadn’t slowed down and that was really all I cared about at that point.

The third mile had a couple of turns and then went straight back along the same road that we had run out on during mile one. The course was pancake flat. Once you make the turn for home, you’ve got just over three-quarters of a mile to go. I was looking forward to that final turn. It signified that I was at least headed home and that I had less than five minutes to go! At this point, you were back out in the direct sunlight, but that didn’t really matter. Even though I was starting to feel fatigued, I knew that I wasn’t going to crash. I made my mind up that I was going to finish strong! Daniel was waiting for me at mile three.

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When my watched beeped, I looked down and saw 5:53! Holy cow. I was doing it. I was actually doing it. All that was left was the final tenth of a mile and one final left-hand turn into the finishing chute. It wasn’t until I made the turn and saw the clock that I knew I was going to PR. I crossed the line in 18:12! I was ecstatic! And exhausted. If that isn’t one of the best feelings in the world, then I don’t know what is. All of those workouts, all of the hard work that goes into this sport that we all love so much, it’s all worth it.

Of course it is easy to realize and appreciate this after things all come together and you have a great race. This one was a long time coming for me though. I’ve been at a pretty consistent level of fitness for about three years now and I hadn’t had any major breakthroughs. I’m going to go ahead and call this one a breakthrough. Progress isn’t linear, but consistency pays off. Keep showing up and putting in the work. The results will come and even if they don’t, it’s still worth it.

Daniel and I ran the course again after the race as a cool down. I was still reeling with excitement. I kept saying, “I can’t believe that just happened.” I’m actually still riding the post-PR high right now even and I still can’t believe what happened. I’m even more excited about CIM now and I can’t wait to get back out there and work even harder (after a proper recovery, of course).

Whew. Well, I have successfully rambled on for far too long. Thanks for reading! Talk to you soon!

Race Recap, Relay

Race Recap: Ragnar CO “Last to Start, First to Finish … ROUND 2!”

Hey guys! Buckle your seat belts and get ready for a wild ride!

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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!

Thursday

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.

Friday

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.

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Van 2 Fam Jam

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.

Ragnar

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

Saturday

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 …

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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.

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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.

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Thanks, Van 1!

Daniel was on deck first! He saved his party pants for his last leg! Haha.

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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!

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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.

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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?

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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!

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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?!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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

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.

Monday

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.

Our crew!

Looking like we know what we are doing!

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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

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!

Race Recap

Race Recap: Crime Prevention 5K

Hey friends!

I’ve got a race recap to share with you today!

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:

2010: 21:04
2011: 20:46
2012: 19:52
2013: 19:42
2014: 19:35
2015: 18:23 (5:54, 5:53, 5:58)
2017: 18:50 (5:47, 5:57, 6:23)

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.

Race Recap

Race Recap: Fairground Road 1 Mile

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!).

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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).

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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.

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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!

Race Recap

Race Recap: Shark Run 4 Miler

Hey friends!

As you probably know, the Fourth of July is one of the most popular holidays for racing! I ran a 4 mile race, the SHARK Run, in Gulf Shores this year on the Fourth. Four miles on the Fourth of July?! Yes, please.

The race starts at 7:00 a.m. at the Flora-Bama. There is also a 4.5 mile race that is 2 miles on the road and 2.5 miles on the beach. I opted for the all road 4 mile race again this year. I ran it in 2016 as well (as the last 4 miles of an 18 mile run no less (pure craziness)). This year we left the house at 5 a.m., picked Jessica up on the way and arrived at the race right after 6 a.m. This gave us plenty of time to pick up our numbers, go to the bathroom and get a few warm up miles in.

Jessica and I headed out to do a two (ish) mile warm up. The warm up ended up turning into a hunt for a bathroom. We stopped at a gas station temporarily, but that was a bit of a mess (literally). Jessica actually tried to tell one of the workers that the bathroom wasn’t usable. The lady responded that she didn’t even work there. Eek. She had on a Shell gas station uniform, but apparently we weren’t at a Shell station (insert facepalm). After that incident we stumbled upon a very nice, private bathroom near a tennis court and we were both pumped. It’s the little things like pre-race potty victories that make us happy as runners.

