Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 year in review

My races for the year:

Jan 1- Savage 7 marathon, 2nd female finisher

Jan 19 - Clearwater marathon

Feb 1 - groundhog jog - 5K, masters winner!

Feb 7-8 Ragnar Fl Keys

Feb 22-23 Gasparilla races - 15k, 5K, half marathon, 8K

March 1 Springfest 7.5m

March 16 - 50K, 2nd overall female!

April 5 - Mote Turtle Run 5K

April 12 - Shark's Tooth 10K

April 19 - Boston Strong Run 5.2m, 2nd in age group

May 10 - Run for the Music 5K, 1st place age group

June 22 - Mammoth Lakes Half Marathon, 50th half!

June 28 - Half marathon, new pr!

July 4 - Firecracker 5K

July 12- Moon Over Croom 14miler

July 19 - Englewood Triathlon

Sept 13 - Life's A Beach tri

Sept 26 - Boca Lupa 5K, 1st in age group

Oct 11 - SUP 5k race

Oct 25- Boo Run 5K, 3rd in age group

Oct 26 - Bill's Beer Run 5 miler, New PR!

Nov 9 - Ft Myers Marathon

Nov 22 - Harvest Hustle 5K

Nov 30 - Space Coast Marathon, New PR!

Dec 13 - Hillsborogh River Half

Dec 19 Jingle 5K, New PR!

Dec 27 Manatee River Run 5 Miler

Manatee River Run 5 miler

December 27, 20014

Last race of the year! I signed up for this race very early (notice the #10 on my bib!), as soon as I saw the cute long sleeved hoodie that we got. I've run this race a few times, but it's been a couple of years. My back was really hurting in the days leading up to the race. It was very locked up. I wasn't sure I was going to be able to run! But, I wanted to finish it, not matter what. Even if I walked the whole thing.

Gina and I got to the race site pretty early. The race starts pretty late, 9am. We sat in her car for a while, before heading down to the race start area, just under a mile down the road. Nice little warmup walk. We watched the last kids race, chatted with some people, then finally got lined up at the start.

We head east on the main road through Emmerson Point Park. About half a mile or so down the road, we turn left, onto the first trail loop. It's very crowded on this trail, good for two runners across. Since it's so early in the race, the trail is very congested. One guy almost runs me off the trail! We exit the trail, cross the main road near the start, then run a loop on the trail that is on the other side of the main road. The runners have spread out a bit more here, so I don't have to worry about shoving. Thankfully, this train is pretty smooth, not many roots to watch out for, but I still keep my eyes on the ground in front of me. Around mile 2.5, we exit the trail, turning right onto the main road. We run this all the way down to the end, which hits the Gulf of Mexico, before heading back. I've felt pretty good for the first couple of miles, but by mile 2, my back was getting stiffer. I just pushed through as best as I could. Finally, I see the last turn. The finish line is just ahead. I see that the time is 41 and change. I push as hard as I can to get in under 42 minutes. I finish in 42:05, just missing it.

Overall, happy with my last race of the year. Looking forward to lots of running in 2015!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Jingle 5K

Lakewood Ranch, FL
December 19, 2014

This is my second year running this race. I don't normally like evening races, but this was my PR last year, and, the final race of a 3 part series, so I definitely wanted to run this race. My legs were feeling sore, from the tough workouts this week, so I really wasn't expecting much. I figured I would go out and try my best, but wouldn't be surprised with a slower finish. I wore a cute elf long sleeved shirt. I hardly every wear long sleeves. It's got to be in the 40s for me to wear sleeves, yet I went for it tonight, even though the temp was in the low 60s. Yeah, long sleeved cotton is not a great choice in running shirts! Gina and I met up in the parking lot, then walked over to the party area near the start. It was a mad house. Around 1500 people signed up to run this race! 3 corrals, with the first corral being for finishers under 28 minutes. Gina, Donna and I got lined up with the first corral and got ready to go.

The course was super crowded, even starting close to the start line. We run out and then take a right. The course is pretty much exactly the same as the Boo Run course, we just start at a different section of the main road, so we turn around further down. About a quarter of a mile down, It feels like my shoe lace is untied. Sure enough, it is. Rookie mistake!! I briefly consider letting it go, and running with it loose, but I am way to clumsy to do that, so, I pull to the side, bend down and tie and knot it. I probably only loose about 10 seconds or so. Gina has passed me during my little shoe tie break, so I try my best to catch up with her. Probably go a little to fast trying to catch up, but, what the heck, I'm not expecting much from this race. I am surprised to see my mile 1 split, Not bad considering the stop. The road is very dark in spots. There is one section that is completely black. I made sure I was picking my feet up, not dragging. I didn't want to trip over something I couldn't see. Finally, we get to the turn around spot. It's a tight turn. We are now on our way back, on the other side of the road. It's nice to see all the people behind me. :) I grab a drink of water at the water stop, slowing briefly so I don't pour it all over my face. By mile two, I do feel a little slow down. I pass Mike, say something like "Why are you letting me pass you". I guess I was a little motivator, because he passes me knot long after the comment! :) As I get closer to the finish area, I start to push my pace. Just before the left turn, that takes us to the finish line, some teenager, jumps off the curb to my left, dashing across the road RIGHT in front of me! That was a close call. I might have let a curse word fly in his direction. ;) That provided a nice surge of adrenaline for the final push. I finish strong.

I was really happy with my finish time. I had no idea until I got home, that it was a PR time! Super excited about that. :)

Splits - 7:46, 7:42, 7:51, 0:22
Finish: 23:43; 4th out of 112 in age group

Friday, December 19, 2014

Hillsborough River Half Marathon

Hillsborough River Trail half marathon, December 13, 2014

Gina, Carolyn, Wendy and I headed up to the Tampa area around 6 am race morning. We got to the race site, picked up our bags and then waited in the car until we needed to head to the start. It was a cold morning! Temp was low 40s. We all were trying to decide if we needed to wear a top layer or not. About 10 minutes to race start, we got out of the warm car and walked down the road to the start line. I found Brenda and Vanessa there. Got a quick photo, while we listened to the course directions. Just before we got started, the lead marathoners (who had started about 10 minutes before us) came running through. We had a little loop at the start of the race, before heading out to the trail. One runner had brought her dog. He/she wasn't on a leash and for some reason decided to run across the road, right in front of the lead female runner, tripping her! She recovered quickly, smiled and waved and continued on. We all gave her a big cheer. We then got lined up and got ready to go.

