November 2015 Recap

Monday, November 30, 2015

Runs: 15
Walks: 12
Miles: 80
Races: 3 (Joslyn Castle Turkey Trot 5K, Hot Chocolate Chicago 15K, Williams Route 66 Half Marathon)
Outdoors: 16
Indoors: 11 Longest: 13.1 miles
Average Running Pace: 12:48

November was a great month!  I ran the most miles ever (80), I finished a half marathon (a HUGE accomplishment!) and even though my pace fell off I was proud that I kept it under 13:00 (especially considering all the longer races and longer training runs). I averaged almost 5 miles per run. When I increase my mileage per run, my pace slows down.

There are 2 races in December. The Reindeer Run 5K on December 12th and the San Diego Holiday ½ marathon on my birthday (December 27th).

Williams Route 66 Half Marathon

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

I did it! I can’t believe it! I survived!

The morning started off cold as it was 36 degrees and breezy. I wore my capri pants, a tank, a long sleeve shirt and a throw away hoodie. I know the day was going to get warmer so I planned ahead. After roasting in my long sleeve in Chicago, I made sure to have a tank on just in case. I was so glad I did! I had my typically pre-race breakfast of toast and Nutella. I made sure to keep drinking water to hydrate and grabbed a banana for the road. Phil, Eric and I made the short trek to downtown Tulsa for the start of the race. We parked near the finish so we had a bit of a walk to the start. We made a bee line to the bag check and said good bye to Phil at Corral B and got into our Corral…D. Afterwards Eric and I realized we should have been in Corral C but oh well.

The Start
Since we were in Corral D we were stuck with a lot of walkers. No big deal. I’m happy they are getting out there and doing the race. But it was a pain in the butt to weave around them. This race caters to walkers with their generous time limit so it was expected.  Amazingly I kept my sweatshirt on for the first mile. I was still a little chilled so I kept it on. Mile 1 was mostly downhill so I didn’t start the walk breaks until after mile 1. I had a lot of adrenaline which helped.  The first mile felt great at 12:17.

The beginning of mile 2 had a hill…one of many on this hilly course. Who knew Tulsa was so hilly? During mile 2 was the first water stop. I ate some beans and took some water. The first water stop was a pain in the butt because there were so many people. And we were being funneled down a narrow street. I had no choice but to walk as there was nowhere for me to run! My toe pain started early on this race and I was in a lot of pain after that water stop. It took a while for my toes to stop hurting. Mile 2 finished with a nice downhill which helped my time but I’m still disappointed that it was over 13 minutes!

Mile 3 surprises me. During mile 3 we had a long steep climb to the highest point on the course.  But once we got to the top it was nice downhill so I guess that is where the speed came from.  We also ran in some very nice neighborhoods with amazing houses and finished on the campus of Cascia Hall School a Catholic Augustinian, college preparatory school.  There were 7 speed bumps we had to run over and the cheerleaders/dance team made sure that we knew where each one was located. It was interesting and their drum line was out there playing too. That was nice. After we left the school was the second water stop. This one wasn’t as crazy as the first one…thank GOD! Mile 3 came in at a surprising 12:29. I was a bit off the pace I was hoping for at this point but that was ok.

During Mile 4 a family had oranges and banana pieces for us. I was so excited to see a banana. It was really only 2 bites but it was heaven. I thanked them as I continued on my way. Mile 4 was also a gradual uphill almost the whole way but it was so slight that you really didn’t notice it other than it sucked the wind out of you.  This area we ran by some nice houses again. Actually we ran by nice houses for the majority of the first 6 miles.  Mile 4 came in a bit slower than mile 3 at 12:51. My overall pace was almost 51 minutes which was a minute behind my desired time at mile 4 but again that was ok.
The Middle
The middle section was very flat as I will describe below. Mile 5 ran through a park and there were huge lines of people waiting to use a “real” bathroom. Surprisingly I didn’t need that during the race. Again thank GOD! Somewhere during mile 5 a house on the route was handing out shots. Not something I’d necessarily want but a lot of people were grabbing them. Mile 5 pace was close to my mile 1 time at 12:20. Nothing really stands out as to why I got faster. Maybe it was the beans…or the banana?  My overall pace after mile 5 was 1:03.19. That was only 35 seconds behind where I thought I’d be.  Yay!

I really don’t remember much about mile 6. It was flat and somehow was my fastest mile at 12:09. Woo Hoo! The faster pace put me at 1:15:28 for an overall pace which was 17 seconds faster than I thought it would be. That made me happy to get some time in the bank!

