Bill Snyder Highway Half Race Recap

A few months ago, on a whim, I decided to sign up to pace my local half marathon, the Bill Snyder Highway Half. I had heard that it was a good race with an interesting route, but since it was the weekend after Colfax, I decided that it was best if I paced it. After talking to the pacing coordinator, he decided to put me with the 2:25 group, which would keep a pace of about 11:00/mi. Come race day, I was pretty happy to have a nice easy pace since I was still a little sore from the marathon the weekend before.

I woke up around 5:00 am, had some coffee and made it to the parking lot by 5:45 am. Since this was a point-to-point course, they had buses that took you out to the start line way out of town on the Bill Snyder Highway. The buses were very easy and I even found another pacer to chat with on the way out!

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On the bus with a fellow pacer!

Before the race started, I talked to a few friends, hit up the bathrooms and made it to the start line about 15 minutes before the gun. I met my co-pacer, Megan, and we decided that I would lead to bring people in just under out 2:25 goal pace, and she would follow to bring people in a minute or two later. By the time the race started, we had a group of about 20 people following us, chatting and having fun. Several people were running their first half and a few others were looking for a PR. We kept the mood light and it seemed like everyone was having fun. I intended to stay with Megan for a few miles before stepping it up to bring people in just under 2:25.

Unfortunately, at mile 2, I had to make a bathroom stop, and promised to catch back up to the group. I had about 5 people who followed and we figured we’d make up some serious time during the downhill sections later in the race. We ended up back on the course just as the 2:30 group was passing us. We upped the pace, but it took about 2.5 miles for us to catch back up to Megan. We managed to make up time without loosing anyone.

Since I was the lead pacer, I decided to crank down the pace a little and take a group that was ready to go out ahead. By mile 6, we were about a minute behind pace, which we made up during the second half of the course.

By mile 8, the course went from out on the highway leading into Manhattan right into the downtown area (we actually passed my house). The crowds were getting a bit thicker and a lot of the people around me were getting to see their families. I could tell that people we starting to feel the miles, so I talked to them about my cats, Frank, and just anything that seemed light and happy. I reminded people to smile at volunteers since that would help keep the endorphins high.

One of the girls that had been running with me since the beginning, Gabby, was going through a bit of a rough patch. She was starting to slow and I could see that she was hitting a bit of a wall. I reminded her to walk through water stations, drink lots, and try to take in the race atmosphere. I told her that rough patches come and go, and she would soon break through (she did).

Mile 10 clicked on my watch and I told everyone around me that we had just a 5K to run. People were starting to get excited, and a few girls who were feeling good took off to get a faster time. By this point in the race, I was noticing that a lot of people were walking and I tried to convince them to come run with me. A few people looked pretty frustrated to see my pace pass them, but most tried to run with me for at least a little while.

At mile 11, the course got very hilly with a lot of uphill sections left. People were starting to fade and a few of the girls who had taken off at the 5K mark were falling back to my pace because of the hills. I met a girl, Tina, who was on course to PR, but was definitely struggling. We talked a bit about how the race was going and I told her that this was my first time pacing, but that it was a really fun experience. Off in the distance, I saw Frank on his bike. As we passed him, Tina told him that I was “an awesome pacer” and that I was helping her a lot. I gotta say, it was definitely really fun to hear that.

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Almost to the finish line!

As we got closer to the finish line, I could see the crowds and started to convince more people to run it in with me. The course was definitely hard and people seemed like they needed a cheerleader to help up their spirits. A few girls saw me coming and tried to up the pace to go out ahead of me. I caught up to a few more of the girls who had left at the 10-mile mark and they picked up the pace to stay with me.

We rounded the last corner and made it into the final stretch. I had a group of about 8 people with me and we ran it in together with smiles on our faces. I think everyone was happy to see the finish line and get their medals. I ended up coming in at 2:24:31, less than 30 seconds under my assigned pace. A few of the girls hugged and thanked me for helping them get a new PR (YAY!).

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I gotta say, pacing was a hugely rewarding experience. I loved being on the other side, as I have used pacers several times and had used one during Colfax. The energy was fantastic and, for the most part, people are so happy to have you cheer them on and bring them in to the finish line. Pacing is definitely something that I want to do again!

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Very beautiful medal

Have you ever paced a half marathon? Did you find it to be a fun experience?

Weekend Adventures: Exploring the Kansas Underground

This weekend Frank and I did a little bit of everything! I paced a half marathon, we met up with the Kansas Speleological Society and went scouting for some caves on the Kansas Oklahoma boarder and went on a hike out at the Tallgrass Prairie. Basically, we had a great time.

