Couch to 26.2 in One Day- Chicago Marathon Race Recap/Interview with Rachel Pastor

From couch to 26.2 miles in ONE DAY. This is a training plan we could all get on board with right?

When I heard that my non-runner friend, Rachel Pastor was going to run the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 7th AND only decided she was going to do this the night before the event, I was floored. I had to know everything she was thinking; before, during and after. I was SO intrigued. Would she even finish? Would she end up with a crazy injury?

Backing it up just a little…

Chicago Marathon 2018 was special to me for a lot of reasons- I didn’t run it, but my good friends, Lauren, Gelsey, and Colleen were. My friend Rachel was going along to cheer and experience the event. Unfortunately Colleen was injured and the night before the race Rachel agreed to take her place.

Maybe you have met someone who decided 24 hours before that they were going to run 26.2 miles the next day- I had not. And in this case Rachel is a non-runner who in the past month has jogged 3 miles total. She is an avid fitness enthusiast- personal trainer, cross-fit, weights, cycling, but zero running.

I finally had the chance to sit down with Rachel and ask some of my burning questions:

Q and A:

Do you often find yourself in new and challenging situations? (laughs) Yes, AnnMarie- I thrive in them.

Last time and distance you ran? Two weeks before Labor Day. I thought I might run the Fortitude (local Fort Collins race) so I ran 3 miles. I ended up deciding not to run it so that is the last time I ran. I usually don’t run at all.

Why did Colleen want you to run in her place? She was injured and although she really wanted to run it and had trained for it, she could not. I didn’t want to be rude or step on anyone’s toes but when my friend Lauren encouraged me to take her place she (Colleen) said “Yes, it would give this whole thing purpose.” (Colleen was running for a charity) After she said that everyone was like “Do it, do it, do it!”

Did you have any mantras? Yes. My friend Sydney had texted me and said that if I finished I would be in the top 2%, because only 2% of people have ever finished marathons. So I knew all I had to do was finish.

What was the advice from the seasoned runners you were with? Were they on board? They were the ones that encouraged me to do it. They basically said you have no big commitment to this- if you decide to drop out, you can just call an Uber. You can take as long as you need. They recommended the walk/run method.

What made you want to do it? I saw the challenge in it. There was something irking me inside to do it and I don’t know if it was that I wanted the challenge or if it was something that was pushing me towards something that I felt like I was meant to do.

How long were you sore after? I’m still sore. I do have some issues. I have a cramp in my glute that I can’t get rid of. My knees are sore. I don’t think I did any long-term damage though.

How did you feel during the race? The hardest part was being in so much pain and realizing how much farther I had to go. At mile 9 I started to really hurt but was able to run to the half. After that it was walk/run, walk/run and still pushing through pain.

What was the hardest part of the race? The last 5 miles I was just crying because I was in so much pain. Even when I was trying to walk with the walking pacers I couldn’t keep up so I knew it was going to be a really long time. People have asked “Did you cry when you crossed the finish line?” and I’ve said “No, because I was crying the entire 5 miles before, I had nothing left to cry”. My feet felt like they were going to spontaneously combust. I didn’t want to take off my shoes because I was scared of what was going on in there.

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What kinds of things did you think about during the marathon? I was really into this podcast with Joe Rogan interviewing David Goggins. He runs these ultra marathons with his feet just torn up and will tape them up and run these crazy runs in so much pain. He talks about some of his finishes and how hard they were- even being hospitalized after. It was completely mental strength that allowed him to finish. So I was just thinking about that- “Even if I crawl through the finish line I will make it. I will make it.”

Did you get a runner’s high? I don’t know what a runner’s high feels like but I’m assuming its the feeling like after a really good cycling class, like an endorphin rush, right?
Yes. So. Um, no. I couldn’t even talk. My mouth literally would not move. I was in so much pain and so depleted I couldn’t speak.

