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!

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?

Vancouver Half Training – Week 1

Here we go again! Another training cycle, another half. This will be my third of the year. Each one has gotten better, and I’m hoping to run a sub 2:05 in Vancouver. I’m trying out a new training plan that has me running 5 days per week with one day of cross training and one rest day on most weeks. It will be a little different for me, so we’ll see how my body does. Here’s how the first week of training went…

Monday – 20 minute walk

Mondays are the cross training day on my plan. It was a nice day, so I just did an easy walk to kick things off.

Tuesday – 3.67 miles (9:09/mile)

Group run with Kate and Hyedi. We did Tuesday runs training for Garry Bjorklund Half in June and have tried to keep them going through the summer. A pretty quick, hard run for me. I was feeling it by the end.

Wednesday – 3.07 miles (9:49/mile)

It was a hot day, but I wanted to get in a run. I had 4 miles on my plan, but the weather and my knee feeling a bit “off” had me keeping it at 3.

hot run
sweaty selfie
sweaty selfie
sweaty selfie

Thursday – rest

Friday – 4.01 miles (9:37/mile)

I got in the 4 mile run that I didn’t do on Wednesday. Was nice to have Thursday off cause my knee felt better and the temps had become more comfortable.

Saturday – 30 minutes of HIIT, 30 minutes of Zumba

A friend belongs to a gym that does high intensity interval training (HIIT) and they were holding a free class at an Athleta store, so I decided to go check it out. We did 30 minutes of circuit training with a few exercises focusing on core, a few on legs and a couple on arms. It was a really good workout, but definitely tough. Proof that I need to do more strength training! My body definitely felt it the next day, so I know it was working.

The second half was a 30 minute Zumba class. I’ve never done Zumba, but had always wanted to try it. The class was fun. A bit hard to pick up on some of the moves for my first time, but it was fun. 🙂

Sunday – 4.04 miles (9:39/mile)

I set my alarm to get up and do my “long run” for the week before brunch plans. Since we’re at the beginning of training, the long run was only 4 miles. I felt good, but my muscles were feeling that HIIT workout from Saturday.

After running, it was time to eat…and drink. Hyedi and I went to brunch at Saint Dinette. They make mini everything bagels to go with their Bloody Mary, so I had to try one!

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We also tried the biscuits & gravy and pork carnitas tacos.  Both were absolutely delicious!

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We finished up the meal with something sweet–beignets with lemon curd!

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Overall, a good first week of training. I’m looking forward to getting this training cycle going and seeing what I can do in Vancouver!

Garry Bjorklund Half Training – Week 12

The final week of training was pretty relaxed and definitely fewer miles to give my legs some rest before the big day.

Monday – rest

Tuesday – 26 minute elliptical 

I usually meet up with Hyedi and Kate for our Tuesday run, but storms were headed our way in the evening, so we cancelled. Sad not to do one more training run with them, but I had been planning to do an elliptical workout in place of a run this week anyway. The rainy evening made it easier to do that on Tuesday.

The storm did pass and the sky was actually very pretty before sunset.

after storm

Wednesday – 3.02 miles (9:25/mile)

Thursday – 2.07 miles (9:42/mile)

Meh. This was not a good run. I was only planning to do 2 miles, so thankfully it was short. My legs were super tired and heavy the whole time. It was just a struggle. Sort of disconcerting a couple of days before the race, but I held out hope that a rest day in between would be enough.

Friday – rest

I took the day off of work since I’d be heading up to Duluth. I got some errands done in the morning and then headed out around noon. Hit some lovely traffic at one point — thanks summer construction. Luckily I didn’t have to be in it for too long. I made it to Duluth and headed straight for the expo to get my packet.

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packet

Then I met up with friends where I was staying and we ate some spaghetti to carbo-load for the day. Three of us were doing the half and one was doing the marathon. Two others were our runner support for the weekend, and they were awesome!

Saturday – Race Day!

A full race recap is coming, but the short story is I finished and PR’d!

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We spent the rest of the day relaxing and spending some time outside. We celebrated our races with a little bubbly, too!

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Sunday – 2.5 mile walk

My family and I headed to Lake Nokomis to celebrate Father’s Day, so we took a leisurely walk around the lake before firing up the grill for lunch. It was a hot day, but there was a breeze that kept it comfortable. We grabbed some ice cream later in the afternoon to help keep cool. 🙂

All in all, I’d say this was a very good training cycle. I’ve already got two half marathons under my belt for the year and one more to come in the fall. I’ve got a little bit of a break from formal training right now, which I’m kind of looking forward to. I’ll still run, but won’t have to follow a plan until later in the summer. Gonna do my best to get outside an enjoy the MN summer!

What races do you have this summer? What are your summer plans?

Garry Bjorklund Half Training – Week 11

This was the last big week of training before race day! The pre-race excitement has started already. I’m always a little more anxious for races I haven’t done before since I don’t really know what to expect, but I’ll have friends there who know their way around, so that helps.

Monday – rest

Tuesday – 5

Run with Hyedi and Kate. After a tough 11 mile run on Sunday, I was hoping my Achilles/calf would be ok after a rest day. I was also wearing my new shoes. Luckily I only felt it a tiny bit at the start and then I was good to go!

Wednesday – 30 minute elliptical

It was a nice night, so I felt bad staying inside for a workout, but I wanted to do something low impact just to give my leg a break. Plus, I was short on time since I was headed to book club after. Felt good to get in a solid workout and then go eat some pizza on the grill and drink wine with friends.

