Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Recap: Mankato Half Marathon

There's a reason I keep coming back to Mankato; it's the home of my first half marathon and they just do it PERFECTLY! The race is small but put on like a big city; well organization, scenic (but challenging) route and spectacular volunteers. This is a point to point that starts at begins with a bus ride Mankato State University and ends in downtown.

Out of the four years this race has been running I've ran each year, with the exception of last, my goal wasn't lofty it was just to have a "Mankato PR" which should have been easy considering but it wasn't! Running is hard for me still but I know my body is still healing (from the hysterectomy and the full marathon two weeks ago) so I'm not taking it personally.

There is a reason why it's always said to lay your race outfit out the night before and that is because if you have forgotten something you can remedy the situation. Well in all my races I have never had this problem; until this race. I left my favorite running hat at home, in Illinois, in my dryer! So what was to be a quick trip to Hyvee or Walgreens to buy a new ball cap, turned into a quick trip with no such luck in finding a hat and then a not so quick trip across town to Wal-mart to buy a new one! Hey, I cannot run without a hat, I just can't, it's some sort of security blanket thing for me I guess.

The new hat!
Race day started pretty chilly but armed with a throw away hoodie and my new running hat I was ready to go! The race started with a very light mist but died off quickly and the first 6 miles flew by. I felt decent but rain came back to the race around the 5 mile point and I was grateful to have went out for that hat to keep it off my face but that didn't help my fingers from getting cold and once that happens I'm pretty miserable. Eventually I started to get sore, began walking a little longer through the water stops and eventually stopped to do a little stretch to release some back pains.

Once I finally broke through the country side and was on the home stretch I stopped for a walk break and as I did I herd "just keep moving-your doing good" and those words stuck with me and kept doing just that, moving. I even returned them to a woman who also started walking but it must have motivated her too because she instantly picked it back up and we ran about a half a mile together. As she slowed to walk the last hill she shouted encouragement and gratitude back to me to and I felt like I had to keep it strong till the end, it was just over a mile away now. As I headed in I heard Matty shout out a "good job baby" and with that I smiled as I finished and achieved my goal.

About to cross the finish!

Finish 2:08:14
Pace 9:48

As icing on the cake after the race it was a short drive north to a BBQ with my family! Got to see my aunt, cousins, sister, nephew and loved ones!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Recap: Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon

I know I know, its been nearly two weeks and just NOW I'm getting around to posting my recap of the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon. Overall, I don't have anything bad to say its well organized, smaller race (which I like) on a nearly flat or downhill course. So what's my problem? I think I'm just burnt out and I'm still looking at a half marathon this weekend in Mankato, MN.
I had no expectations for the Lakefront, I did have hopes of a PR but decided to run what felt good. I lined up with the 4:20 pace group to start, but my pace felt quicker and I ended up with the 4:15 group and I held with them for about half of the race. Early on my bladder got the best of me and at miles 6 I had to hit a toilet. The first 6 miles were a breeze and I was really jazzed. 1st quarter (miles 1-6): averaged 9:30-:40 pace.

During the "2nd Quarter" I settled into my run and got comfortable with my pace and didn't try to push, I knew I had a long way to go, so just keep it cool. I hit my first snag in the run; the water stations weren't exactly every 2 miles and it threw me off because my plan was GU at 6 & 22 and to eat half of a PR Bar at miles 12 & 18. So under 11 miles in I saw the water station coming up and had to quickly try to eat my bar but I couldn't and I had to stop at the station longer than I wanted, so I could wash it down and I lost the pace group I was with and could never catch up. Miles 6-12 pace 9:30ish.

Once I reached "the half" I was still feeling great and was only slowing down by about 10 seconds, my legs were getting achy but my cardio felt strong and I just continued to smile and focus on my run. My mind was starting to get a little heavy but I just payed attention to my music and let it carry me along and I just continued to float though my "third quarter". Once I reached the 16 mile mark a lady had said "We're in the single digits now!" and it was at that point I knew I would finish. Mile 12-18 pace 9:40ish

After 18 miles I started counting down I was now in my "Fourth Quarter" and in my mind the quarter ended at mile 24 (I'll explain soon) so I counted down the miles to that point (such a no-no for me too) so I focused on getting lost myself in my music. I thought a lot about my friends that inspire me; Jeff because he was the reason for doing this, Jess because she was my biggest supporter, Matty for reasons I cannot even put into words-he's had his hands full with my post-hysterectomy/cancer craziness and he's still here and as crazy as it sounds I thought about the local band Mindset Evolution and how they've given up a lot to live out their dream and are loving every second of it. I also thought about something I say in my classes a lot "this is going to hurt a little but everything worth fighting for always does" and it was then that I broke down "the wall" and next thing I knew my fourth quarter was up....Miles 18-24 9:55ish average.

Now its overtime, but I kept calling it "my run", the last 2.2 miles was just for me. At this point in the race I broke out of the neighborhoods and came down this long, glorious hill and all I could see was the beautiful Lake Michigan Lakefront (hence Lakefront Marathon), the fall colors we breathtaking and as a bonus the sun was out, it was now warm and comfortable and this was it, this was my finish. Over and over I heard people shouting my name and encouragement and I turned into that cheeseballen runner girl, although in pain I had a HUGE smile plastered on my face. I've overcome so much and this was that one last thing I wanted to make it through. My last mile was by far the toughest and the slowest but it didn't matter, I was almost done I just had to keep my legs moving, it was my own little victory. Then there it was, the finish line full of people cheering, the lakefront and the finish, I was done! 

Final Finish 4:17:16 and in a super weird coincidence I was just 3 seconds slower than my first marathon. Five months after cancer, 5 months after major surgery and only 10 weeks of training and starting over from scratch...ok I'll take it!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Want To See My Marathon Shirt?

Ever since I realized I was going to be capable of running the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon (this Sunday) I knew I wanted to make it special, I mean just coming this far in such a short period of time should be celebrated. No matter how pretty or ugly those 26.2 miles are I wanted to have fun with it, so time to dress it up. I enlisted my friend Jess (Run With Jess) to help me out and she came up with FOUR amazing ideas, one of which was my original idea but I was worried it was "too much". Well, Jess did TOO GOOD of a job designing the shirts because I couldn't decided which to wear.

See my problem!

I blogged, I facebooked and Jess even recruited her loyal followers to cast the vote. Instantly there were two stand outs #2 "Ran Cancer Out" and #4 "5 Months Ago". I told the boyfriend about the designs and he simply said "It's OK I'll decide for you" and I was a bit worried because he was the one who put the bug in my head that my initial idea was "too much".

Jess prepping the iron on decal courtesy of
find her also on facebook here.

He took one look and picked one with out hesitation, Yes, he picked the original design. ha ha I told Jess and her reply "I'm glad he came around, that's the one you need to go with". She's right, always trust your instincts! Sunday I'm running a marathon, I'm running off of 10 weeks of training, I'm running after starting completely over again (I returned with run/walk intervals building back up from the very bottom) and I'm running after beating cervical cancer. It doesn't matter if I PR, I run the whole thing or even walk some and it doesn't matter if in 6 months from now or next year the shirt will be irrelevant what matters is now, this moment and that.....