Monday, March 16, 2015

Run For The Bridges - Wilderness Park Race Recap

Run for the Bridges  - Wilderness Park Lincoln, NE - 3/14/201

I arrived at the start line area at Wilderness park at 7:00 Am for an 8:30AM Trail Marathon. I like to be early but ok that was to much earlyness for such small race. I did however pass the time by sitting in my truck drinking coffee and reading "I am an Ironman" book that follows the life's of people training to complete an Ironman. Somewhere in the back of my mind little ninja like versions of me are fighting through the idea of me attempting to complete one of those things. Meanwhile in the front of my mind real life goes on and I start thinking about the 26 miles ahead. I didn't however work my nerves up all crazy for this race. I had a big week of training; ran 50+ miles;  not counting the 26 ahead, including 9 miles of hills the day before. I felt loose & ready. I loaded up my Orange Mud Double Barrel Vest Pack with 1 bottle water, 1 blue Gatorade, 1 package of cliff shot blocks & 1 Kind Bar. 8:30 finally rolled around & I was lined up ready for 26.2 miles of trail bliss.
Miles 1 - 5
They staggered the start so the marathoners had more room on the single track trails. The race starts by doing a 1.8 mile single track loop to get you warmed up; from there we went to a road for a bit and then a limestone bike trail for just about a mile until we entered the wooded area. The bike path went around a big bend & I could see some runners i recognized out in front of me. We hit the single track trails again at about 3 miles and I felt at home again. I'd catch a glimpse of Miguel from Omaha in front of me every few minutes when the path straightened out a bit.

 Mile 6 - 10
Around mile 6 I caught Miguel; it was hard not to run outside of what my body was telling me and catch him as soon as i first saw him. Part of me wanted to speed up to be able to chat and gain some knowledge from such an accomplished runner but i stuck to what my body was telling me. My splits at this point were showing up at between 8 & 8:30. The trails were very soft & muddy in spots so i knew not to let the times throw me off. Soft trails are challenging especially late in the run. I talked with Miguel for about a mile and was still feeling good so kept going at my pace.
Mile 11-15
By mile 11 i was still feeling pretty fresh and hydrating and fueling well on my cliff shots. I believe I'd had 3 by the 1/2 way point. Some of these miles got a bit confusing because we were meeting up with 1/2 marathoners and i wasn't real sure what their route was so I was trying to mentally figure out why i was seeing them now. Their were a couple creek crossing here but the water was low enough the mud covered shoes didn't get wet or cleaned off. I really wish i would of grabbed a few shots of the steep decline then the crossing and the inclines but i was in race mode and didn't want to stop. It was at about mile 12 i saw another awesome runner i had spotted early in the race on the bike path. Kaci passed me as she had already made the turn around and was headed back in. This gave me a little confidence because she is such an awesome runner and not that far out in front of me. I hit the 1/2 way turn around point and filled up my Orange Mud water bottle. I had a little over 1/2 of my Gatorade left. I petted a nice older yellow lab and made a quick turn around and headed back out.

Miles 16-20
Thru 16 miles & I still hadn't looked at my overall pace. I had my watch set to show me my Avg HR, Current HR & total time since start. I did have it set to beep on the mile and show me that split but i didn't want to watch the Avg Pace this run and just run. I did however watch my HR and kept it under 170.  I told myself if i felt like i could improve my time and still fresh at 20 i could turn it to Avg Pace and try and improve it by finish. Legs were tightening up quite a it from the soft trails at this point. I was still able to maintain pace though and hadn't done any walking up hills.
Miles 20-26.2
 At about mile 20 I elected to not worry about pace and time and just stick within the mile. I had to fill up my water bottle one last time at about mile 20.  At the last aid station around 22 miles the gal said "Are you the last one" this shook me a bit. I thought to myself; I really don't think so; wait last one. i think I'm in the top 5. What if i total screwed up and i'm in the wrong place. last one... hmmm... then i realized she's probably seen all the 10K runners & half marathoners & then us so it's been a long day.
I was confident in all my turns and following the marking so i was able to shake that off. I came out of the woods at about mile 23 back on that limestone trail. I was feeling pretty sore in my legs at this point but the hard trails were welcomed. I saw my Mom's Jeep in the parking lot about 1/2 a mile away so i knew here & Kiera would be at the finish line. I made my way around the big bend and crossed the bridge back to the place we all began I saw my Mom & Kiera here cheering; that was a nice boost. I had to do the fitness loop (1.8 miles) and then back in to the finish. I asked Kiera; Hey you want to run this last 2 mile loop with me; she looked at me all bugged eye. Ummm No ill catch you when you come around at the end. I entered the woods feeling pretty good. These miles just flew by; their were a few steep inclines, one with about 15 stairs, I did walk up at but immediately started running after the inclines. Kiera met me about .2 miles out and ran to the finish with me. This is always my favorite.
The finish was a great feeling; not only to be done but to feel like i ran a smart race. I felt like i ran within myself and never pushed it to hard. I finished in 3rd place; good enough for a $20 gift card and water bottle. The company in whom I finished around made my day. Coming in near runners that i admire and inspire me day in and day out really made the finish feel great. To me that really sums up running; other runners inspiring and making you feel great.


