Monday, July 28, 2014

50k Training Week 11: 7/21-7/27

Ok, after last week's big step back week, I am back on track. I realized last week that part of the reason I was feeling a bit mentally burned out was because my usual routes are feeling stale. I run all my runs solo and many of them cover the same exact roads. So for the last 6 weeks of training, I am on a mission to mix it up a bit. In other good news, my toes are pretty much 100%. I do have 2 purple toenails, but that is what nail polish is for.

Monday: Switched Monday and Tuesday's workouts due to date night. Felt pretty much back to normal! :)
Planned: Rest  Actual: 5 miles (8:46/mile pace)

Tuesday: The Jayhawk and I went to the Fox Theater (old, iconic theater in downtown Atlanta) to see Beck. It was awesome.
Planned:  6 miles Actual: Rest
Inside the Fox theater.
Wednesday: Took the day off to take care of some stuff and tried to get in my 20 miler for the week. Went out to Stone Mountain for a change of pace to get in a hilly (2900 feet of gain) long run. Only made it 15 mile before the humidity won. Even my hydration pack was soaked in sweat.
Planned: 8 miles  Actual: 15 miles (9:16/miles pace)
Guess who learned how to use the self-timer on her phone (hint: this girl)
It was a pretty morning out by the rock.
Thursday: Wasn't feeling any ill effects after Wednesday's long run/sweatfest.
Planned: 5 miles  Actual: 4 miles (8:46/mile pace)

Friday: Rest and rolling!
Planned: Rest Actual: Rest

Saturday: It was hot and the run felt like a suffer fest. It just wasn't fun and it felt a bit defeating.
Planned: 20 miles  Actual: 5.15 miles (8:34/mile pace)

Sunday: Focused on having fun regardless of the number of miles. Explored new parts of Lullwater Park and still felt like I could finish strong. Still kept it hilly with ~1800 feet of climbing. Win-Win.
Planned: 8 miles  Actual: 10.15 miles (9:18/mile pace)

Interesting article in the NY Times this week about How our arms help us run.  Curious who the 13 experienced adult runners in Boulder might be. :)

If you ever wondered what makes the ultrarunning community different, this article sums it up pretty well. 

How was your week?  Any races or fun runs?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

7 things...

Karen over at Running Over the Hill recently nominated me for the Very Inspiring Blogger award which is incredibly flattering. If you aren't familiar with her blog, head on over.  I'm always in awe of Karen's commitment to strength training, her outlook on life, and her ability to always keep it honest. She just recently signed up for her first Disney race and I can't wait to see how it goes. She is going to have a blast.
Rules of the Award:
Thank and link to the person who nominated you.
Share 7 things about yourself.
Nominate another person.

Without further ado, 7 things you don't know about me that don't involve running!
1. I love taking pictures in those odd cutout things. I can't explain it. They are super silly, but I love them. They Jayhawk doesn't share my enthusiasm, but humors me.
This is just a selection.
2. I'm ordained! I originally got ordained to officiate my brother's wedding, but it was really fun and I would gladly do it again. I really want to officiate a running wedding.
3. I'm not short. I'm 5'9 and I've been this tall since the 6th or 7th grade. I was the girl that was taller than most of the boys and was always in the back row of the class photo. In fact, there was a several year span when people thought my brother (2 years my senior) and I were twins (now he's much taller than me).

4. My guilty pleasure/comfort food when I am sick is spaghetti o's. They cure everything from colds to hangovers. When I'm feeling super healthy, I get the ones with added calcium. Yep, I'm a real foodie.

5. I'm allergic to giraffes.  Nope, not kidding. Much itching, eye watering, and sneezing followed this photo. Alas, I can never have a pet giraffe.
6. I never sneeze only once at a time, usually 3-4 minimum which makes it very hard to breath. My current record is 13 times in a row. It really tends to confuse people when it happens in public. They think I'm either having a weird coughing fit or a seizure. The Jayhawk is use to it and waits for the ok before he says bless you.

7. One of my favorite books is Mountains beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder. It's both inspirational and a great reminder that there are people working hard to do good in the world.

