races · running

marathon #10: Fort4Fitness

IMG_20171005_195903_563

At the end of September I ran the Fort4Fitness marathon in Fort Wayne.  This was their second year hosting the marathon and my second year running it (you can see my post from 2016 here).  I like this marathon because it’s close to my house (I get up race morning and drive down), the parking is amazing, it’s pretty affordable, I get to see Kimberly, and last year the post-race food was awesome.  My only complaint in 2016 was the looped course – we ended up coming back around behind the start of every other race (10k, half, and 4 mile), which meant you spent a lot of time weaving around people (including a TON of walkers and strollers for the 4 mile).

I came in to the race feeling really good about my training – I was consistently hitting sub 9 pace in long runs.  I normally don’t have a goal for a race other than PR and have fun, but this year I went in with a sub-4 goal, which I knew would be challenging for me, but doable.

Race morning I drove down with my coffee and breakfast.  I got my packet and sat in the car while I pinned on my bib.  The weather was cool and perfect.  I walked to the start and got ready to run.  I planned to start with the 4 hour pace group and then, if possible, move away from them in the back end of the race.  The first mile in we already hit a snag – the race was being directed incorrectly, so we were running the last loop first.  Not a huge deal, but the last loop is a little longer than the first, which meant that instead of looping around in front of every other race we would, once again, be looping in behind them.  ARGH.  I figured we would probably get directions to do the first loop at the end, but I wasn’t sure and it was annoying to go through every mile marker and split and know I was actually ahead of what it read.  In any case, I saw Kimberly at mile 4 and got to run with her for a few minutes, which was awesome.  I felt strong at that point and it was exciting to see someone I knew.

IMG_20171006_152214_744

We kept trucking around and I was still feeling good and running a bit ahead of the 4 hour pace group.  I love some of the neighborhoods the race goes through – people really show up and cheer and put on music and have signs and inflatables, tissues and snacks, etc.  It’s really great.  Around mile 15 I started to feel like I was flagging a bit and my stomach felt really off.  I tried some gatorade at a water station to see if that would help… it definitely was NOT the right choice.  By mile 17 I felt awful – my stomach felt crampy and I was really tired.  I knew I needed to eat and drink more but my stomach didn’t want anything.  At mile 19 I used a port-a-potty (I think the first time I’ve ever used one midrace?).  I was walking a little here and there but mostly running, although my pace was slipping.  The 4 hour pace team passed me somewhere, but I’m not sure where.  I knew sub-4 was gone, so I tried to focus on just PRing (and really just freaking finishing).  I rolled in at 4:16:29 – a new PR but definitely not the sub-4 I thought I could do.

IMG_20170930_125105_675

Post-race I mostly felt frustrated.  I knew a PR was great and I was happy with it, but I also felt frustrated that I didn’t do all I knew I could do.  Still, it’s one race.  I’ve had a string of great races since the fall of 2012, PRing each time, so maybe it’s just par for the course to have a lackluster one in the midst.  They can’t all be stellar and a PR is still a PR!  Since the race I’ve thought about running a marathon on my own, just to hit sub 4 and prove to myself that I can, but I’m still debating if I really feel like doing that or if I just want to table it for now and go hard for it in the spring.  We’ll see.

As for the Fort Wayne marathon, I’m on the fence if I’ll do it again if they don’t make some course changes.  They did direct us to do the first loop last, so we got the correct race distance, but the looping of the course does not work.  And while the location is awesome and the free race photos are great, the post race food was pretty disappointing this year – generic pretzels and granola bars, bananas, apples, and chocolate milk.  It’s not terrible, but compared to their first year it was a huge difference (and so much worse).

One more thing, I did receive an email from the race saying I won a prize in my age group (I got 5th or 6th?) and that they’d be letting me know more soon… that was a couple weeks ago.  I emailed them again to check in about it or see if it was a mistake and still haven’t heard anything… so that’s neat.

Race #10 in the books.  I have ideas for what I’d like to do for 2018 but nothing definite yet.  Stay tuned…

races · running

another dam 50k

I was nervous going in to this 50k.  It was an all new distance for me, I had very little trail running as part of my training (I think I logged 33.5 miles, total, over 2 separate runs.  All the rest were on roads), and I just wasn’t sure what to expect.  The week leading up to the race was predicting an 80% chance of thunderstorms, so when the forecast cleared I was really happy to see a sunny day, even if it was supposed to be 87°.  We also tapered for four weeks before the race, which was by far the longest taper I’ve ever done.  I just wasn’t sure what to expect.  I knew I could finish, but I didn’t know if it would be ugly, slow, and painful.

