Tag Archives: pacing

…and Winter is Here

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We had a really random weather-week here in Lethbridge. It was 67 degrees outside last week Monday. 67! On January 26th! In Lethbridge, Alberta, CANADA! Well, of course this wasn’t going to last. This Saturday blizzard-like conditions hit and I looked outside at 7:15 am saying “What the……” It was time for me to head to my first Runners Soul Marathon Club run of the year and I needed to get in 90-105 minutes at a pace between 8:02-9:23 for each mile. As much as I wanted to head back into bed, I knew I couldn’t.

Club run was 8 miles in length for those training for marathon distance, but I knew I would need more than 8 to reach 90 minutes. I ran from our house to Runners Soul (which is exactly a mile!) and got there in 8:58. The snow had started in the middle of the night, so nothing was shoveled yet, and visibility was tough. I knew this 8 mile route would feel a whole longer today.

The route brought us around the southside to the trail behind Home Depot near the coulees, past the College, and back down Scenic Drive. I won’t lie-it was rough going. I had wanted to be hitting around 8:20s for my pace, but I knew with the snow and ice I would have to lessen up, but still stay within pace parameters. I managed to do so for 7/8 of the miles in the club run, and the one I didn’t hit was only off by seconds! My miles were done in 8:57, 8:42, 8:43, 8:50, 8:41, 8:47, 9:03, and 9:26. So it wasn’t until the last mile that I fade and missed my pace by 3 seconds. I warmed up a bit in the store (which was a mistake) because then when I went outside to do my last mile home I got SO COLD SO FAST. I ran as hard as my body would let me and got home in 9:10. My feet were soaked, my fingers were numb, and my husband greeted me at the door with “I can’t believe you ran in that shit.”

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While still snowy outside today, the weather had warmed up to just at freezing. My options for today were either to take an off day, run 30-45 minutes easy, or cross train. My calves were sore from all the resistance running in the snow, so I opted for cross training. My husband and I took our nearly 8-year old beagle out to the off-leash dog park for a little hike. 3.2 miles later, we had taken Snoopy through the coulees, down stairs, through bushes, off the path….he acted like a puppy and was having so much fun. He even did some sprints with us up some hills and held his own. It wasn’t a traditional “workout” but it was a perfect way to spend the Sunday. Winter may be back, but that doesn’t mean it has to slow anyone down.

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Initial Post-Race Thoughts From Calgary 2014

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photo 1So it’s been about 24 hours since I finished the Calgary Full Marathon. I went in with the lofty goal of achieving not only a Boston Qualifying time, but a 3:30:00. All my training and experience pointed towards this being possible. I even did the Red Deer Half Marathon on May Long to practice the 8:00 minute mile pace I wanted to achieve and I nailed a 7:59 average pace. And I felt great after!

 

Yesterday, unfortunately, did not go as planned. I woke up so nervous, but figured it would pass. I gave myself plenty of time to eat my standard race-day breakfast and let it settle. We walked to the start line. I got situated comfortably in the corral and was set. I was fired up and ready to get it!

 

I started off fine, but was having trouble comfortably maintaining the needed pace. I ran an 8:04, 7:58, 8:11, 7:59, 8:08, 8:06, 7:58, 8:23, 8:11, 8:13, 8:19, 8:29, and 8:13 for the first 13 miles. My half marathon time was approximately a 1:46:50.  This was abotu 3 minutes slower than I was two weeks prior at Red Deer Half Marathon, and I didn’t feel as strong as I did at that time.  I could still get a BQ if I maintained an 8:15 minute mile pace for every mile after, or faster. At this point in the game, though, my meniscus had been flaring up a tad. This was what I have been going to massage therapy for the last month or so, and it had helped a ton. I did not have this pain in Red Deer. I also had cramps like none other—women cramps—the worst kind. I tried to mentally get myself back in the game—miles 14, 15, and 16 were an 8:17, 8:14, and 8:07. Still on track, albeit I would need to keep at it. It was at mile 17 it all deterred. I slowed down to around 9:00 minute miles for each mile after. I finished with a personal best of 3:46:22. Yes, it is a personal best, and I am proud of that. But it’s not what I went out to do.