Giant puddle covering the road.
I lost Gina and Carolyn right away, even though it was a small group of runners. The dog and it's owner came up on the left side of me, then cut across and stopped. The woman was yelling at the dog, telling him to stop acting crazy. Not sure why the dog was allowed to run the race, specially without a leash! As we finished off the first little loop, the dog stopped, squatted and pooped on the road! I pulled ahead of them and thankfully didn't encounter these two again on the course. Hope they didn't trip up anyone else. Just before mile one, we made the turn to the right, off the paved road. I drop my zip up hoodie here, as I'm starting to warm up. We soon encountered the large puddle, that covered the entire dirt road. There was one little area to get around it, but it was pretty muddy. I managed to get though without getting my feet wet. The course changed from wide dirt road, to hard packed dirt road and then to single track trial, with lots of roots. This section wasn't very long. Less than two miles maybe. My favorite part of the run, even though it slows me down a bit because I've got to change my gait to avoid tripping. One guy, who had been running behind me for a while and was breathing very heavy, passed me and then soon tripped on a root! I made sure he was of, before continuing on. Slightly happy to not have his crazy breathing behind me anymore. :) The next section of the trail is high grass trail. My least favorite section. Not much traction on my older Hoka shoes I was wearing. Finally we hit an aid station, made the turn to the right to start the second loop, back on the dirt road. Splits for miles 1 through 7 - 9:00, 8:29, 8:50, 9:04, 8:55, 9:15, 9:08

Hard packed dirt road.
Started to slow down during the second loop. My hips were feeling pretty tight. I knew it was going to be a tough run just two weeks after Space Coast Marathon. Plus, I ran a total of 20 miles already during the week, so no kind of taper leading up to this run. My only goal was to try and beat last year's time of 2:05. By the time I hit the single track trail section, I was feeling pretty stiff, but kept up running. This section is right next to the river, but I can't really enjoy the view, because I'm afraid to take my eyes off of the trail in front of me! I don't want to fall and get hurt. As I hit the grassy trail section, which is full sun, it is finally warm enough to push down the arm sleeves I'm wearing. I plod away, finally reaching the aid station. I get to turn left this time, heading back to the main road. I manage to make my way through the big puddle again, without getting my feet wet. When I his the main road, I pick up some speed. We do get off the paved road, toward the end, running the trail next to the river again, up to the finish line. Splits for miles 8 through 13.1 - 9:11, 9:28, 10:04, 10:24, 9:44, 9:37, 1:01
Finish - 2:02 (three minutes faster than last year!)

Half marathon finishers medal

Before leaving, we enjoy a nice hot breakfast in the restaurant of the park. It's free for runners. They had pancakes, eggs, sausage, fruit, coffee and orange juice.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Space Coast Marathon

Finally, it is Space Coast Marathon weekend! I've been training all summer for this. This has been my highest mileage marathon training. I had many high 40 and low 50 mile weeks. My goal time was 4:10 - 4:15. I believed it to be doable. My previous best time was 4:22:04. Even though I'd been sick and was dealing with some hip/piriformis pain, I still had high hopes for this goal race.

Carolyn and I drove over Saturday morning, getting to the expo mid-day. What a packed mad house! I thought there might be more room, since they moved the location this year, but it wasn't any better. It was hard to move around. I'm so bummed that I missed seeing Bart Yasso! He was sitting in one of the booths, but because there was so many people, I didn't even see him. :( After the expo, we checked into our hotel, did some shopping at the surf shops, then met friends for an early dinner. I had a yummy gluten free white pizza with grilled chicken. We got back to the hotel early, got our gear layed out, watched tv, then turned in early. We had a 4 am alarm set.

Carolyn, Jackie and me.

Race morning: Carolyn and I were out the door by 4:30. We made it to the parking lot, near the finish line, in good time. There were still plenty of parking spots left, but that didn't last long! We had a long wait, but it was worth it to not have to search for a parking spot. Just before 6, we made our way over to the start area to find Jackie and Emma. The half marathon started a half hour before the marathon. We got a photo, wished Jackie luck and then headed back over to the finish area to use the porta potties. Once again, it took me a little while to find the marathon maniac photo spot (moved from where it was the previous year),but I got there just in time to get in the group photo. We then made our way back over to the start line, a couple of short blocks from the finish area. We wished each other luck then went to our pacers. Carolyn was going to run with the 4:20 pacer and I planned to run near the 4:15 pacer. The national anthem was played, then they put a recording of a shuttle launch on the big screen at the start line. The count down started. There was a blast-off and we were off!

The first mile, around the downtown area, is very crowded and has lots of turns. I separated from the pace group, but still had them in sight. We made a left hand turn, to head out of the downtown area, which took us to the road along the water. We would run north on the Indian River Drive, until we turned around at mile 7ish. We had the Indian River on our right and beautiful houses to our left.The road is two lanes and for the early miles, we had it all to ourselves. I ended up pulling ahead of the pace group. My right hip and piriformis was already starting to hurt. I wanted to get some sort of a time buffer early, before I had to slow down do to pain. Around the 5.5 mile mark, the lead runner passed by on our left. Gradually, we started to encounter more and more runners on our left, so I had to keep to the right side of the road. I tried to find the flat sections, which tended to be in the middle of the road. The road is pretty curvy, so by staying in the middle, I wasn't really able to take the tangents, which lead to a longer overall distance. I saw a few people I knew from Sarasota with the fast group, which was pretty cool. The turn around point, was a very nice bike in the middle of the road. I hope nobody knocked over that bike! Miles 1 through 7 - 9:11, 9:00, 9:10, 9:10, 9:09, 9:15, 8:56

On the way back to the start area. Around mile 8.
As I headed back, I had to put my sunglasses on, as we now had the sun in our eyes. I stated seeing more and more runners. I saw the pace group, which was only a minute or so behind me. A few minutes later, I saw Carolyn with her pace group. The course became very congested. Lots and lots of runners out on the road now. There was one section of our lane, that was under water. We had to run single file along the middle yellow line to get around it. While it had been pretty nice out at the start of the run, now, I was feeling pretty warm. I was sweating alot. I tried to make sure I was drinking enough and taking in nutrition when I should. We headed back into the downtown area just before the half way point. Lots of spectators out here, which was awesome. I stopped at a water table just after mile 13. This is where I took my first walk break. Half marathon time: 2:00! Maybe a little fast! Miles 8 through 13 - 8:58, 9:06, 9:18, 9:23, 9:25, 9:22

Once we head out of the downtown area, we are one again running with the river to our left. I try to continue a good pace, but I feel my legs start to stiffen up. And, as you can see from my splits, I start to slow down. One family, has a big spread of food and drinks (bloody mary's!) out on tables in their front yard. I stop and ask for advil, but, that is the one thing they don't have in their little first aid kit! The heat is really starting to get to me. I start dumping water on my head at every other water stop. We pass the mile 20 marker (for the runners heading back) which lets me know we are getting to the turn around. So happy! There are water tables on both sides of the road. I grab water and start walking, but then talk myself out of it, because I know the turn around is very soon. Just around the corner, we make a sharp u-turn, heading back! Miles 14 through 19 - 9:28, 9:39, 10:19, 9:50, 10:23, 9:48

On the way back, I stop again at a water table. At this one, they have iced cold towels. Oh, that feels wonderful! We turn another corner, now heading north again. There is a wonderful breeze coming off of the water. I have a second wind. I feel stronger, but not for very long. Legs are feeling super stiff. I manage a shuffle/run until I reach water stations, then I take a walking break, before resuming my shuffle. I notice another runner sitting on the side of the road. He has a couple of people with him, checking on him already. He is the third runner I've seen down. The heat was rough on everyone. As I get closer to the finish area, more and more people are out cheering. Bart Yasso is out on the road, yelling encouraging words to the runners. He says "Looking good Marathon Maniac!" I yell back, "Thanks, Bart Yasso!" :) Since I ran this last year, I am more prepared for the weird way we finish. We leave the main road, hop onto the sidewalk, then run this before entering the park. Run along a sidewalk in the park before crossing the finish line. Miles 20 through 26.4 - 11:14, 10:58, 11:50, 10:27, 11:31, 11:04, 10:45, 3:53

Finish time: 4:20:43. Even with the slow shuffle and extra .2 in distance, I manage a 1 min 21 second PR! It's not the sub 4:15 time I wanted, but I'll get there. Maybe next year in Chicago? :)

