Tag Archives: racing

Star Wars Half Marathon Recap

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In my final post regarding the Star Wars Race Weekend, I will finally talk about the Half Marathon.  In case you aren’t familiar with the RunDisney race weekends, they have all sort of evolved to having a “Challenge” option.  With exception to Marathon Weekend in January, every other race weekend has an option to sign up for both the 10km on Saturday and the Half Marathon on Sunday. (Marathon Weekend goes one step further and has the Dopey Challenge where you do the 5km, 10km, half and full….I did this in 2014 and that was my driving force for fundraising in memory of my late father)

Dan and I were both signed up for the Dark Order Challenge, so in addition to the 10km we completed on Saturday we would be running in a half marathon on Sunday.  We went to bed at a reasonable time Saturday night and then participated in a Groundhog Day style moment Sunday moment where I got up at 2:30 am to pump and we got ready and headed to the transportation to race start.

I did want to make sure we got closer to the front of our corral than we were for the 10km, so that meant we weren’t going to waste time wandering slowly in the open areas.  We walked all the way to the back portion of the staging area to use the farthest porta potties and then went to the holding pen for Corral A.  They eventually moved Corral A into the starting gate and we were only a few rows back from the very front.  Nice!

Waiting around is kind of boring at any race, so at least at a Disney race they have announcers, video footage, and characters to help pass the time.  Again, I am not a Star Wars fan.  I am not against it, or hate it, I just don’t know anything about it.  What I learned while standing there watching different trailers for new movies and highlights from old movies is that 1.) Good guys have blue and green light sabres and 2.) bad guys have red light sabres.   Am I right?

Onto the race….

I knew this would be interesting because this would be the first Disney race challenge that I would try and ‘race’ back-to-back events.  I usually will race one of them, and take the other easy.  For instance, in 2015 I raced the Disneyland 10km and then for the half marathon I ran with Ali pacing her to a personal best.  Really, that’s the smart thing to do.  But I wanted to push.  Dan agreed to run along with me this race so at least I’d have him by my side.  Race started and off we went!

I knew the first miles of the course were technically just like the portion of the full marathon from after the monorail hotels.  But this would be different because at 5:30 am it would still be dark.  I was nervous it would be as boring as the previous days’ 10km, but both Dan and I were pleased the the first couple miles that were heavily tree-lined also had lots of lights, music, sound effects and photo stops on the side.  We weren’t stopping for any photos but it is still nice to see these up ahead and to look at them as you run by.

By the time we got to Animal Kingdom, we were getting warm.  The humidity was bothering me more today than Saturday, and I am not sure if it was more humid even or if it was just the fact that I knew I had more miles ahead of me than I did the day prior.  I tried not to think about it when we ran through Animal Kingdom, and I actually forgot about it briefly when Dan and I had some man draft behind us for about a mile who had the most annoying breathing pattern.  I kept trying to speed up to lose him but he kept creeping behind us and right between us.  GO AWAY!!!!  I eventually slowed a tad just to let this guy through because I was ready to lose my shit.  This was at about the time we were running through Pandora so I didn’t really get to take in all the scenery as I was just annoyed with this man. If anyone knows the man in the photo below between Dan and I, please let him know he should not sidle up to others. Thanks.

We made our way out of Animal Kingdom by way of Dinoland and hit an aid station.  Dan and I were so thirsty that we decided to powerwalk through the aid station to drink Powerade and dump water on ourselves.  Did I mention it was humid?  Shortly after this aid station we made a joint decision:  we would walk through every aid station and pound Powerade and dump water.  It would be needed for survival.  Ultimately, I am glad we did this even though I know our time was slower because of the walking.  But if we hadn’t, the final time may have been even worse because we would have been piles of crap.

Also as we left Animal Kingdom I did an unheard of thing for myself: I took my tanktop off and ran in my sports bra.  I may wear revealing bikinis on the beach, but when I work out or run or do yard work I do not like just being in a sports bra and shorts.  Just not my thing.  But again….the humidity was terrible.  Dan encouraged me to do this, as he had already taken his top off and felt better immediately after doing so.  I will admit it did feel great to get the top off.  I didn’t ditch the top, as it is one of my favorite LuluLemon tops, so I wrapped it around my water belt.

