Race Recap: Hot Trot 5K

Hello, hello!

Coming at you today with a recap of the LuLu’s Hot Trot 5K!

This is one of my favorite races of the year! Yes. I have a few favorite races, but this one is definitely one of the best. I have done it 5 times now and I plan to keep doing it as long as I am able to. You need to do it too! As long as you manage the expectations about the fact that it will be unbelievably hot (it is mid-June in Alabama after all) and embrace it for what it is, then everything else about the race will be amazing!

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The race starts at 7:30 a.m. at LuLu’s in Gulf Shores, AL. We left the house around 5:45 a.m. in order to make it to LuLu’s close to 6:30 a.m. to get our packets and have time to warm up and do our typical pre-race stuff. We made it right on time and were able to easily find parking, get our packets and go to the bathroom (nice, indoor bathrooms at that … it’s definitely a nice plus when you don’t have to do the pre-race porta potty thing in my opinion).

We ran the course before the race as our warm up. The course is as flat as any course could possibly be. It is essentially an out and back course, but there is a little side loop that is added on the way back. My coach didn’t really give me a specific time goal for this race, but I knew that I wanted to be somewhere in the low 6:00 range. I also knew that the heat and humidity would make it tough, so I was going to be okay with whatever the day gave me.

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Side note: I’m not sure what in the world is going on with my face in the above picture. Looks like I was preparing to ride the pain train! Haha. I was able to convince our friend Bowie into pacing me during the race. He was there to run, but not race and my race pace wasn’t all that difficult for him so that worked out really well!

We started out at 6:10 pace, which felt pretty comfortable. I had a girl to chase during the first mile and I ended up passing her right at the one mile mark. My watched clicked over the first mile in exactly 6:10 and I surged a little just to make sure that the pass was somewhat decisive (a move that I learned from Daniel). Just after the one mile mark we came to the turnaround point. As you approach the turnaround, you get to see how the race in unfolding in front of you. We had several friends racing and it was fun to be able to see and cheer for everyone as we passed.

After the turnaround I didn’t have anyone else right around me (other than Bowie who was doing a wonderful job of keeping me on track). My Daniel and Young Daniel were the two runners closest in front of me, so I just kept my focus on them. A dog tried to come out and run part of the course with us around a mile and half in, which was pretty funny! I think that dog was faster than anyone at the race by far. He trotted along with us for a minute or so until he found something more interesting to go do.

My split for the second mile was 6:11. I felt like I had maybe sped up a little bit during the second mile, but apparently I didn’t. Sad. Don’t get me wrong … I was pleased with the pace, but also just felt like I was working harder than I was during the first mile. Effort-wise, I know that my heart rate was definitely higher! Bowie helped me stay focused during the last mile. I probably would’ve been content to keep it right where I was or I might’ve even been a little more content to slow down a touch, but he wasn’t having it. He told me that “this is what I train for … this is why I run all of the miles … keep pushing and give it your all.” I was very appreciative for the extra motivation and his encouragement helped me to keep the voices in my head in check (you know … the ones that like to tell you it’s okay to slow down a little bit because we are getting really uncomfortable up in here).

We finished mile three in 6:00 flat and the last 0.1 was 0:39 for a total time of 19:01. Whew. I was hopeful that I could squeak in under 19:00, but I didn’t quite make it. I am very happy with my time though. This was the fastest that I have run at this race. Only by a few seconds, but I’ll definitely take it! We all ran the course again after the race to get in some cool down miles. With the warm up and cool down, the 5K turned into a 15K of total running. I like it.

Shout-out to the Warehouse Grinders who got it done yesterday!

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Left to right: Young Daniel: 18:54, Kenny: 18:09, (me), My Daniel: 18:43, Steve: 18:29, Cody: 17:48, Brandon: 18:19 and Sasser: 19:58.

Also shout-out to my girls who run the world {Beyoncé reference}!

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Left to right: Jill: 19:41 (2nd overall), Jessica: our cheerleader extraordinaire (and soon-to-be momma :)), (me) and Lizzie: 21:29 (4th overall).

It was such a fun race! The only sad thing was that this year there were no coffee mug awards. I always really look forward to my annual Hot Trot coffee mug (because it holds LOTS of coffee). This year everyone got a finishers medal and the age group winners got an additional medal. The medals are hand-made (similar to the First Light ones) and I definitely like them. The coffee mug was just a very unique award and I tend to prefer unique awards over medals (but that’s probably just me … and it’s definitely impossible to please everyone).