Friday afternoon, Frank and I went straight down to the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve for a 6-mile hike. The preserve is managed by the National Park Service and is probably some of the best hiking in Kansas. It has approximately 40 miles of marked trail where you can get rather far out into the Prairie. After Friday’s hike, we have officially covered all of the trails in the park!

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Nabbing the last trail at Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve

We got home in time to go on a bike ride with some friends and tried to hit the hay early. I had an early wake up the next morning for the Bill Snyder Highway Half Marathon!

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Bringing my group in to the finish line!

Saturday morning, I was up and ready to pace some people to their half marathon goals! I’ll write up a recap of the experience, but it was tons of fun!

After the race, Frank and I loaded up into the car for the Kansas Speleological Society (KSS) meeting in southern Kansas. We have done a lot of caving in the past, and really the only way to get access to new caves is to join one of these groups. Kansas isn’t known for good caving, but it has some stuff here or there. Luckily for me, I enjoy going into very small and tight caves, which is probably all that Kansas has. We spent Saturday afternoon out on a pasture, digging up sinkholes in hopes of finding new and unexplored caves. We found one with potential, but we still don’t know if it goes anywhere.

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Since I was the smallest of the group, I was sent in to see if the sinkhole lead to a cave.

In the evening, we camped out at a recreation and fishing area. Although Kansas is not overwhelmed in public land, it does have plenty of state recreation areas where there is free camping. We definitely take advantage of this Kansas perk.

The next morning, a few of the members of the KSS offered to take us to a cave on the Kansas-Oklahoma boarder. They were not too sure how far back it went and warned us that it was a wet and miserable crawl. We usually are not too picky about caves, so we took them up on the offer. This cave was a little deceiving. It had a big beautiful entrance, which lead to a tiny hole with flowing water. Frank and I loaded up with flashlights and kneepads and dove right in. I gotta say, this was probably the most miserable cave I’ve ever been in. I was face down and crawling in mud and water up to my elbows. Every time I thought “well, this can’t get any worse”, it actually would. There was even a section where we had to swim through cold and murky cave water. I always prefer dry caves, but I absolutely HATE swimming in a cave. The hole went about 1000 feet back and after an hour of army crawling through the miserable cave mud, we turned back. It’s always a joyful experience to see the literal light at the end of the tunnel when you’re in a wet cave.

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The entrance to the most miserable cave in the world.

When we got back to the car, we dried off and headed home. Overall, a successful weekend! Plus, after living in Kansas for a year, I finally made it back into a cave!!

How was your weekend? Any fun adventures?

By the way, I am going to be adding some more posts to my Weekend Adventures series including some “How tos” on backpacking, climbing, and caving.

Colfax Marathon Goals

It is time to talk goals.

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The Colfax Marathon is this Sunday. I do not know what wave I am in, but the marathon is not too big and the race starts at 6:00 am, so I should be on the course pretty early. The weather is supposed to be ideal for a marathon. Hopefully it stays that way.

The race is split into 5 sections. The first and last sections are largely the same and include a run through the Denver Broncos stadium where you get to see your picture on the jumbotron (not sure how much I’ll care about that in the first go through, but I’m sure at mile 20, it’ll certainly be helpful). From miles 1-16, it is a very mild uphill gaining about 500 feet of elevation. I figure I won’t really notice it too much, since 500 feet over 16 miles isn’t all that much. However, from miles 16-20 is a section called the “Screaming Downhill”. Running downhill has always been my strength and I will be looking forward to that section.

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Not a terrible elevation profile. 

My plan for the race is to run at 4:00:00 pace with the pacer until the Screaming Downhill. If the pacer goes out too fast, I’ll keep it chill and find them later. I trained for a 9:00/mi race, so 9:06 should feel rather comfortable. I want every mile before 16 to have a “9” in the front… not an “8”. I know it will be a problem if I start punching out 8:50’s and stuff. If I am feeling good at the top of the hill, I will let the pace go down a little and ride the downhill. The bottom of the hill is right into the Broncos Stadium for the second time at mile 20, I’ll probably be excited and once I exit out, I’ll be seeing Frank and our friends at mile 22. My goal from that point is to finish with the 4:00:00 pacer behind me.

So… that brings us to my goals. My main goal is to just have fun, so if any of the other goals (except the C goal) are in the way of that, I will abandon it.

A: 3:59:59

B: Under 4:10:00

C: Finish the damn race!

