Ogden marathon recap

Timing is a funny thing. Just this morning I got a notification from facebook reminding me that exactly two years ago I ran my first half marathon. In Ogden. In pouring rain.

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Two years later I was back for the full distance. In Ogden. In pouring rain. Maybe I’m just cursed to never run this race in dry conditions?

My husband and I drove up to Ogden on Friday afternoon to pick up our packets (you can only do this on Friday from 10 am to 8 pm). Pick-up was a breeze and we were in and out in about 10 minutes. The expo was on the smaller side and had the usual vendors. Plus an outdoor inflatable slide for the kids outside in the parking lot. Luckily, we have some friends who live about 15 mins away from the race start/finish and we were able to cook some pasta, hang out and get some extra sleep before we had to leave the next morning.

Lots of races in Utah have early starts. We were up at 3.45 am and out of the house by 4.20 am. Buses left from downtown Ogden between 4.30 am and 5.00 am and if you missed those then there was no other way to get to the starting line. We found parking pretty easily – the race booklet has parking lots clearly labelled – and walked a couple of minutes to the school buses. The street was packed with people – a little of 2000 full marathoners and even more (3500) people doing the half. We soon got on our bus and headed up the canyon to the start. At this point I ate a Nature Valley granola bar and then tried to get a little sleep on the 40 minute ride. I never really eat a ton before my long runs or races so this was enough for me. I had four Gus with me for the actual race that I planned to take every 5.5 miles.

At this point the weather seemed pretty ok. A little chilly (I think it was around 40F) but no rain. We had an hour and a half to kill (the price you have to pay to get those downhill canyon miles) so we hung out in as many layers as possible sitting on the silver foil blankets that we got after Twin Cities. The porta-potty situation was ok. I spent about 10 minutes in line just before the race started. At 7 am we had to put all those lovely warm layers in our gear bags and then head to the road for the start (the holding area was literally a field and gravel lot on a farm). My husband and I parted ways at this point (he was hoping to run 3.20ish) and I placed myself in front of the four hour pacer. And before we knew it we were off and running towards some dark and ominous looking clouds.

The first eight miles were all slightly downhill, running along rural roads – past fields, farmhouses and not many spectators. I tried to run an easy pace – my feeling is that in those first few miles you should feel as if you could run that pace forever – and not get distracted by all of the people passing me by. I needed to run my own race. The temperature felt OK – I was wearing a long-sleeved top and some gloves and I think that was the perfect combination for me. Other people – I think panicked by the weather forecast – ran the whole thing wearing plastic ponchos. A little after mile 2 the rain started – light at first but then progressively it got heavier until I was soaked through. But I had over 20 miles to go so I just forgot about the rain and just focused on math. Yes – math. Personally, thinking “I have 20+ miles to go” freaks me out so I like to break the race up into sections -> 4 x 6.55 miles sounds so much more manageable. At mile 8 you are almost one third of the way through – and that is basically half way!

Mile 1: 8.55

Mile 2: 8.53

Mile 3: 8.34

Mile 4: 8.28

Mile 5: 8.41

Mile 6: 8.39

Mile 7: 8.45

Mile 8: 8.44

Everything was ticking along nicely. I was feeling pretty good – the only slight concern was my calf (the one that I strained way back in Jan/Feb) was a little tight but it behaved itself until the end of the race. The next section and some rollers and wound its way around Pineview reservoir. The views on the course were pretty spectacular – rolling green hills, mountains and low clouds giving it a magical and decidedly un-Utah feel.

Mile 9: 8.47

Mile 10: 8.46

Mile 11: 9.04

Mile 12: 8.50

Mile 13: 8.51

I passed the half way point (and the start of the half marathon – that race starts at 6.45 am so you never really run into those runners) in 1.55.30. There were a whole bunch of people there and I knew what was in store from my previous race two years ago. First up a 120 ft hill which wasn’t a big deal at the start of a half but was a bit more work in the middle of a full marathon. I decided I wasn’t going to walk but shuffle my way up because after that it was pretty much all downhill to the finish.