How did you get from the finish line to the hotel room? My friend Lauren, literally helped me down the stairs (STAIRS at the finish line??), sat me down and called an Uber. She wrapped me up tight because I couldn’t stop shivering. She had waited for me for hours after completing her marathon that she trained for to take care of me.

What was the reaction from the running community? Most runners weren’t as wowed by it. More people that have reached out and said “wow, that was incredible” were people who were not runners.

I often hear people say the marathon is life changing. Have you noticed that? How has this run changed you? For me it wasn’t during the marathon and I don’t know if I’m still processing some stuff from it. I’ve been extremely emotional ever since I finished it. Something happened, I just haven’t quite figured out what it is yet, but something shifted. I didn’t plan on this but I feel like I proved to myself that I had a strength I didn’t know I had, mentally.

Finish time: 6:47

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I’m proud of you, Rachel. It was crazy yes, I wouldn’t recommend this embarkment on the marathon, but damn it, I admire your spirit. When you are all in, you are ALL IN.

Do things that make you feel alive. Do things that are hard. You will learn so much about yourself and feel a kind of joy in life that can’t be found by staying in your comfort zone.

If you want to connect with Rachel visit her at: http://generation-healthy.com/

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9 “Wish I Had Known” Tips to Improve Postpartum Running

I’ve been thinking a lot about new mommas and women who want to successfully return to running postpartum. It’s tricky, but I’ve been asking around- seasoned mothers, mothers with multiples, doctors, specialists, new moms, and I’ve compiled my list of things I wish I had known before I had kiddos that would have helped me get back into running and exercise a little more quickly and with less pain.

Throw back to 9 months pregnant with Owen:

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Number 9: Invest Early in a Quality Jogging Stroller: Even though you won’t be able to jog for 6 months or until baby can support their own head, those 6 months will FLY by. And the last thing you will be wanting to do during that time is trying to research and purchase a jogging stroller anyway. Also, if you look in the right places you can probably find a used one in excellent condition to keep the price down. There are pros and cons to that as a new one usually comes with some sort of warranty, so take those types of things into account.

Number 8: Make Time for Yourself by: asking a friend or husband to commit to one or two days a week for a set period of time so you can make a plan around that window of time and be consistent. Doing this in advance ensures it will happen, creates a habit, and doesn’t add to the stress of trying to schedule one more thing. Trade childcare if its a friend, trade kisses if its your husband.

Number 7: Support: You’ll need lots of other kinds as well, but a belly belt supporter helped me run a little longer than I could have without. If you are planning on running while pregnant, I feel like this is a must. There are so many options and styles. I would recommend trying them on when you’re around 20-24 weeks just so you can get an idea of how the belt will adjust with your growing babe.

Number 6: Attend a Breastfeeding Class Prior to Birth. Breast tenderness and nipple soreness from nursing can be a very real set-back when it comes to even thinking about wearing a bra supportive enough to run in. It seems like nursing should just come naturally (that’s what I thought) but for some can be one of the biggest obstacles (it was for me).

Number 5: The Sleep Dilemma. If you have a fussy sleeper you will have to go easy on yourself. I read so many books and tried many different methods with my first to try and get him to JUST. SLEEP. In the end, I wish I had just let him sleep with me, that was the only thing that ever ended up working and I would have saved myself so much stress trying “Cry it Out” methods. Your body needs rest to get better, so if you have a fussy baby, be extra patient returning to running.

Number 4: Mom Groups. Dude, I had no idea about social media mom groups! Do you know how helpful it is to have a group of local mommas who share the same passions as you going through the same thing at the same time? For me it was a lightbulb. I wish I had found them earlier, been more active, met more in person. Some of the moms I met through social media fitness groups are still my friends today. Even if you are a full-time working mother, the advice and uplifting from other women is extremely powerful.