Holly, Me and Carolyn after the race.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Ft Myers Marathon

November 9, 2014
Ft Myers, FL

What a great summer of training. I followed a more aggressive training plan over the summer. Many weeks of high 40 and low 50 mile training weeks. Finally, it's the weekend to put all that training into practice. I eagerly checked on the weather forcast in the days leading up to the race. Every time I checked, the morning low showed low 60s and rain. Not good. In the back of my mind, I knew this could turn into a training run, since I have Space Coast Marathon in 3 weeks.
Gina and I headed down to Ft Myers early Saturday afternoon. It was only a 1.5 hour trip, we could have driven the morning of the race, but a friend said we could stay with her Saturday night, so why not get down there and sleep a little later in the morning. We got to the race expo, after a little detour around the downtown area. Not much of an expo. There were some booths set up in the parking lot and then 4 booths in the event room of the host restaurant. We were in and out in about 15 minutes. We had time, so we wondered around the local mall before heading to my friends house. We hung out for a bit before heading to Outback to meet Darlene, Carolyn, Ariana and Wendy for our pre race dinner. After a great dinner, it was back to the house and then to bed early. Race morning, we were out the door before 6am. Quick stop at Starbucks for a coffee and then on to the race site. We got there earlier enough to get a great spot a block from the starting line. We got all our gear ready, then headed over to the restaurant to meet everyone. A big group was here from Sarasota! After lots of pre race photos, we headed outside, where thankfully it wasn't raining, and waited for the race to start.

Running over the first bridge.
Carolyn, Gina, Darlene, Ariana and I all started off together. We had run most of our long training runs together, so we figured we would stick together for at least part of the race. I felt pretty good right from the get go. The rain started within a mile of the start. Thankfully, it was pretty light, so not an issue. The half marathoners and marathon runners all started together. We had a two lane road to use, so it was never over crowded. There was a strange turn around, early, for just the marathoners. So when we turned, we were able to see some our friends who were behind us. After a couple of miles, I was finding it hard to hold back my pace. I told Gina I wanted to run a little faster. I pulled ahead of the group, but figured they were not far behind. Mile 2 is also the start of the first bridge. We take the Caloosahatchee Bridge over the Caloosahatchee River. This is a 4 lane bridge, with one of the two northern lanes closed for the runners. Just a line of cones holding the cars away from runners. I stay to the right. I don't trust drivers in this rain. Because it's still early, there are not many cars out yet. We run along Cleveland Ave for a couple of miles, before turning right. We are on this road for about half a mile, before we turn left on Tamiami Trail. At this corner is a sign saying "first lap, left. Second lap, left. Third lap, right." What?!? A half a milish down the road, we turn right. At the end of this road is a water stop. We turn right at the end of this road turn left, taking us back to Cleveland Ave, were we head back to that sign for the second loop. Along this stretch. I catch up with a guy (Joe) who has on a Bill's Beer Run shirt. We start talking. He is from Sarasota too! We end up running a mile or so together before he pulls ahead while we are on Tamiami Trail again. As I head into that water stop, I see Joe ahead, running straight on the road past the water station, instead of turning right. I stop and ask one of the volunteers, which way I'm supposed to go. The girl says to go straight. Signs would have been helpful!! I make the left turn back onto Cleveland Ave, make the left on to the other road, then finally turn right on Tamiami trail, instead of running another loop. What a depressing area we have been running in so far. Cleveland Ave was OK, but Tamiami Trail had a lot of closed businesses or run down buildings. Not much to look at around here. Just before mile 11, we make our way over the other bridge. We make a right onto the road that runs along the water. Just after mile 12, we turn to the left, while the half marathoners head straight, on their way to the finish.
Splits for miles 1 through 12 - 9:37, 9:33, 9:00, 9:18, 9:16, 9:22, 9:07, 9:18, 9:19, 9:05, 9:09, 9:13

I go over the map in my mind, thinking we should be running on this side of the river for a while. This does not happen. We make a right turn, starting the climb up the Caloosahatchee Bridge again! This was not on the race course map! This is not good. I make my way over the bridge, hoping that we don't have to run that strange 2 loop course again. We do make a right turn on the same road as before, but stay to the southern side of the road. No double loop! We get to the end of this road and make another right turn on Tamiami Trail, heading back to that second bridge. This explains the 16 mile marker sign I saw on the bridge earlier. This will be bridge crossing #4. Just before getting to the bridge, I see runners on the other side of the road, heading off the bridge. This really shocks me, because now I realize we will have to cross this bridge again. Twice, because we will need to get back over to get to the finish line. I was not prepared for 6 bridge crossings! As I make my way down the bridge, my legs are already starting to feel sore. At the bottom of the bridge, we make a left turn and then a short while later, make another left, to head back up the 3rd bridge. Bottom of the bridge is mile 17. As I am slowly making my way up, I hear a couple of women talking behind me. One sounds like Gina. I turn my head and sure enough, it's her! She yells out that she is trying to catch up. I tell her, she will have no problem! She does catch me at some point on the down hill. My legs are really cramping and my bladder (which has been giving me problems for a couple of hours now) is full. I need a porta pottie! Gina and I run together for a few minutes, before I tell her not to slow down for me. I tell her to go on with out me. She is having an awesome race. I feel happy for her! We make a right turn off Tamiami into a neighborhood. Just before mile 19, I see a water stop and a porta pottie. Thankfully, there is no one inside. I try to make it quick, but with the stop there and then water, a banana and walking after the stop, I add a minute and a half to the pace I had been keeping up to this point. :(
Splits for miles 13 through 19 - 9:35, 9:30, 9:40, 9:33, 9:55, 9:53, 11:34

One of the 3 bridges we crossed.

I thought the stop and little bit of walking and stretching might help give me a boost for the last 10K, but this did not happen. If anything, I started to feel more tight and stiff. My running really slowed. I needed to take more walking breaks. We ran two big loops through this neighborhood, before heading back to the main road. On my second loop, I caught up with Darlene. Her fiance was on his bike giving her water. She wasn't have such a great race. We shared a few words, before I continued my slow run. Finally, I was heading back to the bridge, for my last crossing. I was not feeling good, and head to tell myself over and over to not stop, keep running until the uphill portion. I managed to get through the flat part of the bridge, before walking up the hill part. Slow run down, my quads were on fire!, and then a turn to the right. At the water stop here, I suddenly feel very light headed. I drink down my water and continue on, with hopes I will be ok. Another right turn took us to the base of the second bridge. Thankfully, we made a left turn here. No more bridge crossings! Back along the road bordering the river. Finally, I can see the finish line. It is very far away, almost a mile, but it is there. I tell myself that I can no longer walk. I look at my watch, to see that I have a very small window to still pull off a PR, but it would only be by seconds, not by 5-7 minutes I had been hoping for. I try to pick up the pace a little, finishing with a grimace and not the smile I always try to finish with. Gina and Wendy are there at the finish to great me. We grab some water and food, before heading into the Restaurants meeting room.
Splits for miles 20 through 26.2 - 11:07, 10:16, 12:24, 10:26, 13:28, 10:29, 3:08
Finish: 4:22:08

So, in the end, no PR for me today. I was off of my best time by 5 seconds! I know I am a much stronger and faster runner, than I was earlier this year when I ran my best marathon time, so I plan on recovering this week and getting that PR at Space Coast at the end of the month! :)

Download of the course from my Garmin.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Double race weekend

Boo Run 5K and Bill's Beer Run
October 25-26, 2014

I don't normally like to run two races in one weekend, but I really wanted to run Boo Run this year, so I decided a couple of months ago to go ahead and sign up for it. It's part of a 3 race seriers, so I needed to get it in. Plus, I had heard it was a great race. Of course I had to run the Manasota Track Clubs biggest race of the year on Sunday. Bill's Beer run brings out almost all of the local runners. It's a great race and fun party after.

