Thursday, December 14, 2017

My Year of Running 2017

It's that time of year! When we start looking back at all the things we accomplished and start making plans for the year to come. I love this time of year.

Let's reflect back on my running this past year. I'm linking up with Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC for this fun end-of-the-year link-up.


Best race experience

This is an easy one, and not just because I only ran 3 races this year (two of which were virtual). Run Laughlin half marathon was my best race in a long time. Despite some issues the day before and morning of, everything just clicked when the race started. I trained well for the race and came up with a good race day strategy that helped carry me through to a bigger PR than I hoped for. Best of all, I had a blast out there! You can read the full recap here.


Best run

Honestly, there were quite a few runs this year that I thought, THIS! This is my favorite of the year. But, the one that really stands out in my mind is a trail run from back in January. 


It was cold and rainy and windy, but man oh man was it incredibly beautiful.



Best new piece of running gear

Hands down my Garmin 630. We got a great deal on it during Amazon's Prime Day in July and it arrived just in time for my 40th birthday. This watch has been a real game changer for me! Not only for tracking my runs, but also for keeping me just a bit more active throughout the day. I rarely take it off because I love how it lets me know when I've been sitting too long. It's been helpful for incorporating different workouts into my training and really helped me to run my best race during Run Laughlin with various alerts.


Best running advice you've received this year

I'm not sure if it's advice per se, but during Blogfest in July, I attended a seminar on Barefoot Running. Sure, I switched to Altras a few years ago and I've read Born to Run (read my review on GoodReads), but this seminar really got me excited about barefoot/forefoot running. Spoiler alert: My 2018 running goal is to transition to barefoot/forefoot running.


Most inspirational runner

I restarted this blog back in Nov 2016 after a 16-month hiatus. In doing so, I connected with a great group of blogging runners. It's been a fun year connecting and getting to know them. Shout-outs to Wendy from Taking the Long Way Home and Marcia from Marcia's Healthy Slice. Wendy was diagnosed with RA just over a year ago, and her journey over the past year has been very inspiring. Marcia has the best running pics on Instagram.


Favorite picture from a run or race this year

This.


I took a quick second crossing from AZ back into NV during Run Laughlin and was rewarded with this sweet pic. I think it turned out so well and shows just how happy I was to be meeting my goals and crushing this race.


Race experience you would repeat in a heartbeat

I sound like a broken record... but Run Laughlin! The weather was perfect. The scenery was gorgeous. The course was a nice mix of flats and hills. Everything just clicked. If I could bottle up that race experience and use it for every race I ran, it would be marvelous.


If you could sum up your year in a couple of words what would they be?

All over the place.

At the end of January, I decided to run an ultra.
By the end of February, I scrapped that idea because of some knee pain that I didn't want to get worse.
Mar-May averaged less than 30 miles each month.
June was the summer RW Run Streak, so I doubled my mileage with a 60+ month.
Pretty light mileage July-Aug.
The end of Sept brought on half marathon training.
The end of Nov started the winter RW Run Streak.

No major injuries (thank goodness), but just a lot of ups and downs with my running mojo.


Past year's Year of Running posts: 2011, 2013, 2014. 2016
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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Run Laughlin Half Marathon Race Recap

I'm finally starting to come back to normal after my very emotional finish! You may already know that I had the most amazing race on Saturday - pretty much start to finish - and the icing on it all was a shiny, new PR.

I was pretty nervous the day before and the couple hours leading up to the race. Despite having a great plan laid out, I was having some issues that I really thought would derail that plan and prevent me from having the race I so desired.


My recap has to start with the day before the race because it helps set the scene of why I was so nervous about the race, and why I was so emotional at the end.

Friday

Even as I wrote up my Race Day Goals & Strategy, I had a feeling that the worst was likely to happen. Ladies, you know what I'm talking about! I wrote my goals hoping and hoping that my period and corresponding cramps would hold off until Sunday.

They did not. Much to my dismay my period arrived on Friday, which meant the cramps would hit just in time for the race Saturday morning. I kept trying to will them to stay away. Hence, my nerves the night before. I still wanted to have a great race, but I really didn't think it was in the cards.

Kristy, from Runaway Bridal Planner, picked me up to make the drive to Laughlin, NV. We'd never met in person before, but I was excited for a tiny little runcation with my blogging friend. Jeff walked me to her car to say good-bye, and I fretted about not having packed enough ibuprofen. He said to not worry about it and to just buy some more if I needed some. D'uh.