After making the decision to take it easy through the aid stations and shed my shirt, Dan and I both relaxed and had a lot of fun!  We still tried to keep up a good pace, but my legs were getting pretty tired, most likely due to the 10km from the previous day.  We were also getting hungry!  I think our early 5pm dinner the night before, the smaller breakfast that morning, and my pumping before the race all played into my hunger pains.  The Powerade provided some liquid calories and sugars to keep us ‘up’ and then when we got to the food station we both took two packs of the Sport Beans to eat.  We needed fuel bad!  Once we got to Hollywood Studios, however, I knew we could both muster the necessary energy needed in order to finish strong.

While we didn’t stop for any photo stops, we did get lots of great Photopass picutres taken of us.  During the food station I actually took some time to get my race bib off of my sweaty, wet tank top and put onto my water belt.  This was important because your race number IDs you for the photos!  Since my mom is an annual passmember she gets Photopass included and she could register our race bibs on her account.  So ‘free photos’ if you want to use that term loosely!

We finished the race with an official time of 1:50.35.  Dan’s time did not show up on RunDisney and I am thinking it is because he ruined the timing chip on his bib the night before.  After running the 10km, he took his shirt and wrung it out because it was soaked, completely crumpling his bib.  I pointed out he needed to use it the next day and the look on his face was so crushed.  Our splits were as follows (and for the record my watch recorded the distance to be 13.3 miles.  I glanced at my watch when it hit the 13.1 and the time was around 1:49.14)

I don’t know when the next RunDisney race weekend that we attend will be, but I know this won’t be the last!  We really did enjoy ourselves, from the well-planned out expo, to me running beyond my goal time in the 10km, to us running together as husband & wife in the half!  You don’t necessarily need to be a ‘fan’ of the race theme to have a great time at the race weekend!

Note: I have extra medals compared to Dan because I had registered for the Kessel Run Challenge in addition to the Dark Order Challenge.  This meant I did the Start Wars Virtual Half Marathon at home, earned that medal, PLUS the Kessel Run medal at the completion of this race.  RunDisney sure knows how to take my money….bling bling.

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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!

 

10 Mile Road Race 2016

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My training for Boston Marathon has been winding down, and with about a week and a half to go, I still had a 10-12 mile workout to deal with.  I decided to register for the local 10 Mile Road Race (which I have done two other times, here in 2013 and here in 2014) and push myself to the max.  While some people training for a big race like Boston, or any marathon at that, may not want to push themselves all out in an event less than two weeks prior, I needed this.  I need the competition, the motivation, and the chance to see how my foot held up.  In the end, I am so happy I did!

Weather was close to ideal race morning-a slight chill in the air, but warm enough to wear a singlet and shorts when race time came.  I had warmed up and was set to go when I took off my warm up gear, put it in my car, and then locked the doors…..along with my keys.  CRAP!  Well, that would have to be dealt with after, as my husband was out of town, had the extra key, so my only solution would be to borrow a phone and call AMA (spoiler alert-borrowed the phone and they promptly came and helped!)

I really had no idea how my splits were going to be, I was just going to push until I needed to pull back.  Ideally, my goal was to make sure to beat my time from two years ago; 1:14.49.  I knew I was faster and stronger than two years ago, so I knew I could do it.  I also really wanted to place in top 3 females, so I could earn some prize money to take to Boston.

Race began and I started strong for first three miles.  Very strong, and very concerned.  Was I going too fast?  I was trying to just keep with a group, as it seemed like myself and another woman were the natural ‘break’ before a big gap behind.  I didn’t want to be running solo during this thing.  The course is out and back on Scenic Drive, down to the river bottom, turn around at the bridge, and back.  So it is a very downhill course for the first portion, then a stupid climb back up Lynx to get on Scenic for the last 2.5 miles.  My first four miles (which include the steep downhill into the river bottom) 6:53, 7:03, 6:53, 6:44.

At this point I was 2nd female, with the 1st female quite a bit ahead.  She was ahead of my friend Bob and I knew unless she had a total collapse I probably couldn’t catch her, but second place was my spot to lose.  I had some extra energy sent my way when I passed my colleague and co-coach from Cross country, Don, and two students, who had ridden their bikes to the river bottom to cheer on the runners.  I got to see them again after the turnaround and it helped tons.  My splits in the river bottom were 7:11 and 7:20.

