Today I kicked off my 2013 race season with the Sweetheart Run 10 mile in Mathomedi, MN. This was my 2nd time running the race. The last time was in 2010. I’m attempting to reclaim my AG winner title in the White Bear Grand Prix this year. This was race #2 in the series, but something about running on a frozen lake for #1 just doesn’t appeal to me. I’d forgotten that A) the course was much hillier than I remembered. B) Country roads in the winter are typically not clear of ice and snow. C) Running a 10 mile race in February is generally a stupid idea.
I had Yaktrax. They were in my car. Which doesn’t help much when most of the out and back course was on snow-covered roads. When I did the race in 2010, I don’t remember the footing being such an issue. It was also much colder that year (no frozen eyelashes this year), so that probably helped keep the roads runable. I’m still nursing the hammy injury from my failed ultra attempt at the end of December (still need to write about that, maybe when my ego heals a bit more). Not the best conditions to be running under my first race back. Towards the end, I felt it start to fatigue and with marathon training underway, I slowed down way more than I would have liked to keep from re-tweaking it. I also got lost. I missed a turn right at the end. Luckily I wasn’t the only one who missed it and only one poor soul followed me. Sorry 😦 Even with everything, I still ran a minute faster than my attempt a few years ago. Ideally, I would have loved to have been in the 1:20-1:25 range, but looks like I’ll be saving that for the 10 mile race that I’m coaching runners for this summer Training starts at the end of the month if you want to join one of our weekend running groups. Email for more information 🙂 (Only shameless plug, I promise!) Next race is a few weeks away. A 5k that is also part of the Grand Prix. Last time I ran this one was in 2010 as well. While I probably won’t beat my PR set last year at the Minneapolis Duathlon, I should have no problem demolishing my old time for that course.
Official time 1:31:31
5th in my AG
13th place in the women’s division
I’ve been running long enough that I know my body well. But every so often, it still likes to surprise me. One of those surprises happened today while running the Waddell and Reed Kansas City Marathon. I’ve never gone into a race feeling so unprepared and under-trained. I kept having flashbacks of the near disaster of a race at Women Rock half marathon a little over a month ago. I seriously debated up until this morning if I was even going to attempt to run. A half marathon or 25k, I can fake my way through. A marathon is a totally different beast. Without decent training and proper fuel and hydration, things can get bad fast.
I didn’t train. No excuses. I flat-out didn’t put the effort into training that I should have. My longest run was my trail 25k back in July. Nothing longer than 10-11 miles since then. Sure I’ve had some decent mileage weeks, but I never got in that 20 mile run, or even an 18 or 16 miler. In fact, I haven’t done a run of that distance since Grandma’s Marathon in 2010. A long training run was much-needed.
When it became apparent that training wasn’t going to happen how I would have liked, I switched my focus from racing to using this as a training run and gear up for the Huff 50k. Just how much of a disaster I was expecting this to be would give me a good idea of how much work would need to be done to get me ready for my first ultra. I texted the two friends that were planning on running down there with me to see what their game plans were. Marny, who I should probably mention just gave birth a few months ago, was planning on running with the 3:40 pace group. Knowing Marny, I had a feeling this would end up being more like 3:30. The girl is a rock star! Had I actually trained, then I would have been tempted to join her. Then I talked to Ammanda. She was planning on running with a few of her friends and starting with the 4:40 pace group. At first that sounded so slowwwwwwwwwwww, and Ammanda knew I’d probably be shooting for a little faster time, but still invited me to join them, at least for a while. Rethinking my race strategy, this actually sounded like a decent plan. I could run with them for a bit, see how I felt. If I was sucking, I’d stick with them, if I was feeling good, I could always pull ahead. I made plans to meet Ammanda in the Crown Center lobby around 6 am and my race day plans were set.
The morning of the race, my mom came and picked me up from the hotel I was staying at. I’d learned my lesson at Grandma’s not to share a room with my daughter the night before a race. I don’t know if I slept at all that night. So I ended up at one of the hotels across the street from them so I could at least try to get a good night’s sleep before the race. Other than waking up every few hours in panic mode, I was at least able to attempt 7 hours of sleep. My mom called at 5: 30 to let me know she was waiting outside with my requested breakfast of bagels, peanut butter, and bananas. I nibbled on my food and sipped water as she drove me down to the starting line. Somehow along the way, we ended up in Kansas. She’d taken the wrong exit, despite having lived in KC for the first 45 years of her life. Luckily, she realized her mistake as we were driving over the stockyards, turned on the GPS, and got us back into the right state. I met Ammanda and her friends, chatted for a bit, then got in line for one of the shopping center restrooms (no need to use a porta potty! YAY!!!) After I was done using the restroom, we headed out to the bag drop and it was time to line up and run. We found the 4:40 group and we were off!
