Tag Archives: PR

Yukon Do It Half-Marathon Race Recap

Happy New Year!

How is everyone? Getting a start on your resolutions? Giving up on your resolutions? Still hungover from NYE?

This is not a post about my own resolutions. Shock, I know. In a very not-like-me move, I actually did make one this year (I almost never do), but that’s not what I’m here to talk about.

I am here to tell you about something else related to New Year’s Eve. So while there was resolution making, drink(s), and midnight fireworks, there was also something extra that made this New Year’s Eve memorable. In fact, it was probably the most memorable NYE to date, because let’s face it…with the exception of pining for a midnight kiss from your crush (which I never got), there isn’t much you can really expect from the night.

But this year, New Year’s Eve doubled as a race day. A perfect race day, in fact.

I call this my “I do this expression in every race photo of me ever taken” face.

I was fairly hush-hush about the Yukon Do It half-marathon. Not because I was especially nervous, but because I didn’t really have a lot of feelings about it.

Going into it, I knew my sparkly sub-1:40  half goal was possible, but I wasn’t necessarily interested in going through a lot of pain for it.

So, my game plan was to start with 7:40s, and if I was feeling good, drop to 7:35s halfway through.

That didn’t exactly happen. In fact, none of what went down during this race was anything I would have expected—for a variety of reasons:

1) The weather. It was bloody cold during this race.

Grown men wore pants and double-layer tops. I wore spandex shorts. However, as I’ve stated before—winter running and I are BFFs. My body enters into a “must warm thyself” panic when it’s cold, which results in faster paces.

2) The course. The elevation map of this course was, well, wrong. It was allegedly an out-and-back with miles 1-4 fairly flat, 5-8 up and then downhill, and 9-13 flat again. No, not true. Details to come.

The way the course was supposed to look...lie.

The way the course was supposed to look…

3) The company. I signed up for this race because a ton of my coworkers were doing it. So, there were about 12 of us…most of whom I’d never met before, and all of whom were relatively fast.

Fun fact: if there is an audience around, I’ll be ready to perform. It’s the Glee-kid in me. Or maybe just the narcissistic competitive brat in me. Whatever. Point is, it was an opportunity to hang with the big dawgs…the big dawgs in this case being stranger men from work.

A few of us from the group!

A few of us from the group! In case you couldn’t spot the only female in the photo, I’m on the top right.

So now that I’ve given way too much information before writing the actual report, let’s get down to it:

With only 300 or so runners doing the half, I was able to line up relatively close to the start line. The gun went off, and I mentally threatened myself to not go out too fast. Just warm up. Just get your pace. So after a half mile of “leisurely” getting started, I checked the Garmin: 7:15.

Fail.

I seriously felt like I was running an 8:30, I think in part to the throngs of fast dudes around me whose effortlessness masked my own speed, and also because of the cold. My feet were numb for the first 1.5 miles, and I think my body was doing everything possible to just thaw my blood.

I chilled out though, decided the first mile could be fast as long as I got my sh*t together for the rest of it.

1-3

No, still didn’t happen. But I didn’t panic. I genuinely felt really good, and I figured as long as I closely monitored how I felt and paid attention to my breathing, I could keep up the speed. Plus, I knew the hill coming up would slow me down and I could save some time for those miles.

There weren’t too many people around me. The leader (who I actually knew and who is ridiculously badass- 1:10 finish, nbd) was way out in front, then there was a decent size pack behind him, then followed myself and some other randoms.

This was the first time I legitimately played leap-frog with other runners the entire race. There were three other females that I kept alternating spots with, which was a combination of helpful, intimidating, and fun. We all knew it was happening, of course we didn’t say anything, but it was an amusing silent competition.

One of those ladies, by the way, was wearing a Boston finisher shirt.

Don't you think your sweet shirt will scare me away...

Don’t you think your sweet shirt will scare me away…

After the first 4.5 miles or so, I expected the promised “ gradual ascent” to start. Alas…we would all learn that the course profile was quite incorrect and misleading.

The flat sections were spot on, and the first four and the last four miles were beautiful and scenic along the waterfront. The middle 5 though? Basically the course traversed up and down the same hills about 6 different times. And these weren’t rollers…they were some pretty significant inclines, with consequentially steep declines. So those miles were filled with grunting (and getting passed) up those hills, and then bombing (and passing others) on the way down.

This is what my Garmin elevation data showed.

This is what my Garmin elevation data showed.