Since this is my first marathon, anything that gets me to that finish line is okay. If I end up walking, I’m sure that will be accompanied with tears, but Frank and my friends will put it in perspective that I will have finished a marathon. Any time is a PR for me and I will have another opportunity to crush it in Chicago come October. I do feel attached to going under the big 4:00:00 barrier, but it really is okay even if I don’t.

I have my outfit picked out (I’ll post it later), and my food and gels are ready. I have some laundry and a little packing to do, but I am basically done. The preparation was as good as it was going to get and I am ready to do this.

I’ll be getting my bib number on Thursday and will give you all that information then. You can search me on athlete tracking by my name (Kerry Regan). They have a funny system where you get email updates (my parents are already signed up, so if you take one of the other email slots, that is fine). My Twitter account will post splits, so you should see those on the sidebar on my blog or you can just go on twitter and search @thisyogiruns. They may have a system come race day in the results, but Run Colfax has not indicated how that will work. Either way, if you want to track me and see splits, I’m sure it can be done and it will definitely be here on the sidebar of my blog and on Twitter.

I really need to say thanks to all of you for your advice, encouragement, and overall kind words throughout the marathon training process. It seriously takes a village to get me to a starting line feeling confident and all of you have played a huge part in that. During those last 6 miles, when it is tough and I want to quit, I will think of all of the things you all have said throughout my training. It has really been a journey getting to this start line and I will not forget how much that journey meant.

I’ll be heading out to Denver on Thursday (It is a 7-hour ride, so that will be fun…). I will post again before I leave with the bib number, race outfit pics, and a little surprise about a race in the UK. 🙂

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Hey Denver!! I’m coming for ya!

What is your favorite race playlist song? I am putting together my marathon day music and I need some good ones!

Colfax Training Week 16: Taper Week 1 = DONE!

Happy Monday!

Congrats to everyone that raced this weekend! I won’t give it away, but I saw on Instagram that a BUNCH of PR’s fell. Great job!!

I am now in the second week of my taper… and I am just terrible at this. Not only did I skip a run last week for no reason at all, but my paces were WAY TOO FAST! I also ate total garbage (seriously, Captain Crunch Cereal). I am supposed to be taking it easy, eating well, hydrating, and I totally botched those goals. I need to get a handle on myself!

I did have a great weekend paddling the Kansas River. I’ll post about that later, but here is a picture from where Frank and I camped Saturday Night.

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Beautiful sunset over the river.

Last Week:

Monday: Yoga

Tuesday: 5.1 miles – ended up race pace, was supposed to be easy + Yoga

Wednesday: Last speed work! 7 miles (WU+4×800+CD) + Yoga

Thursday: Rest Day

Friday: Yoga <- Why didn’t I run my 6 miles? No idea!

Saturday: 4.1 miles with run group (too fast) + 4 miles recovery pace

Sunday: 13.1 miles LSD <- ended up race pace…

Total: 33.3 miles

As you can see those paces were just too freaking fast. I am hoping that a week like this didn’t burn out my legs for the race. I feel good, but running too fast in training just wastes energy.

The speed work on Wednesday was really fun. In high school, I was a sprinter. I ran the 200 and the 400, but my coach always wanted me to do longer distances and pushed me towards the 800. Unfortunately, I hated the 800. It is a real suffer distance. So, pushing through the suffering by doing some 800’s was really good for my head.

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Apparently when they say the trail is closed, they mean it. I ran around this sign and ended up in ankle deep mud.

The long run on Sunday was a little weird. Manhattan, KS has had a lot of flooding lately, so the main trail that runs through town was very muddy. There was a section that was completely washed out and I had to climb around the mud up to some trees, but I still ended up pretty messy. I set out on the run hoping to keep things around the same pace I usually do my long runs (9:35-9:45/mi), but just could not slow down. The miles kept ticking by and I just kept getting faster. Overall, my pace was 9:01/mi, about 5 seconds per mile faster than race pace. Luckily I felt good and fresh, so maybe this whole taper thing is working.

So, another week is in the books! I am going to try to be better this week, especially about food and water. I’ll be running my last double digit run (woo!) before the marathon and then it’s basically done. I really only have a few miles left before I walk to the starting line out in Denver.

How was your training this week? What is you next big race?

Colfax Training Week 3: I saw Sage Canaday on a run!!!

I saw Sage Canaday on my long run this week. Let me repeat that… I actually SAW and RAN BY Sage Canaday while on a run in Boulder. I’m pretty sure that my running life is complete. He ran by at a crazy fast pace decked out in some Hoka gear and some sweet sunglasses. After we passed each other, it took me a moment to realize that it was really him. Then, I went on my Strava app and confirmed. Yes, in fact, it was a Sage Canaday sighting. Yes, I’m a complete running nerd.

