Tag Archives: moonlight run

Medicine Hat Rattler Run 10km 2017

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The Rattler Run was the first race I have done where I officially made it known I was pregnant!  I had “pregnant-raced” in secret while 7.5 weeks along (Moonlight Run 6km) and at 10.5 weeks (10 & 4 Mile Road Race 2017) but this would be the first weekend that I had made it public knowledge to all our family and friends.  I was 13.5 weeks along and feeling good, so I knew I would still have a respectable time.  Mainly, I just wanted to have a great day with my husband at this event!


Race weather was perfect for late April and the 11 am race start time is perfect for us as we travel in from Lethbridge.  Dan and I both started near the front of the pack, as I wanted to make sure I had room around me right away.  He went off ahead of me and I wouldn’t see him until the finish.  I got myself settled into a comfortable pace and hit my first mile in 7:32.  I was very happy!

I started to slow immediately the next mile.  The biggest change I have noticed in my body while running is how heavy my legs feel.  Probably due to increased blood flow and all.  The heaviness caused me to automatically slow down, and that’s ok.  8:13, 8:30 and 8:37 were miles 2-4.  These were all down below Medicine Hat College on a really pretty route next to some coulees.


The route was different for the 10km compared to the other two years I had ran it.  We had to run up the hill at Kin Coulee Park this time.  I would describe it as a mini-Moonlight run….mini because the hill is only about 1/4 of the Wendy’s hill you need to run up at moonlight…but still a pain this late in a race!  My heartrate went up as I started climbing up, so I immediately took it easier up the hill to settle my heart rate back down.  Ran mile 5 in 9:34.

The last mile was a struggle mainly because my legs were just beat by the time I got to the top of the hill.  Had to do another loop around the college and in to the finish line.  I finished mile 6 in 8:53, and then kicked it in for the last bit in with a final time of 52:40.

I had set my A goal for this race to be a sub 50 minutes.  I knew by 5km in that wouldn’t be happening, nor would it be worth it.  My B goal was to run between 50-55 minutes. So I made that!  C goal was under an hour.

Dan’s race went pretty well too, but he was a little frustrated because of a cramp he got really early on.  With all the speed work he has been doing I know he can run an even faster time, so I think he is looking forward to some redemption down the road.  He finished with a 46:47.


Final results/placings weren’t available immediately, so we hit the road because Dan had a meeting to get to.  As we drove away from Medicine Hat, I realized I had placed 3rd in my age group!  Luckily, my friend Heather was still at the event because her son was waiting for his award.  She picked my medal up for me.  I had thought my placing days were done until post baby!  My stats  were 3/25 Age Group, 13/83 Gender, and 52/152 Overall.  Dan was 7/15 Age Group, 17/69 Gender and 21/152 Overall.  A great day for both of us!

Moonlight Run 2017

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I know…It’s been awhile since posting!  I had a race last weekend, so I figured a little recap was necessary.  Moonlight Run has been a staple for me over the years, and this would be my 6th year participating in the event.  However, it would be my first year participating in the 6km, not the 10km.  I had originally signed up for this race under the impression I would be pretty far along in my pregnancy.  After the miscarriage, I decided not to change up to the 10km, as I had not been training to ‘race’ a 10km.  Yes…I can run a 10km.  But really since September 2016, I haven’t been training to ‘race.’  I know that personally I would have been really frustrated with myself if I couldn’t deliver a performance like I did in the Moonlight Run 10km like I did the past two years (my best Moonlight placing overall and my best Moonlight time).  So, 6km it was!  Hey—it was going to be a personal best, as it would be my first ever 6km race!

I did something else a bit different this year for Moonlight-I volunteered!  Obviously, not during the race itself, but I volunteered at package pickup on Friday.  I decided to help out our Winston Churchill kids who were handing out race swag.  It was fun to be with the kids the night before, and see a lot of the racers before race night.  They apparently handed out 1000 of the 2800 registrations in the first 45 minutes!  It was crazy!

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Flat Andrea…gotta wear the pink!

Race night came.  I am always thrown off on nutrition for a night race.  Eat a normal breakfast, a late lunch, and hope your food settles.  I was hoping mine did, and I wasn’t really sure.  Weather was warm, and all the snow/ice had melted that could have caused issues…but it was WINDY.  We would be running into the wind going down the hill and the wind would be with us going back up, so that was a plus.  Dan and I got the race start at around 7:30.  My first task was to find a WCHS student volunteer who would be able to hang on to my vest with keys and phone in it while I ran—success!  It helps to teach the volunteers!  Dan and I mingled around a bit before I found my friend Aaron, who would also be doing the 6km.  We talked about goal times for the race and decided we would at least start together.  Dan was actually doing the 10km, so his race started at 8:00 pm.  He was off running and I had about 15 more minutes to wait for my start.

Usually I like to be right near the front of the race start.  It was hard to get really close to the front of the 6km, as there were over 2000 runners!  After the countdown and the airhorn went off, we quickly wove through a mess of kids in front of us so we could have a clear pathway down 3rd avenue.  My first mile felt nice and easy—didn’t push too hard to start, but actually had to “push” down the hill since the wind was so obnoxious.  Ran mile 1 in 6:45.