We made our way back to the Flora-Bama, found a few friends and chatted briefly before the start. Before we knew it, it was time to line up and get the show on the road. I didn’t really have any sort of elaborate pacing strategy for this race. I knew that the VDOT calculator estimated my race pace to be in the 6:10 to 6:15 per mile range, which seemed reasonable. I also knew that if I could average slightly under 6:15 pace then I would have a chance to finish in just under 25 minutes, which also seemed like a reasoanble goal.

The course is a completely flat, out and back course. You start out going west from the Flora-Bama (headed towards Alabama), run out for approximately two miles, veer off of the main road to run under the Perdido Pass Bridge and then head back east towards Florida.  I lined up with Steve, Jim and Scott (all of whom I have raced with on multiple occasions). Jim paced me to my 5K PR a few years ago, which wasn’t really a planned thing, but worked out quite nicely and I frequently say that Steve is the smartest racer that I know. I figured that I would try to start off with those guys and see what happened from there.

We came through the first mile right at 6:10. I was happy with that and told myself to try to just hold on to the pace. There were several girls in front of me for the first half to three-quarters of a mile or so, but I passed all but one by the first mile marker. I have raced against the girl who was in front of me many times as well (and all but once she has come out on top). As luck would have it, she was doing the half road, half beach race. I had just caught up to her at mile two, which is where the two courses divide.

My split for the second mile was also exactly 6:10. I was still pretty much running stride for stride with Steve. He grabbed a bottle of water at mile two and very kindly offered some to me. I declined, but likely should’ve taken him up on his offer. Things definitely got real out there once we turned around and headed back east. The sun had been at our backs up until this point and you could really tell a difference once it was full-on in your face!

I basically stopped looking at my watch at this point. I knew that I was doing everything I could and it didn’t really matter what the pace was. I grabbed a cup of water somewhere just before the third mile marker and dumped the entire cup on my head. I hadn’t ever done that before, but it was offered as a suggestion in a coaching newsletter as a good way to try to keep yourself cool during hot races. I will definitely be doing that again if needed. It felt amazing! My split for the third mile was 6:24.

Even though I had slowed considerably, I was maintaining my position relative to other runners. I really didn’t even feel like I was fading. I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing … likely some of both. I’d say it was good that I didn’t feel terrible, but bad that my pace slowed without me even realizing it. I started trying to do math in my head and decided that if I could pick it up slightly or at a minimum keep the pace steady and not slow down any more during the last mile, then I would still have a chance at breaking 25 minutes.

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I played mental games with myself during the last mile. I told myself to get past the traffic light up ahead and then I could re-evaluate. Then I told myself to get to that car parked up ahead on the side of the road. I decided to take my sunglasses off for a minute to see how far away the finish line really was (I think I was hoping that would somehow make it seem closer). Once I had them off, I told myself to get to the next fence and then I could put them back on (as if that was some sort of reward (I don’t claim to make sense all of the time)). I pretty much immediately took the sunglasses back off again and then they went back on. Basically I just messed with my sunglasses for the entire last mile.

I really just wanted to get to that dang finish line!

As it turns out, I got there a bit too soon. The course ended up being a little bit short, unfortunately. My watch measured 3.92 miles. My pace for the last mile was 6:19, but my split was 5:47 since it was short. My finish time was 24:31, which averages out to 6:16 pace over 3.92 miles. The average pace was just over what I was aiming for, but was pretty darn close. I’ll take it. It would be really nice if they would just move the start and finish back ever so slightly in order to make the course actually four miles. Then they could get it certified and it would be a great race for people to go for four mile state records. The four mile distance is not very common at all and I think several of us would have a shot at age group records.

Dear Mr. Race Director, if you are reading this, please make this happen for us!

After the race, I headed back out for an extended cool down with Jessica. She was using the race as part of a 6 X 1 mile workout and she had two and a half more miles of “workout” to go after the race. Two years ago she voluntarily ran 14 miles with me before this race, so I definitely owed it to her to go out and keep her company during the last part of her workout this year. It takes a lot of mental strength to make yourself continue to run hard after a race is over, but she didn’t seem to have any problem doing this and she ended up crushing her workout!