We arrived in Laughlin, checked into our room, dropped off our stuff, and headed to packet pick-up. It's a pretty small race, so there was no expo. It was literally just pick up your bib, pick up your shirt, and grab a small bag with a couple goodies in it.

We were hungry, so we googled "where locals eat" and decided on a restaurant based {almost} solely on pictures of the views of the Colorado river. Nope, not location or pics of the food. LOL The restaurant was a bit out of town, but we got there just as the sun was setting.

The sunset was totally worth the drive!

We each ordered the burger our waitress recommended. It. Was. Greasy! Delicious, but we both kind of worried that it might not have been the wisest of decisions.

After dinner, it was still pretty early, so we walked along the river a bit and then sat and listened to a band before heading back up to the room. While listening to the band, it occurred to me that I forgot a toothbrush. We stopped at a hotel shop and I bought a toothbrush/toothpaste and grabbed some Midol as well. Just in case.

It was still early, but for some reason, I was already exhausted. I was in bed before 9PM. I think.

Here's the thing. Laughlin is right on the Arizona border. Arizona doesn't do Daylight Savings, so they are in a different time zone this time of year. Our phones and watches kept randomly changing times on us! It was both amusing and annoying.

I'd like to say I slept well, but that would just be lying. I tossed. I turned. I got up to go to the bathroom. I fretted about the inevitable cramps. I had this terrible, pain isn't quite the right word, in my diaphragm. It was uncomfortable, but I kept falling back asleep. So, I was getting at least some rest.

Race Morning

Kristy's alarm went off at what her phone thought was 4:15. In reality, it was only 3:15, as confirmed by the clock in the hotel room, which wasn't randomly changing like our phones. We were both glad for the additional hour of sleep. 😌

When I was getting ready to catch the shuttle, I sent Jeff this message:


I was so uncomfortable! I took two Midol, hoping that it would make me feel better so to not completely derail the race.

I wasn't very optimistic on the shuttle to the start.
Nor for the hour+ waiting in the high school gym.


Kristy and Jeff were both very encouraging, though, so I tried to keep an open-mind.

By the time, we were lining up at the start, the Midol had definitely kicked in. The cramps had subsided and the excitement of the race had set in.

The Race

As I crossed the start line, I pushed the RACE screen on my Garmin. I kept glancing down at my watch to check my pace. Around 0.35 miles, I finally noticed that all the other fields were still showing zeros. Yep. I hadn't actually pressed the START button.

I had all kinds of alerts programmed into my Garmin, so I'd know when to change my pace. I decided to still go with those alerts - even though they were a bit off of the official distance.

Mile 1
In the first mile of the race, we ran from one parking lot at the high school to the track and did one lap around the track.


This was probably one of the most complicated parts of the race! Racers were entering and exiting at the same point, so it was a little tricky making sure you didn't bump into anyone.

Miles 1 - 3.5
This was the first uphill climb of the race. It was tough but I was pretty good at sticking to a sub-10'30" pace. There were definitely a few spots that my Garmin was beeping a bit crazily for me to speed up.

The first two aid stations were in these early miles. I skipped them both. I didn't start the race with a full water bottle, but I figured I'd easily be able to make it to the next stop. I was wrong.

Miles 3.5 - 7
This was supposed to be my speediest section. It was a solid, steady downhill. I set my slow alert for a 9'30" pace. I shouldn't have had a problem maintaining that pace, but obviously I kept slowing down because my Garmin kept telling me to go faster. While the views were incredible (when I remembered to look around)...


I think I got a little bored on the downhill. I was also concentrating on not tripping and falling.

I had a gel at 45min. My plan was to take a salt tablet at the same time; however, I was running low on water and wanted to conserve what little I had left. I decided to take the salt at the next aid station, which had to be coming up soon.

Turns out that next aid station wasn't for another mile and a half.

Miles 7-8.5
This was the 2nd uphill climb, but first, the aid station. Yes!

I unscrewed the lid of my handheld as I approached the water stop. I grabbed a cup from a volunteer and dumped it into my handheld. I handed him the empty cup and grabbed the 2nd cup in his hands. He looked at me so confused as to why I was handing him my empty cup! My bottle still wasn't full, so I handed him the 2nd empty cup while grabbing a 3rd cup from the guy next to him. By the time I handed my 3rd empty to the volunteer, he seemed less confused. LOL I still didn't take a salt tablet because I didn't want to waste any more time at the water stop.

