Race Recap: Chickasabogue Park 2 Miler

Hey friends! The third and final race of my “summer of speed” training cycle was yesterday evening and it was a good one!

The Chickasabogue Park 2 mile race takes place the second Tuesday in August each year at Chickasabogue Park in Mobile County. This is the only local 2 mile race that I am aware of and there is usually a pretty decent turnout. It seems like several people go home with age group state records each year. This year was no exception!

Pre-Race

Daniel and I left around 5:15 p.m. to head to the race, which started at 6:30 p.m. It was pouring rain as we drove across the bay, which was not fun. My motivation level was fairly low and the rain definitely wasn’t helping anything. I’m fairly certain that it rains right before this race almost every year (err well … I know it has rained at least 3 out of the 5 years that I’ve run it … so 60% of the time, it rains every time).

We were lucky enough to avoid a major traffic backup on the Bayway and we made it to the park around 6 p.m. This is one of those bare bones, no frills races. The registration is $10 and there are no awards or shirts or anything like that, which is totally cool with me. I got registered and headed out to do a 2 mile warm up with some of our training buddies.

The rain cleared out just as the race was about to start, which was nice, but it also left us with some think, muggy air. As we lined up on the start line, I was completely drenched (partially with rain and partially with sweat). I knew that I needed to run just under 5:50 pace to get the state record for my age group and that was my main focus. Going into the race, I was fairly confident that I would be able to do that, but my confidence dwindled a little bit pre-race. Given the conditions, I knew I was really going to have to work really hard if I wanted to get that record.

The Race

The course is an out and back with one turn (well, two turns if you count one on the way out and one on the way back). There is a very slight net downhill on the way out, you hit the turnaround just before the one mile mark (the start and finish are about a tenth of a mile apart, so you don’t hit the turnaround at exactly one mile) and then you have a slight uphill on the way back to the finish.

Strava

I didn’t look at my watch much during the race. I’ve found that the constant feedback doesn’t tend to actually help me in the moment. If I look down and see a pace that I think is too fast, I slow down (even if I physically feel okay) and if I look down and see a pace that is slower than I am expecting, I feel defeated and probably end up slowing down then as well. I still like to wear my watch during the races though, because … Strava … and data …

After the first half mile, I was in fifth place overall. I was about 10 – 15 seconds behind the leaders. I came through the first mile in 5:44. I knew that the second mile would be the real test, so I tried to focus on holding the pace as much as possible. This is where I definitely decided NOT to look at the watch. I felt like I was probably slowing down a little bit, but I didn’t really want to know for sure. Ignorance works best sometimes.

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With half a mile to go, the biggest blessing of the day came. I got passed! This may seem weird, but it helped me SO MUCH. I was starting to struggle and when this runner passed me, he actually encouraged me to pick it up and to run with him. We encouraged each other the rest of the way (he did more encouraging than I did … I think he was feeling GOOD and I was feeling *okay*). I am so thankful for his sportsmanship! I feel like most guys would’ve just passed me and tried to leave me in their dust, but this young lad (16 years old) decided to help me out.

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My second mile was 5:47 and somehow I managed to not run the tangents very well and I ended up with an additional 5 seconds before we got to the finish line. The 16-year-old out kicked me in the end (which I am totes okay with) and so I ended up as the 1st girl and 6th overall. I also got my age group state record by 3 seconds! Phew. Cut it a little close there. I actually missed the age group record last year by exactly 3 seconds, so it’s pretty cool to get it by 3 seconds this year. Several other runners got age group records as well (I know there were at least 4 of us)! Yay!

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Post-Race

We ran the course again after the race as a cool down. There is an after-party celebration where they do the Port City Pacer awards from the previous year, but we didn’t stick around for that. It was getting close to 8 p.m. at this point and because of my #mawmawstatus, I was ready to get home, eat dinner and go to sleep!

I celebrated with some state record fudge brownies when I got home. I started a new celebratory fudge tradition after my one mile record a few weeks ago and I’m planning to keep that tradition alive and strong (it’s a delicious tradition :)). I was also actually able to sleep really soundly after the race, which was AMAZING. The past two weeks, I have not been able to sleep at all after the evening races, so that was just a real nice surprise, Clark … a real nice surprise.