At this point I had been approaching the 250 feet + elevation climb of Lynx.  I have not been doing enough hill training, and I felt slower up this hill than I have in the past.  I knew I needed to keep pushing and hold my position, so even if I slowed down I didn’t want to walk.  I knew the splits would be much slower, but I wanted to have energy for the last miles on Scenic.  I hit miles 7 and 8 in 8:08 and 8:14.

By the time I made it back on to Scenic it did feel like I was running solo on a training run, albeit A LOT faster.  Big gaps between individuals.  It helped catching up to some of the participants in the 4 mile portion of the event who were walking, as it gave me people to focus on.  The volunteers at the cross walks also helped me keep on moving.  I ran mile 9 in 7:28 and then finished mile 10 in a strong 7:05.  My final time—1:12.59!  I held on to 2nd place female, beat my time from two years ago, and even snuck in to the 1:12s!

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Route from my Nike Plus watch

After finishing, I felt great.  I was not ready to collapse, and felt like I could have done three more miles.  Which would have been a half marathon.  And then potentially a personal best.  Have I been doubting my speed and ability and not really pushing myself to my full potential?  How fast should I be going at Boston?  My foot isn’t really holding me back, its my mind!

Awards were great, because I truly love being around my running family in Lethbridge!  They presented 4 mile awards first then the 10 mile.  For being 2nd female I was awarded with $150 cash and a hug from the Lethbridge College Kodiak!  Age group awards put me in 1st for 30-39.  By the end of the awards, I had gotten the pictures I wanted, my car unlocked, and my confidence boosted.  Boston, here I come!

 

My Best Friend 

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I’m flying to Los Angeles for the second time this year. And for the third time in a rolling calendar year. I used to go to LA to visit Ali while she was out on summer program at USC, and then while she was there doing her masters and after. That would be maybe once a year…sometimes summer, sometimes college breaks. I’d go and visit, and we would attempt to go to Price Is Right (which we got into while Bob Barker was still host, but not never called to “Come on Down!”!), drive to Tijuana, Mexico (before it was basically a ‘do not enter zone’ as it is now), or go to Conan O’Brian tapings. But now, I apparently go for racing. And not just for myself.   
  
It’s only been the last year that Ali has started doing road running races. She did her first ever 5km in Independence, Iowa, in August 2014. Don’t know Indee? Yeah, unless you’re an Isham, you don’t know Indee. There’s an Insane Asylum museum there you can go on a tour at…We have pictures in straight jackets. There’s also a lot of corn and Dollar General stores we used to ride a two-person bike to when visiting her grandparents in the summer. Anyway, Ali did her first ever Spartan Race later that same month of August when she came to visit me in Lethbridge, Alberta….the other LA. We drove the two hours to Calgary one Saturday morning to compete in the Spartan Sprint. She has admitted it being one of the hardest fucking things ever. She could have stopped trying after taking 1 hour and 44 minutes to finish a 5 km obstacle race.  

  
But she hasn’t.  
This girl has always hated running. I’m serious. While she was a competitive swimmer growing up, she would loathe dry land practices. I do remember once having her go on a run with me when we were both in Franklin and she did a 2 mile loop on the bike trail and hated her life. The fact she went back at it after having such a hatred for it so many years later is admirable.
Ali has found a love and healthy addiction to Crossfit. Crossfit works for her. It motivates her. She is focused. She has caught on to healthy habits and lost a shit ton of weight the healthy way. She has achieved so much since being part of it. And she keeps pushing herself. She has now, since that 5km, run numerous other 5 km and also 10 km races. She is hooked on Spartan Races (she even bought a damn spear to practice throwing) and the Rock N Roll series of races. She has become a “bling addict.” Last year at this time I was flying down to run her first ever 10km race with her in Disneyland. We ran it together in a 1:27. This past May she ran the TinkerBell 10km in 1:04.  

