Friday 5 Linkup: My FIVE Half Marathons

I’ve never done a Friday 5, but I figured I’d give it a shot this week. Mar on the Run, Eat Pray Run, and You Signed Up for What?! host a weekly linkup that anyone can join in on. This week is a freebe, so I can post on a topic of my choosing.

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My FIVE Half Marathons

1. A1A Half Marathon

I am from Fort Lauderdale, Fl and grew up in Coral Springs. I’ve been living elsewhere for the last 10 years, but I wanted my first half marathon to be in my hometown and on my home beach. It couldn’t have been a better experience! My parents (and in laws) were there to see me cross that finish line on the beautiful beaches of Fort Lauderdale. It was an automatic PR (1:56:46) and it was the race that made me fall in love with the half marathon.

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I’ll be running this race again on Feb. 14, 2016!!

2. Holy Half Marathon

Running the Holy Half is a bit of a right of passage at Notre Dame. I knew I’d be moving in the summer, so I needed to check that off my bucket list. It was crazy cold out… like in the teens. The race became my next PR (1:56:44), but the cold wore me out a lot. Despite the cold, I still had TONS of fun. Lizzy ran the race with me, and it was tons of fun to race with a friend.

Lizzy and I at the finish of the Holy Half with our medals!
Lizzy and I at the finish of the Holy Half with our medals!

3. Hospital Hill Half Marathon

This was a TOUGH race. There was about 1000 feet of elevation gain throughout the race AND the biggest hill was at mile 10. By the time I got to it, I was beat! I had a ton of fun though. I felt pretty accomplished having completed such a tough course in under 2 hours.

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4. Rocky Mountain Half Marathon

This race was a gem! There were crazy amounts of elevation gain, but I was on that day. The course was the most scenic I’ve ever been on, with the beautiful Rocky Mountains as my backdrop. I plugged in, hunkered down and kicked serious butt to get my new PR of 1:51:46. After the race, I hiked up Hallet Peak and to Chasm Lake to be in the Continental Divide Club and the Chasm Lake Club.

Hallett Autumn Classic

I couldn’t have had a better race and I can’t wait to run it again in 2016!

You may have noticed that I have only run 4 half marathons, but this post says 5. Well… that’s because I am running the Kansas City Half Marathon on October 17!

5. Kansas City Half Marathon

This race will be a dry run for the Route 66 Marathon. I’ll be running it right around marathon pace. I’ll be taking it pretty easy, since I don’t want to risk injury before my big day in November. A lot of people from my social running group will be there and it’s relatively close to Manhattan. Should be a fun day to run!

What is your favorite half marathon?

Finally some goals: Rocky Mountain Half Marathon

The Rocky Mountain Half Marathon is tomorrow. I still have no idea what my goals are… besides just running a good race. The race is at 7500 feet and works up to 7900. I have no doubts that the altitude and difficulty of the course are going to make a PR out of reach, but is it bad that I hope to wake up Saturday morning with super legs and pull off a miracle? I know it’s unrealistic, but I guess I can still hope.

There's like a bit of a mountain to climb during miles 5-8.
There’s like a bit of a mountain to climb during miles 5-8.

In more realistic terms, I do have another goal. If I climb Hallett Peak (which is 12,713 feet) with my medal and bib, I get into the Continental Divide Club and get 50% on next year’s entry. The crazy thing… is that I am going to have to do this immediately after the race. Frank and I have to get back to Kansas on Sunday, so we gotta get this done right after the race. Luckily, I’m pretty good at hiking long distances after running far.

I have a lot to do on Saturday, between running 13 miles and climbing that mountain.
I have a lot to do on Saturday, between running 13 miles and climbing that mountain.

So…I guess these are my goals:

  1. A miracle happens and I PR despite the elevation profile
  2. I hit marathon pace and sneak under 2 hours
  3. I enjoy the views of those crazy awesome 14,000-foot peaks – I mean how often do I get to run through Estes Park!
At least the weather is supposed to be good. This will feel like the arctic compared to the 116 degree weather I ran in the other day.
At least the weather is supposed to be good. This will feel like the arctic compared to the 116 degree weather I ran in the other day.

