Monday, April 29, 2013

Thanksgiving Gardens Half Marathon

Race #11 of 2013
This was my second time running the Thanksgiving Gardens race and last year I vowed I wouldn't run it again because it was so hilly.  But I think running races is oftentimes like childbirth in that you forget how hard the experience really was.  Plus, the gardens with all the tulips in bloom just draws me in. I really wish this whole race could be run in the gardens only and I would have had a smile plastered on my face for the entire run.

There are 3 major reasons I liked this race this year: 
♥No bus ride to get to the starting line-just park and walk to the start. Love that!
♥The gardens are gorgeous and the golf course is beautiful too!
♥The after-race treats felt like a feast! 

The only thing I didn't like about this race were the hills.  

I just recently got the opportunity to run Ogden marathon on May 18th and so I am quickly heading to the final weeks of a marathon training plan and realized I needed to run 20 miles today for that.  So I got up a little early and ran 3 miles on the treadmill.  Then I showered and changed my clothes and headed to the race.  I was about a half hour early which gave me plenty of time to put on my bib, my timing chip on my shoe and use the bathroom in a nice pavillion area.  No port-a-potty necessary here.  You just had to know where to go.  I kept my jacket on until about 10 minutes before the race and handed it to the drop bag people and snapped a couple photos and then headed to the starting line.  
This is the map of the half marathon.  You can see where it winds all over the place.  That is the area right inside the gardens.  I smile the most when I'm running in there.
It was fun to see the Utah Race Pacers there pacing this race today.  I have met a few of them since pacing the Salt Lake Half Marathon the weekend before and I chatted a little bit with Scott Ivans here.  He was pacing the 2 hour time and I wanted so badly to be able to hang with his group.  Someday this dream may become a reality if I am willing to work hard enough.  I'm not sure about that yet.  I want running to be fun and attempting this speed may then turn to a feeling of work.   

The race started at 7:00 am and we were off!  I tend to start a little fast with each race I run and then taper a little bit.  I was averaging about 9:30 minute miles which is pretty fast for me. I tried to keep this up as long as I could and then when the hills started I watched that average start to go down a little at a time.  I tried to keep it under 10:00 minute miles but the hills are relentless and finally my little garmin clicked into the 10's around mile 9.  I tried so hard to get it back under but it just wasn't happening.  For the next three miles I was just maintaining a 10:05 and finally near the end I gave a little extra kick and finished with a 10:04 average.  

It's a constant mind game I have to play to keep my pace up.  Some good music on the headphones helps as well.  

The most exciting thing for me though was realizing I had just beat my time from last year on this same course by 20 minutes!!  Maybe I am making some progress a little at a time.     
After I came in to the finish line and got my medal and treats I headed back out to finish up my mileage for Ogden Marathon training.  I needed 4 more miles to complete the 20 for the day.  So I headed back down the course in the opposite direction and just watched the runners still coming in.  You could just see in their faces the challenge of what they were going through.  Many were walking.  Many had companions with them.  I wondered how many were first timers?  I was just proud of them for continuing and persevering to get to that finish line.  After a little distance I turned around and ran back towards the finish line but then headed off in another direction where I saw the kids fun run 1 mile happening and decided to hop in on that course for a short distance.  I also decided to keep running around Thanksgiving Point and discover other areas.  I was super surprised to find a little 'mini' gardens of some kind that I hadn't seen here before.  The following pictures were taken there which wasn't part of the course I had ran earlier.  Since I wasn't being timed I decided to stop and take a few pictures.   
I finished up my additional 4 miles near the awards ceremony going on and enjoyed listening to all the speedy winners times.
I don't usually pay attention to my standings in a race because I always know I'm near the back of the pack, however I thought I would check it out in the results page.
Final time 2:12:12
I was 8th of 32 in my age category.
I was 199th out of 530 women who ran the half marathon,
or 401st out of 835 people who ran the half.
So happy to not be near the back of the pack.
Race registration will be opening up next week for 2014 and I will be signing up.  
See?  I have already forgotten about those hills!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Pacing the Salt Lake City Half Marathon

