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Estes Park Half Marathon Race Recap

Estes-Park-Half-Marathon-Finish

I clocked my slowest road time on Sunday at the Estes Park Half Marathon and I couldn’t be more pleased with how it went. No sarcasm there. I probably could’ve run faster if I were 5 pounds lighter or 5 years younger or had 5 more months to train. But I am who I am and I left it all on the course. I ran the best race I had in me.

There was a lot that could’ve gone wrong.

Lately, I’ve been struggling with… ahem… digestion during and after long runs. I didn’t used to have a problem at all. It got a little trickier after Big Girl was born and trickier still now, after Baby Girl. This is a big part of what’s motivating me to clean up my diet. I tried to play it safe by consuming no more than a reasonable amount of fiber, fat, dairy and sugar the day before the race, which is to say I skipped the pizza and had a shake instead. The good kind. Wups.

I thought a lot about what to eat before the race and decided on a Clif Bar and a cup of coffee so I could take care of business before the race started. That’s right. I’m just going to talk about poop here. I accidentally ordered a box of GU with caffeine last week and had to hunt down a caffeine-free variety in Estes Park on Saturday. So as to avoid any, er, diuretic effects during the race.

By “hunt down” I mean we went to one store after lunch and packet pick-up, and that was about all I could muster the energy for. After several hours of half-napping at the hotel it occurred to me that, perhaps, I had underestimated the altitude: 7400 – 7900 ft.

Oh, and my allergies were out of control.

At dinner I told my husband, “Maybe I’ll just take it easy tomorrow.”

“That’s probably a good idea,” he said. “You don’t want to injure yourself if you haven’t trained enough for it.”

Well, geez. I was only really thinking about the altitude and my allergies before he went and brought up training. To be fair- I have ran half marathons with less training. I wasn’t untrained. But I have also ran half marathons with more and better training under my belt. And there was the matter of the ~1000 ft of elevation gain. Let’s just say I wasn’t prepared to break any records. Except for my slowest time.

It’s possible I have my jitters to thank for my race.

The most challenging part of the course – 3.5 miles at a 2.5% grade – hits just after the first mile marker. I was extra conservative with my pace and let a dozen or so people pass me at the base of the hill without flinching. And I’m giving myself major kudos for this. If there’s one thing I’ve learned how to do over the years it’s how to avoid starting out too fast. I used to think, “I’ll be passing these people at mile 10.” But the magnitude of the fast start is typically far more impressive than that. The passing actually starts around mile 2 or 3. In this case, I hoped to catch a few of them on the downhill. Instead, I ended up passing everyone that had passed me, while still running uphill, chugging along at my slothfully consistent pace.

The peak of that hill was definitely the high point of the race, both figuratively and literally. It was early enough in the race that I didn’t feel run down, the views were great and I had a big downhill ahead of me. I even saw a handful of moose running across a neighboring field.

Estes-Park-Half-Marathon

The much shorter hill at mile 6 felt much harder and so began the progression of things just feeling harder and harder. I made a choice to power walk the hill at mile 11. I also made a choice to run all of mile 12, a doesn’t-really-qualify-as-a-hill <1% grade ramp that felt like death. 

But my body defied me and slowed to a walk at mile almost 13. And I felt pretty wrecked afterwards. My knees stopped aching yesterday, but my calves are still super tight. 

Overall I’m really happy with how I ran. I don’t think I could’ve paced it any better. I ran the second half about 7 minutes faster than the first, despite feeling like I had slowed to a crawl. I didn’t really bonk. It just got hard.

With a bit more training I think I’ll be able to subdue the hard in the second half. We’ll see. This was the first race in the Colorado Mountain Half Marathon Series. Next up is Georgetown to Idaho Springs in August.

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You Know That Thing You Want to Do? What’s Stopping You?

I’m running the Colorado’s Women’s Classic 10 mile race on Mother’s Day. It’s been awhile since I did a race so I’m feeling a mix of nervous and excited. A friend of mine registered months ago. It took me a lot longer. Then one day she asked me, “What’s stopping you?” Those probably weren’t her exact words, but that was the gist.

