Race Recap: Spring Fever Chase 10K

Howdy friends and random internet strangers! I’ve got race recap three out of four for the month to share with you today. Next up is Azalea Trail!

Today I ran my 11th Spring Fever Chase 10K! It’s one of my favorite races of the year, if not my most favorite. Here is a conglomeration of race photos over the years …

We got to Fairhope around 7 a.m. for an 8 a.m. race start. Daniel picked our bibs up yesterday, so that we didn’t have to worry about that today. We met Jessica downtown and ran just over two miles before making our way to the start line. I was ready to do this thing!

Last year I ran the race without a watch and while that turned out to be a great decision, I decided to wear my watch this year … but, I didn’t look at it one. single. time. during the race. I don’t know how I had the self-restraint to do this, but somehow I did. The only time during the entire race that I saw a time was on the clock at mile 3 (the other mile markers don’t have clocks).

Like most races, the start of this race is typically a little chaotic because so many people run too fast for the first half-mile or so. They really made a point that if you weren’t running under 7:00 pace, then you didn’t need to be on the front row. I feel like they have said this before, but it seemed like more people actually listened this year. Several young kids still managed to pass everyone in the first tenth of a mile. Several of them were excitedly talking about how they were running “sub-7” (which I thought was adorable) and for that first quarter-mile, they certainly were.

We had a good bit of rain yesterday and the first turn (about a half-mile into the race) was underwater. Thankfully, we had run that little stretch during our warm up and knew which side of the street (err well, the grass) would be the best path. I dodged the puddle and avoided getting my shoes muddy, which was nice. I caught up to Daniel around mile one. His training has been going really well, but he hasn’t been feeling good the last few days. I knew that he was likely struggling if I was catching him and I was bummed for him. He loves this race as well and wouldn’t have run if it had been any other race.


Ponytail game #onpoint

My mom and dad came to the race to cheer for us and they were just past the one mile mark. Per usual, my dad yelled, “GO KID!” as I ran by. He has always called me Kid and I hope that never changes. They’ve definitely been my biggest fans over the years and I always get a boost from seeing and hearing them on the course. We also had several friends that didn’t race today that came out to cheer as well, which was much appreciated. Having people out along the course cheering for you is the best!

I caught several runners during the second mile. Miles two through four have some rolling hills and since I don’t typically run well on hills, I always plan to conserve on the uphill portions and not expend any unnecessary energy. The hills are also part of the reason that I chose not to look at my watch during the race. I have a bad habit of looking down at my watch if I feel like my pace is fading. For some reason I need an external source to either confirm or deny my feelings (but that’s likely a discussion for another time and place :)).

The third mile is the hilliest of the race and you crest the biggest hill right as you pass the mile three marker. My time was 19:15, which would translate to right at or just under twenty minutes for the 5K. I knew that if I wanted my total time to be under forty minutes for the 10K, I had to keep working and couldn’t afford to let up at all. I focused on staying in my rhythm and not slowing down.

For the majority of the fourth mile, I was running with a pack or three or four guys, which was really nice. I typically find myself in no man’s land during races and it is always much better to have someone to work with. My mom and dad (and our other friends) were on the course again somewhere between mile 4 and 4.5 cheering and that gave me another little boost. I almost took my poor mother out on this turn (she was standing right in the tangent and I really wanted to yell at her to move, but I didn’t (ha)). After the race we had a good laugh about how I came over and gave her a hug during the last mile of the marathon and this time I just wanted to yell at her because she was in my way.



Once I passed them, I knew that I had a mile of flat-to-downhill running before the final climb. Bring on the downhill! At this point, I was only running with one other guy, but I was definitely thankful to still have someone with me. We flip-flopped back and forth a few times, but basically we just worked together for the entire rest of the race. He passed me (briefly) right around mile six. Until that point, I had basically conceded mentally and just assumed he was going to out kick me at the end of the race. Once it actually started to happen though, something switched in my brain and I decided to give it my best shot. It was a sprint to the finish and I barely edged him out!