Race #10 of 2013
Salt Lake City Half Marathon
This pacing opportunity happened because I met Jonathon, the head of the Utah Race Pacers, back in January of this year and ran his New Year's Half Marathon.  It was also around this time that he became a member of Runner's Anonymous Facebook group page and from there we became friends and started a little challenge to see who could run the most miles in January. I beat him of course.  I am way too competitive when somebody throws a challenge out to me.   Then February came along and I was still eager and ready to go with the challenge again but he backed down.  I however was enjoying the high mileage and decided to keep at it.  So from there he decided that maybe I could handle a little pacing opportunity and offered this position to me.  I was nervous, yet excited.  It would be for the Salt Lake City Half Marathon, no small venue that's for sure.   

Adidas was one of the sponsors for this race and so they provided each of us with a free pair of shoes and a pacing shirt to wear while running on race day.  The shoes were awesome to run in, but I can't say I'm converted yet.  I am a pretty solid Saucony girl.

Before race day Jonathon held a meeting at his home where we were fitted and picked our shoes out from the Adidas rep.  He also taught a few of us newbies how to pace.  It was just so fun to be in a room with so many other runners who already knew what they were doing.  I was thoroughly enjoying the conversations being all about running.  We had a second meeting a couple weeks later where we then received our shoes, so we could start running in them and breaking them in before race day.   
One of our responsibilities before actually pacing was to man the Utah Race Pacer booth at the expo the day before.  We just basically talked to people about what we were there for and answered any questions they may have had.  My friend Angie manned the booth with me for the last shift of the night.  My cousin Cherri and her husband Joe stopped by the booth and took this photo.  Joe is a race director and holds about 12 events a year.  If you want to get involved in some of his races check him out at  He puts on some fun races for sure.
Since I would be pacing the 2:20 half marathon I printed out this pace band so that I could get some good solid practicing in on my own.  Even though I paced with my friend Hollie a few weeks before in a different race, I needed to know that I could do this by myself since I wouldn't be getting a partner to help me on race day.  And I needed to be able to do it 10 minutes faster than the previous race I paced.  I would pin this little paper on my sweat band around my wrist and head out.  It was such a fun experience every time I practiced.  I loved the challenge of seeing how close I could come at each mile mark.  I was usually within 15 seconds of where I needed to be.  Sometimes as close as only 3 seconds.
Now, moving ahead to race morning. I must have been feeling somewhat stressed because I got a nice little cold sore on my lip the night before, and that usually only happens when life gets a little crazy.  I got about 4 1/2 hours of sleep and woke up at 3:10 am. I like to set two alarms on race morning just to make sure there are no panic moments.  I got myself out the door about 4:05 am to meet up and carpool with some of the other race pacers.  I ended up just following them to Salt Lake because I wanted to have my own car and be able to leave when I wanted after the race.  This turned out to be an extremely good decision!  Due to weather reports, rain was expected all morning in Salt Lake.
Tis' the season of disgusting AM hours for racing and getting to the starting lines or bus pick up areas with time to spare before running.  Ughhh......This is definitely my least favorite part about running races and I'm certainly not looking forward to this aspect of it for the next 6 months.  Oh well, good thing I love the actual running part so much and just being with so many other people who are running too.

Getting to Salt Lake was easy.  We were there by 5:30 Am.  We parked at Liberty Park where the finish line would be.  We hopped on a shuttle bus which then drove us to the Trax Station.  We rode the Trax for a good half hour or longer, which was packed with people.  I had to stand the whole way while holding about 7 balloons on dowels.  I don't have a clue who these two runners are but you can see my nice bundle of balloons there as I stood to ride in the cramped train. This made for tricky foot work as the train would stop and start.  No catastrophes though.  Before we reached the end of the ride they stopped the train and allowed the policemen and their bomb sniffing dogs onto the train.  It was a nice feeling knowing there were lots of extra precautions being taken for our safety. 
The Salt Lake Marathon and Half Marathon was the first major race since the bombings at the Boston Marathon just 5 days previously.  Extra security was in place everywhere.  There was a constant roar overhead too with national guard helicopters.  If somebody was going to try and hurt us runners I think they would have had a hard time doing it.
We got to the starting line area and meandered around taking photos, using the ports, getting our gear put on, passing out the balloons to the other pacers and trying to stay warm.  The rain was starting to drizzle and I had never been so grateful for a black garbage bag as I was this morning.

