Eau Claire Half Marathon Race Recap

Ok, so I totally fell off my weekly recaps after Seattle. That’s probably ok because there wasn’t anything super notable about those final weeks of training. I survived one more punch of winter when we had a blizzard right before my 11 mile long run. I still managed to get in 7 miles outside and finished the last 4 on the treadmill. The weather took a turn for the better after that and spring has arrived.

That brings us to race day! The first part of my running year has led to this race. I felt ready for it but also didn’t know what to expect all at the same time. I knew I wanted to push my pace, but I also wasn’t very confident that I could get anywhere close to my PR time (1:58:08).

It was a beautiful, sunny morning with temps in the 50s at the start, but I knew they would keep going up as the race got going. I hopped off the shuttle and had just the right amount of time to drop my stuff at gear check and make a restroom stop. Then my sister and I headed to the corrals. I lined up not far behind the 9:10 per mile pacer.

We started on a nice downhill, so that got me off to a good start. I was feeling good and found a comfy pace around 9:00. Not long into the race, I passed the 9:10 pacer and figured I’d see how long I could keep her behind me.

The first 5 miles of the race ticked by fairly quickly and I kept my pace. Miles 6-10 felt like a different story. My pace started to gradually get a little slower. The hills and sun were getting to me a bit. It wasn’t crazy hot, but I’m definitely not used to the warmer temps yet. They had water stops almost every mile and I took water at pretty much every one to either drink or pour on my neck.

As I got to mile 10, I was still a bit sluggish, but felt like I could try to push my pace a bit more. Around mile 11 we entered the UW – Eau Claire campus which is know as the Blugold Mile. You’re welcomed by the pep band and a street lined with cheering students in blue and gold. There was a lot of energy in that mile that I really appreciated and I’m sure the marathoners did as well!

The very end of the race brings you back into Carson Park. You have to go uphill to get there, which sucks at mile 12.75, but the hill actually wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. I crossed the finish line in 2:00:19. Right on my goal of getting as close to 2 hours as I could!

My sister and I celebrated being done with a beer in the beer garden.

We also stopped for cupcakes on our way home. 🙂

It was a good race, but also tough. The conditions weighed on me a bit and I just didn’t feel as good the whole race as I have in other halfs where I’ve raced and pushed my pace.

Now that this half is behind me, I have to figure out what the summer and fall have in store. I haven’t signed up for any other races yet, so I gotta get something on the calendar!

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Tenacious Ten 10K Race Recap

I had a fabulous runcation in Seattle! I truly love traveling for races and traveling/running with friends makes it even better! A friend from grad school lives out in Seattle, so I got to hang out and run with her. A couple of our other friends from grad school were also out in Seattle for the race and to visit family.

The Tenacious Ten race is sponsored by Oiselle.

They had a full weekend of events happening around the race to celebrate the wonderfulness that is running. We kicked off the weekend by attending a talk with Kara Goucher at the Oiselle flagship store.

It was a really informal Q&A session. She talked about the good times and the hard times she has gone through with running. Her outlook staying positive even during the hard times was inspiring to hear. You could also tell that she (and probably everyone else in the room) was still on a Boston Marathon high after having an American woman win the race for the first time in over 30 years.

When the talk was over, we got to meet her and get a quick picture and autograph. She’s originally from Minnesota, so it was fun to share I had traveled from MN for the race.

On race morning, my friend Anna and I walked about a mile from her place to get to the start. A nice warm up before the race. It was a gorgeous morning out. I had a really hard time figuring out what I was going to wear. Donning my Oiselle Volee singlet was a given, but the rest was a challenge. Luckily, I had brought options. I landed on arm warmers and capris for the race. It ended up being the right choice!

We met up with Hyedi and Kate at the start so we could line up together. None of us were racing, so we figured we’d try just sticking together for the run and maybe slowly picking up our pace as we went.

Seattle has a lot (I mean a lot) of hills, but thankfully the race course was one of the flatter areas of the city. We started at Gas Works Park and made our way around Lake Union. The four of us stuck together and chatted as we went. It really made the miles fly by. Shoutout to Hyedi for this mid-race pic.

Before I knew it, we were coming back into Gas Works Park and crossing the finish line. I ran the 10K in 57:53.

After grabbing our medals/cowbells (ha!), we enjoyed some of the post-race festivities including a delicious doughnut. Can you tell I was really happy to be done with Whole 30 at this point?

We cheered on some other friends and family members as they crossed the finish line and then set out to find brunch. We ended up at a really cute place, Pablo y Pablo. I devoured these breakfast tacos.