I’m glad that I didn’t just throw in the towel and I’m glad that I had a little extra incentive to really make those last two tenths count. It was fun to check my splits afterwards since I hadn’t looked at my watch during the race. They were pretty consistent and make sense given the course. I need to trust myself more and rely on the Garmin less. My splits were 6:21, 6:21, 6:32, 6:25, 6:26, 6:20 and 5:47 for the last two tenths. As far as placement goes, I was first female and fourth overall.

Jessica and I ran two miles after the race to cool down, grabbed some coffee and 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. We have them sprinkled throughout our house!

After the awards, I walked around the Arts & Crafts Festival for a little while with my mom and dad. We saw some really interesting pieces, like the saxophone pelican and the “crazy hair” guitar man.

All in all, it was a wonderful day. Spring Fever did not disappoint! I am thankful to have a wonderful group of friends and family who always support me, no matter if I am first place or last place. The time on the clock and placement in the results truly don’t matter, but sharing life with people who love you unconditionally … that’s what it’s all about.

Run happy friends!

Race Recap: McGuire’s St. Patrick’s Day 5K

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


We ran the McGuire’s St. Patrick’s Day Prediction 5K in Pensacola on Saturday. This was my second time running this race. There were over twelve thousand participants in the 5K, which is huge! I’m fairly certain that is the biggest 5K that I’ve ever run in. The winners crossed the finish line before the last runners even started. Madness!

The race is technically a prediction run, which means that each person guesses their finish time and person who finishes closest to the predicted time wins. You aren’t allowed to wear a watch and there aren’t any mile markers or clocks along the course. However, there is also a “speed” division and you can wear your watch if you are not competing for a prediction award. This little tidbit was lost on me the first time I ran this race and I ran watch-less when I didn’t really need to. Oh well.

There is also a team competition, which makes it really fun! We had a Warehouse Grinders co-ed team. The top five runners for each team count towards the results and the team with the lowest total time wins (very similar to cross-country scoring, but using your time instead of your place).

The race starts at 9 a.m. (which is a little bit later than most races, but is kind of nice when you have to drive about an hour to get there anyway). We left around 7 a.m. and our team carpooled over to Pensacola. We got a two-mile warm up in before the race. I would’ve liked to do three, but it was fairly warm and another mile likely wouldn’t have helped one bit. We almost missed the start as it was. We had to ease our way into the front of the corral a few minutes before the start.

It was crazy crowded in the corral (makes sense given that there were twelve thousand folks crammed in there). If you are competing in the speed division, you really need to be as close to the front as possible. If you aren’t, you waste a lot of time stuck behind and weaving around other people. I got a couple of rows back and started just behind some of my teammates.

Everyone takes off so fast! Way. too. fast. I immediately felt like I was going to be trampled. Of course, after the first quarter-mile, you’ve passed a lot of the folks that sprinted off of the starting line. Speaking of getting trampled though, there was a tiny little dog that somehow got caught up in between the barricades at the start of the race. He was bobbing and weaving around all of the runners. It’s amazing that no one tripped (that I know of at least).

After the first quarter-mile, I tried to settle into my goal pace range. I predicted 19:00 (not that I was competing in the prediction division, but you still have to predict a time regardless). I wanted to keep my pace between 6:05 and 6:15. As per usual, the first mile was a tad fast. I was really trying to hold back a little, but somehow I came through the first mile in 5:59. I thought I was in about fifth place or so for the females (it’s actually quite hard to tell exactly what place you are in a race that size though :)).

I steadily reigned in a few of the other girls during the second mile. It was nice to have some folks to chase! I still felt pretty decent at this point and was happy to be out there pushing myself. I came through the second mile in 6:09. Whew. I knew if I could hold on to that, I would have a very respectable finish.

