Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Rock N Roll Nashville Country Marathon 2014 Race Recap

Well hellooooo blog land!!  I doubt anyone checks this blog anymore, but one of my best friends has requested a race recap and an attempt to resurrect this blog.  So, I'm going to give it a go....

On April 26th I toed the start line of my first full marathon.  I can only imagine that at some point on this blog I mentioned being completely uninterested in EVER running a full marathon (come to find out - EVERYONE says that it seems).  To quote one of my favorite movies (Varsity Blues...don't judge), "things change, Mox." Ok, let's go back....you (H) may be wondering how I came to the decision to tackle 26.2 miles...

In May of 2013, after a ton of training, I FINALLY ran a sub-2 hour half marathon.  This has been a goal of mine since my first half marathon in 2011.  Once I ran a 1:59:xx and felt GOOD afterward - I decided it was time to step it up a notch and run a full marathon.  Many of my running friends had run their own marathons or had plans to soon...so it was my turn, I guess.  On national running day last year - I signed up for the Nashville Country Music Marathon.  I was equally terrified and excited.  Unfortunately, I had tuck away all of those emotions because the race wasn't for another 10 months.  I had lots of time to feel all of the feelings.

Fast forward to the end of December when training (finally) started.  The only bumps I encountered in training was the weather.  We had one hell of a winter.  Lots of snow.  Lots of ice.  And lots of cold ass temperatures.  It wasn't ideal, for sure, but I suppose it could have been worse.  Thankfully, I had a training partner (Jenny) so I didn't have to log all the long miles in snow, ice, wind, and freezing temps by myself.  Aside from some really trying conditions as far as the weather goes - our training went really well.  I can't even describe how much I enjoyed the training.  I thought I wasn't one for structure, but training for the sub-2 half last may and then the full over the winter made me think otherwise...errrrm because (spoiler alert) following a true training plan actually WORKS.

So after 18 weeks of training it was time to rock it out.  I flew to Nashville on Friday and met up with some of my favorite ladies in the world.  Many of my friends were running the half...and for the majority of them - it was their first. We were all a big ball of nerves.  A few of us hit up the expo together that afternoon...which was a total mad house so we didn't spend a ton of time there.  Friday night we kept it low key and just brought in pizza to the hotel.  Pizza is typically my dinner the night before a race so this worked out well.

After food, laughs, and pictures it was time for me to find my way to my Jenny's room so we could discuss our plans for the morning.  You know you're in crazy marathon mode when you get a call from said training partner and she says. "when you stop by my room I'm probably going to have you write inspirational things on my legs and arms."  Uhhhh, WUT? Hahaha.  I talked her out of writing too much on herself with sharpie mostly because I thought it would rub off by morning.  We both wrote a couple of things on our hands and then I wrote one of her favorite quotes on her forearm.  My hand said "work bitch" and something else on the insides of a couple of fingers.  I can't remember what it said so obviously it didn't help much. Ha.  After we planned out where we would meet, fine tuned our race day outfits, discussed fueling, and wrote on ourselves I made my way to my hotel room to lay out my race day stuff and go to bed.

Sidenote: no one tells you that when you are about to run a marathon that there's a good chance that you're going to get all kinds of love and support from friends and family.  Leading up to Nashville I got cards in the mail, tank tops from friends, other gifts from friends, tons of text messages, lots of phone calls, and encouraging facebook posts.  It was seriously awesome and I was completely blown away by it all.

Back to the race recap:
Saturday morning my alarm went off at 4:30 which is outrageous, but then I remembered that I run at 5:30 a couple of days a week so it wasn't that early.  Surprisingly I slept pretty well the night before except for a trip to the bathroom around 2 or 3 in the morning.  My roommates weren't running the race so I had all of my race day gear in the bathroom so I could shut the door and not bother them.  Thankfully, I've done many races at this point so getting ready for a race is a breeze for me.  I definitely have a set routine so that makes it easy on me.  After getting ready I met up with some friends in their room so we could head down to the shuttle bus that would take us to the start.  Our original plan was to catch the 5:45 bus (or somewhere around that time), but at the last minute they decided to take a later shuttle of 6:15ish.  I didn't think much of this and just used the extra time to foam roll, eat, and hydrate.