After showering, we set out for more adventures in Seattle. It was a really fun weekend and I want to start planning my next runcation immediately! 😉

Goldy’s 10 Mile Race Recap

This is my 6th year doing this race, and probably the coldest. It was about 16 degrees at the start of the race. Thankfully, the sun was out and the wind was calm. Made standing in the start corral at least bearable.

I was planning to race this one and push myself as much as I could. I lined up by the 9:00 min pacer not sure if I’d be able to keep that pace, but felt good to shoot for a goal.

I got myself warmed up in the first 3 miles and my watch was showed I was keeping that 9:00 pace. It was also around mile 3 when I realized I needed to tighten my shoelaces. Getting the double-knot out of my laces took longer than I wanted, but 30-60 seconds later I was off again. (This delay has relevance later in the race.)

Miles 4-6 I was still feeling pretty good and staying pretty on pace, but I could feel the tiredness in my legs starting. I kept pushing and tried to use the downhills for a little boost to make up for the uphills.

Around mile 7, my right glute and IT band started to feel tight. Gonna have to stretch and foam roll those tonight. These last 3 miles required some mantras and self motivation to keep myself going. My legs were feeling it and there were some lovely *cough* sarcasm *cough* uphills in the last 2 miles.

On the home stretch to the stadium, we had the breeze in our faces and I told myself to just keep pushing. I made my way onto the football field and across the finish line.

Final time was 1:32:07. A really good time for me, but a little frustrating because it means I missed a PR by 4 seconds. 4 SECONDS!! I can’t help but wonder what would’ve happened if I hadn’t been delayed retying my shoes or if I’d just pushed a little harder in a few spots. Frustrating to be so close, but still happy with the end result. Gives me some fire for finding my next 10 mile race. 🙂

Pettit Indoor Marathon Relay Race Recap

I’ve run a lot of races. Lots of different distances. Lots of different locations.

But the race I did last weekend was definitely a first. It was a marathon relay, so 4 people were covering 26.2 miles. That doesn’t sound too unusual, but the kicker for this race was it was indoors…on a track…surrounding an ice rink.

It was at the Pettit National Ice Center in Milwaukee, WI.  This race was a meet up for a lot of area Oiselle Volee runners. I recently joined the Volee team, so I was excited for my first race as an official member. There were 10 Oiselle teams doing the marathon relay–40 ladies total. My team was made up of three other Minnesota Volee members.

For the relay, you can split up the distance however you want, but most teams do 12 x 800’s. Meaning, you do two laps around the track (800 meters) and then change runners. Each person does 12 two-lap sets.

You wear an ankle bracelet to keep track of your official time, so you have to hand off the bracelet each time you change runners–just like passing the baton in a relay. Our on-deck runner was the person in charge of moving the bracelet from one runner to the next.

Since we were running shorter distances with each leg, we all tried to push our pace a bit. It was like an intense interval workout. The concrete under the track and the fact that you were running in circles in the same direction took a little bit of a toll on your body. I could feel it a bit in my left calf and my right hip.

I didn’t have a watch to keep track of my personal pace/time for each leg, but I was able to sneak a peak at the main race clock and get an idea of how fast I was going around the track. I think I was hanging somewhere around 2:15 – 2:20 per lap. No matter what the pace, I felt like I was pushing myself to run as fast as I could with each leg.

Everyone on our team was doing awesome and flying around the track! Very fitting since our team name was The Flying V!

We finished the marathon relay in 3 hrs 39 min 37 sec! I don’t think I’ll ever be able to achieve a marathon time like that on my own, so it was amazing to do it on a team with three other stellar runners. And with the support of all the other Volee teammates cheering each other on. We kept it light and fun all weekend with lots of laughs and a fair amount of inside jokes when the weekend was over. 🙂

Certainly an interesting running experience! If I do this race again, I’d probably train a little bit differently to prepare for the speed and interval aspects, but overall I felt good throughout the race. Getting my running groove back slowly but surely.

Next up is training for a spring half marathon with a 10 mile and 10K race thrown in. Looking forward to getting back into a regular training routine!

Have you ever run an indoor race? What’s on your spring race schedule?

Twin Cities Marathon Race Recap

It’s been a week since marathon day. The soreness in my legs is gone, but the good feels about the day remain. I’m proud to say I finished my second marathon and that it went even better than I was expecting.

The day started off with a 5:30 a.m. alarm so I could eat breakfast and get ready before catching the light rail to the start line. In looking at the weather, I opted for a t-shirt, capris, and a hat. It was going to be cloudy, and there was a chance of rain in the afternoon, so I knew I could get a little wet near the end of the race.

