Monster Dash Half Marathon Race Recap

I made it through my first half marathon! It turned out to be a great way to celebrate my birthday! It feels amazing to have conquered this distance and gives me a boost of confidence as I start the last 3 weeks of training for the Las Vegas Half Marathon.

I woke up at 6 a.m. (though my nerves definitely got the better of me because I didn’t sleep great the night before). I wanted to get to downtown St. Paul fairly early so I could park in the ramp near the finish line. I was in the ramp by 7:10 a.m. and easily found a spot. I hung out in my car for about 20 minutes to stay warm. Then I ventured out so I could have time to walk to the start line which I knew was about a 15 minute walk.

I made it to the start area with plenty of time. It was a chilly morning and the wind made it a little worse. I found a spot to stand on the steps of the Cathedral that blocked some of the wind. Made for a nice view of the sunrise over downtown St. Paul too.

MD half sunrise 1

MD half sunrise 2

A little after 8, I made my way to the 10 min mile starting corral. I did some dynamic stretching while I waited for things to get going (which was also necessary to stay warm!).  A bit after 8:30 the crowd finally started to shift forward and we made our way to the start. I took off and settled in to a comfy pace for a nice long run.

Miles 1-4

The first couple miles were all about getting warmed up — like literally getting blood pumping to my fingers and toes. I sometimes have a habit of going out a bit fast in a race because I’m weaving around people and the adrenaline is pumping. Knowing I had a long way to go, I reminded myself to take my time and try to stick close to my 10:20/mile goal pace. I had my dad’s pre-race advice in my head too. He said you’ve done all the work, now go out and ENJOY it. (Yea, my dad is pretty cool :)) I took those words to heart and let myself enjoy the scenery of running down Summit Ave. There were gorgeous homes, cheering spectators, and beautiful fall colors to admire. I think this helped me not get caught up in the crowd of runners and stick to my pace. By the time I hit mile 3 my body was warm and my legs felt good. Before I knew it, we were rounding the corner to East River Parkway.

Miles 5-9

I was still feeling good when I hit mile 5. I wanted to keep my energy level up, so I took my first GU to fuel this next part of the race. I was excited because I knew that a couple friends were going to be around mile 6 cheering. I spotted them and a bright yellow sign.

MD bday sign

I gave them high fives and a hug. Before I continued on, Hyedi snapped a quick photo to commemorate the halfway point of my first half.

Seriously love this picture  and the smile on my face. Thanks Hyedi!
Seriously love this picture and the smile on my face. Thanks Hyedi!

The rest of this part of the race was pretty uneventful. I felt good and kept my pace.

Miles 10-13.1

I could feel my energy level dropping a bit, but my sister and a couple friends were going to be cheering close to mile 10, so I distracted myself a little by scanning the spectators for them. I spotted them and their cheers gave me another boost of energy to push on. I took another GU to get me through the last few miles. These last few miles were a bit tougher. I could feel my legs getting more and more tired. Then we hit a pretty sizable hill at mile 11 that didn’t help the tired legs. Even through that, I stayed right around my goal pace of 10:20. Before long I saw the 12.5 mile marker up ahead. Right then, the 2:15 (10:18/mile) pacer appeared next to me. I didn’t have a whole lot left in the tank, but I felt like I had the right amount of energy to keep up with him and that would mean I’d meet my goal time. I kept up and soon the finish line was in sight. I got a smile on my face and picked up my pace just a bit to head down the straight away and cross the finish line!

Here’s how my half marathon goals stacked up:

  • A: Cross the finish line in 2 hours and 16 minutes or less (avg. pace ~ 10:20). Check! My official time was 2:14:45!
  • B: Run the whole way. Check! With the exception of slowing down a little at water stops and to say hello to friends, I ran the whole way!
  • C: Finish. Check! See below 😉
Mission accomplished!
Mission accomplished!