Joshua Hansen, my running bud, had a really neat shirt custom made just for him.  It says on the front "No More Hurting People. Peace"  That was what the little 8 year old boy who died in the Boston bombing said on a poster he had made at school.  Such a sad unnecessary death.  My heart goes out to this family as the country mourns their loss of this innocent little guy.  The names of the other people who lost their lives in this horrific event were printed on the back of Josh's shirt as well.  Such a neat tribute to run in their honor.

Running today in the Salt Lake Half Marathon is one small way we proved we will not let cowardly, heartless people prevail. 
Quote by 8 year old Richard Martin
You can see the raindrops starting here as they are beading up on my jacket.  I quickly got a few more photos with running friends before the race was to start.  This is my friend Galen Garrison.  He is about one of the happiest runners on earth.  I think he has a non-stop smile on his face.  Below is my friend Angie and I honestly couldn't tell you who is standing on the other side of me.  That's the beauty of runners, we are all friends!
I quickly got my water belt put on along with my hat, garmin, pace band, bib, gloves, and other stuff and hopped into a group photo with all the pacers for the day.  We headed to the throng of 7000 runners and found a spot to squeeze in.  It was fun to hear people say, "I'm going to try and stay with her" as I would walk through the crowd.  People had a goal in mind and I was there to help them accomplish their goal by holding that obnoxious yellow balloon through rain and wind resistance for 13.1 miles. 
The race started at 7:00 AM and right before that they had a moment of silence for Boston and then they blasted "Sweet Caroline" over the loud speakers to pump us up.  It was a great moment.  Then the gun blast went off and we were heading down the street.  I loved that the first 4 miles of this race is a pretty sweet gradual downhill.  The rain was relentless though and never eased up the entire way.  It was also so cold and wet that I never took off my garbage bag.  Because it was so wet out there I kept my garmin covered under my jacket sleeve and wasn't able to watch my pace as often as I wanted to.  I made sure at each mile marker though that we were within range. 

At the starting line I had one specific gentlemen that said he wanted to run the entire race with me because he was afraid if he ran faster he would burn out before it was over.  He also said he hadn't been doing a lot of training so this would be a good pace for him.  I told him that was great but that if he ever felt a need to go faster or a got a little surge of energy then he should take advantage of that.  Honestly, I was so grateful for him because every time I needed to check my watch it was so much easier to hand him my balloon and then have a free hand to do so.  Also around mile 4 I needed to use the restroom and so I handed the balloon off to him and said "Don't run too fast, I'll catch up to you soon."  He did a good job continuing on the way and I found him about a mile and a half later.  We didn't do a lot of chatting along the way but it was just pleasant having that 'helper' by my side.  His name is Jared Knowlton and he really was a great support.
One of the blogs I like to read is Christy's.  She has been talking about running the Salt Lake Half Marathon for quite a few months now.  She lives down in Arizona and so I was looking forward to getting to meet her in real life.  As I was coming near the finish of the race I saw her mom around mile marker 12 cheering people on.  I only recognized her from Christy's blog and said hello to her and that I read her daughter's blog.  She probably thought I was wacked out!  This is Christy and she's a pretty fast little lady.  She was a frozen popsicle just like me.  The black garbage bags may have been a nice wardrobe accessory to keep us dry, but they really didn't keep us warm. 
Once I was done running I couldn't get my teeth to stop chattering.  I was frozen to the core.  Even after driving home for 45 minutes with the car heater on full blast, it took a long hot 20 minute shower before I finally started feeling better. 