Mile 14: 8.42

Mile 15: 9.04 (hill mile)

Mile 16: 8.42

Mile 17: 8.58

Mile 18: 8.26 (230 ft drop in this mile)

Mile 19: 8.46

Mile 20: 8.41

Mile 21: 8.40

Mile 22: 8.28

Mile 23: 8.41

Running these downhill miles (and this is the section were most of the drop in elevation occurs) was pretty nice at this stage of the race. I didn’t start feeling really tired until mile 22 so it was nice to have gravity helping me to the bottom of the canyon. This was also one of the first races where I didn’t carry my own water and it was awesome. There were drinks stops every 2 miles (with powerade and water) and the volunteers were great at getting those out to the runners. I did have one guy come to a complete stop right in front of me to get a drink and I almost ran in to him – please move a little to the side. My gus were in my flipbelt but they had two separate stations for handing out Clif shots.

The final sections was along the Ogden River parkway. It was a little rolly but mostly downhill although it did get a little crowded. I remember when I ran the half that I felt like everyone was passing me at this point and that is pretty demoralizing. This time although I felt pretty tired I was catching people ahead of me and playing my number game. Only 2.6 miles to go – that means I’ve run 90% of the distance. I can run 2 miles.

The last mile got us onto the city streets before we turned and saw the finish line – from about 0.75 miles away which feels like forever in a marathon. I just dug deep and had my eye on the prize. The only downer was someone decided they would run to the finish with their kid – unfortunately the boy was paying attention and almost ran in front of me. I think at this stage of the race there only thing I could have done was to run right through him. I get that it’s an important day and you want to share it with your child but please be a little considerate of your other runners.

Mile 24: 9.08

Mile 25: 8.59

Mile 26: 9.02

Final time: 3.51.13 (second half in 1.55.43).

I was pretty happy with my time. I had hoped for 8.50-9.00 minute miles and I ended up at a pace of exactly 8.50 min/mile. The last 3 or so miles were pretty hard which is probably due to the lack of volume in my training but considering the lead up to this race I couldn’t have hoped for it to go any better. Now I just have to wait for my quads and calves to stop aching.

My friend captured my very wet finish.

My friend captured my very wet finish.


My new found interest in meteorology

Race week is here! And I am suddenly interested in the weather forecast for this Saturday. I am checking on the hour to see if there is any change in the forecast. Spoiler alert: it is meant to be in the low 50s and raining. This is a little bit of a flashback for me. My running story basically began a couple of months after I turned 30 back in 2012 (and if you can do math I’ve just given away my age). I decided for my thirtieth year that I would run a half marathon. It seemed like I was the only one in my friend group who hadn’t run a half marathon. I signed up for a race in October and started increasing the frequency of my runs in November before starting Hal Higdon’s novice half marathon training plan in January. I followed this plan to a T – literally not missing a single run. Come race day I was as prepared as a first timer could have hoped. Nervous to run 13.1 miles for the first time. The one thing that I had not prepared for was the weather.

A couple of days before the race I received an email from the race organizers warning about high temperatures and advising us to think about our hydration. Then Utah May weather happened and suddenly it was forecast to rain. And it did. A lot. Non stop. While we were waiting at the start line it was a light drizzle, but on cue as soon as we put our gear bags in the truck it started to pour and I was soaked before the race started. And it did not let up for the entire race. I was so wet that my shoes were squelching at every step. My legs were numb, and I tried to negotiate around the most flooded part of the road. It was pretty miserable. To make matters worse, I finished slightly faster than I had been expecting (no – that isn’t the bad thing) but my husband was late to find me (surprisingly he didn’t want to wait around in the rain to watch people finish) and they had totally screwed up the bag collection so that I couldn’t find my dry clothes for over half an hour. I don’t think I stopped shaking from the cold until half way through my very hot post race shower.

So this Saturday I’m returning to the site of this first half marathon – this time to take on the full. It looks like my Ogden curse will continue because after a week of pleasant temperatures it is forecast to rain. Again. Right now, I have no idea if this will be a couple of showers later in the day (fingers crossed) or non-stop torrential downpour like my last experience here. Start praying to the rain gods that we’ll be spared the worst of it!