I got to the start area about 7:15. I snapped a picture of the sunrise behind U.S. Bank Stadium.

As I started walking around, orienting myself with where I needed to go, it started to sprinkle. Then it started to lightly rain. I popped into an underground parking entrance to take cover and avoid getting too wet before the race. Of course I didn’t bring a poncho or trash bag cause I wasn’t expecting pre-race rain. The little bit of rain that did fall on me made me chilly. At that moment I really regretted leaving my arm warmers on my kitchen table. I realized that if it rained during the earlier miles of the race, I actually might want them. Luckily, my parents were still at my place, so I texted them to bring along while spectating.

I had to hop out into the light rain for a few minutes to hit the bathroom lines, but didn’t get too wet. The rain stopped by the time I headed to the corral. Before I knew it, corral 1 was off. I actually felt pretty calm. I think I was just ready to get running. I ditched my throw-away shirt as we made our way up to the line, and then I was off.

My legs felt good and fresh. I think not running for two days before the race was good. I did my best to find a comfortable pace without going out too fast.

At mile 2.5, I saw my parents and my sister. I was feeling good and holding on to about a 9:40 pace. As long as that felt good, I was going with it.

The miles continued to tick by fairly quickly as I tried to take in the sights of the spectators and fellow runners. We passed the 10K checkpoint and then were heading around the lakes. I saw my parents again around mile 8 and was still keeping my pace. My foot was doing just fine as well. No pain or soreness to get in my way.

That’s me in the white hat

I couldn’t believe it when I passed the halfway point! I was still feeling good and able to keep up a good pace. There were some sprinkles falling periodically around this point of the race, but nothing that lasted too long. I saw some friends on the south side of Lake Nokomis and gave them huge hugs, which gave me another burst of energy.

I could feel a bit of fatigue in my legs around mile 15, but was able to keep my pace. I saw my friend Kate just past mile 16. She brought me a dry hat and socks if I needed them, but I was doing ok, so gave her a hug and keep chugging along.

Getting to mile 17 was sort of a milestone in my head since that would mean the remaining miles would be in single digits. I kept pushing knowing I would see more friends around mile 18. I got much needed high fives from them as I continued on. I was certainly feeling the tiredness in my legs. When I saw my parents just before mile 19, I warned them that my pace would likely slow from then to the finish.

This face! Photo credit to my dad.

Mile 19 was the first time I had to do a little walking. I knew that would happen at some point. I was pleasantly surprised that I felt as good as I did up until that point. I made it closer to mile 20-21 before needing to walk in my first marathon, but given my altered training near the end, 19 miles was pretty darn good.

I used downhills and flat areas to run, and resolved to needing to walk a bit on some of the uphills.

As I made my way up the hill towards Summit Ave, I knew I was approaching the home stretch, but the rain was also starting to come down. It was going to be a long final 5 miles, but I told myself to just keep moving forward.

I kept my walk/run routine going. I was also keeping an eye on my left glute. I had a few steps where I felt some pain in it while running. It wasn’t constant and didn’t hurt when I walked, but wanted to make sure it didn’t get worse. I think it was an effect of my legs just getting really fatigued.

The rain sucked and I was getting chilly, but it motivated me to run as much as I could to get to mile 24 where Hyedi would be cheering. I didn’t want her standing in the rain any longer than she had to! I really appreciate that she braved the rain because it was certainly needed to get some words or encouragement as I pushed through the last two miles.

I did a little more walking in those last two miles than I wanted, but as I spotted the top of the cathedral, I knew I was almost to the end. Thank goodness the last part of this course is almost entirely downhill. I used that to propel me through the last .2 miles and pushed my legs as hard as I could.

As I approached the finish line, I felt a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes.

I had to compose myself a little as I turned off my Garmin and approached a volunteer who put my medal around my neck.

I made a beeline for the volunteers with the heat sheets so I could warm up. Then I grabbed some food and my finishers shirt to make my way out and find my parents.

It’s amazing the range of emotions you go through at the end. From feeling exhausted and uncomfortable to elated and in disbelief that you just put your body through that kind of physical and mental challenge.

In looking at the TC Marathon app on the way home, I saw that my race time was 4:34:41. A new PR!!!

I really did not know what to expect with this race given the end of my training. Apparently, it was good that I did as much resting and cross training as I did because my foot held up just fine for the whole race. And the good training I put in all summer certainly paid off and pulled me through.

I can’t help but wonder what the race or my time would’ve been like if I had been able to complete my training as planned, but I cannot complain about the outcome. And I know there’s always next time. 😉

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!