OH!!! And the most important part about pacing.  How did I do on time?  Well, I was supposed to come in at 2:20:00 and according to my watch that's what I did!!  The race people clocked me at coming in at 2:19:57, three seconds early.  I'LL TAKE IT!  Jonathon said we should come in between 0-30 seconds before the time, so I was very happy with that and will be able to pace again.  (Jonathon told me if I did good at Salt Lake then he would let me pace Provo City Half Marathon on May 4th)  Looks like I will be pacing Provo City next month, and looking very forward to it!!

Race Paraphernalia
There were so many things I loved about this whole experience, even though it rained the entire time!  Plain and simple, running just makes me happy!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

My First Pacing Opportunity

Race #9 of 2013

A local guy by the name of Jonathon Crampton, who is head of the Utah Race Pacers, asked me to pace the 2:20 group for the Salt Lake City Half Marathon on April 20th.  Of course I jumped at the opportunity but secretly, I was scared to death.  I've never paced before but have wanted to.  Having a free race entry is a pretty awesome perk I'd say.  Salt Lake Half Marathon is a pretty big deal and an expensive race and I had decided not to sign up for it.  So when this opportunity was handed to me I decided to give it a try. Adidas is one of the sponsors for this big race and all of us pacers got free shoes to run in, so that was a huge perk as well.

Well, back up a couple weeks earlier to today!  I was asked only a short time ago if I would jump in and pace the Winter Strider's Half Marathon up in Ogden Canyon, above Eden, Utah.  I knew instantly I wanted to because the head of this pace group, Walter Brown, said I could have a companion helping me.  My friend Hollie said she would love to do this with me and I was ready for a so-called "practice run" at this pacing before the "big deal" at Salt Lake.  Me and Hollie would be pacing the 2:30 group which is basically an 11:26 minute pace. 

I set the alarm for 3:55 am.  Yes, that is not a misprint.   Eden Utah is kind of far away.  I got dressed and ate a bagel and some banana and peanut butter and got out the door by 4:30 am.  I was picking up Hollie and Josh in Bountiful and then heading up to Eden.  I needed to be there by 6:15 am and we made it with time to spare.

We met a few of the other pacers and got our bibs pinned on and our singlets put on over our shirts.  It's still pretty cold in the mornings, especially up in the mountains so I dressed warmly.  These early Springtime races are a little hard to guess how cold it's going to be when running.  I was brave and ditched my gloves and coat at the starting line and had no regrets.
It was fun to have people come up to us and say they wanted to try hanging out with us.  We said "Great, we will have a good time together."
Loooook, it's my friend Melanie who also found me at my last half marathon in March at the Shamrock run.  We runners kind of get around.
We had a nice bus ride to the top and hopped out quick to get in the line for the ports.  We walked to the very back of the group since our pace group was the slowest one assigned.  We decided to do a photo with our best impersonation of Cory Reese, minus the jumping. Big eyes and thumbs in the air, it was Hollie's idea, promise.
The race started at 8:00 am and we were off.  This was one of the few times in a race I actually felt so hungry.  Last time I had eaten was at 4:30 am and here it was 3 1/2 hours later.  I was so glad when we got to about mile 5 and they were handing out gu's.  That was a happy treat for me.  I had another gu around mile 9.
Hollie was a super companion and kept track of the time.  She let me hold the sign.  We both had pace bands on our wrists so we would know exactly where we needed to be at each mile marker.  We were always within just a few seconds either ahead or behind.  She would say, "We need to go a little faster, or we need to slow down"  She did so perfect.  I may just have to hide her in my drop bag for pacing Salt Lake since it's a one man job that weekend and I'll be on my own there. 

Having somebody run by your side for an entire 13.1 miles was simply awesome.  We chatted with others around us as well but oftentimes it was just her and I.  Josh hung with us until about mile 6 and then he said he tapered off to go flirt with somebody.  Go Josh!

The miles seemed to fly by and next thing we realized is we were coming into the finish line and it was over.  This seriously seemed like the fastest half marathon I've ever run.  It's amazing what some good conversation and good company will do for a run.  The weather was cool but gorgeous.  The scenery was peaceful and beautiful.  We passed horses, sometimes running too.  We passed a couple of ponds with big reeds and frogs croaking like crazy.  I told Hollie that was something I never hear where I live.