On the plus side -> after last week’s struggles I am finally starting to feel good. Sunday’s 10 miler felt amazing. I managed to nail even splits on my recovery run (and actually keep it slow). And today I got in a couple of quick miles before breakfast. Now all that stands between me and my marathon is another rest day and a two mile shake out on Friday morning.

Sat: Rest

Sun: 10 miles at 8.43 min/mile pace

Mon: 3.9 miles at 9.29 min/mile pace (9.27/9.26/9.30/9.32)

Tues: Rest

Wed: 4 miles at 8.18 min/mile pace (8.49/8.08/7.43/8.34)

This week has been all about rest, extra sleep and carbs (rice/potatoes/pasta). I don’t really get the taper crazies. The only thing that happens is that I get extra freaked out by any slight pain, so I have been wearing my compression socks night and day. But as of right now my body has no complaints -> which is a miracle.

I do have some goals for the race but am trying to go into it as relaxed as possible. My worries about a tight calf went away after drinking some champagne at a work function yesterday afternoon. So here goes.

A. Finish in one piece.

I think after this training cycle getting to the finish line without injury would be a total victory. I know that marathons hurt and I’m ready for that but actual injury – no thanks.

B. Enjoy it.

This one might be a little weather dependent. Back in February/March I couldn’t run. On Saturday I plan on running 26.2 miles. That is an achievement in itself. I need to enjoy the process. Luckily, and because of my shortened training schedule I didn’t suffer any burnt-out while training for this race and I am excited (if a little apprehensive) to get out there and do it.

C. Run even splits.

Really I should say don’t hit the wall too hard. In my first marathon I managed a 2 minute negative split and I would like to take the first couple of miles to warm-up and then keep as consistent a pace as I can manage.

D. Time goal.

You knew there had to be one in here somewhere, right? These are a little funny for me – putting it out there and hoping you don’t end up looking like an idiot. In reality I am hoping to finish sub-4. My plan is to run between 8.50-9.00 minute miles. The race is pretty much all downhill but not too steep so it’s a perfect course to run fast. Looking at my long run paces (a 20 miler on the flat at 9.13 min/miles) I think it is possible. But this is my D goal so if it doesn’t happen I won’t be that sad about it.

Wish me luck! And no rain.

And good luck to everyone running this weekend.

One week to go!

My oh my it has been a bumpy road. Twelve weeks ago I was still in the middle of my run-walk training to recover from a strained calf muscle. Now, I have one week to go before I drive up to Ogden and pick up my bib for marathon number two. To say that this hasn’t been ideal marathon training would be the understatement of the year. My mileage has peaked at 34 miles, although I did manage to sneak in one 18 miler and one confidence-building 20 miler. I’m pretty sure that I can finish but other than that I have no real idea of how bad (or good – think positive) it could get.

It’s also been an interesting couple of weeks. My runs out east didn’t come with the magic sea level bump in pace. However, as soon as I got back to Salt Lake I had one of my best running weeks in a long while.

4/27: Rest

4/28: 4. 4 miles at 8.15 min/mile pace (including one 7.56 min mile – my first sub-8 on a regular training run in a long time)

4/29: 8.1 miles at 8:14 min/mile pace (including four sub-8 miles in a row!)

4/30: Morning yoga class

5/1: 3.9 miles at 9.22 min/mile pace

5/2: 16.2ish min miles at sub-9 min/mile pace

5/3: Strength workout

I can’t believe how well this week went. My runs on Tuesday and Wednesday felt effortless. Paces that I have been struggling with for a while seemed easy. I was running without pain – anywhere. I even tried to slow down my easy run on Friday and came back feeling refreshed and finally understood the reasoning behind recovery runs (thanks to Allison). The only major fail was on Saturday. I asked my husband to drop me at work so that I could run some downhills to mimic the marathon course. In my rush to get ready so that he could get started on his day I managed to forget my Garmin. Sh*t. I had a couple of routes in my head and could make a rough estimate of distance. Plus I passed some clocks on the way around and could guess how far I’d gone. I was feeling a little tired at the end and hoped that I hadn’t underestimated the distance – I didn’t want to feel so tired after running 12 miles! I mapped my route on runkeeper and it popped out 16.2 miles which I finished in somewhere between 2.15-2.20, which put me around 8.40ish pace. But who knows! I was FINALLY feeling good and hoping that I might make it to the start line in one piece and even put in a decent performance. Now I just had to make it through a two week taper.