Besides my epic sighting while on my long run, I’d have to say that my training this week was okay. I had a lot of trouble pacing myself and was putting a little too much effort in my easy miles. This culminated in a missed run on Thursday. Frank and I got to Colorado on Friday morning, so I did both my marathon paced tempo run and my long run on the multi-use trails in Boulder. We made it home Sunday night and Elly, as always, was pretty glad to see that we made it home.

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Monday: Rest Day… Yeah! + some gentle yoga

Tuesday: 6.3 miles – Hill Repeats with 700 ft of elevation gain + yoga

I wrote about this run in a previous blog post. It went pretty well. Zeb, my new running partner, came with me for some of it. We took things slow, but overall it was a good workout.

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Pretty solid hill!

Wednesday: 3 miles – easy run + yoga

Not much to say about this run. I was still a little sore from my hill repeats, so I did some yoga in the AM and went for a quick run in the afternoon. I kept it slow, although the easy pace felt strangely more difficult than it should have. The yoga class that I took kinda kicked my butt and made my legs kinda feel like jello while I was on my run. I’m sure that didn’t help keep things feeling easy.

Thursday: Unintentional Rest Day + yoga

I took a yoga class in the morning in hopes to make me feel a little less stiff. Unfortunately, it was a rather tough class and really only made the soreness worse. By the time I was out, my legs felt tired and I knew that I wasn’t going to go for a run. I decided to take it easy and just do my tempo run on Friday.

Friday: 6.1 miles – Marathon Pace

I warmed up for one mile and then bumped up to marathon pace. I’ve arbitrarily decided that 9:00/mi is marathon pace, since that would sneak me just under 4 hours. I tried to hold the pace without being glued to my watch, but unfortunately, my legs wanted to go faster. Instead, I held close to 8:45/mi, which felt good, but I didn’t want to put that much effort into the run. Luckily, I still have a few months to hone my pace down a bit.

Saturday: Snow shoeing with hurricane force winds

We met up with some friends in Boulder and drove out to Nederland to go snow shoeing. There was absolutely no snow for most of the way, but once we got up into the mountains, it seemed like a pretty substantial storm had come through. The car was being blown around a lot and we considered turning back for a lower elevation. However, once we made it up it was pretty fantastic, and the trees kept the winds at bay.

Sunday: 12 miles – Best long run ever!

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Frank and Scott were biking on the Boulder trails while I went on my run.

The run itself was nothing particularly special. It was pretty cold out and I was a little underdressed, especially for the second half of the run when the sun was in the clouds. I felt good and strong for most of it, but at the end had some trouble getting to marathon pace. I, again, wanted to go a little too fast, which made my legs feel like they were working too hard. However, in the last mile, I saw a guy fly by me decked out in Hoka gear with a little hydration pack on. I had to do a double take, but it was definitely Sage Canaday (confirmed by flyby on Strava). I was pretty much the most excited groupie ever.

Total Mileage: 27.5

Overall, it was a good week, but not a great week. This was a cut back in mileage from last week, but for some reason, it never felt like that. My legs were often tired or feeling sore. In order to fix that, this week my goal is to run my easy mileage a little slower, even if the effort seems like too little. I am entering the 4th week of training and I want my legs to stay strong so I don’t have burn out in the weeks to come.

This week:

M: 4 miles easy
T: 6 miles MP
W: Rest
T: 6 miles Hill Repeats
F: 4 miles easy
S: Rest
S: 14 miles LSD

Total: 34 Miles

Have you ever seen an elite on a run? How has your training been going?

First Time Pacer

I had a ton of fun this weekend down in Fort Lauderdale at the Yoga Journal Conference! I always feel like these conferences really push my practice to the next level and inspire my yoga teaching. I’ll post more about it later.

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I hate backbends, but I took a workshop on them that really helped me tolerate them.

I have some pretty cool news!

I am pacing the Bill Snyder Half Marathon in May 2016! I just received the email of our assignments, so it’s official. I will be pacing the 2:25 group. I am super excited and feel that it will be a really great experience.

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If you’ve been following me for a while, you probably read about when I ran my first half marathon at the A1A Half. I used a pacer to get me to a sub-2 hour finish. Honestly, without them I would have gone out too quick and not run the smart race that I did. I really wanted to pay it forward and get people to the time they want.

I’ll be back to post more later, but I was super excited and wanted to let everyone know!

Have you ever paced a race or used a pacer in a race? Any tips for a newbie pacer?