I’m trying to have a good perspective. I know that I have a half marathon PR in me… a big one. I just wish that I were signed up for a race where I could prove it. But this isn’t all about the numbers. Racing and running is about having fun. Being in Colorado (my mom calls it “The Promise Land”) is fun enough for me.

On the Road to Chicago

This week kicks off my training for the Chicago Marathon. I’ve been excited about this for a while, but it’s finally here! Unfortunately, I did not have a break between Hospital Hill and Chicago training, so the first week of training is chill with a lot of recovery runs.

I’ve already gone on my first run of my Chicago training cycle. Even though I am still sore from Hospital Hill, I managed to go out for a 4-mile easy run through the National Forest here in Westminster, MA. It went pretty well and I was jazzed about beginning my training!

This is one of the runs I saw on a training run.
This is one of the runs I saw on a training run.

I chose a training plan that is a combination between Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 and Matt Fitzgerald’s Intermediate plan. This will take me from my first week of 22 miles, to my peak week at 48 miles and has two 20-mile runs, plus I’ll have some speed work and tempo runs. I am a little nervous about going long in the hot Kansas summer, so I’ll probably be doing my long runs in very early morning.

I am also going to be racing the Rocky Mountain Half Marathon on August 1 at Estes Park. This race is at 5000 feet, so I imagine it will be a challenging one, but it will give me a chance to practice my race day strategies. I am considering going for another PR on this race, but as we get closer to race day, I’ll reassess my plan.

There will be some nice views  at this race.
There will be some nice views at this race.

So what are my goals for Chicago? In all honesty, the marathon distance still scares me a lot. My main goal for Chicago is just to finish the race, but I will try to do marathon pace tempo runs with the intention to run a 4:00:00 marathon. It is more than ok if I fall short of that time. All that I want is to finish.

This is just the beginning. I still have over 600 miles to go before I reach that finish line in Chicago, and I’m pretty excited to get there.

What are you training for? What are your goals for the fall?

Training Update: Race Week!

I didn’t really do a whole lot of running this week besides the race. Frank and I spent a lot of the week going through our stuff. We’ve already brought two carloads to Goodwill! It feels great to be cleaning stuff out, and I can’t wait to move. I know, Kansas might not sound like the best place ever, but I am excited to have a new place with new trails to explore. We still have a lot of clearing out to do. We are leaving with only what we can fit in our small Kia Soul (along with us and two cats). I’ve already found running clubs and nice trails to check out. It should be pretty great.

Oh and this too…

The Hospital Hill Half Marathon! I better do some hill work!
The Hospital Hill Half Marathon! I better do some hill work!

I’m signed up for a half marathon in Kansas City! It’ll be my first race in the area and I’m pretty excited. The Hospital Hill Half is one of the oldest Half Marathons in the country. There are also like five hills. I have some work to do to prepare. Haha!

I’m sure you’re all wondering how I did at the Holy Half this weekend. It went… ok. Certainly not bad. Just ok. A few hours after posting my goals, I realized why I had never intended for this to be my goal race. I’ll talk more about in my race recap, but I did PR. I ran the course two seconds faster than I did A1A’s course AND I ran the whole thing at a pace that was 9 seconds faster than the A1A Half. The Holy Half was about 13.5, so I had a little extra to run. Since I did a lot of resting, I’ll go ahead and talk about the days I ran.

Wednesday: 3.6 miles at 8:35 pace

I ran with my usual run group, but tacked on about a half mile more by running from my house to our meet up. We had a pretty good time running our 5K route around Notre Dame. I was running with Lizzy, and I think she was feeling quite a bit better in her recovery. She was keeping us at a pretty good clip for a lot of it. Haha.

We're a cute bunch!
We’re a cute bunch!

Saturday: 13.5 miles at 8:46 – Holy Half Marathon!

I won’t give too much detail, since I’ll be writing a whole post about this. I had a good time, but unfortunately had my period the morning of the race. I felt pretty icky and pooped out a little at the end. I finished the 13.1 faster than A1A by about two minutes, and finished the course two seconds faster than A1A. Having Lizzy there helped immensely, especially since I was not doing well with the mental game. She took off from me around mile 9, but I came in not too far behind. So I guess we can call this a PR. Afterwards, my husband wanted to go mountain biking, so I tacked on 10 miles of that too. I feel like that was worth mentioning.