Thursday – 3.05 miles (9:27/mile)

My Achilles was a little sore when I started out, but it warmed up fairly quickly.

Friday – rest

Saturday – 10.01 miles (9:35/mile)

It was going to be a hot day, so I got up early to get in my long run before it got too unbearable. I made it to the lakes by 7:30 a.m. I had 12 miles on my training plan, but I was planning to do less just to give myself a small taper before the race. I was hoping to get in 10, but was prepared to make it shorter if I needed to.

I started around Lake Harriet and was feeling pretty good. After one loop, I headed over to Lake Calhoun and made a pit stop at the Twin Cities in Motion water stop. They had a free station set up for people with water, Powerade, Clif shots and some goodies. I tried a little Powerade as a test in case I’d want some during race day (I normally just do water). I also grabbed this fun sticker and air freshener. I wasn’t done with my run yet, so I had to stuff them in my spibelt, but they held up!

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I headed back to Lake Harriet for another lap around the lake to get to 10 miles. I could’ve done a couple more miles, but it seemed smarter to just go ahead and stop to save my legs.

The temperature was rising, so I decided to treat myself to some cold press after my run.

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Sunday – 2.18 mile walk

I met my sister and a friend for breakfast at Colossal Cafe. Had some yummy biscuits and gravy (my favorite breakfast dish) and got to catch up while we ate al fresco.

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My sister and I did a little shopping after breakfast and then I headed home for the afternoon. It was really nice, so I headed out for a walk to end the week.

I’ve been thinking about my goals for the race. My first goal is always just to finish and have a good time. My next goal is to get under 2:10. I was super close in New Orleans, so I know I can do it. My big goal is to run about a 9:30 pace. I’ve been doing it during training, so if conditions are good, I think all 3 goals are definitely achievable!

Garry Bjorklund Half Training – Week 10

We’re just under 2 weeks from race day! Feeling good except the Achilles has reared its ugly head again this past week. It had gotten better and has flared up again. Not sure why, but I might have to take a little extra rest the next couple of weeks to make sure it’s good when I get to the start line.

Monday – rest

Tuesday – 5.07 miles (9:31/mile)

Run with Kate and Hyedi. It was a good run, but this is when I started to feel my Achilles again. I don’t remember stepping wrong or anything, but I was feeling it on and off for most of the run. Some of the soreness/pain was creeping up my calf, too. Not what I wanted so close to the race.

Wednesday – 1.75 miles (9:58/mile)

I could feel the soreness in my calf most of the next day, but it was National Running Day (and beautiful out), so I headed out  to see how my Achilles/calf would do on a run. I was still feeling the soreness, so I cut the run short to be safe.

Thursday – rest

This was my planned rest day. I had a meeting with some folks at CCFA to help with planning an event in the fall. Then I headed over to Heirloom for dinner. It was a fantastic meal!

Ricotta gnocchi, interesting vegetables, meat pie, carrot cake
Ricotta gnocchi, interesting vegetables, meat pie, carrot cake

Friday – rest

I decided to take an extra rest day this week. I think one of the reasons my Achilles has acted up recently is that it’s time for new shoes. I picked some up after work and am starting to break them in. I went with my usual Brooks Glycerin (neutral shoe).

Love the color!
Love the color!

Saturday – 3.23 miles (11:39/mile)

Saturday morning was the Girls on the Run 5K! I got to the race about 8:15 and waited in a little bit of traffic to get into the parking log. I headed over to pick up my bib and t-shirt. The line was a bit long and I found myself getting a little impatient, but then I looked around and saw how excited all of the girls were and reminded myself to relax and have a good time.

I found the school I had been assigned to for being a running buddy. A few of their girls ended up not being able to make it, so they didn’t need another girl or I to run with someone. She and I started chatting before the race and it turned out she was training for Garry Bjorklund too! It will be her first half marathon. We ran the 5K together at a nice, leisurely pace to support the girls and talked about running and life.

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There were so many people at the race! It definitely seemed bigger than the fall 5K. They had a beautiful day for the race — the sun was actually pretty warm. There was a lot of energy at the start and finish with all of the family/friends hanging out to cheer on the girls. This program just continues to grow!

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I wore my new shoes and the Achilles/calf did ok. I did some good stretching when I got home and was hopeful it would be ok for a long run on Sunday.

Sunday – 11.02 miles (9:28/mile) and 1.05 mile walk

I met Hyedi for our long run around Lake Harriet, Calhoun, and Isles. We started out and after a few miles I could feel the tightness in my calf. I was wearing my old shoes because I was hesitant to wear the new ones on such a long run without breaking them in a little more.

We continued to make our way around all 3 lakes. I contemplated cutting it short, but it never got worse, so I kept going for the full 11 miles. Of course by the end of the run I wasn’t feeling the soreness anymore.

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I got home and stretched, showered and relaxed for a couple of hours before heading to the Take Steps Walk for CCFA. I was volunteering at the walk, so I got there at 2 p.m. to help with some set up.

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Handing out t-shirts and other incentives to people who met their fundraising goals was like my second workout of the day.

Then it was time for the actual walk to start. There were a lot of #IBDHeroes out there on a gorgeous afternoon to support finding cures for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

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Balloon arch over the start line

After the walk (my third workout of the day), it was time to tear down. I got home around 7:30 and was physically exhausted, but had such a good time!

Disclosure: I received a free race entry for the Girls on the Run 5K. All opinions are my own.