There were unfortunately a few logistical issues with the race. Some runners’ times didn’t get recorded properly and there was a lack of food and water at the finish. I was given a little bag of pretzels and a few pieces of candy, but bananas were all gone when I got to the other food tables. (How do you run out of bananas after a half?!) They had little glasses of water at the finish, but a bottle of water or at least a larger plastic cup would’ve been better (oh, and maybe some Gatorade or something). I had heard that Team Ortho commonly has logistical issues like that with races. I’m glad I did it, but it will probably be awhile before I do another Team Ortho race.

But, back to more positive stuff. I felt like I had a great race. It makes me really excited to take on the Las Vegas half marathon in a few weeks!

MD medal


Birthday Weekend

My birthday was this past weekend and I kicked it off by running my first half marathon! I’ll have a race recap in the next day or so, but spoiler alert: I finished! 🙂

After the race I made my way out of the parking garage and headed home. I made a pit stop at Caribou Coffee to get my free birthday coffee.

Free birthday coffee!
Free birthday coffee!

I showered, changed, and headed out one more time to pick up some lunch. I really wanted Subway for my post-race meal. The rest of the afternoon was filled with a lot of lying around and watching old episodes of The Office.

My sister and I met up with some friends that night to have a drink and celebrate our birthday. Yes, I said ‘our.’ I have a twin sister, so it was her birthday too. 🙂

When you finish the Monster Dash half, you get a free Finnegan’s beer. You can either get it at the post-race party or use the coupon later in the weekend at one of the participating bars. I knew I wouldn’t want my beer right after the race, so we planned to meet friends at one of the bars so I could get my free beer.

Second free beverage of the day!
Second free beverage of the day!

We had a great time hanging out with friends for the evening.

On Sunday morning I got up and ventured out to do some much-needed shopping. I had a lot of luck too! I got some great fall/winter clothes and found some great sales. In the afternoon, I met up with Hyedi to go get some birthday fro-yo at Forever Yogurt. We found Forever Yogurt when we were in Chicago for the Big Ten 10K this summer and they just opened a location near us, so we had to check it out. It was super yummy and a great birthday treat.

Fro-yo = birthday cake
Fro-yo = birthday cake

Overall, it was a fabulous birthday weekend!

What do you like to do to celebrate your birthday?

Running My First Half Marathon Tomorrow!

The Monster Dash Half Marathon is tomorrow! This will be my first half marathon, and it happens to fall on my birthday. I was hesitant to sign up for this race because I didn’t know if I wanted to tackle my first half on my birthday, but I really wanted to do a half marathon this fall and Monster Dash was the best option.

Now that I’ve had time to train and think about it more, I’m really glad I signed up for it. I think completing my first half marathon on my birthday will be a great way to kick off what I hope will be another awesome year–not only for running, but for new adventures, and fun with friends and family.

I made my way to packet pick up this afternoon. I wasn’t able to get there as early as I had hoped. I was preparing myself for long lines, but it actually wasn’t too crowded and I got in and out in less than 30 min. Score #1 of the day!

Can't say I'm scared. Mostly excited, only a little nervous :)
Can’t say I’m scared. Mostly excited, only a little nervous 🙂

I got my bib and headed to the table to get my race gear. This year’s gear was a hooded sweatshirt. I wasn’t psyched about a hooded sweatshirt. They had performance jackets for the half marathoners last year and I really wanted something like that. I got to the table and they warned us that the sweatshirts were running really big, but we could swap out the size. I got an XS instead of a small and made my way over to chip check.

After that, I saw a table where people were swapping gear and noticed that they had performance jackets over there that people were trying on and taking from the table. I read the sign on the table and saw that you could actually trade your sweatshirt for a performance jacket! I did just that. Score #2 of the day!

Finally have a jacket for running!
Finally have a jacket for running!

Tonight, I plan to make a big bowl of pasta for dinner (carbo-load!) and relax. I’ll also finalize my race-day outfit and gear. Here’s my plan so far, but I’ll check the temperature when I wake up in the morning and make adjustments as needed.

