Flagstaff Half Marathon Recap

“The Toughest Trail Marathon in Arizona” and oh boy was it tough!

Friday morning I went to hot yoga then headed up to Flagstaff for the marathon. This week I really tried to prep as much as I could before this race. There’s not a lot of running training you can do before a half, you gotta just bank on all the miles you’ve put in all summer, so focus shifts to what you eat and what your mind tells yourself.  The race site didn’t have the course map up so I wasn’t really sure what I was getting myself into! But I really tried to eat carbs that would fuel me, lots of water, and stayed away from things like fried foods or dairy that wouldn’t agree with my stomach.

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This race was small. About 400 runners. The expo was just a table outside of a coffee shop but they gave out lightweight hoodies instead of shirts and I was jazzed to say the least.

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I packed my dinner to eat in the hotel. I stayed in the cheapest place possible which meant no fridge or microwave for me. I made a pasta and spinach salad with lemon basil vinaigrette which totally hit the spot!f46

The race didn’t start till 9am for the half-ers which felt so late  to me. But when I woke up it was only 45 degrees! That’s COLD to this Phoenician.

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The course. Okay. Look at this thing. There was a 10K, half and full marathon option. The 10K was the red loop. The Half was the red + black loop and the Full was the red + black loop twice. And the elevation starts around 8,000 feet! And climbs all the way up to about 8,600. I was quite worried about the elevation. That’s about 7,000 higher than I’m used to!

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I got about 3 miles in before I reevaluated my goals. This course was hilly. Plus a trail run plus thin elevation cold air. I just wanted to stay under 3 hours. Actually, I was worried about finishing at all. I have ran trails before. Desert-y dirt trails. That’s NOT what this was. This was forest trails. Let me tell you, it was beautiful when I could look up at it. But I couldn’t look up! Every time I did, I would trip or twist my ankle or slide on a branches and sticks that covered the ground. I twisted my ankle so so so many times. One time was pretty hard and I was scared I was really going to do some damage before the NYC marathon.  I started on my mantra early on, repeating in my mind a line I got from the book Build Your Running Body “There is one finish line and it’s at the finish.”

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I was slipping and sliding all over that course. I trained pretty hard to break the habit of picking my feet / knees up so high that I’m wasting energy but for this course you HAD to pick your feet up so high or else you’d jam your toes into a jutting rock.

So it was slow going. You always go a little slower uphill, right? But downhill I’d have to go just as slow! I was sliding on the dried pine needles or loose rocks that littered the course. I tried to push it on the rare straight stretches of the course when I could.

Now I do want to say that the race support was excellent. The signage was clear and flags lined the course to mark where to run. There were a ton a great volunteers and water stations just about every 2 miles. Plus most of the stations had oranges, bananas and/or pretzel chips. It was a really good set up and that really impressed me.

But the mile markers were a bit of a mess. The provided pre-race info did warn that due to the type of course, the miles were more approximated and “may not match” what your GPS says. And mine sure didn’t. For most of the race my watch was saying I was about 1/2 a mile further than the mile markers so I had it in mind that I was going to run about 14 miles. No biggie.

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Mile 8-10, I was advised, were the big big uphill miles. I ran for as much as I could miles 1-8 and then let myself take a walk break for the big uphill. Miles 10 and 11 we’re okay, I was tired but I was moving. Then I wanted to really lay it all out on the course for miles 12-finish, again thinking it would be closer to 14-ish miles.

I saw the mile marker for mile 12 and my watch said something like 12.25 and a volunteer pointed down the path telling me the finish was that way. So I picked it up and…. ran about 100 feet and there was the end! What??

I really wish I had pushed harder on mile 12 but I thought I had 2 more to go! Not less than a quarter mile! Haha.

Oh well. I collected my medal, skipped the free beer and headed straight for the food truck. This race provided free lunch! It was a bit of a wait since all the runners (for every distance) and volunteers got a free meal but hey, it was free!

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Gringodillas food truck! I’ve never heard of this place before (it’s local to Flag) but it was awesome they set up shop for us and everything looked so good! I got the Sly Dog with bbq pork and cole slaw and it was delish!

