Last week I signed up for my first ultra, a 50k in Ohio. The was following Kimberly, who had just signed up, and I’m so excited! Running an ultra has always been on my bucket list and doing it with Kimberly just makes it the best. So June 3 you will find us at the Another Dam 50k. The course is some trails, some road and very flat. It’s not too technical or hilly, which is perfect for our first ultra and also perfect for the terrain we’ll both be training on. I asked Kimberly what training plan she was going to use and I think we’re both going to be basing our training on this one. It’s 16 weeks long, so right now I’m just keeping my running consistent. Most days I do 5-6 miles and then I try to do one run a week that’s a little more, although lately it’s only 7 or so. I’m so excited!!
I signed up for this race after the Fort 4 Fitness marathon, when I got a PR but missed my goal of going sub-4:20. I felt like with a little more training and push I could do it. The Veteran’s Marathon is affordable and – bonus! – nearby. And I did it! 4:18:48!
I previously ran the Veteran’s Marathon in Columbia City in 2010 (please see that post for a funny video of Dave and Mosie… ah the days when we were young..). I liked the race okay, but it was pretty hilly and the second half, which looped out in the country, was pretty lonely. They since reconfigured the course so the marathoners just ran the half marathon course twice. I liked the course much better this year – it was still out in the country but didn’t feel as tedious or long and the support was better than I remembered. It was still mostly just water stop people (bless them!) but they were excited and encouraging. There were still hills but nothing monster. I walked up one hill, at mile 23.5, and ran the rest (or chugged slowly). They were bigger than I’m used to, but nothing insurmountable.
The morning of the race was cold (27 degrees!) but no wind and the promise of a sunny day to warm things up. I wasn’t sure what to wear for the race and bugged Kimberly about it on voxer to maker her help me figure it out. In the end I decided on shorts, tall compression socks, a tshirt, a long sleeve tech shirt, and gloves. Waiting for the race to start and the first couple miles I definitely would have appreciated a buff (my nose was so cold!) and hat, but both would have been completely unnecessary after a few miles, so I’m glad I didn’t have them. I took the tech shirt off around mile 14 and tied it around my waist.
I also wore a hydration belt that was loaded with my phone, 8 fruit leathers, and two bottles of my homemade sports drink (honey, lime, himalayan salt, water). Once the water bottles were empty (around mile 15) I filled them with gatorade at the water stations. This worked well because the water stations are a little spread out at the Veteran’s race (every 2 or so miles, sometimes less, sometimes more) and I’ve found when I sip drinks it’s much easier for me than gulping cupfuls. The fruit leathers worked well as fuel – I stumbled upon this right before my last long training run, when I realized I didn’t have any fuel, but did have Aldi fruit leathers. They’re flat and pack well, taste great, and digest easily. I ate one at miles 3, 6, and 9, took a GU from a water stop at mile 12, fruit leather at 15 and 18, then drink the rest of the way in (my stomach felt ok but the thought of eating something sounded awful). I think I fueled well during the race, but probably could have done better beforehand. I ate two pieces of toast with coffee at 6am and packed a fig granola bar to eat around 7:15, but totally forgot about it until the gun was about to go off. So that was smart. I don’t think it changed the race that much, but still. Rookie mistake.
All in all, it was a great race. The course was a little long – 26.3 (even on their website it’s listed as 26.3, which is baffling to me). I felt like I ran well, pretty consistently (my first half was 2:07, second half 2:11 so I slowed a little, but not trainwreck), and at the finish was pretty certain I could not have pushed more or done much differently during the race. It was a satisfying race and I was really proud of it. Coming back to the marathon now with three kids I feel like I’m mentally tougher – I can recognize during a race when I’m tired or want to walk, but it’s easier for me to push through that and just keep going whereas before I might have given in.
This puts me at 9 marathons, which means marathon #10 should be something fun or special, right? Any suggestions?!?!
On Saturday I ran my eighth marathon, my first since the fall of 2012 (post-Leo). It was hard – harder than I remembered them being – but I came out with a new PR of 4:21:21. I initially hoped to go under 4:20, but with how I felt and how I had to fight the last few miles, I am really happy with the time I got.