It was fun running down in the river bottom because again, there were student volunteers from WCHS.  A lot of them could see my coming in my bright pink socks, so it was encouraging to hear them yell for me.  I was really worried by second mile would be a lot slower, but was pleasantly surprised with a 7:09.  Mile 3 was when the wheels fell off.  I knew it would happen, as we had to go back up the hill.  I have done pretty much ZERO hill training, so it was going to hurt.  Even though I was slowly passing people, I was also slowly getting slower.  My push was not there like usual, so I cruised to a mile 3 of 8:39.  By the time I got to the top of the hill, I had a bit of a push left for the final stretch, but the lady who I passed up the hill caught up to me and passed me at the end.  Looking at the results, it didn’t effect my placing in my age group—just overall.  My time was a 29:12 with a 4:53 km average pace (doesn’t show mile pace on the results.  My watch said 7:47.  Compared to last years 10km, my pace is garbage.  Last year, I ran a 4:25/km and a 4:22/km in 2015.  For 10km, versus 6km.  But, that’s what I get for not having the training regime and race schedule like I have in the past years.

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Age Group Award-Photo courtesy of lethbridgephoto.com

In the end, I wasn’t too upset.  I ran a bit slower than I expected, however, the hill was the main issue.  My first miles felt good and I felt solid in the river bottom.  Just need to get back to that hill training!  I placed 3/140 in my age group, 10/1062 in female, and 44/2058 overall.  I plan on coming back to doing the 10km again, when I know I have properly trained for the hill and can get a time I would be proud of.  The 10km runner I am most proud of this year is my husband!  Dan ran the 10km in a personal best of 46:39!  He placed 11/32 in a very tough age group, 34/222 in males and 42/531 overall.  I will also mention that last year his 10km time was 54:37 and in 2015 he ran a 1:02.36.  We are now joking that if he keeps taking training seriously like he has the past month, he’ll be mid 30s next year. Anyway, there’s a new Pottage in town and it’s Dan!  Watch out!

 

Claus Cause 10km Recap

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I have participated in the Lethbridge Claus Cause since 2013.  I have done the 10km twice (2013, 2014) and the 5km once (2015).  I opted to register for the 10km this year 1.) because I am training for a full marathon and need distances! And 2.) I needed a challenge.

I don’t normally get anxious or nervous for 10 km events, but this one was causing some grief.  I knew before even setting foot at the starting line, my time would not be what it was back in 2013 and 2014.  Those times were 45:37 & 45:52 (2013 and 2014, respectively).  My most recent 10km times (up to this race) had been 44:10 (Moonlight Run 2016), 43:28 (Disneyland 10km 2015) and 41:30 (my personal best, Rattler Run 2015).  Those events, especially the 2015 ones, were surrounded by training focused on speed work.  It was also before my foot got the best of me.  So I was fully prepared to not run anything close to those.  But I still wanted to run something that was respectful for me.  I decided the night before the race that I would be happy with anywhere from a low 46 minutes to an upper 47 minutes.

The weather was perfect for running on race morning!  Minimal icy spots on the paved course, and a nice brisk winter air.  I was one of the only fools wearing shorts, but I did have layered long sleeve shirts and my tall compression socks, so really there was not much skin being hit with the elements.  I made sure to arrive early enough to allow for a proper warmup.  My husband came to cheer me on (I sort of forced him because of my nerves).  Race began at 9 am, with the 10km and 5km runners heading out together.

For the first loop, all the runners were together.  This allowed us to be near other runners, but you have to be careful….those 5km runners are potentially going at a faster pace than you would for a 10km (I mean, they should be) so I didn’t want to get wrapped up with trying to stay ahead of people near me….they may be doing the 5km!  I was able to check race bibs, as the different colours signified which event you were in.  I was able to determine by mile 1.5 I was the 3rd female in the 10km.  It was around mile 2 and 3 that my mind started playing games with me, and I didn’t know if I could hold pace.  Was I going to fall apart?

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Photo Credit to Shay, who was volunteering on the course!

The 5km runners head to the finish line as the 10km runners do another loop (plus some).  I started to get my groove back, but then also got myself comfortable.  I was a bit behind runner 1 and 2, but I didn’t see runner 4 nearby.  I held my pace and then in the final straightaway pushed in the best I could.  I successfully held my position of 3rd place female the whole race, and also ended up placing 1st in the 30-39 female category.  My splits were: 6:58, 7:50, 7:40, 7:53, 7:53, 7:45 with an average pace of 7:39.  Official chip time of 47:30.

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Post race-got my sweatpants on and a water, so I’m good!

Takeaway on my splits….I ran my first mile like I was going to run a sub 43 minute 10km.  I want to get to that point again, really I do!  But that obviously hurt me in the miles after.  What would have been ideal is if I could have hit consistent 7:30 splits, but I can’t go back and change that.  I am happy, however, that I was able to reach my goal of being faster than 48 minutes.  I also was able to have a faster pace per mile at this event than I did back a month prior at the Bare Bones 9km.  A farther distance and a faster pace; I’ll take that!  My foot felt strong during the race, and I didn’t have too much pain afterward.  My cardio (and confidence) is what needs to come back.  And it will in time.  I was definitely feeling the ‘race pains’ then next day, but I couldn’t lay around….I had a 15 mile training run for the Goofy Challenge to do, and honestly….it went better than expected!  Countdown to Goofy is beginning NOW!

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After awards with Bob and his daughter Abby

Moonlight Run 2016

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On Saturday, March 19th, I participated in my fifth Moonlight Run 10km.  Moonlight Run, as I have written about before, is the marquee running event in Lethbridge.  This year, they maxed out on participants in the 10km and 6km, with 2800 people registered!  I first did this race in 2011.  My race times in the 10 km from my first four years were: (OA=Overall, G=Gender, AG=Age Group).

2011: 51:43—148/607 OA, 52/350 G, 9/61 AG (25-29 y/o)

2012: 54:25—210/587 OA, 74/350 G, 11/47 AG (25-29 y/o)

2014: 47:27—45/540 OA, 4/305 G, 2/42 AG  (25-29 y/o)

2015: 43:37—34/526 OA, 5/292 G, 1/55 AG  (30-34 y/o)

What would this year bring?