I nominate Tina from Gotta Run Now.  I am always impressed by Tina's solid training weeks in the Texas heat and her 39 mile 50k!

Ok, everyone share one random non-running fact about themselves.

Friday, July 18, 2014

50k training week 10:7/14-7/20

Double Digits. It's week 10 folks.

When planning my 50k training schedule, I failed to plan in any sort of recovery for Saturday's 39k. I guess I really didn't think about the fact that I was running essentially a trail marathon with no taper, and that I might need some time afterward (not a smart runner). This week, I listened to my body for what it needed for recovery instead of staying faithful to the plan (smarter runner). I ended up taking a lot more time off than I imagined this week, but to be honest, between running and work I was a bit mentally burned out and needed to push the reset button.

Monday: So my toes still look like dog food (wet, not dry), but I'm feeling nice, so I won't post pictures of them. You are welcome.
Planned: Rest   Actual: More recovery Yoga

Tuesday: Not a great run, but it had a purpose. It took a few miles for my legs to loosen up and get in stride, but I felt much better afterward. I called it at 3 miles because my toes and legs still felt beat.
Planned: 5 miles   Actual: 3 miles (9:13/mile pace)

Wednesday: Feeling much more like myself today and was able to run an easy 5 on the treadmill. Felt good to stretch the legs, but still didn't want to push the toes too bad. One of them still looks like a cherry tomato.
Planned: 10 miles   Actual: 5 miles (8:58/mile pace)

Thursday: I was really overtired. No other way to describe it. I hit the wall at work at noonish. Took the day off from working out, had a relaxing night, and went to bed early. Work has been ridiculously stressful this week, so I just needed a break.
Planned: 6 miles   Actual: Rest

Friday: Took my rest day as planned. Did foam roll and do some light yoga.
Planned: Rest   Actual: Rest
As seen on my run.
Saturday: Woke to a very rainy morning, so I slept in a ran in the afternoon. It was a little harder of a run than I planned because of the humidity, but it felt nice to sweat. Foam rolled and light yoga.
Planned: 12 miles   Actual: 6.75 miles (8:42/mile pace)

Sunday: Woke up feeling like death and wasn't able to keep down food most of the day. Forced day off.
Planned: 10 miles   Actual: None!

I really enjoyed this article by Chris McCormack about "Embracing the suck".  No seriously, that's what it is about. It's about learning to mentally endure, one of the most important aspects of endurance sports. I am constant working on embracing the suck, as the suck is continuously changing.
How was your week?  Do you ever mentally need a break as much as physically?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Troop Trot 39k Recap

Troop Trot 39k , Villa Rica, GA
Field: 45 in the 39k, ~30 in the 10k
Spectators: None, It's all in the woods.
Start/Finish: Picnic shelter with real bathrooms close by
Course: The trails of Clinton Nature Preserve
Schwag: Tech shirt
Other: The race is organized by Boy Scout Troop 39. The boys help lay the course, work the aid stations, hand make the finishers medals, and present the flag pre-race. The money goes to their troop and the project is part of their bridging ceremony.