Recovery drinks and stretching on the porch. Taper time.

Recovery drinks and stretching on the porch. Taper time.

And then running decides to mess with you.

5/4: 4.5 mile run commute at 9.11 min/mile pace

5/5: Morning yoga. Bike commute to work.

5/6: 6.2 miles at 8.19 min/mile pace (8.44/8.48/8.16/7.54/7.52/8.16)

5/7: Rest

5/8: 3.9 miles at 9.40 min/mile pace

My Monday evening run home was actually pretty pleasant. I had to really talk myself into doing it and not just catching the bus home and postponing it until the next day. This is also a downhill route (642 ft drop in elevation) and I tried to keep as relaxed as possible. Yoga was all about the shoulders on Tuesday and my bike ride in felt surprisingly easy (going home is always fun -> 642 ft drop in elevation). On Wednesday I woke up with a slight ache in my foot. I ran and it seemed fine (although the run itself felt a lot tougher than the almost exact same workout last week), but later in the day it got more achey. And it was the same on Thursday. My initial reaction was stress fracture/response – mainly because I’ve been expecting a serious injury to pop up in this crammed marathon training schedule. However, I am 99% sure that it is a recurrence of plantar faciitis which I had last May (took two weeks off and it went away) and just a couple of weeks ago (randomly resolved itself after one week). So I have been stretching and rolling my calf (non-sprained side) for the last three days. I can feel a tender spot that seems a little knotty that I am trying to work out. I also popped a vitamin I last night and that has helped tremendously.

My plan for the next week is to take it easy. No more bike commuting. Four more scheduled runs. Lots of sleep. Short runs. Stretching. Foam rolling. The stick. As of this very instant I am still planning to run the marathon. But if I feel like my body isn’t up for it I will pull out at the last minute. I should know by the middle of next week what is happening and then I’ll come up with some race goals. I like the idea of tiered and non-time related goals as suggested by Jane Likes to Run who is running the Eugene Marathon this weekend.

Come on body – hold it together!

A week in New England…………

What a week! I’m slowly getting back to normal after an action-packed vacation during which I visited three (!) new states.

We started our trip in Boston, getting in late on Saturday night and heading straight to bed. Our main goal on Sunday was heading to the expo so that my husband could pick up his bib. Holy hell – that place was insane! I was exhausted just walking around for 1.5 hours taking it all in. We then headed down Boylston to check out the finish line before heading to Boston Common and figuring out where the bus pickup spot was located.

Finish line on Sunday.

Finish line on Sunday.

There was a small memorial near the finish line for the victims of the bombing in 2013. Although I’ve seen footage on  television, it was still a little shocking to realize how close it was to the finish line. So terrifying.

The rest of Sunday was spent relaxing with some friends from SLC who had recently moved to Boston. J got his stuff together and I vaguely remember him leaving a little after 5.30 AM. Of course I went straight back to sleep although I hope I wished him good luck in the race. I managed to get my own 6 mile run in before we headed over to spectate at mile 24. After spending the previous day being surrounded by a ton of runners (most wearing this years purple and orange jacket) I was psyched to get out and get some miles on Marathon Monday.

We walked over to Brookline and knew the elite females should be coming in 20ish minutes. One of my friends has run Boston for the last couple of years (managing to BQ at Boston) and commented about how the crowds were way down.  By this time it was chilly but with pretty light rain. The crowd that was watching still managed to make a ton of noise once the wheelchair racers came through. Then we saw the lead cars come through.

The lead women at mile 24.

The lead women at mile 24.

The three leading African runners were blocked by the timing car so for a second we thought that Desi was in the lead.

The three leading African runners were blocked by the timing car so for a second we thought that Desi was in the lead.

Then the men!

Then the men!

Leading man!

Leading man!

Meb. Perfect form.

Meb. Perfect form.