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As I have mentioned in earlier posts, I am having trouble with my foot.  This race would be the true test to see how it held up, as while it is only a 10 km distance, it involves a vertical drop of about 204 feet in the first mile.  Then, you are in the dark river bottom winding around sharp curves and more gain/loss of elevation.  And the final mile includes a gain in elevation of 267 feet back to the downtown core of Lethbridge.  It is quite the course indeed!

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Flat Andrea all set!

I was hoping to run something close to my time last year, as that was when I was in top shape and feeling strong.  With this being a night race, I did my packet pickup on the Friday and was able to sleep in Saturday.  Sleeping in is great.  Waiting around the rest of the day for the race is not.  I was so antsy that Dan and I headed to the race start area around 7:00 PM.  Getting their early enough allowed for a great parking spot, and I had time to roam around and chat with people.  The student volunteers were our WCHS kids (where I work) so being able to see them and have them as supporters on the course helps a lot.  A familiar face always helps!

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Husband & Wife pre-race

The race is a self-seeded event, so I positioned myself about three rows deep from the start.  I knew I wanted to be careful the first mile, as last year I went out very fast.  Last year, mile 1 was a 5:32.  This year, it was a 5:47.  (Remember, we are barreling down hill! The +/- differential here was +15 seconds this year.

I felt strong in the river bottom, even though my throat was dry.  At about mile one and a half, a lady I didn’t recognize passed me.  I knew at that point I was 3rd female, so I wanted to keep it that way, and maybe gain ground.  After doing the out and back down the nature centre trail to Tollestrup, it gets pretty lonely.  With the curves of the trails and the trees blocking the sky, you can’t really see much.  And, I don’t want to look behind myself much because that would just slow me down.  Miles 2-5 in 2015 were 6:35, 7:01, 7:16, and 7:27.  I fared better in this segment this year, running 6:33, 7:00, 7:07, 7:12.  The +/- differential was -2, -1, -9, -15.  I was right now ahead of my 2015 time by 12 seconds!  

Mile 6 is the kicker.  It’s the hill.  That damn hill.  By the time I got to the base of hte hill. I really couldn’t see anyone directly within striking distance.  My legs were feeling heavy, my mouth was dry, and my glutes hurt.  I started trying to catch up to a gentleman ahead of me, but seeing him start to walk in parts didn’t motivate me much to push.  It honestly made me want to start walking myself.  While I didn’t walk at all, I knew I was going slower than in 2015.  I did see the 2nd place woman in the distance, and while I didn’t think I could catch her, I tried to keep an eye on her as motivation.  Before I knew it, I was past the dreaded switchbacks and back onto the main road.  Mile 6 was 8:36 in 2015, and a slower 8:48 in 2016.  12 seconds slower.  So, even though I didn’t know it at the time…I was at the exact same race tine in 2016 as I was in 2015 when I hit mile 6.  

I had no clue how far any women were behind me.  I didn’t look back.  I pushed my tired legs the best I could down the final stretch and into the finish line, with a chip time of 44:10.I was slower than the year previous, and my GPS watch said I had ran a 6.25 mile race.  In 2015 I somehow managed to run the tangents a bit better or pay attention to the curves more, because I had ran a 6.21 mile race then.  Regardless, I was ecstatic.  Why?  While this wasn’t my best 10km time, or my best Moonlight time, it was my best Moonlight finish—3rd place female!

Post race at Moonlight brought lots of pictures, eating and chatting with friends.  Dan finished sooner than I had expected, finishing in a 54:37, a 9 minute improvement from last year!  He did no training, so please don’t give him applause 😉  We both waited for awards, got more pictures, and off we went.  Another successful Moonlight in the book!

So how were my stats in this race compared to 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015?

44:10—28/525 OA, 3/289 G, 1/48 AG (30-34 y/o)

I don’t know about you, but I’ll take that any day of the week!  Can’t wait until next year!

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Moonlight Run 10km 2016 Complete!

8.5 Weeks Until Boston…Training Progress, Race Goals, Injury Update

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Helllllloooooooooooo!  Crazy to see on my training plan that I am now 7.5 weeks in, with 8.5 weeks left to go!  Almost at that halfway point!  Training is on schedule and I am feeling pretty good.  I lamented before how it is frustrating sometimes as I notice myself slower on some workouts this year than I was last year, but I then remember that last year I was coming off some strong races in late fall/winter so I was better prepared to enter training.  I have had some awesome training runs, though, and that makes me feel even more confident getting to this halfway point.  The 16 miler I have on Saturday will be my first true test, in my opinion, as it has the mileage challenge and the mental challenge.  I missed my first 16 miler two weeks ago because I was fighting this awful stomach bug, so I need to go out and just get the mileage in.  Nothing fancy, no crazy pace accelerations…just run 16 miles in my long-run pace range (7:48-9:04 per mile).

I also have mentioned before that not having any races lately has made it hard at times to really push my limits.  On February 27th, I will be doing my first event of 2016.  The Hypothermic Half is an event held nationwide and put on by Running Room.  I am doing this in conjunction with my 18 miler that day, so I am not going to race it, just simply use it as part of my training run that day.  The ‘competitive’ events come in March and April, as I have the local Moonlight Run 10km on March 19th and the Trailbreaker Half Marathon in Waukesha, Wisconsin, on April 2nd.  My dream goal at Moonlight would be to place in top 3 women overall.  The race can be all over the place, due to the change in weather, time of year, and the wicked hill climb for the last 3/4 of a mile.  Last year, while I ran faster than the year prior, I placed 5th overall in women.  I ran a 43:47.  In 2014, I placed 4th overall with my 47:27.  This year, I expect to be somewhere in between those times, but have no real clue how I will finish.  It really depends on who shows up on race day….and I don’t mean just what competitors….I mean what Andrea will show up?!?!?