Kimberly and I left Indiana on Friday afternoon, happily joined by Pattie, a fellow runner, Kimberly’s best friend from college, and our designated crew chief for the weekend.  Pattie drove 11 hours to Indiana and another 2 to Ohio so she could sit outside for 6+ hours, hold on to all our bags, and be there when we passed on each loop, ready to provide anything we might need (and I packed it all: extra shoes, socks, shirts, shorts, GU chomps, drinks, etc.).  She took pictures, cheered for us, and was such a steady and wonderfully familiar presence at each of the loops.

18814883_10100411163628206_4989698022562357155_o
Kimberly and I at the start

Kimberly and I made a plan the night before to run together but to also run our own races, giving each other permission to go ahead or drop behind depending on what we needed.  We lined up with the other 100 or so runners and the race began 3 minutes early, with the race director shrugging and saying, “Everybody ready then?  Okay.  Start.”

The first loop Kimberly and I hung together.  We tried to hold ourselves back, wanting to pace ourselves as we got a feel for the course.  Three miles in, looping over gorgeous, shaded trails, rocks under our feet, I told Kimberly, “this is so fun!”  I realized even as I said it that it might be premature to call a race fun, with still 28 more miles to go.

Here’s the thing: it wasn’t.  I truly had the most fun at this race of any I’ve ever done.  It never lost its appeal for me and even deep into the fourth and final lap I found myself grinning as I ran alone through the trees.  It was the best.

18891784_10100412544336256_4890646505024885241_o
Finishing lap three with Kimberly

Kimberly and I ran the first loop together, separated for the second and some of the third, and started the fourth loop together.  Kimberly pretty quickly told me to go ahead, as she could feel the heat starting to mess with her stomach and head.  At the start of each loop was the dam, an almost mile-long flat stretch in full sun.  It was long and hot, but I knew once I was over it I could get back in the trails and the trees and play.  Miles 19-24 were probably the hardest, as they are in the marathon, but I never doubted I would finish.  At mile 26 my Garmin died, so I estimated for myself when I passed 26.2.  It was all new distance from here.  I was surprised to find around mile 27 my legs actually felt really good – like they got a second wind.  I thought I would walk more of the last loop but I really didn’t – I found myself wanting to push ahead and keep moving.  I fell once around mile 29 or so and whacked my hip into a rock, but I quickly popped up and kept going.  One last turn through the aid station for water and gatorade and fruit and then it was the stretch to home.  I finished with a huge smile on my face at 5:58:26 and immediately gushed to the timers, “that was the best!”

18954725_10100412544401126_1666988569609284589_o

I recognize that the race could have gone very differently for me – as runners, you never quite know what the day will hold.  Will your stomach act up?  Will you get dehydrated?  Will your legs just feel tired and heavy?  Saturday was one of those awesome days where everything came together for me and I’m so grateful.  I drank a ton of water (I think I refilled my water bottles 14 different times) and early on could tell the GU was not sitting well, so I was able to switch to PBJ and fruit at the aid station.

I’ve been riding the 50k high all week.  I was pretty sore Sunday evening.  Monday morning I attempted to run to shake out my legs and only made it a quarter mile before I thought my quads were shredding.  But Tuesday a few miles felt really good and I’m excited to get back out there again tomorrow.  It definitely made me eager to keep chasing running goals – new times, new distances, new races, new experiences with friends.  And it was a great reminder of all the things I love about running – the hard work and sweat, the challenge, the reward and the high, the pure fun and adventure, the time outside, the time alone, the time with friends.

Many, many thanks to my friends who logged miles with me, to Dave for fielding kids and indulging my thirst for miles, to Pattie for crewing and cheering and supporting, to Kimberly for always being my friend in running and adventure and life.

running · Uncategorized

hitting my stride

I’m deep in my training for the Another Dam 50K with Kimberly.  Last weekend I ran 24 miles early on a Friday morning – I got up at 3:15am and was out the door at 4 with my pepper spray and my headlamp.  At 5 I met up with some friends, ran with them til 7, then finished out my run solo.  I got in the door at 7:59am, with a 9:38 pace that would have put me on track for a PR in the marathon.  This morning was supposed to be a rest day but my legs were itching to run.  I flew through 5 miles, averaging 8:56 pace for the whole run, and it felt fun.  I wanted to do more.  This is the part of training I love, when I’m getting strong and the miles are happy instead of just work.  When my stride feels long and tall and quick.  When I come back euphoric instead of just tired.  When getting out the door is easy because I want to be out there, not “have to.”  When the sweat feels like a reward instead of a wringing out of energy.  This is why I run.

races · running

my first ultra

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!!

running · running total · Uncategorized

2017

I started 2017 with 7 miles.  I took a couple days off at the end of 2016 for a tight groin muscle, but wanted to start 2017 running.  I’m glad I did.  The morning was cold and dark and quiet and I had the streets and lingering Christmas lights all to myself.

