Category Archives: Racing

St. Paddy’s Run Half-Marathon Race Recap

As I briefly mentioned at the end of my post last week, I—along with the rest of the green-and-beer loving Americans of the running world—ran a St. Paddy’s Day race this weekend. I didn’t spend a lot of time prefacing this week with a blog post full of goals and nerves, because this wasn’t really an A-race for me. In fact, I wasn’t even looking at  it so much as a race as a training run; a training run in which I would wear a bib and get to practice running in the race atmosphere.

My main goal was to stay at marathon goal pace (7:55-ish) for the entire race. I also wanted this pace to feel do-able—comfortable enough to cruise in, but quick enough to feel like effort. If this was accomplished, I was going to be happy.

The other goal I had going into this race was to really practice and hone-in my race brain. This included not going out too fast, conserving energy, ideally negative-splitting, and generally getting a good “race-day” feel.

One condition I had to accomplish before toeing the start line was to do a 7-mile “warm up” beforehand, in order to get my prescribed 20 miles in for the day. I was probably most nervous for this part. I knew on fresh legs, 7:55 miles wouldn’t be a problem. But after 7 miles and a questionable night of sleep beforehand, I felt a little less in control. Not to mention the fact that only two days before, I had an intense speed workout that pretty much kicked my confidence and butt to the curb.

Nevertheless, 5 am rang in on Saturday—and out I went for a slow 7 miles. I didn’t wear headphones (saved the jams for the actual race), and I focused on staying slow and in control. Before I knew it, an hour had passed, and I was back home changing clothes and scarfing down a banana and Picky Bar. 15 minutes later, and BF and I were on the road to Tacoma.

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After a quick packet pick-up and finding the best race-day parking spot EVER, we leisurely rolled up to the start line, along with several other green-and-shamrock clad runners. I even managed to spot a few friends who were running—which is always fun. (Tacoma is the home of my alma mater—Logger for life!)

I kid you not...this is where we parked. High fives all around.

I kid you not…this is where we parked. High fives all around.

The gun went off right on time—and off we went!

The better part of the first mile was largely downhill, which kind of screwed up my “start slow” plan…but I wasn’t worried. A little padding time would help with the hilly section I knew would come up. I planned to settle into 7:55 in the second mile and cruise from there.

There was a lot of leap-frogging going on during the first few miles. I had a private chuckle to myself whenever I’d pass someone and they’d immediately sprint back ahead of me. I didn’t let it egg me on…and if anything, it was a good reminder of what happens when you waste too much energy early. “Even pacing…stick to your plan,” is what I kept telling myself.

1-3

After the first three miles, the course started along a long, flat stretch of waterfront that I have always loved running on. The last time I ran this route was during the Tacoma Marathon, so I was happy to reestablish a better relationship with the terrain.

I felt fantastic. 7:55 felt very in control and comfortable—and luckily at this point we had thinned out to the point where I didn’t have girls anxiously gunning to run by me. I knew I was probably the 20th woman or so, and while this little fact added a competitive glimmer to my brain, I didn’t let it take over my plan.

I kept cruising, enjoying the scenery and being in a race. I knew that miles 6-7-8 were going to be hillier, so I prepped myself to bust through those.

4-6

As the hillier, neighborhood miles approached, it started to rain. Not the worst thing in the world—a lot of the time rain feels nice in the middle of the race—but I did have a chafing concern.

And here’s where I potentially TMI, but it happens: My legs were already a little raw from how sweaty my Thursday workout was, and despite my better attempts at BodyGlide and bandaids…I knew that they’d be no match for wet shorts. No matter. If my biggest complaint was mild inner-thigh stinging, then I was doing good.

The hillier miles were a little tough, but really nothing too bad. I actually enjoyed the change of pace/terrain, and it was fun to bolt on the downhills. Around Mile 8, I took a couple Sport Beans and got a big surge of energy. I was excited to head back on the flat waterfront again and finish this thing.

7-8

I should also state at this point that I’d been consistently running down a couple girls for the first 9 miles. My technique would be to find a runner whose pace I liked and stick right behind them. This really helped simulate a good race feel, and I made sure (at least until mile 9ish) that they were within my goal-pace-range.