These guys look so good running! The first three women were bunched together and Desi was a little way back but looking super strong (she ran a 9 sec positive split!), with Shalane a couple of minutes back in no-mans land. The men were spaced out a little more. And then Meb came through and got the biggest cheer – and even managed to fist pump as he ran past. What a guy.

Then the rain came down. We were using text updates to keep track of J and could tell he would coming through in a little over an hour. By this time every runner looked pretty miserable. I was pretty miserable – soaking wet and cold – just watching them. It was still pretty amazing to think that all of those runners were gunning for well under 3 hours! J came by in great spirits and we all got high-fives! Next came the hard part. Getting from mile 24 to the finish! The T was crazy busy and I think it took us an hour to get to the family meeting zone. Luckily J had his space blanket and a nearby building was letting runners hang out in the (heated) lobby.

By the time we got downtown it was like the zombie apocalypse. Runners in grey capes shivering from the cold. Originally, I thought that seeing the marathon in person would get me so excited to one day come back and run the race. But in these conditions I was so glad that I was not running. And while I can appreciate the excitement that comes from making it to the starting line, for now I would be happy to run the qualifying time and never make it to Hopkington. I guess maybe the big city marathons just aren’t my thing?

J was surprisingly mobile post marathon (he finished in 3.27) and we made it back to our friends’ apartment pretty easily. Then the search was on for good food and good beer within walking distance (the rain was still crazy at this point), and a night of non-stop chatter before our vacation could begin in earnest.

Mon: 6 miles at 8.48 min/mile pace in Boston

Tues: Rest

Wed: Rest

Thurs: 6.2 miles at 8.44 min/mile pace in Cape Cod

Fri: 2.95 miles at 10.05 min/mile pace in Portsmouth, NH

Sat: 13.1 miles at 8.36 min/mile pace in Portland, ME

Sun: Rest

Boston bound

Just a quick post before I head to the airport and head to Boston for vacation. I hope I’ll see some of you guys out on the course! I am beyond excited to (1) spectate at arguably the world’s most favorite marathon and (2) spending one week traveling around New England. This Irish chick sure misses seeing the Atlantic. Follow me on Instagram to see what beer I’m drinking everyday.

And bonus: today I got a chance to run my first (and probably only) 20 miler of this marathon training schedule. And it went swimmingly (or should that be runningly?). I wasn’t sure I’d be able to pull off the full 20 and was ready to bail went it hurt -> my tight calves are giving me random achy-breaky heart feet. But if all felt pretty good (well as good as running 20 miles can feel). Average pace 9.13 min/miles with the last 5 miles at goal pace (9.03/8.48/9.05/8.52/8.44). You know your long run went well when your first mile (9.39) is your slowest and the last mile is your fastest. Beginning to think that this marathon may not be a complete disaster!

Mon: 4.2 trail miles at 10.06 pace + 559 ft elevation gain. My legs felt so sore from Saturday’s 18 miler. But it was in the 70s and I couldn’t resist.

Tues: Strength workout

Wed: 7 miles in the snow. Yes – we got our biggest snow storm of the whole season. I manage three “tempo” miles (8.29/8.15/8.16). A little disappointed with my times but my legs felt tired, it was freaking snowing and I just wasn’t feeling it. Giving myself a pass on this one.

Thurs: Yoga and bike commute.

Fri: 2.85 miles with my husband -> his last run before Boston. Bike commute.

Sat: 20 miles at 9.13 min/mile pace. Fast finish.

Sun: Boston!

See you in a week!

Holy DOMS batman!

I’m in a strange place right now. My calf is 100% healed – no pain doing anything. Woohoo! Happy news!?! Except I have a marathon looming on May 16th and am pretty under-trained. Gulp.

Running logic tells me that you can’t cram for a marathon. But to finish I need to know that I have the endurance to make it all of the way round. So how do you play catch-up? How do you do enough to finish, but not too much that you end up back on the injured list? This is a new experience for me. My training cycle for Twin Cities was 18 weeks of perfection (I literally missed one planned run) and I got to the starting line fully prepared (except for the whole running my first marathon and not really knowing what to expect after mile 20). This time around I will have a truncated 13-week training cycle.