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I’m actually surprised I didn’t cry afterwards or even today because I am honestly sad. I really wanted this. And maybe some of you will think “Well, if you wanted it, why didn’t you run harder?” 26.2 miles is a different story. The last time I ran 26.2 was in Disney, and the surroundings of Disney really helped keep me going. That course was also very flat and the elevation level was nothing. While I felt more prepared going into this race, maybe I just got myself too nervous and put too much pressure on it. Maybe I needed to not rely on myself this race, but try to work with the pace group instead. Maybe I did need the moral support of either my husband or my cousin on the course seeing me at different check points. Maybe, maybe, maybe…..

 

Now it’s a game of “Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda.” I know I can’t go back and change how yesterday played out.  I can’t let that play in my mind, because I am going to be a wreck over it. What I can do is not give up. While it may not be the best decision to register for a full marathon that is occurring in August, in approximately 12 weeks, but I am. The Edmonton Full Marathon is on August 24th. I have ran the half here twice, and the course is FLAT. The elevation in Edmonton is 2,116 ft. Lethbridge, where I live, is 2,990 feet, and Calgary is 3,428 feet. These are all positives weighing in my direction. However, do I enjoy running long distances in the heat of the summer? No, but I will. I will get up at 5:30 am on long run mornings to get the distance in. My mileage base is up so high right now that it would be a shame to give it all up. The weather is the biggest factor in this race, and I can’t control that. But I can control what I do so I am prepared to tackle it the best I can. I know I said Calgary was my one shot at the BQ this year, but everyone needs a second chance. Edmonton 2014, I’m coming to get you.

 

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Woody’s RV World Red Deer Half Marathon 2014-Race Recap

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My previous post was about my preparation for the Woody’s RV World Red Deer Half Marathon. Today, I am going to recap the race and let you know if my goal came to be!

This is the fourth year I have ran the Red Deer Half Marathon. I ran in 2010, 2012, 2013, and now this year. It is convenient in that my in laws live in Red Deer, but it is also a great race! The volunteers are fantastic, and swag is pretty great (with one complaint) and the course is gorgeous.

Pick up was no issue at all, as usual. Stopped to get my goods on Friday night, so I had plenty of time to then relax on Saturday I forgot BodyGlide and HoneyStinger Chews, which then caused me to go back to the expo and purchase these. (I didn’t know where any other running store was in town so this was easiest!). Had some pasta with the family Saturday night, threw back a beer that evening (per usual pre race plan) and went to bed early. 6:00 am alarm came fast!

I did my pre-race ritual of eating oatmeal and drinking coffee. I taped myself up, put on some Voltaren 10% on my knee, and headed outside for a warmup. I wanted to get more than 13.1 miles in today, so I planned on doing a 1 mile warmup before the race. I ended up doing about 1.5 miles, but thankfully I did this as I determined I was dressed too warm. Sure, it was raining, but I was already warm with a short sleeve Lululemon shirt on, so I quickly put on a tank, got on a garbage bag to protect myself from the rain, and walked to the start line.

I cut it pretty close this year, arriving at the start line at probably 7:53. It is nearly a mile from my in-laws house and I was power walking it. I got positioned in the corral, Oh Canada was sang, and away we went! You can notice how confused I am at that very moment by looking at the photo found on the front page of the Red Deer Advocate. Nice.

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So my goal this race was to pace it like I will when running in Calgary on June 1st for my full; an 8:00 minute per mile pace. I knew my first mile was going to be a crapshoot, and I actually ended up going too slow! I ran mile 1 in 8:14! I set my Nike plus GPS watch to Average Pace so I could watch it work the way back down to 8:00. Miles 2-5 clocked in at 7:58, 8:01, 7:55, and 7:47, respectively.