Another sidenote: one of my good friends, Katie, took a moment in the hotel room to pray for/with me which made me cry like a big dork.  Sharing that moment with her was one of my favorites of the day...she'll make another "appearance" later for another super special moment of the marathon.  And a sidenote to that sidenote: Katie ran her first half marathon that day and totally rocked it.  Talk about a proud moment for me to hear about that.

Ok, so, the plan was to hit the 6:15 shuttle.  We get down to the line and it's SUPER long.  Thankfully it moved pretty quickly so it didn't take too long to get on the shuttle.  We met a woman in front of us in line who is actually from St. Louis.  She had run a couple of marathons prior to Nasvhille so it was night to get some words of wisdom from her.  We get on the shuttle where we continue to eat and hydrate.  Oddly enough, my nerves were never out of control like that typically are for races.  I have a severe case of race-brain all.the.time...except for this time.  I was very calm and level headed.  It was a nice change of pace.  Things got a little nerve-wracking when traffic getting to the race was super crazy so we were constantly checking the time to see if we were even going to make it on time.  I kept reminding myself that this is a wave start and my particular corral wouldn't start for a good 30 minutes after the first wave.  That didn't completely ease my  mind, but it helped.  My biggest concern at that point was finding Jenny (my training partner).  When we finally made it to the drop-off point it was about 10 minutes before the race started.  Thankfully I heard from Jenny who was already in our corral and ended up being at a really easy place for me to jump in with her.

That's it for part one.  An attempt at a detailed (actual) race recap is in the works....

Monday, May 28, 2012

Head for the cure 2012 race recap

The head for the cure is an organization that races money for a cause that is very close to my family.  They raise money for brain cancer research.  Justin's uncle passed away from a glioblastoma a few years ago. 

This is the 3rd time that head for the cure has held a race in Columbia.  We ran it last year and again this year.  I hope for this to be an annual thing for my family..and hopefully we can recruit more and more people to our "team."

This year it was Justin's aunt, his cousin, my mother-in-law, myself, 2 "cousins", a family friend (whose sister also passed away from brain cancer), and a couple of people from our running group.  Most of us had matching shirts from last year's race.  The course took us a little through downtown and a little through campus and back. 

Since I achieved my goal of a sub 25 5k last year during the Jingle Bell 5k, I made it my goal to run a sub 24 for 2012.  So, I met my goal at my very last race of 2011 (mid December).  I figured I would probably be looking at a similar time frame for 2012.  I have been in contact (via FB) with a doctor that my mother-in-law works with.  He was actually my husband's uncle's oncologist who has been a family friend for years.  Side note: he was also my grandmother's oncologist probably 15 years ago when she went through a battle with colon cancer.

Anyway, him and I have talked back and forth about running.  He gives me tips from time to time, but nothing really serious.  In 2011 my MIL had mentioned to him that he should pace me for a sub 25 5k since the year was winding down and I had not reached that goal yet.  So, since that was already on the table I figured I would shoot the idea to him to pace me at this race for a sub 24.  I knew it would be a good race for him to be involved with and I would love to get a big PR and sub 24 running for that cause.  The Monday before the race I sent him a FB message telling him what I wanted to run for that race and asked if he wanted to pace me.  Luckily, he said yes.

North Run Crew (some of us, anyway)
Race morning came and I was having some weird pain in my right hip.  It made me worry about how things would play out with trying to PR this race.  We met up with some people from my Tues/Thurs running group (North Run Crew/NRC) and some family/friends who were walking for the cause.  I stretched, gabbed, and before I knew it was time to line up to start the race.