My paces over these miles were all over the place. I’d be logging an 8:30 trudging up a hill, and then it would quickly drop to 7:30 on the downhill. These miles were beautiful, however, as they wove through a super-green forest—which slightly made up for the unexpected course switcheroo.

6-8

The nice thing about an out-and-back, though, is that you know what to expect for the second half. I was starting to feel not-so-awesome around mile 7. The hills were getting to me, and I was ready to head back to the flat lands.

I know this is really not-such-a-big deal in retrospect, and I don’t want to complain, but I thought a more accurate elevation chart would have been helpful beforehand.

Once back on the flatter parts, I felt a second wind coming, and I regained a consistent pace. I gained a bit on a few of the females that were ahead of me during the first part of the race, and I let my racing instinct take over as I passed them.

According to this batch of race photos, I close my eyes a lot while racing. Sleepy? Defense mechanism? Also #LEGS. Gross.

According to this batch of race photos, I close my eyes a lot while racing. Sleepy? Defense mechanism? Also #LEGS. Gross.

Around mile 9, I spotted a coworker who was holding a perfectly steady-yet-fast pace, and I decided to use him as a pacer. I stayed right behind him for a while, which was probably annoying, but he didn’t seem to mind (thanks David!).

9-11

When I came up beside him with 2 or so miles to go, and apologized for my drafting, he exclaimed that I was on track for a 1:38. Excited by this announcement, and impressed with his mental math, it was just the spark I needed to drop to a sub 7:20 pace. I held with him for a while longer, but after seeing two girls fading ahead of me, I knew I needed to do a little bit of chick-ing.

And seriously…one of them was wearing zebra-print spandex. I realize most of you would love owning something like that, but personally I refused to be beat by someone wearing  those.

Zebra girl, be gone.

By that point, the finish line was in sight. There is nothing more encouraging than seeing the end—and the promise of being finished. A glance at my watch and I knew I was not only looking at a sub-1:40, but a 1:38:xx. Cue: giddy excitement.

12-13

And just like that, I crossed the finish line, heard my name called over the speaker, and knew I’d cinched the coveted sub 1:40 half that I’d been wanting with a 1:38:22 PR finish time.

“Pretty psyched” would be good words to describe the feeling immediately following, although I was mostly focused on how quickly the heat I’d built during the race was quickly escaping my body. At the finish line, I learned that two co-workers had claimed 2nd and 3rd overall, with others in the top 15 as well!

I myself ended up as 4th overall female and 2nd in my age group. And yes, ahead of Boston lady…who congratulated me after as we’d been racing each other for nearly 10 miles.

Neat!

Neat!

After changing into warmer, dryer clothes and collecting ribbons (!), we made a pit stop for a celebratory brew before packing it in and calling it a year.

Running this race was wonderful, and I’m thrilled to have closed with a time I feel like I can hang my hat on for a while. Doing it on the very last day of 2012 was awesome as well—it felt both like a grand finale and a prelude of the year to come.

I don’t have a lot of hindsight about this race…it was cold, beautiful, and a lot of fun. However, in retrospect, I am particularly focused on the fact that while I did run hard and achieved my goal, it actually wasn’t as difficult as I anticipated. Which makes the promise of what’s the come in 2013 all the more intriguing.

Happy New Year!

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Year in Running 2012

Here it is, the ever popular “My Year in Running” post that’s been strewn about the blogging world these past few weeks. Yes, it’s just as cliché as resolutions and pictures of oatmeal, but I figured I’d partake.

I pieced together my “categories” for the year from a variety of sources, please feel free to use.

2012 was an interesting one.

Not perfect. Not awful. Not necessarily everything I wanted.

But in many ways, I feel like I hit both ends of the running spectrum this year. And by that, I mean I barrelled head-first into both the lowest of lows and highest of highs in my running—all within the course of a single year.

Fortunately, the highs have been happening more frequently, and it seems as if I was able to take a little more from the low points that simply a battered body and bruised ego.

Let’s have a looksie back in time though:

Best Race

Chicago Marathon.

Perhaps my favorite race tee yet.

I actually had a hard time answering this question, which makes me smile. The tail end of this year has been full of some good racing in terms of PRs and experiences. However, at the end of it all, I think Chicago takes the “best race” cake for the year. Among an assortment of reasons I loved this race (the crowds, the course, the atmosphere, etc.) I truly felt that it was the best executed race I’ve ever run, considering the circumstances. I went in without expectations and without a goal time, but merely to run well, finish well, and have fun. All those goals were met, along with a new marathon PR and a feeling that I am capable of going back into battle with the marathon beast.