Boo Run: I wasn't able to pick up my packet ahead of time, so I got out to Lakewood Ranch an hour and a half before race start. There is a Starbucks in the Main Street shops area, so I stopped in there, before walking over to get my packet and timing chip. Headed back to the car to finish getting ready and to stay warm. Temps in the low 60s. Thankfully, cooler Fall weather has made it to Florida! After getting a text message from Gina, we meet up and then head over to the race area. We hang out a bit, talking to people we know, before leaving our keys and extra clothing at the Fit2Run table. Since I've been so tight for the first mile or so of my runs lately, I decide to go out for a slow warm up mile about 15 minutes before race start. The easy paced mile feels good. I get back to the start area as they are playing the national anthem. I manage to find Gina in the crowd and moments later it is go time!

I head out fast. I figure I'm going to give it my all today, so that I can take it easier tomorrow. Normally, I'm kind of conservative the first mile or so, but I decide to push it right from the start. The course is out and back. Completely flat. I felt pretty good through mile one, but did slow it down a little. I knew Gina was behind me, so I just tried to stay ahead of her. I figured if I was ahead of her, I must be doing well, since she is always kicking my bootie in these races! I pass the water stop without getting any water. I can make 3 miles without it. Stopping just slows me down. I haven't mastered the grab and drink yet. I always spill it all over or the water goes up my nose! By the last mile, I can feel myself slowing a little, but looking at my Garmin, I am still under an 8 min mile pace, so I am happy. We make the last turn and I can see the finish line down the road. I start pushing it hard. I feel my stomach start to give me troubles. This may be the first time I throw up at the finish! I cross the finish line, so happy to see that I made it in under 24 minutes!

Gina comes in soon after me. We get food and drink and then hang out until results are posted. We both place in the top 3 of our age group! Gina gets 2nd and I get 3rd. So happy! We hang out Donna and her friend until awards are presented. Donna is suprised to hear her name called for Grand master winner. We each get a Tervis mug with the race logo inside. Such a great race. Excited for day two tomorrow.

Finish - 23:54
Splits - 7:28, 7:38, 7:53, 0:47

Gina, Donna and me.

Bill's Beer Run, 5 miler, Casey Key, FL

Once again, I headed down to the race venue, early. The parking lot is smallish for the amount of runners, so I wanted to make sure I got a spot. I parked in the southern part of the lot, with a great view of the water and the sun rise. I hung out in my car for a bit, before Gina arrived. We hung out for a little longer, before hitting the bathrooms and walking over to find friends. Once again, I lost Gina, and had to search for her in the started area. :) I decided not to do a warm up run this morning. I didn't have any big goals, since I had a great race the day before. I figured I would just try to keep last years pace, which I though was around a 40 min finish.

This is a much larger race, than the previous day's event. We were tightly packed for a little longer this morning, but after half a mile or so, the crowd thinned out. Gina and I were near each other for the first half mile, but then I lost her. Wasn't sure if she was ahead or behind. I felt pretty good keeping a comfortably hard pace, but not pushing it. The course runs down Casey Key, which is lined with beautiful houses. There are a few open spots on the Gulf side, were we get a view of the beach and water. Before reaching the half way point, I am seeing lots of the speedy runners passing by on my left, heading back to the finish line. I love this race because I see so many familiar faces. I love calling out to everyone, shouting a "Hi" or calling someones name. I hit the turn around and head back. I see more friends, more shouting and waving. This is the best part of the race! Soon enough, there are no more runners to see on the otherside of the road, and it is time to put focus back on my pace. My left hamstring is starting to tighten up. It worries me a little. I'm only a couple of weeks from marathon weekend. I don't want an injury! I slow it down a little, but try to keep it around an 8 min mile pace. I grab a cup of water during the 4th mile, walking for a few seconds (which you can see with my slower split time). I try to keep pace with the runners who have been around me for a while and as I get close to the finish, I pick up the pace, trying to pass a few. Turning the corner towards the finish line, I manage to pass one more guy before finishing!

Super happy with my finish time again today! I didn't realize until I got home, and looked at last year's time, that I managed another PR! Took over 40 seconds off of my time from last year. Placed 8th in my age group. Very proud of that, This is a fast group of runners!

Finish- 40:06
Splits - 7:53, 7:55, 7:58, 8:11, 7:55

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Mammoth Half marathon

June 22, 2014, Mammoth Lakes, CA

For my 50th half marathon, I wanted to find a race that would be challenging, yet have a great course. I picked a good one, as Mammoth Half Marathon fit both those wish list items. Aidan and I flew into San Francisco on the Thursday before the race. My mom met us near baggage pickup and waited with us while we searched in vain for our suitcase. Once again (second year in a row!), the airline had misplaced out checked luggage. Thankfully, I had packed my running shoes and race gear in my carryon. Otherwise, I would have been super upset! We filled out the necessary paper-work and then headed out. I knew getting our bag this year would be a pain, as we were not going directly to my mom’s house, but going to Mammoth Lakes, 5.5 hours away, first. We left the airport, stopped a couple of hours later for lunch, and then at a Target to pick up a change of clothing and supplies, before continuing on our journey. A couple of wrong turns and a total of 8 hours later, we finally pulled into the parking lot of the condo in Mammoth Lakes.  Friday, we spent a fun day at Mammoth Mountain, walking the trails and enjoying the beautiful scenery. Saturday, I met up with Kathy at the expo. We met Deena Kastor, who was going to lead the 1:45 pace group during the race Sunday. This was my goal pace! I was really excited, even though I wasn’t sure how the very high (9,000 feet) altitude would affect me. Deena talked race strategy and said the altitude might not affect me. Kathy and I hung out for a bit, before I headed back to the condo. Later, Aidan and my mom and I went for a drive up the mountain to where the race would start. Beautiful!

Kathy, Deena Kastor and Me!