Mile 7 was long, straight and flat. Again nothing really stands about that mile besides I stripped down to the tank top. I got hot! My pace for the mile was 12:41 and my overall was 1:28.09, over a minute faster than I predicted. I really didn’t know what to expect after mile 6 so I was very conservative in my estimate.

During mile 8 we reached the southernmost part of the route along a busy street with lots of businesses. There was another water stop half way between mile 7 and 8, right before we turned onto this busy street. There was another beer stop by one of the running stores on this street. No thanks! It was also fairly flat. And about half way through we turned to Riverside Drive which was a welcome diversion from the busy street. As expected, this where I started to tank. I had predicted that I would run mile 8 in 13:45 and I wasn’t far off with 13:40.  My overall pace was 1:41:49 which was still almost a minute faster than predicted.

The End
I did surprisingly well on mile 9. Eric pushed me to beat my Chicago 15K time. I was about minute behind that but I had to run 4 more miles so I had to leave something in the bank! At the 9 mile marker was the “Mile 9 Block Party.” All the neighbors got together and made 5,000 Jell-O shots and all sorts of other things for runners. They had a large balloon banner over the road. It was really cool. It definitely stood out as a fun time. There was a water stop around here and that is when I cracked open my M&Ms. I promised myself I could eat them sometime after mile 8. They were the best things ever. I only ate half the pack and stuck the other half in my pocket for the mile 11 water stop. My pace got a little faster during this mile and I finished with a 13:20. My overall time was 1:55:09 which was a minute and a half faster than my predicted time. Awesome!

Mile 10 was new territory for me. I had never run more than 9.4 miles so this was strange for me. I knew that when I reached the end of mile 10 it was only a 5K to go. I knew that I could walk a 5K if I had too. But I kept going. I don’t remember much of this mile. It was residential but not the big fancy houses that we had earlier in the run. It had some hills but for the most part it was flat.  My pace fell off a lot from mile 9 but I expected that. I still did something that resembled a run. Haha! I told Eric that I had to start running only a quarter mile instead of the usual half. But he pushed me enough that I still managed to get in half miles splits. I extended my walking a bit to a minute and a half. My toe pain flared up again but I was not going to give up! Mile 10 was almost a minute slower than mile 9 at 14:10. My overall time was still doing well at 2:09:19 which was a minute and a half faster than my predicted time. Amazing!!

I love the Tulsa Police Department…at the beginning of mile 11 they had their own water stop for us. Even though we got water at Mile 9 I really need more as the M&Ms left my mouth a bit dry. Don’t get me wrong…I will make M&Ms my mile 9 treat in the future! I just have to make sure that I grab more water to wash them down. The police officers had oranges too. I’m not crazy about oranges so I passed but it was nice to have this unexpected water stop.  Right after that we had a nice long downhill to the Arkansas River. I also think the M&Ms helped as my mile 11 pace was 30 seconds faster than mile 10. Rock on!  I was back in the 13s at 13:40. My overall time was just under 1:23. Two minutes faster than I predicted!  I expected to totally tank by this point so a mile that was under 14 minutes really helped me get ahead of schedule. I knew at this point that I would definitely finish before 3 hours. It was a relief.

Mile 12 sucked. It was horrible. I hated the organizers for most of the mile.  We started running up to the bridge. We had to run across the bridge for a bit and turn around. When we got about half way there was the final water stop. I finished off my M&Ms and took a couple waters for the road. As I could see ahead of me was a big long uphill. During mile 12?!?! I had looked at the course and elevation map beforehand so I knew it was coming. But it didn’t prepare me. It was a 200 foot climb and most of that was during the quarter of a mile after the water stop. Even Eric said, “We are walking to the top.” He said later he could have run up it but he didn’t want to leave me yet and he didn’t want to burn out his legs for the last mile. If you haven’t noticed…we didn’t fight at all during this run. There were no pace arguments…it is weird. Anyways we walked up the damn hill and my time for mile 12 was 15:29. A minute slower than I expected but thanks to an awesome mile 11 I had more than enough time to sacrifice. Overall pace was 2:38:28. I still had a minute in the bank and more importantly, I had over 21 minutes to finish the last 1.1 miles. Even though the hill took a lot out of me, I was thrilled that my goal of 2 hour, 59 minutes and 59 seconds was going to be crushed!

The Last 1.1 & Finish
We got the end of mile 12 and Eric left me. I was surprised he stuck with me that long. I told him back at mile 10 that he could leave me but he said no. The last mile was mostly flat except for a long dip down and up. I told him I was fine and that I had over 21 minutes to play with. The last thing he said as he sprinted away was “beat 3 hours!” At about the half mile mark we crested they long climb from the bottom of the hill. We didn’t actually walk up to the top of the hill as I said during mile 11, we really just walked to end of mile 12 which was a short flat section.  As soon as Eric left me, we had more hills to climb.

