Iron Horse Half Marathon Recap

I ran my first trail half marathon, the Iron Horse Half on Sunday and it was just a glorious day for it – overcast and cool. I loved the course! It was point-to-point, beautiful, and basically all downhill.

Participants parked at the finish line (in North Bend) and bused to the start (at Olallie State Park). There were porta-pottys, friendly volunteers, and great support throughout the course. The race was so smooth, especially considering it was its first year!

I loved the wave starts. They really helped ease congestion throughout. I had to brave the porta-potty line and ended up being a few minutes late for my wave, but was able to just start on my own before the next one and catch up.

Because of the perfect day and fast course, I was slightly disappointed I hadn’t trained more with longer or faster runs. Unfortunately, I also walked a bit because there was a crying, throat closing, couldn’t breathe, wheezing thing that was happening. You know, things that happen when your ex runs the same race. Let me tell you, a trail half is not the ideal place for that to happen, but I’m all about feeling your feelings and what not. Eventually I felt better, enjoyed the course, enjoyed the day, and enjoyed moving my body. I finished pretty strong in 1:58:32.

The finishers’ festival had hot dogs and beer and yummy cold brew coffee, which is what I was really after at that point! I sat down in the grass with the sun that was starting to come out and relaxed a little bit before heading back to Seattle. It was definitely worth the drive out there!

As always happens post-race, mentally I’m somewhere in between who thought that was a good idea? and when’s the next one?!

Iron Horse offers free race photos! Always smile when you see the photog (and when you’re finished running 13.1 miles):

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Side note: I wore the same shoes that felt a little worn after my RnR Half because I haven’t found anything I like better since then. Any recommendations? I think I’m going to check out REI’s Labor Day sale to start!

Orca has two fall half marathons coming up and a fun, Halloween-themed 8K, check them out and use PRETTYACTIVE16 to get 10% off your entry!

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Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon

Last month I ran the Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon, what I thought was my fifth half, but my race page told me it was my sixth! I think I blocked out that one where I walked a lot of it. Oops.

You know how half marathons always seem like a great idea? I have signed up for races on a post-race high. I have signed up as a way to stay motivated through my training. I have signed up because I got a good deal on the entry fee. Whatever the reason is, there are always a mix of emotions between sign up day and go time.

I had some good training runs, I had some bad training runs, I burnt out on training with just one week to go to the Seattle RnR Half, but overall, I felt pretty ready going into race day. My main concern for a June race (a June race! That’s not even a thing in Arizona!) was last year for the RnR, race day was actually pretty hot. This year Seattle weather has been bipolar, switching between spring and summer weekly. Fortunately race day was looking more like spring – overcast and cool with a chance of rain.

I woke up early and walked to the start line because I live somewhere awesome. I was disappointed to arrive and hear the race was being delayed 15 minutes. Mostly just because I had dressed to run and it was a little chilly just standing around and I was there alone with no one to chat with. I was in the 11th corral, so after the delay plus waiting for my corral to start I was finally off at about 7:30am.

The course: Decently flat and somewhat interesting but with a few “run up this street a ways then run back” to get the mileage in, which I don’t love. I liked that it was different from the Seattle Half, which stayed north of the 90, and that it was through areas I don’t spend much time in.

The RnR: Honestly, the bands were not a huge pull for me, but I’m such a slave to marketing that I really liked the sponsored zones from Toyota and Alaska Air, they just provided something interesting to focus on for those small spots. The beer ticket I got with my bib seemed like a great idea on packet pick up day, but at the end of the race, I never really want it.

My other concern about doing a RnR race is the crowd. These are well-attended races because they are well organized (great aid stations!), but I imagined craziness on the course. Yes, the start was a bit overwhelming but the course was totally fine and I had plenty of space. However, I’m really glad I didn’t have to use the port-a-potties! No patience for those lines 🙂

I felt good throughout the race and knew I was maintaining a good pace, although my Nike Run app was slightly off in tracking the distance, so I wasn’t 100% certain. I got tired/bored around 10 miles, but the last two were great and super fast. I was able to book it the last quarter mile and came around the corner to see the finish line and also my awesome boyfriend with his daughter on his shoulders cheering me on. Clock time was off because of the corral, but I found out my official time later that day…1:56:40! I FINALLY got my sub-2:00!

I thought I was ready for it at the Seattle Half because I had been running some fast intervals and strength training. That got me close, but what pushed me under was the training I’ve been doing since the beginning of the year – just running consistently faster in my training runs. My standard 10-minute pace now fluctuates between 8- and 9-minute miles.

I took this picture at the finish line and think I look sups cute and like I barely worked out at all, so perhaps next time I push even harder?