Race Morning: I got up at 5 am, after a ressless night of sleep. I headed over to the starbucks for a cup of coffee, before going back to the condo. The shuttle from one of the host hotels, was 2 blocks from the condo we were staying at. This was also the location of the finish line, so Aidan and my mom could walk down and see me finish. I headed over to the shuttle at 6 am, waited in line for a bit, before catching the next shuttle which took us to the start. The start area was at a lake, about 8 miles from the finish. I found a small group of half fanatics by the lake, so wandered over to get a photo with them. I then found Kathy, near the porta-potties, after a photo, we headed over to the checked bag area. They were giving us mylar blankets to use, once we checked out bags. This was a great thing, because it was pretty cold up there at 9000 feet! I had on a tank top, skirt and gloves. I didn’t wear my arm sleeves because the weather channel said the temp was low 50s, and I knew I wouldn’t need them once I started running. Well, it must have been cooler higher in the mountain, because I could have used them! About 5 minutes before race start, I said goodbye to Kathy, before getting into corral one. I could see Deena off to the side, outside the corral. I wasn’t sure what she was going to do for the race, maybe head in right before the start? I didn’t see a sign with her. Most pace leaders hold a sign showing what pace they will be running. The announcer made some statements, the national anthem was sung and then Deena walked to the front of the corral, right before the gun went off!
Miles 1-3: Right away, I tried to pick up speed, so that I could catch up to Deena. But I could tell, that the altitude was going to hurt. It was really hard to keep a fast pace, right from the start. About a mile in, I finally caught up to Deena and her small group of runners. I stayed with them for only a few minutes before backing down and trying to catch my breath. My lungs were hurting! And, my heart felt like it was going to burst from my chest. Just before mile 2, there was a steepish hill. Normally, this early on, I would have pushed up it with no problem. Today, I had to walk! I could not catch my breath. I knew then, that this was really not going to be the race I wanted. We ran a loop around the lake, before heading back to the main road. I knew once we got to the downhill section, I had a chance of making up some time. Splits – 8:27, 9:39, 9:23

Deena Kastor, on the right, leading the 1:45 pace group.

Miles 4-7: Once I started the long run downhill, I felt stronger. I was able to breath better. Not sure why, but it just felt easier. I was running faster and faster during this stretch. At the mile 6 water stop, I tossed off my gloves, because I was finally starting to feel warmer. Up to this point, my lower lip and left side of my face were numb from the cold. Of to the right, we had a great few of the city of Mammoth below us and the tall, snow peaked mountain range. We reached the bottom of the hill, which was at the edge of the town. We turned right, where the road flattened out. Right away, I started to have a hard time with my breathing again. Just before mile 7, we hit a steep uphill. A couple of medical/first aid volunteer runners stop and walk with me, asking if I’m OK. I have a hard time talking, even while walking, but tell them I’m ok, just trying to catch my breath. They ask me if I need any water or food, but I tell them I’m fine and the continue on. Since I am walking, I figure it’s a good time to take a GU. It’s my first one of the race. Normally I take one every 5 miles, but my stomach wasn’t really up to eating anything until now. At the top of the hill (mile 7) I start running again. Splits – 7:49, 8:09, 7:57, 9:33

Miles 8-10: We turn into a golfing neighborhood. We follow a road for a little while, before making a u-turn and running along the sidewalk next to the road. We weave through the development and then join the Town Loop, which is a paved running/biking trail that I had discovered near our condo a couple of days before. We stay on this for a bit, before getting back onto the streets. We are now running on a rolling uphill/downhill course. I run the downhills when I get a chance, but I have to walk the uphills, even though we are at a lower elevation, around 7500-8000 feet. It’s still not sea level! We pass a fire station, that is spraying water into the air for the runners. The sun is out and it’s probably pretty warm for a lot of runners, but for me, I am still kind of cold! My lip and left side of my lower face is still numb. I run to the far right side of the water, so I don’t get wet. We come up to mile 10, where we can see the start line for the 5K. All those runners have left by now, of course. Splits – 12:27, 10:23, 9:17

Mile 11-13.17: We enter the Town Loop pathway again. This is familiar, since it is the same area I walked a couple of days before. Lots of small up and downhills still. A lot of people are walking them, so it makes it easier for me to do it too. I glance at my watch and realize there is no way I am going to make it in under 2 hours. Kind of disappointed about it, but decide there is nothing I can do. This isn’t a mental thing that I can push through. I can’t help the fact that I can’t breath! The last mile is tough. It’s all pretty much uphill. It’s not steep, but I still have not been able to get my breathing under control. I do a run/walk thing for the last mile. Once I turn the corner and see the finish line, I tell myself to start running at the beginning of the finish line shoot. That’s what I do. I hear the announcer say my name and where I’m from, which motivates me to finish strong and with a smile on my face. I raise my arms in the air as I cross the finish line. Splits – 10:36, 11:25, 13:44, 2:09 
Finish - 2:11

After I finished, I walked around a little bit looking for Aidan and my mom. Since it took me a lot longer to finish, they were not there, but back at the condo getting everything packed up. We had to be out by 10 am! I finished at 9:41. Thankfully I was close to the condo. I got back with 10 minutes left to wash my face, clean up a bit and change my clothing. I stretched a little before getting in the car, but not enough. Of course, my compression pants, that I had planned on wearing on the long drive to my mom's house, were in the suitcase that was still M.I.A.

Overall, I would recommend this race. Just don't plan on a PR! It's a beautiful course, lots of water stops, great set up at start and finish line. Very nice finisher medal. Long sleeved shirt and drawstring backpack given at packed pickup.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Citrus Trail 50K

March 16, 2014
Inverness, FL

This is the weekend I've been waiting for/dreading for a while. My second 50K run. I did not get in the training that I should have. My longest run was a road marathon in January. I'd only got out on the local trails a few times, the longest distance was 12 miles! Plus, a couple of people had told me it was a hilly race. I did 6-8 hill repeats out at celery fields a couple of times, but that was not even close to what was going to be out there on the trail for this race.

I drove up to The Inverness area Saturday afternoon. After driving out to the race area to pick up my shirt and race bib, I stopped at the local Publix, to pick up dinner, then headed to my hotel. There were few hotel options just off the interstate, so I went with the one that looked the best online, a Days Inn. My room seemed clean at first glance, but then I noticed the stains on the beadspread, floor and sofa. Yuck. I kept my flip flops on and tried not to put much on the bed itself. After eating and watching some TV, I turned in for the night, taking that nasty beadspread off completely and making due with sheets. I didn't sleep very well. I kept dreaming that I was late for the race! Finally, at 5:30, I got up, got dressed, packed up everything, filled my little cooler with Ice and then headed out. A quick stop across the street to the big gas station mart for coffee and I was on my way. I big, full moon helped to light my way to the race venue. I am glad I went out the day before, so I knew where to look for the turn off the main road. I had to make a few stops at the porta pottie, (note to self, do not eat baked lays the night before a race. They do a number on the stomach!) before heading back to the car to finish getting everything ready. I took my drop bag over to the bin and then listened to the race instructions given by Kip. We all gathered at the start line and then we were off!

First loop is the yellow path.

We headed down the dirt road, following Kip on his bike. We turned left and then a bit further down the road we took a right onto the trail. We are all pretty close for the next few miles. I had my music going, but decided to turn it off, save the battery, and just enjoy the company of runners while I had it. We pass the "Smile Zone" where there is a photographer set up and then we are on to the first aid station. I had water with me, so I ran past without stopping. Now, the hills start. We go up and down a few times before we cross State Road 44. Just before the crossing, I see the bones of a large animal. A fully intact rib cage, plus lots of various bones. Yuck! I've seen a couple of runners heading back already, but as we get closer to the aid station, more and more pass. As I get to the aid station, I grab a water, and head out quickly. By my count, I am 5th female runner, with number 6, pretty close behind. That's pretty cool, but I'm not to concerned with where I'm placed. Runners are spreading out a bit more now. The guy I had been running behind for a couple of miles, dropped back at one point, so I was on my own for a little. I got up to the main junction, where there were a ton of signs, (thanks Kip!) and turned right. I am now on the main circle of the course.

First time running by the photographer.

