Thursday, February 28, 2013

Running Connections

When I first started running I ran out of anger.  I was angry that I had lost my brother.  His sudden death did not seem fair, I did not understand and I missed him.  I was angry, and so I ran. 

Running was my punishment.  Trevor was at my house the night of his accident, he was driving my car when he crashed, he died while under my watch.  I had a lot of guilt and so I ran harder and faster to ease the pain.  Running connected me to Trevor, it was a way of purging my emotional pain into physical pain.  It was a release from reality, a time to be with my brother with no distractions, a time to reflect.  It helped me cope.  Running was always there for me, it was consistent, it did not criticize or judge me.  Running saved me.

What I did not realize when I started running is the connections I would make with others through this simple shared passion.  Running will forever connect me to my brother but running has also connected me to so many amazing people along the way.  My trip to Arizona for the IMS Arizona Half marathon was such a great reminder of the people I have been blessed to meet through running.  So many magical moments happened on that trip that I will never forget and it was such a great testifier of faith and confirmation to me that everything happens for a reason.

Running connected me to a women named Jill on my flight out to Phoenix.  We were placed next to each other on the airplane and we shared running in common.  Jill and I ended up talking the entire 90 minute flight and I know we would have talked for hours if we would have had more time.  Our connection started with running but Jill and I shared so much more in common, and the casual conversation became so much deeper.  We had very similar stories of how we started running.  She had suffered the loss of two brothers and pointed something out to me about my brothers death that I had never thought about or fully processed.  It was something I absolutely needed to hear, it was magical, it was so very inspired and being placed next to Jill on that flight was so meant to be.

Running connected me to my good friend Heather who picked me up at the airport, let me stay at her home, and showed me around Phoenix.  Heather is a special person, one of my very best friends, and we connected through running.

Running connected me to Heather's friend Nikki and her adorable family.  Through this shared passion of running Nikki and I hit it off instantly when we ran Napa Valley Ragnar together.  It was so fun to meet her new daughter, reconnect with her and go to dinner with her family the night before the race.

I failed to get a picture of Nikki but I did get a picture of her adorable kids Conner and Emmaline. :)
Running connected me to Emz.  This girl is simply amazing and words cannot even begin to describe how much I admire her.  I have always loved her blog but meeting her in person and having her cheer for me at the race was indescribable.  Another connection made through running that was 100% meant to be.

Running connected me to Michael and Jim.  Two people whose running journey's I've been following for over two years now and have always wanted to connect with in person.  They are both so inspirational to me and truly even more amazing people in person.  It was running that connected us and I am so thankful I had the opportunity to meet them.

As I reflect on my trip to Arizona I of course go back to that euphoric feeling of crossing the finish line and setting a huge half marathon PR.  Revelling in that magical moment was everything I ever dreamed it could be and I never want to forget it or take it for granted.  But what also stands out in my mind are the connections I made. 

I started running as a way to connect with my brother and through time it has connected me to so many incredible people who I would never have the opportunity to know if I wouldn't have taken that first step.

Running has saved me!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

IMS Arizona Half Marathon Race Recap

Spoiler Alert:  Pretty big half marathon PR for me on an honest course.  I finished in 1:21:54 which was good enough for 3rd place female and 9th finisher overall.

I am going to basically copy this recap straight from my running blog in order to save me from repeating myself.  It was a really great day for me in Arizona on Sunday and above all I walk away from the experience feeling incredibly blessed and very thankful.  Thankful that I have a body that allows me to run.  Thankful that I have such an incredible support system.  Thankful that so many people believe in me.  Thankful that I believe in me.  Thankful that new and exciting opportunities lie ahead.  Thankful! 

I never want to take running for granted and I always want to remember why I started running.  Setting new PR's, getting faster, and achieving success is fun and exciting but running is so much more to me and I never want to forget that.  Now onto the recap.

I am still processing this race and trying to wrap my head around the idea that it actually happened. It's still a little surreal to me but let's get to the details.

