With the end of 2018 quickly approaching, I’ve been looking back on a big year and looking forward to some more ultra-fun in 2019.
Since Javelina, my training has been pretty chill. I run when I want, don’t when I don’t. I have not done any substantial long runs in quite some time, but everything is about to change. I have some pretty big goals for 2019 and a lot of races. In 2018, I ran my first 100-mile race and I am hoping to get a couple more under my belt in the coming year. I have most of my races planned out and I’ll go ahead and list out a few goals that I have for each of them.
Running Up for Air (February 9-10)
This is a 24 hour timed race that climbs Grandeur Peak as many times as you can. The trail is about 6 miles long but climbs about 2500 feet each lap. I am not particularly good at climbing, but I wanted to challenge myself on this one. I am just hoping to avoid the mid-night lull that I had around 2:00 am at Javelina. I would love to get through 7-8 laps, but I am more concerned with keeping my mental state good and my food intake right. I’ll mostly be walking this one, so it should not beat up my legs nearly as badly as Javelina or even Squaw 50 did.
Zion 100 (April 21-13)
This is my main goal race for the spring. I need a qualifier for the Western States Lottery again, and although I am running another qualifier in the fall, I don’t want to rely on that one since it will be the toughest race I’ve ever run. Zion has similar elevation profile to Javelina and is not nearly as hot. My main goal is to finish, although I have another goal of PRing my 100 at it, which I think is very doable. This race goes through some of my favorite type of environment and with a bit of training, should be a pretty fun day out in the desert.
Squaw Peak 50 (June 8)
I had such a fun time at Squaw last year that I want to run it again. I’ll use it as kind of a tune up for my goal race in the fall. It has a rough elevation profile, which is something I definitely need to work on. I would love to run this race faster than I did in 2018, however, that definitely depends on how quickly I recover from Zion 100 in April. I’m hoping for a good day with little drama and just a finish with strong legs.
Bear 100 (September 27-28)
The Bear 100 is one of the most famous and most challenging races in Utah. With about 23,000 feet of gain, this race is going to take a lot of training and a good day. I don’t have any specific goals other than to finish the race. Bear is known for it’s tough elevation profile and fickle weather. It’s a pretty local race, so I’ll have tons of support and pacers to help me out. I might run a tune up race leading to it of 50 miles-100K, but heading into the fall, my main goal will be to finish Bear.
My non-racing goal for 2019 is to blog and vlog more often. I’ll try to post on the blog 1-2 times per week and to post on the vlog once every other week. I’ll include training updates, race reports, trails that I run and just thoughts about ultra-running in general.
I hope your year was as fun and exciting as mine. What are some of your goals heading into 2019?
Since you last heard from me, a lot has happened. I ran the St. George Marathon with a 15 minute negative split and a 10 minute PR and I ran the Antelope Island 50K and came in 7th for women. It was a good year for racing, but not always a good year for running. I was hurt on and off and went through PT for both Piriformis Syndrome and my right ankle. It made me inconsistent and although I ran PRs and raced well, I certainly didn’t live up to my potential.
I’m hoping that this year will be different. I have a lot of plans and I’m ready for some really really big things. Actually, one super big thing. After years of talking about getting my name in the Western States Lottery, my goal for 2018 is to actually do it. This means I have some serious training to do and a lot of mountains to run up. I am also still absolutely petrified of the distance. With a few other races before the big one, I am hoping that I’ll toe the line of the Never Summer 100K without too much fear.
These days, I’ve become less of a road runner and more of a mountain runner. I spend my runs trying to get 2000+ feet of vertical gain and I do a lot of power hiking. I still sometimes do tempo runs and track workouts, but my goals have changed a lot. The track doesn’t get you ready for 13,000 feet of gain in a single race… only mountains can do that. Luckily for me, living in Salt Lake City, I have an abundance of mountains.
I have 5 races on my calendar for 2018 and I’ll blog as I train for them.
