{State #16-Montana} Missoula Marathon

IMG_7052
After signing up for a marathon in state #15 (Portland, Oregon), I immediately signed up for state #16, Montana, since I had started planning our Go West Road Trip around the races I would be running. I had never run two marathons only nine days apart, but had run a half marathon and a marathon the following day. I also had hopes of completing a 50k (Chester Woods 50k) in the spring, so I felt I would be prepared for two marathons close together. I knew that it would probably be warm making the miles more challenging, but when you have a goal and a limited budget compromises have to be made.

Screenshot 2014-07-28 20.31.38

For the first time in a very long time we arrived to the city I would be racing not late the night before, not even the morning before, but an entire two nights before. It felt great to not be stressing about race morning with little sleep, picking up my packet the morning of the race and not knowing where to go until it was time to go. That relaxed feeling set the tone for our weekend.

20140728-202308-73388695.jpg

Carb loading Friday night before the Sunday race.

Saturday was packet pick up and the outdoor expo took place in downtown Missoula. Runners were out in full force and I was not feeling the crowds, so we quickly got my packet and headed somewhere less crowded for lunch. I was not feeling well the day before and was really nervous about running another marathon the next day. Looking at the weather forecast only added to my fears. I knew it would be a tough race regardless, but with highs of 97 forecasted for the following day I was terrified for the painful sweatfest to come.

Course Map

Course Map

My goal was to complete the race and not walk. I would have loved to run under four hours, but wasn’t sure if that would have been possible without the heat. I had it in my head that under four and a half hours would be great with the heat. Remember, I am not a hot weather runner. Nothing sends my run in a downward spiral faster than heat.

IMG_7179

The night before the race we ate a yummy dinner at a local restaurant, I laid out my gear, and I actually got to bed a bit earlier than the typical for me. Not before getting sucked into a movie on TV though. Damn you Sandra Bullock and your scary space travel in Gravity. George Clooney might have had something to do with it, too. And, who is really ready for bed at 9:00 anyway?

The 4:15 alarm woke me up and I did not want to get up, but I told myself how lucky I was to get to be accomplishing my goal. Since I knew I was in for some pain and discomfort that morning, I decided to approach the race with a borrowed mantra from Brooks-Run Happy! I couldn’t change the weather or how my legs felts, but I could change my attitude. I made it a goal to focus on running happy whenever I felt tired, my legs got sore, I got hot or frustrated, or I wanted to quit. I was going to enjoy running in Montana. Take in the sights, sounds and feel joyful to be completing state #16 in my goal to race all 50 states.

20140728-202120-73280934.jpg

The husband took me to the shuttle that all marathoners were required to take to the start of the marathon. Everything was so organized. We arrived at the start, and I got in line for the port-o-potties where I waited in line for the shortest time perhaps ever. There was lively music with reminders of the time every five minutes. After the national anthem we headed to our starting spots. I lined up with the four-hour marathon pace group and a few minutes later we were off. As we crossed the starting line fireworks were shot off for at least five minutes while runners began their 26.2 mile journey. I was jazzed up!

As mile one and two went by my calves let me know they were not excited. They were so tight and I got panicked thoughts that I might need all seven hours the course was open in order to complete the race. I was super worried and I had to pee. I held it hoping it would go away. That does usually work, however at mile three I still had to go, and at mile four and at mile five. I decided I did need to make the stop at the mile five port-o-potty. I wasn’t going to run the rest of the race with a full bladder.

mile 1-8:44

mile 2-9:02

mile 3-8:59

mile 4-8:59

mile 5-10:05

20140728-202212-73332567.jpg

During the next miles I watched as more and more people passed me and my pace slowed. I had to remind myself not to compare myself to others. I was running my own race for myself in an effort to achieve my own goal. It didn’t matter what I ran as long as I ran for myself. Run happy!

mile 6-8:55

mile 7-9:16

mile 8-9:03

This race the headphones and music were going much earlier than state #15.  Luke Bryan, Avicii, Drake and the Great Gatsby soundtrack really kept me going.

mile 9-9:51

mile 10-9:02

mile 11-8:53

Around mile 14 runners started climbing a hill that would go on for over a mile. This was hard for me and I had to draw on some mental energy.  It was the only time I walked the entire race.  The downhills were awesome though and this area was mostly shaded.

mile 12-9:22

mile 13-8:59

mile 14-10:46

mile 15-8:53

Screenshot 2014-07-28 21.16.00

Around mile 16 we began entering town. There were friendly people outside their homes and tons of them, I mean tons, had so generously set up sprinklers and hoses for runners going by their houses. This was AMAZING! During these last miles the temperatures had really started to climb, yet I hardly had a chance to overheat too much with cold water to run through every quarter to a half mile for the remainder of the course. Awesome fans!