As soon as we started, I realized I’d left my Garmin and sunglasses in my bag. No worries on the Garmin, this would actually be a good thing later in the race, but the sunglasses, I was missing once the sun came up. The race started off up Grand towards the Sprint Center and the Power and Light District. We took in some amazing views of downtown before turning back towards Crown Center. The first few miles were as hilly as promised. After the first uphill into the Power and Light district, we came back down, had a nice little flat section as we passed Union Station, then it was up biggest hill on the course to the Liberty Memorial. Right about this point, I was happy I’d decided to stick it out with the 4:40 group. I made it up the hill still running, sort of. We looped up to the memorial and back for a nice little flat section before another steep little hill. 3 hills in 4 miles. The hill training out at Afton was paying off.
The next few miles took us down to Westport where I was greeted with the smell of BBQ and bar after bar. Food and a beer was really starting to sound good at this point. Right around mile 5, Ammanda’s friend was starting to struggle. Another one of their friends had caught up to us and we were falling behind the 4:50 group. Ammanda was having a hard time staying at that pace, so she started to push ahead and I followed her. We caught back up to the 4:50 and had the 4:40 group in our sights when I decided that all that water I’d had before the race needed to go and made a pit stop. When I got out of the porta potty, I’d been passed by Ammanda’s friends and the 5:00 group. Knowing that Ammanda couldn’t be too far ahead, I picked up the pace a bit, found a good rhythm and started knocking off pace groups. I got ahead of the 5:00 group, and started in on the 4:50 group. We ran through Westport towards the Plaza. I made up some time on this section with lots of flat and downhill to really pick up speed. I met Ammanda’s friends as we were leaving the Plaza and ran with them for a bit before they told me to go give Ammanda their love. I caught up to the 4:50 group, where I was heckled for having obviously lost my pace group. The next section of race took me through some beautiful neighborhoods and rolling hills. I kept my lookout for Ammanda’s pink compression socks and would get excited as soon as I spotted a pair, only to see it wasn’t Ammanda when I caught up. I passed the half way mark and then the 4:40 group. I was feeling really great and had set my goal to make it to the 18 mile mark where I would reassess and come up with the rest of my game plan. Somewhere around mile 15 or 16 and after pit stop #2, I finally caught up to Ammanda. She’d been cruising along and was coming up on the 4:30 group. We were slowed down a bit as we hit the section of the course that was in the process of being repaved and had just been stripped, leaving uneven pavement to run on for that stretch. Other than feeling a few tweaks start to show up in my IT band just outside of my knee, I was feeling good. We picked it up again as we got back on to decent road and caught up to the 4:30 group just past mile marker 20. Other than my pit stops, I’d run the entire 20+ miles and wasn’t about to stop now. My new goal was to hit mile 23, leaving me with just a 5k to the end. I was hoping that my legs would still be feeling as good and I’d be able to cruise into the finish.
We met up with Ammanda’s family just before the last hill leading into the homestretch. We got hooked up with some jolly ranchers and then took off up the hill. I lost Ammanda around this point, but kept plugging on. I ran for a bit with a girl from Wichita, then kept on going, hoping to make up a little time on the final downhill back towards Crown Center. 23 miles down, 24, 25…. I picked it up a bit for that last mile. I felt strong as I came into the finish line.
My mom was waiting at the finish line. Her first remark when she saw me was how much better I looked than at Grandma’s. I felt much better. I didn’t walk. In fact, I got faster as the race went along. My final time was 4:27:22, just 4 minutes slower than Grandma’s, that I trained for like mad. The difference between then and now? Experience. I know my body much better and have learned when to reach and when to hold back. I’d only had 2 half marathons under my belt in 2010. Now I’m closer to a dozen, with 6 or 7 of those this year alone. But I also learned my lesson on bailing on the training. It’s stupid kids! Don’t do it!