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All in all I felt really great during this race. Parts were hard for sure but I wasn’t depleted at the end and I KNOW I can continue on (which I’ll have to come November!) I had a good more miles left in this tank and NYCM won’t be a trail and is basically 0 elevation so all of that will make it a little bit smoother. But NYCM does have all those bridges….

Next up is the South Mountain Classic and then I think I’m hanging up my trail racing shoes!

 

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Midnight Madness 5K Recap!

Racing Season is here!! I just wish cooler temperatures were here too.

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At the last minute I signed up for a 5K last friday night: Midnight Madness. It sounded like a good idea at the time. But come game day and I was a lot less excited about the whole thing. I was LAZY this weekend. Like seriously not getting out of bed, lazy.

Image result for seinfeld what did you do last night nothing

To be honest, it was nice! I feel like I’ve been going going going  lately and yes, I had things on my to-do list but I didn’t have to be anywhere so I took advantage and didn’t leave the house. (On Thursday, I even had food delivered! Yay for grubhub and vegan PF changs options.) But when it came time to actually leave the house, and for a race, oof it was rough.

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But I got off my ass and went. And of course I got lost so hey, another reason to just head home? No, I found the place. Then I read the email wrong and thought the race started at 7pm but it started at 8! I had a whole hour to kill and again thought, forget it just go home. But I stayed and I actually ran.

The gun finally went off at 8pm and it was still hot hot hot! Since it was dark the sponsors had glow sticks for people to snap around and light up as they ran. It was pretty fun.

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The course was pretty flat with one little dip in the middle but easy going.

My goal for this race was just run. Run the whole thing and do not stop.

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And I DID! It sounds so simple. For a girl that should be marathon training 3 miles is easy. And it was easy, kinda… it did make me realize that I am capable of running 3 miles but not ready for 26.2. Was I the fastest? Nope. Did I want to stop? Yup. Did I keep running away? Hell yeah. It was a good reminder that running (every distance, every ‘type’ of run) is supposed to hurt! It’s supposed to challenge and push you. So I felt really good about how I did! mm-otter.jpg

The best part was that at the end they had otter pops! I’m going with lime every time! Plus they had finisher medals if you’re into bling. (I still haven’t unpacked my medals and bibs from when I moved last month!)

There’s another midnight madness in the series in October that I’m debating about. I have a 20K the very next day so I probably can’t do both. I have to remind myself I can’t do every run in the world!!

 

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What do you guys do with your medals?

What flavor of otter pop (or popsicle) is your favorite? 

Pros and Cons of the Wildfire Half Marathon

What a weekend!  I drove up to Pinetop AZ for the Wildfire Half Marathon on Friday afternoon after like 0 planning or training! Let’s do this recap by the pros and cons.

CON:

I realized that driving long distances is an anxiety trigger for me!  I was able to kind of keep my anxiety in check but yeah, I’m not doing that drive for a while.

I was more than ready to be done driving by the time I got the hotel! When I went into the lobby, passing the ‘no vacancy’ sign and said I needed to check in, the manager said those dreaded words, “Could it be under any other name?”

Um… no! Not at all.

CON:

They didn’t have my reservation! I booked through Expedia (which normally is a breeze) but there’s was a problem with their system and long story short, the motel no longer partnered with them so they never got word of my res. It’s all Expedia’s fault and the manager was beyond helpful about it and they got me another room in a near by hotel. Problem was, this hotel didn’t have a microwave! So I couldn’t reheat the pre-race meal I prepped and packed! After scrambling for a new hotel room and checking in for the race and not knowing the area at all, I got the best meal I could think of fast. McDonalds Chicken Salad w/ Balsamic dressing.

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It’s been a while since I went to McD’s and they didn’t even have this on the menu. I probably sounded pretty dumb asking for it but oh well. Plus he called it a “Ranch Chicken salad” so I had to even further ask if they had other dressings. But if worked out enough. Luckily my room did have a coffee maker so I heated up some water in that in the A.M. to eat my oatmeal before the run.

CON:

I did not sleep well!  I think I woke up 4 times during my 6 hour sleep and had 1 dream that really shook me up. I was planning on waking up at 4 but when my eyes opened at 3 I decided I might as well get up and get moving.