I signed up for this race to use it as a dry run for the 50k. Being 6 weeks out from my goal race day, it would give me time to adjust to anything that wasn't working well in terms of gear or fuel and shift training as needed.  I am so happy I did this.  I learned a lot, including a few things that could be game changers.
Pre-race. All smiles because my feet aren't bleeding yet.
Let's start with the race. Troop Trot 39k is put on by boy scout troop 39 (hence the distance). Their scout master is an ultrarunner so it is very well organized and planned out. I participated in the 10k last year, and chose the 39k this year. The 39k course consists of a triple loop (8+ miles each) with aid stations at the midway point and end of each loop. Each lap consists of fields + power lines (~20%), gravel roads and wide trails (~10%), granite slabs (~5%), and the rest is single track curving through the woods. There are roughly 800 turns per lap (give or take) as the majority of the trails used are mountain bike trails and there are some technical sections (i.e. tons of roots and rocks to trip on). The last 2 miles of each loop feels like the longest 2 miles ever. Here is a rough sketch of what it looks like:
The last two miles, also known as the hunt for the bridge. Not to scale.
Race day arrived and I was a bit nervous. I kept reminding myself that it was all for training and to approach it as a learning experience. I had never run a trail race over 15k before this race, so there was a lot of 'new' to experience. It was a humid morning (low 70s temp, about 97% humid at the start) and to be honest, the humidity never really broke in the woods. Stuff was slippery and wet throughout the race, not to mention the insane amounts of sweat the runners were adding to it.
Beautiful day, but by the 3rd loop (i.e. high noon), the power line area was mad hot.
Mentally, I chose to approach the race one loop at a time. The first loop involved a lot of sorting out of the field. There were several instances where I was tucked into a slower chain of runners on the single track, but I wasn't overly worried because I wasn't there to 'race'. I didn't stop at the first aid station, but did take an Island Boost at mile 5. I started to get in the grove around mile 7, at which point I was passed by a man running in flip-flops (not a confidence booster). By the time I finished the first loop (1:40ish) I was feeling strong, but was in need of some cold water. To my surprise, Miranda was working the aid station (after running the 10k) and she was awesome. She topped off my pack with cold water and got me a banana (I also had a few gummy bears because who can resist gummy bears).
Loop two started out a lot better and I felt strong for the entire loop (miles 8ish-16ish). I had more room to move and run on the runnable areas. The first 2ish miles of the each loop were very runnable and I tried to take advantage of it. I ended up tucking into a three some for the first half of the loop and I really enjoyed the run/walk rhythm of the guy I was following. I ended up leaving him at the aid station at mile 12ish, but not before gobbling down some more cold water and gummy bears. I did leave the aid station with Lisa, the lady I parked next to who is also running the same 50k in August, and we maintained a good pace together randomly chatting our way through the loop. I did manage to repass man in flip-flops at mile~14 and he informed me that they were actually sandals. Given how many times I stubbed my toes on rocks and roots, I wasn't sure if I would ever enjoy sandals or flip-flops on a trail run.
All smiles at ~mile 16 with Race Director Josh behind me. I'm soaked in sweat. (Thanks to Miranda for the pic!)
Coming through the end of loop 2, I ran into Miranda again and she had me pose for a picture. I had another half a banana, some more cold water, and a gummy bear or two. I set out for loop three, the victory lap, feeling good and ready to be done. I was strong for the first two miles of the loop, but by mile 18, I started to feel my energy drag a bit, a sign I probably needed to be fueling more. My tummy was feeling a bit sloshy as most of what I had consumed that day was liquid. In addition, at mile 19, I felt my blisters begin to pop and my poor toes were bleeding. I had felt hot spots forming on my big toes and baby toes throughout the race, and at this point the little ones ruptured and it was rather uncomfortable. I tried my best to keep moving to the aid station at mile ~20 and regroup there.
Yep, another bloody shoe photo to add to the collection.
I took a few extra minutes at the aid station to evaluate things. A nice volunteer added some cold water to my pack (just having cold water in my pack cooled down my back) and I nibbled on a few gummy bears. The wonderful volunteers kept asking what we needed and Lisa and I both said Coke.  She informed us that there was some at the finish and, thought a little bummed, I figured I could use that as motivation for the remain 4 miles. Suddenly, the most wonderful Boy Scout in the world spoke up and said "No mom, I threw some in the cooler when we left this morning" and then he served us shots of cold coke. It was perhaps the most clutch move of the day. I've never been so happy to have a Dixie cup of coke.

The coke helped settle my stomach and give me a little lift. The next three miles consisted of running and walking (my toes were killing me at this point) and dreaming of taking off my shoes. I could tell I was getting tired as I was stubbing my toes more and more (i.e. not picking up my feet) and then managed one triumphant face plant (no injuries to report). At mile 23, I tucked my head down and decided to grind it out through the remaining 40 switchbacks to the finish. I thought I would never find the little foot bridge. I came in 13th overall and was the 4th girl out of 38 finishers.
Sorry, I totally spaced out and forgot to take a post-race photo. Was busy eating watermelon.
Overall, it's a great race. Challenging, but well organized. Sure, it wasn't fast, perfect, or comfortable the whole way, but I learned a lot and gained a lot of confidence on long trail runs. I have a list of things I need to address before the 50k and a plan of attack to do it (probably in another post because this is really long).