20140728-203124-73884222.jpg

mile 16-9:09

mile 17-8:54

mile 18-9:06

Screenshot 2014-07-28 21.16.31

As I neared mile 19 I was feeling pretty good. I knew that I was going to do this and actually was feeling better than the early miles now that my legs had warmed up and the one long uphill was over. I was running really strong in the heat on tired legs. Run happy!

mile 19-9:45

mile 20-9:17

mile 21-9:18

mile 22-9:39

Around mile 23 I decided I was feeling good enough to pick up the pace for a bit. It ended up being the last four miles. I was warmed up and had gotten used to the feeling of running on tired legs which made it easier. Oddly enough I felt adjusted to the heat.

mile 23-8:59

mile 24-8:57

As I closed in on the final miles and the home stretch I gave it all I had. I thought I had a chance at running under four, but knew I had to give it my all with my bathroom break at mile five.

mile 25-8:44

mile 26-8:47

20140728-203158-73918079.jpg

I saw the husband cheering and snapping photos in the final .2 and felt a surge of happiness and pride. I could have never done this without his support. I also had visions of water dancing in my head.

20140728-203234-73954850.jpg

I also have to admit I teared up happy tears as I closed in on that finish line.  I was so proud of how I overcame the heat, repeated and followed my mantra (well, Brooks, but that is a technicality) and finished state number 16 nine days after running state number 15.  I actually felt better during the last six miles of this race than I did on my fourth of July marathon. I was strong through all the discomfort.  With temperatures in the eighties when I finished, I was so pumped with my performance.  I would have loved to have shaved that minute and 25 seconds off to be under four hours, but I ran much better than I had anticipated.

Screenshot 2014-07-28 21.17.48

Screenshot 2014-07-28 21.18.25

IMG_7058

After finishing my race the husband commented he couldn’t believe how well I ran with tired legs and the heat. He might have heard me whine a bit about heat before. Plus based on my midway pace he expected me to come in fifteen to twenty minutes later. He was so proud and made me feel even prouder.

My husband deserves a lot of credit for the support he gives me on my journey in racing all 50 states. Without him I would never be able to accomplish this goal. He does so with a smile and a joking demeanor which I love him for. The race director deserves a lot of credit, too. The course was great and I’m so appreciative for the shaded parts during the second half of the marathon-well planned! Everything from start to finish was so organized. One of the top races I’ve run. On top of that the shirts were great, the medals fab and personalized race bibs topped it off.

IMG_7178

Missoula Marathon
Time: 4:01:26 (Damn, that bathroom break) 🙂
Pace: 9:13
Overall: 377/1168
Gender: 130/562
Age Group: 32/86

{State #15-Oregon} Foot Traffic Flat Marathon

IMG_6814
It feels like this race was a million years ago…perhaps because it sort of was. Writing race reports weeks after the race is hard. During the race I have so many thoughts and ideas going through my head. If I don’t get them down on paper or makes notes, then my mind is wiped clean after a few days. It seems like a different part of my brain gets used when running those long runs/races that doesn’t get used at other times. Good thing I have a few photos to conjure up some memories.

I had signed up for the Foot Traffic Flat Marathon back in December when this whole Go West road trip was still just a dream. No details were set or travel plans made. I just knew I’d be running a marathon, state #15, in Oregon on the 4th of July. I love holiday races as they give you an excuse to dress up and it makes choosing a race outfit easier it gives you a reason to buy new running gear.

Tank-Athleta Turbocharge Tank, Shorts-Oiselle Distance Short, Socks-Procompression, Headband-Bic Bands

Tank-Athleta Turbocharge Tank, Shorts-Oiselle Distance Short, Socks-Procompression, Headband-Bic Bands

Shuttle transportation was strongly recommended, so the husband and I were up at 4:15 to get on the road by 4:45 to catch a shuttle that would take us to the island.

Lets just say when I woke up I wasn’t feeling this race. The day before had been spent driving 855 miles from the Grand Tetons to Portland. We had been in the car for thirteen plus hours. The legs weren’t exactly used to moving despite a quick hike at Multnomah Falls en route to Portland.