The next miles are hilly. Well, the whole rest of the course is very hilly, with minor sections of flat parts. But, the trail itself, is nicely packed down, with little to no roots. The kind of trail I love to run on! We did have some great shade early on. The first couple of hours were cool with temps (probably) still in the low 60s. I was happy to see aid station B, as I was pretty close to being out of water. One water bottle has been leaking the entire time, making the left side of my skirt very wet! I re-filled my bottles, deciding to hold the leaky one for a while. It seemed to hold the water better when it wasn't in the waist belt. I pass one woman and then another during this section. Now, by my calculations, I am third female! This feels pretty cool, and motivates me a lot. I figure I have a chance at an age group award. In these type of races, it's a 10 year age group, with just first place getting an award.

The second loop is much longer.

Still feeling good at aid station C!
As I finish the first loop, I see a few guys standing at the signs showing where to go for first and second loop and the finish. One guy looks at me and I say "we aren't done yet! One more loop." So we turn slightly to the left and keep going. I chat with one of the guys for a little while before I leave him at aid station A. I probably should have stopped and topped off my bottles, because it ended up being a long stretch with no water break. We have just a short out and back, before heading back out on the main loop. For the next few miles, I have one guy just ahead of me and then 2 other guys catch up and hang out behind me. It's nice to have some company. Finally we see the sign that has us turning to the right, instead of the left (first loop), We are now on new ground and the hills are still plentiful. We all pretty much pull into Aid station C about the same time. I eagerly pull out my drop bag, getting my banana, small bag of turkey jerky and a dry wash cloth. I fill up my bottles, drink some gatorade, snap a few photos and then head out ahead of the guys. I've now run about 19 miles. I'm still feeling pretty good. I have been walking most of the hills and I think this has helped. I pass one woman soon, but I don't remember her from before, so I figure she is running the marathon, which started after the 50K did. Pretty soon, the guys come up behind me and pass me. It's the last I see of them until the finish. I am now on my own.

Aid station C at around mile 19
The most memorable part of the next section is the run through a large area of burned out park land. Not sure if it was controlled burn or caused by someone, but it wasn't so great to run through. The wind was getting pretty brisk, so the ash was blowing around a lot. I hadn't had to wear my sunglasses up to this point, but now I was happy that I had them. They helped to keep the dust of the ash out of my eyes. This seemed like a super long stretch, but according to the map, was just under 6 miles. I was very happy to get to the aid station D. I filled up my bottles again, ate another half a banana and chatted with the volunteer a little. He looked at his clip board and told me I was 4th female. Hmm, I thought I was 3rd, but figured I'd probably counted wrong. It was no big deal, I was more concerned with finishing at a faster time than last years 50K. I thanked him for helping out and then headed out. These last miles where rough for me. I was starting to feel stiff, hot and tired. I pulled my phone out to snap a photo of my time at 26.2, which was faster than the trail marathon last year, when I saw a text from my friend Gina. She asked how I was doing and I told her how I was feeling. I snapped a photo of my watch and then a photo of a guy who came out of now where and passed me. That's the thing about trails, you can feel all alone and then all of a sudden, there is another runner! To bad I couldn't run at his speed.

Mile 26.2. This is the last person I see until mile 30.
I keep on going, more of a run/walk thing going on now. This is a major mental game. I need to learn some key phrases to keep me going, cause I have a hard time pushing through the mental breakdown late in a race like this. Even though I filled both bottles and should have had plenty for 5.5 miles, I was drinking more than normal and was pretty much out for almost a mile. I hit the last aid station, feeling very thirsty. One of the volunteers took my bottles and filled them for me as I drank a couple of small cups of gatorade. I must have looked a bit dazed, because the volunteer asked me a couple of times if I was OK. I assured her I was going to make it. Not much left to go! I grabbed a small piece of watermelon (yummy!) before heading back out.

Lots of tall weeds on the trail, which were annoying to run through. My feet were not being lifted as high as they were in the beginning, so I was hitting all those weeds with my feet. I knew I didn't have much to go (2.5 miles) before getting to the sign pointing us to the right and to the finish, so I tried to push all doubts out (not easy) and just keep going. I checked my phone at some point during this time and see a text from Gina. She tells me "Hang in there!!! U got this!!! U can do it! Stay strong!!" That was the best thing to see at this point! What a boost. I'm not much of a crier, but I felt like I was going to start crying right then! Finally, finally!, I see the sign pointing us to the right. I have never been so happy to see a sign and once again, I feel like crying. I know that I have just under a mile to the finish line! I can get through a mile, no problem! Just a little after I pass the sign, I hear someone come up behind me. I move over to the right a bit and look over my shoulder. It's a woman passing me! She is running strong and fast. I have no idea if she is in the 50K or marathon, so I just keep doing my own thing. Finally, I make the left turn off of the trail. A short while later, I make a right turn, running down the dirt road to the finish. I see some people up ahead cheering, so I try to pick up my pace a little. I make the turn to the right and then quickly to the left and run it in under the finish sign. Done! And, with about a 50 minute PR! Woot, Woot!! :)
Time: 6:03:59

Finishing my second 50K with a smile and a PR!
I get my finisher medal and finishers hat, grab some cold soda and a water and then hang out for a little, watching other runners finish. I had a long drive ahead of me, so I didn't stay long. I got some photos and then changed in the back seat of my car. I grab my protein drink and then hit the road.

A couple of days later, I find out that I came in second overall female runner! The woman who passed me with less than a mile to go, won! I guess that there had only been two women ahead of me (like I thought) and both pulled out of the race. If I had know I was in first, I would have pushed harder! I guess I should always push harder and try my best. :) Very happy with my 2nd place and 1st place age group. :)

Monday, March 17, 2014

SpringFest 12K

March 1, 2014, Sarasota

Heading into the finish.
One week post Gasparilla, I wasn't sure how I was going to feel for this race, but I got out there and tried my best. It was a beautiful morning for a race. Temps in the low 50s. I hung out with friends before the race got started, then headed over to the start area, were I crammed myself into the large group of runners. The national anthem was played and we were off!

I got a good start, out from the big pack, but after a few minutes, slowed my pace a little. The first part of the race winds through a couple of neighborhoods, before we turn onto the Legacy Trail. Just after making the turn to on the trail, I noticed my shoe is untied. Really! I take the 10-20 seconds to tie my shoe, before getting back into my run. Still feeling pretty good.

As we run the last mile or so, back through the neighborhood, I start to feel the fatigue from all the races the previous weekend. I push through, picking up the speed as we run down the road leading to the finish. As we take a right, I step up the curb and run the last bit in on the grass to the finish.

Very happy with my finish and time. I placed 3rd in my age group, which was awesome!

7.56 miles - Splits: 7:52, 7:57, 8:04, 8:06, 8:21, 8:20, 8:06,
Finish: 1:01:12

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Gasparilla Distance Classic

Michelob Ultra Challenge - 2 Days - 30.4 miles
February 22-23, 2014

Day one - 15K and 5K: Carolyn and I stayed the night in Tampa Friday, which allowed us to get a good night of sleep and then walk to the convention center and start line Saturday morning. It was great! I had worked at the expo until 8 p.m. Friday, so staying the night seemed like a good idea. So happy I used my American Express points to get a room at the Westin.

Me and Carolyn before the 15K start.
We found the start line, after asking a few people, but we were not allowed to get in at the front, like we had been told we could do. So, we had to walk down the street, pretty far, got into the corral, and then made our way forward. We didn't have long to wait before we heard the national anthem and we were off!