That’s when I came across green bow girl. This chick had—frankly—the prettiest stride I’ve ever seen (is that weird to say?), and she was holding an incredibly steady pace up ahead of me, and I decided she would be the next target. Once I caught her, I felt great and assumed we were right within my right time frame.

The 7:35 on my watch said otherwise.

But, at this point—I knew my primarily goal would be accomplished, so I decided to have a little fun at the end.

So, green bow and I ran stride-for stride, me right behind her. I could tell she was into it though—so it turned into more of a joint effort than a caddy girl-race. The rain had let up at this point and it was time for a gut-out to the finish. I still didn’t feel like I was all-out though, which was incredibly encouraging. I was really pumped at the fact that a 7:40 pace after 17 miles of running for the day felt good.

9-11

With about 2 miles to go, an interesting twist in the plot developed: the half-marathon runners merged with both the 5k AND the 10k. The two races had started after the half, and although the runners of the two races were already done…the walkers were not.

So, despite the better efforts of the race officials to keep the lanes designated to walkers and runners, the last two miles was a weave-fest of the half-marathon runners and the 5 and 10k walkers. It was a bit frustrating, but I suppose it also kept things interesting. My iPod had also died at this point so it was fun to chime into the mid-race chatter.

I had passed green bow at this point, along with a few other girls. I knew they were hot on my trail, and in the final mile I decided to not let any of them pass me. It helped that we were all dodging people, so none of us could really see the others through the crowds.

With less than a half mile left, it was time to bust some booty. The only other thing I wanted to accomplish for the day was a strong finish, which I was set and ready for. That is…up until I remembered/realized that the finish was straight up a marginally steep hill. If the hill didn’t crush my sprinting-finish effort, then the corresponding people-dodging definitely did. It wasn’t pretty.

Check out the end there...NOT COOL.

Check out the end there…NOT COOL.

But before I knew it, I crested the last ascent where we were siphoned off into a separate “half-marathoners” section (better late than never…I guess). I ran the last hundred yards or so to the finish line, tried my best to smile, and clicked my watch to stop.

12-14

1:40:47, 12th woman overall

My second fastest half-marathon time, a negative split, and on the tail end of a hard week and a 7-mile warm up.

I was pretty excited, to say the least. Good work Tacoma, you redeemed yourself.

I got my medal, a water bottle, and quickly got back to the finish line so I could see BF finish. I managed to see Lauren accomplish a huge half PR with a smile on her face which was just great, and before I knew it—there was BF, pulling in an awesome 1:54. Once again, I was marveled by his natural athleticism—he didn’t train for this race and had taken the entire week off beforehand. Seriously dude?

It was at this point that I saw the chafing damage on my leg. I was so distracted with race euphoria that I hadn’t realized just how much multiple patches of skin were stinging. Let’s just say there was blood on both my legs and my shorts…and the spot under my right arm that always gets trashed was nice a raw.

MARGINALLY GRAPHIC IMAGE AHEAD

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So pretty. Again, let’s blame the Samoas.

But things were still too exciting to care. We went to check out official times at the results booth, where I discovered that I’d won my age group! This has never really happened before, so it was quite the icing on the cake. I even got a blue ribbon!

Capture2

I love my ribbon! It's so pretty! It also says Bud Light on it...so, thanks for that too? Also booty-booty-booty photobomb behind me.

I love my ribbon! It’s so pretty! It also says Bud Light on it…so, thanks for that too? Also I spy a green booty-booty-booty photo-bomb behind me.

This was a good day. It was a fun race, a strong run, and exactly the confidence builder I needed going into this second part of training.

While the AG placing definitely feels good and adds a layer of encouragement, it’s really the feeling of strength I felt the whole time that made this race for me.

We finished off the morning the only way there is to after lots of miles and sweat:

fork added for scale purposes

fork added for scale purposes..so much pancake, so much glorious pancake.

And that photo pretty much summarizes the rest of the day. Lots of food and rest was essentially all I could muster, but it was all with a smile on my face.

I’m feeling good about Eugene right now, and I don’t think I’ve really vocalized that feeling yet. I know there are bound to be a few more kinks to work out and per usual—bad runs will happen. But if Saturday is any indication, I think my training is headed in the right direction, and I’m getting more excited for my next 26.2 endeavor.