We finished off a fun morning off with an afternoon at the beach. It was a wonderful day!

Race Recap: Grandman Tri Relay

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

Saturday morning I did the Grandman Triathlon Relay in Fairhope as part of a two-woman team. My teammate, Kristan, swam and biked and all I had to do was run (which definitely worked out well because that’s all I am good for anyway). Kristan is an amazing triathlete! She is currently on mend from a partially torn hamstring (ouch!) and she just needed someone to do the run for her. She asked me if I would be interested in competing with her … uh yeah! Of course I was. I got to be an honorary member of her tri team, the Zarzaur Law Triathlon Team (aka “The Gavels”), for the day and we had a blast!

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Let me just start by saying, holy moses … there is A LOT of planning and logistics that goes into triathloning … it definitely makes running seem very simple. You show up with your shoes and maybe a watch (but that’s not really necessary at all) and you just run. Triathlons are much different!

The race started at 7 a.m. at the Fairhope Pier. Kristan told me that I probably needed to be there close to 6 to get “marked,” but that she would be there even earlier to set up her transitions. I woke up around 5, got myself ready, made some coffee and headed down to the race. Once I found a parking spot and walked down the hill (you know … the HUGE hill that I would have to run up during the race … that one), 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. I’m sure there is some sort of secret to removing permanent marker from your body, but regular soap and water didn’t exactly cut it. Most of it washed away, but the remnants are definitely still visible a day later.

I will never forget the first and only other time I did this race (also part of a relay) was the year that Daniel and I were engaged. I had a dress fitting the next day (or maybe two days later (it doesn’t make sense that it would’ve been on a Sunday)) and I remember standing in this fancy dress shop in Birmingham, feeling like a silly goose for trying on my wedding dress with sharpie all over my arms. But I digress, sorry.

Once I got to the pier I found Kristan pretty easily and also met up with my friend Jill who was also doing the race as part of a relay team. We were able to warm up together and hang out during the swim and bike portions. It was definitely nice to have a fellow runner there to hang with!

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Our teams were basically neck and neck the whole race. That’s the other thing about triathlons that is super confusing. You don’t really know exactly where you stand against the competition until the race is over. The swimmers all start at different times. This race had a staggered start with about 20 seconds in between each athlete. It seemed like it was close to an hour before everyone was in the water. Jill and I hung out on the pier, watched our swimmers take the plunge into the bay and then headed out to do our warm up.

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We planned to do a three mile warm up, but only really ended up getting in just over two miles because we were both so nervous that we might somehow miss our teammates coming back into the transition on their bikes. They biked 18 (ish) miles and it definitely didn’t take them very long to do that. Kristan averaged 22 mph on the bike. She was smoking!

The transition area is a little hectic with all of the bikers zooming in, racking their bikes, changing shoes, etc. and heading out to run. I had to wait in the transition area for Kristan to come in and I was mainly just trying to stay out of everyone else’s way and cheer for the other racers as they came through. Once she got there, she had to rack her bike, take the timing chip off and give it to me before I could take 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 bad or not, but just trust me … it is TOUGH!

Up the hill I went (clearly I am thrilled) …

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I knew that the hill was going to be the biggest obstacle of my race and I told myself over and over (and over) again that I would NOT try to run up that thing too quickly. The plan was 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 :)).

To make matters worse (or better), there are tons of spectators out on the hill cheering like crazy for you. Daniel and his buddies had run that morning and were standing at the top of the hill cheering. I got caught up in the moment and took off up the hill much faster than I planned to. Oops! Once you get up the hill the course flattens out a little bit, but there are still some gentle rollers to deal with. Somehow I had completely blocked all of the other smaller hills from my mind before the race.

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I came through the first mile in 6:15. I expected that mile to be a little slower, so I was definitely happy with the split. I was steadily catching people and picking people off throughout the run, which is usually pretty fun, but I honestly kind of felt bad passing people, knowing that they had to both swim and bike before they ran. On the other hand, I was fresh as a daisy and just out for a nice little 5K. I’ve got mad respect for you triathletes! I cannot even imagine having to run that course after swimming and biking. Y’all are all rockstars!

The first two miles of the course are an out and back, so as much as I’ve complained about the hill, it isn’t really all that bad because you do at least get to come back down. You can 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 came through the second mile in 6:10.