The course is gorgeous, and follows the trail system on the Red Deer River. I have ran these trails many times, even though I don’t live in Red Deer, as they are convenient to my in-laws place. Familiarity does help a ton when you are shooting for a specific time in a race, as I knew when certain hills or hazards were coming. As I approached one tricky hill on the south side of the Red Deer river, I started talking with a lady around my age about her pace. Her name was Christy—she was doing the full and was going for 3:30! She was running the same pace as me, but obviously I was only doing the half. For the rest of the course, until she kept going to finish her full, we stuck near each other. Using each other as pace buddies was helpful! I had slowed a bit on that hill, hitting an 8:25 for mile 6, but then got back on track with help from Christy. We ran miles 7-12 in 7:51, 7:56, 8:15, 7:52, 7:53, and 8:02.

I had to run the last mile alone, as the full course forked to the left. I headed behind Lindsay Thurber High School, up Michener Hill, and coasted down to the finish line. This last “mile” took me about 7:00. I put mile in quotes because throughout the race I did not have to weave through traffic much, I hugged the curves, and I ran the tangents. My little legs need any advantage possible. I crossed the finish line comfortable with a time of 1:43.09…and I felt great!

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I was met at the finish line with my finisher’s medal, water, a banana, and one of those space blankets. My only petty complaint about this race is the medal, as this is now the third year in a row the medal has had the same design on the front face, with the backside date being the only thing that changed. After receiving those goodies, I was greeted by my father-in-law and my beagle Snoopy. Snoopy was not thrilled as the rain was now really coming down. I had to get a finisher’s photo with him, because I realized earlier last week that I had a photo with my silly beagle every year at this race! Apparently it is a tradition!

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I had met my “goal” for this race-I completed the half marathon at the same pace I plan on doing my full marathon. And most importantly, I felt like I could keep on going. It is now Tuesday evening and I am not sore one bit! I took yesterday off, but ran a comfortable 6 miles this evening, and I don’t even have knee pain! I am more ready than ever before to attempt to earn the coveted Boston Qualifying time. Less than two weeks….!

A shoutout to Christy, who did meet her goal, finishing the Red Deer Full Marathon in 3:29:00! Boston Qualifier!

Reevaluating my Training Calendar

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On August 19th, after my 16 day Disney extravaganza, I started following my official Dopey Training Calendar. Brian Darrow from Digital Running Club had outlined a sample basic calendar for members of our Facebook group (Dopey Training Crew) and he was nice enough to suggest to me which weeks to splice together, as I was starting it later than others and had more of a base of miles started. When the school year began, I had been signed up for the Super Spartan in Red Deer, Bare Bones Half in Lethbridge and the Wine & Dine Half in Disney. Three races during the school year and then Dopey to top it off in January seemed good!. But the I signed up for then Spartan Beast….and the Spartan Sprint the following day….and I got asked to be a relay member for the Grizzly Ultra in Canmore….and I signed up for the Lethbridge Claus Cause 10km….and I randomly just did a 10km for the University of Lethbridge Pre Med Club this past Saturday….

So my three races before Dopey turned into 8….

I have still been getting in my miles needed for my weekly totals. It has been tough due to the hectic nature of this school year, but I have made it work by juggling days in my calendar. Last week Sunday on the day for Bare Bones half, I was suppose to run 18 miles. So after the race, I ran home. It ended up being 5.5 miles back, but I made my weekly.

This week, though, my body started to hit a wall.

I have been taking every race I run seriously, and not used them as “training runs” but as competitions. My adrenaline has been going harder than ever before. For instance, at Bare Bones I knocked 5.5 minutes off my previous best time and rolled in at 1:41:07. I felt like a rock star after finishing and that feeling stuck with me as I ran home.

That feeling turned into immense pain in my hamstrings by morning.