Antelope Island 50K – March 24 Salt Lake City Marathon – April 21 Squaw Peak 50-miler – June 2 Never Summer 100K – July 28 St. George Marathon – Oct 6
Join me as I train, race, hike, and get myself ready to run 64.2 miles in one day. It’s going to be a journey for sure!
Also, Elly is doing great, too! She’s not quite as excited for my ultramarathons. It means less cuddle time.
Do you have any big goals? What running goals scare you the most?
It’s been a long time since I’ve been running hard and training for anything specific. My last race, the Route 66 Marathon, was a bit of a flop largely because I walked to the starting line severely undertrained and a bit burnt out from my ultra. I am once again back on my feet and I am determined to get to a May marathon with some better training under my belt.
You may notice that I have not really committed to a specific marathon yet. Unfortunately, I will likely be unable to for a while. Frank and I are looking to move from Kansas and we are not really sure where we will be come May, but I am training to run a race on May 21, the day of the Colfax marathon. I will plan to run Colfax if I am still in Kansas, or if I am driving distance from Denver. I want to run a half marathon some time in March, but unfortunately, I am unable to say where or when it will be yet. It’s hard training without specifics, and it’s very hard living with so many unknowns in my future. I feel like I cannot commit to anything beyond about two weeks since we could hear back from somewhere at any time and we would have to be ready to go.
One thing is for sure, we are looking to move out west. I have spent my entire life in the flatlands of the US, and we have been looking to get to the mountains. The western half of the US is huge, so I feel confident (and hopeful) that something will turn up soon.
Looking ahead into the unknown of 2017, I do have a few goals that I believe are attainable.
PR my marathon
I honestly don’t care if it’s by 2 freaking seconds, I just want a PR. I will train for a 3:50 time, but come race day, I will be happy with anything that is a PR.
Run a sub 1:45 half marathon
Ok, this one is a little more specific. My last half was 1:47 and it was very comfortable. I was in one of my favorite places in the world, Estes Park, and I hope to go back there for that sub-1:45 in August. I definitely think this is within my abilities, but I will need to work for it.
Run a 50-miler
Last year I ran a 50K, and I can honestly tell you that it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. However, those last few miles made everything worth it. I ran through the trails of Omaha with a giant smile of my face, so excited to be an ultra runner. Well, my new goal is to run a 50-miler, which I am hoping to do in the fall.
This week I will be getting back to my usual training updates, yoga posts, and random other things that make there way on to my blog. Thanks for being patient and waiting for me to be ready to train hard again.
And of course, here’s a picture of my favorite fur-ball.
How do you deal with unknowns? Does change stress you out (it stresses me out)?
I’m back!!! After two epic weeks in Europe, and a whole lot of flights, I am finally back in Manhattan, KS and slowing returning to my normal life. I look forward to catching up on all of your blogs and training, but I am still exhausted and it may take me some time to get back to the grind.
In Europe, my mom and I went to London, Liverpool, Krakow (Poland), and Paris. It was a ton of fun AND I even nabbed a tiny new half marathon PR in Liverpool (post about that to come). Here is a few photos of all of our fun:
What’s next? I start training for Chicago… like now! I took a few weeks to run slow and infrequently as I recovered from my several weeks of wild running. However, the break is over and it’s time to get back into marathon training. I’ll be posting soon about my training plan and goals.
Hope you all had a great few weeks! How is your training going? Are you traveling this summer?
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!
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.
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!).
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!
Have you ever paced a half marathon? Did you find it to be a fun experience?
This one is pretty good. I look unbelievably tired, but I think this was taken at like Mile 21 or 22.
Oh, and they caught the high-5 between Dan and I at the end.
Colfax is done… so what now?
Well, I don’t really have the post-race blues. I didn’t really give myself the chance to. On Saturday I am pacing the Bill Snyder Half Marathon and helping the 2:25 group reach their goals. It’s always fun to pick up your next race packet while you are still sore from your previous race.
I am leaving for London with my mom next week and I’ll be pacing her for a 5K in Liverpool and the next day I’ll be running the Rock and Roll Half Marathon. I don’t really know what my goals are for this race, but more than anything, I am just excited to race internationally.