As most of my race reports read I also didn’t get to bed early at all. We ate dinner at 9:45 that night and it was nearly midnight when lights were out. But, sometimes we just suck it up, buttercup. So I did with the help of some Starbucks Frappuccino’s I’d bought for the trip and the morning sun rising over the Sauvie Island Bridge.
IMG_6809
Participants and spectators could buy tickets to ride the shuttle, and tickets had to be purchased in advance for their planning purposes. Shuttles were efficient and took the parking chaos out of race day prep. The husband liked not having to drive around, drop me off and find parking.
20140723-113209-41529470.jpg
The race took place on Sauvie Island which is fifteen minutes away from Portland. The race started at a pumpkin patch with a cute little farmers market type place with a barn and buildings selling goodies.
Screenshot 2014-07-23 09.51.59
A 6:30 start time got us out and away from the worst of the sun, but it was still a warm one!
20140723-113211-41531249.jpg

20140723-113214-41534050.jpg

The course took you around the island with an out and back section first, followed by an loop that was part of the half marathon course. While there were half marathon walkers to run around in those last miles there were not so many that it was inconvenient or annoying. It also could have been the fact that I could be found walking at time those last miles. I was had begun dying a slow death from the sun and heat. I really didn’t notice anyone much those last miles. All I could think about were water, shade, and water.
IMG_6820
The course itself was flat (as the name indicates) and was full of farms growing beautiful flowers and berries. It was unique to see rather than the corn fields, soybeans and alfalfa were used to in the midwest. One of my favorite parts of the race (other than the finish) was the field of lavender growing along the road. There was a bench in the middle of the field and it looked like a place you could just spend time reflecting on life or reading a book. Much of the course was along water as well with it being an island and all.
IMG_6821
My goal for the race was to make it mentally easy and to run controlled. My legs were recovering from the 50k I’d ran less than a month earlier. I had another marathon to run in nine days. I had hiked almost 50 miles that week with lots more coming the next week. If I ran like an idiot, then I would pay big time. I kept the pace comfortable and challenged myself to run sans music until mile 13. Then I pushed it to mile 14 and then 15. Around mile 16/17 though I felt like I really needed that music.
20140723-112439-41079615.jpg
The first half plus was in the sun entirely. There was a nice breeze and since the sun wasn’t high in the sky it wasn’t too bad. Around miles 14 there was some shade which made running seem so much easier.

I spent a lot of my time thinking about how lucky and prideful I feel to live in the USA. I get to race all 50. I get to travel when I want, where I want. I can share what I want about it. That pride for my country carries through all the time.
20140723-112439-41079826.jpg

20140723-112439-41079981.jpg

Then it was back to sun for more miles. Around mile 21 I got this surge and really picked up the pace and felt great. My legs were not tired or even sore.

Probably not the best idea because around mile 23 we hit the sun for the last three miles and it was like I had used up my batteries. Ugh! Those last three miles they were unpleasant sucked!

I’ve never been a great heat runner, but I definitely felt stronger because of pushing through. I was actually surprised I was able to finish in the time I did with the heat and only doing recovery miles since the 50k. Knowing there was strawberry shortcake at the finish helped me push through the heat. And my husband running next to me for a mile, too. What a nice guy!
IMG_6818

IMG_6825

IMG_6826
The strawberry shortcake tasted just how I’d imagined it would, the shirts were great and the medals awesome! Plus I love when races put your name on bibs. Hearing your name cheered is so encouraging!
IMG_6827

IMG_6823
Foot Traffic Flat Marathon
Time: 3:54:41
Pace: 8:57
Overall: 127/347
Gender: 46/165
Age Group: 5/27

{Wisconsin Marathon Race Report}

20140508-231418.jpg
On Saturday the husband became an official marathon finisher. Over the past 18 weeks I documented our training ups and downs on this blog. We had some great runs and some challenging runs. We ran in the negative temperatures of the polar vortex, indoors on treadmills to beat the chill, in rain, in sleet, in a foot of snow, in gorgeous spring weather, and everything in between.