We ended up lining up with just one line of runners in front of us.  This was a first for me.  I usually line up with 5-10 lines of runners in front of me.  I loved not having to weave in and out of people.  And it was strange because there were not many people
passing me.  At that point I thought to myself, "I belong right here."  It was a strange feeling, really.

At one point within the first half mile I glanced down at my garmin and saw 6:42 as my pace.  Holy cow!  I knew there was no way I could hang onto that.  But, we were about to make the climb up one of the many hills of this course so I knew my pace would slow down for that.  Just before heading up that hill a girl passed me.  I didn't think much of it and just started to climb.

After that hill we turned a corner and it was a nice down hill.  I opened up my stride and just glided down that.  We passed a restaurant on the corner that had a wonderful aroma of breakfast foods.  I remember passing it last year and seriously considered stopping.  Ha.

Just past the restaurant we were going up another hill and a car was coming down the road towards us.  No big deal except the car didn't even move over...at all.  There was no one in the other lane so he/she had plenty of room.  Rude.  My pacer actually smacked the back of the car just to get their attention, but I doubt that person moved over for any other racers behind us.

Friends/family pre-race
There was on particularly steep climb that I felt my pace really slow down and I was struggling.  I will never forget what my pacer said to me at that moment, "come on girl!  Use your hamstrings and power up this hill."  I thought of him saying that as we went up every hill.  It really was a push that I needed.

We eventually left downtown and did a little bit through campus.  I love running on campus.  It's so pretty..and fairly flat.  :)

We had just under a mile to go and I knew it was time to start picking people off.  The first was a guy probably about my age.  My pacers says to me, "time to pass this guy.  He's burning out and you're just getting started."  I fed off of that positive energy because I definitely didn't feel like I was just get getting started.  I was ready to be done with this 3 mile spring.  I think I picked off 2 other guys before reaching the finish.  There was a girl ahead of me that my pacer really wanted me to catch up to and eventually pass.  I think we probably kicked at about the same time because I never got close.

The race ended with one last uphill and then a nice down hill finish.  I remember looking at my watch trying to do some mental math to see if I could actually get in under 24 minutes.  I think my pacer saw me trying to figure it out and says me to me, "if you want a sub 24 you better pick it up!"  At that point I stopped looking at my watch and just ran as fast as I could...I don't even know what my watch said when I last looked, but my (poor) mental math had me thinking there was no way I could come in under 24.

I turn the corner and begin the last downhill to the finish line.  I see the time on the clock and it says 23:1X.  I couldn't believe it.  Not only was I going to get the sub 24 that I had set out to do, but I was going to crush that goal!

My official time was 24:33.  I was the 2nd overall female and 1st in my age group.  When I told my pacer that I was the 2nd overall female he jokes, "I told you that you had to pass that girl!"  Haha.  I wish I could have.
Rhiannon and I celebrating placing in our divisions

I am extremely appreciative of my pacer.  I am certain I would not have been able to push myself as much as I did with him helping me.  He didn't have a lot to say to me during the race, but when he did - it was very meaningful and helpful.  He told me after the race that I definitely have a 22:XX 5k in me and that he will be happy to pace me whenever I'm ready to give it a shot.  I think he is probably right since just a week before this 5k, I had PR'ed a half marathon by 2 minutes.

Friday, April 27, 2012


I feel like I am currently in pretty decent shape.  I could probably go out and run 13+ miles without much thought.  It may not be quick and it certainly wouldn't be a PR, but I could do it. 

When I do my long runs, I can typically power up the hills.  Well, that "power" comes when I am at a slower pace, for me.  I ran a 5k last weekend that was rather hilly, or so I thought.  I managed to squeak out a 49 second PR (OMG!!), but when I mentioned to my pacer (he will be mentioned in that recap) that I hated those hills he suggested I must be a hill wimp.