For Trailbreaker, I am planning on pushing myself to the limits and run the best half marathon I possibly can.  To beat my personal best, I would need to run faster than a 1:35:41.  I did that time exactly one year ago in frigid temperatures.  My most recent half marathon time was my less-than-pleasing Lethbridge Police Half, where I had stomach issues the last 4 miles and dropped position and time, finishing with a 1:40.13…well off what I was capable of.  So really, I am aiming for anything under 1:40 at Trailbreaker, as coming off a week of ‘vacationing’ in Milwaukee is sometimes a bit much.  And since I have been training for Boston, I know my  legs are ready for this.  And, the elevation is lower back home, so you never know!  Lets just hope the humidity stays away!

Lastly….my foot.  It’s not an injury, per say, but a nuisance.  I know, KNOW it is getting more aggravated by the day as I keep pounding out the mileage.  The new shoes and orthotics have helped tons, and I am so glad I got them.  However, the only way for it not to hurt would for me to not run, walk, stand, be human.  So, I am just going to keep ruining my foot and build that bone spur up more and more until I have a surgery date set.  I have been putting prescription 10% Voltaren on it as of late, and this has helped numb the pain.  I am set to see my podiatrist next week to talk about pain management, and then I will hopefully be booking an appointment with my family doctor (and sports medicine extraordinaire) to have him inject something into it?????  I have been going to physiotherapy pretty regularly, and I am addicted to the TENS machine…those electric wave pulses (or whatever they are) on my foot feel SO GOOD.  I really don’t know how my foot will hold up on races, as during runs I don’t really think about it. It is after I am done running and my shoe is off that the throbbing really kicks in.  So the Hypothermic half, Moonlight Run and Trailbreaker will all be good indicators on how 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boston will physically feel come April 18th!  I don’t really care if my foot feels like it is going to fall off during that race, because emotionally it will feel amazing!

 

 

Spending a Week Sidelined with Sickness

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Last week, I was riding on Cloud 9 after my Moonlight Run 10km success.  I went into my Sunday training run (60-90 minutes easy) and did 63 solid minutes and 7.37 miles,  this was epic considering I had ran the Moonlight Run less than 24 hours before!  I decided to use Monday as my rest day (could have been rest, cross train, or 45-60 minutes easy) as my throat was starting to feel a bit sore.  I was figuring it would pass. But, come Tuesday, all hell broke loose.

I had some huge training runs planned for the week—-90-105 minutes easy, 60-75 minutes easy, 8-10 Yasso 800s, and an 18-22 miler.  All of this had to be scrapped.  I attempted to do the 90-105 minute run on Tuesday, but had to end it after 23 minutes.  On Wednesday, I ran with my track and field kids for 3.55 miles, but finished with a dry-heaving attack in my classroom.  Coach Dean advised me to not do the Yasso 800s and rest on Friday, in hopes to run on Saturday.  I actually had to call in sick on Friday, as I had no voice (hadn’t sounded pretty since Wednesday) and felt like a pile of garbage.
While I started to feel a lot better on Friday night, when I mentioned to my husband about doing my 18-22 miler the next day, he lost it.  I was not close to 100% and this would do more harm than good.  I mentioned it to Dean, and asked if I should maybe do my shorter Sunday workout on Saturday and do the 18-22 on Sunday.  He told me 
exactly what I was thinking, but I needed affirmation from someone wiser in order to listen.
“…Rest is not the absence of training.  It is an integral part of training…Don’t stack the workouts.  Skip them if feeling sick.  Give yourself recovery time so you are 100% quicker.”
I ended up having three days in a row that I did not run.  This was the longest stretch in months that I haven’t run.  By Saturday night I was feeling useless, albeit healthier.  Today I felt well enough to do the planned workout—45-60 minutes easy.  I headed out early afternoon in the rain, and went down by Sugar Bowl and up the wooden stairs,  I went down some beaten up wash out paths and headed towards the river.  I eventually made it to a part that was marked off as “do not pass.”  Whatever, I did.  Yeah, I felt like a rebel…and it was great.  Ran on a portion of trail between part of the river and the Country Club before hitting a wash out, partially submerged bridge.  I climbed over it Spartan Race style and onto a really muddy trail.  I didn’t get too far before I hit 25 minutes and decided to turn back and head home.  This route, which I did not know existed until today, will be one worth exploring when it is summer!  It was an awesome run, I felt great, did not hack up a lung when I was done, and finished 55 minutes on pace!  
So this week I will be back at the it.   Back at the grind.  And I am happy about it.  Having a slow week after finishing the prior week on such a high was difficult and frustrating, because there was nothing I could do except wait out my terrible cold.  I am glad I took those rest days, as it was needed after pushing so hard at Moonlight, and I hope to stay healthy from now until Vancouver.  BQ or Bust!

Moonlight Run 2015 – 10km Race Recap

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The Moonlight Run in Lethbridge, Alberta, is the largest running event of the year.  They offer a 6km and a 10km event-the 6 km had  1739 participants and the 10km had 526.  The unique factor about the race is in its name—it starts at 8 pm at night and you run down in the river bottom with the light of the moon marking your path.  This year would be my fourth time running the Moonlight Run, and I had set some high expectations for myself.  Ultimately, I wanted to beat my previous Moonlight Run time from last year (47:27) but I also wanted to place well.  While I wasn’t training specifically for a 10km, as I am now right in the middle of my Vancouver Marathon training, I had been getting in lots of speed work and was feeling strong.  Only time would tell.




