2017 Ragnar Trail Hill Country Race Recap

This may go down in history as one of the most spur-of-the-moment race decisions I’ve ever made. A friend of one of my TIR teammates needed a few legs picked up at Ragnar Trail Hill Country due to late drop-outs and injuries. Apparently if you ask me to run an overnight relay two hours away in middle-of-nowhere Texas with 12 hours notice, I will have no problem saying yes.

I ran Hill Country its inaugural year in 2014 so I knew what I was getting myself into. I almost signed up with a team earlier this year but decided due to my clumsiness it wouldn’t be in my best interest to run a trail race so close to Indy Monumental. But at this point my registration had been downgraded from the full to the half so running Hill Country seemed like a good idea.

I initially committed to picking up the 7.5 mile Red Loop late Friday night and the 3 mile Green Loop early Saturday morning. However, upon arrival in Comfort I learned one of their runners was a no-show (?!) and wasn’t answering her phone. We had to do a lot of leg switching but the reworked assignment was Green Loop in the afternoon, Red Loop late night, and the 5 mile Yellow Loop on Saturday morning. I hadn’t run anything farther than 4 miles since June so it was probably ambitious (read: dumb) to take on all of that mileage, but I went with it. YOLO. Thankfully the team was not competitive so my game plan of “just don’t fall + hurt yourself” would work out just fine.

Green Loop
Creekside Trail
33:27 (2014 — 55:13)

As the shortest loop, it was obviously the easiest. My legs felt a little rusty, and just as I was starting to hit my groove? The leg was over. However – I’m glad I wasn’t running Red or Yellow because it was 5:30pm and 80 degrees.

Red Loop
Buckeye Canyon Trail
1:38:41 (2014 — 2:07:01)

When I ran this in 2014, I fell more times during the Red Loop than I can count on two hands. I am notoriously a clumsy human being, so despite being armed with a solid headlamp I just couldn’t stay upright for the life of me. That being said, I was very cautious on this leg since I’d be tackling it in the dark at 10pm. I am pretty sure Ragnar only rates their legs based on the distance because the Red is by no means hard. Sure there was a decent amount of climbing (like where you were basically climbing rocks and wondering if you were still on the course or had made a wrong turn somewhere) but this leg was glorious. There were enough single-tracks sprinkled in where you could really stride it out and make up some time. When I came through transition at the end, I was on Cloud 9. This was the runner’s high I had been missing for many months. I was BACK.

Yellow Loop
Pipeline Hill Trail
1:11:25 (2014 — 1:36:32)

I stayed awake until 6am, taking teammates to/from the transition, downing coffee after coffee, and keeping track of our pace with a fancy clipboard (Type A’s dream come true) to make sure we were on track. I slept for mayyyybe 45 minutes before I gave up. It was super humid but the temperature was mid 60s and I felt simultaneously hot + freezing. Not exactly ideal sleeping conditions. I inhaled 4 pancakes with butter + syrup, pretending this was a good idea before my hardest leg, and took off at 8:30am to knock out the Yellow Loop.

Oh. This trail is not my favorite. It was a death march for me in 2014 and it didn’t take long into it this year before I remembered why. It’s almost four miles of climbing, and when it’s your third leg – it’s not fun. The view from the top is pretty though!

The last mile is almost completely downhill and while it’s tempting to haul ass down it, you still have to remember you’re on a trail and could potentially hit a hole or twist your ankle on a rock. I did remember seeing some decent paces on my Garmin during that mile but forced myself to reign it in so I didn’t faceplant.

Official Finish Time — 22:57:40
13th out of 75 in the Mixed Category
49th out of 218 Overall

The Inevitable Demise of a Runner’s High

Well. I knew it couldn’t last forever. I’d been riding that runner’s high for almost two years and right before Grandma’s Marathon, it started to fizzle out. The race reignited the flame a tiny bit, pushing me to wonder what type of PR I could pull off at Indy Monumental in November.

I intended on taking a little time off after Grandma’s to recover… and a few days turned into a few weeks. I started taking the train to work, and due to the transit schedule it meant I would no longer be able to run the trail after work or attend my favorite spin class. Summer arrived with a vengeance and my desire to run outside plummeted to 0%.