Outfit: Black tights, long sleeve shirt. Hoping it’s warm enough to not need another layer, but I’ll see in the morning.

Gear: Garmin watch, phone, music, GU, spibelt, headband. Maybe sunglasses and/or gloves.

Accessories: ‘Birthday girl’ sash, race bib.

Race-day outfit
Race-day outfit

Can’t believe the day is almost here!

Are you running any races this weekend? Have you ever run a race on your birthday?

Half Marathon Goals

In just three short days I’ll be running my first half marathon (eeek!). Hard to believe the day is almost here after months of training.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want my goals for my first half marathon to be. I wanted to keep them realistic, but also challenge myself. I’ll be running my second half marathon in three weeks, so I also want to make sure my goals will allow me to adequately recover.

I’ve seen several other running bloggers talk about setting A, B, and C goals for a race. So, that’s what I’ve done.

  • A: Cross the finish line in 2 hours and 16 minutes or less (avg. pace ~ 10:20). I averaged 10:20 miles on my last 10.6 mile run and felt great, so I’d really like to repeat a similar pace on race day.
  • B: Run the whole way. With the exception of slowing down at water stops, I’d like to not have to stop and walk. I haven’t had to walk during any of my long runs in training, so I think this is very realistic as long as I don’t let my adrenaline get the better of me and start out too hard, too fast or something like that.
  • C: Finish. Period. Simple and straight forward, but also a really important goal for me since this is my first half.

Still keeping a close eye on the weather forecast so I can plan what I’m going to wear. Right now, Saturday is looking like a low of 29, high of 42 and partly cloudy with a 20% chance of rain. I can handle that. I’m okay with cold, just really hoping for no rain!

Do you set A, B, and C goals for races?

Braving the Elements

Mother Nature decided to bring in some cold, wet days this past weekend. Fall has definitely arrived in Minnesota!

Friday was chilly, but dry. Friday evening I went to see Wicked with my family. I’ve always wanted to see this musical, and it totally lived up to my expectations! If you get a chance to go see it, do it. Loved the sets, the costumes, the story, the comedy, and of course the music. Might be downloading the soundtrack very soon. 🙂

Defying Gravity
Defying Gravity

On Saturday, I did some shopping with my family in the morning and then planned to meet Hyedi for a short run in the afternoon. It was cloudy and I knew there was a slight chance of rain that afternoon, but I thought it was going to hold off. Literally as I was pulling in to the parking lot it started to sleet and rain. I met Hyedi and we waited a few minutes to see if it would let up, but no luck. We decided to postpone and I got in my 3 miles on the treadmill.

Rain and cold temps were in the forecast again for Sunday morning’s Team Challenge group run. I woke up about 6:30 a.m. and started to have a mental debate with myself about whether or not it was worth it to go.  It was 35 degrees with light rain. I kept checking the weather every five minutes (hoping it would magically change to 50 degrees and sunny — no such luck) and kept checking my email to see if the run would get canceled. The weather didn’t look great, but it also didn’t look like it was going to get any better during the day. I really didn’t want to do 7 miles on the treadmill if I could help it. So, I dragged myself out of bed, layered up, and headed out. I was impressed to see so many other Team Challengers there too!

I intended to just do a few miles outside and then sort of gave myself permission to cut out early and finish my miles inside if needed. The rain was lightly coming down, but it actually let up a lot for most of the run. That was a big help. I even took off one of my layers halfway through the run. The rain started coming down a bit harder for the last mile, so I was really happy to be done!

All smiles even though I felt like a cold, wet dog.
All smiles even though I felt like a cold, wet dog.

I missed the first 1/2 mile of my run, so the watch says 6.5 miles, but it was actually 7. I was proud of myself for braving the elements and getting the whole run done outside. Truthfully, I felt pretty bad a$$ running around the lake in the rain. I actually do like to get outside for a run even when it’s less-than-desirable conditions. If you dress appropriately, a run in the cold, or rain, or heat can actually be really rewarding. And good practice for races since I have yet to figure out how to control the weather. 😉

I came home and jumped in a hot shower and then made a fabulous cup of coffee to warm up. Warm comfort food was the theme of the day. Lunch was tomato soup and grilled cheese, and it seemed like the perfect night to make my first batch of turkey chili this season.