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. The last mile of a 5K can be really tough and yesterday was no exception. My legs and lungs were screaming at me and I was just so ready to be done! I came through the third mile in 6:15.

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. Daniel was waiting down near the finish and got another picture of me. Again, I am not looking super thrilled …

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I crossed the 5K in 19:29 (according to Strava), but the course was 3.2 miles, so my official time was 19:54. For 80 degrees, 90 percent humidity and a hilly course, I will definitely take it! I really think that is one of the toughest 5K courses around here.

I was planning to get in a two or three mile cool down after the race, but that definitely didn’t happen. I got in one mile, but that was it. I was over it. I was ready to just be hanging out, chatting with friends while we waited on the results. I also got to hang out with the most adorable golden retriever puppy ever (besides Brooks (obviously)). I may have tried to steal him from his owner and take him home with me, but Daniel wasn’t really as into it as I was (c’mon Daniel … pretty please … Brooksy NEEDS a little friend).

We waited on the results for a little while and we honestly had no clue how our team had done. We knew that we were pretty evenly matched with one of the other teams and that it could’ve gone either way as far as who came out on top (not that it even matters … we all had fun and THAT is what matters). There was definitely some [mostly] friendly competition going on though, so when we found out that we were the first place relay team (out of women, men and co-ed), we were pretty excited!

Lot of hugs …

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Grandman is such a wonderful event. The location, the organization, the volunteers … everything is great. In all fairness, I don’t have much to compare it to, but I feel fairly certain that it is considered to be a top-notch event in the triathlon community. I’m not saying that I am ready to cross over into the multi-sport world by any means, but if I did, Grandman would definitely be the race that I’d want to do.

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. It was a great experience and I really hope we get to do it again sometime!

GRANDWOMEN!

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

Race Recap: Greenland Trail 50K

Whew. Where to begin?!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s move on to the race itself:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can see Pikes Peak in the background.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Isn’t that the way it always goes?

Race Recap: Gulf Coast Half Marathon

Hey friends (and lovely internet strangers)!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Race Recap: Spring Fever Chase 10K

Y’all. I did a new thing today. I ran NAKED.

I should probably clarify. By running naked I mean that I ran without my watch!

I emailed my coach last week and told him that I didn’t really have to (or want to) *race* Spring Fever, but that I would definitely be running it. I also told him that it’s a very hilly course and I never run great (relatively speaking … as in I haven’t ever run a PR here), but I love it regardless and that there were no big race plans needed (he usually sends me a very thorough race plan, so I didn’t want him to waste time on that).

He told me to go watch less and run by feel. What?! I thought about it some and told him that I simultaneously loved and was terrified of this idea. It sounded fun but what about the data?! The mere thought of stress free running was stressing me out. Ha. My little number-loving, OCD brain was blown at the thought of not be able to know (and dissect) my splits after the race.

With no pressure of the watch, the plan was to take it pretty conservative at the start and almost make it a progression run (by feel), finishing strong and fast the last couple of miles, enjoying running and having fun chasing down people during the second half. Most importantly the plan was to have fun and enjoy the race because that’s why we do this. A million times, YES! That’s why we do this. We do this because we love running, pushing ourselves to be the best that we can be on that day and being a part of something bigger than any blog post could ever adequately convey.

Spring Fever has always been one of my favorite races! I had a decent streak going at one point, until I got the flu in 2015 (i.e., the tax season from H. E. Double. L). Daniel has run it every year since we met, so he has an 8 year streak going now too. Here we are in 2010!

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The first year I ran the race was 2007. I have no clue what my time was (and trust me, I have done a decent amount of internet stalking to try to figure it out), but I know that I placed 3rd in my age group! It was my first time to ever place in my age group (and I still have the award to prove it :)). I ran again in 2008 and again, have no clue what my time was, but I do know that I got called out in the age group results for the boys. I always register as Samantha instead of Sam now for that very reason! The rest of the years went something like this: 2009: 45:39, 2010: 44:54, 2011: 42:32, 2012: 40:57, 2013: 41:04, 2014: 41:01, 2015: N/A, 2016: 40:20.

2017 was my 10th Spring Fever Chase 10K! We got to Fairhope at 7 a.m. this morning and picked up our bibs before walking down to the Running Wild tent for a team picture and a few warm up miles. We ran 2 miles before the race and then I ditched my watch and we made our way to the start line. I felt pretty calm at the start and I was excited to run!