Point taken.  I am, most definitely, a hill wimp.  I can rock them if I'm going at a super slow pace.  I can manage if I'm rocking a decent pace.  And, come to find out, I can kick their asses if I'm being paced towards a HUGE 5k PR with someone pushing me.

I just personally feel like I have more to give on hills.  Of course, during a longer distance (ie a half marathon) I am going to slow my pace a bit on hills.  However, that shouldn't be a major decrease in pace as it seems to have been in recent races...thank you garmin connect for showing me my splits, elevation chart, and pace vs that elevation chart.

Starting this past week - I'm doing some hill training.  Basically my training consists of:
1 mile warm up
Easy(ish) pace up a decent hill
Recover down the hill
10k pace up that same hill
Recover down the hill
Another 10k pace up the hill
Recover downhill
Easy(ish) pace up the hill
Recover downhill

My first hill work out was only 2 miles, but I was beat when I was done.  That's tough work.  However, I can't wait to see that hard work pay off on future hills.  I really hope to continue this and have a hill work out once a week.  I plan to mix up the hills so I don't just get used to one particular hill.

 A wise-guy (literally), my 5k PR pacer, told me, " You should do more hills. Don't be scared of them, embrace them. They hurt, they're hard, and they suck, but they also make you faster."  So, I'm taking that to heart.  

Bring it, stupid hills!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Rock the Parkway stats

I thought I would throw out some stats from Rock the Parkway...


Official time:

129/484 in my division  (top 27% in my division)

1476/4019 overall (top 36%)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Rock the Parkway 2012 Race Recap

When I first picked out Rock the Parkway as my next half marathon it seemed SO far away. April 14th really snuck up on me quickly. I couldn't believe it was already race day.

We headed to KC on Friday around noon. Justin was going to the Royal's game so I made the majority of the drive on my own. Once I got to KC I met up with Brandy and Rhiannon (2 girls that I run with often...and that are sort of cousins :)) at the expo.

The expo was pretty small compared to the one in Nashville last year. We grabbed our bibs and shirts and then just walked around to check things out. There weren't many freebies or samples which I remembered from Nashville. I did end up buying a bondi band with the RTP logo on it.

After the expo I went to check into the hotel and just relax. Since Justin was at the game, I had the remainder of the evening to myself. After an hour or two of hanging out and watching TV I went out to run some errands. I needed shot blocks for the race and some other random things from Target (ie lotion, shampoo, etc.). I was about half way through my errands when Justin called and was ready to be picked up. It ended up being good timing because I was getting pretty hungry.

We went to Macaroni Grill for dinner. The last time I was there (a few years ago) I had some kind of asiago cheese sauce that was DELISH so I was really looking forward to it. Imagine the let down when they didn't have that anymore. Womp womp!

Race day gear
Dinner was all right. Whole wheat pasta with meat sauce and broccoli. After dinner we went back to the hotel so I could get to bed at a decent time. I put out all of my race day things so I wouldn't forget anything the next day.

I wasn't too nervous Friday evening so I fell asleep pretty easily.  Unfortunately, so did my husband and he snores like crazy.  So that kept me up a bit throughout the night, but I still think I slept more than I did in Nashville for my first because I was SO nervous for that one.

My alarm clock went off at 5:30am which was no big deal since I have been running at 5:30 a couple times a week anyway.  The race started at 8 and was only about 15 minutes away.  So, I was able to take my time and not have to worry about being late.  I had a couple of pieces of peanut butter toast around 6.  We met in the lobby at 6:45 to head to the start line.  There was some traffic coming down Wornall, but nothing terrible and we found parking pretty quickly.

I wanted to get a quick trip to the porta-potties in before starting, but the lines were ridiculous.  A few of us just stood around talking and BS'ing before the start.  And before we knew it, it was time to line up at the starting corral.