We were told that we should try to come into the finish line no more than 30 seconds ahead or behind.  We were so proud to be there only 15 seconds early.  I think we passed the test and now I feel somewhat relieved and a little more ready to pace the Salt Lake Half Marathon in 2 weeks.
 The after race treats were yogurt, fruit, and granola, some yummy fruit bread, and hot chocolate.
I got to meet another person who is also pacing at the Salt Lake Race, Paul Fulton.  He brought some yummy peanut brittle his fiance' had made to share with us race pacers.  I didn't want any until he said it melts in your mouth like the inside of a butterfinger.  YUMMY!  I took a piece and put it in a cup to take home for Mark to try.  Well, that piece didn't make it to Mark.  It was just too delicious.  
Me, Walter Brown, the head of the American Flyers Pacing Group, and Hollie Doyle.  We had so much fun and certainly hope to get to do this again.
 Another perk of pacing besides a free race entry is the shirt and an awesome medal!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Scott Jurek Meet and Greet

Wasatch Running Center in Sandy, Utah held a really neat event for runners. I went to this meet and greet fully expecting to learn lots of awesome stuff about ultra running from Scott Jurek.  He was there to talk about his book "Eat and Run" and to answer questions.  He was interesting to listen to and I can't say I learned a lot to help me personally, but it was fun to meet such a great legend.

This is a little of what Wikipedia has to say about him:
Scott Gordon Jurek  (born October 26, 1973) is an American ultra-marathoner. Throughout Jurek's career he has been one of the most dominant ultra-marathon runners in the world, winning many of the sport's most prestigious races multiple times, including the Hardrock Hundred (2007), the Badwater Ultra-marathon (2005, 2006), the Spartathlon (2006, 2007, 2008), and the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run (1999-2005).  In 2010, at the 24-Hour World Championships in Brive-la-Gaillarde, France, Jurek won a silver medal and set a new US record for distance run in 24 hours with 165.7 miles.
So as you can see he has accomplished some pretty amazing things in his running career.  

But I'll be honest about my evening.  I had way more fun seeing friends whom I've met through running and blogging.  The whole night was filled with chatting, laughing and some great running talk.
When I first arrived I immediately saw this cute lady, Kathee, over at K-Fab Running.  She found my blog and began leaving happy thoughts and encouragement and it was fun to finally meet her in person. She runs a lot of relays and knows how to eat clean.  I could and should learn lots from her. 
Then in walked Cory and his darling sister Hollie.  Her and I have been texting and emailing back and forth for a few months now with us both vowing that someday we will run a race together and we will someday get to meet and visit in real life. Hollie was so concerned and sweet to cheer me up when I was so down about my Moab 24 hour run and had nothing but great words of wisdom.   She just paced her brother for 20 miles in the dark and freezing cold at the Antelope Island 100 mile race a couple weekends ago.  So she knows what it's like to be out there with the elements.
Cory is obviously a running legend and idol as well.  Anyone that runs 100 mile races and makes it seem like a breezy, walk in the park, ranks pretty high in my books.
The exciting news is I will finally get to run with Hollie!! She and I will be pacing the Winter Strider's Half Marathon this weekend for the 2:30 group.  It will be my first opportunity to pace and hers as well.  We will get to run side by side for 13.1 miles and for that I am extremely thrilled.
As we were standing around waiting for the line to dwindle to get to talk to Scott and take photos I had the opportunity to chat with this fun cute little lady, Melissa.  She actually works here at the Wasatch Running Center and is an awesome little runner herself.  She talks a lot about running and being a grandma on her blog.  She's got a lot of spunk and I enjoy her peppy personality.
Then I was so totally blown away when I saw these two guys, Carl and Joe.  Back in February I went to Moab and swept the 33K course down there and these two were at the back of the pack for awhile with one of their daughters.  The girl I was sweeping with and myself were having a good time visiting them and encouraging them but trying not to make them feel rushed as we cleaned flagging off the course.  Eventually they were out of sight and long gone as we came upon somebody really sick and slow.   But I was just happy to see them and say hello again.  Truly a small world at times in this running community.