I was nervous and anxious all day.  That’s part of the trouble with a night race—-you have all day to think about it and get worked up!  I had my clothes picked out even the night before, and I was getting antsy by 6 pm.  I even attempted a nap earlier, but I just laid in bed and played on my phone.  My husband was also going to participate in the run (he said this was to show his support for my craziness) and I somehow managed to get him to leave the house around 7 pm.  We live a whopping five minutes from the race start by car, so we got there real early (but at least had a great parking spot!). I wanted time to calm my nerves—I would find some of my running friends from marathon club and chat, and I would also find students and teachers from my school who were at the event.  Our music department volunteers every year at Moonlight Run and the kids do a great job at the tasks they are given!  I also needed to find the kids who had signed up to run, as while I was nervous and anxious, I knew they would be even more so!

I eventually did my warmup and got settled into the starting corral.  It was self-seeded so I wormed my way up to the second row of people…right near the front.  I knew I wanted to head out strong and by being at the front this would help out.  Plus, your gun time would be used for placings, so I wanted to be near the starting mat.




After the national anthems, the horn went off, and the 10km had begun.  The first 1/4 of a mile was a blur, as I just had my focus finding my pace and finding a space in the pack.  I knew I was going out pretty fast, plus this first mile stretch was all downhill.  Hopefully this wouldn’t come back to bite me.
As we headed down Wendy’s hill, the firefighter pipe and drum band was playing.  This is an awesome thing to witness as you are running down into the dark river bottom!  At the bottom of Wendy’s hill, after a loss of 203 feet in elevation (according to my Nike app) I hit mile one.  I ran my first mile in 5:32….what the F$&K?!?   Ok, granted, this was downhill….but this is the FASTEST I have EVER ran a mile in my entire damn life.  My high school best in the 1600 m (mile run) was a 5:47.  Yes, that was on a flat track….but still.  Holy crap.   I was screwed.  At what point in this race would I fall apart?  
The next mile heads out towards the bridge and to Tollestrup construction.  As I headed out north before the turnaround, it was very easy to find your spacing in the pack.  No one was next to me, you had room to move your elbows, and the darkness didn’t really take a toll, as there was lots of open space and the sky was clear.  Mile 2 was hit partway down this path and I ran it in a still ridiculously fast 6:35.   The fact I was able to keep up a faster than normal pace after barreling down a deep incline was a shocker to me.  There had been a small elevation loss of 66 feet during this stretch, so negligible compared to the first mile.  At the turnaround, it got to be a little tougher as now you aren’t running alone on the path.  All the other runners in the 10km who are behind you are heading north as you head back south towards the bridge.  Many have headlamps that are shining bright in your eyes, so you must look down at the ground.  And some people aren’t aware of the runners already heading back so they take up 3 people across the path.  I was sure my time would slow greatly at this point, expecting somewhere in the 7:30s.  I managed to get to mile 3 in 7:01.  I was nearly halfway done and already had a personal record breaking 5km time.  I needed to keep it together.
Since mile 1 I had been placed as the 5th female.  I knew this for sure as I counted the women ahead of me at the turnaround.  During mile 4 I had wanted to gain some ground on runner 4.  This proved to be tricky, as while I am knowledgable of this part of the course, it happens to get quite darker in this section.  The tree coverage is greater, it is harder to see the sky, and the path has many “gentle” rolls in it.  I made some ground on about three or four men, passing them while no one passed me, so that felt good.  We were heading toward Whoop Up Drive basically blind, and I was trying to move as quick as I could without freaking out in the dark.  By getting to Whoop Up there would be lights on the bridge to illuminate the sky above.  I ran mile 4 in 7:16.  
Mile 5 was when I knew I had to keep it together.  While the hill would be my last battle, this would be where I could either keep it up, or lose it all.  My body was feeling great, so I knew this would be a mental battle.  I moved on to the next turn around, near the water treatment plant, where then the runners looped back on a gravel/paved road section.  This is relatively well lit and would take us to Fort Whoop Up, and the path we needed to take back to the finish.  My feet start to feel heavy as I am on this gravel/paved/stone road.  I needed to keep it moving but was starting to get worried.  I knew I was on pace to get a personal best, and I was scared to lose that.  I was running with no one immediately in front of me or beside me…but then I heard a familiar trot behind me.  It was my friend Glenn from run club.  Glenn has a very distinctive cadence in his run, and Glenn, I mean this kindly, I think it is because you are so short that it is so obvious.  I mean, I am short too so I am sure my plodding is distinctive.  But I knew it was Glenn coming up behind me as we neared mile 5, and this gave me a huge push.  Glenn is a seasoned runner, a veteran, who qualified and ran in the Boston Marathon last year.  He works hard and trains hard.  We mumbled a couple things to each other as we approached mile 5 (which I ran in 7:27). I knew I needed to “race” Glenn up this mother of a hill for the last mile in order to achieve my goal of a personal best.
Having someone who you know is faster than you at a 10km race run next to you is some motivation, let me tell you.  This last hill is adjacent to the steady main road we headed down during mile 1.  The 10km runners got to run up this wonky, almost-too-cruel bike path that has so many pitches and switch backs that if you saw it in daylight you would laugh.  Every time we hit an incline, I powered my short-ass legs up, passing Glenn each time.  I think I pissed him off each time, because then he would pass me when it would level out.  This cat and mouse game went on for about three or four cycles as we climbed up this beast.  Eventually, Glenn surpassed me once we got to the top and away from the steep inclines, and off he went. I powered all the way up and made it to mile 6, which was right next to Galt Gardens, in 8:36.  Not too shabby for doing a 268 feet climb in elevation.  The 10km runners were now side by side with 6km runners as we headed to the finish.  I again got into a runners’ haze and didn’t pay attention to any faces around me.  I rounded that last corner and finish in my personal record smashing time of 43:47.45…beating my Moonlight personal best by nearly 4 minutes 30 seconds, and beating my regular 10km best by 1 minute 50 seconds!