Do you like trail running? Have you ever used a race just for learning?

Miranda: How does this course compare to the Snakebite course?

Monday, July 14, 2014

50k Training Week 9: 7/7-7/13

Ok, folks, we are in the meat of it. It's time to get serious. 6 weeks left until race day and a whole lot of miles on the calendar. Not gonna lie, just reading that makes me a little tired and super hungry for that matter.  I'll be holding a fundraiser for my grocery bill.

Monday: Foam rolled and added in a yoga pose or two.  I've joined Clarinda's Birthday streak challenge, but because I need to respect and maintain my non-running days, I'm doing the yoga-running challenge. Stop by and check out her challenge and wish her a Happy Birthday! She is even giving out presents to streakers. Who gives away presents on their birthday??!
Planned: Rest   Actual: Rest
Tried to take a picture of my trusty foam roller in its spot next to the dog toy box, but the Monster totally photo bombed it and then threw dog toys at me. 
Tuesday: The Purple Mile Eaters reached 200 miles on this run.  They grow up so quick. I'm thinking about buying another pair.
Planned: 5 miles  Actual: 5 miles (8:40/mile pace)
I realized after I posted this that the filter makes my legs look dirty. I promise I shower. And use soap.
Wednesday: This was not a pretty run. Initially I planned to run at the gym because of a 60% chance of t-storms, but when I arrived all of the treadmills were occupied.  A little miffed, I decided to head home, grab my gear, and run outside. I started my run in the heart of rush hour (5pmish) which is around my normal runcommute time, but I don't know if it was the phase of the moon or what, but it was bad driver night. Like seriously bad (I saw multiple blown red lights and had to call one gentleman a 7 letter word for almost turning through me). By 2 miles in, I decided to head back home because of the crappy displays of driving.  It was a good thing too.  Before I even hit mile 3, I ran out of water.  SO arrived home hot, bothered, and unfulfilled. Given how my luck was going for the run, I cut my losses and called it a day at 4 miles.
Planned: 6 miles   Actual: 4 miles (8:49/mile pace)
Thursday: My legs felt tight. Really tight. I tend to find that days after a 'bad' run, I don't feel as good which makes me think that there was a reason for the 'bad' run (dehydration, poor fueling, bad striding, etc). Not exactly how you want to feel less than 48 hours out from a long trail race. I rolled a lot after my workout and paid extra special attention to my hydration and electrolyte balance.
Planned: 4 miles  Actual: 4 miles (8:44/mile pace)

Friday: When I actually did the math and thought about tomorrow's race, I started to get nervous. Not only is it the longest trail race of my life (just over 24 miles), but I had a couple of not so stellar runs this week (I'm not feeling at the top of my mental game). To calm my fears, I set some logical and obtainable pre-race goals:
  1. Finish! This is only supposed to be a training race.
  2. Relax! This is only supposed to be a training race.
  3. Focus on what you can learn! This is only supposed to be a training race.
Did a lot of foam rolling and work with the stick to help loosen up my legs.
Planned: Rest   Actual: Rest

Saturday: Troop Trot 39k!  I will post a full recap, but basically it was hot, humid, and then a little more humid. I finished, stayed pretty relaxed, and came out with a few lessons learned that I need to work on before the 50k. It was the longest trail run of my life and it the longest (time-wise) run I've ever done. Huge Thank You to Miranda at Miranda in Motion for her help at the aid station after loop 1 and 2! So nice to meet you. Sorry I wasn't more chatty, but hopefully we can meet up again pre-race next time!
Planned: 24 miles  Actual: 24.5 miles (13:07/mile pace including aid station stops)