That wraps up the summer of speed! I enjoyed pushing myself this summer and training for races that I usually wouldn’t have specifically focused on. I’m planning to take a little break from workouts in the next week or two and search my soul to figure out what it is that I truly want to do next (in a slightly less dramatic fashion than that makes it sound). Stay tuned!

Race Recap: Crime Prevention 5K

Hey guys!

Tuesday evening I ran the Crime Prevention 5K in downtown Mobile. Don’t ever expect me to do a workout in the evening, but if you ask me to do a race … that’s a different story. I can totally get beside that. Evening races present some different challenges than the typical Saturday morning race, especially when they are in the middle of the week. I’m always up for a good challenge!

This race is always the first Tuesday in August and of course, is always a HOT one. According to Garmin Connect, the temperature was 90 degrees at 6:30 p.m. That’s toasty.

Pre-Race

Rebecca picked me up around 5:15 and we headed across the bay. Thankfully we didn’t run into any traffic issues and we were able to find a place to park downtown without any issues as well. Neither one of us had registered, so the first thing we did was head over to get signed up. For the low, low price of $20, you get to run through the streets of downtown Mobile AND you get a race tee-shirt. There is also a “no shirt” option for $17, which is nice. I usually don’t get the shirt at this race, as it is typically one of the more unfashionable race shirts, but this year I went for it. I really like the color and the material of the shirt.

I did a mile and half or so warm up with some strides at the end and before we knew it, it was time to race!

The Race

In typical 5K fashion, everyone went out blazing fast. See if you can find me below (it’s like Where’s Waldo minus the outfit).


I focused on reigning it in and staying relaxed during the first half mile. I steadily caught up to pretty much everyone that sprinted out like a cannon by about half a mile in. I checked my watch around the half mile mark to make sure I was on track. I saw 6:00 pace as my current pace and was satisfied that I was right where I needed to be. In hindsight, the current pace was probably off because of all of the tall buildings downtown.

My first mile split was 5:47. Alrighty then. I knew that was too fast, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it at that point. I just tried to focus on keeping it consistent and decided not to look at my pace anymore except for at the mile splits. By the time we got to the one mile mark, I was in 4th overall, which is where I would stay for the rest of the race. I could see the guys just ahead of me and I was able to pretend like I was chasing them down, but I never really made up any ground on them. I feel like I always end up in no man’s land during races and I wish that wasn’t the case.

Here’s me, hanging out in no man’s land without any friends to race with. I seemed happy about it at the time. It’s always good to see Tim (who comes out to a lot of the local races and takes pictures) out on the course. There were several other friendly faces out and about cheering as well, which was nice.


My second mile split was 5:57, which is more in line with where I probably should’ve been to begin with. Unfortunately, I really started to feel the effects of that first mile and the monkey jumped on my back (actually it felt more like an elephant jumped on my back) during the last mile. You basically run past the finish at around mile two and half and have to do another little out and back stretch, which is tough mentally. At that point, I was really feeling the heat and I was so ready to be done. Well, I say I was ready to be done, but I was not ready enough to pick the pace up and attempt to get there more quickly. The last mile felt like the longest mile of. my. life.

My last mile split was 6:23. Woof. If I hadn’t had to carry that elephant around with me, I guess I would’ve gone faster. I was actually able to kick it in a little bit when I realized that I still had a chance to get under 19:00. My pace for the last tenth was 5:46, which put me finishing in 18:50. Overall, I’m happy with my time, but the execution could definitely use some work. In fact, I would dare to even say that this is textbook example of how NOT to race a 5K (so basically you don’t want a 35+ second difference in your pace between mile one and mile 3).

Post-Race

I was absolutely gassed at the end of the race and I decided that from here on out, I just want to stick to one mile races. Kidding … kind of. After I collected myself and talked to friends at the finish for a few minutes, I did another mile and a half or so to cool down.

We waited a little while for the awards. Rebecca and I were first and third overall for the girls. She pushed Savannah in the stroller and even got a nice little stroller PR! The overall winners get gift cards to McCoy Outdoor Company ($100 for overall, $75 for second and $50 for third), which is amazing! I can’t wait to go see Mr. Joe and pick out something with my gift card.