PRO:

Pinetop is beautiful!! I loved loved loved running through the trees and part of it was even around a little lake. Ya’ll know how I feel about all bodies of water so that was my fav part.

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CON:

The course was rough, man! It was a trail run for the most part (maybe about 2 miles of pavement?) but lots of either loose dirt or either groovy, rained on then driven over dirt packed roads. Avoiding all the grooves and holes and ankle-twisting paths was definitely a challenge!

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PRO:

The first 4 miles were downhill.

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CON:

The next 3 1/2 miles were uphill and I mean uphill! I didn’t see anyone run up those steep hills. I walked up a lot of this segment. Sometimes it was the kind of walking where you have to hunch over and keep your balance it was so steep. It would level off a little and I would try and catch my breath and then run the straight bits but they weren’t very long till it was uphill again.

 

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PRO:

I saw the mile 8 marker and next thing I know it was mile 10!  I love when this happens. 🙂

CON:

I am not used to running in high elevation. Where I live it sits at about 1,000 ft. This course got up to 7,300 ft! I could feel it for the first couple miles but luckily it wasn’t a big issue and I could breathe the whole time. But keeping this in mind (along with all the other things going on) I kept a very slow pace and put absolutely no pressure on myself time-wise. I knew I wasn’t going to PR so I just enjoyed being outdoors and looked at it like a long hike.

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PRO:
I finished! It may have took me barely under 3 hours but I did it and I didn’t give up. And now I have another medal to add to my collection.

PRO: (CON??)

I was CRAVING ice cream the entire last 5 miles! I knew there was a Burger King across the street from my hotel and so I set my mind to getting a Froot Loop Shake. And while I’m there and just exercised off 1000 calories, dammit I’m getting Mac n Cheetos!!

Both were satisfying as in they fulfilled what I was craving but neither tasted so spectacular that I’d 1) get them again 2) recommend them.

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CON:

By the time I finally got back to the hotel, I had just enough time to eat, take an bath and clean up before I had to check out. I peeled off my shoes and socks and laughed at my dirty self! I really did run through the dirt trails!

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CON:

Ice bath! enough said.

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CON:

Time to drive back home!

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PRO:

But the BIGGEST pro is really, just how freaking gorgeous this Earth is! The older I get the more I just want to be outside!! I love than running takes us all over the world and to such beautiful places and courses and we get to just do what we love in the sunshine (mostly…) and out in nature.

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Overall, even though I think there were more cons on this list than pros, I am happy with this weekend. Normally a 3 hour time would make me so miserably depressed but I just had the attitude from the start that I was going to enjoy the course. There were a few road blocks that definitely tried my anxiety and state of mind  but I’m proud of how I handled it all.

Sometimes races are way more mentally challenging than physically so even though I may not have pushed myself to be fastest or strongest or whatever there, I did push myself mentally to be positive and kind to myself so I still win!

Plus this was the inaugural Wildfire Half Marathon so who knows, maybe I’ll do it again next year!

 

Just a quick 4.2 mile jog with 30,000 of my best friends on a beautiful Saturday morning! 

Pat’s Run weekend is here! For those of you who don’t know Pat’s Run is a kinda a big deal around these parts. It honor’s Pat Tillman who put his fancy Football Career ( on the ASU team and then went on to play for AZ Cardinals) to join the Army and was killed in Afghanistan. His jersey # was 42 so the race is 4.2 miles.

I (like always) had to work Friday night till 0600 on Saturday morning. The race started at 7 so I went straight from working my 10 hour shift. My friend was set to pick me up right at 6 so I asked my boss if on my lunch break at 0500 if I could change into workout gear to be ready to go. Ha. The things he puts up with.

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The lighting in the work bathroom is terrible! Yikes. But READY for Pat’s!

They changed the course up this year and it basically went backwards but there were a few more hills this go round.

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I just kept telling myself that these hills and bridges were training for the NYCM!! Everything is training for New York!

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Plus you can see how packed it is! There’s about 30,000 people running those 4.2 miles. It’s always a crowded crowded race.

I didn’t hit my goal… in fact I did 1:50 min worse than last year! Crossing the finish line at 41:50 minutes. Not awful but not my best. I really really want to work on my speed in the next few months. I have a 10K next Sunday so I’m hoping for a PR!