  
So this weekend I head to LA not for Tijuana or late night shows. I’m going to run the Disneyland Half with my best friend. I’m going to push her towards her goal time, and we are going to have a great time doing it. She may hate me partway through (I can already picture the look of death at mile 10) but I’m there for her. I’m always there for my best friend.

  
Lanikai 

Lethbridge Regional Police Services Half Marathon 2014

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September 13th, 2014, marked the 2nd annual Lethbridge Regional Police Services half marathon. I had ran in the inaugural race the year prior, loved the downhill course, and set a new personal best of 1:46:42. Signing up again was a no brainer!

The night before, I decided to partake in my standard pre-race beers. Now, I don’t write about this often, because I know it is not scientifically proven to be helpful, but for me, having beer the night before a race that is a half marathon or less works wonders. I went for some happy hour beers with my friend Jaclyn after work (2 brews) and then later that night after showering, eating plain pasta, and taking a nap, I went for some drinks with co-workers after the football game (4 brews). I went to bed by 1am, woke up at 6:45 am, and was ready to go.

It was just above freezing at the start of the race, so I ditched my layers the last possible second. The half, 10km, and 5km were all starting together at 8 am, and would be on the same route for about the first mile. Then the 5km and 10km would turn down Lynx Trail into the river bottom as the rest of us continued south in Scenic Drive. When the 5&10km runners split off, I had positioned myself pretty well, and I thought to be around the 6th female runner. I was going for broke, and had nothing to lose, so my first three miles were 7:25, 7:33 and 7:19.

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After mile three, we ascended out of the Sugar Bowl and onto the 20th Ave greenstrip. I had moved my way up to 4th female, and closed in on securing the 3rd position shortly after. I was still feeling really strong, and new I could keep pushing. I wanted to keep third and possibly moved up, since this meant prize money. Miles 4-6, which took me to about hallways around Henderson Lake, clocked in at 7:28, 7:19, and 7:27.

Because of the openness of huge route, the visibility of the runners ahead of you was very open. I had my eye on the woman in 2nd for quite some time, and could also clearly see the first place female with her friend biking next to her. There was a long straightway coming up down 7th Ave South and I knew I needed to make a move if I wanted a chance at 2nd position. This road also had a slight downhill to it, so I kept rolling as fast as I could. Miles 7-9, which went from Henderson down 7th Ave, all the way to the top of Scenic Drive, were 7:31, 7:33, and 7:28. I had locked down 2nd position in the process too!

The steep downhill of Lynx Trail was next. I have done this downhill before in other races (10 Mile Road Race, Bare Bones Run), but usually you have to run back up it. Not today, as you just had to barrel on down to the river bottom. This is about 3/4 mile of steep paved trail, so I lengthened my stride and started actually closing in on the first place runner. She was starting to look tired, and her legs weren’t going as fast as mine down the hill. Mile 10, which took me down the trail to the Water Treatment Plant, was my fastest at 7:13.

You know that openness I spoke of from earlier in the race? Well, since everyone was pretty spaced out by now, except for female #1 and another male runner between us, you couldn’t see much in the winding trails. And there were no spectators along this part of the route. So while the trails are familiar to me, the strain I had been putting on my body for the first 10 miles was catching up, and my mental game was cracking. I kept focusing on female number 1, but anytime I sped up, she did too. When she slowed, I couldn’t overcome the numbness in my quads to get up next to her. Miles 11-12 were really slow at 7:44 and 8:10. My time was 1:30.10, and I could still make a personal best, even with my legs starting to give out. I pretty much had added an extra minute to my previous pace from when we were on flat straight-aways. And while I was still in 2nd position, I was nervous my body would crash and burn.

At mile 12, though, something happened. To east of the trail, I heard a voice yell “ANDREA!!!” On the metal stairs going down from the coulee was Haley, one of my cross country runners from WCHS. She had been doing hill training with her dad that morning. I yelled back to her “COME RUN WITH ME!” and about 30 seconds later I had an eager 16 year old by my side. I told her I was in 2nd place with less than a mile to go, but was wearing down. I needed her to push me to the finish, and make sure no one passed me.