The guys racked up too! My Daniel didn’t run (it was hammer ride night at Pro Cycle and he’s all about that biking right now), but Brandon, Young Daniel and Cody went 1, 2 and 3!

We got home from the race just before 9 p.m., which is basically past my bedtime these days. I still had to eat dinner and it took me forever to wind down. For whatever reason, easy runs in the evening don’t bother me, but apparently races leave me WIRED and unable to sleep. So. Many. Endorphins. So. Little. Sleep.

The rest of the week seems to be crawling by. I definitely feel like it is taking me a bit longer than it should to recover from these hard efforts. I’m going to get my blood work done again with Inside Tracker to make sure that all of my vitamin and nutrient levels are where they need to be.

Two races down and one to go in the summer race trifecta! I’m looking forward to the 2 mile race next week and to some down time afterwards. I hope everyone is having a great week! Talk to you soon!

Race Recap: Fairground Road 1 Mile (PR!)

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

Thursday evening I ran in the inaugural Fairground Road one mile race. This race was the final installment of the “summer track series” that Rebecca puts on to raise money for her cross country team each year. Typically the series ends with the milk mile on the track, but she switched things up a little bit this year and added a certified one mile road race! How awesome, right?!

Background

There are very few certified one mile races around here and I was so excited when Rebecca first mentioned the idea of doing this. We actually kind of built my summer training with this and another two mile race in mind.

I’ve done one other one mile race before and it was 5 years ago. I really can’t believe that it’s been that long ago! Seems like it was just yesterday. Every now and then I can find an age group record that is somewhat doable. Usually it is an uncommon distance (1 mile, 4 mile, 10 mile, etc.) that people don’t race very often, but still … it’s cool to try! This is a picture from the finish line of the race in 2012 and it is one of my favorite running photos and memories of all time. Daniel paced me to my first state record!

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The Plan

My coach sent me an awesome effort-based pacing strategy. I don’t know what I was expecting … I mean, it’s just one mile, how much strategy do you really need? Ha. Well, apparently strategy helps, as does thinking about said strategy pre-race (i.e., not winging it).

He divided the race up into 4 segments, but not necessarily the 4 quarter-mile segments (which is what you would likely expect). The plan was to take off fairly quickly on the first 200 meters (but not sprinting to the point of distress) and establish some space and position among the other runners. From 200 meters to 800 meters (the half way point), I wanted to stay strong, smooth and controlled. This gave me lots of good one-word mantras to focus on as I was suffering (suffer wasn’t one of the go-to words).

The stretch from the 800 back to the 200 would be the toughest section. Since I knew that going in, the plan was to focus on leg turnover and maintaining the pace. The last 200 meters would be time to get aggressive and really use whatever finishing kick I had. One thing that I found fascinating that my coach shared with me was that you actually tap into new glycogen stores when you transition into an all-out sprint. Say what?! Perhaps I should’ve known this or have heard it before, but I don’t all-out sprint enough (or ever for that matter) to actually experience this first-hand.

Pre-Race

The race took place at 6:30 p.m. at Robertsdale High School. I’m pretty sure the feels like temperature was in the triple digits! I actually took a few hours off from work Thursday evening to rest before the race. I know that not everyone has this luxury (I just worked longer hours the rest of the week to make up the time) or cares that much, but I do. I trained hard for this race, so why not give myself the best opportunity to be as successful as possible?

Daniel got home from work just before 5:30 p.m. and we headed to the race. At registration we got to pick our numbers, which was a nice touch. I chose #5 because numbers that end and 5 and 0 are the bestest, most even numbers (not literally, obviously). We did a two mile warm-up with some strides at the end and then it was go time!

The Race

The course was an out and back. It was flat and fast! The turnaround slowed you down a tad, but in order for the course to be state record eligible, it can’t be a point to point race (I’m not entirely sure what the actual rule is, but the start and finish have to be within a third of a mile of each other or something like that). I lined up on the second row behind the guys that I knew would be faster than me, Rebecca blew the fog horn and we were off.