Sunday: One of my lessons learned during Saturdays race was that I need new trail shoes (yes, bloody toes are back).  My toes are so chewed up and swollen that I opted to change up today's workout. Over all I feel pretty good after yesterday's race: mild quad soreness, a little upper ankle soreness, but my feet are the item that are holding me back for running. I did Runner's World Recovery Yoga video and I swear, I did all the poses perfectly. ;)
Planned: 6 miles   Actual: Recovery Yoga

For all of you that thought I was some kind of crazy for my 18 miler on a tread mill a few weeks ago, check out this guy, Fast Cory.  He ran 100 miler on a quarter mile track! I am totally in awe of him, but notice one of his points is that things that might seem "miserable" are actually the best kind of mental training. Cory writes a fun blog about his ultra training and racing. Great inspiration!

If you are looking for more hot weather training tips, Outside had a nice article with advice from elite ultramarathoners.

How was your week? Do you ever use a race as training for another?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Peachtree Road Race Recap

Peachtree Road Race, Atlanta, GA
Field: ~60,000 runners, walkers, fitness enthusiasts, people in costume, and running reporters
Spectators: Tons. The course is lined with fans the entire way.
Start/Finish: Starts at Lenox Mall and ends at Piedmont Park. The start has over 25+ corrals.
Course: A closed point to point road course.
Schwag: The coveted cotton t-shirt and fresh peaches.
Other: Entry is through a lottery system, with guaranteed entry for all Atlanta Track Club members. This year the race served as the US 10k National championship (Spoiler alert: I didn't place). To raise money for the track club's Kilometer Kids program, Meb started 10 minutes after the last start wave and earned money for each person he passed (goal of 22,500 people). They even had the hashtag #MebPassedMe to track his movement around the course.
Hmm, might need more flair next year.
This year was my 5th Peachtree Road Race and it is by far one of my favorite races of the year. The whole city basically shuts down to run, walk, or cheer for those completing the race. Peachtree is also the one race every year that the Jayhawk and I run together. This year I offered to help pace him using the Galloway method.  He had a nasty hamstring pull last year and is finally back to running on a regular basis and having purposeful workouts (long run, tempo, etc).  He has been using an interval style method and consistent crosstraining to rebuild his fitness and strength.
This was the crowd walking from the MARTA station to the startline. It's a big race.
The Jayhawk didn't want to run with the garmin. Mentally it was better for him if I just told him where we were intervalwise ("Walk", "Run", "Whoops, start running").  He obviously could see the mile markers on the course (there were no clocks) and knows the course well enough to know what to expect. I did my best to maintain a 2min run: 30 second walk interval, and once we were in the big hills, we did alternate in a few 1 min walk breaks.
It's a shoe. In the middle of the race course.
Having only once flirted with the Galloway method, I spent the first mile just trying to get use to the system and get the math right. I love math, but I think I get slightly dumber when all my blood is diverted to my muscles during a run, that or all the fans and runners in spirited dress were distracting me. Sure, I could have been logical and set intervals on my garmin, but that wouldn't allow for changing up the intervals late in the race if he was feeling strong (which was my whole goal). I did a solid job on my intervaling (maybe one or two timing mishaps, but I didn't tell him), told ample stories, made some movie references, had a few horrible attempts at a during race selfie, reminded him when Meb was on the course, and pontificated about life. I may have a future as a pacer. I'm available if anyone need my pacing services.
I don't think I can take one standing still let alone running. Won't do that again.
Though Peachtree Road Race is the largest 10k in the world, it's not an easy course. You start with a 2+ mile downhill, and then climb for the next 2+ miles before enjoying a slight downhill into the finish.  This is all while enjoying the heat and humidity that is Atlanta in July. With corrals starting as late as 9:05am, it can be down right brutal.  This year we were incredibly lucky with race time temps barely breaking into the 70s and a light breeze.  Hopefully we don't pay for it next year.