I am kind of taking running not too seriously until I begin training for Chicago in a few weeks. Luckily, the soreness is mostly gone from my legs and I actually feel pretty good. I’ve been sleeping A LOT and trying to stay very hydrated. I’m hoping that I can get back to some relaxed running either today or tomorrow. Elly has also been keeping me company during recovery.
I am likely going to be using the Hanson’s plan for Chicago, which will begin the 2nd week of June. I am going to dedicate an entire post to goals, but I’ll warn you that they are pretty big. Colfax went really well and I never felt like I was pushing myself or reaching my edge. In Chicago, I might push things a little harder. I learned a ton and one thing that I am going to take into racing from now on is to eat a lot more during races. I was always very stingy about gel use, but not anymore. I really believe having a gel every 45 minutes basically saved me from hitting the infamous marathon wall. I’m hoping that I can have a repeat performance at Chicago.
I’m pretty excited about my several weeks of “run whenever I damn well please” instead of running because I have to. It won’t last too long, but I’ll enjoy it while it does.
Do you have a goal race coming up soon? What do you do between training cycles?
There is a such thing as race magic, where you go out there and everything is just right. You just know from the moment the race starts that you can conquer the whole world and do exactly what you set out to do. Usually that’s because of a combination of preparation, race conditions, and timing. The Colfax Marathon had that magic, but it was largely because of the people.
The weather was predicted to be a crisp 40 F with a bit of cloud cover and a high of 60 F… perfect marathon conditions. The race started at 6:00 am, so I woke up at 3:15 am to make sure that I got a parking spot and didn’t get lost heading to the start. I was feeling nervous and my stomach was giving me a bit of trouble. I was in and out of the bathroom constantly pretty much until the gun went off. Food was not working out, so instead I opted for water and coffee and hoped for my stomach to calm before I toed the starting line. Around 5:50, I gave Frank my extra clothes, got into my corral and put my game face on. The 4:00:00 pacer was up ahead a bit and I planned to use the first mile to catch up to him. The race began, but I mostly just stood there waiting for the few hundred people ahead of me to go. By 6:05 am I made it over the starting mat and was running my first marathon.
I took about a half mile to find the 4:00:00 pacer and decided to just hang on to him for a while. His name was Corky and he was funny, outgoing, and pretty much everything you could hope for in a pacer. I told him that I would stay with him until mile 16 and he was happy with that plan. He told us that he wanted to start off slow and get faster during some of the downhill sections of the course. We had a group of about 5 people and for the first 8 miles, we were chatting, laughing and getting to know each other. Troy was hoping for a sub-3:50 marathon and wanted to hold on to us through the half way point. Matt was hoping to shave a few minutes off his PR and Dan and I were just hoping to finish our first marathon in one piece (and hopefully with a 3 as the first number).
Mile 9 took us to a park with a lake. It was very flat and Corky started to up the pace a bit. I could definitely feel that we were going quicker, but I still felt comfortable. So far, the miles were breezing by. There were tons of people cheering us on. This was the point in the course that I realized that I was running terrible tangents and dodging too much. I was already over .1 of a mile off from the mile markers. There were a lot of slower runners around because of the relay, and I was finding myself dodging them often. In total, there were 4 races going on; a marathon relay, a half marathon, a 10-miler, and a marathon. Run Colfax staggered the start so that all of the races would end at the same time. In total, there were about 20,000 people on the course, but less than 2,000 were running the full marathon.
We reached the half-way point of the race and another pacer, Lauren, joined us. My shoulders were starting to tighten up on me, but everything else felt great. The race went through the Colorado Institute of Design, weaving between statues and sculptures. We had taken a bit of an uphill since the lake and I was starting to feel it in my quads. Lauren reminded me that at 16 we would have a big downhill and I just had to get there. The group hadn’t changed much besides occasional people that would run with us for a few miles and then go ahead or fall behind.