Lizzy and I at the finish!
Lizzy and I at the finish!

Overall, I didn’t do much running this week, but I’m feeling a little better. I was getting stressed and burnt out about running and work. These next two weeks are really just going to be chill out weeks before I start my training for the Hospital Hill Half. I’m going to just finish my milage and run by feel, no speed work. I’ll start that up again soon. I think I just need a little break from structured workouts.

Thanks everyone for your support this past week. I know I’ve been a little negative and down. Work has been a bit better and your support really helped me get through the race.

Am I Crazy?

I am still sore from running my first half marathon two days ago and I went ahead a signed up for the A1A 2016 Half Marathon.

Slide1Oh, and where they asked for anticipated time… I put 1:45. I guess I have a lot of speed work to do. 🙂

A1A Half Marathon Race Recap: I crushed it!

Some days you go out and they are perfect. Perfect weather, perfect energy, perfect race. The A1A Half Marathon was just that and I killed it. My goal was really just to finish, and in the back of my head, I wanted a sub 2-hour half, which I thought was impossible.

My time was 1:56:48.

The race was in Fort Lauderdale, Fl, which is a solid 3 hour drive and a 2.5 hour plane ride from South Bend. With delays, I was traveling for close to 12 hours before I made it into bed on Friday night. The next morning, my mom and I headed over to the expo, picked up my bib and some free stuff, and then took off to teach a guest yoga class.

Pre-race yoga with my mom. Also, we got my personalized bib!
Pre-race yoga with my mom. Also, we got my personalized bib!

I got to bed pretty early Saturday night for a 3:45 am wake up. I slept ok, but not great, since I still had a ton of anxiety about even finishing. I had never run that distance before, and I figured I would struggle. My breakfast was an a luna bar and a banana, which did not go down too well. My stomach was doing flips and I was nervous. My parents and I hopped into the car and headed to the start line at the Broward Museum of Discover and Science and there were TONS of people. Like I have never seen so many people up at 5 am in one place in my life.

My dad and I chillin' before the race. It was COLD (for Florida). Perfect race day weather.
My dad and I chillin’ before the race. It was COLD (for Florida). Perfect race day weather.

Standing at the start line, I still had no idea what my strategy or my pace would be. I was considering going with the 2:00 pacer or the 2:15 pacer… but I was also thinking about doing it alone. I felt good, and as they started the race, I walked up towards the starting line, looked behind me, saw the 2:00 pacer and made a last minute decision to commit to running with her.

Hanging by the start with anticipation and a little anxiety.
Hanging by the start with anticipation and a little anxiety.

The start was still pretty dark, and I was running with a rather large group of runners. We were trying to get through the crowds of people and set our pace comfortably just over a 9 minute mile. The pacer was really nice and we chatted a bit about Notre Dame and the weather up there. I talked to some of the other people in the group and they were all pretty excited that it was my first Half Marathon. My plan was to run with the pacer and at the half way point if I was still feeling good, I’d stick with her.

The course was beautiful and took us down Las Olas Blvd (which, honestly, I don’t even remember running on), then north on A1A to Birch State Park and finally up to the Galt Ocean Mile before taking us south to South Beach Park in downtown Fort Lauderdale. There were ocean views and a pretty rockin’ sunrise.

2013-A1A-HALF-MARATHON-MAP_REV (1)

At Birch State Park, we started to see the potential winners of the half marathon heading back to the finish line, and they looked awesome. I was still feeling good and was really enjoying being with a pacer. Giving up control of the race to someone who can definitely run it is actually pretty wonderful. I felt like my usual mental battles were being fought by someone else and all I had to do was follow that person.

However, just after mile 8, I went to a water stop and lost the pacer. I knew I was ahead of her, and as I was about to head into the Galt Ocean Mile, I looked behind me and couldn’t see her carrying the sign. I figured I’d just run and if she caught up, I’d know that was the 2 hour mark.

