Posted on

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.

Posted on

I Was a Bad Mom on Mother’s Day

Colorado-Women's-Classic-Finish

I ran the Colorado Women’s Classic 10 miler on Mother’s Day. Big Girl ran the kid’s fun run. She did well and ran the whole 100 yards or so. And then she got a cupcake. So she should’ve been set, right?

Turns out she didn’t get her fix with the 100 yards or so. When Big Girl saw me near the finish she jumped into action and came charging after me down the finish chute yelling, “Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!” A good mother would’ve slowed down and ran with her. That would’ve been the motherly thing to do on Mother’s Day.

But that’s not what I did. Nope. I just kept right on going, fully aware that she would not be able to keep up with me. I didn’t even turn around until I stopped my watch. I prioritized my finish time over my daughter. I was a bad mom.

Oh well.

The race went pretty well. I felt strong throughout the first half. And then it got hard.

I blame my husband.

I voice texted him so he’d know when-ish to look for me at the finish line. But it took like 7 tries and happened to take place on a downhill. So I ended up with a side cramp. Fortunately it didn’t last too long. It went away as soon as I stopped swearing at my phone and focused on my breath. The course veered to the left right around that time, and I turned straight into a headwind.

That felt hard. A client of mine recently commented on how she didn’t fully realize how hard the end of a race would be. And you know what? It’s been so long since I really raced that I think I actually sort of forgot. The course was basically flat, but the few “speed bumps” in the second half felt like mountains.

But I gave it my all and got it done. Right up through my solo sprint to the finish.

Colorado-Women's-Classic

Part of me feels embarrassed that a 9:49 min/mile pace felt as hard as it did. I sort of didn’t want to tell you that. Now that I’m coaching I feel like I’m supposed to be really fast. Definitely faster than my clients, right? Well, I’m not. Not even close. But like my old therapist used to say, “I wonder how helpful it is to compare…”

Answer: It’s not.

So I’m reminding myself that running fast and being a good coach require two completely different skill sets. And I’m reminding myself that it wasn’t that long ago that I was sidelined with a knee injury. It will take time to build my base back up. And I’m reminding myself of my goals.

I’m working towards a really big running goal right now. It’s big enough and scary enough and far enough away that I’m hesitant to write it down right now. But I will tell you that it doesn’t include speeding up.

I guess I should have reminded myself of these things while I was running. Maybe I would’ve waited for Big Girl. I hope she doesn’t think I’m a bad mom.

Eh, I gave her a rose and my chocolate milk. She’ll be alright.

Posted on

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?