Free photo courtesy of Run Laughlin


Since I started my Garmin late, it still thought I had 0.35 miles before hitting the hill. I tried to still speed my way up the hill, but quickly decided it wasn't worth it. I slowed down a bit but still tried to stay close to a 10'15" pace.

Turns out my goal for this section was a 10'25" pace. I was pleased to see that alert pop-up, because this uphill seemed a little relentless.

We crossed over the Davis Dam and into Arizona! And continued the uphill.

Free photo courtesy of Run Laughlin


Finally the turnaround was in sight!

Miles 8.5-10
The uphill was over! It was the final pace reset. 9'45" slow pace. This was when the real fun began. I didn't need to worry about conserving energy. I had run a great race so far and now I could really focus on getting to the finish.


Since this was an out-and-back portion, I wanted to look for Kristy on my way back down the hill. But, I got lost in my music and footsteps until I heard her call out Good Luck to me. I waved and continued on my way. I also waved to a couple Vegas runners I knew as I saw them making their way up the hill.

I was really starting to groove to my music and was having a great time! My head was bopping along and I kind of felt like I was dancing. I may or may not have accidentally sung out loud a few times, but I tried to control myself.

Miles 10-13.1
I was cruising along and fighting back tears. It was really starting to become real. I WAS GOING TO PR! There wasn't really anymore doubt. I felt so STRONG and I was having such a great time!

Free photo courtesy of Run Laughlin
I do not know this jumper, but she was having a great time, too.


I sucked down another gel and actually took a salt tablet this time.

And then Starships by Nicki Minaj came on.



MY FEET WERE FLYING! I couldn't slow down. At the end of the song, I restarted it. Yeah, it was moving me that much.

It was good song after good song right until the finish, though I don't remember what they were.

I do remember thinking, This is the strongest I've ever felt during the last few miles of a half marathon. I kept pushing and trying to build on that momentum.

The course met up with the 10k and 5k racers. Lots of runners commented, You're doing great! All I could do was say Thank you! I probably should have said You, too, but honestly, I was too focused on my own race to comment on anyone else's. Does that make me a bad racer?! 😬

Every time someone said something, it put just a little more pep in my step. It's hard to describe how I was feeling. I was just gliding along, but still pushing it. I was so incredibly happy and proud that I was fighting back tears of joy.

Around mile 12.5, I did start to feel a bit tired, but I was SO close. I kept pushing myself. I saw the 6 mile marker for the 10k and thought only 0.2 miles to go. Then I saw the 3 mile and 13 mile signs for the 5k and Half. I forced myself to lengthen my stride and finish STRONG!

I crossed that finish line with pure determination on my face!! {and a LOT of salt}


Free photo courtesy of Run Laughlin


Post-Race

After getting my medal, I stopped and asked a guy where to get the official results. He pointed me to the tent, and I made a beeline to it - bypassing the tables of water and food. When a laptop freed up, I typed in my bib number and snapped a photo of my results.


I sent a message to Jeff on the way to the restroom.


I had been hoping to squeak out a PR with a 2:10:14 (previous was a 2:10:26), so I was blown away and so, so excited to see my official time!

I washed my face and went back to get some nourishment and free beer. I'm not a beer drinker, so I didn't even drink half of my small cup. It was a bit too bubbly. 😄

Still so emotional, I paced around the finish area trying to control myself. Waffling between smiling and crying. I was a mess inside!

I was hanging around the finish chute to see if I could see Kristy approaching when I overheard a trio of people talking about medals. It took me a minute to realize they were talking TO me! Apparently, they had run out of half marathon medals, and one girl was asking if she could borrow mine to take a picture. Of course, I said yes!

And then, I walked around some more. Trying to decide if I should head back up to the room to shower. I just wasn't ready yet. I couldn't bring myself to leave the finish area. I probably looked like a crazy person - pacing around the finish area, fighting back tears.

Finally, I saw Kristy approaching the finish line. I was doing something on my phone, so I couldn't snap a picture. I met her at the finish and then someone else asked if they could borrow my medal for a picture. I said sure and followed her to where she wanted to take the picture. Then she handed me her phone, Oh you want me to take the picture? LOL I snapped a few and then Kristy and I went to snap a few of our own.

Photo courtesy of Kristy

And that's the story of how I got my PR. A solid plan and a couple of Midol, without either of those, Run Laughlin definitely wouldn't have turned out so well.


After showering and relaxing a bit, Kristy and I did grab some lunch and do a little exploring before heading back to Vegas, but I'll leave that for another post.