Of course, it’s easier said than done to hang on during the last mile of a 5K, and sure enough, my pace started to fade. I had solidified my place as second female and while I could see the first place girl ahead of me, she was out of reach. The course also starts to feel *really* long during that last mile. You can see all of the runners strung out ahead of you and you see just how far you still have left to go. It is a challenge not to get complacent. My last mile was 6:26. I picked it up a tad for the last 0.1 and “sprinted” it in at 5:44 pace. My overall time was 19:11. Not too far off from what I expected! I’ll take it. It’s not my best and not my worst. That seems to be a theme these days.

Daniel had a great race and finished in 18:10! Our team did well too and we finished second in the co-ed division. Obviously we would’ve preferred to be first, but we had a great time and ran with our friends. There’s nothing better than that! We got in a 1 mile cool down after the race and stayed around at the post-race party for a little while. The race is more well-known for the after party than the actual race itself, I do believe. The people watching is quite spectacular!

Race Recap: Wine 10K Birmingham

Hey friends! I’m coming at you this evening with a quick recap of what I hope will be the first of many 10K recaps this month!

After the marathon in January, I decided to shift my focus more towards some shorter distance races (i.e., 5Ks and 10Ks) for the Spring “race season” if you will. I heard lots of wonderful things about the Wine 10K in Birmingham and decided that it might be fun to branch out and do a race in a different city.

I headed to Birmingham Friday afternoon, arrived in time to pick up my packet from Trak Shak and to meet my mom at our hotel. The timing worked out really well because she just had a birthday (which technically wasn’t supposed to be mentioned on the internets (hopefully she will forgive me)) and we were able to use the race as a good reason for belated birthday celebration trip as well. We’ve gotten pretty good at doing these quick weekend getaways!

By the time we got to the hotel, we were both very tired. We ordered room service and called it a day. I got a great night’s sleep and was ready to go the next morning. Well actually, I didn’t exactly jump out of bed the second my alarm went off or anything like that, but after a cup of coffee, I was happy and ready! Ha.

Going into the race, I didn’t really have a specific plan. I have been doing a lot of threshold workouts around 6:25 pace and so I was thinking that 6:15 to 6:20 pace should be a reasonable goal. I didn’t know much about the course beforehand. I looked at it on the map, but that didn’t really mean anything since I wasn’t familiar with the area.

The race started at 8 a.m. Saturday morning at Patriot Park. The course is a point to point route and ends at Lakeshore Park Plaza. The race was amazingly well-organized and everything ran very smoothly. It was really quite impressive.

I got to the start about 45 minutes before the race started and did a two mile warm up. I ran into a few people who I knew, but for the most part it was an entirely new field of runners. I had an “elite” bib (with a sub 40 qualifying time), which is cool, but also quite intimidating, especially when you start looking around at the other runners in the corral with you. It’s never a good idea to compare yourself to others, but it’s really hard not to play the comparison game before races. Everyone you see looks so stinking fast! In this race, everyone I saw actually was very stinking fast.


As soon as the gun went off (actually, they might have fired a cannon or a rocket of some sort (it was CRAZY loud)), I was immediately lagging behind everyone else that had started near me. I wanted to keep the pace honest and not start out too fast. I glanced down at my watch a few times and was seeing 6:10 or faster. I knew that wasn’t sustainable, so I just had to let the pack go on ahead. My first mile was 6:14.

The next two miles were a little bit tougher with a few rolling hills. For someone who trains on pancake flat terrain, hills are not my friend. I am very quick to say that I am not a strong hill runner. This race made me realize that it’s probably time that I did something about that and actually worked to get stronger on the hills. Sounds like a good goal. Right? Right. So anyway, miles two and three were 6:26 and 6:25.

Here’s the elevation chart for reference …


As you can kind of see from the map above, there is a nice little downhill stretch from mile three to four. I clocked a 6:02 on that mile. Whew! I wasn’t expecting to see a split like that, but I was happy with it for sure!