I had never been able to catch any of the women ahead of me.  I closed in on number 4, but 1-3 were way too far ahead.  While my time this year would have gotten me 1st for women in this same event last year, that was not the case.  I placed 5th out of 292 women and 34th out of 526 overall participants in the Moonlight Run 10km 2015.  And while I could have been upset about that, I was nothing but ecstatic.  I was mainly in a state of shock when I finished, as I couldn’t believe how I ran that time.  I then found out shortly thereafter I placed 1st out of 55 in the 30-34 female age category!  An age category first place in this big of a race is a huge accomplishment for myself! 






I found some of my runner friends after finishing and we were are able to congratulate each other on our accomplishments.  I wasn’t the only one who hit a personal best, as Bob and Jeremy also achieved ones of their own.  Of the 8 of us who are part of our Waterton to Glacier Relay Team (100 mile relay from Cardston, Alberta, to East Glacier, Montana) 7 of us were at the race that evening.  Julia did not run but was an awesome volunteer yelling support as we reached the top of the hill.  The other six of us ran the 10km and 5 of us placed in our age categories.  Also placing in their age groupings were two of my students, who medaled in the 6km event!  They placed 4th and 5th in the 16-19 female group!




Moonlight Run was everything I had hoped it would be and more.  Will I run an epic personal best every year at Moonlight?  Probably not.  But will the race itself keep being as memorable of an evening?  I definitely think so.  Moonlight Run is a top-notch running event in my “new” hometown, and I look forward to it every year.  This was the 28th running of the Moonlight Run and I can only hope that I am able to run in the next 28 Moonlight Runs! 

The End-of-Winter Slump

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It was bound to happen.

I’ve been training and racing pretty much non stop since March 2013. So the fact that my left knee hurts a tad and I am sort of in a slump is understandable. Coming off the Moonlight Run 10km last weekend, I was feeling pretty much on top of the world! A normal, sane human being would have taken a few days rest and slowly climbed back into training. I took two days off, then ran 4 miles Tuesday, 8.5 miles Wednesday, and a slow 5 miles Thursday. The 5 miles on Thursday were slow because this is when I really noticed the pain behind my left knee cap.

Our athletic director told me to do the “poop squat” test to see if my knee was really an issue. What is this deranged test you ask? Well, he had me squat with my legs shoulder width and my quads parallel to the ground, like I was shitting in the woods, I held this for 15 seconds. My knee didn’t have any pain as I held it. So, according to Toby, I’m alright.

Maybe it is just a mix of pure exhaustion catching up to me. Friday I was going to do 7 miles, but I opted for a 2 hour nap before attending a friend’s birthday party. I was worn out all night and yawning every five minutes. But, I did the 7 miles on Saturday, and I felt solid! I split the mileage into a 5 miler and a 2 miler—I did a route on the west side of town before going to watch our JV boys basketball team in the zone finals at the university. Then, I ran the 2 miles home. During the first portion of the run, I really pushed the limits and knocked out a 7:33 pace during mile 5. My knee felt just fine!

Today, however, I woke up around 10:00 am. My alarm was not set this morning, so I missed marathon club. I was supposed to get in a 10 miler today. But, now I am glad I didn’t. The pain in my knee is back. And I’m trying to figure out how to best tackle this upcoming week.

My only half marathon of the spring is on Saturday in Calgary-The Run for L’Arche. I really want to lay it all out there and push for that sub 1:40. The course is relatively flat, and appears to have a slight decline after the midway turnaround. It’s a 10:00 am race, and there is packet pick up for out of town runners on the morning of the race. This will allow me to sleep soundly in my own bed, get up early and trek up to Calgary.

In preparation for this event, I am planning on resting tomorrow, but then running 8 miles (Tuesday) 4 miles of intervals (Wednesday), and a very easy 3.1 miles (Thursday) before resting on Friday night. The Thursday run may even become shorter, but I need it as a shakeout run. And if I don’t feel like a complete pile, I will be attending run club on Sunday. Yes, I will have raced in Saturday…and this may be why I feel like I am hitting the proverbial wall…and maybe this is the explanation for the knee pain…but the longer distance of 16 miles is something I need to do when I have others around me as encouragement. With the Calgary Full in June as my big event this spring, I need to feel confident in the longer runs, even if I am taking it at a slow pace. I think come Sunday afternoon, I may be buying a couple bags of ice and having a big old ice bath!

That’s it for tonight. Hopefully next week I have some great news to share in regards to how the half marathon went. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll feel more like a normal human being again. Doubtful…but it could happen!

Moonlight Run 10km Race Recap-What a Night for a Race!

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Last night was the 27th annual Moonlight Run 6km and 10km. This is the largest race in Lethbridge, Alberta, and is held every year in March. Approximately 2500 runners stormed the streets of downtown Lethbridge and headed down into the dark river bottom. It didn’t matter which event you participated in, because you could not avoid the crazy hill back up to 3rd Avenue. I had written about my goals for this race in my last post, so now I will briefly recap the event and let you know if I achieved what I set out to get!