So here we are, roughly six weeks out from Indy. I’m toying with the idea of dropping down to the half distance and attempting another PR. If I go this route, then I’d register for a marathon in early 2018 (Austin) and shift my focus to that. But I really want to run the full in Indy! Super conflicted right now. I have until October 16th to make a decision on the distance.

Either way, I’m excited to spend another race weekend with Lora! One day we’ll plan a vacation which doesn’t revolve around an endurance event. Maybe…

Friday Five :: Grandma’s Marathon Weekend

  1. ALL THE THINGS. I am not one to buy a lot of crap at the race expo because I believe it’s bad luck. Worse luck than wearing the race shirt during the race. What if you don’t finish? It’s a lot of pressure. But things got a little crazy on Friday and I found myself at the register with a t-shirt, pint glass, and bottle opener. I feel like that’s conservative, no?F143AE44-98F7-4477-9DAA-C83EA92CBCA2 (1)
    Because I felt it was necessary to have a Grandma’s Marathon-related item to wear every single day of the week, Saturday night at the Rock the Big Top party I purchased another hoodie. Sure, maybe I can only wear it 4 days a year where I live on the surface of the sun in Texas, but whatever.
  2. That 5k. In addition to not buying crap, I also don’t believe in shakeout runs prior to a marathon. As in, I’ve never done one. Ever. Registering for the Great Grandma’s Challenge meant we were in for a 5k at 6:00pm at Friday night.melissalicia512_22_6_2017_22_38_13_740
    Our game plan was to take it suuuuuper slow and just have fun. While this was a great plan, I’m pretty sure everyone in our general vicinity HATED us as we casually threw down a few miles and chatted/laughed the entire way. Our finish line video was comical. Casually strolling through 3.1 miles is not something most people do twelve hours before a marathon. But when you’ve lost your mind as a runner, it’s completely normal.

    loramarie03_22_6_2017_23_14_57_773

  3. Our hotel. The only reason I’m letting you in on this secret is because we’ve already secured our spot for 2018. Call me selfish, but that’s fine. The Hampton Inn Duluth was less than a ten minute walk from the shuttle to the start and even closer to the finish. Parking was free. The views were incredible. But my favorite part? Coffee all day, every day. And free breakfast served at 4am on race morning. Even though that morning I wasn’t super hungry, it was great to know I had options only a few steps from our room. I’ll never forget when the hotel we stayed at for Marine Corps said they’d have coffee out at 5am and there was none to be found. I will starve before a race, but no coffee? Deal breaker. Race Morning
  4. Sunday was an excellent day. We slept in a bit and took our time before heading back to Minneapolis. Then we hit up Target Field for the Twins/Indians game at 1pm, followed by an afternoon of exploring which may or may not have went late into the evening. Didn’t hate it.

    melissalicia512_22_6_2017_22_36_20_677

  5. Post-Race Recovery. Monday the DOMS set in and my right leg was a little janky, causing me to drag it behind like a peg leg. Thankfully that subsided on Tuesday but Monday was pretty rough. We had a delightful patio lunch at Psycho Suzi’s where we consumed a lot of cheese curds + pizza. This meal may have been my favorite of the entire weekend. Immediately following this, we proceeded to sit real freaking hard on the couch and put a sizable dent into season 9 of Friends. Maybe I was on vacation and should have been exploring, but this was exactly what I needed after the busy weekend we had.

    Aerial Lift Bridge

2017 Grandma’s Marathon Race Recap

Grandmas - Run Superior

I didn’t grow up an athlete. Running was a sport I took up in 2010 for a one-and-done half marathon. At the seven year mark, I’ve now run four marathons, twenty-four half marathons, and more 5ks + 10ks than I can count on both hands. This past weekend I finished my fourth marathon with a 40-minute PR, and while it wasn’t the time I was hoping for, Grandma’s Marathon is hands-down my favorite race to date.

Race Morning

I’ve always struggled with eating breakfast in the morning before a race. I’m generally not hungry in the morning ever, so that coupled with minor race nerves usually results in me trying to eat something I have zero interest in. This has been completely fine for half marathons as of late, but I worried a couple bites of eggs and potatoes just weren’t going to cut it on Saturday.