This weekend marked the 5th and final race of the Team Ortho Monster Marathon Series, the Monster Dash Half Marathon. 4 half marathons and a 5k later, I can finally fill my medal holder with all 5 medallions.
This is my 2nd attempt at the series. Last year, I was one race shy after having to pull out of the Minneapolis Marathon for multiple reasons. Wanting the bragging rights awarded by having a full medal holder, I signed up again for the series last year at packet pick up for Monster Dash during early bird registration. The original plan had been to run 3 half marathons, a full marathon, and a 5k. After a strong start at Polar Dash, the rest of the year was a little rocky. Learning how to juggle my new life as a single mom, running became a way for me to stay sane. Training for any single race got shuffled down the list of priorities. My goal for the year was to be half marathon ready at any given time. I accomplished this. Dropping down from the full marathon at the Minneapolis Marathon to the half, I ran the next two half marathons at an insanely dependable 1:50 (and a 1:51 at women rock. Talk about being consistent). Ready to step it up a notch, I set another PR, this time in the 5k, winning the Minneapolis Duathlon 5k. Which brings me to the Monster Dash. (more…)
After having to cut short my attempt with my 4-year-old for the Welcome Fall Virtual 5k being done by my friend Amy at Pumpkin to Princess, I decided to give it a go with my trusty running partner, Wonder Pup. At least with her, I’m always prepared for a poop emergency. With the cooler mornings, Wonder Pup and I have been tearing it up on the roads as of late. She’s loving her daily 2-3 mile runs, and I’m loving that it keeps her from eating lawn furniture. It’s a win-win.
After dropping my daughter off at school, we took to the roads for a quick 3.1. She quickly figured out that it was a race day, and took off full go down the road. After several near run ins with squirrels, we finally made it home, without having to stop once. The last time we did a 5k, I may have cheated a bit and stopped the watch for potty breaks. Considering how long it takes her to find the perfect swatch of grass, I figure her actual old 5k time was a good minute or two longer than my Garmin time, meaning she set a new 5k PR. She does need a little work on pacing. She went out a bit fast and was paying for it that last mile. Rookie mistake, but she’ll learn eventually. At least she has a good coach to help her learn to reel it in a little those first few miles. Now to figure out how to get her to run around a track without getting distracted by squirrels and garbage trucks.
Yesterday when I picked my daughter up from school, she saw that I had my running gear on and immediately started in on 20 questions, runners style.
“Mommy, why are you wearing your running clothes?”
“I ran to the school today.”
“How far did you run?”
“About 4-5 miles.”
“No, I think you ran 22 miles!”
Laughing. “Not today, hun. But in a few weeks I’m going to run 26 miles!”
“Yep, you might get to come watch me.”
“Can I run too?”
“Well 26 miles is really far. How about we go to the park and run 3 miles after lunch?”
So there we had it, our pre-nap wear out a preschooler plan. I’d signed us both up for my friend Amy’s Pumpkin to Princess Welcome Fall Virtual 5k to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through Team in Training. We headed home, changed her into some shorts, had a quick snack, and we were off to the park. One of the local parks has a path that circles a pond/marsh that’s home to lots of water fowl and turtles. There’s a bridge that crosses the pond about halfway around the loop, making it easy to measure off a 4-year-old friendly running route. Now 3 miles may sound like a lot for a preschooler, but you haven’t met my child. She never walks. Until it’s time to run. 100 feet into our run, she decided she had enough and wanted to walk. But she didn’t want to go home either. So we kept going on our walk/jog. We’d race to park benches and the bridge. Then about a mile in and about a mile from the nearest bathroom that she had to poop. Turns out 4 year olds suffer from runners tummy just like grown ups. Only it kicks in way earlier for them. We began our long slow walk back to the park entrance. There were stops to watch the schools of fish from the bridge and pick up feathers and sticks for her nature collection. When asked if she wanted to run some more, she replied very matter of fact, “It’s hard to run fast when you gotta go poop.” Yeah kid, I’ve been there and know the feeling. I finally spotted a porta potty. When I tried to get her moving in the direction, she told me she didn’t have to go anymore. Well, by now the runner’s tummy was starting to hit me, and instead of heading out for another short lap, we hopped in the car and raced home to the comfort of our own bathroom. We made it roughly half a 5k (1.6 miles) before calling it quits. Wonder if Amy will special order us only half a medal…
I’ve literally had no energy to post the last two days. I’m still mentally and physically drained from my half marathon on Saturday. It’s one race experience that I would love to forget ever happened. So I’m going to write about it so the story will always be online to come back and haunt me.