Training for a marathon through all these types of weather builds your confidence and teaches you you can do difficult things. Marathon training prepares you for the difficult miles ahead not unlike those of life. Training teaches you there will be miles that hurt and miles that take your breath away. There will be miles that are lost and miles you want to lose it in. All of these miles add up to the distance we completed on Saturday and sometimes are experienced all in one race.
Screenshot 2014-05-08 23.06.48
Friday evening we left town to stay in a hotel just outside of Kenosha. We stopped at an Olive Garden in Madison for some pre-race fuel. We had been saving our Olive Garden gift card we received for Christmas and used Hotwire to get a deal on our hotel room. We arrived to our room at 9:30, laid out our outfits for the next morning and got to bed around 10:30. This may be the most rest I’ve gotten the night before a race in a long time.
IMG_6107
Saturday morning we were up by 5:15. We quickly showered, got our race gear on, and packed the items we had laid out that we’d need for the race like Gu’s. I’d carefully packed everything and laid it out the night before. My race outfit had been chosen three nights earlier. We double checked the weather, loaded directions on the phone, and were off. As we walked down the hall to the car, I thought about all the emotions Ryan must have been feeling and about how I felt on the day of my first marathon. It made my stomach flip just thinking about it.
IMG_6108
We arrived to the race and parked a few blocks away. Parking was a breeze and we arrived to the start with plenty of time to visit the bathroom, snap a few pictures, and enjoy the emotions of the start line.
IMG_6109
IMG_6111
It was around this time that I ran into Stacy from In it for the Long Run. We had both ran at the Wisconsin Marathon and Half Marathon (her the full, me the half) last year where we’d hoped to meet, but it wasn’t our day. Today was. She was originally hoping to BQ, but was dealing with a “setback.” Check out her blog post about her Wisconsin Marathon experience.

Immediately upon seeing Stacy I noticed her purple Garmin 220 watch. I noticed this because I have the same one and it wasn’t on my wrist. I had forgotten the freakin’ watch in the car. I have been so forgetful lately that this shouldn’t even surprise me. I was immediately upset. This was Ryan’s marathon and I wanted to make sure we were running a smart pace the entire race. I told Ryan if the race course took us within a couple of blocks of our vehicle, then I’d run to the car and get the watch. I still couldn’t figure out how I’d left the watch in the car.

No watch...eek!

No watch…eek!


With the start only minutes away I didn’t have too much time to worry. The national anthem rang while I silently freaked out. I’d never run a marathon without knowing my pace. I decided I’d start the stopwatch on my phone as I knew from experience the RunKeeper GPS would kill the battery around mile 17-18, and I also wanted to be able to take a few photos. This is sick irony in a way as Ryan is a math teacher. The mental math we did during this race was crazy.

Finally we were off. We quickly learned that the course was not going to go near the car so it was time to suck it up, buttercup. The first miles took us through downtown Kenosha. This area is cute and kitschy in its own way. The next few miles looped out along Lake Michigan. The views were beautiful. The houses huge, and the miles fast. Around mile two we peaked at the stopwatch and saw we were running near nine minute miles. We were okay with this, but had a goal to run around 8:45 pace. This pace was conservative, but allowed us to bank some time, too. Around mile two Stacy caught up with us. We chatted about the forgotten watch, her “setback” and goals, and running races in general. Around mile five we separated and I wished her well. I knew she would do great considering her alternative race plan as she was rocking some awesome fast paces in her training earlier this year. I know a BQ is only a race away for her. Take care of yourself though, girl!
IMG_6114
Miles 5-7 took us back into the downtown area, along Lake Michigan (above), and looped back past the start. We checked our pace at mile five and we were just under nine minute mile pace. As you loop past the start and the half marathon splits from the marathon we naturally checked in with ourselves. How do we feel? Are we fueling right? What is our plan? We both felt good, felt the pace was manageable, and decided to keep on keepin’ on.
IMG_6112
IMG_6113
It was around this time that we caught the above awesome view and ran up on a hilarious group of runners. They were so funny and we “drafted” behind them for a mile laughing along the way. At one point we came up on a mile two marker. Someone from the group commented, “WTF we are only at mile two. Son of a bitch this isn’t going well.” When running long distances things make you laugh easily (and other times nothing makes you laugh.) Next they were joking about making jigsaw puzzles out of the view and how you definitely had to start with the horizon line. A moment later they were singing I’ll Be There For You…cue Friends. Still one of the best shows ever.

Around the halfway point we moved around the funny group and double checked our time. We came through the half way mark at 1:54:30. We were running an 8:45 pace at the half way mark and we were pumped. It was around this time that I hit a mental funk. I just felt ugh. I can’t really explain it. At mile 14 Ryan had to take bathroom break at the port-o-potty that appeared out of no where as were due to enter the Kenosha Sand Dunes area. Excellent choice on his part as I don’t recall a bathroom for miles…err till the finish.
IMG_6115
I stretched it out and snapped a picture while he port-o-johned it. Ryan came out asking if something was moving the port-o-potty. Some nearby girls played along with me as I thanked them for shaking the port-o-potty. In reality, I have no clue what he was talking about. The thing didn’t move an inch.

