Twin Cities Marathon Training – Week 9

It was a step-back week, which worked out well with having a busy week with some traveling to celebrate a friend’s wedding thrown in!

Monday – rest

Tuesday – 7 miles (9:32/mile)

It was cloudy when I started running after work, but I wasn’t expecting it to rain while I was out. Around mile 3, it started sprinkling on me. It actually felt pretty good considering it was so hot and humid. The sprinkles turned into a steady rain and I could tell by the clouds that it wasn’t going to let up. Luckily, I was close to home, so I popped inside after about 4.15 miles to finish up the last 2.85 miles on the treadmill.

After my run, I got cleaned up and headed out to meet up with a friend and her run group for some dinner. They got caught in the rain during their run as well, but we feasted on some yummy seafood at Sea Salt.

Wednesday – 4 miles (9:28/mile)

I had a happy hour with coworkers immediately after work, and then I headed home to get in my 4 mile run to cap off the day.

Thursday – rest

This was a travel day back home to Wisconsin. My sister and I were headed to a wedding that weekend, so we spent the night at home to break up the drive and spend a little time with our mom and grandma.

Friday – 13.1 miles (9:35/mile)

I knew I wouldn’t be able to get it in my long run on Saturday with all of the wedding festivities, and being in a new city, so I got up early to do my run in my hometown before we hit the road. For the step-back week, my long run was actually supposed to be a half marathon, but I wasn’t going to do a race, so I just planned to run 13.1.

I parked at Carson Park where my family often walks and I’ve done a lot of runs before. I knew the area pretty well, but didn’t exactly know where water fountains were, so I kept some extra water in my car and planned to loop back there when I needed to refill.

To start, I actually made my way out of the park and over to the trail that runs along the river. I’ve run this trail a little before during the Turkey Trot 5 mile. I took the opportunity to explore the trail a bit more.

I started around mile marker 3, and I found the markers were ticking down every half mile, so I figured I’d try to find the start of the trail.  I found it just over this bridge!

I turned around and headed back to the park. I did find 1 water fountain on this part of my run, but I wanted to refill my water. At this point, I was just over 6 miles into the run. I took a loop around the park, which is about a mile, and then headed out of the park again to hit a different trail. I followed that out about 2.5 miles and then headed back to my car. To get back into the park, I had to run up a big hill for the second time. My legs were pretty dead after that, but I only had about a mile and a half mile left. I took one more loop around the park and was done.

It felt great to get the run done and explore some new paths. With that out of the way, all I had to do was focus on celebrating my friend and enjoying the wedding!

Saturday – rest

It may have been a rest day on the training schedule, but was a full day of wedding fun. We started at the salon for hair and makeup before heading back to the bride’s parent’s house to get dressed. After that it was pictures and then the ceremony and reception. I stayed busy trying to help keep things on schedule and take care of little tasks for the bride as her personal attendant.

The ceremony was beautiful and after that we danced the night away!

Sunday – 4.02 miles (9:21/mile) 

My sister and I slept in a little and then grabbed some breakfast on our way out of town. I got home mid afternoon and ran to the grocery and then squeezed in a 4 mile run before relaxing for the rest of the night.

It was a packed weekend, but a lot of fun! Next week’s training runs kick it up a notch again, so we’ll see how this next phase of training goes.

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!

Reflecting on 2016 and Looking Ahead to 2017

As one year ends and another begins, we can’t help but reflect on the things we’ve done and look ahead at what’s to come.

2016 was a pretty good year for running–if I do say so myself! It was the year of the half marathon. I ran three, and managed to improve my time with each one. It all started with the New Orleans half in February, then the Garry Bjorklund half in June, and finally the Vancouver half in October. As you can see, these races took me to some pretty cool destinations too!

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New Orleans half
Garry Bjorklund half
Garry Bjorklund half
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Vancouver half

Along with a PR in my half marathon, I also managed to get PRs in my 5 mile, 10K and 10 mile!

I’m looking ahead at races for 2017 and trying to decide what I want to tackle this year. I have a few things figured out, but I’m still up in the air on a couple others.

I’ve already registered for the Goldy’s Run 10 mile in April. This will be the 5th year in a row that I’ve run it. I love the 10 mile distance and love having this race in the spring to keep me motivated through the MN winter.

I’m also planning on a spring half. I’ve got two options depending on whether I’m out of town at the beginning of May. The day of either race is three weeks after Goldy’s 10 mile, so great timing for training.

I’m considering joining a local running store’s race team as well. That would mean I’d need to run at least three races from their list, and I already have several that look good.

The big thing I’m contemplating for 2017 is doing another full marathon! I did my first in 2015 and I think I got the bug to do it again while spectating at the marathon a few months ago. I know the training is time consuming, but I made a lot of progress in my running during 2016, so I’d like to see how I can improve not only my marathon time but the training.

The good thing is, I’ve got lots of good options! I have no doubt it will be another wonderful year of running!

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What are your 2017 running goals?

Don’t roll the dice – run safe!

This weekend, thousands of runners will be descending on Las Vegas to run the Strip at night for the Las Vegas Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon. I ran this half in 2013 with Team Challenge and had a blast!

Finisher photo hi res

Vegas.com asked if I had any tips for being active and staying safe while visiting the Strip. In honor of November being National Running Safety Month, I shared with them 7 safety tips for working out while traveling whether it’s for a race, vacation, or work.