Race Morning

Lora and I left our hotel in Canal Park just before 6am to catch the bus to the starting line in Two Harbors. We were both a little concerned with how calm we felt and the fact it didn’t feel like we were about to run 26.2 miles, but figured we should probably run (quite literally) with it. We arrived at the start around 7am leaving us with 45 minutes to kill. We immediately hopped in line for the portapotties which were super long but didn’t matter because, 45 minutes.

My main (C) goal for this race was to PR. It wouldn’t be hard, considering I was in much better shape than I was for my previous three, but the A goal was 4:45 and B goal was 4:59. The weather was not ideal, with temps creeping into the seventies and humidity at 95% from the minute we woke up. It was going to be a tough day, but these are variables you cannot control so you have to make the decision to either manage the conditions or let them ruin you. Running is a lot more mental than any of us care to admit.

Starting Line

Miles 1 – 8
10:38, 10:50, 10:57, 10:48, 10:42, 12:21, 10:55, 11:23

I wanted to start out slow, but thoughts of banking time filled my mind. I knew once the sun came out it was going to be a game changer. Unsurprisingly, the first mile was my fastest of the entire race but was still in the realm of where I wanted to be. I felt pretty solid through mile 8, taking my first Gu at the hour mark and a salt pill shortly after.

Miles 9 – 16
12:37, 10:38, 12:29, 11:42, 14:34, 13:12, 16:17, 11:31

Grandma’s will go down as the most sporadic splits in my racing history. At Mile 13, my body decided it was not interested in handling Gu. Apparently the sugar and my stomach were not getting along. Best news EVER with 13 miles to go and a mediocre breakfast under my belt. I took bathroom breaks at miles 13 and 15, and immediately felt better. Runners around me though? They were not doing so well. Everyone was walking and I watched so many struggle with cramps and nausea, some eventually dropping out. I could barely stomach my second Gu, but relied on salt pills (six total) through the rest of the race.

Miles 17 – 26.2
13:39, 12:30, 11:38, 14:13, 13:12, 15:07, 14:27, 12:14, 11:40, 11:27

These splits still make me laugh. I knew it was warm so I tried to be smart by walking when I needed to based on current heart rate and keeping the pace around 9:30/10:00 while running between breaks. My stomach was still a bit uneasy but it was manageable. I ate an orange at one point because I thought it was a good idea to consume some calories, but my stomach said NOPE. Legs still felt great, which is a complete 180 from every other marathon I’ve run. They didn’t need the walk breaks, but the last thing I wanted was to end up in a med tent because I pushed too hard.

Run Superior

Mile 22 is where Lemon Drop lives. Under normal circumstances, it’s a hill you’ll probably cruise up and then crush the downhill on the other side. But at mile 22 of a marathon, it’s the goddamn devil. The downhill afterwards still felt amazing and I passed a ton of a people.

We had arrived in downtown Duluth and the spectators were out in full force. It’s exactly what we needed at the end of the race. I was STARVING at this point which was the worst, but there was nothing I could do about it. Just before mile 25, I started to feel the rain and within seconds it was a torrential downpour. My sunglasses were covered in large raindrops but taking them off wasn’t an option. I figured the faster I finished, the faster I’d be out of the rain. So I kept the legs moving.

 

Grandmas Finish

Official Finish :: 5:26:04

Of course disappointment sets in when we set out with a lofty goal and don’t achieve it, but all things considered I’m incredibly happy with my finish time. I ran a smart race for once and my legs appreciate it. Two days after the race I was almost completely back to normal and could probably even run today (but won’t).

I always thought I’d be someone who needed a large marathon, with the camaraderie of fellow runners around me and spectators three rows deep. While Grandma’s doesn’t have the smallest field (roughly 9,000 full marathoners), crowd support through mile 20 was pretty sparse. HOWEVER! Those who made their way out to cheer along Highway 61? Super enthusiastic. Many cities loathe races shutting down their roads, but from Twin Harbors to Duluth, residents appeared to be overjoyed to support the insane runners who chose to run 26.2 miles for fun on a Saturday morning in June.