The break and the laugh found me in a better mood. We also headed into a packed gravel road. Reviewers complained about the second half of the course, but I thought it was peaceful and beautiful. I enjoyed the marshish feel, the sounds of birds and frogs in early spring, and the seclusion. If you love rows of fans this isn’t for you. If you don’t mind you, your thoughts, and you then you wouldn’t mind.

The view for miles 20-24.  Beautiful!

The view for miles 20-24. Beautiful!


As we approached mile 19 Ryan started to have muscle pains. We came through mile 20 at 2:58:30. We were doing awesome in pacing for Ryan to finish under four hours (his goal.) Around this point however Ryan began to experience muscle cramps in his hamstrings, calves, and behind his knees. In all of his training runs he never had cramps once. I attribute this to the warmer (but so gorgeous-near 60) temperatures on race day. He also drank no water before the race because his bladder is similar to the size of a small child’s. I did not tell him to skip out on all water, but he took my suggestion to limit his water before the race to mean drink nothing. Lesson learned.

The next miles were hard. Mile 22 our time was 3:20. The past two miles took us 21:30. Not good. I was nervous. I helped us devise a plan. At each mile marker we would walk a minute and then run until the next marker-no walking. We carried this plan out almost perfectly. We had some intense exchanges as Ryan felt terrible despite never feeling bad in a 22 mile AND a 20 mile training run. I waffled between cheerleader and keep your damn mouth shut, he’s in pain. I felt terrible that he was feeling rough.

Near mile 25.5 I told Ryan he could not slow down. We needed to keep the pace to achieve his goal. At mile 26 he told me his whole body was cramping; I told him he couldn’t slow down or he’d miss his goal. As we came down the home stretch I spotted some of Ryan’s family with a big sign that said Happy 30th Sarah. My family and some of our friends were on the right. We came through the finish holding hands in the air. Our finish time 3:59:35. My stopwatch was 14 seconds ahead of the chip time. We did it. Ryan did it. And boy did he.
IMG_6105
I didn’t make the connection about why everyone was at the finish until later because I was so excited and proud of him for finishing in under four hours. I wanted him to soak it in, enjoy every moment, and feel prouder than ever.
IMG_6118
It was part of a surprise birthday party he had planned for me. He kept telling me he was running the marathon for my 30th birthday. I didn’t get what he meant. What he meant was he wanted to plan a birthday surprise that was all about the things I love, that was personal and special to me. He nailed it on the head. Running together and training was ultimately an awesome experience. To culminate it with family and friends was even better.
IMG_6139
Little did I know there was more. He had reserved a block of rooms at nice hotel (I heart!) in the Historic Third Ward (my favorite part of Milwaukee) where everyone met after the race for drinks, then we bar hopped along Milwaukee’s river walk, and finally he had a reservation for the 25 in our group at the Water Street Brewery for dinner. Then it was out with friends for the night. The day was me to a T. He combined my favorite things (friends and family, marathons, swanky hotels, Historic Third Ward Milwaukee, craft brews, breweries, and awesome food.) What an awesome husband I have. He took a day that should have been about him and made it into the perfect birthday surprise. He gets me. And for that I’m so grateful.
IMG_6120
Wisconsin Marathon
Time: 3:59: 34 (Ryan) and 3:59: 35 (Sarah) He won between us!
Pace: 9:09
Overall: 284/847 (Ryan) and 285/847 (Sarah)
Gender: 199/463 and 86/384
Age Group: 31/58 and 18/71

Happy Running!

SS

{Wisconsin Marathon Training-Week 16 (the real post)}

20140421-133659.jpg
First of all congrats to all the runners at Boston today. I was so excited for Meb to win the men’s race today. I was cheering and on the edge of my seat those last miles. It was also awesome to see Shalane Flanagan PR and set a new American record along with a new course record by Rita Jeptoo. Watching them run reminded me that even for the elite a marathon is a challenge.
Screenshot 2014-04-21 13.33.10
Our first week of taper is officially over. Since accidentally posting this before it was done you can also tell that I’m already starting to lose it…sort of. Let taper madness begin. Taper madness is the self-doubt, phantom aches and pains that pop up, questioning of ones training, and general hysteria that surrounds a drop in mileage before a big race.
Screenshot 2014-04-21 13.37.53
Ryan is following his taper schedule which is coming at a perfect time as he has baseball games three nights a week. I’m sort of tapering, but not. Since my big race is the Chesterwoods 50k in June and my two marathons in July, I do want to taper some for the Wisconsin Marathon, but it is really serving as a long run for me.