Our slowest mile was the first. We were consistent through the next three, and the negative split the last two (pacer win!). We went through the first 2 miles slowly, just trying to weave our way out of the pack and not get overzealous on the downhill. As we started to climb uphill at mile 3, I noticed we were passing a few more people and as we crested the top of cardiac hill, the Jayhawk mentioned that it wasn't as bad as he remember from previous years. Climbing through the last set of hills, his spirits were still up and pace was still consistent.
The finish line party. Not kidding.
When we rounded the corner onto 10th street (there is exactly 1 turn in the entire race), I let him know it was time to push. With just over half a mile to go, there was no way I was letting him walk again.  I knew he was about to trim minutes of his time from last year (something he didn't think was possible pre-race) and I was out to get him every last second.  I may have got a little over enthusiastic as I noticed we were running sub8:40 pace, but we took a little pressure off the gas peddle and cruised happily into the finish. Over 3 minutes ahead of last year.
Pre-race smiles. Some of us wear more than the minimum flair.
We hung around the finish line long enough to hear Meb come in and joke about how he needed experience playing football to get through the crowds on the course (I guess he isn't use to back of the pack life), had a peach or two and then walked back to the car parked 2 miles away at the MARTA station (it was our cool down). Overall, another fabulous year at Peachtree.
2014 Peachtree shirt
Though the Jayhawk isn't where he wants to be fitness wise, he ran the perfect race for his current fitness level.  He nailed his pre-race plan and finished strong with a smile on his face (and with no swearing in the hills). It was a huge confidence builder and the training motivation that he needed! He was even so pumped by his finish that later that day he registered for his first half marathon this fall at Chickamauga. I'm sure I will have a little input in that training program and keep you posted on his progress!
Even my post race refueling beverage had flair.
In the many times I've 'raced' against Meb, this is the first time I got to the finish line before him.  Sure he started over an hour after me, but that is just a minor detail. If you want to read more about how Meb pulled off his awesome run, this is a great article about it. The amount of money he raise for the Kilometer Kids program is pretty staggering!  Thank you Meb!

Have you ever run a super big race? What is your favorite 4th of July tradition?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

6 ways to Beat the Heat and Island Boost Winner!

Thanks to everyone who participated in the #BeatTheHeat contest! I loved to hear your tricks to keep running when the temps keep rising. Now that it is July, it seems like summer just keeps getting hotter and hotter. As promised here are some of the best tips and tricks people submitted. Make sure to stop by and check out their blogs!

1. Fellow Georgia heat survivor, Miranda over at Miranda in Motion loves to run where there are creeks so she can splash around to cool off.
2. To beat the temps in TN, Lisa from Because I Can (and from my Ragnar Trails Atlanta Team) runs with a bandana in her hand to constantly wipe off sweat. Mid run she pours water from her fuel belt on it to cool down. She also plans her runs to go through a park that has a water fountain so she can re-fill.
I didn't have a picture of a bandana, so I used a picture of the beach (both start with B and are good ways to cool down.  I'm sure Lisa won't mind.

3. To Beat the Texas Heat, Tina at Gotta Run Now likes to stop at water fountains to put water on her neck, arms and legs.
Probably not the type of fountain Tina was talking about, but refreshing none the less.

4. Abby from Back at Square Zero runs with hydration and heads out early as she sweats it out in SC.
Full disclosure: This might be a sunset and not a sunrise, but you get the idea.
5. Raina at Small Town Runner likes to beat the heat by jumping in the pool right after a long run through the Pacific Northwest. (I'm so jealous).
A dip in a pool post summer long run might be the best thing ever.
6. Also Beating the Texas Heat, Beth from Racing Robsons fills her Camelbak with ice to keep her back cool and have ice water to drink.
I don't recommend filling your Camelbak with ice cream, but it's another great way to cool down.
Shown: Salted Caramel with chocolate jimmies.

Thanks to everyone who entered for all the great tips! As promised, one randomly selected tip gets the prize:
The winner of the Island Boost prize pack is Tina!  Keep on beating the heat down in Texas Tina! I promise not-summer will come eventually! Please email me (info is on contact page) so I can get your prizes in the mail.
*The prize pack includes more stuff than this, I just didn't have a picture.
Keep on staying cool folks! There will be more Island Boost to giveaway later in the summer. I'm thinking another round of The Pace is Right!
Do you like contests? Any ideas for future ones?