I debated on whether to lap my watch at each 400 split in order to have the data afterwards, but ultimately decided against that as I didn’t want to have to fool with it during the race … so, I can’t give you a play-by-play of each 400 split. I do have this handy-dandy pace analysis from Strava though!

Pace Crop

The graph makes it look like my pace was all over the place, but I feel like I ran fairly consistently. The first 100-200 meters were likely a hair too fast, but … it happens. It felt like all of the guys were just leaving me in the dust and I wanted to at least try to keep a reasonable distance behind them. Thankfully everyone’s pace kind of evened out after that and I settled right into the 5:20 – 5:25 range until the turnaround.

I know I lost a few seconds at the turaround, but I think I made them up pretty quickly. I really focused on pushing hard during this stretch (since my coach told me this would be the toughest part of the race). After I got back up to speed (plus some), I steadily eased it back into the 5:20 – 5:25 range where I had been earlier. With 400 to go, I made a bit of an effort to pick it up and touch.

By this point in a one mile race, everything is ON FIRE. Your legs, your lungs and possibly even your heart. They say when your legs can’t run anymore, run with your heart. As cheesy as that may sound, I think I used the fire in my heart to kick it in over those last 200 meters. The fact that my coach had told me that I would tap into some new glycogen stores definitely helped me. In my head, I thought, “Okay, Sam … just run faster and you’ll feel better. It’s science.” In my head, I could also hear my dad telling me to GROWL. This was always his way of telling me to dig deep and be aggressive and he always made me make a growling sound back to him. GRR!

I hadn’t looked at my watch very much during the race. I mean, sure, I glanced down at it a few times and looked at the current pace just to make sure I was on track, but I didn’t know what my overall time was until I saw the clock at the finish line. I finished in 5:23! Holy cow! I was over the moon excited (and still am)! I took 10 seconds off of my previous mile time and got the Alabama 31 yr. old state record in the process. Missions accomplished.

Post-Race

We did a two mile cool down after the race to flush out the junk in our legs. I felt way better than I expected to post-race. Give me a day or two and I might be singing a different tune though.

The overall male and female winners of the one mile race got these AWESOME medal hangers that a local runner made. This is one of my favorite prizes to date. I love it!

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There were also awesome door prizes and prizes for the overall winners of the entire track series. This was a wonderful event (thanks to Rebecca) and I really hope that it becomes an annual thing!

Several of us went out for pizza after we left the race. We sat around and swapped war stories and Strava data because we are cool like that. Ha. When we got home I remembered that I had picked up some fudge at the store just in case I had a reason to celebrate (good reasons being either A) it’s almost Friday or B) I ran a PR). I think that chocolate fudge might be one of my favorite desserts at this point. It was delicious and then of course, I was WIRED and was up until WAY past my normal bedtime. Apparently I am still wired because I am up before 5 a.m. talking to you lovely people.

One last thing and I promise I will wrap it up. I wrote my pace on my hand before the race. I do this for most races where I have a specific goal or pace in mind. As you can see below, the goal was 5:30.

Daniel writes Bible verses on his hand before his races and so I was curious if there were any 5:30 verses that we applicable and of course there was. John 5:30 says, “By myself I can do nothing.” Theologically speaking, there is more to it than it appears, but I thought this was a wonderful reminder that we truly cannot do anything with God. I am so thankful for the ability to run and the gift of running. I never want to lose sight of using that gift for His glory.

I hope you guys have a wonderful Friday and a lovely weekend!

Pace Crop

Week #8: SOS + Milk Mile Race Recap

Hi!

I can’t believe that it’s already been two months of the ‘summer of speed-work’ training cycle. I mean, I guess I kind of can believe it and can’t believe it at the same time. On one hand I feel like I have been spending A LOT of quality time at the track and that I have already done so. many. workouts. On the other hand though, I guess it just doesn’t seem like we should be over halfway through July. That just seems crazy.

I have one more big week of training and then a trifecta of evening races the next three weeks. My summer training has, for the most part, been in preparation for these races … a one mile race (July 27), a 5K (August 1) and a two mile race (August 8). What will come after that is still somewhat TBD.