Do you like running in the cold, rain, or heat? What’s your favorite cold weather comfort food?

Fun(draising) Friday 10/18/13 – Dine Out for a Good Cause!

In just under a month, I’ll be heading out to Las Vegas with the rest of the Minnesota/Dakotas Team Challenge group and joining other Team Challenge chapters from across the country to rock the Las Vegas strip and run a half marathon! I’m so excited for the weekend and to raise awareness for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

I’m continuing my fundraising efforts and getting closer and closer to my $3,700 goal! Every little bit helps and I’m so grateful to those who have donated to support CCFA!

On Monday, Oct. 21, O’Gara’s Bar and Grill has agreed to donate 10% of people’s bill to CCFA if you show them this flier between 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Food, fun, and raising funds for a good cause!
Food, fun, and raising funds for a good cause!

Who wants to cook on a Monday night anyway? Grab your family, friends, coworkers and head out to O’Gara’s for a fun evening that supports the awesome work being done by CCFA!

Running Milestones

There are lots of milestones that a runner can go through. The first time you run a race, getting a new PR, running a new distance, and so many more.

I’ve had some great running milestones in the time that I’ve been running. A few that stick out are the first time I ran a 5K (Building Strength 5K in 2012), my second PR (Run@Work 5K), getting faster and running more and more miles at a pace that starts with a 9 instead of a 10.

I hit a pretty big running milestone this past weekend: I ran further than I have ever run before! Last Sunday I ran 10.6 miles!

The long run for my half marathon training this week was 10 miles. That distance would tie the longest distance I had run up to that point. I set that 10 mile distance record for myself last April when I did the Goldy’s 10 mile run.

The weather on Sunday morning was perfect for a long run–sunny and cool (about 50 degrees). Gave me a chance to test out my new running tights. (They worked out great on a long run, so I’ll probably be wearing them on race day.) I met up with some of the other Team Challenge folks for our weekly group run. We met at one of the amazing Minneapolis lakes, and our 10 mile route would actually take us around two of the lakes.

Ready to head out for 10 miles
Ready to head out for 10 miles

I took off and started my first loop of lake #1 (about 3 miles around). I was feeling good and let myself just settle in to a comfortable pace. I averaged 10:20 miles for these first few miles and liked that pace because I knew I still had a long way to go.

Such a beautiful morning for a 10 mile run :)
Such a beautiful morning for a 10 mile run 🙂

After getting around the lake, I took the path over to lake #2 for the next 4 miles. I pretty much kept my 10:20 pace for the middle part of the run too. A little after mile 5 I took some GU to fuel the second half of the run.

The lakes are just as pretty in the fall as they are in the summer!
The lakes are just as pretty in the fall as they are in the summer!

I made my way back to lake #1 for my last 3 miles and was still feeling good. I think the GU had kicked in — along with some adrenaline in knowing that I was approaching that 10 mile milestone — because my pace picked up a little around mile 8 to just under 10 minute miles. RunKeeper chimed in to say I had been running for 1 hr and 40 minutes, so I knew that 10 miles was just around the corning. A couple minutes later, I looked at my phone and it read 10.09 miles. I’m pretty sure I got a big grin on my face. Felt so good to get past that milestone!

Not only had I run 10 miles, but I still felt really good. I kept going for .6 more miles, but if I had to run around the lake one more time, I felt pretty confident that I could. That gave me a boost of confidence because this was my last longer run before my first half marathon on Oct. 26 (I’ll do one more 7-8 mile run this weekend).

On Oct. 26, I’ll hopefully be setting a couple more running milestones: running further than I ever have (again), and finishing my first half marathon. 🙂

What are some of your running milestones?