My last mile was a mess. I had a lot of emotions going on and right around this time the half marathoners and the marathoners were split into two separate lanes. Near the end of mile 13, we continued straight to the finish while the marathoners took a right and did 13 more miles. Yikes!

During this mile, I ran into a new friend. I have no idea what her name was but we talked about how we were grateful to be almost finished and how we pitied the marathoners and things like that. A marathoner yelled at us from the other lane and said that we were “incredible” and “finish strong” and “you got this” and a whole lot of other encouraging words. It made me feel pretty amazing. We, of course, wished her luck on the next 13 mile loop.

We came to the dip and I “sprinted” down, slapping the hands of volunteers who had the hands out wanting to be slapped. Everybody in front of me avoided them so I did a quick cut over and slapped them. I got to the bottom of the dip and walked up the other side. It was at this point we saw the 26 mile sign so I knew it was less than a quarter mile to go. We turned the corner and I saw the amazing finish line. I was surprised that most of the people I was around were not running. I thought to myself this is the finish line, you always run towards the finish line. So I left them in my dust as I “sprinted” to the finish line. Just before the finish line they had the mat and photographers taking our pictures. I haven’t seen the picture but I had the biggest grin and gave thumbs up. I looked at my watch and saw that I was very close to 2:55. I wanted to be faster than that so I gave what little I had left and hit the finish line…2:54:53. I did it! I was over 5 minutes faster than I hoped. I was so excited.

They put the medal on me and wrapped me in that aluminum thing and I made my way through the finisher chute. I was so happy, it was an incredible experience. I thought to myself the entire time I was in the finisher chute I can’t wait to do this again.

I found Eric and we filled up on water and bananas and granola bars and whatever else I could find.  We got our race time printed off and for the first time ever I had my medal engraved. I just had to!

I have done so many races of varying distances but I have never felt like this before. I now understand why people say this is addictive. It is! I’m still in shock that my legs carried my fat ass for over 13 miles. (I didn’t ride bike more than 13 miles at one time this summer!)  I can’t wait for the next one in San Diego in 32 days.



Why Tulsa?

Saturday, November 21, 2015

So why did I pick Tulsa for my first half? Good question. Actually my first half was supposed to be in San Diego on my birthday this year. I had been training for a December half marathon. So what happen?

Well funny story...
It all started months ago when I found the Williams Route 66 Marathon. See this half marathon/marathon is technically called that. I told my sister-in-law DJ that we had to run this marathon in the future because it has our name in it and everything. And the time limit is 7.5 hours. So we said that in the future we would do this race.

A Month Ago...
So a month ago we were running the MCM 10K in Washington, D.C. And Eric's brother Phil was running the full marathon. We had dinner together the night before and I mentioned to Phil about our plan. His response was "Tulsa, who wants to run in Oklahoma? It is flat and windy." So I thought to myself poo poo you Phil.

2 days later...
So 2 days later I get a message from Phil, "Hey the Williams Route 66 marathon is in three weeks. I think we should all run it! It has our name and everything. How did we not know about this one???" So after some quick planning here we are. In 24 hours I will be (hopefully) at mile 10 on my way to finishing my first half marathon. Fingers crossed.

Thoughts before my 1st Half Marathon

Friday, November 20, 2015

Well here it is…in 6 hours and 40 minutes I fly to Tulsa and in 42 hours and 52 minutes I’ll be undertaking my first ever Half Marathon. To say I’m nervous is an understatement. I mean it is 13.1 freaking miles. I’ve never ran that far. I have done over 9 miles a few times but this is way more than I have ever run before. I keep reminding myself it is only 4 more miles ….I can walk 4 miles.

Can I do it?
Absolutely!  On the days that I have ran the 15Ks I usually had a long walk to start line and from the finish line so yes technically I have done 13 miles before. But 4 of those miles were not in a race setting. So it doesn’t really count. One thing is for sure, I have not had a DNF (did not finish) and I don’t want one this weekend!

Well I haven’t had much training with trying to fuel. I’ve been using Sports Beans (energy jelly beans from Jelly Belly). I’m not a big fan of jelly beans but I’d rather chew on them than those nasty gels. I also found what I think will be my secret fueling option….M&Ms. I know crazy. But during the Chicago 15K, around mile 7.5 they gave us M&Ms and they were the best thing in the world at that point and time. I was sick of my jelly beans and it was a welcome change from fruit punch flavor. So I need to figure out where to stash a pack of plain M&Ms.