I did most of my running on the treadmill this week. For whatever reason, it just seemed to happen that way. I ran at the track a couple of times and did the usual long run with our training buddies though, so hopefully this recap won’t be a total snoozefest.

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Monday: 9 miles (8:37 pace)

Started off the week by doing 5 miles with Daniel and 4 more on my own.

Tuesday: 3 miles (8:24 pace) + 8.5 miles (8:16 pace)

I had an early day Tuesday and didn’t have time for anything more than 3 miles. I intended to do my workout Tuesday evening, but my motivation for running hard is usually about a 1 out of 10 around 5 p.m. and I settled on an easy run instead.

Wednesday: 2 mi. WU, 12 X 300 (61, 60, 62, 61, 63, 63, 60, 62, 62, 62, 61, 61), 2 mi. CD

The workout this week was 300 meter repeats, which is not a typical distance. It seems like 200s and 400s are fairly standard, but 300s definitely aren’t. I know I have done a 300 workout one other time, but I can’t recall when exactly that was. A quick search of my training spreadsheet didn’t reveal that any 300 meter repeats have been done since January of 2015 though, so I guess it was likely 2014 and I don’t feel like digging through my paper training logs from that year to see what my times were. Nerd fail. Darn.

The workout ended up being pretty similar to a 1:00 on, 1:00 off workout, as my goal range for the 300s was 60 – 62 seconds (5:20 to 5:32 pace) and the recovery was a one minute jogging recovery. These faster workouts have been really challenging, but in a fun way! I rarely see paces like that when I run and it gives you a bit of a confidence boost, just knowing that your legs can do it (even though it may feel like death).

Daniel came to the track with me, but wasn’t doing a workout (he had done a hard bike ride the evening before). This was the first workout that I’ve done completely solo in a while. I missed having someone to push with. It really makes a huge difference! Overall, I was happy with how the workout went. I think it may have even been a tad cooler than it has been, which was helpful and I was able to stay pretty close to the target range. I happily carried my endorphins around with me the rest of the day.

Thursday: 7 miles (8:50) + Summer Track Series (800, 4 X 400 relay and Milk Mile)

I did an easy treadmill run Thursday morning before work. Thursday evening we went to a fundraiser for the Robertsdale High School XC team (Rebecca’s team). The three events at this meet were an 800, the 4 X 400 relay and the grand finale … the milk mile!

We got to the track around 6:15 and did a one mile warm up. The weather was iffy, but thankfully it moved out just in time for the meet to get going at 6:30. In hindsight, I probably should’ve done more than a one mile warm up, because I don’t think my legs or lungs were ready for the pain of the 800! Wowza. I sometimes forget how badly it hurts to race an 800. I think my official time was 2:41. I likely positive split the heck out of those two laps. I didn’t think to lap my watch when I came through the first 400 though, so I don’t really know. I know that my legs and lungs were ON FIRE about midway through the second lap and that when I was done all of my extremities were tingly. I’ll take a marathon over an 800 next time, please and thank you.

The 400 wasn’t nearly as painful as the 800, but left my feet and hands similarly tingly. I ran the 400 in 75 seconds which is exactly what I thought I would do. Sweet!

The big event at this meet by far though is the MILK MILE! It’s every bit as disgusting and awesome as it sounds. You drink 8 oz. of milk, run a lap around the track and repeat 4 times for a total of 32 oz. of milk and one mile of running. The time doesn’t start until after you drink the first cup of milk, but after that the time you spend drinking the milk counts towards your overall time. If you vomit, you have to run an extra “penalty” lap. No one has actually gotten sick and I think Rebecca said this was the 6th year of the milk mile. That is pretty incredible in and of itself. Also the pressure is on because no one wants to be *that person* that ruins the streak. Haha.

The worst part of the whole thing is actually just standing on the starting line holding that first cup of milk in anticipation of what you are about to (willingly) do to yourself. Okay, so maybe that isn’t as bad as the milky regurgitation in the back of your throat as you run or even as bad as the post-run milk baby that grows in your unsettled tummy. So lovely.