And speaking of that beast…

 

Worst Race:

Tacoma City Marathon.

Lies. All lies.

Lies. All lies.

I mean, there isn’t much explanation needed. If for some reason you’ve been spared the details of this race, go ahead and click the link above. Just a lot of misery around this one, I have a hard time keeping this on my marathon list. I learned a lot of lessons here, which I suppose is a good thing, and another good thing is that I will (hopefully) never hit this low of a low again during a marathon.

PSA: Don’t go for a big reach goal on a hard course. And if you do, don’t be stupid like me and refuse to slow down/stop if your body’s given up.

I still have a bit of resentment about this race, but the best thing about bad experiences is that sometimes they teach us more than the good ones.

 

Race Tallies:

5ks: 3

10ks: 0, unless you count the 4th of July Mimosa 10k 🙂

half-marathons: 2 (soon to be 3!)

marathons: 2

 

Biggest PR:

Seattle Half-Marathon

image (3)

In a very unexpected move, I beat my previous half-marathon time by over 5 minutes—which was both very surprising and very encouraging. I still have a hard time believing that this race actually happened and how in the world I was able to hold that a sub 8 pace for longer than I ever have before.

Now, I’m on the cusp of one final half before the year is out, and I’m wondering if I should hang my hat on my 1:40 finish, or dig a little deeper.

We’ll see.

 

Best Run:

I love a lot of my runs, and I don’t have a very keen memory for the specifics, however there was one run that comes to mind that was somewhat exceptional.

And ironically, it was in Tacoma, training for the aforementioned dreadful TCM.

I went down to Tacoma for a 20 miler to get a feel for the hills that would come into play on race day. While the run itself may not have exactly prepped me for what was the come, it was a perfect day of running. Challening, scenic, encouraging, and done at the tail end of knee bursitis—with not a pain to be felt the whole time.

I love the big 20 milers in marathon training, and this one was especially encouraging.

 

Highest Weekly Mileage:

57 miles, Chicago training week #8

 

Lowest Weekly Mileage:

0! Injuries suck.

 

Here is where I resurrect my goal from way back when to run 2012 miles this year. Admittedly, I got lazy, stopped keeping track, and it became too hard to recount. Also, I got hurt a few times which derailed my progress. If I were to guesstimate, I think I will probably finish off the year within the 1800 range or so. Maybe next year…I have started being better about my training log!

LESSONS

I learned a lot this year. About running, about racing, about resting. I do think I’m finally coming to terms with the balancing act of pushing my limits and reeling in the reigns.

I used to think that you were either one or the other– a champion or a slug. But I’ve come to realize that my running and my competitive spirit don’t make me any better or worse than any “normal” person out there. And the days where I’d rather stay in pajamas and alternate between napping and watching tv don’t make me any less of an athlete. The two can coexist…and in fact, they need each other in order to stay live.

The other most important thing I think I’ve learned, which is what I’ll be carrying big time into 2013, is that we are wholly and entirely in control of our capabilities. I used to think that there was a cap to success—a certain quota, if you will. Once that milestone or limitation was filled, that would be the end of it.

However, I’m realizing that there isn’t a finite number of success available. Just because those people have run BQs or have already mastered 50ks doesn’t mean that there’s any less potential available for anyone else who wants those things. An achievement isn’t any less significant or impressive if someone else has already completed it. Good for them, yea, but remember…good for YOU.

It’s all relative, and once we’re able to bat away comparison and take a look at our own playbook, we’ll realize that even the most wild of dreams can be ours.

And wild dreams I do have…starting with a very focused, disciplined BQ-or-Bust journey in the beginning of February.

Now it’s your turn! Best and Worst Races? Biggest PR? Proudest Accomplishment? How did your 2012 look?

Float Dodger 5k Race Recap

So, let’s rewind to last Friday, where I said that I wasn’t going to try to PR my weekend 5k.

Was that a lie? Yes. But I didn’t call my own bluff until the second the gun went off.

I truly was planning on a fun, no pressure 5k. And that’s actually what I feel like I had…except that the results, and the effort, were higher than I expected. No harm, no foul…I think I should probably just forget ever saying that I am not going to compete in a race.

But let’s start from the beginning.

BF and I jogged the 1.5 miles to the race start…which ended up being a great idea in terms of preparation, however it was IMO a little too long for a 5k warm up. Oh well.

There were a few hundred people gathered around the start line, which was outside of our local running store—West Seattle Runner.