Background: I signed up for this race in July because I saw a deal on fb for $40 for the full marathon. I called my friend Heather that lives in Phoenix to see if she was on board. She was and so I signed up and decided it would be the perfect time of year to get out of Utah. I didn't know much about the course or the race besides the fact it was a total no frills race and it was in Feb in AZ. I switched to the half marathon (smart decision) in January after battling some injuries after TOU.

Pre-race: I wanted to PR (1:28 on a flat course) but I also felt I was capable of 1:25 so that was the goal. My training had been different (more laid back) gearing up for this race than ever before but I knew I had worked hard and I felt ready.

Nutrition: Mostly noting this for myself for future reference. 3/4 plain bagel & a banana pre-race (55 grams carbs?), 20 ounces of Gatorade & 16 ounces of water. Gatorade at every aid station except the first and last (maybe 1oz total in my mouth at each station...plenty on the face) and a gel at mile 7.5. Oh and the 5-hour energy 10 min before the start!

Splits: 6:22 (slowest mile), 6:13, 6:11, 6:11, 6:14, 6:10, 6:11, 6:14, 6:20, 6:09, 6:16, 6:16, 6:12, 5:38 (50 seconds).

Elevation: 186 loss / 48 gain

Report: 1.8 mile warm-up with a few strides before wishing my friend Heather good luck and lining up at the start. There were a few girls that looked fast and a couple of people talking about going for sub-1:20. I was wondering what in the heck I was getting myself into but managed to stay incredibly calm. Staying calm is critically important to performing well in my opinion. I had looked at the course map a few times and some people I met on the bus ride up told me there was a hill at mile 7 and 12.5. I decided before the race I would run on effort and did not calculate goal splits. The race started and I managed to hang back and let people go. Little did I know that my first mile would be my slowest of the entire race! I started as 5th place female and eased into a comfortably hard pace. The first mile felt awkward and hard and it took me 3 miles to find a grove and feel like I was in control and not forcing my body. I was in 3rd place by mile 2. The weather for the race was perfect but there was an 8mph headwind that was annoying. It was not a big deal but just enough to be annoying. At mile 3 I caught up to a tall guy with bright pink socks (Steve) and did my best to draft off of him. I hit the 5k in a little over 19 min and decided at that point to not hold anything back. I was not really following my plan of 6:25 minute miles and realized I was risking blowing up but I wanted to take the risk. Why not? So I just went for it and continued to run off of effort. I hit the 10k in 39 minutes still tucked right behind pink socks friend. The effort was starting to get to me and I contemplated slowing down. As we came into an aid station and I caught back up to pink socks friend he mentioned that the female Arizona Ironman Champion was not too far ahead and then said "how cool would it be to catch her". Although I never actually saw her and had no idea how far ahead she was those words sparked some sort of fire in me and gave me just the boost I needed to fight and keep pushing the pace. Runners were very few and far between and besides me and pink socks friend Steve there was only one runner I could see ahead. We finally managed to catch white shirt guy at mile 9 and after seeing his back for 9 miles I was so excited to reel him in. He was very supportive and would end up working with me until the finish. The effort was getting harder but my splits were coming in consistently and I just continued to work as hard as I could. I hit mile 10 at 1:02:30 and thought about slowing down and just running a 5k in 22 minutes and still reaching my goal of 1:25 (moment of weakness). Or I could really see how tough I was and run a sub-20 last 5k! I wanted to see what I was capable of and I really fought for every step that last 5k. I had caught white shirt guy and stayed in between him and pink socks dude. Having these two to work with was incredible helpful. This was a small race with very little crowd support. My feet started bothering me at mile 11 and my calves were screaming at me but it felt good! This is what I work my butt off for; I train for these moments of complete pain when you are pushing yourself so far outside of what you ever thought you were capable of. This is what it is all about. I managed to stay focused and ran with my heart. I kept repeating in my head and out loud (poor white shirt guy) "run with your heart" "run with your heart". The little hill at mile 12.5 was not too bad (freeway overpass) and I powered up it and then flew into the finish with the biggest smile on my face. My friend Emily was cheering at the mile 13 mile marker and since my family wasn't at the race it was so great to see a familiar face. I was beaming from ear to ear as I crossed the finish line and was so incredibly happy!