The last two miles of the race ran on the Lakeshore Trail, which I guess is also called the Homewood Shades Creek Greenway. It’s a paved trail that runs beside Shades Creek. The trail itself was very nice to run on, especially with a nice view of the creek. The only downside to this part of the course were the two places where you had to do essentially do a 180 degree turn to run up and over a little overpass. It’s tough to come to a basically a complete stop, run up and over anything and then continue on without messing up your rhythm. Miles five and six were 6:25 and 6:33.

I finished with a chip time of 39:34, which is 6:22 average pace. Not too far off of what I expected and given the hills, I’m definitely happy with it! I was 14th female and 44th overall. The top 50 finishers got a custom blue ribbon on their medals (which is actually a functional wine stopper) and the remaining top 100 finishers received a red ribbon on their meals. I liked the added touch of having an award for overall placement regardless of gender, age, etc.


I ran for team Cadence Coed and our team was very well represented! Lots of podium finishes and the team won the coed division, so that was cool.

Cadence Coed

The after party was very cool! There were mimosas, grilled cheese sandwiches and tons of other stuff. It was really just a beautiful day to be outside enjoying the fresh air. I ran into a several people who I knew, but it was so strange being at a race in a different city and not knowing the majority of the runners. You don’t realize how connected you are into your own little running community until you do a race somewhere else and it’s like, “Where are my people?” Everyone in Birmingham was super friendly and I’m excited to hopefully do a few more races up that way soon!

After the race, mom and I did a little bit of shopping. I really only wanted to go to Lululemon and Anthropologie. Those are probably two of my favorite stores ever and we don’t have access to them in Mobile (which is a definitely a good thing). I got a couple of basic tee shirts from Anthropologie and NOTHING from Lululemon. I didn’t see anything that I had to have. Pure craziness.

We had a very restful afternoon and went out to dinner Saturday night.


Sunday morning we slept in a little bit and went on a nice walk from the hotel. It was another beautiful day! We really couldn’t have asked for better weather. We walked a few miles and found some trails and some water. There is something so soothing about being by the water …


It was a wonderful trip and I’m so glad that mom and I got to spend some quality time together!

Race Recap: First Light Marathon

I’d like to call this race the ultimate dichotomy. It was not my day and it was my day. Confused? Read on …

I should probably start this recap at the start line of the race, but of course, I’d rather back up and start … somewhere else … perhaps at the beginning of the training cycle. If you’ve run a marathon, you know that there is so much more to a marathon than the race itself. This training cycle involved 5 friends (all training for the same race), 9 races, 35 workouts and 1,300 miles. Sharing the journey with friends made this one really special and I honestly think the camaraderie carried us to the finish line.

I started training for this race the first week in September. On paper, the training was a 9 week fundamental phase, a 9 week specific phase and a 1 week taper. In actuality, it probably looked more like a 9 week fundamental phase, a 5 week specific phase (culminating with pacing the Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon) and then 5 weeks of chaos. I won’t rehash all of it, but basically I didn’t recover as quickly as I expected to from pacing the marathon, which caused me to miss a couple of key workouts and then I came down with a sickness that caused me to miss a couple of key weeks of training. No bueno.

I debated whether or not to even run the race and was |thisclose| to running the half instead of the full. In fact, I didn’t actually register until the week of the race (one of the many benefits of running a small, local race). Even when I did register, I knew that the chances of me running my “A” goal (< 3:00) were slim. I was oddly at peace with this. Somewhere along the way I realized that my time truly didn’t matter. Of course it feels great to set a goal and crush it, but it also feels great to run happy and without pressure. I went into the race with expectations of having a great day and enjoying myself. That is not to say I wasn’t prepared to work. I was prepared to fight. I knew the marathon would be tough regardless, but it was a challenge that I was ready to tackle.