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Eugene Marathon Training Week #6

And just like that, we’re halfway through this training cycle already. Just crazy. I hadn’t really realized how fast approaching race day really is until Sarah posted a “42 days left” countdown yesterday. Yipes.

But! This weekend was a big confidence builder, which makes me more excited than nervous about the dwindling time frame.

So with that, here’s how week #6 shook out:

M: 12 miles- no watch, blissful + lifting

T: 5 miles + spin

W: 5 miles + Maximum Sculpt

T: 10 miles with 5 x 1,000 meters @ 5kp

F: REST

S: 20 miles total. 7 miles in ~61 minutes, then 13.1 miles at St. Paddy’s Day Run Half Marathon in 1:40.

S: Spin + 30 min stair-stepper + lifting

Total= 52 miles

Monday’s run was the kind of run you always want to have. Perfect temperatures, perfect setting, and the feeling like your floating. I didn’t wear a watch but I did see the time I started and the time I ended—essentially dead on 8 minute miles, all of which felt great.

I already wrote about the horror of Thursday’s workout, which made me slightly nervous for not only 20 miles on Saturday, but trying to maintain marathon goal-pace for 13.1 of those miles. Luckily (thanks to the Irish?) the outcome of Saturday’s running was exactly what I’d hoped for—if not better. But that’s a post for tomorrow 🙂

I think what I’m most pleased about is how my body has been feeling so far. I’ve had a few paranoia-fueled aches and pains, but overall I feel great. Nothing lingering, nothing worrisome (here’s where we all knock on wood in unison…ready, go), and generally I just feel strong. Now that this weekend is behind me, I can come out and say that for the past two years I have been unable to run on St. Paddy’s weekend because of injury. Not this year! I’m hoping this healthy trend continues through race day, as I really would like to have a fondness for spring racing.

Generally, I’m just feeling really excited. I’ve had some hard, not-so-awesome runs and workouts, but I’m trying to be of the mindset that it’s the tough ones that are going to be the most helpful tools come race day. Learning how to push through and trek on isn’t as easy as learning to play it safe, but it certainly has a better pay-off in the end. I know for a fact that running a BQ time on April 28 isn’t going to be easy or necessarily all enjoyable, so I’d rather practice the painful feelings now than let them scare me away come race day.

That’s all for now folks. Congrats to everyone who raced this weekend! It felt like the spring race season really kicked off these past two days, and from what I’ve seen so far—there were some huge milestones reached and PRs achieved. So fun to see!

Did you race this weekend? Did you spectate this weekend? Did you drink green beer this weekend?

The Hardest Workout I’ve Ever Done and a Race Weekend

Something crazy is happening, I’m posting three times in one week! This would have been a little light for old-school “I’m a new blogger and need to establish content!” RBR, but for this currently lackluster, unmotivated, very busy person who’s taken over, three times is a big win.

I still love running. I still love writing about running, I still love blogs and bloggers. I just want to live my off-internet life a little more right now.

Which brings me to the topics of today’s post—both of which (excuse my horrid play on words here) are both very topical.

Topic number 1: Today’s workout.

I’ve gotten away a bit from posting the details about all my runs and workouts because…hey-o, that’s boring. The weekly recaps work much nicer for that. However, some workouts jolt your system to the point that you can’t help but gab about it to other running kin.

On the schedule: 10 miles with 5 x 1000 meters @ 5k pace

I have been scared of this workout ever since I wrote it on my training schedule. You see, I decided to do something stupid late last year and get a new 5k PR, which consequentially lowered my “5k pace” approximately 15 seconds. (I know, I know…I am happy with my 5k time and I’m just being a brat right now). I normally correlate 5k effort with a 7-minute mile for my current fitness. I can handle that. I can wrap my brain around that. But a 6:47 pace? That shit cray.

I have just recently become accustomed to being comfortable in the 7s. I’ve had to be very deliberate in not letting a 7:xx on the clock scare me back into my 8:xx comfort zone. It’s mostly been working—which is good. However, it does not, in any way, further prepare me to face anything with a 6 in front of it.