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By the time we finished the workout and cooled down a little bit it was basically time for the awards. It was really crowded and very hard to hear, but I guess that’s to be expected given the venue. We got our awards and hit the road as quickly as possible to get back home and avoid the worst of the beach traffic. Everyone got a finisher’s medal and the age group and overall winners also got an additional medal, so that’s pretty fun. The overall winners got a bar of copper (same award as the Paradise Island 5K).

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Once we got home, we promptly changed into our boating clothes and headed out to enjoy the rest of the morning on the water.

I skied for about 5 miles (ish) and also spent some time on the paddle board, both paddling and “surfing.” We went through a little pod of dolphins and one of them played in our wake right beside me, which was SO NEAT!

My arms (and entire upper body really) are still incredibly sore several days later. Holy moly. It was totally worth it though! I have been really wanting to get out on the water and ski and I was so happy to finally be there. I’m hoping that we can recreate this day again in the not too distant future!

How did you celebrate the Fourth of July? Did you race?

Race Recap, Summer of Speed

Race Recap: Hot Trot 5K

Hello, hello!

On Saturday, we ran in the 36th annual Doc’s Hot Trot for ARC 5K at LuLu’s in Gulf Shores. Let’s dive into the details!

As I mentioned in a previous post, Hot Trot is one of my favorite races of the year! The TL;DR version of that post is that I’ve run Hot Trot five times before this year, it was my first race recap to ever write in 2015, I missed breaking 19 minutes by two seconds last year and my goal this year was to finish in 18 minutes and 50-59 seconds. Obviously I would’ve been totally happy with anything faster than 18:50 as well, but I wasn’t expecting that (based on a realistic assessment of my current fitness level).

The weather forecast was iffy all week and it looked like there was a fairly good possibility that we would be running in the rain. We drove through some pretty heavy rain on our way to the race, but thankfully all of the showers cleared out by the time the race got underway. We arrived around 6:30 a.m. for a 7:30 a.m. race start, picked up our bibs, hit the bathrooms (nice indoor bathrooms … always a plus :)) and headed out to do a few warm up miles.

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Photo cred: Classy Sassy!

I ended up doing two miles to warm up and added on about a half mile of strides. We got a quick “team” picture and then it was go time! My coach suggested targeting somewhere around 6:10 per mile pace for the race. My goal of breaking 19 minutes was purely my own wishful thinking, although I definitely felt like I had done some workouts that at least pointed close to this goal. I needed to average 6:06 per mile in order to break 19 minutes. Of course, that also assumes that I would run the tangents completely accurately, which pretty much never happens. With that being said, I figured that I would start out somewhere in the 6:05 range and see what happened from there.

There had been a bit of cloud cover earlier in the morning, but as we lined up on the start line and almost as if on cue, the clouds cleared up and the sun made its appearance. I guess it would really be a shame if Hot Trot didn’t live up to its name. Ha. I lined up on the start line directly behind My Daniel. I knew that he would be running a bit faster than I was planning to and I decided that I would just chase him for as long as I could. I ended up running the first mile with Bowie and Daniel Holley. My mile one split was 6:07. I knew I was right within my range and I also knew that I needed to pick it up at least a little bit to stay on track for my goal time.

There is a turnaround shortly after the mile marker. I absolutely love races that have out and back stretches with a turnaround. You get to watch and cheer for all of the runners both in front of and behind you. I always get a bit of a boost when we turn around and start seeing the other runners! I tried to focus on maintaining my rhythm and slowly easing my pace down just a touch.

After the turnaround you make a righthand turn and run a little side loop that is probably about three-quarters of a mile long. The only downside of this loop is that there is absolutely no shade, so you really can start to feel like you are baking a little bit out there. Did I mention that the temperature at the start of the race was 82 degrees? Nice and toasty! My mile two split was 5:58. Whew! I actually felt pretty good and I was hopeful that I could finish the race strong and not fade too much.

