Twin Cities Marathon Training – Week 10

Eight more weeks to go! As I type that it seems really far away and really close all at the same time.

The peak mileage weeks are in view, and I’m trying to make sure I stay healthy and injury free. I’ve been good with that so far, but I did notice the beginning of a black toenail after my long run this past week. It happened on the same toe the last time I trained for a marathon, so apparently I’m prone to it when my mileage gets up around 17 miles.

Monday – rest

Tuesday – 3.81 miles (9:11/mile)

I had flag football practice in the evening. We didn’t have a ton of people, but we were still able to run some plays. Practice ran a little longer than I had planned, but I still squeezed in a quick (literally) run. It was supposed to be 4 miles, but I figured I could cut it a tad short given the running I did at practice. 😉

Wednesday – 8.04 miles (9:34/mile)

My legs were feeling that football practice for this 8 miler. My legs were tired and heavy the whole way. My ankles were also really sore. At first I wasn’t sure why, but then I realized that all of the quick side to side running and uneven ground probably took a toll on my ankles.

Thursday – 4.05 miles (9:40/mile)

The ankles were still sore for this run, but got in a few easy miles. It was an unseasonably cool day. Basically a preview of fall running.

Afterwards, I met up with a friend to catch up over dinner and a cocktail.

Friday – rest

Saturday – 17.1 miles (9:43/mile)

I was up bright and early to get my long run started. I obviously wasn’t awake yet because I drove all the way to the lakes and realized I forgot my Garmin. Oh well. I had RunKeeper on my phone. I think the Garmin is just a little more accurate.

It was a gorgeous, cool morning for a run.

I feel like my long runs after a step-back week are sometimes less than stellar, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. My legs felt ok, but my pace wasn’t as fast as I’ve been doing. My early miles were hanging out around a 9:45/mile pace. Nothing to complain about, so I tried to just settle in.

The miles actually ticked by fairly fast. Before I knew it, I was heading back to Lake Harriet for one more loop around that lake to finish up my 17 miles. Somehow, my legs found a little extra energy and my average pace increased to about 9:30/mile for the last 3 miles.

I was exhausted after my run from getting up early and not getting a good night of sleep, so I definitely took a nap in the afternoon!

Sunday – 3.12 miles (16:34/mile)

My sister, a friend, and I did Fifteen’s 5K on Sunday morning. We took it easy and walked most of it. Was a fun way to get in my cross training for the week. You finish the race near home plate on Target Field, which was also pretty cool!

I cleaned up when I got home and headed to a birthday party for a friend’s kiddo. Then I headed back to Target Field for the Twins game. You get a ticket to the game with your race registration. The Texas Rangers went up by 5 runs in the first inning, so things didn’t start well. Around the third inning the rain came. It was a short rain delay and then the clouds parted and it turned out to be a lovely afternoon for baseball. Apparently the break was good for the Twins as well because they came back to win 6-5!

Bring on another week!

Torchlight 5K Race Recap

I wanted a fun race to do over the summer to help break up the training. A friend and I signed up for the Torchlight 5K. I ran this race once before several years ago and had fun, so I thought it would be good to try it again. I knew it would likely be hot, but was treating it as a training run rather than actually racing it.

The race was on Wednesday evening. All afternoon at worked I watched as dark clouds moved in. It started storming a little after that, and I just hoped that it would stop by race time. Luckily it did! The rain actually cut the heat and humidity down.

I headed home from work to change and have a bowl of cereal before heading to the race. It’s a point to point course through downtown Minneapolis, so I parked closer to the finish. This was good for logistics of not having to walk too far after the race, but also because I technically had to do 4 miles for my training plan that day. I ran/walk a little over a mile to get to the start line and meet up with my friend.

It was a crowded start corral. We tried to work out way up between the 9:00 and 10:00 minute mile pace signs, but could quite get there. We figured we’d just have to do a little weaving, but it would be ok.