I have no mile splits to share with you today, so I’ll do my best to describe the race in terms of how I felt (which as it turns out was good!). I knew that the Daniels (Young Daniel and husband Daniel) were going to likely start somewhere between 6:15 and 6:30 pace (they said 6:30, but I didn’t really believe them (LOL)). I figured I would just try to stay a little bit behind them for the first few miles and see how I felt. I settled in to what seemed like a comfortable, sustainable pace during the first mile and stayed about 10 – 20 yards behind the Daniels and a few other guys.

The start of this race is always a little chaotic because so many people run TOO FAST for the first half mile or so. You have to do a little bit of weaving around and dodging kiddos. I guess this is pretty true of any race. The problem is that the kids start really fast and when they run out of steam they will just flat-out STOP right in front of you. No one got trampled (that I am aware of) and I felt really good during the first mile.

My mom and dad came to the race to cheer for us and they were at the one mile mark.  Of course my dad yelled, “GO KID!” He has always called me Kid and I hope that never changes. I got a little boost from hearing them (you can also see Ali & Cody in the background) cheer for me. I love local races for that very reason. Having people out along the course cheering for you is the best!

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During the second mile I chatted with a guy from Mobile that I have seen a several local races, but haven’t every really gotten to meet, so that was nice. We came up on one of the local high school coaches riding his bike and coaching one of his athletes. He was telling him to relax, focus on his form and to stick with us to catch the pack of guys in front of him. I figured that sounded like a good plan to me, so I decided to relax, focus on my form and try to catch the pack of guys in front of me.

I caught up to husband Daniel about mile 2.5, which kind of made me sad because I knew that meant he wasn’t running the time that he hoped for. He has a labral tear in his hip, so he isn’t exactly in peak shape right now. I knew that he didn’t care if I passed him, but I was still just hoping that he would be feeling good. He encouraged me as I went by and told me to catch Young Daniel and make sure that we both finished strong. I told him that I would do my best!

The course has “gentle” rolling hills pretty much the entire way. Gentle might not be the correct adjective, but they aren’t steep … so … moderately rolling hills perhaps. The problem is that there is one in mile 2 and mile 3 and mile 4 and mile 6. I don’t consider myself to be a strong hill runner, so I was planning to just conserve on the uphills and not expend any unnecessary energy. This is where not having the watch was absolutely awesome! Normally I would’ve looked at my watch a million times and when I saw it slow down on the uphills, I would’ve thought to myself, “stick a fork in me, I’m done.”

I caught up to Young Daniel and David (one of the other Running Wild team members) somewhere around mile 3.5. I still felt really good, which was somewhat surprising. I told Young Daniel good job and to keep it up and let’s go finish this thing. He is racing the Azalea Trail 10K next weekend and so I knew he wasn’t planning on giving an all-out effort today. He told me to go on ahead. It was kind of funny because he did the same thing to me at Rock N Roll New Orleans when he caught me around half-way and I told him to go on ahead. One of these days, we’ll run together!

After I passed them and maybe one other guy, my place was pretty much set for the remainder of the race. I was in third place overall at this point (first female; third person) and I could see the first two runners ahead of me, but they weren’t getting any closer. My mom and dad (and Ali and Cody) were on the course again somewhere in between mile 4 and 4.5 cheering for all of us, so that gave me another little boost. I also knew at that point that I had a mile of flat-to-downhill running and I was pretty excited about that. Bring on the downhill!

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Someone standing on the next corner called out my time to me as I passed. It was 28 minutes and some change. I knew I was somewhere in between miles 4 and 5, probably close to 4.5, but without the watch to check my distance, I wasn’t really sure. I didn’t even attempt to do the math in my head at this point. Mathing while running is like drinking and driving … just don’t do it. It can be dangerous. I thought 28 minutes sounded pretty good and at that point, I had less than a mile and a half to go. I can do anything for a mile. Right?!

The really good news was that once you pass mile 5, you have half a mile of downhill running (before climbing back up to the finish). I was ready for that downhill and I *think* I picked the pace up some (but who knows really). I made up a little bit of ground on the second place runner, but I never could quite catch him. The last little ascent was brutal. Again, I was so thankful not to have my watch telling me how slow I was or how much I sucked (those watches … they can be mean sometimes). I just focused on getting to that finish line and holding my place.