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After you finish running the loop, you made another righthand turn and head for home. I focused on not letting the runner in front of me, who happened to be My Daniel, make up any distance on me. I told myself this was just like a track workout where he runs in front of me and all I have to do is hold on and feed off of his pacing. It actually worked out quite well for me. I knew that he would out kick me in a sprint or die trying, so I just settled in behind him and hung on! My mile three split was 6:03.

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At that point my time was 18:08 and I hadn’t quite gotten to the three mile marker on the course, so I knew that I was really going to have to book it in order to get under 19. When it comes to aiming for a very specific time in a 5K, the last tenth of a mile can really make or break you. I usually don’t think about it too much, but this time I was keenly aware of what I needed to do. I found an extra gear and kicked it in at 5:30 pace!

My official time was 18:57! Definitely cut it a little bit close! At the same time though, I know that I literally got everything out of myself that I could’ve that day and that is such a wonderful feeling! I’m also pleased that I was able to accurately gauge my fitness level going into the race. I’ve been doing some pretty intense speed workouts and they have given me the confidence that I needed to be comfortable with running in the low six minute range.

Several of us headed out for a long (ish) cool down. My schedule called for a five mile cool down, but I settled with just over four. After that it was time to relax and wait on the awards. There was a bit of confusion with the results, but I think they got it straightened out (at least for the most part) before they did the awards. We had heard that they were bringing back the ceramic coffee mug awards this year and I had been looking forward to adding a new coffee mug to my Hot Trot collection for quite some time.

When they called the first place overall male and female finishers, Kenny and I were given a cool wooden plaque and a stainless steel mug. We got our picture taken and I think we were both trying to hide our disappointment about not getting a ceramic mug. As we walked away the race director stopped us and said he had one more thing for us … YAS! Just about everyone that I know loves the coffee mug awards at this race. They give them to the top three in each age group as well. Several of our group can testify that they are perfect for dipping Oreos in milk. I, on the other hand, prefer to use it for what I assume to be its intended use … all the coffee!

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All the awards! 

After everyone collected our awards, we even had a discussion about exactly how much coffee these guys will hold, which led to a discussion about the mathematical formula for the volume of a cylinder is (πr2h). Riveting stuff for sure!

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#mugshot

Our team pretty much racked up … we were first, second and fourth overall in the male and female divisions, plus several age group winners! Left to right we have Erin (20:21), Daniel Holley (19:35), My Daniel (18:51), Cody (18:03), Kenny (17:54), me (18:57), Tobias (21:12), Marlen (26:21) and Jessica (22:29). Woo hoo! Way to go team!

After the race we headed to the beach for a little bit. The water was really pretty (and cold!) and we had fun playing in the water and also just relaxing some.

 

Hot Trot certainly lived up to its name and to the standards that have been set in years past! I’m already looking forward to next year’s race!

Race Recap

Race Recap: Grandman Tri Relay

Hey friends! I’ve got a fun race recap to share today!

Yesterday morning I did the Grandman Triathlon Relay in Fairhope as part of a two-woman team. There are typically three relay team members (swim + bike + run), but my teammate, Kristan, is an amazing triathlete and she can actually do all three on her own. She is healing up from a hamstring tear and she just needed someone to do the run for her (we basically did the same exact thing for the same reason last year). I was happy to be part of her team again this year!

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The race started at 7 a.m. at the Fairhope Pier. I woke up around 5, got myself ready, made some coffee and headed down to the race. I got there around 6:30. Once I found a parking spot and walked down the hill (the same monster of a hill that I would have to run up during the race), I was greeted by volunteers with sharpies who were eager to write our team number all over me. Seriously. Both arms, both legs and a calf.

Once I got to the pier I found Kristan and the rest of her teammates pretty easily. The new orange jerseys are VERY easy to spot! I walked out on the pier to watch the swim get underway. The start is staggered (so not everyone goes into the water at once). The athletes jump in one at a time and start making their way to the shore.

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I made my way back over to the transition area to watch as the swimmers came out of the water and got on their bikes. Once Kristan came through and headed out for the bike portion of the race, I knew I had about 45 minutes or so until I would start the run. I used that time to get a few warm up miles in. Since no one was actually on the run course yet (lots of geese, but no runners), I did a few miles along the course. I likely confused several of the spectators and volunteers who were working to get the water stations set up. I repeatedly told people that I was just warming up.