To this day, I’m still a little shocked by my 5k time. I’m proud of it, but I’m honestly unsure as to if I could do it again. BUT, it is what it is…so when a workout calls for 5k pace, that’s what I’ll stick with.

Back to business. I decided to do this run on the treadmill (cue ominous, threatening music) simply because it was going to be a hell of a lot simpler to watch my splits/time on a self-regulated machine than on my own outdoor route and shoddy Garmin stalking. It wasn’t the treadmill that scared me though…it was the distance. I have never, ever, ever, ever run this far on a treadmill, mainly because I love being outside, but also because the thing that goes hand-in-hand with treadmills (other than boredom) is HEAT. Gyms aren’t ventilated like a 45 degree breeze keeping you cool throughout the run. No, a treadmill run is an unforgiving, unwavering torture mechanism in which your temperature just keeps going up and up along with the distance ticking slowly upward on the dial.

But, convenience won, and off I went on my speedwork endeavor. And by “off I went” what I mean to say is…I very unhappily got out of bed, blindly put on clothing, somehow drove to the gym, and just managed to fully wake up after the first warm-up mile. It wasn’t a pretty morning, folks.

As for the workout? Well, I kind of hated how right I was to be afraid of it. Because this sucker kicked me right in the pants and left me sweaty and beet-red crying on the ground next to the treadmill. <—find the exaggerated part of that sentence.

Here’s how it went. I did a .38 mile recovery between each 1000 meter interval, making each interval an exact mile:

3 mile warm up in 8:20s: Happiness! Easy! Bring on the sprinting!

1st 1000 meter @ 8.9 mph: Um, yea. Okay then. 4 more of those?

2nd 1000 meter @ 8.9 mphHey! Still super hard! How the effing f did I do a 5k this fast?

3rd 1000 meter @ 8.9 mphHATE. HATE. Have I ever quit a workout? Okay, I’ll just step off for a few seconds..

(I’m not proud of that one…it was only maybe 5 seconds, but still…not cool Broker)

4th 1000 meter @ 8.7 mphIf you’re going to jump off, you can lower the speed a little bit. It needs to be do-able. Okay…this is a little better. Still hate life.

5th 1000 meter @ 8.7 mphThis is it…the end. You can finish the workout or you can stew all day about not getting it done. HOW IS THIS ONLY .1 miles through???

2 mile cool down in 8:30sThis run is “never ever ever ever” going to end. I love Taylor Swift.

All said and done, I’m glad I finished the prescribed workout.

I’m not, however, happy with

a) briefly stepping off the treadmill while I was supposed to be interval-ing

b) turning down the speed for the last two 1000s

I realize that using a PR 5k pace may have been overambitious—maybe I was in better speed shape back then? But it still stung a little to feel so wiped by that pace. However, this was a VO2 max workout, which translates into 90% of max effort…which I definitely feel I was at.

It also could have been the longer distance that was spread throughout the run, the fact that this is my 4th day of running in a row, or the fact that I was in a very hot gym. Or it was an off day. Or the Girl Scout cookies have stolen my 5k pace. Yea, that’s it…let’s blame the samoas!

At any rate, this workout was no joke, and it really changed up the medium-long runs and recovery runs that I’ve been so merrily skipping between during the weekdays.

I really do like speedwork, and as difficult as it is, between the wheezing and the “Oh please do not puke” thoughts, I always tell myself that there is progress being made. I try and remember to embrace the discomfort and that it’s only temporary. You know, just to reflect on what every single sports quote of all time tells us.

Topic number 2: This weekend.

Surprise! I’m racing this weekend. Well, not racing-racing, but I will be doing a tune-up race of sorts at the St. Paddy’s Day Run Half-Marathon in Tacoma. Is “racing-racing” the runner’s equivalent of “like-like” instead of just “like” in middle school?

It works out rather perfectly. I’m supposed to run 20 miles for my long run that day, with 12 of those miles at marathon goal pace. Meaning, I will plan to run the half at the exact pace I’m hoping to run in Eugene. Bonus! I get to wake up hours before the race to run 7 additional miles. That part won’t be awesome, and running MGP for 13 miles afterward won’t be especially awesome either, but it’s going to be a great test to see where I am. I feel like I’ve gotten pretty lucky in the last two halfs I’ve run, so I hope that luck hasn’t quite run out. I mostly care about running a very even-tempo’ed pace the entire time. I’m going to be very happy with even 7:55 splits and a quality race “practice.”