The highlights of my training so far:

Weeks 1-6: Lots of run-walking. Moderate calf pain.3 running days per week.

Weels 7 & 8: No more walking. 4 runs per week. Pain-free runs. Exactly 5.5 week after my physiotherapist told me that it would take 5-6 weeks to run symptom-free. Spooky!

Long runs: 5.15, 7.50, 6.20, 10.50, 13.20, 15, 16, 18 miles

Races: Week 3: 10K (49.17), Week 5: Half marathon (1.51.20), Week 7: 15K (1.13.18).

Weekly mileage: 11.30, 14.64, 13.45, 17.94, 21.17, 22.54, 27.90, 31.13 miles.

Sorry for the number dump! This is mostly for my benefit -> so that I can convince myself that this is possible. And that I have two long runs left before I need to start my taper.

What has helped the most is the fact that this is not my first rodeo. Training for my first marathon was full of new distances and records. I remember after every “new longest run” I would feel wrecked. 14 miles is so hard – how could I ever manage to do 26.2? Repeat for 15, 16, 18 etc. I had one really awful 20 miler where I bonked so hard that it was a confidence killer. Luckily my final long run went as well as it possibly could (20 miles around Dublin with my Mom following me on her new bike). I think that training helped to convince me that I am capable of running long distances, and that consistent training really does pay off. I also figured out my fueling strategy -> granola bar before I run, Gu every 5.5 miles, water only while running (to keep my stomach happy).

This weekend’s run had me feeling all kind of nervousness. 18 miles was the goal but I’d be happy to get over 16. I’ve been having weird, random pain in my right foot that I’m keeping a close eye on and I wasn’t sure if it’s all in my foot or all in my head. My marathon route is down one of Utah’s canyon and has an overall loss of 1100 ft. So I wanted to try and replicate race conditions. My husband dropped me at the top of Emigration Canyon a little before 8 AM, and I set off with my running vest, 3 Gu’s and my phone (in case of worst-case scenario). It was in the high 30s at the start so I wore  my arm warmers (am slowly getting converted to the idea that this are useful things and not just for speedsters) and gloves. I tried to keep an even pace and just settle into the run. Luckily I was surrounded by beautiful views that I shared with the occasional car and an endless stream of cyclists. This canyon is one of the more popular routes for an uphill bike workout so has a nicely marked bike lane the whole way down – and some pretty friendly bikers!

At the mouth of the canyon the gloves literally came off and I stashed them and my arm warmers into my vest. I was just under half way done and was feeling pretty good. In fact this was one of the better long runs that I’ve ever had. I felt the miles fly by and my legs felt good until mile 16. The last mile was pretty hard – mainly because it finished with a 100 ft climb. But just like that it was done – a little over 2 hours 42 minutes. And the weirdest thing of all – I was completely energized by the whole thing. I managed to clean the whole house, make a quick trip to work and cook a delicious dinner with the biggest smile on my face. The days was finished with a trip to watch “Once” at one of our local theaters. It was amazing – thanks for the tip Shawna!


The sh*t hit the fan when I woke up on Sunday morning and realized that my quads were not happy with a sudden long, downhill run. Major DOMS. But all muscle which is reassuring. No other aches or pains (that I could notice over my quads). Luckily a friend was looking for a swim buddy to head to the pool and do some kind of easy workout before lounging in the hot tub. Exactly the right prescription for the day after a long run. The weekend was rounded off by drinking wine and eating homemade pizza while sitting in the sunshine.

Now if only my quads will forgive me so that I can get back to normal………


Mon: 4.1 miles. Downhill run commute from work. 8.20 min/mile average pace. 618 ft drop in elevation.

Tues: Bike commute. Strength workout.

Wed: 6 miles at 8.43 min/mile (9.00/8.56/8.22/8.30/8.15/8.45).

Thurs: Morning yoga class. Bike commute.

Fri: 3 easy miles @ 9.16 min/mile pace.

Sat: 18 downhill miles @ 9.02 min/mile average pace. 2068 ft drop in elevation.

Sun: 1000 m recovery swim.