So let’s back up.
I started running again – consistently – this past spring when Molly (finally) started sleeping through the night. I had thought about doing a half marathon but wasn’t sure which one to do or if I wanted to put the money into it… and then Kimberly generously registered me for the Fort4Fitness half marathon! Around the same time my friend here in town started training for her first marathon and I said I would be happy to run with her anytime. I jumped in on her long runs and found myself going 12, 15, and then 18 miles easily. I felt really good. I started to wonder if maybe a marathon wasn’t such an impossibility after all. I checked and I could easily switch my Fort4Fitness half registration for the full, so I did. I ran 22 miles by myself one Sunday morning and felt fantastic. I realized when I finished that if I had kept that pace for the whole marathon I would PR. That felt crazy to me and also really exciting.
Race morning I got up and got my stuff together, coated myself with coconut oil to prevent chafing, poured coffee in a large mug, and hopped in the car. I drove down to Fort Wayne and met up with Kimberly, who had graciously picked up my packet for me the night before. We went to the bathroom and talked and I tried not to be nervous. It felt really strange to be running a race again after all this time! We got in the corrals and I saw my friend Richele, who was there to run the 10K. It definitely helped to see her, too, and to feel her excitement for me.
The first 10 miles I felt really good. I don’t think I went out too fast but I did feel like my energy started to flag a bit. Miles 10-20 I held steady and just did the work. Miles 20-26 were hard – I really had to dig in to keep going and to keep moving. I knew going sub 4:20 was looking dicey and at mile 23 I knew that I really needed to push hard if I wanted to PR (previous best 4:22:06). The finish is in the baseball stadium and you run around the bases, which is fun. I went hard and finished really well, which felt good.
I know there are some things I could do differently in the future – most notably a longer training cycle and better fueling (fortunately Kimberly gave me a GU race morning which I took at mile 20 – otherwise I would have not been carrying enough fuel on my own). But for being my first marathon back in four years and for a PR I am so incredibly happy and proud of what I achieved.
I watched Kimberly finish her race (4:23 and a PR for her on a run she intended to do slow and as a training run!) and then I drove home. In true mom-fashion I washed my face with a wet wipe in the car, then stopped at Aldi before I got home so I could grocery shop (I put on a long sleeve shirt over my running clothes so maybe the smell was masked a bit? Let’s hope?). Then I came home and cleaned up the kitchen and showered and took the kids for a walk and made dinner… post-marathon looks a lot different with three kids! I also slept 10 hours last night, which felt amaaaaazing.
The day of the race I couldn’t stop thinking about how hard it was and how much work it took. And one day later I’m already eyeing another marathon in November, debating if maybe I should give it one more go this year.
On an unrelated note, I just paid $18 to renew my domain again for the year, so who knows, maybe I’ll return to marathons and blogging. If I did, what sort of things would you come here to read about?
On Saturday Kimberly and I participated in the Dirty Girl Mud Run. Although labeled Indianapolis, it was actually held at a paintball venue in Anderson, which was more convenient for both of us since it’s a lot closer. I was looking forward to the race beforehand, but as the day got closer and the days got colder, I was a little apprehensive. How much mud could there be with freezing temps (answer: a freakin lot)?
The morning of the race I met Kimberly in Fort Wayne. We did 4 fast (for me) miles, then loaded in to the car with coffee and snacks. The drive to Anderson was just 1.5 hours, which was awesome. We found the paintball place without any trouble. Registration and gear check was set up in a big field that was already pretty muddy.
It was relatively well-marked, but also a little confusing. While the volunteers were very friendly, they didn’t necessarily offer extra information, such as “here’s your bib but you’ll get your safety pins down at gear check,” which meant we did some unnecessary backtracking looking for things. In terms of “flow” it was a little, ahem, muddy. Strangely enough, the hardest thing to find was the start line! We followed a group of ladies and got some help from a volunteer. It was tucked behind a lot of things, including some tank trucks, and completely unlabeled, from what I could tell.