I looked at my watch and noticed that I was running at 8:42, and I just kept going. And then I ran another 8:42, and another. And before long, I knew I was minutes ahead of the 2 hour pacer.

Negative splits... like a boss.
Negative splits… like a boss.

Suddenly, mid-race, my goals were changing. I was not only looking to break 2 hours, I was looking to crush 2 hours. I have never run (before today) a race at a negative splits. Usually, I go out too fast and get really tired. I knew that in order to reach my new goal, I’d have to dig deep and do it.

And then mile 13 happened. I got there and was dying. I was looking to the crowd for help and I was really thinking I was gonna have to walk or something. I kept taking water at the stations, but nothing was helping. An older guy came up from behind me and said “you’re doing great” and I told him that it was my first Half Marathon, that we were way past the furthest I’d ever run and that I was really struggling. He looked out in front of us, saw an overpass in the distance and said “that overpass is your goal, just make it to there”.

So I ran to the overpass with him.

He then spotted another landmark ahead, told me to run to that… I continued with him. Suddenly we were a half mile from the end, I was dying, but he just kept talking me through it.

Then I saw my mom, who didn’t think I’d be coming in that early, so she wasn’t paying attention to the racers. I ran over to her, grabbed her and yelled “I’m about to break 2 hours!” …and then I sprinted and gave it my all. I passed the finish line, looked at my watch and saw 1:56:45. I couldn’t believe it. My reach goal was just to break 2 hours… I broke it by over 3 minutes. I had never run negative splits, and my 2nd half was close to 4 minutes faster than my first.

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Running with the pacer was the best decision I could have made. Even though I eventually took off ahead of her, she really helped me remain on time and stable. Usually my mind does a lot of fighting in races, and there was none of that (until the last mile). This race could not have gone better.

At the finish line my parents, cousin, and in laws were there to cheer me on. We walked around the vendors and watched the marathoners and half marathoners come in. I even saw Kristina from blogaboutrunning.com cross the finish line. She looked awesome!

Thanks to everyone who helped me get through my training and overshoot my goals. I had a blast and I can’t wait to do it again.

The Holy Half Marathon is in 41 days. Now I have a time to chase.

How about some goals?

Oh man…. The A1A Half is only FOUR DAYS AWAY!!! How did we get here?

It's sold out!!! There are going to be so many people there!
It’s sold out!!! There are going to be so many people there!

I guess it’s time to talk about some goals.

I feel like I’ve been talking about this race forever. I had planned to run a half marathon back in October, but pushed things off due to injury. So… here we are. I am feeling ready, nervous, scared, excited and pretty much every other emotion about this race I could think of. I’ve put a lot of work into it and I’m flying across the country to run it (and to see my parents, of course). But I guess it’s time to think about some goals for the race.

a) Finish in less that 2:00

b) Finish in less than 2:15

c) Finish the race

Honestly, anything could happen out there. I ran my last 10 mile long run at 9:41 pace, which would have had me finishing around 2:07. I felt like I could have gone harder after that run and finished 13 miles around 2:05. In fact, I spent the whole time chatting away with my roommate. Had the race been sunday, I probably could have made an attempt to break 2:00. However, I don’t always feel that way. I’ve really had some mental battles in past races. I don’t fuel well the night before or in the morning. I usually get a little upset to my stomach and I’ve have terrible side stitches.

But, man, I have lucked out with the weather for this race.

It's seriously winter in Florida. Can't wait!!
It’s seriously winter in Florida. Can’t wait!!

I was worried because my training has been in South Bend, Indiana, where the temps run uncomfortably cold and you have to run more than 4 miles to break a serious sweat. But the A1A Half is going to be happening during a cold front in Fort Lauderdale! My parents will sure be miserably cold watching me, but I’m going to be one happy camper while I race.

I ran a nice comfortable 4 miles yesterday and today I’ll be going out with my running group at the local store. Tomorrow is my last run, just 2 miles, and then the next time I lace up is for the half!

Have you ever run a race and had no idea what pace you’d be at? Has weather ever completely changed your race day plans?