Number 3: Snacks Galore. One of the best things about postpartum is all those calories you get to consume. If you are working out, even better- I’ve even had moms mention that they took snacks on their runs because they couldn’t get past 2 miles without being ‘hangry’. This is also very important in keeping up your milk supply.  Milk supply is such an individual thing for each woman that I won’t get into it too much except- bring on all the snacks! Also- I know this sounds counter-intuitive when wanting to lose baby weight but I am a firm believer that if you don’t eat enough to support exercise and milk production your body will go into survival mode and metabolize slower. Food for fuel. Make sure what you put into your body is mostly whole foods, things you make yourself, and healthy, but do fuel it.

Number 2: Ditch the Guilt. Don’t even make it a thing. You could give it a second thought but then it will turn into a third and a fourth and before you know it you’ve gone down the rabbit hole and felt guilty the entire time you were supposed to be getting in some quality “me time’. And health and exercise for yourself IS quality time of the best variety. It will make you a better person, there is minimal cost, and consistent training pays off in a huge way. no matter what your end goal is.

Number 1: Pelvic Floor Exercises. This is a big one! First on every mother’s list of advice they would give to their pre-pregnancy self is to focus big-time on strengthening their pelvic floor so the return to running and exercise would be more gentle down there. Talk with your doctor and start a consistent practice while pregnant to give you a big head start.

Special thanks to the amazing women in the Fort Collins “Supermoms Running” group for their input and ideas!

This is what I would have told myself- do you have anything to add?

 

Vancouver, Canada 2018- Olympians, Vacation, and Weddings, Oh my!

Disclaimer: This post is mostly about our family vacation so I can look back and remember.

There is only a little about running. Running on vacation is tough for me so I made sure I timed it so I was on a down week and “end of season” break. My hammies always have such a hard time traveling… Or scroll to the last paragraph for a little update on my current running.

My biggest hope about this trip: Please, please, please, let my kids remember it. I know they’re young, but it was the trip of a lifetime for us and I hope they keep their memories from it locked away.

My husband’s good friend from college, Rob (who is also a BA marathoner) was getting married this summer and we thought his wedding would be the perfect time to roll a family vacation in. Plus, YOLO.

Day 1:
We caught a late flight into Seattle on July 9th and took the hotel shuttle to our room for the night, finally crashing at about 2am. The kids of course were able to sleep on the plane. I brought a pillow, white noise w/ headphones…. still no luck.

Our plan was to get up the next morning, Ryan and the boys would swim at the hotel while I ran, then we would have just enough time to grab lunch and pick up “Hooka” our camper van for the week. We wanted to drive up the coast to Vancouver and enjoy the coastal towns and state parks along the way to our final destination. As usual, I got a little lost on my run, too much looking around and taking in the sights and not paying attention to where I was going 🙂 I had already decided that running was going to take a far back seat on this vacation. No workouts, just easy miles and days off if something came up that we all wanted to do and running was the only conflict.

On my run, I had spotted a little patio restaurant that screamed of ‘quaint coastal town’ and instantly knew we had to go there for post run lunch. I was not disappointed and we sat by the ocean with the breeze blowing, flower baskets all around, and ate fresh seafood.

After we picked up Hooka, we started our drive north, stopping for supplies and set up camp at a State Park.

Highlight of the day: The ferry ride!

Day 2:
Up before the sun, the rest of the family still asleep, I set off on a run going north with the plan of Ryan driving that way in an hour or so and picking me up. There were tons of turns, it could have all gone awry very quickly. Not only did it work out, I managed to end my run in front of the cutest little coffee/breakfast spot I’ve ever seen IN. MY. LIFE. It was in the middle of the nowhere, and we ordered a home-cooked breakfast of biscuits and gravy, omelets, and delightful coffee. We got to sit in the back flower garden totally secluded and soak in the cool morning before taking off again.

We made it to Vancouver! The rest of the day was spent setting up our campsite and taking the boys for a swim. We met up with our friends Dave and Robyn who also traveled from CO with us but took a more direct route to Vancouver.