I was absolutely floored when the clock became visible. It read 38:XX. I thought to myself, “Surely that says 39:XX, right? It has to be 39 something.” It wasn’t. It was a 38! Holy Moses. I finished in 38:52 and was ecstatic! It was over a minute and a half *course* PR (not all time PR, but just on that course).

Before I knew it, Daniel and Jill came zooming in! Jill met her goal of sub-40 and ran a 39:52, which was a big PR for her (and it was her first time running this course … it took me 10 years to do that!). She is a great training buddy and I am thrilled for her!

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Daniel finished sub-40 as well, which is great and he is ultimately happy with that. He has run a 37:19 on this course before (which is just sick), so it wasn’t a PR, but I’m pretty sure it is a broken hip PR! Ha.

We hung out at the finish line for a little bit, swapping battle stories with the other runners and got our picture taken with the Dogwood Trail Maids (at least I think these are the Dogwoods … it’s either that or the Azalea Trail Maids … and I’m sure that if I got it wrong I probably offended someone … heck, the fact that I don’t know which ones they are is likely offensive as well … sorry!).

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Jessica and baby Olivia had a great race as well! She rocked a sub-8:00 pace running for two. And of course she is wearing a black top and you can’t even tell that she is 5 months pregnant.

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We made our way back over to the Running Wild tent and I got adjusted by Ryan. It is really nice to have someone stretch you out post-race. I think it definitely helps to jump-start the recovery process. He said that when I first saw him (after First Light) my glute/hamstring/hip issue was an 8/10 on a scale of good to bad and now it is a 0.5/10. Yes! Success!

Side note: I did end up getting a standing desk at work. I have been trying to stand for an hour or two each day and I think it has really helped. I’m pretty sure that my computer is trying to take over the planet with its ginormous-ness.

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Anywho. After that we did a two mile cool down. Cooling down after a race also promotes recovery and flushes the system. It’s hard to make yourself do it sometimes, but it is always worth it. We came back in time for the awards. The race takes place during Arts & Crafts Festival, and each year the award is a print done by a local artist (sometimes kids, sometimes not). We have them sprinkled throughout our house! The overall winners also got a free pair of shoes from Running Wild! Saa-weet!

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After the awards we did brunch at Warehouse and then came back and walked around the Arts & Crafts Festival for a little while. It was a beautiful day and I was happy to soak up some Vitamin D (it’s good for the soul).

In closing (so formal), I would just like to declare my love for Spring Fever Chase one more time. It is truly one of the best local races and one of my all-time favorites! I would also like to challenge you to race without a watch sometime. I had a blast! I hadn’t realized until today how much of a head-case I am I stalk my Garmin during races and how much I let that little number dictate how I feel (kind of like the scale). Running without a watch helped me to remove any preconceived limitation that I would’ve placed on myself today (it’s tax season, I’m tired, I never run well here, etc.) and enabled me to run happy and run free!

Mission accomplished. Try it! Run naked and report back (… with pictures (KIDDING)).

Race Recap: Seaside School Half Marathon

Hey guys! I’m a little late with this race recap, but better late than never. I’ve done a race recap of all of the races I’ve done since I started blogging and I don’t want to end that streak yet.

Last weekend I ran the Seaside School Half Marathon. I’m pretty sure that I’ve wanted to do this race since I ran my first half in college. I love Seaside and the idea of running a half there in the spring sounded quite nice. Unfortunately, I decided to become a CPA and trips to Seaside in March became only a thing of my dreams. Ha. I was determined to do this race eventually and this year was the year!

We were supposed to leave Friday afternoon after work, but I ended up having to work late Friday and also had to work half a day Saturday as well, so we didn’t leave until around lunch time on Saturday. It’s not a bad drive at all though, so we made it to Seaside by around 2 or 2:30 and had plenty of time to get settled in and go by the expo to get our packets.

We stopped by the grocery store and got some things for dinner and then headed over to the beach to catch the sunset. We were a little late getting out there, but it was very pretty regardless!

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Race morning we woke up around 5:30, made coffee and got ready to leave by 6:30 for the 7 a.m. race start. We stayed in Seagrove about a mile and a half from the start of the race, so we decided to run over to the start to get a warm-up in (which was a great idea in theory, but after the race when we had to walk back home, we were definitely second guessing our decision). It was a tad chilly when we left (low to mid 50s), but we warmed up pretty quickly.