{Side note} Seattle runners, if you’ve never visited WS Runner, I highly recommend going. They really know their stuff, they sell great products, and they are super nice! They know my name and I love it…maybe because I spend ample amounts of money there, or maybe because I have a bumper sticker with their logo on it, but I choose to believe it’s because they love me and want to someday sponsor me. It’s fine guys…I’m cool with that.

I digress. So, yada yada yada…typical race start, everyone lines up in their corrals, and we gear up to go. I was a little afraid because there weren’t very many people between me and the start line, but I figured I would just run my own race and hope for the best.

Gun goes off, Lady Gaga starts singing to me about the edge of glory, and I feel great. It felt so so so good to be running a race, especially in my own neighborhood. It was very Mr. Rogers’ theme song-ish, and I loved it. I looked at my watch about 3 minutes in and saw a 6:15 looking back at me.

YIKES.

Holy shenanigans Robyn, hold your horses. Yea, I had committed the single worst rookie mistake ever. But, I did feel great, so I slowed a bit…but when I turned the 1 mile marker corner, I was sitting at a 6:23 mile. In my head I was all, “Okay, sweet. But slow the f down homegirl.” Which I did, and kept on cruising.

It wasn’t until I turned the mile 2 marker that I started to feel a bit wheezy. Luckily, 5ks have this wonderful thing about them…they don’t last very long. I knew I could huff it out another mile, no matter how biley my throat was feeling. TMI? No…this is a running blog peeps, get over it.

It was at this point also that I knew there weren’t too many females in front of me. I had picked off a few from the start, and because the final stretch was a straight shot…I could see pretty far in front of me. I started to get a bit of a kick thinking that I might be able to place. I knew it was a long shot, especially since that has never ever ever been a race goal for me, but I figured if there was ever a time to try…it was in the last mile of a 5k.

Then came the hill. Oh, the hill. I have one thing to say about that hill:

SCREW THAT HILL.

I am, by the way, repeating the sentiments of every. single. racer in this 5k, as this hill was placed at literally the worst possible spot of the course. The majority of the course was either flat or a slight downhill, ideal for any racer. However, come mile 2.3 there was a fairly steep and half-a-mile long hill that destroyed any remnants of energy you still had in your legs.

I hated that hill. I’m a baby. I wanted to cry.

BUT I didn’t cry. I kept on going, and about 300 meters from the 3 mile marker, I picked off the girl I was fairly sure had the 3rd place spot.

SHWEEEET, I thought. But I was gutting it out and not feeling super awesome.

Not the most attractive shot…weird, I know, because race photos and flattery go hand-in-hand. BUT look at that mid-foot strike!

So I kept pushing, really wanting to just be done. About 20 feet from the finish line, while garnering all my hope for a sub 21:57 time, I saw something out of the corner of my eye.

Not one, but TWO females were sprinting each other to the finish line…and before I could gather my wits about me, they BOTH passed me, and finished within .02 seconds of one another, and about a second and a half ahead of me.

Noooo!!!

I got totally chicked, by TWO chicks.

However, when I looked at my watch, I was pumped. I had PR’ed by over 10 seconds, and I had a good feeling I was still in the top 5 females.

A few quick minutes later, BF ran in, and I got to cheer him in while simultaneously recruiting him to assist me in free sample collection.

Later, when the actual results were posted…I found out that I did finish number 5 for females, and first in my AG! I was/am definitely happy with the results, however it stings just a *little* bit that I had a 3rd place finish within my grip.

But it’s okay. It felt so good to go fast, and it felt great to exceed my own expectations. I love 5ks, and I feel like they don’t get enough credit. You don’t need to taper for them, they don’t take much recovery, and you don’t need to worry too much about pacing. Sure, if I hadn’t done that 6:23 mile initially, I may have finished stronger, but I don’t really regret much about the race. I think that might have been the fastest mile I’ve ever run, and I’m excited to see if I can push that number lower in some upcoming speed work.

And if you’re wondering how BF felt about the free coconut water at the finish, here’s about how it looked:

That’s actually an understatement. That first and only sip might have been spit into the sink.

But aside from some not-so-good coconut water, it was a great start to our Saturday. I ran a slow 3.5 miles afterward to round out to 8 for the day, and I rode the faster-than-normal running high for the remainder of the weekend.

Oh, and I found out yesterday that peacing out immediately after BF and I finished the race was not a good idea. I missed out on a ribbon and a prize for winning my AG. Sad face. Fail, RB.

Do you like 5ks? What do you think is the best race strategy for only 3.1 miles of racing? Do you like coconut water? We think it tastes like salt and toilet water.