Day 3:

So there is this bridge in Vancouver I got to run over almost every single day, the Lion’s Gate Bridge. Being landlocked here in CO, all the water crossings are really exciting for me. I would leave our campsite, get to the bridge in less than 2 min. and run up and across for almost 10 min before reaching the other side. It’s massive. The views are incredible. Unfortunately, I have very few photos because my phone storage maxed out the first day of our trip. 😦 I saw amazing sunrises, watched the city wake up, stood in the middle and got vertigo. It was really cool. Directly across Lion’s Gate Bridge I entered Stanley Park. It’s this massive, wooded park in the middle of Vancouver and all around it is the “Sea Wall”, a trail just for bikers, runners, skaters, etc. The trail is RIGHT next to the ocean, I just ran along watching the waves splash up. The sound is so soothing and mediating. I was always torn between wanting to go for longer runs and wanting to get back to the sleepyheads and whatever Ryan was making for breakfast.

We spent the rest of the day in Stanley Park. We rode the train, played at the beaches, parks, and explored the woods. It was grand.

Day 4: I was having a hard time remembering this day and now I know why: we spent the day kind of running errands and purchasing a few necessities.

On this particular day I also didn’t run- my right hamstring was really bothering me. How do people travel and race and still perform well? I need to get that dialed in, because I always have a really hard time getting my body in top form after sitting on a car/train/plane combo for hours on end. It was a good thing I didn’t end up running because the bridge I always went over closed for a few hours while a jumper situation was handled. I would have been stuck for hours over there with no way of getting back and no easy means of communication as our phones weren’t cooperative in Canada. We relied on wifi in the campground but had to walk to the pool to get service.

After a much needed pedicure, we enjoyed a nice dinner and relaxed at our campsite.

Day 5: Wedding Day! I mean, this was the whole reason for our trip so just waking up was exciting!

To start our day we went to an amazing science museum “Science World” which I highly recommend. We could have easily spent an entire day here but I’m glad we did as much as we could. The coolest thing was a VR flying machine.

Rob and Gen’s wedding was such a great time. The ceremony was short and funny as hell. This couple is the bomb- they just wanted to have a good time with their family and friends with zero stress. Nothing could have gone ‘wrong’ because they would have just laughed about it.

We were seated with a couple of Canada’s finest Olympic marathoners and I thoroughly enjoyed chatting with them. I felt like I already knew them because Rob had a podcast from his serious runner days and they had been interviewed a few times. It’s the closest to star struck I’ve ever been just meeting everyone who was on the show, the host of the show, etc. I tried to keep my runner nerd self under wraps but it was difficult.

The boys had a blast dancing their little hearts out. They wanted to stay and shut the party down, but I took them to bed around 11:00pm and they zonked out pretty quickly.

Day 6: As I have mentioned before (I think) my husband is a photographer. We spent the morning in Stanley Park again taking engagement photos of Dave and Robyn. They’re pretty cute I guess. 🙂 When I say “we” I of course mean, the boys and I were super helpful, Ryan did all the work. After we checked out of our campsite we started south for the border. We spent the night in the northern most part of WA near the beach and enjoyed watching the sunset.

Day 7: Birch Bay Waterslide Day! I’m pretty sure this is the highlight of the boys’ trip. They rode water slides until their lips were purple and their eyes were glossed over with fatigue. Ryan managed to cover himself in bruises going down a super steep slide over and over. They still ask to go back, just a day trip ya know.

I did get up and run before all the fun, and really enjoyed the convenient trail/sidewalk along the beach. I probably ran about 10 miles so I don’t know how far this little trail went but I was able to hang with it the whole way. I felt ridiculously lucky and happy. Exploring new towns/cities by running around is one of my very favorite things to do ever.

