June 28, 2010

Henderson Sauerkraut Days 5k race recap

Remember this post about my goals? Goal number two was to place in a race and guess what? I DID!

The course for this run was essentially two loops around the lower portion of Henderson, meaning it was relatively flat. There were maybe 50 or so runners and another 50 walkers/mom's with strollers. I lined up a few rows behind the starting line (all the boys) and tried to size up my competition for the girls. There were some girls that looked pretty fast (long, lean, young) and I was watching them warm up, envisioning myself getting dominated.

To start the race, there was no gun, no horn, just some guy yelling "GO!" And off we went. My first mile was definitely too fast but I wanted to keep an eye on the girls that took off out of the gate. Soon enough they burned out and I passed them, trying to keep my pace as even as possible. It was extra incentive being the female front runner to keep my pace up. I didn't want to get passed by another girl or anyone. And I didn't.

By the second lap around the course I was definitely getting tired. I knew that unless I walked the rest of the way, I would have the new course record. The last 400 meters or so runs along main street which slopes ever so slightly downward. I used gravity to my advantage and crossed the line in 20:48.

First female, new course record.

I even got a cute little trophy. The guy at the top is a cabbage with legs (for Sauerkraut Days, duh).

This race is technically a fun run meaning it wasn't chip timed so I don't know if I can technically count this as a 5k PR but I'm going to anyway. I haven't run a competitive 5k since April 2009 and my time then was 23:57. Massive improvement, no?

The best part of the race was after I was waiting around for the awards ceremony, the boys high school track coach came up and started talking to me, asking me where I was from and if I ran in high school. He said he could tell after I ran past him on the first loop that I was a runner. I don't know why this is so flattering to me but it pretty much made my day.

However, the big fail for the day was that I did not accomplish my 2a goal of wearing a costume. Just running shorts and a tank. Next year....

June 27, 2010

Grandma's Marathon Race Recap

What: Grandma's Marathon
Where: Duluth, MN
When: Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Expo
I know that some people aren't huge fans of the expo but I love them! Free food. Free gifts. What more can you ask for? It's also a great place to pick up some fun running stuff, like this shirt by Sistas Shirts.

I thought it was pretty applicable.

It's also a great opportunity to learn about new organizations. Before I left for Duluth, I saw on the Grandma's Marathon Facebook page that Medals 4 Mettle would be at the expo. This organization collects medals from races and gives them to people fighting serious illnesses or that have debilitating handicaps. Their mission is really personal to me because of what my family experienced with Joel so I donated all of my medals from past races.

The highlight of the expo by far was hearing Kara Goucher speak. She is my favorite runner and I've been following her for quite a while. She was just as down to earth as I had hoped and so inspirational. And probably the cutest pregnant women ever... who still maintains 40 mile weeks at 6 months pregnant.

Kara is in the blue tank and her husband Adam (who is also an elite runner) is to the left.

And thanks to the wonders of social networking, I was able to meet up with a bunch of friends from dailymile. It was really fun to put a face with name.

Marathon Eve
I sort of have a ritual that I do the night before big races and it mainly has to do with food. My biggest thing is to not try anything new and I also don't like to eat out because I like to know exactly what I'm eating. This is the only time I'm a picky eater!

I made my typical pre race meal of whole wheat pasta with chicken and marinara sauce. And garlic bread of course.

Morning Of
I never sleep well the night before  a race. I think it's mostly anxiety and also a fear of oversleeping, despite the fact that I set like three alarms. I woke up at 4:30, showered, and forced down two pieces of toast with peanut butter and a half of banana. My mom helped me pin on this picture of Joel that I have. I've only worn it for the Twin Cities Marathon last year and just feel like it gives me extra motivation during the tough points.

Because the race begins up in Two Harbors, all runners are asked to take buses to the start to avoid having 7500 cars trying to make it to the start line. They have pick-up spots all over the city so catching a bus is easy. I got on one of the first buses and left Duluth at 5:30.

It was a little cold that morning, mostly windy, so I wore a long sleeve over my tank. There were photographers at  the starting line and one snagged this photo of me right after we all got off the bus.

I knew a few people that were running, including my friend Shauna. I had spoken with her the night before and we said that we would look for each other at the start but didn't designate a meeting spot. When I first got there, I immediately got in line for a porta potty and lo and behold, Shauna was two people in front of me in the same line! A photographer snapped this photo of us.

You can see my GUs that I pinned to my shorts.