Ultimate Goal?
Well obviously my first goal is to finish in the upright position. Secondly, I’d like to beat Phil to the finish line. (Eric’s brother, Phil, is running the full marathon, he averages 4 hours so I should beat him but nevertheless, it is my goal to beat Phil). My personal goal is under 3 hours. If it is 2:59:59 I will be thrilled. If it is over 3, I will still be thrilled! 

What’s the Plan?
My plan is simple. Try to not kill myself in the first 6 miles (Note to Eric…don’t go out too fast on me like you usually do!!). I’m hoping not to lose too much time on the later miles. I can run a consistent pace for about 6 miles after that I’m crap. So if I can keep the first 6 miles around 12:45 pace (which is close to my training pace) I should be able to finish it under 3. To do the math for you, after mile 6 I would have to average a 14:40 to make it across the finish line in less than 3 hours. That is practically a walk! If I keep thinking that it helps to calm my nerves. But to be honest I don’t want to walk 7 miles so I’ll be run more than that.  Also I hope that my argument with Eric doesn’t happen until Mile 11 or 12. I can’t have it happen during mile 6 like in Chicago.

So I looked up my bib number and I love it. 


So to most people it is just another number.  But to me it is a whole lot more. I like it because the 1+1+1+1=4. Awesome!  It is a palindrome (sequence of characters which reads the same backward or forward). And, as my niece Danielle informed me, it is a PRIME number. It must mean I’m primed to have good race. Haha. I have joke to take the edginess off!

Pray for me!  I need it.

Swirl, You don't like popcorn!

Hot Chocolate 15K - Chicago

Monday, November 9, 2015

We made a very quick trip to Chicago over the weekend for the Hot Chocolate 15K. Overall it was a great weekend.

The Expo
The Chicago Expo was HUGE!  It was like the MCM expo. There was a ton of stuff and a very small space…at least it felt small. It was also very confusing. Getting the bibs were easy, finding the goodie bag not so much. But I put the blame on the guy who gave us our bibs. He directed us the wrong way. Oh well…volunteers. Since we are Hot Chocolate Alums (2015 Hot Chocolate Minneapolis), we get a special embroidered jacket with the city’s logo. So when we run the 2016 Hot Chocolate Minneapolis we will get one with Minneapolis skyline on it. How cool is that?  I really like Ram Racing the group that runs these runs. They are very organized.

The Start
We were in Corral P. The corrals started with A and went through W. 5k and 15K runners were mixed together in the corral as the first 2.5 miles was the same for both races. There were over 23,000 people in the 5K and over 12,000 in the 15K. It was an insane amount of people! It took us over an hour to get across the start line!

It was a chilly morning at 37 degrees at start time. Eric and I went to Goodwill on Friday and bought some cheap sweatshirts to wear before the race started and then we ditched them along the road before we actually started. It is a common practice and it benefits the poor as the clothes are collected and donated to area shelters. (And based on our quick tour of the city there are a ton of homeless people. They are everywhere. I’m not used to that in Minneapolis.)

The horn sounds and we are off…9.4 miles here I come. I was nervous about it for some reason. I wasn’t this nervous before the TC 10K and 5K but I guess I compartmentalized the two races so I wasn’t as scared but this freaked me out a bit. I know I can cover the miles the question is how fast and how will I feel!?

The First 5K
The first 5K was horrible. Not time wise but just scenery and smell. They start us off north on Columbus Street or something, I don’t remember. Soon we enter a tunnel or underground street. This messed up my Garmin and Eric’s Nike watch. My watch kept going but its pacing was screwy. Eric’s just stopped at .37 and stayed there for 4 miles. Ha! So anyways these “tunnels” were dark, dingy and smelled of sewer gas. It was horrible. We were “under cover” for the first couple miles and when we popped out they made us running under the “L” train elevated platforms. Not cool Chicago! I was so relieved when we eventually got to Michigan Ave and could be in the sun and away from the smell. Just before mile 3 the 5K’s turned left and we kept going for another 3 miles down Michigan Ave. There wasn’t much spectator support on this course and after the 5K turned the runners thinned out a lot. Don’t get me wrong, there were still a lot of runners but we weren’t on top of each other. My 5K time was 38:12 which seems a bit slow, I had 37 something. But whatever!