Last Day: The travel day home doesn’t even really count, but we did make the most of it. We stopped in Seattle long enough to check out Pike’s Market, grab a Starbucks (of course), ride the ferris wheel, and get a parking ticket. Oh- and contribute to the gum wall, ha! Probably the grossest thing I’ve ever seen- and for some reason the sickly sweet scent of mint makes it even worse. The boys loved it, which didn’t surprise me at all.

Family vacations always end much too quickly. I’m so happy for the adventures we had and I know we will have plenty more but I’d really like to freeze time on weeks like this.

As I forge ahead this week and in the coming weeks in full marathon training mode, its vacations like this that keep me focused. We work hard, no doubt about that, but when we get time to play, its all worth it. It’s those happy moments that we can tap back into when we’re feeling zapped. Just like in running- I’ve been in the middle of tough workouts wanting to stop but then think of the feeling I get crossing the finish line and the tremendous amount of joy that comes after a good race. Win or lose, a good race is one that you know you’ve given it your all- you’ve reached a new benchmark or level of resistance you didn’t know you had. The joy after a race like that can get me through any tough workout.

 

 

Marathon Training- It Begins!

At just 15 weeks out from my goal race of the year (US Marathon Championships at California International Marathon) I find myself really feeling the quick passing of time. In some ways I feel like this year hasn’t gone quite as well as I had wanted, and if only I had more time to train, and if only I could get a little more race experience…

As I’ve delved into the world of running more and experienced first-hand the strength of American women’s running I’ve become sort of intimidated. It’s this weird combination of being in awe, being inspired, but also thinking: ‘HOW can I ever run that fast?’ Luckily I circle back to: ‘I’m doing this for me, and I only want and expect the best that I can give.’

15 weeks out looks like this for me:

Sunday- 22 mile long run
Monday-10 miles easy
Tuesday- w/u, strides/drills, 6x1mile, c/d
Wednesday- 10 miles easy
Thursday- 10 miles easy
Friday- w/u, strides/drills, 4×2 mile at HM pace, c/d
Saturday-10 miles easy
Total ~ 86 miles of fun!

After this week my youngest goes to preschool and I’ll be able to add in a second run without too much trouble and I’ll get to see my mileage increase slowly. I’ll be paying extra attention to my body to keep it just happy enough to stay injury free. I said earlier in the year I wanted to be able to hit 100 miles in this training block and I’m really unsure whether that will happen or not. It’s been frustrating to say the least, not having the time to try and hit that higher mileage.

In the world of hitting goals: I’ve run the Mountain Ave. Mile in Fort Collins for 3 years in a row now and last year broke the tape with a 5:02. I promised myself that 2018 would hold a sub 5:00 (at altitude) for me.

And I hit 4:56- heck yes!

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Race Recap- Bloomsday 12k

I’ve thought and thought about why I didn’t perform at this race and have come up with no real reason that would consistently make sense. So instead, I’m just going to settle with “I had an off day” and talk about the people, the course, and the amazing experience that more than made up for it. Seriously, everyone should put this race on their bucket list. The way the town of Spokane, WA gets behind this event makes it an unforgettable experience.

First off- there were about a million trees like this so not only was Bloomsday accurate, it was extremely beautiful.

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I love these metal sculptures that get dressed up in t-shirts from every Bloomsday dating back to 1977.

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Second to my family, traveling and racing are my big loves. A huge part of that is just the joy of meeting really cool people. I was thrilled to meet a friend whose running journey I’ve followed on instagram because I love her story (@runninggingerly). I was roomed with a super sweet girl from the UK and loved hearing her stories about professional running, growing up with a dad who was a world class athlete, and her experience in the United States. I got to warm up and cool down with some amazing runners from all over the world and was not only star-struck but inspired.

Most of all what stood out on this trip were the hundreds of genuinely nice folks dedicated to making this experience a great one. Every detail was taken care of.

The course for Bloomsday is a tough one. Here is a course profile:

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I love that they call that second hill “Doomsday”. It is the most populated section of the course with people lining the streets to encourage everyone up and over.