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Haley saved me at the end of that race, as I not only held my 2nd place female position, but I finished in 1:37:51—-a new personal best by 3 seconds! First place clocked in at 1:37:00-If I hadn’t slowed down so much after the downhill, it could have been mine! But, honestly, I was giving it as hard as I could leading up to those last 5km, and the mix of sharp turns, no straightaways, and no crowd to cheer you on, made it tough. Finding my own personal pacer the last mile was key for me finishing as strong as I did!

The woman who beat me actually turned out to be a friend of a friend! She knew who I was from talking with my friend and co-worker Amie, and Amie had told her I was pretty intense and to look out for me! Marissa, the woman who took first place, is not only a few inches taller than me, but a few years younger than me. So, since this was my last race in the 20-29 category I felt pretty proud as I enter my 30s! This race also gave me the confidence that it is possible for me to keep ticking time off my personal best. I have the goal set in my mind to be in the 1:36’s by next year. Considering last year I was running 1:46, and the year before that I was doing 1:56, I am very proud of my progress.

Awards came at 10:00 am, and I was the recipient of a $100 cheque from the police. It is funny to me because the day prior I had went to the courthouse to pay an $89 speeding ticket. Irony. Marissa and I chatted some more, then I went and had a free 20 minute massage from students at the Lethbridge College. The race day started and ended perfectly! I was so excited to share with everyone how I did, so I spread the word on social media. In doing so, I also found out from Amie later that day that Marissa and I share more in common than just running—she also loves herself some craft beer. Maybe she will partake in my pre-race tradition next time? Or at least go have some celebratory beers after? Your move Marissa!

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Spartan Race Montana 2014—We Loved it so Much, We Came Back Again!

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Last year, Dan and I participated in our first ever Spartan Race in Kalispell, Montana. That recap can be found here: Spartan Montana Sprint 2013

After that race, I participated in four more Spartan Races—2 more Sprint distances, 1 Super, and 1 Beast, thus earning my membership in the Trifecta Tribe. I had a great time doing all the races that I knew I had to do some again this year! Naturally, Dan and I signed up for the Montana Spartan Sprint again!

We headed down to Kalispell, MT, the night before so we could get to packet pickup. Pickup was running from 5-8 PM outside of Sportsman Ski Haus. We arrived at 5:10 PM and the line was out of control. Last year, Dan and I maybe waited ten minutes tops. I am not sure why the line took so long to move, but we waited a solid 1 hour and 20 minutes. There were some people who waited even longer. If the weather had been bad, or if we hadn’t been able to take the beer we purchased out of the beer garden back to our friends standing in line (and vice versa) this would have been completely unbearable. This is my only complaint of the otherwise awesome weekend. I truly hope the organizers of the race do something about this next year, because obviously more people utilized race pickup the night before than last year.

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I did win a parking pass for us (and a sweet long sleeve burnout-tee!) at the pickup pre-party! The pass came in handy the next morning, as we could drive straight to the race site and park our car on property, versus taking the shuttle. We had a 10:45 heat time, and our friends Matt & Kelly would be racing along with us in this heat. It would be their first ever Spartan Race experience!
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The course, while in the same location as last year, started and ended in a different spot, and also went in what I would consider to be reverse direction as the year prior. This was awesome as someone who had done the race the year prior. Another cool thing about this event was it had been deemed a “Founder’s Race”, as Joe De Sena and other founders of the company personally helped construct it. They would also be participating in a Founder’s Heat later in the day!

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There were many traditional Spartan Race obstacles, such as the Over, Under, Through….Cargo Net…Sand Bag Carry…Spear Throw…Barbed Wire Crawl….Rope Climb. But that last one was with a twist! I was all set to attempt this rope climb, but the climbing rope was swung from another rope between trees like a hammock. This caused a bouncing movement when climbing the rope as other climbers also climbed. I did not like this! Dan with his arborist skills made it up no problem. I, on the other hand, had to do burpees.

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The terrain is crazy on this course, just like last year. Such steep climbs up the sides of mountains, to then only descend down slippery falls full of mud. It was also very wet and humid, in my opinion, but this just has to do with the surroundings. My glutes burned pretty much immediately upon climbing the first hill. This was expected though!