The Race
The race was set to begin at 7:30 and did, more or less, minus the few minutes it took me to cross the start line. I positioned myself between the 3:50 and 3:40 pace groups since they did not have a 3:45 group. I knew that I wanted to negative split the race meaning that I would have to run a controlled (slow) first have and stick around an 8:30 pace.

I was running with the Garm on my Arm and had practiced locking the bezel during training runs by pushing the stop and start buttons simultaneously. However, my worst fear was realized when I accidentally stopped it 30 seconds into the race and panicked trying to get it back on. I didn't know exactly how much time I had lost but it also screwed up the auto-lap function a little since I had it set to tell me my pace every mile. C'est la vie.

For all you number lovers, here you go. My first half:
1- 8:35 (approx)
2- 8:30
3- 8:27
4- 8:31
5- 8:36 (GU)
6- 8:39
7- 8:25
8- 8:26
9- 8:25
10- 8:21
11- 8:43 (GU)
12- 8:24
13- 8:17
First half: 1:51:29, 8:30 average pace

This is when the race really started for me. I was feeling great, since I had been running so conservatively. I think I might have jumped the gun a little as you can see from my mile splits.

14- 7:58
15- 7:57
16- 7:56
17- 8:11 (GU)
18- 8:00

Mile 19 is when the race comes into the city of Duluth. The course is not really spectator heavy until that point and I think I got a little carried away by the crowds.

19- 7:44
20- 8:19 (GU chomps)
21- 8:22
22- 8:22

This is when the race got a little difficult for me. There was a really strong headwind and the majority of the time, I was alone with no one to block the wind. There is also the infamous Lemon Drop Hill

23- 8:35 (Lemon Drop)
24- 8:50 (walked)
25- 9:19 (lots of slow walking through the water stop)

These miles were painful. I walked a few times and contemplated if I even wanted to finish (though I knew I would). The hardest part was knowing that I was going to be thisclose to a BQ and that if I didn't pick it up, I would regret it. And so I ran with burning quads and burning lungs.

26- 8:12

I knew as I rounded the last corner that I was within seconds of a BQ. Since I had accidentally stopped my watch at the beginning of the race, I didn't know how much time I had lost. So I put everything out there and ran.

.2- 7:17 pace

I crossed the finish line, tried not to collapse and tried to do some quick math in my head. When I stopped my the Garm on my Arm, it read 3:40:16. I didn't know how accurate that was and could only hope it hadn't been off by that much. I needed to be under 3:40:59 for a BQ. Drum roll......

3:40:21! I qualified for Boston by a measly 38 seconds!

After Effects
After grabbing some water and free food, I headed over to the family meeting area to find my mom and did some light stretching. I was covered in grimy sweat and Body Glide so after my mom came and did my best to give myself a towel bath. Here I am rocking calf recovery sleeves and toweling off. Cute, right?

And this pretty much illustrates the exhausted glory of the marathon. And the top of my mom's finger.

Aside from my burning quads, I felt pretty amazing. Shortly after this shot was taken, we walked about a mile to the car and I settled into the back for the four hour trip home. Not something I would typically do, but my mom needed to be back and it did give me the opportunity to sort of sleep.

So I did it. I ran a great race, I negative split it, and I qualified for Boston. Onward.

Final, official stats:
3:40:21, 8:24 average pace

(ETA: Accidentally hit Publish before it was ready to go so apologies to those of you that are getting this twice!)

June 21, 2010

Second Day Sore

Here's to wishing every set of stairs was an escalator....

Full Grandma's Marathon race report coming soon.

June 13, 2010

Goals and stuff

Just in case you thought I do all of this without rhyme or reason, here are some running/fitness goals I've set for myself for the summer. Sharing them makes me accountable and accountability is good. You can all shame me mercilessly if I don't reach them.
1. PR in Grandma's Marathon:  Ultimately I'd like to run anything under 3:50 (but secretly am wishing for something under 3:45). I finished the Twin Cities Marathon last year with a time of 3:55:46.

2. Place in a race: Small towns, here I come! Here's the thing that makes this one completely doable: A week after Grandma's, there is a local 5k race for Henderson's annual Sauerkraut Days where the female course record is 22:23. A few weeks ago I ran a 5k route during a training run in 22:43. How awesome would it be to not only win the race (for girls) but hold the female course record?! I think I have this one in the bag as long as 1. The marathon doesn't kill me; 2. The fast girls don't show up; 3. I don't eat too much sauerkraut the night before. 

2a.  I'd like to accomplish the above while wearing some sort of costume. Any ideas?