I don’t know how many miles I ran in 2016.  I started logging miles, took a break, logged some more, then forgot again.  I ran 2 marathons and PRed both, which was unexpected and so exciting.  I learned to run in the cold and actually enjoy it.  I logged miles with friends and plenty alone.  I ran circles around the pond and up and down the main streets.  I got faster, slower, faster again.  I found more of myself in the steady drum of my feet, cleared my head, worked out emotions, rehashed conversations, made mental notes, prayed, cried, and recited scraps of poetry.  I created mantras and then never spoke them.  I wondered what would be next, worried about what would be next, pushed after what was next.  I wore out shoes and recharged my Garmin, I chafed and blistered and lost a toenail (maybe forever).  I grew leaner, stronger.  I remembered what I loved in running, in myself.

I’ve been pregnant or nursing for some, if not most, of every year since 2011.  This will be my first year back just me and I’m really excited to see what I can do, what else will wake up inside of me.  Some thoughts:

  • This 50K in June with Kimberly.  It’s really cheap and doing an ultra (or more) has been a goal of mine since 2010.  Starting with a 50K would be a great way to test the waters and really doable from a training perspective.
  • My tenth marathon.  Not sure if I’ll go big (something like Chicago or Cleveland or Indianapolis or Grand Rapids) or small and scenic, like Presque Isle.
  • PR the half marathon.  My current half marathon PR is from May of 2010, so I’d like to go after a new one.
  • Keep running for fun and for me.  It’s easy for me to sometimes get lost in the “should” of running – I’m training for a race or to keep weight off – but when it comes down to it I run because I love it and because it makes me more me.

I’d love to do some strength training and yoga in there, too, but I’m not certain enough that I’ll really do it to make it an official goal.  But maybe!

 

running

winter running

img_20161211_065850
Cold but beautiful run during Winter Storm Caly.

I’ve never been a huge winter runner.  I didn’t enjoy how cold it was and I hated feeling like I might fall at any moment.  I was perfectly happy to move to the treadmill in the winter and skip going outside.  But Dave has long encouraged me to give winter running a chance.  We both know that being outside – cold or hot – is good for our overall mood for the day.  With his encouragement and some running friends who also go out in the cold, I’ve only been on the treadmill once this winter and that was only because we had moved the treadmill out to the mudroom and I wanted to test the new setup.

But there were a few key items that have made going out possible – and enjoyable.

yaktrax: These have made a huge difference!  A friend of ours gave these to Dave but they fit my shoes, too, and they’re a total gamechanger.  They’re completely comfortable but give me 100% confidence on the snow and ice.  I can run completely normal without having to watch where I step/being nervous about falling/sliding around.  They are so awesome and well worth the cost.

buff: I like the buff around my neck for some extra warmth (particularly on subzero windchill days) but especially hooked from the top of my head down and around my chin.  I can pull it up if my mouth or nose get cold, but they generally stay pretty warm from my breath.  However, my chin still gets cold and this helps.  I’ve also used the buff as an ear warmer.  And if you do put it over your face, it’s easy to rotate it as you run when it gets damp and frozen over your mouth.

bandana: I have three bandanas that we bought for cheap at Walmart.  I tend to have a lot of snot when I run at any time, but especially in the winter.  These are great for blowing my nose while I run and are so much easier and sturdier than fumbling with tissues.

I also wear a headlamp around my waist to help me see and be seen.  I carry pepper spray when I run alone in the dark.  And I layer layer layer.  This morning it was 9 and felt like -1, so I wore two pairs of socks, a pair of capri leggings, full-length leggings (these are the only pair I own and I love them), 2 long sleeve tech shirts, a fleece zip up, 2 pairs of knit gloves (although I ditched one pair fairly quickly into the run), a buff, and a fleece hat.

And while I have really loved getting outside and enjoyed some really beautiful quiet mornings in the snow, I will say the one drawback of winter running is how long it takes to get ready!  IT TAKES SO LONG TO GET DRESSED!  We’ll see how cold it gets this winter and if there’s a threshold to how cold it can be for me to still run!

Do you run in the winter?  How cold is too cold for you?

races · running

marathon #9 – veteran’s marathon

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!

img_20161112_185942

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?!?!