For me, the actual running part wasn’t that bad. I had a hard time getting the milk down each lap, just in a sense that it took me a good 15 seconds to drink each cup whereas a few of the guys were throwing them back in less than 5 seconds! It was so crazy! After carefully studying the footage and pictures (sarcasm), I think my cup tilt is part of the problem.

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You can see from the picture above that Young Daniel has his cup parallel to the ground, which makes for optimal drinking capability, whereas mine is barely even tilted upwards at all. I don’t think I really *wanted* another cup of milk at this point.

I was the first female finisher with a time of 6:40! I think there were 3 girls total that ran. I’m sure you’ll find that hard to believe that this was a predominantly male event. After the race, we set out to do a one mile cool down, but that didn’t happen. We decided to just call it a day and let our milk babies continue to hang out in our tummies.

Daniel and Jessica. I adore this picture. I think she’s got him beat by just a smidge.

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Friday: 5 miles (9:04 pace) + 6.2 miles (8:38 pace)

I was surprisingly sore Friday morning! I decided to do a double only because I realized that my favorite podcaster had a wonderful guest (Tia!) and I didn’t want to wait a single day to listen.

Saturday: 15.5 miles (8:08 pace)

Saturday was my longest run of the summer! Rebecca did 19 miles and I met her a little earlier than the rest of the group, so I ended up with a couple more miles than usual. It was a good, sweaty run.

Sunday: 7.25 miles (8:19 pace)

Rebecca and I got in a good run together Sunday evening. We somehow both managed to not run Sunday morning (unplanned and not on purpose), which rarely happens, but I’m so glad that it did. There’s nothing like a good run with a better friend to finish off the week on a good note.

I hope everyone has a great week!

Guest Post: Sunfish Triathlon

Hi friends! Sam here. I’ve got a special post to share today. Daniel wrote a recap of his race last weekend. He is such a good blogger hubby. His race went so well and his recap is awesome! As per usual, my comments are in pink, he is in navy and any pictures that have been included are courtesy of yours truly. Enjoy!  

I claim this as my first real triathlon, although it is technically my second. Right after college I borrowed a bike from my dad, which was way too big for me, and did a beginner triathlon called Alabama Coastal Tri-it on Triathlon. That race was a 300 yard swim, a 9 mile bike and a 2 mile run, so it was very short and not even long enough to be classified as a sprint (therefore I don’t think it really counts).

Side note: When Daniel and I first met, he had just completed that first race. I know this because he had some pictures from the race (remember when we had actual photos that you could put your hands on … I’m giving myself anxiety just thinking about all of those fingerprints … but really the point is just that it was hard-copy, old school photographs). He brought the photos over one day and asked me to scan them for him. I was happy to do that, BUT there were pictures of him with another girl in there! This was before we were dating and I remember thinking … of course … he has a girlfriend. Boo.

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It turned out that he wasn’t dating this girl and he and I were engaged about 2 months later (LOL … but really … true story)!

Fast forward 8 years and (due to some hip/labral issues) I have decided to give it another tri/try (see what I did there). I signed up for Augusta Half-Ironman in September of this year. I purchased a bike (that actually fits me) and started riding and trying to become at least an average biker. After about 2-3 months of riding (usually 3 times per week) and swimming a total of 3 times, my friend suggested I do Sunfish as a tune up race and to get used to the transitions and overall feel of the triathlon. Sunfish was a fairly inexpensive race and it was close enough to home that we could make a short trip out of it, so I figured why not?

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I booked an inexpensive (read: CHEAP) motel for Friday night near the race. The main reason for staying at this place besides the cheap rate was that it was pet friendly and we decided that we wanted to take Brooks with us. After my check in took over 20 minutes and the front desk informed me they gave away my non-smoking room that I reserved (why is that such a difficult concept) a week prior. At that point, I knew we were in for an experience. We drove around to the back side of the dimly lit parking lot to find several ominous characters sitting in lawn chairs outside of their rooms. The occupants that weren’t outside all peeked out of their doors or windows to size up the new arrival.