After the spear throw, Kelly and I told the boys to go ahead, as there was just the sandbag, 8-foot wall, and fire jump left. I finished in 1 hour 46 minutes. I even did two terrible cartwheels over the finish line mat! I am hoping that they caught it on camera, so when pictures are posted I will let you know! Being a bling junkie, I was excited to get the medal and see how it looked this year. The Spartan Race medals at split into 1/3 this year, and if you do one of distance they piece together as a giant medal. This race also included a special black medallion for the Founder’s Race, which is very cool!

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We collected our bags, went and got an after photo, and proceeded to hose ourselves down. I didn’t even care that the water was ice cold, it just felt good to get semi-clean! After changing into crappy sweats, we collected our finisher shirts. I was pleasantly surprised with them, as last year they were just a standard cotton black shirt. Not comfortable or breathable at all. This year they are a heather grey, very light, and just plain awesome!

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Other than the race itself being awesome, the after-experience at this particular Spartan Race is incredible. Just like last year, they had food trucks on site and beer flowing from local breweries. We stayed for over 3 hours after finishing and just enjoyed the food, beer, weather, and other racers finishing! It was a blast! I had been worried about the weather all week, as chance of rain was at about 80% for the whole weekend! but the afternoon photos speak for themselves! as we really got to enjoy the best Montana had to offer! When there is so much going on at the race site, beautiful May afternoon and all, why would we want to leave?!?! This is what makes the whole Spartan Race Weekend special—you don’t just go and run a race and are finished…you take it all in all weekend long! If you take advantage of all the things Spartan Race pulls together to make the whole weekend tie in, then you will have an amazing time. AROO! AROO! AROO!

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Race Recap-Run for L’Arche Half Marathon

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About a year ago, I tackled the Trailbreaker Half Marathon in Waukesha, Wisconsin. It was my first official half marathon of 2013. I had hoped to possibly break my long-withstanding PR of 1:54:19, but wasn’t sure if I could due to just spending a week enjoying the food and drink of Wisconsin! I managed to sneak out my first personal best of the year, a 1:52:53, and was beyond pleased.

Fast forward to this year; last week to be exact. I got up at 5:30 am on Saturday, March 22nd, got myself ready and hit the road to Calgary for the 10:00 am start of the Run for L’Arche Half Marathon. This race would be my only spring half marathon, as I am saving up for the Calgary full and my attempt at a Boston Qualifying time, in June. I knew in my head I wanted to really go for a personal best and break 1:40, but wasn’t sure if it would be in the cards. An early morning 2 hour drive, an unfamiliar trail to race on, and icy cold weather would be the hurdles to tackle. But I had my inner motivation.
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The race started and finished at the Eau Claire Market near downtown Calgary. I had never been here, so was relying on my GPS to be my guide. Made it no problem, and secured a sweet parking spot right outside the food court entrance. Race day packet pickup was also a breeze! I had all my supplies by 9:00 am, so I was very grateful for the indoor seating before this cold race!
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About 15 minutes before the start, I shuttled myself outside. I positioned myself pretty near the front of the group; there was officially 236 finishers in the half marathon. It was nice that it wasn’t too crowded; I didn’t feel like I would get stuck behind anyone after the start while on the narrow trail.

The half began, and all of a sudden I was warmed up and ready to rock. My adrenaline just started pumping through but I knew I had to keep positive thoughts. The course was an out and back along the Bow River. The public trail system was not closed to the general public at any time during the race, but it was so cold that the only people out there were die-hards anyway…so I personally didn’t encounter any issue with people being in the way. The runners spaced out relatively soon, probably by the first mile. It was also at this point that I think I never passed any female runners, or had another female runner pass me. I kind of found myself in my own little world.
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Since the trails weren’t in the deep woods, and they weren’t as windy and full of blind turns like the river valley in Lethbridge, I could keep a good eye on the runners ahead of me. I kept with their pace and kept on pushing to that halfway point turn around. I was trucking along for the first six miles—7:01, 7:29, 7:27, 7:28, 7:27, 7:27. As the runners headed back after the turnaround I counted five women ahead of me. And once I did hit the turnaround, I saw everyone else closely behind. I knew I had to keep pace, even though heading back I would be hitting some wind and probably the proverbial wall.