RNRphoto

My next time I actually signed up for before this race! It’s going to be the ORCA Running Iron Horse Half in North Bend in August. I joined the ORCA family this year as an ambassador and am excited for my first race with them! If you want to sign up for any of their great races – they just added one at Alki – use the code: PRETTYACTIVE16 to get 10% off!

 

Seattle Half Marathon 2015

Last Sunday, I ran my first race in Seattle! And my first COLD race!

I had my eye on the Seattle Half Marathon for a while…but the last weekend in November in Seattle?! I had my concerns. Also, it was Thanksgiving weekend and I wasn’t sure what my plans would be. When I decided to stay in town AND found a Groupon for the race, it seemed meant to be so I signed up.

I was feeling like I was in great shape from OTF and regular runs and then, as it usually does, life got in the way. I traveled and started a new job and my routine was knocked off kilter. I still got in my long training runs – a miserable 12-miler in the cold rain two weeks before and a much better 10-miler one week before – plus a few OTF-style sessions in November. My real concern was the weather.

The weather for race day turned out to be pretty great – cold (low 30s) and overcast, but no rain (or snow)! I wore one layer, gloves and an earwarmer plus a throwaway jacket I ditched after about two miles.

The course was great, basically a big loop around central Seattle – through downtown, on the freeway, through a freeway tunnel and on running trails so close to my place that I didn’t even know existed! Plus, minimal hills – score! I started off kind of slow, maybe a combination of needing to warm up, the crowd and awareness that I have a tendancy to start off too fast, so yeah, basically I did the opposite, but then I just kept picking up pace and it felt great.

My Nike app seemed to be running a little short distance-wise so I was not 100% sure where I was in terms of meeting my goal of under two hours, but I had an idea I was close. Spoiler alert, I didn’t make it, but I did beat my last PR by 5:30 and get pretty close to a sub-2:00! I finished in 2:02:15. I think I ran a great race and while I can maybe see a few opportunities where I lost those extra two minutes, I’m happy with that time!

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Nearing the finish line at Memorial Stadium (in black and white).

At the end, I was happy to be done running and a little stiff. I didn’t immediately have the typically runner’s high reaction of signing up for my next one within 24 hours, but this week I started looking at options and training plans to break the barrier!

 

 

Training (and Complaining)

Okay, weather. This is the last time I want to talk about this. Cool your jets.

Of COURSE it’s time to start my half-marathon training as we are in what had better be the last heat wave of the summer – like extreme heat warnings for temps above 110. I’ll take highs of 100 through October, just get us out of highs in the teens, lows in the 90s!

It’s pretty easy when I’m inside to create my training plan to be all, I don’t care, it’s what needs to be done, I’ll just suck it up and run. And then I don’t because I didn’t wake up early enough, it didn’t cool down enough at night and I hate running on the treadmill for much longer than three miles.

I have a week to suck it up before I get to run in glorious Idaho. People generally don’t understand why I’m excited about Idaho, but when I say Idaho I don’t mean Boise. I’ve never been to Boise, I don’t know Boise (although I have considered moving there…hello quarter-life crisis). I’m going to Coeur d’Alene, which has a lake and is gorgeous and looks like this:

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Even better, it looks like this:

Water weather in the day, sweater weather at night…ahhh. Then when I get back to the desert, it better freakin’ be cooler!

I have a few four-milers on my training plan for recovery, but mostly fives or longer. I managed to get through my first on the treadmill today, but my shoes are longing for asphalt! Heat or no heat, as I sit here with ice on my knee, I’m pretty excited to get back to training; it’s been too long!

Fiesta Bowl Half-Marathon 2012

My prior association with the Fiesta Bowl Half Marathon and 5k is that last year when I worked it for the Girls on the Run it was MIS-ER-AH-BLY cold. This year, as a half-marathon participant, I could not have wished for better weather. It was a gorgeous day!

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This is how great I felt during the whole race!

Between shuffling to get my packet, back to my car to stash my swag (in a lovely grocery bag) in there, then back to the start line, I wasn’t even chilly at the start in my tank and fantastic lulu speed shorts. Bathroom lines were epic, but since I had gone to the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts for a Bela Fleck show two weeks prior, I decided I was totally allowed to use theirs. Win!

I met up with Stacey for the start and we even caught Ari before her fantastic 5k race. With no concept of time or the race course, we totally missed the actual start! Five minutes late, we found our start line, I turned on my Britney Spears station on Pandora (only appropriate since it was Brit Brit’s 31st birthday yesterday! Is it weird that I just know that?!), started my run on my new Nike app and unceremoniously began.