We had signed up for the 9:15am wave, but since nobody asked when we had signed up and we were ready at 9am, we just started then. The first half mile or so was through the forest. This part wasn’t very muddy – more a trail through the woods. We tried to run where we could but it was narrow and a lot of people were walking. The first obstacle was climbing up a huge inflatable pyramid and bouncing down the other side. The next obstacle was climbing up an inflatable pyramid again… but this time you slid down a giant slide into a vat of ice cold muddy water. This was actually pretty fun, although it would have been more fun if it was actually warm out (it was about 35 degrees). A volunteer at the bottom helped you up, which was nice. It was also smart to place this obstacle early in the race, as it forced you to get wet and muddy!
We did a few more obstacles – a waist high wade through a tub of more ice cold mud water, over some muddy hills, up and over a couple walls and across a rope net. Then we hit a long, open stretch of field. The course zigzagged over the field, which would have been fine if we could have run, but the mud was literally up to our ankles, making running difficult or impossible. We were forced to walk much of this, which was slow and tedious. In addition, the field also smelled distinctly of cow manure. We ended up walking back and forth across three or four different fields, with only a few obstacles scattered in between. This was by far the worst part of the course. Fighting across shoe-sucking mud got old, fast, especially when it was 3 miles worth. We saw several ladies who cut across the course and honestly, I can understand why they did. This part of the mud run wasn’t really fun, except Kimberly and I kept each other laughing.
There were a few more walls to climb up and over, some obstacles to climb under, and a long tube in the mud to crawl through. Also: more ankle-deep mud. Then we were at the finish line, which was a quick run through a long vat of knee-deep water. We finished in just about an hour, which was pretty good considering how slow we had to go through the fields.
Afterwards we picked up our bag from gear check and headed to the area where you could clean up and get changed. We were hoping for actual showers, even if they were community, but instead got a line of garden hoses on a tarp. The water was freezing cold! We got relatively clean, although it was definitely more of a thorough rinsing and not anything that allowed soap. Afterwards we changed in a large tent with tarp floors. Water was already starting to come up through the floors, which made us glad we were there early (I imagine later this was a disaster zone)! Changing clothes when you’re damp, freezing cold, your hands are completely numb, and you’re trying to balance and not fall in puddles of water is a special kind of challenging, let me tell you. We ended up keeping our old shoes on until we got to the car, since the venue field was now a soupy, muddy mess (spectators basically were forced into a bit of mud run themselves!). We cleaned our feet off as best we could at the car and left our shoes in the field, since we didn’t want to put them in the car and we didn’t want to slog back through the mud to put them in the donation bin.
Afterwards we grabbed lunch at Panera (warm soup! hot coffee!), stopped behind Walmart so I could pump in the car, ran a hilarious errand for Kimberly, then headed home.
Overall, I had fun, but I think this was mostly because I got to hang out with Kimberly, who I love spending time with. The race itself would have been more fun if it were a little warmer (not their fault!) and if there had been more opportunity to run rather than endless fields to walk across. There were some awesome-looking food trucks at the venue, which would have been cool to try post-race, but at that point we were just wanting to get out of the mud, not slop around in more of it.
In general, I think the mud run is a great idea. I actually love that it was all women and that it wasn’t timed. It felt really encouraging and accepting of all women. There was a wide range of ages and athletic abilities represented, which was really cool. It would be fun to do with a group of friends, for sure. However, the execution felt a little… slapdash. The venue wasn’t set up very intuitively and the race course could have been more creative. Facebook showed that others were frustrated by the fields, too, and that past years and other locations had more opportunity for running (which would definitely make it more fun!). I will say though the obstacles were fun and the volunteers friendly. The general mood was upbeat, too.
For not running I was surprisingly sore on Sunday morning from fighting to keep my balance in the mud! I’m not sure I would do the mud run again, although I’m definitely glad I’ve done it once. And I’m really glad I got to do it with Kimberly!
Disclosure: I am an ambassador for the Dirty Girl Mud Run Indianapolis, and I was provided an entry to the event free of charge in exchange for a blog post (in March) and a race review. Opinions are honest and written by me.