I was looking forward to the Women Rock Half Marathon. Firefighters, bling, and bubbly at the finish line. A fast, downhill course. Lots of friends and family running with me. What more could a girl ask for? Apparently next year, I need to add buses that drop you off on time for the race to my request list. That’s right… by the time I made the 1/4 mile hike from where the buses unloaded to the actual starting line, the race had started without me and hundreds of others that had been on other buses arriving a little late to the party also. What was supposed to be a nice easy warm up and training run for my upcoming marathon quickly turned into a real life game of Frogger, trying to weave in and out of the walkers and slower runners to catch up to my pace group.
About a mile in, I spotted a familiar red ponytail bobbing and weaving in and out of the crowd as well. I bulldozed my way through the crowd to catch up to Moe, my co-coach at the Y. She’d been on a late bus as well and was busting ass to get up to the faster pace groups. After a string of profanity that would make a drunken sailor blush, we decided to team up to find the best route out of the traffic. Moe is one of those disgustingly fast people who qualify for Boston without trying on like their 3rd marathon attempt. So I was a little surprised when I found myself feeling pretty comfortable settling into a sub 8:00/mi pace on a pretty warm morning. We kept each other company for about the first 7 miles or so, until I spotted the porta potties where we had been dropped off and no line. I made a quick pit stop and told her to go on ahead.
The next few miles were a breeze. I was secretly trying to catch up with Moe, thought I spotted her, but it turns out it was some other redhead in a lime green sports bra. What are the odds? I was still making decent time and then it hit. My arch started to cramp. Shit. The last thing I need is plantar fasciitis 8 weeks before the KC marathon. Doing some quick math in my head, my shoes should still be good for another hundred miles or so. Right around the time I was solving for metric units to calculate the forces being placed on my plantar fascia with each step, I felt that not so pleasant twitch start in my calf. I still had about 3 miles to go and the worst uphill of the course. It was also a long, hot, shadeless stretch into downtown from here. Grabbing water at almost every water stop, I tried my best to stay on top of fluids. My pace slowed down to about 9:00-10:00/mi pace. The last mile was a down hill into downtown. Instead of running right into the arms of a sexy, partially clad firefighter, I found myself being escorted by a couple of fully clothed volunteers to the medical tent.
Normally, I would welcome a post race massage, but when it involves grinding into the knots that had formed in my calves, hammys, and quads, there isn’t enough Enya music and scented oil that would take me to my happy place. It didn’t help matters much that both doctors working on getting me cooled off and stretched out happened to work at the two clinics I send most of my athletes to, so when they saw my name on the chart, they just had to rub it in that I, of all people, should know better than to let myself get that dehydrated. Yep, I was kicking my own ass for that one. It just so happened that just about every runner I know was there, and were waiting for me to finish so we could have a little post race bubbly. My first visit to the medical tent in 40+ races was seen by several of my friends. My reputation as a badass runner was shattered. Turns out I’m a mere mortal in the running world.
I was tackled by Moe as I left the medical tent and forced to take a photo with her and several incredibly chiseled shirtless men. Twist my arm. Had I not felt the need to puke, I would have been all about getting some digits. Found my sister and another friend before heading to the post race party to drink some really warm and flat champagne. Ok, so that was probably about as smart as Team Ortho not having any porta potties in the post race party area. My sincerest apologize to the friendly volunteer I tackled trying to get out of the drunk tank to the nearest bathroom.
While it wasn’t my greatest racing moment, I still managed to finish in 1:51, and that’s including my pit stop. Had I stuck with Moe, we would have likely been sub 1:45. We’re already planning the strategy for the next race we end up running together. Which would be to get on an earlier bus, find a fast pace group, and bust ass.
This morning was the Minneapolis Duathlon, the 4th of 5 races for the Team Ortho Monster Marathon Series. I’ll make a shameful confession here. I don’t own a bike. It’s not that I have no desire to have one. Quite the opposite actually. I’m seriously afraid that if I start cycling, I’ll get addicted. I’m also one of those people that if I do something, I want to do it well. Which means a decent road bike. And those things are freaking expensive!! So until I save up a little to buy some toys, I’m stuck running the 5k. (more…)