The weather the past two weeks has been, in lack of a better phrase, “bat shit crazy.” It has been at polar vortex levels, with icy, sandy snow blowing, and really what looked to be no end in sight. When I went down to do the course one more time on Wednesday, I went to check out all the icy spots. TONS of black ice, and this would become exponentially more dangerous as it got darker out. I knew everyone would have to be going a lot slower in the curves of huge trail system in Indian Battle Park.

But then a weird thing happened…we got above freezing on Friday! I don’t know the exact stats, but since Friday afternoon when that Chinook wind blew through, we have been steadily above freezing and everything has melted. Looking out my back window right now, I see no snow, and it is currently 52 degrees Fahrenheit. This balmy breakthrough helped “break the ice”, yet then turned the course into a Spartan Race. (More on that in a bit.)

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My husband Dan and I got down to the race start at CASA early, and I was able to say hi to some of my students who were volunteering. The music department has students volunteer every year at Moonlight, so I saw tons of familiar faces. I even found time to snap a photo with the one and only Susie Staples before the race! She is our music instructor at WCHS and was responsible for getting all the student volunteers!

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Race started at 8:00 pm for the 10 km and 8:15 pm for the 6 km. There were 539 runners in the 10 km this evening (this is the number I am getting from the official results). The 6km had three times the number of participants, with 1646! I positioned myself about two rows back from the front and was ready to go. The fun thing, for me at least, at this race is that they sing the national anthems for both the United States and Canada. I believe this is because of participants coming in from Montana for the race. No other race would take the time to care about something like that, so I find it very cool!

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A cannon started us off immediately following “Oh Canada.” Stampede! Dan tried to get a shot of me flying by…really you can kind of make me out as the purple blur in the right corner of the photo. We turned onto 3rd Avenue and started our slow descent. There is a natural downhill as you head west on 3rd Avenue and this natural downhill turns into a steep drop as you hit Wendy’s hill. I was booking it! The roads were clear and visibility was great for this first straightaway so I figured I’d take advantage of it. I saw fellow colleague Amie S. with her dog Roscoe at the beginning of the downhill stretch–she was there to cheer on her husband Morgan! Her “GO ANDREA!” got me smiling! Halfway down the hill the Lethbridge Firefighter’s Pipe & Drum Band was pumping out some fanatic music. I soon hit mile 1 at record time-6:21.39. Wowsa.

When I approached what I would consider a 120 degree clockwise turn in the river bottom, my vision and depth perception almost went blank. Even though I had my headlamp on, the sudden change from being on a road lit with street lamps to now being on a trail with nothing was huge. I stumbled and slowed a tad, but regained my composure. We headed towards the newly refurbished Helen Schuler Nature Centre, and an aboriginal drumming group was helping keep the tempo. Heading towards the Highway 3 overpass was when everyone first encountered what I would end up calling “ice puddles.” It was the lesser of two evils, because these puddles were black ice on Wednesday…but this is where my experience in Spartan Races helped me. Well…not really. But I can say that since I have ran through mud and crap and water before in those races, I decided to just commit to running straight through these ocean of icebergs. I first tried going around the puddle and off the trail, but that was pure deep mud and a mix of iced up snow, which was more dangerous. Wet feet and calves it would have to be.

My second mile clocked in at 7:05.02. I was happy with my second mile because I knew it would be tough after the sharp turnaround to keep mile 3 near this pace. After the turnaround runners had to share the already narrow path with the 10km runners who were heading towards Highway 3. Most oncoming runners were good at sharing the path; I only encountered one pairing of people coming towards me that seemed to think they could take up the whole width. We were guided off the path near the nature centre and met disgusting mud. I am glad I got through this before a bunch of people, because I’m sure it just got more mucked up later on. As we turned parallel to the train bridge, I hit mile 3 at 7:25.79.

The stretch between mile 3 and 4 was honestly the toughest for me. No, not the hill! But this portion of trail. The fact that it was dark wasn’t even the main issue…it was the fact it was now around 8:30 pm and every 100 metres or so you would hit an ice bath. These slowed you down even if you tried to just pummel on through. I’m glad I was familiar with these trails because I could prepare myself for areas I thought would be iffy. This race also further supports why I don’t listen to music when racing—if I had had headphones on and music blasting, you wouldn’t be able to use all your senses to grasp what was happening around you. There was a gentleman in front of me most of this stretch that I could see due to his reflective shirt and my headlamp—I was able to see when he hit stretches of puddles and this got me prepared for every icy submersion I hit. Mile 4 was what I consider my “slowest” clocking in at 7:57.07.

Mile 5 was more of the same, but less puddles. The trail opened up after the turn around near the water treatment plant. Street lamps were now back on the gravel road and I could start to get my stride back. I finished the 5th mile at 7:51.49. And this is when we hit what separated the men from the boys……

The hill. If you aren’t from Lethbridge, the pictures from my last blog post don’t do this hill justice. And the fact that the 10km runners had to run on the trail parallel to the actual road made it even more challenging. The pitches on this trail were insane. But I knew I could tackle this—I’d done this hill twice and in the past year I have done more hill training than my previous 9 years of running! I knew I had a woman close behind me before this hill, because I could hear her breathing throughout the whole trail system, but once we hit that hill, I made a gap. I also managed to pass three men one right after another as we started our initial ascent. Sure, my pace nosedived at this point, but I went as fast as I could up this hill. I caught up to a guy around my age at one of the steepest switchbacks. These switchbacks added a new challenge versus just running straight up the road! There were even more spots to have to slow down as you did these quick turns. Back to the guy, though…we didn’t speak other than me saying “good job!” as I met up next to him. I think the fact that a girl his age had caught up to him lit a fire under his ass, because we kept up together the duration of the trail. It was good motivation for me, and I’m sure I helped him indirectly get up that hill….who wants to be beaten by a girl?!?