This is only a couple of miles into the race when I was still trying to tell myself that I didn’t feel crummy and that I could own this day. It was fun running with a fellow Colorado runner (Hi Lauren!) for a bit.

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At the end of the race there is a a street where racers pick up the new Bloomsday finisher’s shirts. The street is lined with endless tables of shirts manned by volunteers and spectators. I was walking through kind of hanging my head and sad about my race. As I passed, everyone started cheering and clapping and made it impossible to be anything but happy. Regardless of who walks through that tunnel of positivity they have to feel like a celebrity.

I can’t wait for a redemption race at Bloomsday. Thanks to everyone there for such a marvelous weekend.

This was my Boston- Race Recap Horsetooth Half Marathon

I’m still happy- my aspiration of winning The Horsetooth Half finally happened.

One of my favorite marathoners, Desi Linden just won the Boston marathon in brutal conditions after trying for a win there a lot of her career.

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Some of my close local running friends, and long time friend from Kindergarten, accomplished a strong finish at Boston and their strength is inspiring.

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Way to go Ginger!

The chills I get from this sport and the life I feel surging through me is something I want to bottle up and keep for special occasions. Horsetooth was my Boston and it felt amazing- and also fed the drive to just want to do more. Running overflows into real life in so many ways for me and I know that even though running is not reeeallly important in terms of the big wide world, it really is in a way, because its passion, honesty, perspective, empathy, and drive creates something beautiful.

On to the race recap:

Gun time: 8:05. I was strangely calm after a week of nerves and excitement. I had put my goal out on the world wide web (although I cowardly posted the blog but didn’t share the link I think it still counts, haha) I had my race plan set and the only thing I had added was the mental note that if anyone made a move I needed to respond quickly without even thinking about it. I started 3 deep on the line- usually I try to start closer but I was putting myself back there on purpose to make sure I saw the heads in front of me that I needed to. A couple of the girls bolted from the start- there is a spot at 1.8 miles where the incline finally ends and King of the Mountain and Queen of the Mountain each get a bonus $200. There are always people who go for just that and although there have been times a winner has snagged it, that isn’t usually the case. Even though I’ve been working on my hill game, its still not my strong suit so I pushed myself to that point of breathing hard and being taxed, but not flooding myself with exertion that would lead to an early bonking.

Let’s just take a look at this killer course profile:

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Monster Mountain $

The girls were really getting further ahead of me than I had ever intended but a half marathon is a long way and I knew the downhills would be my friend. Just after 2.5 miles they started coming back to me and I tucked behind two girls from Boulder and settled into their pace. Around mile 4 the winner from a couple of years shot around us on the downhill. I’m glad I made that last mental note to go with a surge and match the leader. She turned out to be a super strong downhill runner and could have gained a lot of ground. Even though it was early in the race, my mental game was to stay tucked in with the lead pack if the pace was at all reasonable. I immediately shot around as well and chased her down. We played back and forth for awhile, me gaining on the uphill, her on the down. We weren’t racing at this point, just our strengths coming through naturally. 3 miles in is way to early to worry about a few steps.

Gaining race experience is super valuable to me. Every time I race I learn something new. This time it was that feeling of running with someone and matching them for a few miles and then sensing them begin to fade off and making the decision of whether I was strong enough to continue to push it, or if I should also fade a bit and work with them until the race matured. Around mile 6 I felt her start to fade. It was really hard for me to decide whether to venture out on my own or not. It was still early in the race, I still had some hills to climb, and I didn’t know if my legs could handle going even faster to the end. I did a head to toe mental check and decided I was feeling fine to push it and forge ahead. I rounded the turn towards Bingham hill and saw my husband and boys for the first time. I guessed he was probably not thrilled that I was leading at this point.