They let us go in waves, so that helped thin things out by the time we stepped across the start line. I was using this as a training run, but planned to step up the pace a little. We held around a 9:00/mile pace throughout the race. A lot of the course is flat or even downhill.

Around mile 2, I could feel the humidity coming back. Made for a sweaty run! We crossed the Stone Arch Bridge and then turned a corner into the home stretch of the race. As we crossed the finish line and stopped our watches, we both noticed the course was long. We had it clocked at 3.31 miles. Turns out there was a typo when the course got certified, so it was in fact long. Not the end of the world, especially since I wasn’t racing it, but always a little disappointing when that happens. My official time was 29:49.

After the race, we grabbed our free Chick-fil-A, beer, and other swag.

We chilled in the grass for a little bit before heading back across the river to head home. On the walk back, we snapped a selfie. 🙂

The sun was going down and more storms were rolling in, so we got some great pics of the clouds. They looked pretty cool!

I had a lot of fun at the race! It was a really nice change to the training schedule, and I’d definitely do this race again.

Divas Half Marathon Race Recap

What. A. Race.

But, I’ll get to that. This is a tad long, but stick with me.

In my last two weeks of training I was busy at work and then on vacation with my family, so I didn’t get a chance to do weekly recaps, but there wasn’t anything really out of the ordinary. I managed to get in a few short runs on the beach while on vacation along with plenty of rest and relaxation leading up to race day.

On Friday, we stopped by the race expo to pick up my packet. It wasn’t a huge expo, so easy to get in and out.

After that, my parents and I headed to dinner and had a couple of drinks on a patio to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. I was sitting on a bar stool and must have been sitting in an odd position for awhile because I woke up on Saturday morning and noticed it hurt when I twisted my knee in a certain way. I tried stretching my legs and took it easy all day, but was feeling the pain on and off. Needless to say, I was starting to get a bit anxious for my race. I didn’t hurt when I walked, but I hadn’t tested it running. By the time I went to bed it was better, so I crossed my fingers all would be well in the morning.

On Sunday morning I woke up about 5:30 a.m. to start getting ready. Luckily, no pain in the knee! (Phew)

The weather was perfect. It was clear and about 50 degrees. The race also started nice and early – 7:10 a.m. My parents dropped me off near the start line and then made their way to their first spectating spot. I lined up just behind the 9:00 minute mile pacer as I was hoping to do about a 9:15-9:20 pace if I wanted to PR.

Start line

Things got going right on time and we headed down Ocean Blvd. There were over 1,000 runners, but I didn’t have to do a lot of weaving around people and found a comfortable pace that didn’t feel like I was going out too fast.

About mile 2 I saw my parents at their first spot. We had talked about them going to 3 spots along the course, but they ended up going to about 6! Super spectators! They got some good action shots and even had a sign. ❤

  

In the first several miles, I was keeping up a faster pace than expected, but felt good. In mile 5, we turned up a street heading west and I felt my pace slow a little running into the wind and slightly uphill. I felt a slight twinge of pain above my right knee (the one that had been hurting the day before), but nothing bad. Going into mile 6 we started heading east and got the benefit of the slight downhill, so my pace picked up. I also noticed that I wasn’t feeling anything around my knee anymore. (Yay!)

As we approached the halfway point, I looked at my pace and started doing a little math. I was not only on pace to PR, but I realized if I kept up my pace I could actually finish in under 2 hours. That goal hadn’t occurred to me until that moment. I thought doing a sub-2 half marathon was a ways off for me. In my last 12 mile training run, the first 10 miles were great and then my legs basically gave up on me for the last 2, so I was a little worried something similar would happen, but decided to see what I could do.