The Middle 5K
For miles 4 and 5 we continued down boring Michigan Ave. Like I said, there were no spectators so it was a lonely 2 miles. There was a water stop after mile 4. I stopped for some water and I had the most tremendous pain my left toes. This isn’t a new problem. My toes on my left foot always hurt at some point when I run. I blame my horrible toes on the Stai family. Anyways my left toes always hurt but I usually can walk or run through the pain. But the pain was the worst I ever felt, I actually started crying. I really wish I could figure out why they hurt so much. Well I walked a bit and then started running and then the pain just magically goes away. I don’t get it. I blame the toes for my slower mile 5. Mile 6 is a very annoying mile. It was an out and back. We ran a half a mile up turned around and ran a half mile back. It was in this area Eric and I had our usually pace fight. He said “that mile was 13 minutes” (which it wasn’t, it was 12:22). I told him “I don’t care!” My 10K time was 1:16:35 which was almost exactly what my watch said. It was very even with the 5K time too. Not my best (a minute off of TC 10K) but not horrible either.

The Last 5K
Right past the 10K marker, the Olivet Baptist Church choir was sing songs of praise for us. Not bad, what you would expect from a Baptist choir upbeat with lots of dancing. That was about it for crowd support. Mile 7 was where things fell apart for me. I was having a hard time running and wanted to just walk. I know that is bad. I still managed to get the mile in at around 13 minutes. During mile 8 we had to run another tunnel. I was exhausted by this point and walked the tunnel. It was just short of a quarter mile and surprisingly Eric walked the entire tunnel with me and never said anything about not running. We decided the best thing for him was to leave me and sprint to the finish. I’ll get there when I get there. I told him to leave me earlier but he made sure I got through the tunnel before taking off. I was so relieved when he left. I could walk if I wanted to without the guilt. I started running quarter mile intervals and walking 30 seconds afterwards. I think that was the only way I was going to make it for mile 8 and 9.  Shortly after we got out of the tunnel there was a marching band from Kelley high school. I love a good marching band! They pepped me up! The last few miles were crazy we did a lot of zig-zagging in parks and such. I don’t really know where all we ran. I know that we ran past Soldiers’ Field (which Eric didn’t even realize). There some mean hills during mile 9. This course is flat, except for mile 9. Bastards! I knew I wasn’t going to PR but I still wanted to finish in less than 2 hours. I sprinted (the best I could) the last 0.4 miles to the finish banner. I was so happy to see it. My time was 1:59.12. I beat 2 hours!!

The Chocolate

After finishing and getting our medal we made the slow walk to the chocolate. It was quite a walk from the finish line. We picked up our bag and headed for the chocolate. From the finish line to the chocolate line was almost a mile! I was feeling pretty good and not in too much pain. I was starving when we got the chocolate goodies. I ate the banana dipped in chocolate right away and gulped my hot chocolate down. We didn’t spend too much time in the finisher area. After we got our chocolate we headed back to the hotel. Our hotel was two blocks away from the finisher area so that was really nice. We got to the room and I ate some more of the delicious chocolate. We went into the hot tub for a bit and showered before checking out of the hotel. Overall a great experience (besides the toe problem).

The Pictures, Splits and Maps

Terror Trot 5K

Sunday, November 1, 2015

This was my first really 5K test this month. Yes I have done 3 other 5Ks but one was immediately following an awesome 10K, one was at night in unfamiliar ground so I walked with DJ and I always walk the Mankato 5K with Mike. So this was my only 5K “race.”

Wearing Glasses
This race was a bit of a frustrating for one reason only, I had to wear my glasses. I have multiple abrasions on my cornea which made the doctor say NO CONTACTS. Well I never run in glasses. They get fogged up, they slip up and down my nose and the bouncing makes me dizzy. But I had to wear them.

The Start
This race is much smaller than the Monster Dash. There were only 300 or so runners. It was nice for a change to be in a smaller race. MCM 10K last week was huge and there were so many people to weave around. Not really a problem here. The weather started out rainy and chilly. I wore a rain jacket for the first mile. I dumped that with Eric and he took off on me. I was ok with it. It was only a 5K. My first mile was 11:35. Not my fastest but pretty good considering I’m wearing glasses.

The Middle
Mile 2 was slow but I didn’t stop running. There was a gigantic water puddle on the road that they diverted us on the running path. It worked ok with this race but I couldn’t imagine them doing that in a bigger race. My glasses started to fog up during this time. I had to stop twice to wipe them because I couldn’t see. Mile two was just over 12 minutes at 12:01.

The Finish
No big fanfare with the finish. There was a water stop at 2.6. I didn’t pay attention to where we were at and took some. If I’d knew that we were that close to the finish I would have just ran past. Oops. Anyways, I was hoping for a sub-36 race but unfortunately came in at 36:09. Not bad for having to wear glasses. 

Photos, Maps and Splits