Almost right when I thought that, another girl (who I hadn’t expected) came cruising along with her pacer. She was breathing super hard so I matched her and they slowed, and we settled in a bit. She tried to play a little dirty which had never happened to me before! At one point she cut me off and stepped right in front me even though I was on the edge of the road and she had the whole lane to herself. It definitely fired me up and I was NOT going to let her go.

We spent about 4 miles together and then I felt that same sense of fading from her around mile 11. It was tricky because we were all alone on the bike path with just the lead biker who was looking back on occasion. I actually was nervous to pass her pacer. I’m sure it was a paranoid concern but after getting tripped up earlier I was just a little weirded out. Plus I was tired, I’m sure my brain function wasn’t 100%. Regardless I gained the ground and then gave myself a pep talk to lengthen that gap as much as I possibly could. I knew the other girls weren’t far behind, maybe 40 sec or so, and are strong closers.

As I rounded the second to last turn, I had less than a mile to go. I had the home field advantage of running this path many times. Most of the time even though I read the mile marker and know I have a mile to go it doesn’t seem like only a mile because I haven’t run it before and don’t know the land markers or exact route. This time I knew it so well it gave me the extra confidence to start picking it up again. My plan was a long kick because I didn’t want anyone near me at the line. If I wanted to be a sprinter, I wouldn’t run marathons. A sprint to the finish after running 13 (or 26) miles is my worst race nightmare. I rounded the last corner and I swear I heard someone screaming “she’s right behind you!” Eff words. I did my best to pick it up even more and luckily my best was good enough. I edged her out by only 14 seconds and third place was only a few seconds after that.

Horsetooth Half 2018

That feeling. I chase that feeling of breaking tape. It. Is. The. Best.

In my mind I had a huge smile on my face but apparently I was too tired to actually make the connection from my brain to my mouth.

After grabbing a drink and any hugs I could steal, I was lucky enough to get to cheer in friends and teammates. I was grateful that a lot of my friends (running AND non-running) were there to share my joy.

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Love the FoCo Fitness Festival support crew

I’m so proud of all the hard work everyone put in to get to the finish line. I coach a friend of mine and this was her goal race. She works full-time, has two kiddos, and is busy with life but still managed to train well and reach her goal time. Everyone crossing was on top of the world! It’s for sure the best place to hang out if you want to absorb good energy.

As always the volunteers and people who work to put on these races hold a special place in my heart. There is something about this sense of community and sport and what it gives back to people is so much bigger than just running.

Digging the Well

You’ve probably heard the expression “I went to well on that race”. That feeling of digging down so deep in your reserves that you are scraping at the bottom of everything you’ve got to keep your legs turning. That’s what makes those hard workouts so enjoyable.

The fitter I become the deeper my “well” is getting. That is true for anyone who consistently trains. During those hill repeats, or Fast Finish Long Runs, or tempo miles, I get to the point where I start not being able to think clearly and my mind can only form 3 or 4 word phrases in my head. I love(ish) that place. I picture myself down in a little well, digging away with (probably a miniature) shovel, getting that well a little deeper so the next time I need it I have further down I can go. The tricky part is not getting greedy. At some point in a workout 15 or 20 or x number is enough and I need to rest and recover. Any more, and I’m injury bound, exhausted and trying to push it too far too fast.

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All this went through my head today as I did hill repeats on an aptly named section of steep road called “Maniac Hill”. I’m training for the iconic Horsetooth Half Marathon which has been tugging at my heart for a win since 2009. Read about those races here and here. So… 4th times a charm?

I have a different race strategy this time though- in the past I’ve always taken it super easy up the hills for the first 7 miles and tried to play catch up in the end. I’ve always lost the pack and never actually got to the “catch up” part. It still may have been a fine plan for these last couple of years, the circumstances were different. This year I plan on attacking the hills right from the start, sticking like glue to whoever leads the race, and then going all in for the remainder. Hopefully my well is deep enough, because that’s where I’ll be going.

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