My plan for the 15K was to try and run a pace close to what I want to run for my half marathon in June. So, I started off with a pretty fast pace, but slowed down as we ran over the bridge, about a quarter of a mile in. The race announcer had told us the grating was wet and slippery. I didn't want to take any chances of falling so early in the race! Once we got to the other side of the bridge, we turned left and then headed out along Bayshore Blvd. We would see a lot of this road in the two days of racing! Despite the heat, I felt pretty good for the first few miles. There were a lot of people race, but I tried not to weave in and out of runners. I loved seeing the race leaders heading back on the other side of the road. I yelled out to Matt when I saw him pass and then yelled out to J.B., when I saw her go by. Both looked strong and speedy! At the end of Bayshore, we make a right turn onto W. Gandy Blvd, but only run on this road for a block or two, before making a u-turn and heading back.
Miles 1 through 5 - 8:16, 8:10, 8:13, 8:18, 8:22

I start to see a lot more people I know now. Chris is not to far ahead of me. But I know I will not catch him. He is to fast! I miss seeing Carolyn, but I do spot Darlene. My pace is slowing down a bit. A little slower than my goal pace, but I am fine with it. I knew it would be hard to keep in this humidity! I push the pace, but not too hard, as I know I have a lot of running ahead of me still. As I head towards the finish, this younger woman, to my left, takes a peek at me and speeds up. I keep on her heels and then I'm right next to her again. She notices me and picks up the pace even more. I gun it too, and we finish side by side. I congratulate her on a strong finish, telling her it's fun to have someone push you at the end. :)
Miles 6 through 9 - 8:36, 8:34, 8:33, 8:17
Overall pace - 8:18
Finish time - 1:18:59

5K race: After the 15K, we had about a half hour to get some food, water and make our way to the start line of the 5K. It was the same start as the previous race, so we knew were to go. :) We were able to get in at the front of the coral, which was awesome! They had the front portion seperated from all of the rest of the 9 am start group, so we went to the back of the front section, to let all the really speedy people have a clear start. Just before we started, they took down the barrier and we quickly became packed in. Thankfully, this didn't last long. After the national anthem, we were off!

Once again, we ran over that slippery bridge, so I took it easy, then picked up speed on the down hill. The course was the same as the 15K, we just turned around earlier. This race was very tightly packed. People were pushing and shoving to get through, thankfully, it wasn't too big of a problem for me, but I hear it was pretty rough a little further back in the pack. I made the turn around and could then see how bad it was behind me. There was a center divider in the road, but some people had run across it and were running on my side of the road! My first mile was the fastest, but I couldn't keep if for long. I did keep a pretty decent pace and overall, I was really happy with my finish.
Miles 1 through 3 - 7:56, 8:11, 8:23. Overall pace- 8:06
Finish - 25:47

Day 2: Half marathon and 8K race.

I was not so fortunate to be able to stay in Tampa Saturday night, so I got up super early Sunday and then headed up with Carolyn, Darlene and Gina. We got there around 5am, an hour before race start. This was good, as it gave us time to get to the bathrooms, check a bag and get prepared. About 5:40, we started the walk over to the start. It was a few blocks from the convention center, but didn't take to long to get there. We made our way up through the large group of people, to get as close to the start as we could, which wasn't very close! We had a short wait, before we heard the national anthem and then we were off!

The first couple of miles were tough. The course was very tightly packed for that long. It was hard to move around and get past the slower runners. We run a large loop around Davis Island. I loose Gina somewhere around mile 4. During mile 4, a woman wearing a crazy costume with a lot of items clanging together, runs up behind me and hangs out for a while. I listened to that for almost a mile before I had to pick up the pace to leave her behind. I thought I was going to go crazy listening to that racket!
Miles 1 through 5 - 9:02, 8:36, 8:42, 8:47, 8:58

Feeling pretty strong for the half.
We leave Davis Island at the 5 mile mark. As we run down the bridge, and enter Bayshore Blvd, we encounter lots of great crowd support. I am feeling pretty good here. We get a nice breeze off the water, and since we have 2 lanes, plus a bike lane, the runners are able to spread out. While running on the right side of the road, I see a little girl start to run across the street, dragging her big dog behind her. Her dad and another child stay on the right side and he says nothing to her! She almost makes it across the road without hitting someone. One older lady, running on the far left, doesn't see the girl and dog coming. She has to stop short in order to keep from running into the dog. I catch up to her later, and ask her how she is doing. She had been limping. Se said she hurt her leg a bit, but was more angry than anything.
Miles 6 through 9 - 8:56, 9:06, 9:08, 9:14

Just after mile 9.5, we get to the turnaround, and start making our way back to the finish. I see Carolyn and Gina on the otherside of the road soon after the turn. Not long after seeing them, I see Darlene and wave to her. The 2 hour pacer catches up to me. She has a large group with her, I decide I will run with her for a while, since I was pretty close to a 2 hour finish pace. I ran with them for a brief time and then fell back. He pace was 8:40! Way to fast. Maybe she was trying to make up time for slower early miles. The last few miles were a little tough. The heat was really getting to me, but I tried to keep a good pace up. I was so surprised to see the clock showing 2 hours! I looked at my watch as I crossed the finish line, finishing under 2 hours with just a couple of seconds to spare! :)
Miles 10 through 13 - 9:09, 9:03, 9:04, 8:56
Overall pace - 8:55
Finish - 1:59:58

New outfit for the 8K.
8K race: After the half marathon was over, I had about an hour before the start of this last race. I met up with Carolyn, Gina and Darlene, got a quick photo, then the three of us left Gina in the food line and headed to the bag check. I changed my outfit, because I was so sweaty. It felt great to get into dry clothes, but it wasn't easy getting that skirt, with the compression shorts on sweaty thighs! We hung out for a while, then met the ladies from my fit2run training group. They were all excited to get their race underway. We all walked over to the start area together. We got as close to the start area as we could, which wasn't very close. I guess we could have gone to the front and entered that way again, but I wanted to stay with Judy, who was one of the ladies I had trained for this race. We had a short wait and then we were off!

I had a good first couple of miles, but I knew right away, this was not going to be a speedy run. It was so hot and humid! This was, by far, the toughest of the four races. I don't have much to say about the course, it was the fourth time running out and back on Bayshore Blvd! I just tried to keep as fast as a pace as I could and ran it in. I was so happy to be done!
Miles 1 through 5: 8:55, 9:04, 9:11, 9:31, 9:34
Overall pace - 9:11
Finish - 47:01

Monday, February 24, 2014

YMCA Ground Hog Jog 5K

February 1, 2014
Lakewood Ranch

I decided early in the week leading up to the race to run it, even though I was still recovering from my last marathon. I got a comp entry, so why not? :)

That's me on the front line, next to J.B.

Me, Jen, J.B. and Gina
There was a smallish turnout for this race. The usual speedy people were not here, so I had a good shot at an age group placement! There were a lot of younger kids lining up near the front of the start line, so I went ahead and got right in front. I don't usually do this, but I didn't want to trip over any kids when they decided to just stop running about a quarter of a mile in! Once we got going, I soon realized the folly of starting at the front, I was running way to fast! I slowed down a little, to get my breath back. Gina passed me, so I dug in and caught up to here. We had a long stretch of road leading from the YMCA, to a new housing development. We turned right into the development, then followed the road around and through it. Very strange to be running through the neighborhood with only a few houses actually built. We had one small out and back section. I was able to see Gina, who was now behind me, and also see that I had a good lead on anyone looking to be close to my age. I felt pretty good the first two miles, but definalty felt myself slow down a little in that last mile. I did manage to pick up some speed again on that last straight, leading to the finish. No PR, but I did manage to get Overall Female Masters Winner!