I met a lady walking to the expo booths and we started chatting and she actually knew Tillman. (He died in 2004.) She was a volleyball coach at ASU and knew him around the gym. She had some really fun stories and showed a side of him I’ve never heard before. Definitely sounded like an interesting guy…

Then it was time to meet up with my friends and hit the road!! I was lucky to start in an earlier corral than them (crucial when there’s a possibility of 30,000 runners/walkers in front of you) and I don’t think they minded too much that I ditched them. We all did really well and had fun! Plus this is the first year they gave out medals. Another on the pile… I just need a place to hang them…

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How the numbers all shake out:

Again, I finished in 41:50. Bib 6558. I started my racekeeper a little too early so my number it has are a tad off but my splits:

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I KEPT telling myself that first half to hold back and to save some energy for the 2nd part but I wasn’t really listening to my own advice. I knew the steepest part of the race was right around mile 2 so I knew I wanted to conserve my energy and go slow over the hill. and go slow I did! I found myself shuffling so slowly I realized walking just would’ve been faster. So I walked. Then tried to recoup as much time on the downhills but what can I say. I was tried and knew another hill was coming! Haha.

Here’s the elevation:

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All I’m doing now is focusing on the future. We’ll see how the next 10K goes. And I have a year to beat my time! Haha. And of course, all my focus is prepping for NY!

Another 5K in the books: 5K for Heroes Recap

On Wednesday, Admin at my work sent out an email asking if anyone wanted to participate in the 5K for Heroes that was that very Saturday. I think I was the only was that said, “I’m in!” So this is the first of 3 races (all small, 10K and under) of April and then another short one in the beginning of May.

It’s been pretty helpful using these as tempo runs. A major goal this training cycle is to get faster!

Plus the 5K for Heroes is a cause I can definitely get behind!

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Do you guys pick races for the charity they’re supporting?? I do sometimes but mainly I’m just looking for what works for my schedule!

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So after work on Friday night/Saturday morning, I drove on over to Papago park for a quick race. It was a pretty small crowd, which I never mind but when it’s small like this the course is never blocked off so we we’re running on the sidewalk for a bit and then through the park with a lot of other park-goers and cyclists and it got pretty crowded. I almost ran straight into this 2 year old who was on the left side of the sidewalk and right then his mother (who was oblivious!) decided it would be fun to “race” her kid who immediately ran to her cutting across to the right side of the sidewalk just as I was coming up behind. Pay attention to your surroundings, people.

But it has been fun getting out to new paths and seeing new places to train. Like this race was uphill for the first 1/4 mile or more so I definitely logged that course in my brain to come back again and train for all those bridges in the NYCM!

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Either way, it was a good race. It was a nice cool day, not too hot yet. Gotta get in as many races as I can in AZ while it’s still still bearable outside. I felt pretty good and didn’t have any stomach issues which is always plus. I went paddle boarding on Tuesday and ran hills on Wednesday and really taxed out my knees. I RICE’d as much as I could in the past few days and my legs felt fine for these 3 miles. I’m petrified of getting injured and really screwing up my training for New York! I’m going to be extra vigilant!!

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In the end, I was :46 seconds over my goal of finishing under 30 mins. Here’s how my splits shook out. Still no Speedy Gonzalez over here but I’m counting this as a negative split!

 

If I Ran the Zoo… or Through it

I ran the Zoo 5K on Saturday!

After I found out I got into the NYCM, I wanted to run a 5K and just kind of see where I’m starting at. I’m not a total beginner, but I’m pretty close. So I signed up for the first 5K I could, the Phx Zoo which sounded like a fun race so I signed up last week!

I worked another 12 hour shift Friday night, got off at 6 AM and ran over to QT to down an energy drink. The race was set to start at 8 AM but that’s my usual bedtime so I was tired. But it was a beautiful day, great weather and I just wanted to do a nice 3  mile tempo run.

zoo start

I did zero research about the course when I signed up for this thing! There were only a few hundred runners out this morning and a lot of people seemed like this was a) their first 5K b) they had no intention of running and it was more of a leisurely walk through the desert. I’m always happy to see runners and racers and wanted to support them but this course was narrow! It was only about 4 feet wide in a lot of places so when the gun went off we bottle necked through the start line and it was very slow going till we finally got a little more spaced out.