Monday started with a snow day and Tuesday it was still cold yet. While you’d think I’d be used to this, I am so over it. I also wanted to rest the legs from our 22 miler. I should have run Tuesday, but didn’t. I later regretted that choice. I swear sometimes I never learn.

Wednesday-5 miles

Thursday-8 miles (Ryan)

Friday-8.6 hilly miles (Sarah)
20140421-124334.jpg

Saturday-10 miles (both of us)

This surprise package greeted us on Saturday! We opted to pay for packets to be sent to our house as we knew we wouldn't have time to attend packet pickup. This makes the race seem so much more real!

This surprise package greeted us on Saturday! We opted to pay for packets to be sent to our house as we knew we wouldn’t have time to attend packet pickup. This makes the race seem so much more real!

20140421-124458.jpg

We ran our ten miles on the Great River Trail which runs parallel to the Mississippi River and into the nearby marsh areas.  We even saw a pelican fly by a few times which is a new sighting this spring.  20140421-124530.jpg

This run I had hopes of going 16, but I wasn’t feeling the greatest tummy wise and we had places to go and people to see so I settled for ten miles. Sunday was the same story and sadly my miles really tapered this week. The runs I had felt great and strong so I’m not too worried. I’m looking to have a strong week and my miles up again next week although with a busy calendar it is going to take some forward planning on my part to make it happen. Get after it!

Tip of the Week: When tapering for a marathon-respect the taper. You’ve earned the time off and recovery for your legs to perform their best on race day. Remember while you might be cutting mileage, you do not need to cut intensity. Keep doing those speed sessions if that has been a part of your training. Tapering is about reducing miles on your feet not intensity. Also, now is the time to make sure you’ve done a dress rehearsal or two on you last long runs to make sure you know what you are wearing on race morning to eliminate unnecessary surprises or discomforts. A little forwards planning can really save your race ahead of time!

Weekly Mile Totals: 18 miles (Ryan) and 23.6 miles (Sarah)

Happy Training! I’m off to start my week right with a run and show some Boston Strong pride!

20140105-211539.jpg

{2013 Goals in Review}

Review of last years goals…
1) Cross train at least one day a week.  
Screen shot 2013-12-31 at 1.28.59 PM
–>So spinning lasted a few months-until track started, I did start biking this summer and realized I like it, and I did start doing yoga…so I’d say that was mostly successful.

2) Beat my yearly half marathon number.  Last year I ran 4.  This year I’d like to run at least 5.

–>Even with my first DNF race ever (Dances With Dirt Half Marathon), I managed to race seven half marathons this year and earn an unintentional PR! Success.

3) Explore local races I’ve never done before.  
Screen shot 2013-12-31 at 1.30.08 PM
–>In addition to getting to race in many places this year, I did try out 5 new races in my area. Loved doing that. Success

4)  Continue lifting one to two times per week.  I don’t like doing it, but I like it after.

–>Epic fail! Once I quit prepping for my PR marathon, so too ended the lifting. Other than a brief reinstatement while I was injured and couldn’t run, this goal was not achieved.

5)  Do bodyfit five days a week.  
–>See above!

6)  Complete my double weekend (1/2 marathon and full marathon on Sat. and Sun.) in February with minimal setback in training.

–>Done! And with a positive experience that left me wanting to do it again.

7)  Start making smoothies with veggies and fruits.

–> Juicer bought as anniversary gift. We tried many flavors and mixtures this year with many more to go!

8)  Read more.

–> Not sure. I don’t think this happened. I sure had good intentions though. I have five books right now just waiting to be read.

9) Qualify for Boston.

Maybe if this had happened I'd have qualified.

Maybe if this had happened I’d have qualified.


–> Didn’t happen, but I came close (missed new qualifying standard by 1:36). In my second training attempt I badly sprained my ankle so there was not a second chance this year. I will accomplish this goal one day.

10) Enjoy the simple things.
Screen shot 2013-12-31 at 1.36.23 PM
–> Maybe?! Sometimes I did this, but far too often I get caught up in life and forget to slow down. Still a work in progress.

Tomorrow’s post…my 2014 goals. I’ve got some good ones!

{2013 Running Review}

In the blink of an eye 2013 is over. The below link pretty much sums up my running over the past 365 days. The photos below are a glimpse of the year that was 2013.
Screen shot 2013-12-30 at 11.39.45 PM
Screen shot 2013-12-30 at 11.40.11 PM

20131231-093626.jpg

What did you do this year that you are proud of? Excited about? Worked hard to achieve? Where did your run that you’d recommend to others? I’m always looking for new routes and destinations to run.