The average person will train some months for their first race, and then take about a week or two off after to recuperate. If you take that race seriously at your race pace, you will undoubtedly feel like crap the next day, unlike after an easy 10 mile training jog.Feeling like “crap” after a successful race is good in my eyes, as it means I pushed myself enough. I admit, I haven’t taken days to rest after each race…..not like I should have at least. But I needed to keep building my mileage base since I will be competing a full marathon in January.

But the pain in my hamstrings Monday morning hit hard. I was going to run 5 miles that day but when I stepped outside to start the run, the first few steps hurt so bad. I readjusted the calendar. The 5 miles in Tuesday turned into 3 miles. Wednesday was 1 mile, Thursday was off, Friday was 5. My race on Saturday became just the race, not an additional 2 miles after to make that day 8. And today’s 18 miles just didn’t happen.

Am I failing myself now? No…but I need to take care of my body so I can make it to Dopey. I could have gone out and ran that 18 today….but I pushed hard yesterday at the Pre Med Hoof It 10km (got my PR with a 46:32!) and just have an overall exhaustion taking over my body from the work during the weekday. I slept a solid 12 hours last night, and I needed it. This morning I readjusted this next week and next weeks’ training days, as I will be prepping for Wine and Dine. I needed to incorporate more of a taper leading into Wine and Dine, as my friend gave me the go ahead to run in Corral A on my own and go for my best time (I hope to get into the 1:40s, and ultimately maybe under 1:40 into the world of the 30s!)

My goals with my races have evolved over the past months since starting. Back in April when I ran in Waukesha, Wisconsin, at the Trailbreaker Half all I wanted to do was break 1:54:19. I did that with a 1:52:53, and I have not looked back since. I went on this running and writing and fundraising journey to do something special in memory of my dad. I was always planning on running more races in one year than I ever had before. But I hadn’t planned on having the sheer drive to keep competing against my own personal bests and to keep on striving to improve. I am excited to see what the rest of 2013 brings with my upcoming races, and I am even more anxious to continue what I have started as I head into 2014!

Race Recap—There’s No Place Like Home! The Trailbreaker Half Marathon

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Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The land of my family, beer, cheese, the Brewers, and the Fonz. Why wouldn’t I want to spend Spring Break 2013 here? And hey!-a half marathon is happening in neighboring Waukesha? I’ll do that!….

On Saturday, April 6th, I competed in The Trailbreaker Half Marathon in Waukesha, Wisconsin. No, I did not fly back home solely for this race. I was actually home on my own for Spring Break visiting friends and family and I was suppose to be leaving in the morning of April 6th. Air Canada, however, got rid of the morning flight from Milwaukee to Toronto shoutout to the MKE to YYZ!. I don’t blame them for removing this flight, as it is hardly ever 1/2 full during the week and is usually just business travelers. So when they changed my flight, I got moved to the evening 7:15 pm flight, thus allowing me to register for a race! It worked out in the end anyway!

As hard as it is to believe, this would actually be the first race of mine that my mom would be witnessing. Since my high school track days at least! Before this race, I had completed 13 full and half marathons, about 3 ten kilometer races, and handfuls of 5 kilometers. . I did not hold a grudge against my mom for not coming to these races—I knew it would involve travel (she hates driving) and would be boring for her. But with the spirit of this year, I was very happy to be able to register and complete a race with her watching! (She will be down in Disney during marathon weekend with me, so this was a very mini-preview!)

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The race started at 9:30 am in downtown Waukesha at the Schuetze Recreation Center. I have to admit, I was a bit nervous the days leading up to the race. When I go home to Wisconsin for a week, I eat and drink like a stereotypical Wisconsinite. This means my pre-week training regime was a two mile and a five mile run, plus plethoras of Bloody Mary’s, craft beer, cheese, rich food, and fried food. I did eat some solid salads through the week, but I did not quite know what to expect come race day.