The temperature was a little under 30* at the start. I wore two pairs of socks, shorts, a long-sleeve shirt, a singlet, gloves and a toboggan (not a sled :)), oh and my Goodr sunglasses (I love those things!). I feel like I was dressed very appropriately. Part of me really wanted to run in tights, but I’m glad that I didn’t. My legs were definitely numb for the majority of the race, but I’m fairly certain that this was, in fact, a good thing.

My plan was to ease into the pace over the first couple of miles, maintain a smooth, steady pace through mile 11, run based on effort from miles 11 to 20 (the hilly section of the race … theoretically, the effort level should’ve stayed the same during this time, but the pace would naturally slow up the hills and speed up slightly down the hills) and run it home one mile at a time.

Here is what that looked like based on my mile splits:
Easing into it: 7:24, 7:05
Smooth and steady: 6:56, 6:58, 6:58, 6:54, 6:52, 7:07, 7:08, 6:50, 6:59
Effort based: 7:28, 7:24, 7:12, 7:21, 6:56, 7:28, 7:28, 7:57, 7:33
One mile at a time: 7:32, 7:40, 7:46, 8:04, 8:14, 8:21

I started the race with Alex and Young Daniel. We all trained for the < 3:00 goal and we planned to start out together and see where the day took us. We ran the first 3 or 4 miles together, which was great! For < 3:00, you need to maintain 6:50 pace for the entire race. I knew fairly early on that 6:50 wasn’t going to happen. I just couldn’t settle into a smooth rhythm where 6:50 felt comfortable. The way I see it, if your goal pace doesn’t feel comfortable for the first 10 miles of a 26.2 mile race, it’s either going to be a really long day if you try to force it or you can reassess and settle on a more manageable goal.


I ran the first five miles of the race as part of the Grinder Gals relay team. This was my fifth year running as part of a relay team and so far we are five for five on winning our division. YAS! Having my team out there along the way was so nice! I got to see them every five miles (at 5, 10, 15 and 20) and they cheered for me and encouraged me every time. I handed the relay bracelet off to Lizzie at mile 5 and continued on my merry little way.

At this point, Alex and Young Daniel had pulled away, which was great. I knew that meant that they felt good. I saw Daniel briefly around mile 7 and I told him that I was going to reassess my goal. I didn’t really know what the reassessment was exactly, but I knew that < 3:00 wasn’t going to happen. I took a gel around mile 8. I grabbed a cup of water at the aid station and the water cup was probably 50% liquid and 50% ice. Brr!

Mile 9 was my best mile of the day. All of a sudden, I felt good! I really think it took me 9 miles to warm up. The funny thing is that the hills on the course start at mile 10 and so even though I felt good momentarily, I knew it was going to be brief. I started running based on effort (as planned) and I actually didn’t look at my watch for the remainder of the race. I knew I was doing what I could and the pace didn’t matter.

I saw Daniel again around the half way point of the race. I told him that I was good and that he should go on up and check on the other guys. He could ride up and check on Kenny and Cody, then make his way back to Alex, Young Daniel, me and Sasser. He was all over the place and took some great pictures in the process. He also deserves a special award because if we thought it was cold running, it was twice as cold on the bike. I’m pretty sure his hands were solid blocks of ice at the end of the race.


Daniel with Young Daniel & Young Daniel’s dad, who jumped in and ran a couple of miles!

As I came through the relay exchange at mile 15, I gained an unexpected running buddy. Bowie paced Kenny for a few miles, but Kenny was crushing it and Bowie decided to drop back and run a few miles with me. I’m pretty sure my 7:20 (ish) miles felt much nicer than Kenny’s 6:20 (ish) miles at that point. Also at mile 15, my relay team caught up to me and Rebecca ran with us for a mile or so as well. You know how sometimes you are running a marathon and you are counting down every. single. mile. the entire way? I’ve been there many times, but yesterday … the miles just flew by (and it wasn’t because I was running fast by any means). I was just happy to be out there and to have friends supporting (and distracting) me.