This will be the first time I use a race as a part of a long run, which isn’t exactly ideal, but I like to think I’m killing two birds with one stone. The race environment in general is good practice—IMHO—and I plan on using it as a reference point.

Plus, I have a bad running taste in my mouth from Tacoma, so I’m hoping I can redeem myself a little bit.

Best part? BF’s running the half too! Post-race St. Paddy’s beers for all! Not like that wasn’t going to happen anyway…

So there you have it. A very long-winded post detailing how I almost threw up on the treadmill and how I’m running a St. Patrick’s Day race this weekend. I’m such an original running blogger, sometimes I amaze myself.

Happy Thursday!

It’s Here!

That’s right folks. Marathon training officially BEGUN! I feel psyched, ready, and admittedly a little nervous.

I kicked off my official training plan this morning with 8 miles, including 10 x 100 meter strides. I didn’t  wear a watch, so both my effort and distance on the strides were all by guess-timation, but they were actually fairly enjoyable! I liked the switch-up in turnover rate. I feel like I have a decent gauge of what 100 meters looks/feels like from my track days, so essentially I just picked objects in the distance and sprinted to them. A little fartlek-y. Ugh, talk about making a gross word grosser. But you get the point. It was a good run.

I really liked doing weekly recaps when I was training for Chicago, so I’ll do my best to get my training weeks up here on Mondays. Some of you might find them boring, so I apologize, but they really help me a lot—so, yea…sorry?

I’m very much equal parts excited and nervous for this marathon training kick-off to begin. Excited  because, as I’ve said before, I’ve never quite had the base like I do now. I’m anxious to apply the  running I’ve been doing these past 3 or so months into a very structured training schedule. My miles won’t end up being all that much higher than what I’ve already been doing, however they will be much more strategic and organized than what I’ve done in the past. I’m releasing the reigns, in other words, and I love it. Letting the expertise of others feels like the right approach this time around, and hopefully the results will reflect that decision.

However, I’m a little ball of worry about this spring as well. Historically, spring has not been good for me training-wise. Two years ago, after a half-marathon and way too much over-training/stupidity, I tore my hip flexor and was out until the beginning of July. I’m not really worried about something that extreme happening again (read: I like to think I am a much smarter/safer runner nowadays), but it’s more the haunting memories that get to me.

Also, last year I got sidelined with bad knee bursitis while training for this very same marathon. Luckily, due to some rest, cortisone, and rearranging, I was still able to run a Spring marathon (though not Eugene)….only to be struck down (literally) by a bad race and a heaping side of IT band syndrome.

In other words, spring has historically not been my strongest months. Which sucks, because the idea of spring running is always appealing to me. More sun! Flowers! Birds! Birthday month!

It’s time to reverse the cycle though. While I definitely don’t like the feeling that bad luck is waiting for me every time the calendar turns to March, I also know that prevention is the best weapon against almost all running-related plagues.

I’ll be switching up just about everything regarding this training schedule, and I’ll therefore also be switching up my dedication to injury prevention. It has always been easy for me to say that I’ll hold off if something hurts, and that I’ll stretch more, roll more, and ice anything that feels “off.” Doing these things is a whole other thing—and if there’s one thing I’ve learned through my bouts of training/recovering, it’s that training for a marathon requires much more than the miles.

So, you can consider this my oath to train both on and off the roads. I will not be brought down by another spring monster, in fact—I refuse it, and I’m trying to internalize the fact that I am actually in complete control of my training.

Nothing changes if nothing changes.

And speaking of such, I decided not to run the 25k race yesterday. After receiving the opinions from you lovely people, as well as a scary-tough-love opinion from my dear mother, I realized something: It wasn’t the distance that was an issue, it was the fact that it was a race.

Yes, no matter if it’s a months-in-the-making goal race, or a haphazard, low-key neighborhood run that happens to include bibs, I have a very hard time not racing a race. Even when I decide to “take it easy” or “promise I’m not going to race,” I will always run faster than I would have on a normal long run, and—should the opportunity be available—I will try to perform well. Last year, I won the 25k, and even though I would have vowed to not take this race seriously—I can guarantee I would have tried to win again.