And I thought to myself, “Ohhhhh, good one. What is stopping me?”

My default answer was, “I don’t know if I’ll be ready.” But if I’m honest with myself I know I can run 10 miles. What I don’t know is how long it will take me. I really don’t know. But it will likely be much slower than I want it to be. I decided that was a silly reason to miss out and signed up.

Within a week of registering for the Colorado Women’s Classic I told my husband I was thinking about signing up for the Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon in August. I’ve wanted to do it for years but living in California proved too much of a barrier. He responded with something along the lines of, “Do it. What’s stopping you?”

And I thought to myself, “Damn. What is stopping me?”

Fear of commitment. I was registered and about halfway through training for the Napa Valley Marathon when my mom was diagnosed with cancer in November 2015. We decided to move and I knew I couldn’t commit to training in the middle of life. I was finally building my base back up and looking at a handful of races last summer when I hurt my knee. It seems like every time I start to get serious something comes along to derail me. So I’m afraid to commit.

But then the next day we were chatting with our neighbors and one of them asked me if I had any races coming up. “You should try the Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon,” he said to me.

Holy coincidence! “I was just talking about that one yesterday,” I said.

You know what he said? Of course you do. Some variation of, “What’s stopping you?”

So I sat with that for a couple weeks. What is stopping me? Fear. Fear I’ll have to back out for some unforeseeable reason. Fear my ego won’t be able to handle my pace. Oh fear, you tricky little bastard.

This morning I put fear in timeout and took care of business. I am now financially committed to and looking forward to a fun filled summer running the Colorado Mountain Half Marathon Series. (I’m such a sucker for an extra medal.)

Colorado-Mountain-Half-Marathon-Series

 

You know that thing you want to do? Start running? Try yoga? Change careers? Big or small, we all have a thing. Whatever yours is. What’s stopping you?

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What is a Running Coach and 9 Reasons You’ll Want One

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I’ve been telling friends and family since February about my business plans. The first question out of everyone’s mouth, without fail, is, “What is a running coach, anyway?” And every time someone asks this I think to myself, “Good question. I should really come up with an elevator speech answer.” Sometimes that is what I say out loud.

A better response would be to say that a running coach is someone who advises, supports and helps you reach your running goals. “Running goals” might sound like a fancy term but often is means to simply start running, learn how to enjoy running or run injury-free. I do this over the course of 8-16 week training cycles and through customized training plans. All coaching is personalized, one-on-one and virtual (i.e. via email). You can read more on how exactly that works on the FAQ page.

Now most people don’t actually ask the logical follow up question, but I imagine it goes something like this. “I don’t get it. I can lace up my shoes, walk out my front door and put one foot in front of the other. Why do I need a coach for this?” Even those that are wise enough to realize they need a training plan are probably thinking, “I can find a million of those online for free.”

Okay, fair point. It’s totally reasonable to experiment with free training plans and ask Google if you have a question. There is no shortage of information available on the web for both new and experienced runners. In fact, I’ll include plenty of tips and anecdotes on the blog here for free. Please take advantage of it! If you subscribe you’ll get an email about once a week with real content.

That said, there are a number of reasons why you might want to hire a personal running coach:

  1. You hate running. You have friends that love it. They talk about the “runner’s high.” You’re pretty sure they’re lying. You have no interest in running unless you’re being chased by a bear… Except for you secretly want to be part of this club so every once in awhile you give it another shot. But it never works. You can’t breathe, your legs feel like led and you finish feeling sloppy and discouraged. Guess what? It doesn’t have to feel that way. You have no interest in running unless you're being chased by a bear...find a better reason. Click To Tweet
  2. You can’t seem to stick with it. You’ve had some success with running in the past. You got over that initial hump and started to understand what the fuss was all about. Maybe you ran a 5K and felt like a rockstar. But then you got busy or bored or both and for some reason unknown you can’t seem to get back into it.
  3. Actually, you have about 500 reasons why you can’t go for a run today. And you need someone else to help remove those barriers.
  4. Injury. Every time you try to run your knees hurt or your feet hurt or you get shin splints. Maybe that hasn’t always been the case. Maybe you used to be the person who hated running or had a million excuses and then you finally got it. FINALLY! You were pumped and motivated. You were getting stronger and faster and more confident! And then BAM. Injury after never-ending injury and you can’t figure out how to break the cycle.
  5. You’re overwhelmed by all the information. Sure, there’s a lot of free training plans out there, but how do you know which one is right for you? Maybe you get sick and miss a week. Do you pick up where you left off? Make up the skipped mileage the following week? (Hint: NO!!! Don’t do that!) Should you stretch before you run? After? Or not at all? Should you buy insoles or run barefoot? Maybe you wish there was someone you could ask that would consider your unique, personal history and situation. Maybe you don’t have the time to filter through all the information and would rather rely on one source you trust.
  6. You’re ready to try a new race distance. Maybe free online training plans worked well for you when you first began running and carried you to the finish line of your first 5K. But now you’re ready to tackle a half marathon and need a little extra help developing a hydration/fueling plan or dealing with a new basket of problems like blisters and emergency “bathroom” breaks.
  7. You’re tired of feeling like running is punishment. Pop culture tells us running is about buckling down and putting in the work. Pushing ourselves to the limit so we can lose weight. So our ass looks hot in a pair of skinny jeans. And yeah, running can be hard. There’s a time and place for hard. Rising to a challenge builds strength and confidence. But there is also a time and place for ease. Yes, even with running. When we turn down the pump-it-up jams, take off our watch, let go of expectations and settle into the rhythm of our breath and our feet, running can be a meditation. It is for me. I’m telling you friends, this is where it gets really, really good. When we let go of expectations and settle into the rhythm of our breath and our feet, running can be a meditation. Click To Tweet
  8. You’re a human being. You make mistakes. Sometime you miss a workout. Sometimes you accidentally run farther than you’re supposed to and get hurt. Sometimes you feel like a warrior and sometimes you’re convinced running was meant for everyone except you. Sometimes you need someone who will listen to you, acknowledge your humanity and remind you that it’s okay. You’re okay. You can do this. That’s right. YOU.
  9. You realize that you’re worth the money. Whatever it is you hope to accomplish or feel you need help with, the reality is it’s nice to get some extra personalized attention. And the truth is you’re worth it. Your health is worth it. Your self-esteem and happiness are worth it. You are deserving. Right here and now, exactly as you are in this moment.

To help lower the hurdle of money and as a Grand Opening special, I’m opening two Personal Coaching slots at a significant discount. First come, first serve. If you’ve ever wanted to take up running but you weren’t sure how to start or if you could let this be your personal invitation. There’s no better time than now.

I am also raffling off one 8-12 week Personal Coaching slot for FREE as a Black Friday special. You can enter up to 6 times by doing any or all of the following on or before Black Friday:

  1. Subscribe to the blog.

  2. Follow me on Twitter
  3. Follow me on Instagram
  4. Share this post on any social media platform. Be sure to tag me so I see it. You’ll earn a separate entry for each share.

If you already subscribed to the blog or started following me on Twitter or Instagram let me know if you’d like to enter the raffle. I’ll announce the winner early next week. If you purchase a discounted Personal Coaching slot and then win the raffle I will gladly give you a refund.

Still have questions about what a running coach is, how it works or whether it makes sense for your personal situation? Feel free to visit the FAQ page. If you can’t find an answer there, PLEASE don’t hesitate to Contact Me. Even if you choose not to hire me as your coach, I am still here for you. Let’s get to know each other a little better. Really, I mean it.

Namaste,

Laura

Photo Credit: Grizzly Bear Cubs by Denali National Park and Preserve is licensed under CC BY 2.0 / Text added to original