Monday, July 7, 2014

50k Training Week 8: 6/30-7-6

Monday: Switch Monday and Tuesday's workouts which actually means I ran a 50k between Saturday/Sunday/Monday. I was tired by the end of it, but in a good way.
Planned: Rest   Actual: 5 miles (8:44/mile pace)

Tuesday: I switched my rest day to Monday so I could hang out with this guy.
Yes, that is his Boston Marathon Medal!
Meb is in town for the Peachtree Road Race on the Fourth where he will be starting dead last and earning money for our track club's Kilometer Kids program for each person he passes. Kind of the coolest idea ever. I've raced against Meb several times, but I think this is the race where I will finally be him to the line!
Donna Decker sharing her Everest experience.
The event was put on by Generation UCAN, Meb's sports nutrition product of choice, and consisted of a Q&A followed by a meet and greet. Donna Decker, another UCAN athlete who used the product in her Everest summit in 2012 (in addition to that she was a professional runner and triathlete prior to her climbing days).  They both had a lot of wonderful things to say and some great words of wisdom.  I will try to put together a short post.
Planned: 5 miles   Actual: Rest

Wednesday: The Jayhawk and I went down to the Peachtree Road Race Expo after work to pick up our bibs and stock up on Nuun. It was fun to catch up with several of my Ragnar Trails Atlanta teammates working at various booths.  By the time we got home it was already 7pm and we hadn't had dinner. We each snuck in a quick run before we ate.
Planned: 6 miles   Actual: 4.25 miles (8:50/mile pace)
Getting excited at the PTRR Expo. Only 10k I know with a huge expo.
Thursday: Peachtree Road Race eve! Spent sometime getting my flair ready for the big day. It is essential for the block party like atmosphere of the race. This year is the 45th running of the PTRR and my 5th year (2013 PTRR Recap). I decided to take the day off, otherwise I would have 5 straight training days. To be honest, I felt rather overtired this week so I chose to pay extra attention to rest.
Planned: 5 miles   Actual: Rest
Just a bit of my flair before the race.
Friday: Peachtree Road Race! Mother Nature was extremely kind to us this year for the PTRR and the weather was perfect: in the 60s with a light breeze and minimal ATL... in July. With corrals starting as late as 9am, the PTRR is known as an annual insane sweatfest, but not this year! To be honest, I was a little bummed the race was only a 10k. Why can't this happen on 20 miler days? Full recap coming soon.
Planned: 6.2 miles   Actual: 6.2 miles plus several miles of walking.

Saturday: Woke up to find that Mother Nature was still being sweet to us. I quickly tied on my shoes and set out for my long run. The weather even felt so good that I tacked on a few extra miles just because.
Planned: 10 miles  Actual: 13.5 miles (9:03/mile pace)
Those silly kids down at Emory put soap in the fountains again.
Sunday: Recovery run day.
Planned: 6 miles   Actual: 6 miles (8:48/mile pace)

How was your week?  Did you do anything special for the 4th?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

June Recap

Miles: 147.45 (pretty obvious what my goal might be for July)

Hospital Hill Run Half Marathon

Estes Park Half Marathon
Yes, I basically wore the same outfit in these two races.  Thanks for noticing. :P

Highpoint: I really enjoyed both of my races this month, so it's hard to pick a highpoint.  I pick both.

Side note of the month: I qualified for the Pikes Peak Ascent with my Estes Park Half time.  Now that is all I can think about.  I'm trying to convince the Jayhawk that it's another great excuse to go to Colorado.  Any ideas of how I can talk him into it? My time is good for both the 2014 or 2015 race.

Not so highpoint: Hmm, it was a good month. This is a hard one. Maybe slogging through my 16 miler a few weeks ago. It just wasn't fun.

Fun read: This is a killer dream list of ultraruns from Outside magazine. I would love to do basically all of them.  My top pick would probably be the Rim to Rim to Rim would because it's been on my radar for years. The Jayhawk went with the Kalalau Trail because it's his ultimate. What would be your pick from the list?