We made our way through some more neighborhood streets and around mile 11.5 we turned back on to Ocean Blvd. On the home stretch. The sun was rising and there wasn’t shade, but it was at least behind us. I focused on putting one foot in front of the other. At mile 12.5, they hand out tiaras and pink boas to the runners. I grabbed them, but just carried them in my hand so I could concentrate on pushing it through the finish line. I crossed the finish line and stopped my watch. It said something just over 1:57. I knew my actual time would be a bit higher because my watch paused when I had to stop and tie my shoe early in the race, but I was feeling pretty confident that I had done it!

I grabbed my celebratory pink “bubbly” and medal. That medal is a beast! It’s huge and so heavy.

My parents found me and we made our way to the car. I checked the live race results and sure enough, I had finished under 2 hours!! Official time was 1:58:08. I still can’t believe it! The great weather and a flat course helped, but I know I put in a lot of good training for this race. It provides some fuel for bigger and better goals and some confidence as I get ready for marathon training.

Overall, I had a lot of fun at this race. It was a literal explosion of pink (seriously, look at the swag), but it was well organized and you can’t beat running in Myrtle Beach.

Not pictured: the pink race shirt – ha!

Here’s to the next running adventure!

Goldy’s 10 Mile Race Recap

After 5 years of doing this race, I’ve got the pre-race routine down. I got up and had breakfast before heading to campus. I know that traffic can get a bit backed up and I wanted park in one of the lots by the stadium. I don’t mind being early and sitting in my car for a little bit if it means parking close.

Pre-race calm

I hit the restroom line and then just walked around for about 10 minutes to warm up until it was time to head to the corral. I sandwiched myself between the 9:30 and 9:00 pacers since I was aiming for something around a 9:20-9:25 pace.

I started my watch as I crossed the start line and we were off! The adrenaline and crowd often make me start a little too fast, so I tried to keep my pace under control while I warmed up. We headed up University Ave. and then turned into campus. Before I knew it I saw the marker for mile 1. Then my watch beeped a decent distance after I passed it, so I was a little worried the course would be off. I kept up a slightly faster than expected pace in mile 2. A big downhill helped with that. It was immediately followed by a big uphill that took some energy, but I settled into a comfortable pace when I got to the top.

It wasn’t that warm, but it felt humid to me. I felt like I was seating a lot even just a couple of miles in. I wasn’t thinking I’d want water at the first water stop, but I decided to take some cause I was feeling thirsty. I continued down the river road holding a good pace. The mile markers started lining up better with when my watch beeped, so I was feeling a little better about the course.

Around mile 5, I took a GU for a mid-race pick me up. I think mile 6 ended up being my slowest mile, but by mile 7 I picked up the pace again (maybe the GU was working). The last couple of miles have a couple of killer uphills that can make the thighs burn. I managed to keep the legs pumping as I made my way back to University Ave. for the home stretch. I picked up the pace a little and then a lot as we hit the outside of the stadium. Before I knew it, we were turning into the tunnel and hit the field. I crossed the finish line (at the 50 yard line) and stopped my watch.

I grabbed my medal and asked a kind stranger to take my picture. 🙂

My official time was 1:32:04, a new PR! That amounted to about a 9:13 pace, faster than I had hoped. I felt good through the race. I love doing this race every year because I continue to see progress. I feel faster and stronger each time I do it. It’s a nice benchmark early in the year.

Hope it’s a good prelude for my half marathon in a couple of weeks!

Turkey Trot 5 Mile Race Recap

It’s not turkey day without a turkey trot! This was my 4th year doing the Turkey Trot 5 mile run in my hometown. I was happy to see the temps were close to 30 the morning of the race – not bad at all for a run.

My parents and I got to the start about 15 minutes before the race started. They made their way to the start line for the 2 mile walk (with the dog) and I headed to the run start. I made my way into the corral and stayed near the front to hopefully avoid a lot of weaving around people.

The strategy worked out pretty well. The road is also wide at the beginning of the course, which helped. I did notice that my pace was a little faster than I was planning since I was moving with the flow of the crowd, but I was feeling good and getting warmed up.

Not long after we started, some snow flurries started falling on us. It was actually really pretty!