Heading into Race Week

One week exactly from the A1A Half… and I’m a little nervous. I really don’t know what to expect and honestly, I have no idea what pace I’ll be running it at. I’ve been totally all over the place this week. There was a ton of snow on the ground at the beginning of the week, which made my legs felt like they were carrying lead. I finished my week off great, though! My second long run was definitely a high point.

Due to the crazy blizzard last week, I had two long runs this week. I had planned to run the first on monday, but I was so sore from galavanting through a blizzard on sunday that I decided to push it off. The run went well, but I was definitely tired by the end. I had a recovery run on Wednesday, where I spent 30 minutes complaining to my running buddies about how sore I was from the day before. Thursday I took a much needed rest, but spent most of my day bouncing around with energy. I guess the training is working. Friday’s tempo run went great and I finished feeling strong and ready for the half.

Saturday was spent cross country skiing ALL DAY LONG! I think I skied close to 14 miles total. It was a perfect day for it too.

My friends and I by our snowman after many hours of cross country skiing.
The South Bend Adventure Club by our snowman after many hours of cross country skiing.

I gotta say though, my long run was definitely me at my best. I ended up going with my roommate who is training for the LA Marathon. She was running 20 miles and I was doing 10. Normally I take my long runs at about 10:00-10:30 pace. However, with her, we were going closer to 9:30 and I felt great. I had minimal suffering and I seemed to be just winning the mental game that I battle with so badly when my milage is above 8. For the first time, I was really feeling ready for this half.

Training this week

Monday: Yoga + Rest
Tuesday: 10.56 mile long run
Wednesday: Ran 3.12 miles for recovery + yoga
Thursday: REST REST REST
Friday: 5 miles tempo (1 mile warm up, 3 tempo, 1 mile cool down) + yoga
Saturday: Cross Country Ski
Sunday: 10 mile long run + yoga
Total: 28.7 miles

This is my highest milage since my ankle injury over a year ago and I felt really really good. However, I am kinda glad to be heading into the taper week. My goals are just to keep being positive and trust the training I’ve done.

Taper Week

Monday: Yoga + Rest
Tuesday: Run 4 miles
Wednesday: Run 3.1 miles
Thursday: Run 2 miles
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: A1A Half Marathon

How was your training? Any big running plans coming up?

Learning When to Rest

recovery It’s easy to work hard. You just grit your teeth and go. The real work is learning when to stop, to slam down on the breaks and just chill. This is especially true for runners. Somehow, it gets in our heads that rest means loosing fitness. Even though we might feel a little ache in our hips, we keep going to get that next PR or that further distance. This has been a really hard thing to learn for myself. I tend to ignore the little aches and pains in my body and just go further and faster. This practice costed me a half marathon back in the fall and I refuse to let that happen again.

In August, I spent most of the month in Alaska on a biological field station in the North Slope (check out the pic! It’s super pretty there!).

This is Toolik Field Station. There are some awesome mountains there, and it is a generally pretty place.
This is Toolik Field Station. There are some awesome mountains there, and it is a generally pretty place.

The field station is small and you can’t always get away to go for a run. There is also has unlimited candy and rather buttery food. I spent the month not running, but instead eating a lot. I gained 7 pounds and lost a whole lot of fitness. Now, I have never struggled with weight, so as soon as I came home and started eating normally again, those 7 pounds came right off. The problem was, I hadn’t kept up my base milage that I had been working a year to get. Before I left for Alaska I was running about 25 miles a week, so when I got back to Indiana, I just went back to 25 miles per week.

This is my husband and I on top of a mountain in Alaska. Toolik Biological Field Station is a few miles behind us.
This is my husband and I on top of a mountain in Alaska. Toolik Biological Field Station is a few miles behind us.

I had my eyes on a half marathon in October, which would have worked out pretty well with my schedule. A few of my friends were running it, so I figured, I could work up to it without too much trouble. I had also signed up for a challenging trail race in southern Indiana to encourage me to run while I was in Alaska (clearly that didn’t work out too well). The race was only a 10k, but it was a pain. It was crazy hilly and just generally kicked my butt. I would have been ok had I stopped there… but the next day, I decided to go for a 9 mile run to make sure I could commit to the half distance. By the end of it, I had some pretty intense IT band pain and I knew that Half Marathon was not going to happen. I had needed a rest day more than I knew.