3. Shrink my boobs: So it's not like I look like JWoww or anything when I work out but I have a decent rack and as a result, have to wear sports bras that look like this:

And mine aren't even a cute pink... they're scary, industrial black with adjustable straps and three hooks in back. Smaller boobs would just make running easier, I think. Besides, as my Oma used to say, anything more than a handful is just a waste. Achieving this goal will most likely help me achieve goal #5, too. Less to lift.

4. Take a decent race photo: In all of my race photos- the ones they charge you like $50 for- I usually look like I'm on some sort of death march. I don't make running look fun or sexy or anything remotely close to something one should attempt. Any suggestions on how to improve? And please don't say smile. That would make things worse.

5. Be able to do 5 consecutive pull-ups: As of today, I can do 2 real pull-ups, under-handed or over-handed, pulling myself up from the ground, not jumping to the bar. Being able to do five would just make me feel like a stud.

Do you set any goals for yourself? Do tell.

Images from here, here, and here.

June 10, 2010

Busy like a bee

I have been away from my computer for like a week as I was up in the Twin Cities enjoying a little lake action over the weekend, going to a concert at First Ave on Sunday night, and had my first day at my new job on Tuesday! I'm only working part time but I feel like it's a good spot to be for now and it's at a local running store so my job mostly consists of talking about running all day. Love it.

Grandma's Marathon in 9 days. Tapering and feeling good, albeit a little tired.

And this has nothing to do with running but it makes me fall even more in love with MN.

Happy running.

June 2, 2010

Ode to Running

It was National Running Day today! Hooray! I ran a six mile tempo run in honor of this special day. During it, I began to think of the reasons why I love running so much. Here's what I could come up with:

1. You don't need much to do it. A decent pair of shoes and a sports bra to hold the girls and you're set.

2. The running community is not pretentious. Everyone is welcome. All ages, all abilities. It's like we exist to encourage each other. What other sport do "elites" run with people dressed as hot dogs? (If you haven't witnessed this, check out a 5k race!)

3. You compete against yourself. There's no team to fall back on. Just you.  Since I am not Kara Goucher or Kenyan, I have very little chance of actually winning a race but I constantly work to improve my previous times.

4. It's a great stress buster. I can go out for a run after a horrible day and come back feeling like it was nothing.

5. Running makes my legs and butt look amazing.

6. I could outrun the nuclear holocaust. Okay, probably not, (especially since I plan on camping out in my basement eating sticks of unsalted butter with wheat bread) but this is the answer I love to give when people ask why I run so far/much.

What do you love about running?

June 1, 2010

Running the Recovery Road

I've been a bit lax on the posting and really have no excuse so my apologies if there is any one out there that looks forward to my musings.

First, I'm happy to report that Juli finished the Fargo Marathon in 4:22:23 so thank you to any of you that sent her good vibes. I spoke with her shortly after she finished and she said that she enjoyed herself and the crowd support was great. She hasn't even sworn off running another marathon but will probably need some coaxing. Actually, she recently told me she is considering doing a figure competition (what?!) so I think her energy might be focused on getting her body to look like this:

It is a little known fact that when female figure competitors stop their strict exercise, diet, hairspray and tanning regimen, they begin to look more like this:

But anyway, more power to her, I guess. I'll stick with running.

On that note, I am happy to report that I am nearing 100% again with the hip/ass pain having subsided. I dropped my mileage substantially to what it had been prior to injury and cross-trained like mad. I am still planning on running Grandma's Marathon in about three weeks which means that while all of you were enjoying a long Memorial Day weekend, I was prepping for, completing, and recovering from my last long run.  

I woke up at 4:30 on Sunday morning to eat a quick breakfast so I could be on the road by 5 before it got too hot out. There is something very peaceful about running so early that it almost makes me wish I was a morning person. The night before I drove my intended course to stash some water and Gatorade bottles so I could refill Nathan as needed and brought along two GUs.

After getting some of the kinks worked out in the first few miles, I settled in to a comfortable pace and set my mind to enjoying the next three hours. Toward the end my quads started to feel a little tight and I slowed my pace to prevent further injury. Apparently I slowed it too much because this guy passed me.

But I eventually finished and had the dreaded tangled ponytail. I think my head sweats an abnormal amount. I can literally wring out my hair when I'm done running. Is that weird? To give you an idea of how bad it really is, my hair is shoulder length and as you can see in the photo, it has knotted itself up to four inches. Lovely.   

After showering, eating(!), and napping, I scrolled through the Garm on my Arm to check out my last long run stats. 20.23 miles/3:04:11/9:06 average pace.

So now it's taper time!

If you want to check out more hot photos of female body builders, I found that photo here. And the after photo here.