I kept a good spirit, as I truly believe this helps during a race. I said “good job” to anyone I caught up to or passed, and exchanged “yeahs!” with people who caught up to me. Even though I was also starting to realize my body was conditioned to this bloody cold, I was really starting to tighten up! Miles 7-10 were 7:34, 7:37, 7:43, 7:37.
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When I hit the last 5 km, I knew sub 1:40 was within my reach! I even told guys around me I was gunning for my personal best, and they had to keep me energized! I slowed down a tad over the final icy bridge, and made a push to the finish. My final three miles were 7:38, 7:44 and 7:48. I slowed myself down, got my finishers medal, put my hands on my thighs, and turned around. I had already seen the timer above the finish, but I had to turn around to see it one more time. I looked at my watch and there it was…1:38:40…I had done it! I broke my previous personal best of 1:41:07 from October 2013 at the Bare Bones Half by about 2 minutes and 30 seconds!

The official results weren’t immediately available, so I got some chocolate milk and helped myself to the hot breakfast being served by the Calgary Stampede Caravan. When I finally made it inside the market, I was able to turn my phone on and search for the results. I found out I had finished 6/110 in females, and 1/32 in the 20-29 female age group!

The past year has been crazy. I can’t believe I’ve gone from a 1:50s half runner to a 1:30s. Finding the strength within to run with more determination than ever this past year has paid off. With this finish, I feel even more positive that I can get my Boston Qualifying time this June at the Calgary Full Marathon. I can’t wait to train and race through the springtime!

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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

Bare Bones Race Recap/Still in Shock/Training Pays Off/Didn’t Expect this Today/Love You Dad

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Today was without question the most successful race of my road race career. And I didn’t expect it to be.

Ok, first off, the last two days was spent with the WCHS Cross Country team up in Drayton Valley, Alberta, for Provincials. Don’t know where Drayton Valley is? Don’t worry—-bet most people don’t. It’s 6 hours north west of Lethbridge. And it’s small. Anyway, we took our six qualified athletes up Friday, they competed Saturday, drove them back last night, and got in at 11 pm. The kids had a great weekend, and us coaches were so proud of how they conducted themselves and how they ran.

But, I was worried about how the mixture of standing/running back and forth at the meet, plus the sitting in a bus for 6 hours each way, plus my still having a cold (and the fact I ate poutine from Wendy’s for dinner on Saturday) would effect my race on Sunday. When I got home at 11:30 pm, I was still wide awake, so I sort of unpacked and laid my race clothes out for the morning. Then I was still hungry and ate Brie cheese with Triscuits. And then I had a beer at midnight, because I always have beer the night before a race. OK, now you just know all my dirty secrets. But, please know I am not saying that drinking beer makes you run well. I just know how my system works and I have it set in my mind that I run better the next day if I drink beer the night before.

My 7 am alarm came fast. I ate my oatmeal, drank my coffee, taped up my quads with KT tape, got my hydration belt set, and off to Softball Valley I went. My husband dropped me off with about 20 minutes before race start of the Bare Bones Half Marathon. This is a small race benefitting the local humane society, and all race distances are canine friendly. The most popular is the 5km, then the 9km, and lastly the half marathon. Over 300 total participants in all three events, but only just above 60 in the half.
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The 9 am start came and off we went. The morning was absolutely gorgeous, and I got wrapped up right away with keeping a quick pace. I was passing people who had 9km bibs, and men with half marathon bibs were getting in their spots. At about half a mile, a very petite Asian woman passed me. And by petite, I mean 5 foot, about 95 pounds, but intimidating. Back to her later. My first mile was at 7:19. Crap. That’s way too fast. Mile two clocked in at 7:36. Then mile three was 7:32. Holy shit, what am I doing? I was going way too fast. But in my head I kept telling myself that since I actually felt great, to keep this up, because I knew that ridiculous hill up to Scenic Drive would slow me later.
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At the mile 4 turnaround, I slowed to 7:44. This is a mentally tough location, as you are in the river bottom and the trails turn every 20 feet. They wind so much that you can’t see anyone in front of you. I had no clue really how far the woman was in front of me, because before we looped back we had gone around a circular part….and when I came out of that loop she never ran towards me. I knew she was close.