Canal Park

Overall

The course was gorgeous! I was worried running almost 19 miles along Lake Superior was going to be incredibly boring. It actually was very peaceful and the slight breeze coming off the lake was perfect. The left side of the course was a little more shaded, but it also made running the tangents pretty difficult. You have to pick your battle there. I loved finishing the end of the race in downtown Duluth, although could have done without the 4 turns in mile 25.

Lora and I ran the Great Grandma’s Challenge, which is a 5k on Friday night and the full marathon on Saturday morning. While this may seem delusional to 97% of the population, I LOVED it. We received a finisher’s shirt + medal for both the 5k + marathon, a hoodie for completing the challenge, a pair of Grandma’s Marathon socks, and a 1/4 zip tech shirt for registering early. From the start through mile 20, there were aid stations every 2 miles with water, Powerade, ice, and sponges soaked in cold water. After mile 20 the stations switched to every mile. I’ve never run a race with an ice station but good lord, I think dumping a cup of ice into my sports bra every couple miles saved me. I really wish warmer races (ahem, Houston) would do something similar because it would make all the difference. I don’t know how they kept it from melting, but the fact I could still grab it at mile 24 made me unbelievably grateful.

It’s really hard for me to fault Grandma’s Marathon for anything. The execution of everything was flawless from the moment we arrived at the expo on Friday afternoon to when we left the post-race Rock the Big Top party Saturday night. Honestly, I cannot wait to come back in 2018. Oh and yes, that’s happening – we already booked our hotel room.

 

 

 

 

2017 New Jersey Half Marathon Race Recap

NJ Marathon Expo.jpg

Over the past few months, I’ve had some of the highest mileage weeks since starting running seven years ago. My primary focus was to build a solid base for Grandma’s Marathon in June and there wasn’t a single speed or tempo workout on the plan. Despite not working on pace I was still determined to make a PR (<2:13) happen in New Jersey. My goals were:

(A) 2:08
(B) 2:10
(C) 2:12

Race Day

The plan was to see my family at the start, mile 3 or 4, mile 10, and the finish. We arrived at Monmouth Park by 7 and the race kicked off at 7:30 with Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” blaring from the corral speakers.

Miles 1 – 4 (9:37, 9:34, 9:47, 9:35)

For the past two weeks I had been trying to come up with a pace plan but aside from ‘run 10s for miles 1-4’ the rest was basically ‘just don’t fly and die’. My legs wanted to run 9:05/9:10 and every time I saw that on my watch, I slowed down to a 10. The result was four miles NOT at a 10min pace. My bad. Road closures (& my faster pace) were giving my family some difficulty, so they headed to a later mile to wait for me.

Miles 5 – 9 (9:41, 9:46, 9:44, 9:46, 9:41)

My sister texted to let me know they were at roughly mile 9 so I put my head down and counted down the miles until I would see those familiar faces. Mile 8 is where things have been unraveling in previous halves so I was conscious of this and didn’t let myself fall apart / give up on the possibility of a PR.

Mile 9.png

Miles 10 – 13.1 (10:11, 9:49, 9:41, 9:31)

This happens in EVERY.DAMN.RACE so I’m not even surprised, but getting a salt pill out of my FlipBelt was impossible while running. I knew I needed it so I forced myself to slow to a walk during mile 10 and sadly clocked my ONLY 10+ minute split of the entire race. So sad, could have been some beautiful splits. My legs were starting to feel the mileage at this point but with only a 5k to go, it was not the time to slow down. I saw my parents just before the finish which gave me the final boost I needed.

NJ Half - Finish - 2.jpg

NJ Half - Finish.jpg
Official Finish Time – 2:08

My splits were oddly consistent, with the last mile being the fastest. Not sure how I executed this (honestly, still in shock) but I’m so incredibly happy with that five-minute PR.

2017 Statesman Capitol 10k Race Recap

This race is not my favorite.

Honestly, it’s not even a medium-like. It’s crowded as hell, hilly, it’s downright miserable. I was 99.9% sure I’d be avoiding this year until a strange turn of events fell in my favor and on Sunday morning found myself pinning a bib to my shirt.

It was probably a poor choice to “race” a 10k only one week out from a half marathon I have been training to PR at, but if you’ve been reading here for even six months – you know there’s zero self control when it comes to PR attempts. I wanted to use this 10k as a way to practice my pacing strategy for next weekend and I’m here to tell you: that was a massive fail.