Since getting my iPhone over the summer, I’ve just been holding my phone when I run, but I really didn’t want to do that this race so on Cyber Monday I bought this TuneBand. By the time it came, I only got in one treadmill mile pre-race to test it out, but it worked out really well during the race. It’s not super easy to access the face (as with any armband), but it was kinda nice to NOT be staring at my pace and miles on my Garmin and only one song came on that was slow enough that I wanted to change it, and it was easy enough. The band itself is made of stretchy velcro and it just barely fits my arm (#skinnygirlwhining), I have to position the phone right against the ring and it attaches a little looser than I would like, but I suppose long-term I could cut and sew to resize it.

See?! About to pass the tutu.

I know that racing is all about YOU, but it helps ME to find “targets” and pass them and then find another and another and so on. Rule #1: People in tutus and/or fairy wings don’t beat me. Rule #2: Find a fit looking guy who might be a little peeved when he gets chicked. If, when you pass him, he’s cute, trip and fall in front of him. Since I was five minutes behind the start, the first targets were pretty easy. Eventually I came up on the 2:30 pace group, then the 2:15 group. I was truly hunting the 2:00 pace group, but (spoiler alert) I didn’t find them.

Either way, it was a gorgeous day for a run with 1,000 strangers, I felt great and I absolutely loved the course. I drive Scottsdale Road so often, so it was cool to run a big old chunk of it and to start in Old Town and get relatively close to my office! The second half of the race took us back down south along the greenbelt. Okay, okay, I didn’t “absolutely love” this part of it. The greenbelt is great for running, but after 8 miles, I was less than excited about switching from asphalt to concrete and the ups and downs of the underpasses.

My average pace (the app tells you overall pace, not mile-per-mile) stayed pretty consistent at 9:22 for a lot of the middle miles and I kept pushing to get it down to 9:15, but between miles 10 and 11, my legs were feeling pretty spent and I slipped into 9:30 and 9:40 territory as the race wrapped up.

Somewhere around, I’d say, mile 12 or 12.5, Stacey found me! I said, “okay, now I guess I’m going to keep up with you,” and I tried, but that was not going to happen! Girl was booking it – she took off and got a great PR! I dropped back to my pace and finished in 2:09:00.

It wasn’t the sub-2:00 I always want, but I’m nothing if not consistent (my other times have been 2:07:48 and 2:09:06)!

I felt great during the race. I really think supplementing my iron in the past few weeks actually helped. After finishing, I felt borderline awful, so I guess that’s how I know I left it all out there! After rehydrating, walking around and stretching a bit, I was tired, but felt better and enjoyed a celebratory brunch with bottomless mimosas at RnR!

My quads are feeling it today, but it’s a great feeling. And, keeping with tradition (of catching the race bug and signing up for another immediately)…I signed up for Pat’s Run today! It recently opened and it’s an annual can’t-miss for me!

Arizona Half-Marathon

I ran my second half-marathon today in 2:07:48, a new PR!

The Arizona Half race wasn’t very, well, race-like.  It was “capped at 1,500,” but there were a grand total of 262 runners and they all spaced out pretty quickly, so for the most part I had only a few other runners in my sight during the race.

Plus, the out-and-back course was very suburban, so I kinda just felt like I was running.  For funsies.  In Goodyear. But, I reminded myself a handful of times that I was indeed racing and picked up my pace and am happy with how I did (and okay, disappointed I missed a sub-2:00…I was on pace for about the first half).

The race did have legit timing on-course and instant results at the end.  I got sliced and diced stats emailed to me while I was on my hour long drive back to civilization.

I found out I’m pretty average…overall, among the ladies and in my division…and that’s okay.  I kinda love the whole, “you beat everyone on the couch” idea.

I think I’m most disappointed that I was promised beer and when they kaboshed the finisher’s festival, that went with it.  But since prohibition’s over and all, beer’s not too hard to come by and my iced hazelnut coffee hit the spot just fine anyway.

Please note how I used my bra as storage for snacks – PowerBar Energy Blasts, I had a few in the last half – and please note that this is not actually recommended use of a bra during a 13-mile run.  It’s now unfortunately the only place I got the dreaded runner’s chafe.

I will give the Arizona Half this…it was a runner’s race for sure.  It was no-frills and with all the hassle leading up to it, the people who showed up this morning did so because of their love for the sport and/or their commitment to themselves.  The 262 participants had heart and I’m happy to have been a part of it!

It’s half-marathon week!

Hot damn, did that half-marathon sneak up on me!

I signed up for it in November and started official training in December and was all like, “yeah, I can do this.”

And then I was like, “running sucks, but I’m stubborn.”

And then I channeled my inner hippie and was like, “hey man, no worries, do what the universe asks of you.”