Looking down towards the start
This race didn't put you in a specific corral, it was sort of just on the honor system.  You were to line up near your expected finish time.  I decided to line up behind the 1:55 pacer and in front of the 2:00 pacer.  To get a 1:55 I would need to run an 8:46/mile (something like that) and to run a 2:00 I would need to run at a 9:09/mile pace.  I figured I would fall somewhere in between and be doing all right.

The first mile I started out slow (9:21) and just cruised along on my own.  I had an earbud in, but I didn't turn my music on until mile 7ish.  The first couple of miles I was having a good time.  I was feeding off other runner's energy and loving being back in a longer race situation.  Justin had planned to be around mile 3-4 since this was basically an out and back course that would put him around mile 9 or 10 on the way back.  Perfect.

So the first couple of miles I was really anxious to see Justin.  He wasn't in Nashville, so this was a first for me to have someone I knew along the course (except for my friend Brooke in Nashville, but we totally missed each other).  Unfortunately, Justin didn't make it to that first check point.  He was just a few minutes late (he got to see Brandy and Rhiannon though).  Once he saw them, he tried to hop in his car to drive a few miles ahead and catch back up to me.  Same thing happened...he must have just missed me and instead saw Brandy and Rhiannon again.  Poor guy.  Race spectating is tough stuff.

After a bit of a let down of not seeing Justin like I had hoped, I just dialed it in and hoped that I would see him in a few miles.  I kept a pretty decent pace.  The 1:55 pacer was always just a bit in front of me.  They would walk through the water stations (every 2 miles or so), but I didn't need to since I carried a handheld water bottle.  I would pass them with each water station and let them go by after their break.  It was going great.

Around mile 5 we turned off of Ward Parkway and towards Loose Park.  I definitely enjoyed the break from Ward Parkway.  As pretty as it was...I was OVER being on that street.  Another racer came up to me around the 10k mark and asked what pace we were running because his phone lost GPS and so he had no idea of pace.  I told him we were about a minute and half behind the 1:45 pace group and running about an 8:55 pace.  He told me that this was his first half and his only goal was to come in under 2 hours.  He definitely seemed to be running strong so I'm pretty confident that he got that.  I told him that this was my 2nd half and that I had the same goal.  I told him that my previous time was 2:04 about a year ago.  Soon after that he spotted his wife along the road spectating.  She had a fresh water bottle to trade out an empty one in his fuel belt.  Pretty sweet set up!  We climbed a decent hill after that (so mile 7ish) and he was  few people ahead of me at that point. 

I walked soon after this pic was taken...I'm in the purple shirt.
That hill was very defeating for me.  My pace definitely slowed down and all I could focus on was seeing the 1:55 pace group get farther and farther away.  I began to doubt myself.  All kinds of negative thoughts started entering my head.  I was mad at myself for starting out with too ambitious of a goal (1:55-1:57).  I told myself I should have just stuck with the 2:00 pacers and been happy with a 1:59:59.  This continued on for the next 3-4 miles.  Each hill took more and more out of me.

At one point I thought I was approaching mile 9 when, in fact, I was only approaching mile 8.  That sucked.  I started to feel nauseous and just began to completely crumble.  I took my first walk break up a hill after mile 8.  Ugh.  I shouldn't have had to do that.  And, of course, since I had walked once - I convinced myself to walk again and again.  I think I walked about 4 times total.  Ridiculous.

A ray of light came when I saw Justin around mile 10.  Later I would find out that he saw me around mile 8, but wasn't able to get my attention.  Oh, that's probably because I was beating myself up in my own head.  He was snapping pics as I passed him at mile 10 and all I wanted to do was flip off the camera, but eventually I managed a small smile.  I actually really hammed it up because he would know I was HATING myself because I was over the top happy...he missed that moment with the camera.  Ha.

After seeing Justin I tried to put a little pep in my step because I only had a 5k left to run.  At that point the 2:00 pacers had passed me, but they were still within reach.  As soon as I started thinking positively I was hit with another hill.  I swear those small rollers just kept taking it out of me more and more with each one.  I think I would have preferred a couple of short, steep hills instead at that point.  I think I walked once or twice more between miles 10-12. 