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I got 3 miles in and made my way into to the transition area to wait. The transition area was a pretty hectic with all of the bikers zooming in, racking their bikes, changing shoes, etc. and heading out to run. I mainly just tried to stay out of everyone’s way and I cheered for as many people as I could as they came through.

I saw Kristan zooming down the hill (her orange bike, Betty, and her orange jersey made her hard to miss) and I was excited to get out there and RUN! She had to take the timing chip off and give it to me before I could take off. She told me that she had the ride of her life, which was really exciting and made me want to run even faster. She crushed the bike portion, averaging over 21 miles per hour! Smoking!

I secured the timing chip around my ankle and took off. You climb from 1 ft (we are talking literally at sea level here) to 80 ft in the first tenth of a mile into the run. I don’t know if that sounds hard or not, but trust me when I tell you that it is … very challenging!

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I knew that the hill was going to be the biggest obstacle of the race and I told myself to be patient and not try to run up that thing too quickly. I wanted to take it easy up the hill and then start to push. Theoretically this sounds wonderful, but it is incredibly difficult not to get caught up in the heat of the moment during a race (and especially in a relay when you know your teammate just busted her hiney and is counting on you to do the same :)).

Once I got up the hill the course flattened out a little bit, but there were still some gentle rollers to deal with. Here is the elevation chart …

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I came through the first mile in 6:22. I didn’t really have any specific pace goals in mind, so this seemed decent enough. I was steadily catching people and picking people off throughout the run, which is usually pretty fun (especially in a pure road race setting). I actually feel bad passing people when I am on a relay team, knowing that they had to both swim and bike before they ran. I, on the other hand, was fresh as a daisy and just had to run. I tried to encourage everyone that I passed and I hoped that they all saw the big “T” on my left calf (indicating that I was part of a team). I cannot even imagine having to run that course after swimming and biking.

The first two miles of the course are an out and back, so as much as I like to complain about the hill, it isn’t really all that bad because you do at least get to come back down. You definitely get a decent amount of momentum going down that thing and I kind of had to reign it in (for fear of getting completely out of control and busting my face). I’m pretty sure that if you did fall, you would continue to roll down just as quickly as you could run down. I didn’t, however, plan to test that theory. I came through the second mile in 6:19.

The last mile is a loop around the duck pond at the pier. I knew that I just had to keep pushing for one more mile. It can be really tough to hold the pace during the last mile of a race, but somehow I did manage to keep it pretty consistent this time. My last mile split was 6:20. After the third mile split you have to do a little “off roading,” through some sand and grass before making your way onto the sidewalk and around to the finish line.

My mom was down near the finish watching and got a good picture with the pier in the background.

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My 5K time was 19:48 (according to Strava), but the course was 3.2 miles, so my official time was 20:15. Triathlon courses aren’t always exact distances, as in this isn’t a certified 5K course, so I’m simply including my 5K time for my own refernce. An extra tenth of a mile can definitely add 30 seconds or more to your 5K time. I was a little bit faster last year, but I think it was hotter and more humid this year. Either way, I am happy with the time.

I decided to forgo a cool down. I don’t think people really cool down after triathlons … at least, it doesn’t seem like they do. At a running event, you typically see lots of people cooling down after the race, but at a triathlon, not so much. Perhaps the run is the cool down? We just hung out, chatted with friends and waited on the results for a little while. I thought we might’ve won the women’s relay division, but then again, you never really know (especially since no one starts at the same time) …

We got to stand at the top of the podium again this year! Woo!

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Grandman is such a wonderful event. The location, the organization, the volunteers, really just everything is great. Participating in any event as part of a relay is always so much fun! As much as I enjoy individual sports like running and tennis, I can’t deny that there is just something about being part of a team that makes a sport feel more meaningful. I am so glad that Kristan asked me to do this event with her again this year. I’m pretty sure that it’s becoming a tradition at this point …

Congrats to all of the athletes that competed yesterday! I am amazed by all of you!