I'm linking up today with Erika, Marcia and Patty for Tuesday's on the Run. This week's topic is Favorite Race in 2017, so I guess this post is pretty much perfect. :)

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Run Laughlin Half Marathon Training Week 10

If you follow me on IG, then you already know how this ends. :-)

I had the best half marathon yesterday - and not just because I got that PR was I hoping for. It was a gorgeous course, and I was just having a great time for all of the miles. I'll have a full recap on Tuesday, but first, here's how the final week of training went down.

Run Laughlin Half Marathon Training Recap

Training Recap Week 10: 11/27 - 12/03

Friday, December 1, 2017

November Report Card

Wow! November was such a great month!! I'm totally on track for my 2017 goals. I had some great running with half marathon training. I started the RW Run Streak. One more month of 2017, which seems kind of crazy.

November Report Card

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Run Laughlin Race Day Goals & Strategy

I don't know if it's because of half marathon training, or if it's flown by quickly for everyone, but man, have these past couple months have flown by! I can hardly believe that Run Laughlin is already this Saturday.

If you've been following along, I've been posting my training recaps each Sunday, and I think that's really helped me to stay motivated and on track. This is the first half marathon that I've actually trained for in quite sometime, and I'm proud of how well it's gone.


Time to set some Goals and Strategize for Saturday!

#1 Have fun!


Because otherwise, what is the point? Whether I'm running hard or taking it easy, if I'm not enjoying the race, then that's just not cool.


#2 PR, baby!


Despite Sunday's disappointing run, I'm still going to try for a PR on Saturday. Sure, I didn't do much (read: any) hill training, but I'm going to go into the race confident! It's 90% mental, right?!

Comparing the elevation map from Sunday's run and the one of the race, the hills on race day aren't as steep, so I really think I'll be OK.


That's it! I'm only setting 2 goals for this race. If I don't end up getting a PR, I'll be OK with just having fun. If my strategies start to fall apart, or if I crash into a wall like I did on Sunday, I'll just fall back on my # 1 goal of having fun.

Read on to find out my race day strategies.


Pace Strategy

My previous PR is a 2:10:26 half marathon, which is a 9'57" pace.

Based on the elevation map and crunching some numbers, here's how I plan to break it down:

Mile 1    Set alerts for 10'15" slow and 9'30" fast.
It's a slight downhill, but I still don't want to start off too fast. Plus, it usually takes a bit for my legs to warm-up.

Miles 1-3.5    Set alert for 10'30" slow; turn off the fast alert.
This is the first uphill climb, so I'll slow down a bit to conserve some energy.

Miles 3.5-7    Set alert for 9'30" slow; no fast alert.
This is mostly downhill, so I'll speed up to make up some time lost on the first hill.

Miles 7-8.5    Set alert for 10'25" slow; no fast alert.
This is the 2nd uphill climb. Not as daunting as the first, but also rated a Cat 5 (the least difficult category). By this point in the race, hopefully, I'll be nice a warmed up, so I can conquer this hill a bit easier than the first.

Miles 8.5-Finish    Set alert for 9'45" slow; no fast alert.
There are some uphills sprinkled throughout the last few miles, but I'm hoping they won't be so bad since they are relatively short hills.

I crunched the numbers. 
If I can manage these paces, I'll barely squeak out a PR.
But a PR is a PR, right? Even if it is only a few seconds. 😂


Fuel and Hydration Strategy


I haven't really talked about it much throughout my training, but I'll continue with the same strategy on race day that I've done on all my long runs.

Hydration - I have an alert on my Garmin to drink every half mile. Just a sip or two. I find this really helps avoid sloshing and keeps me hydrated throughout the race. I'll carry my handheld and refill it at water stations as needed. There are 6 along the course, so I should be able to refill adequately.

Fuel - I'm all about the Garmin alerts! My Eat alert goes off every 45 minutes. I'll suck down a gel and swallow a salt tablet. I only started using salt tablets a few weeks ago but have found them helpful in training.

Music Strategy


I'm torn on using music. I usually skip music during a race, but I haven't done a long run without music in quite some time. I think I'll create a playlist just in case and decide on race morning if I want to listen to it while I run.

I feel like I have a pretty good strategy. Probably better than I've ever gone into a race. It feels good.

Who knows exactly what race day will bring, but I'm going to go into it with a positive mind and spirit. And a good plan.

At this point, that's really all I can do.


What kind of goals do you do set for a race?
Do you ever strategize to this extent?
Music or no music?


I'm linking up today with Erika, Marcia and Patty for Tuesday's on the Run.