The opportunity to overdo things again came this week. Currently, I am training for a Half Marathon, and although I have been told I am ready for it, in my mind, I’m not. I had an 11 mile long run scheduled for Sunday, but Indiana was hit by a massive blizzard. I tried to do the run, but only made it 5.56 miles before I had to call it off (the snow was up to my knees in some places). I figured I would just go for a do-over the next day, but when I woke up I was achey and sore from running through the piles of snow. Instead of going on the run, I did some yoga and really targeted my sore areas. The next day, I woke up feeling great. I went for my long run that morning feeling awesome! That extra rest had made a huge difference for me, both by keeping me healthy, and also by making my run simply more enjoyable.

The important thing is to really listen to your body. I know I always want to go hard, but pulling back is just as important (if not more). It was a hard lesson to learn, but I think I’ve got it now.

How many days per week do you run? Do you sometimes take rest days even when they are not scheduled? 

Training Update: Keeping up the Intensity!

Here we are, two weeks out from the A1A Half Marathon. And, I gotta say, this week was great! It was exactly what I needed to get myself back on track after being so sick. I am certainly not quite 100%, though. My husband says that I have been snoring sometimes at night, which is very unusual for me, and likely it’s due to still being a bit congested. I’m also definitely not as quick as I was before I had the flu, but that’s ok. I’m sure it’ll come back. In good news, I have also had absolutely no IT band pain, so I have concluded the pain last Wednesday was a fluke.

Beautiful view for my tuesday night run! It was a little chilly out, but worth it.
Beautiful view for my tuesday night run! It was a little chilly out, but worth it.

Tuesday’s run was especially awesome. I went along the river after work while my husband biked along side. It was really beautiful watching the sun set along the river. I went caving Saturday in Southern Indiana with the South Bend Adventure Club. We went into a wild cave (meaning no guided tours, you just get a key to the cave and go in) and spent about 4 hours underground. Caving has a way of showing you muscles you never knew you had, but it’s pretty freaking fun.

The caving group from the South Bend Adventure Club. Pretty awesome time!
The caving group from the South Bend Adventure Club. Pretty awesome time!

That brings us to Sunday… Sunday’s long run (attempt) was a bit of a fiasco. I woke up in the morning and decided that no blizzard was going to stop my long run (haha, I’m a native Floridian, what was I thinking?). Well, I only made it 5.5 miles AND I was miserable the whole time. I was nearly plowed over and ran through some white out conditions. I cut things short, so I am going to go out for my long run tomorrow after the snow settles (and if it doesn’t, I’ll be running at the gym).

See South Bend there tucked in the middle of that wonderful splash of blue? Yeah, I tried to do a long run through that. Didn't happen.
See South Bend there tucked in the middle of that wonderful splash of blue? Yeah, I tried to do a long run through that. Didn’t happen.

Training Summary for this week:

Monday: rest
Tuesday: Ran 5 miles at 9:30 pace along river + teaching hot yoga
Wednesday: Ran 3 miles at 10:00 pace with run group + yoga
Thursday: Yoga + rest
Friday: Tempo run: 1 mile warm up, 3 miles at 8:45 with 1 min break between each mile, 1 mile warm down + yoga
Saturday: Caving!
Sunday: Ran/walked/stomped through snow for 5.5 miles through a blizzard + yoga
Monday: Run ~11 miles for long run (either in the gym or outside if the weather is better)

Total: ~27 miles

Overall, despite the blizzard, I had a wonderful training week. My goals for next week are really to keep up the intensity from this past week. I can’t wait to finish up my training and get to the race!

Training for next week:

Tuesday: rest
Wednesday: 3-4 miles with running group + yoga
Thursday: Yoga + Bike (or rest)
Friday: Tempo run + yoga
Saturday: Cross Country Ski
Sunday: Run 9-10 miles for long run

Hope you had a great week too! And all you midwesterners, stay warm! 🙂