I'm pretty sure I heard 923 people say, "it's all downhill from here!" starting at mile 10.5 or 11.  That was SO wrong.  It was not totally down hill until we hit the 12 mile mark or so.  It was so frustrating hearing that and then BOOM! another flipping hill.  I mean, don't say that unless it's true.  That's like the spectators who have signs or say, "you're almost there" when you are only a couple miles into the race....only worse. 

When I hit mile 12 I tried to give it all I had.  I knew that I was out of reach of a 2:00 finish, but I was still within reach of a PR.  My last mile was in 8:43 so I definitely stepped it up.  I think mile 10 was 10:0X, 11 was 9:4X, and 12 was 10:0X...so jumping to an 8:43 for the last mile was pretty big. 

I FINALLY crossed the finish line in 2:02:54.  I PR of about 2 minutes.  Woohoo...but I was still disappointed.  I didn't get that sub 2 that I really wanted.  I was pissed at myself for being too ambitious and starting closer to the 1:55 pace group.  I wish I would have just stuck with the 2:00 pacers and gotten that 1:59:59...there will be more races to get a 1:55.

I grabbed my metal and a bottle of water and  then went to meet Justin at our meeting spot.  The only thing I could think of when I saw him was, "that fucking sucked!"  He asked why, etc and I was just so mad at myself that I just said, "it just was!!"  I feel really bad now for snapping at him because I was, and still am, very appreciative that he was there for that race.  I was/am appreciative that he did everything he could to try to see me as often as possible.  I have since apologized, but I still feel like an ass.

We walked over to the finishing area so I could cheer on the other ladies I run with as they finished.  Brandy and Rhiannon were both running their first half marathon.  I have to say - seeing them cross that finish line was SO awesome to me.  That meant more to me and was even more cool than getting my own PR.  I have been with them for almost every step along the way and they really have come a LONG way.  When they started, they could barely run 3 miles...and there they were, rocking 13.1.  They have truly been an inspiration to me and kept me motivated to get out of bed at 5am during the week and 6:30 on the weekend for long runs.

Happy to be done!
After the race we grabbed some food, took some pics, and I was stretched out by one of the local physical therapy companies.  As far as the post race food/drink, I can't really comment completely on that.  I stayed at the finish line watching one of our last group members finish in like 3:10 (she has been injured so it was far from a PR for her) and by the time I got up there, a bunch of stuff had been put away.  That was a little disappointing.  I did get some chocolate milk (my FAVORITE post long run) and some Papa Murphy's pizza.  I actually wasn't very hungry at that point...now, 3-4 hours later was a different story.  I was STARVING!
Brandy, me, Rhiannon

I think the biggest thing for me was that running on Ward Parkway for 2/3 of this race was just mentally draining.  I was sick of that scenery.  Beautiful?  Sure, but not for 9-10 miles straight.  Seriously, the last 3 miles were the longest miles EVER.  It was never.flipping.ending.  In fact, one girl looked at me during mile 12 and says, "is this serious??  Where is the finish line?"  So I know it wasn't just me feeling that way.

The crowd support for this race was quite a bit less than Nashville, but I expected that since it's a MUCH smaller race.  I LOVED the crowd support in Nashville...hilarious signs, cow bells, costumes, etc.  But, I LOVED the smaller field of this race.  It was a little crowded, but nothing like how crowded Nashville was.

I think I would do this race again because it was well run, but it may not be my favorite.  I'm still trying to find my favorite.  Haha.

I have another half the weekend of Memorial Day.  It's local (in Columbia) and it's all girls so that's fun.  The course, however, is not fun.  Whoever created the course is just cruel.  Haha.  Luckily, one of the groups I train with has mapped out many long runs along the course so I have had some practice at it.  I don't anticipate that race being another PR (aka no sub 2 on that one), but we'll see.