I’ve added another race to my calendar and it’s different from any other race I’ve ever done. I’m going to be an ambassador for the Dirty Girl Mud Run! Dirty Girl Mud Run is the largest women-only 5K mud and obstacle series in the country. But unlike other mud runs, Dirty Girl Mud Run is all about empowering women and having fun. All obstacles (10-12 in each race!) are optional and all fitness levels are invited to participate. I love this – that it’s about hanging out with friends, getting dirty, and having fun and not about competition. If you’re going to be climbing in mud it should be just for laughs! Basically Dirty Girl just wants women to have fun together and do something unexpected. I’m especially excited because I’ll get to do the race with Kimberly! (Bonus: Dirty Girl also has a philanthropic side and supports Bright Pink, which works to educate women on breast and ovarian cancer.)
Dirty Girl has races all over the country, so find the one nearest you and check it out. Kimberly and I will be slinging mud at the Indianapolis location in May. Want to sign up for a race? Use the code BLOGFRIEND and get $10 off your registration at any Dirty Girl Mud Run location! Let’s get muddy!
So now that I’m back to running, I’ve got a bit of a race plan for 2014. This is subject to change, of course, but here’s where I’m at now:
- March 29: Nutri Run 20K in Fort Wayne with Kimberly
- April 27: Crossroads Half Marathon in Lowell, Indiana with Dave, courtesy of a GroupOn deal (still available!)
- June 7: Indianapolis Women’s Half Marathon (tentative) with friends
- September 14: Presque Isle Marathon in Erie, PA (maybe with my sister again?)
Through the summer I’ll do the trail run 5ks as much as possible. I might also add in a few other races if I find them, they work, and they’re cheap. It would be fun to do another fall marathon in early October, when I’m already trained up, but we’ll see how things work out.
Right now I’m only registered for the Crossroads Half, but the Nutri Run registration isn’t open yet and I’m holding off on pulling the trigger on Presque Isle… for now. I really love that race so if I hear it’s starting to fill up, I’ll be sure to register to save my place.
What does your race schedule look like for this year?
I know we’re already a week in to 2014, but I wanted to do a recap of my running in 2013 (it’s fun for me to look back!). I ran 941.8 miles in 2013. 701 miles were during pregnancy. Remember when I was overdue and still running? Kim had jokingly told me that Kate was waiting until I hit 700 miles to be born. Turns out, she was right! On Friday, November 15 I hit 700 miles. On Sunday, November 17 I tried to run again, but quit after a mile because it was really really uncomfortable (probably because Kate was really really low in my pelvis). I went in to labor that evening and delivered Kate the next morning!
And just in case you wondered what running at 41 weeks pregnant looks like:
I ran one half marathon, in Wisconsin, at 13 weeks pregnant. It was a lot of fun and I felt really good during the race. I came in 2:13:02, just a minute shy of my pregnancy half marathon PR. I also did a lot of trail 5ks throughout the summer, including a few where it was 98 and 99 degrees!
So now that we’re in 2014 and I’ve just started running again, it’s fair enough to talk about some goals and races plans for this year. Initially I was planning on doing a spring marathon and a fall marathon, but right now I’m thinking I’ll scrap the spring marathon because I don’t want to jeopardize my milk supply by jumping right in to intense training. Dave and I are planning on running the Crossroad half marathon in Lowell, Indiana on April 27. Interested in running it? We bought our entries using this GroupOn offer! I’m also considering the Holy Half marathon at Notre Dame University in April and the Women’s Half marathon in June in Indianapolis (hopefully both with friends). During the summer I’ll run the trail 5ks here in town when I can. And then if all goes well, I’m hoping to run the Presque Isle marathon in September. This is my favorite marathon (I’ve ran it twice before) and I’d love to run it again. It’s flat, gorgeous, decently priced, well managed, and near my sister’s house!
For now I’m logging 2 miles at a time, although I think I’ll bump up to 3 soon. So far I’ve been able to keep a decent pace and not feel sore or out of breath, so that’s awesome! It feels so good to run again!
How did running (or exercise) in 2013 go for you? What goals do you have for 2014?