Yes, my inner hippie is Matt McConaughey. Yours isn't?

And then my inner type A spoke up and was like, “finish what you start, young lady.”

And then the race organizers harshed my mellow.

And then I was like, “live to sweat. Working out is my crack. When can I get my next hit?”

But, now there’s no time left for any more emotional roller coaster rides because it all culminates on Saturday!  In Goodyear.

My plans this week are hydration, active rest, protein and carbs.

My concern this week is my tender ankle…a little sore on my long run and tweaked further in a Meg v. Rigo chase on Monday.

My feeling this week is that the half-marathon is not THAT big of a challenge.  I’ve done it before, I’m fit.  I guess this is what ready feels like?

Even with my downplaying it, it’s taking up my brain this week and I know I’ll feel pretty darn good at the end.  And like I deserve a big old plate of french toast and a beer.

And then I’ll probably get a stupid runner’s high and decide another half or even a full is, like, TBIE.  Someone hide my credit cards and block active.com on my computer on Saturday and probably Sunday just to be safe?  Kthanksbye.

Dubs Under Dubs

Last long run today. I spent the early morning hours, you know, like when you’re awake but it’s the weekend and you’re too stubborn to admit that you’re not falling back asleep, worrying about this ten-miler.

I finally got up, but HAD to finish this:

And then I realized if I had started running when I started worrying about it, I’d be done already, so I laced up and shut up and ran.

And I got my first double-digit run in a looong time and came in (just) under a double-digit pace, which is a very good thing for me, and for the most part, it felt very good.

T-minus six days to my half-marathon! 

I was happy, but sad, for the end of FNL and I’m pretty sure I’ll just be happy for the end of half training (but I also know it will be worth it)!

Runner’s High and Chocolate Milk

I ran four times in the last week. Who am I?!

Oh, that’s right, a super speedy lady who’s running a half-marathon THIS MONTH. Well, maybe.

My training runs are going well and my mental grit is still helping me power through, but I can admit I sometimes have a bad attitude going into them, particularly the long runs that aren’t about mixing it up. Although the intervals are tough (the last one made me want to puke and pass out, or pass out and puke, I had no clue in which order it was going to happen), they keep me engaged because there’s something different coming right up and I’m focused on the segments, not the whole.

But, my long runs have reminded me of this little thing called the runner’s high. Five minutes in I’m FMLing, but with just a little more time, I’m thinking I’ll run forever and thinking about how awesome running is and I am and you are and how pretty everything is and…hello, endorphins!

Other awesome things that running brings into my life that I forgot about:

Light soy chocolate milk

Foam rolling and The Stick

Peanut butter and dates

Hard-earned sweat

Awesome.

Yoga and swimming today. Six miles tomorrow.

What are the little things that you love about being a runner?

Pardon the gripe…

So, the half-marathon I’m signed up for is rubbish. When I picked it, it was based on a few things:

1. That it is in late-February…not too close to the holidays that I would have been hard-core training during that crazy time.  And by crazy time, I mean cookie time.
2. That they had finishers’ medals…silly perhaps, but I’ve never run a race with medals before!
3.  That is was in Scottsdale.

Note that I said was. When I signed up last fall, the race info page was vague, saying it started somewhere in the Scottsdale area.  Hey!  I live in the Scottsdale area, that’s cool.

I felt silly telling people there was so far no real plan for it, but I’m a very trusting person and I believed a course and starting location would be established, you know, before the race.  Now, I’m kind of convinced it’s like a speakeasy and that they’re going to send out the super secret location 30 minutes before the start.

Last night, the race page was still vague, but with a link to their Facebook page for the latest updates, which said the course was set, but still waiting to be confirmed (what does that even mean?!) and it was in…wait for it…Goodyear!

I think this is where the race organizers expected cheers?  Excuse my brattiness, but no one cheers for Goodyear.  Goodyear is where I pit stop when driving back from California. Goodyear has a Snyder’s Pretzel factory, which is kinda cool because pretzels are delish and all, but I don’t want to race there, 55 miles from where the original race was supposed to be!

This is “Phoenix,” it’s big:

 A is for awesome race location, B is for boo.  The pink circle is my comfort bubble.

But, I don’t want to quit just because something isn’t going my way.  I think, come race day, I’d feel like it was a poor man’s excuse and that the real reason I dropped out is that I was scared to fail.  This round of half-marathon training has been more mental than physical for me and this up-in-the-air crap is messing with my psyche!

If they get their ish together, I’m still in, but it’s not looking promising.  Never fear, I have a super secret back-up plan just in case they fail miserably.  At their job.  At what I and many other people have paid them to do.  At the whole purpose of their business.  At life.