The Cap 10k includes a few hills in the first three miles which can pretty much destroy you if not prepared. I was ready; I had run this course countless times. My goal was to run the first three miles at 10:00/mi and then drop the pace in the back half.

Miles 1 – 3 (9:25, 9:40, 9:58)

My grand plan for 10s was ruined by fresh legs and fast competitors around me. I felt good and as if I wasn’t “pushing” so continued to coast through each mile. And every time my Garmin beeped I cursed myself. I knew this was too fast and today wasn’t about running a PR (it was about PACING) but couldn’t help myself.

Miles 4 – 6.2 (9:05, 8:41, 9:14)

Because I’m no stranger to this course from hell, I knew after we were done on Enfield the hard work was behind us. So I started to drop the pace a bit. Mile 4 included a walk break to catch my breath from hill climbing. Don’t judge. Mile 5? Well Mile 5 stemmed from a conversation with a close friend earlier in the week where she told me, in so many words, I was being too safe in my running. I had more speed in me than I gave myself credit for. So when my Garmin clicked over to 5, I let my legs fly – determined to see what I truly could throw down. Maybe this was too early for such an experiment but I went hard, and ran the fastest mile I’ve ever had in any race.

And then I paid for it in Mile 6. I struggled to hold onto 9:25 for most of the stretch on Cesar Chavez and the S 1st bridge. I. Was. DYING. But desperately held on because at this point I knew another PR was in reach and I wasn’t about to let that slip through my fingers.

Official Finish Time: 58:31

I said this in my Boneshaker recap and still without a doubt believe have a faster 10k time in me on a more favorable course. Eventually I’d like to test out this theory but it’s not going to be on a course in Austin anytime soon.

2017 Texas Independence Relay Race Recap :: Blood, Sweat & Beers

I’ve lost count of exactly how many relays I’ve run (6? 7?) but my favorite one is hands down the Texas Independence Relay. It begins in Gonzales where the Texas Revolution took place and ends at the San Jacinto Monument in Houston where Texas Independence was won. While most other relays have 36 legs, TIR has 40. Each team is made up of twelve runners, 8 of which run 3 legs and 4 who tackle 4 legs.

Ladies and gentleman, I present you with the certifiably insane members of Blood, Sweat & Beers:

We packed up the vans Friday night and left Austin around 5pm. We stopped in Moulton for dinner at Kloesel’s Steakhouse, hit up the Texas Independence Party and then headed to our hotel for a final night of sleep before the craziness would begin.

Race Day

Leg 4 – 5.38 miles

Before the first leg of every prior relay, my anxiety was always an all-time high. I have no idea why this happened but it was different this weekend. I was READY to run my ass off.

The 1pm handoff made for an extremely sunny run. It was almost entirely on dirt roads with rolling hills that just wouldn’t quit and annoying gravel which made you wonder at what point you’d twist an ankle.


After my first leg, I knew my next one wouldn’t be for awhile since it was Leg 24. Or so I thought. Steph quickly informed me that my next leg was actually 15. My bad. 

Leg 15 – 3.7 miles

This leg was pretty forgettable. It was 8:30pm, the sun finally had gone down and we were in the middle of BFE Texas. My Garmin even forgot about the run; when I finished it said I ran 0.01 miles. Nailed it.

Leg 24 – 4.75 miles

By far my FAVORITE (and fastest!) leg. It was a straight shot from Simonton to Fulshear so I was able to zone out and just run. It’s always a little creepy running in the middle of the night with only red blinky lights marking other runners in the distance. But night legs will always be my favorite! How my third leg was my fastest – I will never know. But I’m going to assume it had something to do with the Whataburger I had at 1am.

Leg 39 – 4.66 miles

I went into the weekend with only three legs, but after finishing my third I volunteered to pick up an additional one from anyone feeling not up to running their last leg. This seemed like a great idea at 4am, but once the sun came up I began second-guessing this decision. I think this photo displays exactly how pleased I was to be running on the surface of the sun that afternoon:

The only reason I survived this leg was because my badass vanmates stopped frequently to give me water to drink and dump on my head. It was SO hot, and the fact I was already so sunburned didn’t help my body temperature. Thankfully the last two miles had a killer breeze so that made me happy. Well, as happy as I could be coming up on almost 20 miles for the weekend.