Maybe I’m just a huge asshole. Maybe I’m just too competitive. Either way, I know myself well enough to know that “racing” 15.2 miles the day before marathon training is supposed to start wouldn’t go along with the theme of keeping myself healthy. It probably would have been fine, I probably would have had a great time, but even that ounce of possibility that it would have takne away from my planned training program wasn’t worth the risk.

So instead, I still ran long. I waved at people racing along the way, and although I was a little sad I wasn’t there with them—I was glad that I went against my instincts this time. Again, nothing changes if nothing changes—and if the decisions I’ve made in the past have lead me into injury-ridden corners of sadness, well, I’ll be steering clear of them.

And on one final, somewhat unrelated note, I give you a photo from the weekend:

photo

 

I cannot tell you how fun it was to spend a weekend day not running, sitting on the couch, shopping at Target, or running around trying to do every errand possible. Those things are good sometimes, but sometimes it’s better to switch it up by spending a day outside in the mountains.

My shins still hurt from my boots and my back still hurts from my bad posture, but Saturday was one of the best days I’ve had in a while. I can completely understand how people abandon all other weekend activities during the winter in favor of heading for the slopes and the snow.

And in a completely apbrupt, non-transitional ending to this post, have a good week everyone!

 

Seattle Half-Marathon Race Recap

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about running, it’s that you can never be too certain how it’s going to go. You can feel unstoppable and strong one day, and the next day you can feel like you’re moving through mud on the exact same run.

In other words, running—for the most part— isn’t necessarily predictable…which is why I’ve learned to not put all my eggs in one basket. I actually like this about running, because it takes a bit of the pressure off…and while sometimes this uncertainty leads to disappointment, it also can also lead to some pleasant surprises.

And Sunday was definitely a surprise.

SPOILER! I finished.

I truly did not know what to expect going into this race, other than it would be cold and there would be lots of hills on the course. I didn’t taper, I wasn’t exceptionally hydrated, and my eye wasn’t necessarily “on the prize.” I definitely have a big fancy dream time for a half-marathon, but I knew that this wouldn’t be the race for it. So, I went into it a little blindly…happy to shake off some of the turkey hangover and simply enjoy a run through my city.

As expected, Sunday morning was freezing…but I was actually excited about this. I know I run better in the cold, and with no rain the only thing that I needed to worry about was keeping my blood moving at the start line.

Bundled up and ready to run!

BF dropped me off with no trouble, and after wandering a little bit to see if I could spot anyone I knew…I decided it was futile and plopped myself in what seemed an appropriate group—near the 1:45 pacer. I thought I might be too close to the start line, but when the gun went off I realized that I probably should have put myself a bit further up. The first quarter mile was one big stop-and-go as people shuffled along, and although it was a bit frustrating, I weaved my way out of the masses and kicked it up.

I loved the first few miles through downtown. These were streets I see everyday, and it was great to see them in a new context—as a race course. There was also a monster downhill right off the bat too, which I used to put some time in the bank.

Let’s play a game called…find the downhill mile.

I questioned my speed very early on. Since I didn’t have a defined goal or plan for this race, I kind of decided that negative splitting wasn’t a necessity, and I would just do what I could. The times on my watch were definitely surprising me, but what surprised me more was just how good I felt.

Once we entered the tunnel, I lost satellite reception as expected, which threw off the distance calculations on my Garmin. And now is when we play a new game called “Find the tunnel faulty paces!”

I still felt great, and I loved the course. We had travelled from downtown over to the west side of Lake Washington, and it was lovely. There was a lot of fog, but the conditions were ideal for running and I generally just felt happy.

I crossed the halfway marker at a little over 50 minutes, and it was at this point where I started to get sparkly thoughts about potential finish times. However, I kept myself reeled in, because I knew there was still a fair amount of climbing to do and—as we all know—a fast start can mean scary things for the finish.