Finish - 24:44

Monday, January 20, 2014

Clearwater Marathon

January 19, 2014
Marathon #17

Me and Carolyn before the race. Bridge 1 of 6 is behind us.
After missing last year's race, which was a return of the marathon after years of construction delaying the return, I was very happy to be running this morning! Donna, Carolyn and I arrived about an hour before race start. We got our timing chips, then went back to the car to keep warm. Temps were in the mid 40s. Carolyn tries to start the car, but discovers the battery has died! It's something we decided to deal with after the race. We leave the car just before 6:30, to get to the spot of the planned Maniac photo. Only a few people are there and they all plan the early start, so we take a few photos, then walk over to the start area. Donna decides to take an early start too, so we take another photo, before Carolyn and I head back to the porta-potties and then the car. We get our gear together, then head to the start. She gives me her key fob, since we think I will finish before her. I put it in my back skirt pocket with my PowerBar gel blasts. I am loaded down. enduolytes in one short pocket and a gu in the other. More Gu's in the pocket of my iFitness belt. We get another photo of the two of us before getting into the start corral area. The early start group had gone out late, so our start time got pushed to 7:19 from 7:05. I guess they had to start exactly 30 minutes apart for timing purposes. It didn't feel as cool as we thought it would be, I had a feeling I would be tossing my jacket pretty early. We heard the National Anthem and then we were off!

One of the 6 bridges.

Miles 1 through 7 - So, my plan this morning is to try to run for a 4:15 to a 4:20 finish time. I had printed out a 4:15 pace band and figured I would just go for it. Only 2.5 weeks after my last marathon, I wasn't sure how my body was going to handle the speed and distance, but why not try for one more PR before my last marathon of the winter. We start out next to the water, turn to the left, running up a short hill. We turn right and then right again a few blocks later. The bridge is soon in view. I've run this many times before and it wasn't any easier this morning. I am already think that I should have done hill/bridge work in the last couple of months! We hit mile one at the top of the bridge. Even with two uphills, I am ahead of the 9:43 min mile pace! I make good time on the down hill, keeping pace with all of the faster marathoners and half marathoners. I keep looking at my watch, seeing the fast pace and trying to slow down, only to get caught up in the fast pace again! At the water stop next to the beach, I toss my jacket. We head away from the beach and soon hit bridge #2, the Clearwater Pass Bridge, which rises 75 feet. This one is steep. I get up that sucker, and make up any time that I lost, on the down hill. We take a right into Sand Key Park, running a loop through the Park. I see Greg as I am about to leave, so I yell out a hi. We take a right, after leaving the park, heading south on the Island. I soon see Della and her husband on the otherside of the road. The half marathoners have an out and back course. So there are runners on both sides of the road now. I have my eye on the course split, knowing I will be able to control my pace a bit more when there are less runners on the road with me. Just after mile 7, the half marathoners turn and head back. As my splits show, I ran much faster than the 9:43 min mile pace I should have run! Splits - 8:43, 8:19, 8:46, 9:24, 8:39, 9:08, 9:20.

View of part of the course on the island.

Miles 8 through 16 - The next few miles are flat, for which I am thankful! The sun is out shinning on us. I am starting to warm up quick. I roll down my arm sleeves and take off my gloves. I wish I had attached safty pins to them, so that I could have attached them to my waist pack, but I had forgotten. Juli and her friend come up from behind. I say hi to them, before they pass. At the next water stop, I toss my gloves and fill up my water bottle. As we hit mile 13, I look at my watch to see 2:00. Yikes, that's way ahead of pace! A bit further down the road, we make a u-turn and pass another water table, where I see Doug, a local race director. I yell out a "hi" to him, before I keep going. We make a turn to the right, heading over the Park Blvd Bridge, which is only 25 feet. This is the easiest of all the bridges. I soon realize the area looks familiar. I am now running the same course as the Holiday Halfathon, which starts south, in Madera Beach. I am happy I didn't just run this race in December. I'm not a fan of the many miles on the Pinellas Trail. We turn right into a neighborhood and then a few blocks later, we turn left onto Oakhurst Road. Lots of great houses on this road. I still have some minutes in the bank ahead of my 4:15 pace chart. Splits - 9:31, 9:31, 9:27, 9:33, 9:36, 9:40, 9:36, 9:29, 9:42

Miles 17 through 20 - Finally, we make our way into the park that attaches to the Pinellas trail. I refill my water at the water stop and head on down the road. I know the first bridge will be soon. When I hit the first pedestrian bridge, I figure I will do my best to get up it, but walk if I have too. Thankfully, I make it up the bridge and over, with no problem, but I am definitely feeling slower. The next few miles I slow a little, getting water at the aid stations. I am feeling pretty warm and my legs are starting to tighten up. Time at mile 20 -  3:09. pace band time for mile 20 is 3:13. Splits - 9:50, 10:26, 10:09, 10:14

Finishing with a smile. :)
Miles 21 through 26.2 - This is were the race goes down hill for me. First, I loose the signal on my Polar GPS watch. WTF! I keep looking at it, hoping that it will pop back up, but it doesn't. At least I still have my overall time, but I needed that min mile pace to keep me on track! Now, I just go by feel, which is slower and slower. I start walking through the water stops. It is a struggle to start running again. I walk both of the next two pedestrian over passes, and struggle to run down the other side. My legs are feeling so stiff! Just after mile 23, we exit the Trail, running now on a road that is sectioned off for us, but still has cars driving past. I had made the mistake of taking an orange slice at two different water stations earlier. They tasted so good, but by mile 24, my stomach is not liking them so much. A very kind volunteer at the mile 24 stop lets me have one of her bananas, after I spot them on the ground and ask for one. It's just what I have been craving! I eat half of that and manage to start running again. Carolyn passes me soon after. She is looking strong and fast! She is on course for a PR! I try to keep her in my sights, but she pulls even further ahead of me as I get close to mile 25. We are now in a nicely shaded neighborhood. I take a drink at the next water stop and then try to keep running, but only make it a few blocks, before taking a walk break. After a couple of blocks of walking, I tell myself that I have less than a mile, I can run it in! So, I start my slow shuffle again. We make our way out of the neighborhood, make a left on the main road and head up the first bridge again. Thankfully, we don't go very far, before we make a turn onto the pedestrian downhill, spiral walkway, that will take us to the waterfront park. I hit the bottom and try to pick up the pace. I see the mile 26 sign, and try to pick up my pace even more. I see two women ahead of me, and decide to try and catch them. As we get closer to the finish, I pass one woman and then the other, before crossing the finish line. Doing the math, It took me an 1:18 to run 6.2 miles! :(
Finish - 4:27:20

Even though I am really disappointed with the last 6 miles of this race, I am happy that I managed to keep my finish in under 4:30. This is my second fastest marathon. I am pretty happy with it. I am thinking that in the future, I may need a little more recovery time between marathons if I want to push the pace that much. I've also figured out, that once I start walking, I stiffen up. It's happened before. If I keep running, I tend to stay looser. It's a big mental game late in the race. I need to not listen to that voice in my head telling me to stop! :)

Me, Donna and Carolyn after the race. PR for Carolyn!