As I passed miles 1 and 2, my watch beeped close to the mile markers. At mile 3 I ran passed the mile marker and a little ways away noticed my watch hadn’t beeped yet. I was about 0.1 miles off. It was the same story at mile 4. I was thinking the course was going to be short. As I made my way through the last mile, we rounded the path down near the river and then up by the ice arena where my watch beeped for mile 5 just before crossing the finish line. So things worked out in the end!

I had told my parents that I was expecting to run a 9:30 pace. I ended up keeping up my fast pace from the beginning of the race and ran a 9:16 pace! More than enough for a new 5 mile PR!

I made my way to the food lines at the end and found my parents. With our mini pumpkin pies in hand, we headed back to the car. We were on our way to pick up my grandma and had to stop at a gas station to get some pumpkin spice cappuccino (our new tradition). We ended up stopping at three different gas stations before getting all of the drinks we needed — long story, but worth it!

turkeytrot

The rest of the day was spent relaxing and enjoying the holiday. Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Did you run a turkey trot? 

Vancouver Half Marathon Race Recap

Third time’s a charm! The Vancouver Half Marathon was my third half of the year and *spoiler alert* it was a great one!

On race morning, my friend Anna and I got up around 6:45 a.m. to start getting ready. We were both agonizing over what to wear and going through our outfit options. The air temp was cool and there was a little bit of rain falling, but it looked like the rain would move through by the start of the race. I went with capris, a t-shirt, arm warmers, and a hat.

Our hotel was just a block away from the start line, so we didn’t have to head outside until about 15 minutes before the race started — amazing!

We hopped in our corral and waited for the race to start.

Pre-race selfie!
Pre-race selfie!

I turned on my Garmin watch and hit the button for it find me, but it was taking FOREVER! Not sure what the issue was, but I had to cross the start line as it was still searching for me. A little ways into the race, my watch beeped that it had found me. Anna’s watch had been working fine and she said we were about .3 miles into the course. I mainly wanted my watch for pace anyway, so I wasn’t as concerned about the distance being off. My goal was a sub 2:05 half, so I needed about a 9:30/mile pace.

The first mile or so of the course went through some cute neighborhood streets with shops and restaurants. We both said we needed to head back there after the race! The next couple of miles were a little less scenic through a more industrial area, but around mile 4-5 we ran through Chinatown and then passed Rogers Arena (where the Vancouver Canucks play). At this point of the race, I was feeling a little sluggish, but then we hit a small downhill and I got a second wind to pick things up a little.

The miles/kilometers ticked by. Anna and I hung together until about 12.5 kilometers and then we split up. We had been keeping a pace around 9:30, but I picked up my pace a bit for the second half of the race. I was feeling good even with a few hills in there where I had to slow down.

A good portion of the second half of the course was either along the water or through Stanley Park, so it had nice views. I kept seeing the kilometer signs go by and was feeling good. I actually liked seeing the kilometer markers instead of mile markers, there are more of them (21.1K in a half), but they come more frequently, so it actually felt like the race went by fast for me.

Since my watch was off from the beginning of the race, I was pretty sure I was on pace for a PR, but I wasn’t totally sure. I just tried to keep up my pace as long as I felt strong in the last few kilometers. We rounded a few corners and then the finish line was in sight. I felt great going across the line, and crossed my fingers for a sub 2:05 time!

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I grabbed my water, banana and other race goodies and waited for Anna to finish just a few minutes after me. We hung out at the finish line festivities for a little bit before heading back to the hotel to warm up and shower. When we got back, I checked the live race results and my time was posted as 2:02:35!! New PR!

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Felt great to get my 3rd PR of the year in my 3rd half of the year and my 1st international race!

I don’t have much left on my racing schedule for 2016 — just a fun 5K in a couple of weeks and a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving, but nothing planned for over the winter right now. I’ve already started thinking about my races for 2017, though. Getting excited for another year and more new challenges!