The hills picked up a bit, but other than one soul-crushing climb around mile 8, there was nothing too unmanageable. I started to realize during this race that I’m becoming much more confident and comfortable on hills. I’ve developed a climbing strategy/pace that makes hills a lot less daunting, and I’ve actually found myself kind of…gulp…liking them.

My speeds from miles 8-10 were a bit slower. I think it was in part due to the climbing, and it was also at this point that the fatigue of not tapering started to creep in. I could definitely feel the nearly-30 miles I’d already run that week, and I cursed myself a bit for not executing a more conservative race. However, this part of the race was also a beautiful, winding path through the park…so I think I may have been a bit distracted by the scenery.

But we only had a 5k to go, and I knew there would be a bit of a downhill finish. Time to kick into gear. My legs were barking a bit…not because of the distance, but because of the hills/speed. My goal was to grind it out the best I could without leaving much out on the course…because at this point, there wasn’t much to lose. Also, I realized that half marathons are about 1000x better than full marathons in this regard.

Around mile 11.5, I thought it could be possible to finish with a 1:40:xx on the clock…and all of a sudden, the girl without a set time goal became fixated on that number. There was something so even, clean, and benchmark-worthy about that time…and I wanted it to be mine.

So I ran. My legs were heavy and my stomach was getting a little angry, but my pace somehow didn’t falter  I had already decided that I’d condemned myself to a positive-split no matter what, so all I was trying to do at this point was get to the stadium (where the finish line was).

I saw Erika (for the SECOND time during the race!) around mile 13, and she definitely gave me a boost. I straightened up my form, smiled, and booked it.

Photo courtesy of Erika, filter courtesy of Instagram. Thanks Erika 🙂

All at once, we were coming into the stadium, and I can’t tell you how good running on astro-turf felt after pounding pavement for 13 miles. I saw BF right before I crossed the finish line, and despite feeling a little nauseated…I was pumped. My watch showed a 1:40:50 finish, a time that going into the race—I didn’t think was possible.

Distance is off from the tunnel fiasco.

We visited the post-race recovery area for a bit, and despite my best efforts to spot some friends, there were just too many people. We were able to check results right away which was quite convenient, and I confirmed that my finish time was in fact just what I was hoping.

Here are the official stats:

7:42/mile average. And wouldn’t you know it…somehow I did pull off a negative split. 5 seconds still counts…

I’m still a little disillusioned from this race, though quite pleased with it too. I have a big, undisclosed-until-now dream of running a sub 1:40 half marathon, and frankly…I didn’t think this would be possible until maybe next year. I went into this race not even considering that goal because the course was so notoriously difficult.

But the results have changed my mindset a bit. In all honesty, I expected to finish this race around 1:44, maybe 1:43 if I was lucky. And I would have been totally happy with those. But this race (as well as last week’s 5k) have shown me that I need to stop selling myself short.

I have a lot of will and determination, but I don’t necessarily have a lot of confidence. I tend to not believe things are possible until they actually happen, and while I think it’s good to be realistic…I also think that it would serve me well to have a little more trust in myself.

Other than the existential lessons learned during this race, I have to say that this course was absolutely fantastic. Other than the crowding at the beginning of the race, this was perhaps the most enjoyable course I’ve ever run on, and I was really impressed with the Seattle Marathon organization overall.

My best guy.

This race  fired me up. It was encouraging and fun…and while I’m still a little hesitant to hope for anything more, I’m realizing that there’s no harm in trying.

Try I will, and I’m feeling pretty excited for pushing those limits back even further.

Did you run the Seattle Marathon/Half-Marathon? How did it go? How did you like the course?

Taper Fail

Greetings!

A quick pop-in before tomorrow’s half marathon, namely since I’ve been blog-MIA since Monday.

I just arrived back from my Thanksgiving mini-vacation in sunny Southern California, and it was splendid. So much sun, so much food, and so much quality family time. And, unexpectedly, so much running.

Which leads me to the primary reason for this post: to admit how I’ve done nothing with any semblance to “tapering.”

I ran a shade under 11 miles on Thursday and 8.5 yesterday… meaning that I’m not exactly “rested.” I’ve also been choosing adult beverages over water and Nuun, and I’m convinced I’m still full from our Thanksgiving feast.

In that regard, I’ve done very little to prepare for this race at all.