That’s where the nice tempo run I had planned turned into a HILL run. There were a TON of short but steep hills all throughout the course. I think I ran up 100 hills. I mean look at this beast:

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With all these up and down spurts and general welcome back to activity, I started to get a side stitch so I just focused on my breath. Breathe in for 3 steps, breathe out of 2. Over and over and over. 1 2 3 4 5. It helped!

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Doesn’t even do it justice!
I was a tiny bit happy because I need to train hills since NYCM is notoriously uphill with all the bridges but that’s a whole different kind of hill. But it is nice to know I can come back to this path on some future non crowded day for another hill training run. When I’ll be more prepared.

zoo course

I still was hoping for a neg split but I forgot to turn my tracker off once I passed the finish line. So between that and the slow slow slow start, my numbers are definitely skewed.

splits

After the race, we all got free entry into the zoo. I really wanted to go but it was coming up on 9am and I had to work Saturday night. So instead I ran over to Genuine Fresche and grabbed a pitaya smoothie. It totally hit the spot!

 

 

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Phoenix Half Marathan Race Recap: Well that didn’t go as planned.

Did I tell you guys I got sick again? ‘

My grandfather died a couple weeks ago, so my dad, brother and I drove to California for the funeral and both men were coughing and sneezing and generally gross. My brother said it was allergies and my dad… I can’t remember but I was stuck around them for a long time and my grandfather’s house where we stayed is as close to shambles as I can say without being too disrespectful. Anyway, I came home with a nasty cold that is lingering and I was furious that I was running another half marathon while sick. (This was my third time.)

I thought I could power through and after all the races I missed last November & December from my sprained ankle, I did not want to miss another race (that I paid for!) At the starting line of this race, I talked with a few people that were also running on injuries and how we runners just won’t give up and want to race no matter what! That’s the kind of people we are.

So Friday, I’m literally driving to the expo, when I get a text from the dude I was dating ending things completely. I called him and we had a very horrible/mean/heartbreaking conversation. As I was driving to the damn expo! So I literally walked in, picked up my packet and left. I didn’t even stay and grab a shirt. Just got my bib and walked out.

I was so upset all day, I didn’t eat anything. Not a smart decision before a half but I couldn’t even think about food.  I went to bed early but woke up at 1 am and my mind was spinning so I couldn’t go back to sleep. I just laid in bed till 3:00 came and it was time to get ready. I did eat some oatmeal and brought a banana to eat at the start.

The start line was FREEZING. We were huddled around heat lamps but they were the tall kind so the tops of our heads were all that could feel any heat and that was only when the wind wasn’t blowing. We stood out there for about 1.5 hours and the whole time I kept thinking about how I should just go home. I shouldn’t run. I was in no position. My heads not in the game. I didn’t eat enough or drink any water yesterday. My body is sick. I shouldn’t be here!

But I came all this way and paid all this money so I ran. The first two miles, my feet were literally numb from the cold. By mile 3 they defrosted but now I was running on pins and needles. My race plan was to start off slow and pick up the pace at mile 4 but by the time it was mile 4 I was exhausted, upset and so disheartened by the whole weekend I just couldn’t go any faster. Already.

By mile 5 I just started to walk. I pretty much gave up. Around mile 8, by BFF AL texted me good luck. With schedules and stuff, I haven’t seen AL for about a month and I didn’t remind him that I was doing this so in my emotional state and knowing he remembered and cared, it literally made me burst into tears. I must’ve liked a crazy person crying on the course. I texted him back that I just couldn’t keep going and he gave me a little encouragement and he always listens to me complain. I walked so so much of the course but I kept moving forward despite how badly I wanted to stop and how many times I texted AL to come pick me up.

I crossed the finish line after just under 3 hours. It’s the worst I’ve done since my very first half marathon (2012. that I was ALSO sick for!) and I was not very proud of myself for it. I texted my sister “I’m never running again!” but of course I already have future races on the books. Lol

This was definitely a learning experience but a painful one. The rest of the weekend, I just stayed in bed and “zipped up the sleeping bag 0f myself.” (-extremely loud and incredibly close)