RunSLC 15K Recap

Another weekend another race……

2015 has been race-packed so far – three down and it’s only April (not counting the one that I had to sit out back in February) – way more than I’d normally consider this early in the racing season. Saturday was the final race of the RUNSLC series. This year is the inaugural event and designed to get you half marathon ready (the SLC half is on April 18th) by building up to 5, 10 and 15K. I didn’t run the 5K on doctor’s orders but decided to volunteer instead and still managed to come away with some swag. The 10K was my first race post mid-injury, and was my first taste of a return to fitness. Since then I’ve run a 10.5 mile long run, the Canyonlands half marathon and a 15 miler last weekend. Plus, my calf was feeling a million times better. So, in this race I was planning to avoid the sufferfest of the previous two.

Packet pickup was Friday at the running store (which is also where the races start and finish). It was quick and easy.  The only bad thing was the chance of getting sidetracked by all the essential things that I absolutely need to buy in the store. New shoes! New clothes! Yes please! Luckily, I managed to survive with my credit cards intact.

So following on from my “Tell me it’s OK for me to run a marathon in 6 weeks time” post last week I decided I would do a Salt. In my case run to the start, do the race, and then run home. The race was scheduled to start at 8 AM, so I set my alarm for 6.40 AM, got dressed – including my new vest which I wore for the first time and loved – and had some water. I left the house at 7.10 AM and headed for a nice and easy 3 mile run to the start line. I forced myself to go as slow as I could but surprised myself by averaging a 9.13 min/mile pace. I arrived 20 minutes early so had time to eat my Gu (chocolate outrage, do some stretching and soak up some pre-race excitement.

More purple. I loved this vest. But handed it in at bag check so I wouldn't have to race in it.

More purple. I loved this vest. But handed it in at bag check so I wouldn’t have to race in it.

Beautiful morning.

Beautiful morning.

Start/finish line.

Start/finish line.

I checked my gloves (which I regretted for the first two miles), North Face running jacket (right decision) and vest at the bag check – which is great option to have at such a small race. The courses for all of these races follows the same basic route – running along a quiet residential street to one of our local parks and then some loops or out and backs to add up to the distance. Not the most scenic route but flat and encompassing some of the actual route of the salt lake half marathon. I decided to go out comfortably and try to remember that I would have to run home afterwards so finish with something left in the tank.

Pre-race pap shot. Taken from RUNSLC facebook page.

Pre-race pap shot. Taken from RUNSLC facebook page.

Can you spot me? Taken from the RUNSLC facebook page.

Can you spot me? Taken from the RUNSLC facebook page.

One thing that I have been working on for the last year or so is getting better at pacing myself. I usually run by feel and only really look at my Garmin at the end of a mile to see what that equates to in minutes. My last two road races (my full in October and my last half in May) were both pretty evenly paced with negative splits. Trail races are still a sh*t show. My first mile ticked over at exactly eight minutes. I think that after all of the long runs I did as part of marathon training that I’m finally getting a better idea of how I should be feeling during the first mile of a race.

The race actually felt pretty comfortable for the whole way around – which was both a huge surprise and confidence boost. I was running side by side with an older lady who kept me on my toes for most of the race. We never actually spoke (hello weird social anxiety) but I felt that we had an unspoken acknowledgement that we were pushing each other to the finish. My splits were pretty even (8.00/8.09/8.08/8.02/7.54/7.52/7.55/8.15/7.59) and I finished in 1.13.20 (average 8.00 min/mile) which would be a new 15K PR if the race measured 15K. According to my Garmin it was only 9.15 miles which was a bit of a bummer, but I couldn’t be too mad given how well the race had gone for me.

As soon as I finished I was given another mug – yay something else to carry on my run home – and took some water and a donut hole for refueling. I stretched a little before going for a cool-down jog to bring that distance up to 10.00. They posted the results pretty speedily and amazingly I managed to come 9th woman overall and 3rd in my age group! So, I decided to stick around for the awards.

Cha- ching!

Cha- ching

Posing with the 30-34 ladies. Even my running jacket is purple!

Posing with the 30-34 ladies. Even my running jacket is purple!