Admittedly, the Seattle half-marathon was never really a goal race. In fact, I still don’t really know how I’m planning on executing this race. While it might not be a goal race, it’s also not a race that I’m going to do just for fun. I think my effort will be somewhere in the middle of relaxed and puke-inducing. We’ll see…I’d like to go for sub 1:45, but if it’s not my day, that’s fine too.

Other than that loose plan, I don’t really know what I’m going to wear, if my iPod/Garmin are charged, or what time we’re supposed to be at the start.

Super responsible.

But I’m kind of liking this more relaxed approach. If anything, I’m excited to run hard tomorrow around my city with running friends.

So here goes nothing. Good luck to everyone running tomorrow!

 

Upcoming Race Schedule

If there’s one thing I know for sure about myself as a runner, it’s that I love to race.

Racing is the reason I started running in the first place way back when, and once I finally married the ideas of competitive racing and running as a hobby, it was like a match made in RB heaven.

Put me in coach! I’m ready!

Racing makes me feel like an athlete . It makes running more than just exercise or a “calorie torcher” (btw I HATE that expression.) And racing provides a very tangible measurement to log your progress, successes, etc. Sure, some races are just fun—like this one—but for me, I really prefer to actually race when the opportunity presents itself.

When you’re marathon training, spontaneous racing becomes a little tricky. It’s a good way to gauge your fitness, but you don’t want to overdo it or set yourself back in training. I’m currently not training for a marathon, so I’m pretty excited to use this winter to pencil in some short distance races. Sorry paychecks, my Christmas present to myself is coming in the form of registrations and tech shirts.

Here’s a look at some of the races I have on the schedule:

Mustache Dache 5k

Along with every other blogger/runner in Seattle, I’ll me showing my facial hair pride (what?) at this humorous pre-Thanksgiving race. And as silly and fun as the premise of this race may be, I’m having this bug-out issue with it for some reason.

Yes it’s just a 5k, and yes I don’t need to try and run fast every race, but ever since my last 5k where I PR’ed without intending to, I feel this 5k pressure of sorts. 5ks also just scare me because my pace is so much faster than what I’m comfortable with, and we all like to keep our comfort zones within reach. So, I don’t know if I have “goals” for this race per se, but I think I’ll just try to run fast and hold on.

PS: Brunch afterwards bloggers?

Seattle Half-Marathon

Again, I think this is another event where a ton of people I “know” will be running, which makes it exciting. It’s also going to be the first half-marathon I’ve actually raced in nearly a year and a half. My last half was Disneyland, which was really just a for-fun race, and so now it’s back to business.

Sort of.

To be honest, I’m a little scared of this course, and while I’m anxious to go for a very ambitious half-marathon time goal, I’m not sure this is the time to do it. It’s a tough course, and since Tacoma, I don’t underestimate the effect a hard course can have on race expectations. On that note, screw you Tacoma.

So, I think for the Seattle half I may go for a new PR (my current is 1:46) and see how I feel. My half PR was run when I was much slower than I am now (at the time I thought it was a fluke), so I’m interested to see what else I have in me. We’ll see.

Christmas Rush 10k

Nicole let me in on this little $10 secret, and I’m so excited to run another 10k. Fun fact: when I first started running (other than running track), a 10k was my first race. I had no idea what I was doing, but it was a blast. I like this distance a lot more than 5ks—less puke-inducing but still fast enough to feel like a race. No goals really yet for this race—but I’m excited for it.

Yukon Do It Half Marathon

This little race in Port Orchard might be the ticket to my lofty half-marathon aspirations. It’s a smaller race, but such a beautiful course and still all the bells and whistles of a race (bibs, time chips, medals, etc.) It’s also on December 30, and I love the idea of closing the year with a half-marathon.

That’s all for now! Who knows, another one might pop up—but for now I’m pretty psyched for this schedule. It seems that November and December have turned into racing season for me, and I love it!

As for this weekend, no racing, but some running and seasonal fun as well. We have a “Family Thanksgiving” feast with some of our friends on Saturday night, and I’m planning a beautiful, cold 16 miles for tomorrow morning. Winter running, I love you so.

 

Now, please tell me which of YOU are running any of these races! Let’s meet-up 🙂