I had no idea what course was prior to the actual race (there wasn’t a course map online or at the expo). We had a general idea of where the start was and that was pretty much the extent of our knowledge pre-race. In case you are curious, the course is an out and back, starting in Seaside, running 6.55 miles out towards Grayton Beach and Blue Mountain Beach on 30A and then all the way back.

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If you’ve been following along for a little while, you probably know that I typically study the course beforehand and have a fairly set plan going into races. If you’re new, HI! I am Sam and I’m a running nerd. Anyway, I didn’t know what to expect with this course. I assumed that it would be pancake flat. It wasn’t. I wouldn’t describe it as hilly by any means, but there were several rollers in there.

I started out at 6:30 (ish) pace. I was fighting a cold (or a sinus infection … who knows really) the week before and in general was feeling tired and run down (imagine that … a CPA being tired during tax season … crazy, right). I don’t mean to sound whiny, but it is what it is I reckon. I was pleasantly surprised that 6:30 felt really comfortable! I honestly thought I might be able to hold that pace for the entire way. I passed a few girls in the first 3 or 4 miles and by the time we got to the turn around point, I was the third female.

I was really happy to finally make it to the turnaround, until we actually turned around. Apparently we had a tailwind the entire first half of the race (how is it that you never *feel* a tailwind), which meant … it was directly in our face for the entire second half. Holy moly. That wind was no joke. It slammed into me and crushed my spirit a little bit.

The wind was a steady 10-15 mph with gusts 20-25 mph. At one point (around mile 9 I think), my visor blew completely off of my head and I had to turn around and get it. I think I was kind of just *done* after that. According to this article, a “substantial” wind (i.e. one approximately equal to the pace you are running at) will set you back 12 seconds per mile with a headwind, and aid you by 6 seconds per mile with a tailwind. I’m thinking that 12 seconds actually should be closer to 30 seconds per mile. Their research must be off. Ha.

When you run a race at the beach, you take a chance on the wind. I had flashbacks to the Pensacola Beach half last spring, which is also basically an out and back course as well. At that race we battled a really intense headwind on the way out and had the tailwind to push us home the second half. For the record, I would definitely prefer that to the way we had it in Seaside. Hopefully Mother Nature can get that together for me next time. Actually, if I’m making requests, I’d like to just go ahead and request that it be between 45 and 50 with no wind and no humidity for all of my races.

I finished in 1:29 as 4th female. I was very happy to be finished! Daniel finished not too long after me in 1:32. He has been battling a mysterious injury for what seems like several years now. He had an MRI arthrogram done yesterday and found out that he has a fairly significant tear in his labrum (in case you don’t know (I didn’t) the labrum is a rim of soft tissue or fibrocartilage that surrounds the hip socket). The fact that he ran a 1:32 on that is pretty amazing!

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Please note: I tried to buy the above photo (several times), but it absolutely will not work. I will try again later. I am not trying to steal any race photos here. 

I enjoyed the race, but it really didn’t live up to what I was expecting. I think that because I have wanted to do it for so long, I had an unrealistic expectation going in that it was going to be absolutely amazing and I definitely didn’t think that it was amazing. I’m glad I did it, but it definitely won’t be a yearly thing.

The race swag was pretty great though! I don’t think I’d ever do a race just for the stuff we all get (side note: we’ve been on a kick watching The Office recently, so please feel free to  picture me as Michael telling you about his swag), but if you’re into that sort of thing, this is definitely an awesome race. The shirts are cute (kind of girly, but I’m a girl so I’m cool with that (Daniel wasn’t as thrilled)) and every finisher gets a medal and a Vera Bradley bag (again … girly). We also got a coffee cup that says Top 100 finisher, so that’s pretty cool too.

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It was a quick, but fun trip. I’m definitely glad that I finally got to do this race and I can definitely cross it off my list now. Been there. Run that.

I hope y’all are having a great week! Talk to you soon!

Race Recap: Joe Cain Classic 5K

Hey-o! It’s been a hot minute since I have gotten the chance to do a post and I have lots to catch you up on! Unfortunately, this time of year is CRAZY busy for me at work and I rarely get a chance to sit down and write (even as I write this I am short on time). I really do miss it. We are over half way through tax season now and so the countdown is *officially* on.