Mile 13!  Yes I beat white shirt guy. ;)

Final kick to the finish.

After talking to the first & second place girls and my friend Emily I jogged back to mile 12.5 to run my friend Heather in. 1.2 mile cool down.

Heather, me & Emily after the race.  This picture really makes me look like a midget.

All Smiles!

Right after I crossed the finish line with the famous EMZ.  LOVE her!

Heather and I after the race.  So proud of this girl.  She is dealing with a hip injury and still finished in an awesome time of 1:52.  Now I just need to find a cheap flight back to Phoenix so I can watch her rock the Phoenix half on March 2nd!

Post-Race thoughts: Still processing a lot of this. I feel disappointed when people ask if I won and I have to respond that no I didn't win but I did run really well. Hard to explain to non-runners that winning was not the goal. I am so incredibly happy with the way I ran and at the end of the day I am only out there competing against myself. By far the coolest thing about it all is that I paced 6:15 for the race which is the Olympic Trials Qualifying pace. I want to keep working hard and make that dream a reality!

The race was perfect and everything I dreamed it could be but the trip to Phoenix was memorable for so many reasons more important than the race.  So many magical things happened and it is so crazy how people fall into your life for a reason.  I now this to be true and I cannot wait to post more about the trip in the next few days. 

Thanks for reading my shenanigans!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Hale Freezes Over 10K Recap

After a pretty long break from racing I jumped back in the saddle with my first race of the 2013 season over the weekend.  The Hale Freezes Over 10k/5k is such a laid back and fun race that has become a tradition for me and I look forward to it every year.  This was my third year participating in this event and the Hale Center Theatre continues to put on a great race.  You can read my recap from 2011 here and 2012 here.

This race for me was a building block in preparation for my upcoming half marathons.  I will be racing the IMS Arizona Half marathon in Phoenix, AZ this Sunday February 17th and the Dogtown Half marathon in St. George on February 23rd.  One of these races I will actually race and the other I will use as a marathon paced tempo (or just jog depending on how I feel) since they are so close together.  I clearly just need a break from the winter weather and planned both of these races solely in an attempt to escape to a warmer climate.

Now back to the 10k race.  As I already knew from running this race twice before the 10k course is hilly and tough.  The first half is downhill and the second half is uphill.  My main goal (besides not slipping, messing up my hairdo, or losing my lucky headband) was to run a consistent effort and not fall apart in the final miles.

Race Start
Mother nature so kindly blessed us with yet another snowstorm Friday night making conditions for the race a little bit less than ideal.  I had a few people ask me if they would cancel the race because of the weather and I just had to laugh and remind them of the name of the race.  Conditions were truly living up to the name this year!  The roads were icy, snowy, and pretty much exactly what I've become accustomed to training in this winter.  Sadly we've had a pretty bad winter in Utah and running in these types of conditions has actually become quite normal.  After the race director announced over the mega phone "Don't try to run your fastest race today" the gun shot and we were off.  My splits for the race were 6:05, 6:12, 6:10, 6:30, 6:44, 6:20.  The 10K course is short and my garmin measure 6.04 miles for a time of 38:10/6:20 pace.  Although my splits are inconsistent I feel that I ran a very even effort and held it together incredibly well throughout the hilly miles.  Most importantly I did not fall and my headband was still perfectly intact at the finish.  Weather aside I really enjoyed diving back into the racing scene and had an absolute blast!  Here are some pictures from the day. 

My time was good enough for 2nd place female and 5th overall.
Me and my friend and training partner Jen who took 1st in the 5K.  Love this girl and am so lucky to have her to train with. 
My friend Carla and I after the race.

My freaking awesome parents even came out and froze they're tushies off waiting for me to finish.  I love them!
As much as I love improving my times and running well I think my favorite thing about racing is meeting new and aspiring runners and spending time with people that share the same passion.  It was a great day and I am really looking forward to what 2013 has in store for me.