And that’s a wrap on TIR 2017!

Relays are a different kind of beast. They test your endurance, your patience, and your ability to run (literally) on little to no sleep. You never want to stop pushing harder because this race isn’t about you – it’s about your team. Day 2 is a sufferfest (runners love pain, apparently) but everyone sucks it up and powers through. The encouragement and support you get from your teammates (and even other teams) is unrivaled. I always come out of relays incredibly inspired and this weekend was no different. Our team was made up of badass rockstar runners and I’m so glad they let me be a part of it. And also let me drink their beer 🙂

Our team captain Tony and Steph took care of every detail imaginable (and some we may never have thought of). As an extremely Type A person and one who usually takes control during relays, it was amazing to know we had absolutely nothing to worry about. I know how much work and planning goes into races of this magnitude – it’s no joke. So THANK YOU to Stony (celeb nickname FTW!) for making sure we were so well taken care of and set up for success during TIR!

And an immeasurable amount of gratitude goes out to Kalynn’s mom, Ginnie, for being the best race sherpa in all the land. She followed us around basically the entire weekend, snapping amazing photos (90% of the ones above), delivering Whataburger in the middle of the night, going on a much-needed beer run, and making Starbucks + kolaches magically appear Sunday morning when we were all in desperate need of a pick-me-up. She is pretty much our hero.

Hope to see everyone in 2018!


 

Grandma’s Marathon :: The Plan

Back when switching the name of my blog from Melissa Runs to So These Are My Thirties, I fully intended on writing more about real life. And I did for awhile, but once running reappeared as a priority in my life the content started to shift back in that direction. Can’t necessarily say I’m mad about it but fully intend to get back to those real life posts soon.

But for now? Let’s talk training.

Oh, training. Something I haven’t done in many, many years. The last time I seriously followed a training plan was for my first marathon in 2011. Almost six freakin’ years ago. It’s honestly amazing I’ve completed as many races in that span of time with next to zero training. The last marathon I ran was in Houston in January 2015 and for some reason never wrote a recap. My longest training “run” was 18 miles and despite the fact I “PR’ed” – it’s still not what I’m capable of.

Training for Grandma’s Marathon officially kicks off next Monday and I’ve chosen a [tweaked version] Pfitzinger plan. This is somewhat aggressive given what I’m used to but if I want to hit my goals, things need to get aggressive.

I alter this spreadsheet weekly depending on when I can make it to spin and also how my legs are feeling overall. I’m not registered for either the Austin 10/20 (zero desire to run this race) or the Cap 10K (already nailed my 10k PR + this particular course is SO ridiculously crowded), so I may end up scratching one or both races. Not really worried about it.

I’ll extend this plan out at some point considering the Golden Ultra is less than 200 days away and also due to the fact I registered for a second marathon in a moment of insanity. What I’m currently really excited about is the Texas Independence Relay next weekend. This is the first relay I’ve gone into with any semblance of serious training and I’m pumped to run hard for my badass teammates.

Let the training begin!

Thursday Things

We can add REI to the ever growing list of places I cannot go unchaperoned. Yesterday at lunch I headed there to pick up a replacement headlamp (haven’t seen my current one since Ragnar Austin + with a relay coming up in two weeks, necessary purchase) and well… it was a disaster. While wandering around looking for the headlamp section, I picked a up: a new HydroFlask, a pair of polarized sunglasses small enough to wear with a hat, and a TP Massage Ball. Goddamnit.

It happened again. While I’m still in my full-blown love affair with running, I decided it would likely be in my best interest to commit to second marathon to stay motivated throughout the rest of the year. So yesterday I registered for marathon number 5: Indy Monumental. The most terrifying part was absolutely entering 4:10 as my projected finish time. I’m still not 100% convinced this time is attainable but someone seems to think it may not even be aggressive enough. She is crazy, but I will still be her friend. And with that, I will be in training mode pretty much for the rest of year. YIKES.