At mile 16ish, we got to the top of the hill and you could see Mile High Stadium out ahead. I was ready to do some cruising, but wasn’t feeling ready to let go of the pace group. Corky reminded me of my race plan, but I told him that I wasn’t feeling mentally strong enough to do 10 miles alone. I stuck with the pace group and just churned a few miles out. By this point, I was starting to feel a little weepy. I had already eaten 3 gels and at mile 17, decided to have another. I was scared of hitting the 20 mile mark, that I would suddenly hit some wall and be unable to move, so I stayed with the pace group. Frank was on his bike and found me around one of the water stations. I quickly hugged him, told him that I was going to do this, and ran off.
We got close to Mile High Stadium, and once again, Corky reminded me of my race plan. He told me that I looked strong, and that I should take off, but to watch out for the hills at mile 23 to the end. From there, I just went. It was past mile 20 and I felt like I could take on the world. I ran into Mile High with a giant smile on my face, because I just knew that I had this, and that today was my day.
The climb out of Mile High was tough and I entered into Downtown Denver. This was no doubt the roughest and least scenic part of the course. It was hilly, I was tired, and there was little to no crowd support. Everyone around me was either running the 10-miler or the relay, so they all looked fresh as daisies and I certainly was feeling the miles. This is where I made a really weird mistake. I had a water bottle in my hand that I needed to ditch and I wanted to be “environmentally friendly” and not litter, so I stepped up to a curb to throw it into a garbage can. Boy, should I have just dropped it. I stepped back down and my hamstring seized up. For a moment, I thought I had torn it. I half ran/half hobbled and looked down at my watch. I still had a 5K left and I was starting to get worried that I had just wrecked my race.
This was when I had to dig deep. Everything else felt fine. I wasn’t bonking, no real issues, just this hamstring cramp. As I was starting to feel sorry for myself, one of the guys, Dan, from the 4:00:00 pacing group came up from behind me. He tapped my shoulder and asked if I wanted to crush our sub-4 goal with him. I, of course, said yes and we were off. Dan kept repeating “we only have a few miles left, we got this” and “let’s go crush Sarah Palin’s time” (I had told the pace group how Sarah Palin had run a sub-4 marathon). We were hurting, but we were still smiling. We had another gel and we kept laughing about how awful we felt, but how good everyone else (all those freaking 10-mile runners) looked. My hamstring calmed down and I was feeling pretty good again.
In the last mile, we could see the finish line and all of the people. The crowd kept telling us we were almost there… although by this point, a mile felt like a freaking marathon. As much as it was hurting, Dan and I were smiling and thrilled. As we were heading into the finishing chute, I thanked him for catching me and pulling me along. He had found me as I was going into a dark place and he made everything better. As we crossed the finish line, we both threw up our arms and had big smiles on our faces. The final time was 3:57:19. We crushed that 4:00:00 goal. Dan and I hugged, congratulated each other and went to meet up with our families. As soon as I got out of the finish chute, I saw Frank and gave him a huge hug. I was happy to be done, but honestly, I was most happy to have had such a great time doing it. Maybe I am crazy, but running that marathon was a thrilling experience, and I seriously can’t wait to run another one.
I worked so hard to get to that finish line. Between injuring myself before Chicago and training for this race, this journey has been a long one. As I was running through mile high, all I could think about was how thankful I was for being able to do this and for finally not being injured. I ran a solid and smart race, definitely a negative split and my two fastest miles were in the last 6. I did not bonk, I never found my wall, and I had a ton of fun. I am so glad that I got to run with Corky, Dan, Matt, Lauren, and Troy. They really made the day perfect.
After the race, Frank and I chilled out for a bit and waited for my leg cramps to subside. Our friend, Mary, joined us at the finish line and helped me message out my hamstrings (she’s a message therapist). After a little food, Frank and I loaded up in the car, and drove home to Kansas. I gotta say, driving 7 hours after running a marathon is not advised.
I am still over the moon about this race, and to be completely honest, I can’t wait to run another marathon. Everything about Sunday was perfect and I couldn’t have asked for a better race.
Thanks, everyone, for your support! I loved receiving the texts messages from my friends after the race and knowing that all of you were tracking me and cared about my race really meant a lot.