  1. Double down: Run with a buddy 
    Besides the safety benefits, running with a friend can be a lot of fun! If you can’t run with a buddy, tell someone where you’re going and about how long you’ll be gone.
  2. See and be seen: Wear bright colors, reflective gear and/or a headlight
    As the days get shorter, we have more darkness than daylight to contend with. Make sure people can see you by wearing gear that have reflective elements built in, buying a reflective vest, and/or wearing a headlight.
  3. Cut the cards…and the headphones
    Even if you love rock ‘n roll, leave the headphones behind so you can stay alert to your surroundings.
  4. Drink up: Stay hydrated
    It can be easy to get dehydrated while traveling, so make sure to keep drinking water — especially if you’re drinking some other beverages as well. 😉
  5. Stay connected: Bring your phone
    If you get injured or just don’t feel safe, having your phone handy will allow you to make a quick call for help. It can also be nice for snapping a quick picture as you explore a new area!
  6. Have a game plan: Map out your route 
    Especially in an unfamiliar area, know where you plan to run ahead of time. And if you follow tip #5, you can always check a map on your phone if you make a wrong turn.
  7. Stay in: Hit the hotel gym
    It’s an easy, safe, convenient way to get in a workout while traveling.

lv blvd

Now go out, have fun (check out these Las Vegas deals), and run safe!

Seattle/Vancouver Weekend

It was a couple of weeks ago that I was out west for the Vancouver Half, but I wanted to share more about my trip! It was a jam-packed few days.

Friday

I flew out to Seattle early on Friday morning and met up with my friend Anna. Our first order of business was brunch. We grabbed some delicious biscuits and gravy at a cute little restaurant. Then we headed to her place to drop my luggage and regroup. We headed out so she could show me some of Seattle. Of course, we had to walk around Pike Place Market.

 

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We walked around a bunch of the shops and restaurants. So many fruits, veggies, fresh flowers, and other goodies in the buzzing market.

We wandered past the market and headed down to the sculpture garden and then made our way back. We were wearing our running clothes so we could do a shake-out run in West Seattle. To get there, we took a water taxi! It’s a big boat that gets you across the lake in about 5 minutes. A little different from the ferries, but pretty slick!

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There’s a nice path along the water right where the taxi drops off, so we did a 3 mile run along the water with a view of downtown.

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We lucked out with our timing and the taxi was just getting ready to leave when we got back, so we jumped on really quick to head back to the car. As soon as we got in the car, it started to rain – perfect timing!

We cleaned up and headed to dinner. When we got back we were both pretty tired, so we headed to bed fairly early.

Saturday

We spent the morning getting packed and ready to head to Vancouver. We grabbed brunch and did a couple of quick errands before hitting the highway to head north.

This was one of the craziest and most amazing things I have ever seen…a tiny dog in a carrier attached to the back of a motorcycle. And he was wearing goggles!

I can't even!
I can’t even!

Soon, we were in Canada and made our way to the hotel. After checking in and dropping our luggage, we headed to the race expo to get our bibs. It was about 4 p.m. and the expo closed at 5 p.m. Luckily, it was just a few blocks from our hotel, so an easy walk. There was hardly anyone at the expo by the time we got there, and it was actually pretty small. I was a little surprised, but ok with it because I hate fighting my way through a busy expo.

We explored the harbor area and took in the pretty views after grabbing our stuff.

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We both loved this orca statue! It looks like it’s made of giant leggos.

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In the evening, we headed to a delicious pasta dinner at Lupo. Complete with a roasted beet salad and handmade ravioli stuffed with braised short rib. So good! After finally getting back to the hotel (we had to wait a while for a cab), we relaxed for a bit and went to bed early so we’d be ready for our race.

Sunday

Having our hotel a block from the start line was amazing for an easy, low stress race morning. The race was great, and we were both ready to celebrate our PRs with some food after we got cleaned up!

We walked over to the Gastown neighborhood and found a restaurant that was still serving brunch. After stuffing our faces (hey, we ran 13.1 miles!) we explored the neighborhood a little. It’s a cute area with lots of shops and restaurants, cobblestone streets and some pieces of history.

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We stopped in a tourist store and picked up some maple candy and fun Canada souvenirs — including mugs with a plaid moose on them. 🙂

On our way back to the hotel, we grabbed an afternoon treat at Tim Hortons because, donuts!

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We ended up just lounging for a bit in the afternoon watching Happy Gilmore. We both felt funny not exploring the city more, but we were exhausted.

After getting our second wind, we set out to get some dinner back in Gastown and then stopped at a restaurant along the harbor for the free beer we got with the race. The end of the Seattle Seahawks game happened to be on, so we got to watch that as we drank our beer.

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Evening harbor views
Nighttime harbor views

Monday

We grabbed breakfast at a restaurant along the harbor before checking out of the hotel and heading back to Seattle. We rolled in around 2 p.m. and had a little time to kill before I had to be at the airport. We walked around the Fremont neighborhood and saw the troll under the bridge.

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I got another view of the water and skyline, too.

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Soon, it was time to head to the airport and say good-bye.

It was a fantastic weekend! I was so happy to explore two new cities and spend some quality time with a great friend.

I know that I can travel and explore new places anytime, but I love how running has become a part of those adventures. A “runcation” or “destination race” has become one of my favorite ways to travel. One of the best ways to see a city can be on foot during a race! Need to figure out where I want to go next!

What are your favorite destination races?

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?