Mile 6 was my slowest paced mile—-I knew it would be with that hill. It was a 9:14.68. But I am so proud of how I tackled it. I did not walk, I did not let anyone pass me, and I gained some ground. The 10km and 6km runners joined forces as we head down 3rd Avenue back to CASA. It was now hard telling who was who in the race, as all runners mingled. I kept my head forward and pushed on through the the finish. As I turned towards the finish the announcers were able to read my number and announce “….another female 10km finisher was coming in…Andrea Lammers-Pottage of Lethbridge….she’s close to top 3 in females!” I finished with an official chip time of 47:27 flat. Not too shabby considering the conditions! I immediately felt overjoyed with my time! Dan got some not-so-flattering pictures of me coming back to earth, and we headed off to find some results.

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I was so excited to see the results beginning to be posted….I placed 2nd in the females 25-29 category! I had achieved my goal of top 3 in my division! The big surprise was that I actually got 4th out of 304 women! And of the 539 total racers in the 10km, I placed 45th! Below is a snapshot of my results and a link to the official results on racepro.ca!

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Race Results for the 10km at Moonlight Run 2014

The awards started at 9:30 pm, beginning with the 6km event. They took quite a long time, but Erin from Runners Soul kept it moving as fast as possible. With age divisions being 5 years apart, and placings going 5 deep, you couldn’t move much faster! Dan joked later on that we waited twice as long for the awards than it took me to run my event. The 10km awards began sometime after 10 pm. The wait for my 2nd place medal was well worth it! It is beautiful! Honestly, this is probably one of my favorite medals. Not just because of the fact that I achieved my goal in order to earn it, but it captures the essence of Lethbridge so well!
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Well. Another Moonlight Run is in the books. It was my most successful Moonlight to date and I can’t wait until next year. The race went off without a hitch! The fact that the weather Gods decided to help us out on Friday was huge! Now I want to look if there are any nearby 10 km races this spring in an hour radius, because I am determined to break 45 minutes! With every race comes a new goal! Thanks for reading my long entry! Happy Sunday everyone!

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Below is the link to the main page of results for all events at the 2014 Moonlight Run! All categories are broken down in both the 6km and 10km
2014 Moonlight Run Results from Racepro.ca

Moonlight Run 10km—Strategy Time!

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The Moonlight Run is the annual night race held each March in Lethbridge, Alberta. This year marks the 27th running of the Moonlight Run! This race always fills up, as runners can chose between the 6km or 10km distance. The 2500 runner capacity easily gets reached! I am signed up for the 10km this Saturday, March 8th, and have set some goals for myself this year. The Moonlight Run has placings that go 5 deep in each gender-age category—but I am aiming for top 3 in the female 25-29. This is my main goal. And since I set this goal, I decided it would be a good idea to do a dry-run of the course, which I did on Friday. The course has some new additions to it this year and I wanted to set a strategy!
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Both race distances begin and end at CASA, our new community arts centre, on 3rd Ave South. The racers will head west towards the river bottom—no turns at all for the first mile. Included in the first mile is the massive downhill which is affectionately called “Wendy’s Hill” by us at marathon club. The hill goes by a Wendy’s…what more do you want in a name? The start is at approximately 913 metres of elevation (2,995 feet) and after the descent into the river bottom a runner will be at 825 metres (2,706 feet). That all happens in that first mile!
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The first mile has lots of open space to call your own, but once you are in the river bottom, it’s a different story. The 10 km runners will head towards the train bridge and Highway 3, where they will ultimately turn around just after the overpass. This then will make the course even more narrow after the mile 2 turnaround, as you will have runners going both directions. It is very important that I place myself in a good racing position well before the mile 2 turnaround, as passing will then become next to impossible.
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At mile 3, runners will turn on the path towards the river. Once I get to this turn, I will now be in an area I have raced on many times. Most recently was during the Claus Cause 10km in November when I PR’d with a 45:37. It was a course one would not consider getting a PR on, but I seem to have a thing with getting my best times on crazy winding, hilly local Lethbridge courses. It will be important to run the tangents in this segment and also hug the curve as needed. My short 5’3″ self needs to use any advantage I can get!
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From mile 3 until about mile 5.5, runners are just circulating through the Indian Battle Park trails. I know from past years it is obviously quite dark down there, but with my head lamp and the lights from the volunteers all will be good! There were some icy patches still on Friday, and the Polar Vortex temperatures from this weekend definitely did not melt these. Hopefully this week brings warmer temperatures to melt those suckers!

The last challenge to tackle is the run back up Wendy’s Hill. This year, the 10km racers will head up on the trail which is parallel to the road, while the 6km runners get the road. I have to say—this trail is a pain!. Pictures don’t even begin to show how intense it is. There are some interesting sections that get pretty steep! I’m just going to have to find the power in me and push, push, push up this climb! The faster I run, the sooner I’m done! We will join onto the main road about 3/4 up the hill, and then it’s a straight shot back to CASA.

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This is a challenging course-but really, all courses in Lethbridge are tough. The hills on Lethbridge courses are inevitable unless you are just doing a 5km. Over the last year of running with Runners Soul, my confidence has increased immensely when it comes to tackling these hills. That, along with my time drops in the past year, is why I have set this lofty goal for my first race out this year. No matter what my time and place ends up to be this Saturday, the Moonlight Run will be a great race to kick off the 2014 season!

Here is the link to the PDF map of the 2014 6km and 10km course for Moonlight Run, presented by Runners Soul!
Course Map