{State #14-Kansas} Pilgrim Pacer Marathon

IMG_4496Saturday was the Pilgrim Pacer Marathon in Shawnee, Kansas. This race report starts very similar to others. We arrived later than expected Friday night due to road construction and a later than planned departure after work. I got to bed at 2:00 a.m., but did get to sleep a fair amount en route to Kansas thanks to my amazing support network aka the husband.
20131113-180002.jpg
Upon arriving I was pleasently surprised by our hotel room. We always get rooms from Hotwire when staying out of town-ALWAYS. I usually love our rooms, and I love Hotwire for their great rates, reliable star ratings, and excellent customer service. Of the 26 hotels rooms, 5 car rentals, and 2 flights I’ve booked through the company I’ve only had one issue with a hotel room. They immediately refunded my purchase and helped find a new room. If there star ratings change after you’ve booked a room, then they offer you two choices- #1) Keep the room and get $25 towards a future room reservation through Hotwire or #2) Cancel your reservation with no consequences and rebook a room you want. This has only happened twice to me in the past few years.
20131113-180039.jpg
This weekend was no exception except we got a lot more space than I’d anticipated for $125 total (both nights).

Trying to show the arm warmers.

Trying to show the arm warmers.

After five hours of sleep, I was up and getting ready. I was hungry so I ate a granola bar I’d never eaten before (Broken Running Rule #1-Don’t eat new foods on race day). I got dressed for the warmer weather (highs in the 60’s) I was looking forward to. Because of the cool initial temps I wore Asics Arm Warmers I got for Christmas last year, but had never gotten to wear yet (Broken Running Rule #2-Don’t wear new race gear on race day). They turned out to be perfect for the change in temperatures during the race. Then I grabbed breakfast at our hotel (a bagel) and headed to the race without my water…oops (Broken Running Rule #3-Drink water/start hydrating before a race.)
20131113-175144.jpg

When I got to the race everything was smooth sailing. Within 15 minutes I had picked up my packet, used the bathroom, and taken my extra gear back to the car. While in line I met someone originally from Wisconsin and chatted with runners about the challenging course. Soon it was time to take off.

Times 2!  Out-back-out-back.

Times 2! Out-back-out-back.

My goal for the race was to run near 9:00 minute miles and run under four hours. The first half of the race was good. I noticed in the first miles that this course was going to be much hillier than I’d anticipated. I knew I was in for it on the last miles.

mile 1-8:49

mile 2-8:44

mile 3-8:44

20131113-175255.jpg
We then passed Shawnee Lake and continued on the trails. The entire race was ran on paved trails that connected Shawnee to Olathe, Kansas. The race was an out and back half marathon and an out and back x 2 marathon. I’d never ran a marathon route like this before, so I wasn’t sure what I’d think about it. I didn’t feel like water so I skipped a few water stations (Broken Running Rule #4-Drink before you feel thirsty.)
pilgrimpacer2013-5000-1

mile 4-8:56

mile 5-8:56

mile 6-8:44
IMG_4511
The colors were in full blaze and the temperature was warming up. I was feeling really good at this point in the race. I reached the first turn around and had a mix of feelings-the exciting, it’s the turn around and the dreadful-I have to run back to this spot again.

mile 7-9:04

mile 8-8:31

mile 9-8:46
IMG_4508
It was at this point in the race that I realized just how tired my legs felt from running a PR in a half marathon six days earlier (Broken Running Rule #5-Don’t race a PR before running another much longer race days later.) My legs hadn’t been sore or tired on my mid-week runs, but I hadn’t ran far either.

mile 10-8:44

mile 11-9:02

mile 12-9:17
20131113-175347.jpg
The hills we ran down in the beginning were rough on the way back. I just couldn’t believe that I wasn’t done at the half marathon. I had to repeat this whole distance again! I really wanted to be done at the half marathon and actually let my mind go to that place of maybe I should short change myself and finish after 13.1 miles. Then I slapped myself mentally! You don’t drive to Kansas to quit. I must have been delirious or just a damn dummy. Ryan’s grandma, Evelyn, used to affectionately use this phrase often. You damn dummy!

mile 13-9:12

mile 14-8:32

mile 15-8:47
20131113-175219.jpg
Miles 13-15 offered a shift in mentality. This race was full of highs and lows. These miles were highs as fans cheered really hard for marathoners since there were not a ton of us mixed in with half marathoners. Even fewer than marathoners, I learned, were female marathoners. The encouragement of fans saying “go marathoner”, “way to go lady”, “go #236”, “your the fifth female”, and just the extra excitement they gave to marathoners helped me push passed my mental struggles. On the second out and back so many half marathoners cheered for me that I couldn’t help but smile. I really needed it at that point, too. I saw the guy I met at the bathrooms who recognized me and began yelling, “go Wisconsin”. The running community is so supportive and kind!