Since Rebecca was running her leg of the relay, she went on ahead to make the handoff to Jessica. I took another gel around mile 17. At mile 18, things got real. We came to the toughest hill of the course (half a mile at 7.5% incline). If Bowie hadn’t been there, I’m fairly certain that I would’ve been walking. Somehow I made it up that dang thing and kept on trucking.

Before I knew it, we were already at the next relay exchange at mile 20. Rebecca had just run 5 hard miles and when we came through the exchange, Bowie peeled off and she jumped in to run with me. She yelled back to our team, “Come pick me up in a few miles!” and I jokingly chimed in with, “ME TOO!” I was so ready to be done with the race. If someone had offered me a ride to the finish, I would’ve gladly accepted. The only thing motivating me at this point was that I thought I was winning the race for the females. It gets kind of confusing out there with all of the relay teams, etc. and I never had a bike escort or anyone really confirming for sure that I was in first place, but I thought I was.

Rebecca ended up staying with me for five miles. I can’t thank her enough for that. I can’t say that I was great company at that point, but we’ve run together enough that words aren’t really necessary. Just having her there meant so much. At that point in the race, my focus really was to get through one mile at a time. Every mile got me closer to the finish line and that’s all I cared about. Time meant nothing. Finishing meant everything.

Around mile 24, a girl zoomed by me. She didn’t have a bib on her back (all relay runners are supposed to wear two bibs … one on the front and one on the back so that delirious marathoners can distinguish who is who in the final miles of the race). I looked over at Rebecca and was like, “Is she relay?” We thought she was, but we weren’t sure. There was a brief pause and then Rebecca just went ahead and shouted out to the girl, “Are you relay?!” She hollered back, “Yes!” Whew. Not that I could’ve done anything about it at that point, but it was really nice to know that I didn’t need to do anything about it. Ha.

At mile 25, Rebecca peeled off and I was left with just ONE MILE. Hallelujah! One mile seemed doable. As I came down the finishing stretch, I had to do a double take because there was someone who looked a whole lot like my mom standing on the side of the road. Of course with my delirium, it could’ve really been anyone, but no … it wasn’t just anyone … it was my mom! She drove 3 hours that morning (a marathon of her own) just to see me finish the race. Apparently, she had a “feeling” that I was going to win and a mother’s intuition is ALWAYS right.


Coming in for a hug ❤

After a brief hug, I crossed the finish line in 3:14:XX (official results aren’t posted yet) as first female! I was so happy! While this isn’t a marathon PR, it is a course PR by 9 minutes and it is the first time I have won the full marathon here. I made my way through the finishing chute and got my medal, a mylar blanket and lots of hugs from friends and family.

Shortly thereafter, I did a brief interview and I’m fairly certain this is the face I made when he asked me, “So, what’s next?” I’m pretty sure I answered with something very eloquent, along the lines of, “Oh geez. I have absolutely no idea.” Too soon man, too soon.


I stumbled over to the car to put on all. the. clothes. and then we made our way back over to catch the awards.

I have to brag on my training buddies for a minute … Kenny finished second overall with a 2:48, Cody finished third overall with a 2:49 (a PR!), Alex finished under 3:00 (a PR!), Young Daniel finished in 3:03 (a PR!) and Sasser finished in 3:20 (his first marathon and a BQ!). Our relay team finished first overall in the female open division with a time of 3:08! I’m so proud of every single one of us. Training and racing together was truly a wonderful experience!

A friend pointed out that my time of 3:14 was appropriate because of this verse. I love it so much. Thank you Stacy for pointing this out.


Perhaps it wasn’t just this race that was the ultimate dichotomy, perhaps it is the marathon itself. It simultaneously humbles you makes you feel like you can conquer the world.

Race Recap: Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

Race Recap: Turkey Trot

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

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

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

Before the Race

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

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

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

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

The Race

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

Spoiler alert: I averaged 6:01!

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

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

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

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

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


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

After the Race

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

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

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

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

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

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

Race Recap: Turkey 10 X 2!