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About 600 people competed in the half marathon. The day started out cloudy and overcast with a slight breeze. The breeze was nothing to me, as I am used to Lethbridge-style winds! While it is not summer, there is a greater humidity down in Wisconsin than what I am used to in Alberta. With the overcast day and on-and-off sprinkles, I think I fared well considering my concern of weather variants. One huge plus that aided me in doing well (despite my Wisconsin diet regime the week prior) was the drastic change in elevation! The elevation in Lethbridge, according to Wikipedia, is 2,990 ft. I know some spots in the coulees increases and decreases this approximately +/- 200 feet. In Waukesha, however, the elevation is 873 ft! Big difference here! Hopefully my higher elevation running the past 4 years will make a difference….

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Since the course was an out-and-back number, I was not going to make my mom drive and park along the way to find me. That would have stressed her out. What stressed me out is when I tell her a ballpark time to be near the finish. It puts pressure on me not to suck! Well, I started off strong! Too strong!. At the end of this entry, I will put my split times that I got from my Nike+ SportWatch because I need some advice on how to get more consistent. This has been an issue of mine since doing road races after high school. I go out way to fast, and half the time, I hit a wall at some point. The other half is a mixture of being inconsistent the whole race or somehow miraculously mustering through. But anyone who has done a road race of any distance knows how hard it is to NOT go out too fast! Your adrenaline is pumping and you feel invincible

Mile 6 & 7 was where my dramatic increase to my splits occurred, adding +0’25” and +0’12”, respectively. This was on a part of the Glacial Drumlins Trail and people had begun to become more spread out. I did not have anyone directly in front of me within catchable distance. I started to sluff off.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I don’t listen to music when I run. This race was nothing different. It is times like these, when I notice my lag occurring, that I begin talking to myself in my head, and calculating my pace requirements for the remainder of the race so I can finish where I needed to be. In my head, I knew I wanted to be under 2 hours. With my over-consumption of Milwaukee beer all week (oh, Milwaukee Brewing Company, you did me in, I figured this was a good goal. Under 1:55 would have been great, and beating my PR of 1:54:19 from May 2010 would have been spectacular.

I knew I’d I made it to mile 10 under my PR pace time, I could actually get that goal. At mile 10, I was still in good shape, and I had to just keep it up. Thankfully, the last two miles of the course looped back downtown Waukesha and past more supporters in general. People started to get bunched up more, and the adrenaline got going again. My legs were feeling pretty heavy, but I kept my short stumps trucking. At mile 12, a guy who had been running with his friend came up to me and asked how I was feeling. I told him I was on pace to break my PR, but my legs were starting to give. He literally screamed with excitement at me that I totally had this and to just keep pushing. . Thank you unnamed man in the visor and orange/grey shirt, because I kept looking ahead where I could faintly see the finish line and pushed on.

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I wore my bright orange Lulu Lemon jacket so my mom could see me—she was able to snap those photos as I pushed across to the finish line!. I had done it! I actually beat my old PR from almost 3 years ago! And my mom got to witness it! She told me after that at the start of the race she started crying when the gun went off. Needless to say, she is going to be a mess of tears come Disney Marathon Weekend!

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Above is my unofficial time which I was so happy to see! But, the official time gave me 1 second off, so I will take that! 1:52:53 it is!

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I actually did not feel too horrendous after the race, though the strain on my face may say otherwise! It felt great to run back home in Wisconsin! And in true Wisconsin fashion, Miller Lite was served after the race (might as well continue my beer consumption huh?)

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I am very glad my mom was able to come see me at this race—I know it had to be a bit tough to watch, as this is the first running event of mine she has witnessed without my dad. He was the one with binoculars at the track meets in high school–he loved it all. Yes, I ran my best half marathon time today to date, but what I am more happy about is that not only my mom got to see me run today back in the homeland, but my dad watched me with her as well.

Race Splits
Mile 1—7:38
Mile 2—8:18
Mile 3—8:23
Mile 4—8:29
Mile 5—8:23
Mile 6—8:48
Mile 7—9:00
Mile 8—8:46
Mile 9—8:42
Mile 10—9:03
Mile 11—8:34
Mile 12—9:14
Mile 13—9:03