I’m on a quest for the perfect pair of bluetooth headphones. I used to run with an iPod Shuffle and a carefully curated playlist full of purchased songs. Now that Spotify Premium is a staple in my life, I’ve become even more obsessed with music and building epic playlists. The downside to this is having to run with phone which is much larger than the tiny 1″ x 1″ iPod. This is a FWP to discuss another day. Anyway, there are way too many options out there for BT headphones and I’m not interested in spending $100 on a pair that may not survive a hot and humid summer in Texas. Yurbuds are my current go-to for wired headphones but the BT ones don’t have the best reviews. The first pair I bought are these -we’ll see how they do. Recommendations at welcome! Give ’em to me. 

The running shoe saga continues! For the past several years I’ve been running happily in Saucony Guide (long runs) + Saucony Mirage (almost everything else). After Marine Corps Marathon, I picked up the Guide 9 and ran Rock n Roll Las Vegas in them. The updates they made since the 8 were incredibly underwhelming and felt completely different. I ended up sending them back to Running Warehouse (best return policy, behind Nordstrom of course). The 10 has since come out and they look very similar to the 9s, so obviously I’m not excited about them. Thankfully my 8s still have 100ish miles left on them but after that I’ll be SOL. Now I’m on a hunt for a long-distance shoe with an 8mm drop or less, which is proving to be harder than expected. As for the Mirage, Saucony decided to discontinue the shoe entirely. MAJOR SADNESS. It doesn’t look like they plan on replacing them with a comparable model, so again – SOL. I ordered a pair on Amazon at a deep discount and also picked up a pair of Kinvaras which will *hopefully* end up working out. But not holding my breath. 

I’ve embraced hermit life. With the return of training, I’ve also made the return to becoming one with my couch and Netflix. Currently? Rewatching Grey’s Anatomy. I forgot about so many things in this show so a lot of seems new. I’m halfway through season 8 (please don’t ask how long this took) and up next will likely be Private Practice. By the time I wrap that up, House of Cards and Bloodlines should be available for streaming. Social life? Who needs that?

2017 Boneshaker Pace Bend 10k Race Recap

As is the case with a majority of my PRs, the 10k one has been collecting dust for six years. I can run a 5k any given weekend of the year but for some reason races of this distance are few and far between. So on Saturday I made the hour drive out to Spicewood to run some rolling hills around Lake Travis. Not entirely sure why I willingly keep running all of these hilly races but whatever, it is what it is.

This was the inaugural year for the Pace Bend 10k and it drew roughly 100 runners. Small crowd for sure but likely due to the fact it’s pretty far from Austin city limits. There was plenty of parking and from start to finish everything was really well organized.

Miles 1 (9:33) and 2 (9:50) were relatively uneventful. There were definitely rolling hills but they weren’t horrible. There also was a bit of a headwind which sucked but I tried to tuck in behind a tall guy pushing a stroller. Really, I enjoy being slower than people pushing their children. It’s great for the ego. Anyway, I was happy with these paces given the course I was working with.

And then mile 3 happened.

Oh, mile 3. You were a bitch. There was an extremely long gradual climb that wound around corners so just when you thought your quads were done burning, you were surprised with another hill to climb. Everyone around me was walking which was (1) motivation to keep moving + pass them but also (2) made me consider taking a short walk break. I gave myself a quick profanity-laced pep talk and decided to keep running. This unfortunately was still my slowest mile at 10:19.

It took a few minutes for my legs and lungs to recover from mile 3, but once I did? It was time to drop the pace. Miles 4 (9:24) and 5  (9:37) were much kinder to us, with a sweet downhill and several long flat stretches.

Mile 6 by some miracle was my fastest at 9:09. The finish was UPHILL and so goddamn rude. My previous PR was 1:01 so obviously anything under that I would have been okay with. HOWEVER. My 10k goal for 2017 was 59:xx. My pace felt so slow coming up that last hill and I knew it was going to be really freaking close.

Official Finish Time: 59:51

And with that, I can check another PR off of my list for the year! All I could think on the ride home was “what if I had been on an easier course?” and wondered if I could chip away at that PR a little bit more. Not even 30 minutes after crossing the finish line and I was already wanting more. Runners are a crazy breed.