I have shorts on, I promise. Note to self: don’t wear towel in future post-race pics.

This year’s Turkey 10 went a little bit different from how it has in the past. You can read my recap from last year’s race here. Seeing as how several of us (at least 5 for sure) are training for the First Light Marathon (FLM) in 8 weeks, we decided to revive a tradition that only a brave few have dared in the past, the Turkey 20 miler. It is only in the throes of marathon training that a runner would dare to attempt such a feat. I, myself, have done it once before (circa 2012), also in preparation for FLM. Others in the group have done it many a time, but they are far braver than I.

We spent what felt like ages (i.e., weeks) discussing our plans for this event. We planned to get to the race about an hour and a half before it started, to run the course “easy” beforehand and then to run the race at or close to goal marathon pace. This was definitely a key workout in our training and I was looking forward to it. We all talked about it a good bit over the last few weeks and the hype had me … well, hyped.


I was equally as excited about my new turkey socks! Although I must say, I am a tad disappointed that they aren’t symmetrical. I don’t know if I just got a bad pair or this is how they are supposed to look. Either way, it’s not a big deal and they are still super cute!

We got started on our first 10 miles at 7:00 a.m. The race started at 8:30 a.m., so this gave us an hour and a half to get our 10 miles in and hopefully have a minute or two to go to the bathroom, take a gel, get some water, etc. before the actual race started. It was 75 degrees and humid for the run. What the what?! The weather has not been cooperating for races recently. We’ve actually had some really chilly mornings (like today for instance … it’s 35 degrees), but it is NEVER chilly on race day. One of these days it will be. If I say that enough, hopefully it will be true at some point.

The 10 mile “warm up,” if you will, went by fairly quickly and with no major issues. We averaged 7:56 pace for the first 10 miles. We didn’t have much time at all once we got back to the start to get ready for the actual race. I did manage to take a gel and hit the bathroom (it was essentially a sprint to the bathroom and a sprint to get to the start line on time … that was probably the fastest I ran all day). I *attempted* to make some UCAN gels the evening before the race, but I don’t think that I got the ratio of powder to water quite right. I put the gels (which were basically just liquid) into plastic baggies and I just bit the corner of the bag to take the gel. In theory, this seemed like a good idea, but in practice, I wasn’t a fan of the plastic baggie method. I’ve got a 22 mile long run coming up and I might try again (using a different recipe and a different container).

As far as the race itself goes, my plan was to run as consistently as possible, somewhere in the 6:45 to 6:55 range. Rather, that was my plan in ideal conditions, but 75 degrees and humid is less than ideal for a race in November. Daniel ran the first 7 miles of the race with me, which was lovely. We talked a little bit, but not a ton. It was just nice to have someone there to work with. We stayed pretty consistent for those 7 miles. Our splits were 6:58, 6:54, 6:59, 6:59, 6:56, 6:56 and 7:04. I started to fade at mile 7 (17 for the day), but Daniel felt good and I wanted him to go on ahead.

I definitely faded, but it wasn’t a total crash. The last three miles were 7:10, 7:19 and 7:08. In the moment, I was a tad disappointed that I wasn’t able to keep it under 7:00 pace, but after thinking about it a little bit more, I’m okay with it. My average pace for the race was 7:02, which is not far off from where I ultimately want to be on race day. I still have 8 weeks to get to that point too. I have to remind myself sometimes that I am where I am, not where I want to be … yet! That’s why we train!



After the race I was a little dizzy and light-headed, which is not good. Once I got something to eat and got some electrolytes in, I felt fine. We headed over to the after party (a pot luck style holiday party) and stuck around until we got our awards. Our group was 4 out of the top 5 men and I ended up as the first female, so I’d say it was a pretty good day!

I always enjoy this race and this year was no exception! Doing the race as the last 10 of a 20 mile run definitely takes the stakes up a little bit. We all put in some solid work and I know that will pay off in January!