Today we are just going to chat about the Joe Cain Classic 5K, which was “darn near perfection” in the words of Young Daniel. The Joe Cain Classic 5K takes place in downtown Mobile on … you guessed it … Joe Cain Day (the Sunday before Fat Tuesday). I’m not going to pretend to know much about the actual history of Joe Cain Day or Mardi Gras for that matter. The basic gist is that Joe Cain is credited with reviving the Mardi Gras celebration in Mobile after the Civil War.

This race is basically our only participation in any sort of Mardi Gras festivities each year. Although, we actually did have our own little “parade” this year …

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The last two weekends we have been in the process of moving and we have made multiple trips through town in the back of my dad’s trailer. It definitely reminds me of those signs that you see at races that say “worst parade ever.”

Our new house came with lots of Mardi Gras decorations and so of course we had to get a picture with them (because obviously we are so festive like that) …

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Anywho … back to the race. The race advertises itself as flat, fast, & ugly! You run through the not-so-beautiful streets of Mobile’s “bail bond district” (seriously, you pass about 10 different bond companies as well as the county jail), but it is definitely flat and fast, so the description is totally on point. Lots of PRs went down (literally (get it … like the times got faster)) yesterday!

I did not PR, nor did I expect to. In fact, I went into this race with zero expectations, which I must admit was quite nice. I ran 20 miles the day before the race and the race wasn’t even technically on my schedule. I made a last-minute, game-time decision to run and I am so glad that I did! It was a beautiful day to run and to spend time with friends and I am 100% satisfied with my decision.

As far as the race itself, I was pleasantly surprised. I met and exceeded all expectations that I had (which was zero mind you). Haha. After a two (ish) mile warm up, we lined up on the start line and it was go time. I ran the first mile in 6:08 and felt good, so I decided to go with it. Daniel didn’t run the race, but he came to support me (or so I thought). He was out on the course at mile 1. I could hear him cheering for everyone in front of me as they ran by. The next thing I know, I have basically passed him and I hear him yell, “Go Jill! … and Sam!” It was pretty funny. I guess I snuck up on him, but it was just the way that he added the “and Sam” that made it seem like I was an afterthought. We all had a good laugh about it afterwards. 

I came through mile 2 in 6:04 and mile 3 in 6:09. It was a tad windy out there (and by a tad windy, I mean it was really windy) and so I tried my best to tuck in and hold on during the second half of the race. I ended up tucking in behind Aaron Freesmeier (who I seem to end up running beside in a lot of races recently). I tried my best to catch him, but he stayed steadily on pace right in front of me. I didn’t realize it at the time, but he ran a PR of 19:05, so that was awesome! I crossed in 19:08, which isn’t a PR, but was actually almost 30 seconds faster than I ran this same race last year, so I’ll take it!

As soon as I pulled my tab off and came through the chute, I turned around to see Jill! She ran an amazing race and ended up with a 27 second PR (!!!) of 19:19. We have been doing some workouts together and I was SO proud of her and happy to see her CRUSH it out there. She totally outkicked this teenager in the last 0.05 of the race too! Girl. Power.

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Not long after that Sasser came in and he also got himself a shiny new PR! He ran 19:48. I’ve been working with him over the last few months. He had a goal to break 20 minutes in the 5K and he has worked really hard to meet that goal. I was SO proud of and happy for him as well!

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Chronologically I have gotten out of order, but Young Daniel also ran an amazing race and came away with a new PR of 18:16! I told y’all. So many PRs. He was way ahead of me the whole race, so I  don’t know exactly how his race went (other than super-fast obviously). He and Steve were neck and neck at the finish.

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Our friend Cody also had a great race and ended up 2nd overall with a time of 17:57.

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Jessica rocked a solid 25:05 running for two! She is staying active and having a wonderful pregnancy so far. I’m so happy for this little mama-to-be!

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We hung out after the race for a little while and waited on the awards. Honestly, most people probably do this race for the post-race festivities. There’s live music, dancing, food and beverages, door prizes, etc. It’s always fun and you never really know what you’re gonna see.

For first female I got a $100 Visa gift card (pretty much the best race prize ever) and a cool coaster. This is me and Darrell, who won for the guys with a 17:35 (smokin’)!

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It was a wonderful day to race and everyone did so well. I LOVE IT. It is great to see people work hard and meet goals. You never know what you are capable of until you try!

That’s it for today. I hope y’all have a great week and I will talk to you soon!