Have you ever done an international race? What’s on your winter running schedule?

Twin Cities 10K Race Recap

This past weekend was Twin Cities Marathon weekend! While I wasn’t running the marathon, I at least got to join in the fun by doing the TC 10k on Saturday.

Preparing for this race was a bit different than some of my other recent races because the temperature was much cooler in the morning. I’m not used to cold weather running yet, so I had to strategize about what to wear. I went with tights, a t-shirt and arm warmers – my usual spring/fall race outfit.

I got to the race about 30 minutes before it started and sat in the car for about 10 minutes to stay warm. I was parked close, so I hoped out at 7:10 and headed to the start. There aren’t pacers for this race, so people just line up in the corral. I wanted to try and limit the amount of weaving I had to do at the beginning, so I attempted to work my way up to the middle of the corral.

It was chilly and my hands were pretty cold standing there, but it was a gorgeous morning for running in St. Paul!

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At 7:30 the horn sounded and we were off. The course is a little more narrow at the beginning, especially with so many people, so I still had to do a lot of weaving around people as we got going. You also start this course on some uphills, so the first 1/2 mile was a little slow, but it was probably good so I could get warmed up. I tried to keep a moderate pace through the first mile. My watched beeped right as I passed the mile 1 mile marker and showed 9:27.

After that, I was off. I wasn’t just running this one, I was racing. I wanted to see how much time I could shave off of my 10k PR since it had actually been about 2 years since I’d done a 10k race.

Miles 2 and 3 continued down Summit Ave. the road has some small rolling hills on it, so you have some slight inclines and then are met with a nice downhill to help you along. I kept up my pace with a 9:14 and 9:09.

Pretty soon, I saw the turnaround point. I felt like I was loosing a little steam just before that point, but once I turned the corner I found a second wind. That often happens to me with an out and back route. Miles 4 and 5 were 9:08 and 9:11. I remember my watch beeping at mile 5 and I noted my time. A little later, I saw one of the mile marker flags. I couldn’t read the mile number clearly at first because the wind was blowing the flag, but I thought it was odd that mile 6 was coming up so soon. But it was actually the mile 5 marker. That was also weird because my watch had beeped way before the flag. I kept chugging a long hoping that things would even out as I got to the end.

The adrenaline and the help of some nice downhills leading into the finish line helped me clock an 8:58 for mile 6! I crossed the finish line and stopped my watch. As I looked down at it, I was surprised and confused by what I saw. I had measured the course as 6.5 miles.

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Now, some variation is to be expected on your GPS watch in a race if you do some weaving and aren’t running the tangents, but .3 miles was pretty significant for that to be why it was long. I also saw that my total time was 59:04, which was only about 25 faster than my previous 10k PR. That’s great that it was a PR, but given how fast I was running (note the avg. pace of 9:06), that time should’ve been much faster.

It was getting chilly once I stopped running, so I headed back to my car fairly quickly feeling confused and honestly a bit disappointed even though I had actually run a really strong race. I was going for a big PR and that final time just didn’t sit well with me.

I took to Twitter to ask if anyone else had measured the course as long and scoured through the #tc10k hashtag to see if people were saying anything about the course. I wasn’t seeing much right away, but some people replied a bit later saying they measured the course as long, too. Then Twin Cities in Motion (they put on the race) replied to my tweet and confirmed that there had been an error in race set up and that they’d send some post-race communication confirming the exact distance. I haven’t received that communication yet, but at least I know I’m not crazy and my watch wasn’t way off.

Once I had some answers, I tried to reset my mental state. The fact is, I ran fast — faster than I even thought I was going to run. The work I’ve put in this year is clear given that I still managed to get a 10k PR on a long course (my official time was 59:03). I can’t be mad at that!

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I’ve got two weeks until the Vancouver Half, and I’ve got my sights set on a PR there as well.

Have you ever run a race where there was an error in the course?