Sam, Brooks, and I all unpacked our stuff and tried to settle into the room for some rest. Brooks would not sit anywhere on the floor (I like to think because it was so smelly and dirty, but maybe not, who knows). I think this room was used as a smokers’ lounge before we got there because it smelled terrible and was very dirty. There were lots of loiterers outside of our room and I was worried all night whether I should pack us up and go somewhere else, but Sam was being a good sport about it so I tried to convince myself that it was probably alright for one night. Sam and I shared a pizza and laid down a little after 10 p.m.

We were up in the 4 o’clock hour and were packed up and ready to go by 5 a.m. the next morning. We got to Bonita Lakes Park (which was really pretty) and started setting up my transition area.

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Being a newb, I brought all of my transition things in a 5 gallon bucket. I thought this would stand out in a crowd and be easier to find once I got out of the water.

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After getting marked and getting all of my transition things set up like I wanted, we talked with some friends before it was time for me to line up. Each person started individually based on when you registered so I was 178 out of 200 (ish) racers. The race was a sprint triathlon and was a 1/3 mile swim, a 16 mile bike, and a 5k run.

I scribbled some goals for each part of the race based on some of my training beforehand. I planned on 10:40-12:00 for the swim, 53:00 for the bike (18-19 mph) and 19:30 for the run (with 45 seconds per transition).

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I ended up starting the swim closer to the 150s because the line got a little out-of-order. This was my first time swimming in a tri suit and a swim cap, but I felt really strong. I knew I wanted to make sighting a point of focus and try to swim as straight as possible. I knew this was a weak area and I didn’t want to swim any extra. After I picked my swim line I was a straight arrow to the first buoy. I had already passed several people and was feeling pretty good about things. I made the turn with the buoy actually touching my right shoulder. After going straight to the next one, I made another right and turned for home. Another guy who I had recently passed pulled back up beside me and we pushed each other into the first transition. My swim time was 9:45.

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After a few slips trying to hurriedly get my socks on, I was ready to mount the bike and get rolling. T1 was 1:03.

The bike course was an 8 mile out and back route that was much hillier than I expected (i.e., between 750-800 ft of climb in 16 miles). I looked at my speedometer as I approached the first hill to see what kind of pace I was hitting and was surprised to see 22 mph! I felt really good and really dug in on the hills. The first hill was close to a mile long and I think I passed 40 ish other riders. I knew I didn’t want to overdo it on the ride but I just felt so good that it was hard to pull back. Drafting is not allowed in this race, but I ended up leap frogging with 2 other guys and we zipped by huge strings of riders. At the turn around I had been passed by 2 riders. I felt like if I could just keep them close, then I could catch them once we got to the run. One of the guys got a flat shortly after passing me so I got back ahead of him and I kept the other guy right in my sight the rest of the ride back. My bike time was 47:40 (20.8 mph).

In what seemed like no time I was back to the transition and heading out for the run. I had some trouble re-racking my bike which cost me a few seconds but this one was smoother than the first. T2 was 48 seconds.

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I felt like I had overdone it on the bike because my legs were HEAVY when I started running. I tried to just keep pushing. This was my first time racing a true time trial and I found it difficult to keep the pace I wanted. It’s also hard to find that next gear when you don’t have any clue where you actually stand against the other participants (people had started at all different times and the bib numbers didn’t necessarily correlate with when they started at this point in the race). My mile splits were 6:25, 6:39, 6:46, and 40 seconds for the last tenth. My run time was 20:35.

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I ended up being really happy with the swim and bike and really the overall time too. My goal was 1:26 and I did 1:19:49 for 19th overall. This was a great race and I’m really looking forward to Augusta even more now. I will definitely be back to this race as well.

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P.S. I’m really impressed if you read this far. Let me know some of your beginner/newbie race experiences.

He’s impressed if you are still reading, but I’m going to make it a little longer and share a funny story from the finish line (I should write a race recap about spectating and triathlon with a 110+ pound puppy who loves water … it was interesting to say the least). During the race Brooks made friends with another dog, Red, who was a beagle/mastiff mix (he was precious!). What we didn’t know until later was that Red was helping his daddy propose to his soon-to-be mommy at the finish line.

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She said yes and it was pretty much the cutest thing I’ve ever seen (except for maybe that first picture that I included of Daniel circa 2009 :))! Love it.

Okay, folks … tell Daniel what a rockstar he is!

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!