I also saw Angie Pace and Galen Garrison who both ran the Corner Canyon Ultra 50K last year.  I failed to get photos with them but it was still fun to sit by them and visit.

Fun night of meeting Scott Jurek, but even more fun meeting up with running friends.  I don't think that's how it was supposed to be, just don't tell Scott k?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

47 Miles for my 47th Birthday

Why do I do this, people ask me?  I really have no logical explanation.  My brain just gets a crazy idea and I run with it, literally!  Last year I got the crazy idea to go 46 miles for turning 46 years old and that adventure was so much fun that I figured I needed to do it again this year.  If you want to read about my last year's journey go here.

This year's experience was so much more different than last year.  I set my alarm for 6:30 am and got myself ready by about 7:15 am. I decided this year I wanted to stay closer to home and so I put on the Garmin and headed outside and just ran up and down the town. I love my orange shoes.  I decided to put a few miles in them to start today's 47 miles.  I listened to a book on my ipod and got in 10 miles before I decided to head home and refuel.
Core Power has a pretty delicious little drink here.  I actually won a case of these from my runner friend Amy over at Run Mom Run, a few months ago and I am now just finishing up my very last one. (insert sad face here)  Core Power should just hire me to taste test all their stuff for them and I would be more than happy to share their greatness here.  I then headed out and ran another 5 miles for a total of 15 so far. Since I was closer to home it was nice to be able to have a stopping place for drinks, bathroom, and food without having to worry where that would happen. 

I then decided to head inside and change my shoes.  I had quite a number of shows I wanted to watch on Netflix and so I headed to the treadmill for the remainder of my 37 miles.  I know some of you outside, hard-core runners will think this is just plain stupid but I needed something to keep my mind busy so as not to think about all the miles I still had left to do.
I divided my remaining mileage up into a 10 mile segment, another 10 mile segment and then a 12 mile segment.  After finishing 15 outside and the first 10 on the treadmill for a total of 25 miles I headed to the kitchen for some oatmeal, pears, cinnamon and honey.  Pretty delish!  I also needed to do a wardrobe change from being so sweaty. 
The next 10 mile segment completed meant 35 miles done and some refueling with almonds and a bagel with cream cheese.  And another wardrobe change. 
At this point I was just so very tired but I had committed myself to this adventure and I wasn't quitting now.  I had 12 miles left to do and I just had to get back on that treadmill and watch some more fascinating shows.  I included a list of the shows I watched and all my stats at the end of this post.  Those final 12 miles were mentally challenging and I just picked off each mile one at a time.
Mark took this final photo of me after 47 miles completed.  Yes, I was very sore, and yes, I immediately got into an ice bath and then a nice, long, hot shower.  After getting my hair dried and jammies on I enjoyed a warm bowl of beans and ham with crackers, a few ibuprofen and actually had a good night's rest. 

15 miles- 3 hours (outside) ran all 15 miles
10 miles- 2 hours 4 minutes (treadmill) ran 8 1/2 walked 1 1/2
10 miles- 2 hours 32 minutes (treadmill) ran 6 walked 4
12 miles- 2 hours 42 minutes (treadmill) ran 9 walked 3
47 total miles- 10 hours 18 minutes  ran 38 1/2 miles walked 8 1/2

Shows watched on Netflix:
Hungry for Change
Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead
The Appalachian Trail
The Adventures of Merlin

As I get one year older each year I don't know if I can keep this up.  I'm thinking a nice long 48 mile bike ride might be a good adventure for turning 48.

After having a few days to process this experience I have noticed that I am far, far less sore than I was last year.  I think treadmill mileage is just nicer to my aging body.  I also didn't get sunburned like last year which was just so painful.  This year's experience was probably not as fun as last year but it happened and I'm content with it.