What I'm looking forward to in July: The Peachtree Road Race and Troop Trot 39k (i.e. the longest trail race I've ever run and I'm kind of nervous about it and oh, what if there are snakes on the course!).  Should be a fun month.

How was your June?  Anything fun coming up in July?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Estes Park Half Marathon Recap

Estes Park Half Marathon, Estes Park, Colorado
Field: ~1000 in all races (Full, Half, 10k, 5k, marathon relay)
Spectators: Minimal, but they were very enthusiastic. The course wasn't closed, so some people drove around the course to cheer on their runners. I pretended they were my fans.  The Jayhawk ran off to the National Park for a quick visit while I was running.
Start/Finish: Start and finish at the High School.
Course: Loop course through the town of Estes Park with beautiful views of the mountains, lake, and animals.
Schwag: Tech Shirt and finish line party.  I didn't stay for the party because I needed to get to work on time.
Other: The town of Estes Park is at 7500+ feet above sea-level. The scenery is stunning, but the air is thin.
All smiles at the start because look where I get to run!
As soon as I found out I was heading to Colorado for work, I began checking to see if there was a race I could fit into my schedule. As luck would have it, the Estes Park Marathon was scheduled for that weekend and was only about an hour from where I was staying. As an added bonus, the race started at 6:20AM and allowed race day bib pickup, so I easily could make it back in time for the rest of my work day.
We pulled into Estes Park just as the sun was rising.
If you are not familiar with Estes Park, it's a small town in the front range, situated at the eastern entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park. It's mountainous, full of wild animals, and just all around picturesque. It is also home to the Stanley Hotel, where fellow Mainer Steven King wrote the Shining and where the movie was filmed. (Note: We didn't stay there.)
The Stanley up on the hill (cloudy because it was after the race).
It's fair to say I was pretty damn excited to get to run here. I was also a bit nervous. The town of Estes Park is at 7500+ feet above sea level and I only arrived in Colorado about 15 hours before the starting gun, so I really didn't have any time to adjust. Taking this into account, I set the goal of a long training run for the race. Just soak in the scenery and enjoy the cool weather.  I did make sure to take my hydration very seriously on Saturday and even had to miss out on some excellent craft beer until after the race was over. Oh, and my workday was over.
Ah, mountains.
I decided to run with my handheld just in case. The dry mountain air is known for causing dehydration and I didn't want to get myself into any sort of medical situation. Lucky for me the temps were very cool (low50s) compared to Atlanta, so there was really no threat of overheating.
It actually started snowing in the mountains of Rocky Mountain National Park during the race.
The Jayhawk saw a bunch of Elk while he visited the National Park. 
The race is small but in that awesome small town way. Bib pickup occurs race morning in the High school cafeteria, meaning you have a warm place to wait and real toilets to use.  Yes, it was cool enough on race morning that warmth was a consideration. Pre-race it was maybe 50 and it felt so good.
The half marathon course takes you through part of downtown Estes followed by some nice residential neighborhoods before a slow steady climb for miles 3-7 up to the fields on the edge of town (the town is small, so you quickly get to the edge of it).  I wasn't big on the slow gradual uphill climb (my lungs did notice it!), but when we turned left just after mile 7, we saw this and all was forgiven.
Just your typical half marathon course.
Really wasn't in a rush to get off this part of the course.
This doesn't look like Atlanta.
For the remainder of the race we stared at the mountains as the course rolled back to town.  We did have a bit of a headwind on the backside as a storm was blowing in off the mountains, but it didn't stop my enjoyment. At mile 11 we ran right through drive way of the Stanley Hotel, and then dropped down to the circle the lake for the last two miles.
Still smiling post race. Might be from lack of oxygen.
Overall, I loved this race. The course is stunning, challenging, and worth every step. I smiled the entire race (though that make have been due to lack of oxygen) and loved the small town feel about it. The aid stations are well stocked with water, Gatorade, and a large variety of snacks.  If you are looking for a course with amazing scenery or an excuse to visit Colorado, this one is perfect.
2:06 even! How often that does happen?!
Finish: 2:06:00 (9:37/mile pace)

Have you ever run a race on vacation? Do you pick races for the scenic course?
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