I hit the hill, which I have now ran a few times during training and races, and knew I could not start walking. As I climbed the hill, I saw my competition walking. She was quite a bit ahead of me but she was speed walking up the hill. This gave me that extra push to keep going. I now have officially entered a competition between me and the 95 pound woman.

After getting onto Scenic Drive, what I am still amazed by is how I actually got my pace back on track. And I’m not saying this in a bragging way—-I honestly have no f’n clue how I did it. I have never ran this fast before in my life…but I was in a zone.

At a little past mile 7, we turned around and headed back north on Scenic Drive. I kept telling myself to stay on the inside curve when possible and that the downhill at just past mile 9 would feel fantastic. Mile 7, 8, and 9 were 7:58, 7:53 and 7:41, respectively. As I descended into the river bottom, I could still clearly see my competition, and I knew that getting a personal best was possible….just didn’t know by how much. The first thing I kept thinking about was dropping some time off my 1:46:42 best time solely so I had a better shot at getting Corral A at Dopey Challenge. As I thought this when I was going down the hill, I then immediately pictured my dad standing there telling me “You Got This!” I honestly kept replaying that as I rolled out onto the trail and into the last 5km.

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The last 5km is an area I know all too well, and have written about before. This is the part that slowed me down my last mile at the Police Half Marathon in September. The reason why I slowed down then was partly because 1) I was chatting with another runner and 2) after he passed me, I never cared enough to try to catch up.

Today I had a pace bunny ahead to get, and I saw her clear as day around every turn.

As we headed into our last mile and a half, one of the event organizers said this to a volunteer as we passed “lead female and number 2 right here.That was honestly the most amazing thing I have ever heard while running. I was number 2, and mentioned in the same utterance as the lead. I all of a sudden felt like one of the high school athletes from the day before as they were in the Nordic ski trails running the race of their life. I wanted to make the podium.

Sorry to say, but this isn’t the fairy tale ending you may be hoping for. No, I did not hover past my competition with ease, nor did she do something dramatic that caused me to win in the end. And no, as I crossed the finish line there were not people there to lift me up on their shoulders and pour champagne on me. But as her and I turned into Softball Valley and the finish line was straight ahead, I heard Erin from Runner’s Soul on her microphone say “Looks like we have our first female half marathon finisher coming on in…….and number 2 is right behind her!” They had binoculars to look up our bib number and name and as I heard her saying my name as I came in to finish, I didn’t care that I didn’t get 1st overall. I just didn’t have a care in the world—-I was so overcome with excitement that nothing else mattered.

My time was 1:41:07. 1:41:07!!!!!!!!. My last personal best was in September with a 1:46:42. I dropped basically 5 and a half minutes in five weeks. And last year when I did this same race, I ran a 1:57:32. I improved a whole 16 minutes since last year. I was just in reflective happiness mode and complete disbelief. How the hell did I manage to do this? This shouldn’t have happened today….my weekend was out of whack…this course had a terrible hill for 3/4 of a mile….how…was….this…possible?

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Later, my cousin Erin told me simply “It’s called training! Turns out it works!” And she’s right. Now, what I did or didn’t do the past 5 weeks didn’t magically allow me to run this time. It’s what I have been doing the past 10 years and more importantly how I have been busting my butt during 2013 with my runs. I have done so many races and also have been intrinsically motivated by my fundraising in memory of my dad and my pinnacle race of the Dopey Challenge. The distances and effort I have put in during my runs have paid off, and I am now seeing the results—-results I am not used to seeing. And I can’t believe are mine. But they are.

Running still is, in my mind, as much about physical ability as it is about mental strength. If someone is just a beginner runner, yes, they need the base and the mileage to get them going and ready for a race. But they also have to be mentally ready to handle any challenges they might face. I was in a mental rut for the last few years with my running and was doing it without any motivation or goal…it was just getting done. So I had to kick up both my physical, and mental game. Trust me…as much as I would like to say that this race was all about my athletic ability, it wasn’t that. It was about my mental ability to let myself go and push myself to my full potential.

I am still in a “can’t believe this happened” mode, and I’m going to be smiling for days now. And you better believe that after I showered, I sent my updated race info in to Disney for my new and improved proof of time for Dopey Challenge. Now let’s see if that 1:41:07 can get me Corral A in January!

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