mile 16-9:46

mile 17-9:07

mile 18-9:29

At this point in the race I was basically running alone. My mental state began to swing low again. I was also thirsty. I passed a water stop and only had one drink. Bad idea. (Broken Running Rule #Whocankeepcount) Then my mental state went waaaaayyyyy low. I had used my mental toughness up earlier this week PR’ing at the Rails to Trails Half Marathon. Yes, I believe it is hard to run challenging races back to back. The mental energy it takes to stay focused and on pace should never be underestimated. It can be freakin’ exhausting at times. I really struggled with this as evidenced by the rest of my mile splits. I just couldn’t get my mind to go to that mental place where I push through.

mile 19-10:19

mile 20-11:15

mile 21-9:13
Screen shot 2013-11-11 at 10.13.01 PM
At the second turn around of the full marathon I had three drinks. One gatorade, one water, and one ginger ale. I had never had ginger ale in my life (Broken Running Rule #7-Do not try new food or drinks on long runs/races), but learned I really like this stuff. I knew I was dehydrated at mile 18. I was starting to get dizzy and feel disorientated. All I could think about was being done running and guzzling a gallon of anything. It was warmer than I’d anticipated and I have only myself to blame. I did not drink enough fluids the day before or the day of. Going out Thursday night and having adult beverages until too late in the morning was not good pre-race preparation either. (Broken Running Rule #8, 9, and 10-Get a good nights sleep two nights before a race, drink extra fluids the days before, and avoid things that dehydrate you i.e. alcohol.)

mile 22-9:45

mile 23-10:15

mile 24-9:54

I knew I had to drink more fluids so at all the remaining water stops I had both a gatorade and a water. It helped and by mile 23 or 24 I started to at least think clearly again.

mile 25-10:35

mile 26-10:24

The last two miles were uphill. I hated them. I didn’t like running them one bit. I would not run them again with a fox (no matter what it says.) I would not run them in a box. I would not run them again for free socks. You get the point. This was a rough race for me and I have only myself to blame.
Screen shot 2013-11-13 at 6.56.27 PM
Considering I broke at least ten common sense running rules prior to and during this race it is a bit of a miracle that I finished. I didn’t reach my goal, but was content with my time considering it was way hillier than I thought it would be and that my last run over 13.something miles was the Big Cottonwood Marathon in September in Utah (and we all know how in shape I wasn’t for that race.) There were also only 34 female runners who ran the marathon compared to 90 guys.

The mixed emotions at the finish.

The mixed emotions at the finish.

Nevertheless, I think the last paragraph sounds like a whole lot of excuses. It was a weird feeling at the finish line; I actually felt kind of stupid. Who did I think I was? What was I thinking breaking so many “running rules” and expecting to run decent on a challenging course. These were new and unexpected finish line emotions for me. In all honesty, I needed a challenging race like this. I needed a race like this to humble me and remind me of the beast the marathon is. You cannot outsmart the distance. I needed a little kick back to reality to remind me that you have to train, prepare, and get your body ready. No matter how many races you run, you are not too good for simple running common sense. I let myself get cocky and overly confident.
20131113-175500.jpg
20131113-175556.jpg

20131113-175532.jpg
Consider myself humbled. I’ve learned my lesson until the next time. I look forward to my winter recovery and base milage building that will help me start spring training with a strong base. I look forward to actually training for a marathon again, instead of running them underprepared. Running the Pilgrim Pacer Marathon was the perfect wake up call I needed.

The actual race was well organized, beautiful, and challenging (which they said many places on their website). The medals were huge (size of a cd) and the shirts were super cool; a big part of why I picked this as my Kansas.
20131113-175428.jpg
I also chose this race as my Kansas because it was close as possible to home and the time of the year worked well for my schedule. I was bummed to not get pumpkin pie or a mug like the website said, but in all honesty I didn’t really deserve those things after the performance I gave.
IMG_4494
Enough of my self-pity. Humbled. Lesson learned. We all need races like this every now and then. It doesn’t mean we’ve failed; we just get to come back smarter, stronger, and better ready to face future challenges.
20131113-175643.jpg
Pilgrim Pacer Marathon
Time: 4:06:38
Pace: 9:25
Overall: 32/120
Gender: 6/34
Age Group: 3/5
20131113-175715.jpg

20131113-175938.jpg