MilePaceGAPElev (ft)HRCadence

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Phoenix Marathon 2015

Getting there…

Phoenix first entered my idea of possible places for my next Marathon because Grand Island airport offers direct flights to Phoenix.  I signed up in December for the race at the end of February. My training began good peaking at 80 miles per week before tapering back down to around 40 miles for quite a few weeks before Phoenix. Somewhere along the planning I got the idea that I wanted to drive out instead of flying and take the camper. 
So after work on Wednesday I headed out for the dessert. The drive from the office to Dalhart,TX went good, all clear roads. From That stop to Phoenix I ran into some snow & ice around Albuquerque, but made it to the campsite before the sun went down Thursday night.

Getting acclimated….

The weather was absolutely perfect on Friday so I did a nice little run on the trails at McDowell Mountain Park. I found out the camp hosts that the trails I ran on are the trails used at the Javalina Jundred. I really hope to get back someday to do that race & maybe qualify for Western States. Later that day I headed over to the expo and got my bib & shirt. The expo was an awesome event. I felt this race was the most social race and new quite a few people from a running group in PHX and had fun sharing stories with them.

I felt pretty good about the race after getting so many comments about my training from them all. I ended the night with some potato soup & went to bed by 8:00 so I could be up at 3Am to get to the buses

Race day….

I actually slept well the night before the race and woke up at 3 to get to the buses. The PHX marathon is a point to point so they bus you to the start line. We arrived at the start line at 4:30 am and the race began at 6:30. 2 hours of standing around propane heaters chatting with other runners. They shot off fireworks pre-race that were pretty awesome! Once 6:30 rolled around and we lined up I felt ready. I didn’t have too many nerves and just felt mostly calm ready to get to running. I decided to run with a handheld water bottle for the first half so I didn’t need to stop at aid stations. 6:30 rolled around and we were off down the mountain.

Mile 1-6….

Miles 1-6 are mostly all downhill with the exception of a few up hills. This is the part that I feel I was not mentally or physically ready for the most. With talking with runners before I determined I would not be worried if I saw 6:30-6:50 miles on these downhill’s because of the grade. Well during the run that somehow turned into that I needed to run these at 6:30-6:50. I don’t know why I started thinking that and ran outside of my comfort level. I was not regularly checking my heart rate like I normally do and just going with it. Around mile 6 we started entering into Mesa and were seeing more residential areas.  

Mile 7-13...

At mile 7 I was contemplating if was going to fast or if I was going to be ok. I must have decided I was going to be ok and continued on at that pace. I was still aiming at keeping my over/under spot on my watch to 0. I had it set to show me over under on 3:00. It was around here I started having some pains never really experienced on a run before. I had my shoulder start hurting and my neck. The only thing I could maybe tie that to was the 18 hour car ride left me a little cramped up. I hit the half way point at 1:31:53. I thought at this point I was going to be able to keep it up or keep close to that and be ok. I used the porta potty really quick and headed back out.

Mile 14-20….

After half way is normally a good mental kicker for me and it was for a little bit. I got some momentum and felt pretty good thru 14 & 15. Still had thoughts enter my head about whether or not I was going too fast. Around mile 18 I got a sharp pain in my groin. I had pulled his groin when I was playing basketball about 6 weeks ago and would have minor issues with it off and on. This however did not feel minor. I tried to mentally just run thru it but by mile 20 it was killing me. I adjusted my form quite a bit to compensate for this; as other things started hurting to.  It was at this point, right around 20, I realized qualifying for Boston was not going to happen for me this race.

Mile 21-26.2….

These miles were some of the toughest of my running life. I would run for as long as I could and then walk. I would walk until I felt I could clench my fists and bite hard and give it another go. There were points I was only running about .1 mile then walking. I couldn’t seem to find much that worked but told myself, just don’t stop. You can walk, till you can run then you can walk again. Don’t stop moving forward and we will get there. I was still getting motivational texts and IG comments popping up on my watch that made such a difference. It was around this time i started wondering if my friend Amy was going to catch me and that would creep in my head and get me running again. (Thanks Ames) Some of my running friends had put together that the BQ was out but kept encouraging me to PR. These were such a motivator for me, and I’m so grateful for all my running friends.

 The Finish….

This finish was bittersweet. I was so excited to be done, I was so happy that it was over. This was not how I felt in my last marathon. The last marathon I had ran the 2nd half faster and got to the finish line with my 2 fastest miles of all 26.2. This day was the opposite. It reminded me how different things can go if you aren't paying attention to the details. I burned my body out on those first miles and paid the price for it. I had put enormous pressure on myself to qualify at this race and didn't set myself up to have a chance at it at the end. Failure has always been empowering for me though. It’s the missteps and bad races that we learn the most from. I know more now and will not soon forget the lessons learned in the dessert. I feel like my body is fit enough to run 26.2 @ 7:00/mile, I need to have a much better race and set myself up to have a good finish to qualify.. The next 60 days I will focus on that as I train to attempt it again May 3rd in Lincoln, NE.

Final thoughts
my favorite part of this race was getting to meet and share stories with some of the best runner's anywhere. You know how you are, Phoenix  brightened my winter a great deal and reminded me how much i love this sport. Thank you Phoenix for a great race & a great time.