Then it was time to head home. And I’m not going to lie – getting started again was pretty hard. My body was a little tired – although my calf was quiet for the entire race – just a tight hip flexor that I’m keeping a close eye on. Three miles in the sunshine carrying my bag-o-tricks with a little hill right at the end. My mind was ready to be done but I made it to an even 16.0 miles for the day – those last three at 9.23 min/mile pace and with the entire distance at 8.44 min/mile. A good start to the weekend. And a good way to prepare for non-stop Easter eating and drinking!

I also carried this home in my bag as my post race treat.

I also carried this home in my bag as my post race treat.

How is your running going? Anyone race this weekend?

Crazy, stupid or both?

Things have been slowly returning to normal in my running life. Here’s how the last two weeks’ training has gone.

Purple is my jam right now!

Purple is my jam right now!

3/23          Rest. Day after the day after my half marathon and I needed some more recovery time.

3/24          3.55 miles. Still felt a little sore so this one was at an easy pace. 5 min walk to warm-up followed by 3 x 9 min intervals @ 8.49 min/mile pace with 1 min  walk break in between.

3/25          Bike commute. In March I started bike commuting to work and it is awesome. I think I’ll do a post about it next week. It can be a hard workout on the way (680 ft elevation gain in just under 4 miles) but free wheeling pretty much the whole way home.

3/26          4 miles. 5 min walk to warm up followed by 2 x 15 min intervals @ 9 min/mile pace with 1 min walk interval. Bike commute.

3/27          Strength workout.

3/28         15 mile long run at 9.15 min/mile pace.

3/29         Bike commute. Strength workout.

3/30         4 miles @ 8.36 min/mile (no more walk breaks!). Bike commute.

3/31          Bike commute.

4/1            4.65 miles @ 8.30 min/mile pace. First completely pain free run in forever.

4/2           3 miles @ 9.18 min/mile pace. First time running two days in a row since January!

4/3           Rest.

Somehow my total mileage for March ended up at 86.55 which is almost 4 times what I managed in February (23.4 miles) and a nice surprise when I did the math. The main things that I can take away from March are that I have managed to get my walk intervals down to zero, I had one (hopefully the first of many) pain-free run and I managed to run two days in a row without damaging myself. I think that I might be back to normal (fingers crossed!).

So what next for April? Well this is where things get a little shocking, and you can tell me whether you think that I am crazy, stupid or both.

You might notice that I ran a 15 mile run last weekend. One of the local running stores was hosting a teaser run on a running trail about 20 minutes from my house. Basically, they set up water and gatorade stations along a stretch of the Jordan River Parkway. I’ve never run here before (some of the areas can be a little sketchy if you are running by yourself) so I thought it would be the perfect time to check it out. Bonus: it’s probably the flattest place to run in SLC -> 50 ft of elevation gain in 15 miles. The run went pretty well. It took a while to warm up but I settled in at a comfortable 9ish minute pace and decided that I would run for 2 hours. At the turnaround point I stopped to take a Gu and was glad to be returning with a tailwind. Miles 8-11 felt amazing. I even managed to dip under 9 minutes for these miles. My car was parked at mile 13 but I decided I’d hit up the north end of the trail for a mile out and back. The last mile was pretty tough because (how do I say this politely?) of a runner emergency. Luckily I spied a bathroom in time. As I was leaving the stall I noticed a tiny little stall that turned out to be……….a urinal. Yes, in my desperation I failed to notice that I was in the mens bathroom. Luckily, nobody noticed my mistake and I headed back to my car for some chocolate milk. By this time it was 68F and I was feeling pretty warm. My calf was bothering me a little and my right hip flexor was a little tight (story of my life). By late afternoon I was totally fine (yay for recovery!).

My mileage for the last two months has looked like this:

2/16-2/22      11.3 miles

2/23-3/1        14.6 miles

3/2-3/8          13.5 miles

3/9-3/15         18 miles

3/16-3/22      21.2 miles

3/23-3/29      22.5 miles

3/30-4/5        estimated 27 miles

A nice steady increase, right? So where is it all leading? Well, some of you might remember that I signed up for a full marathon on May 16th. Back in February I was pretty sure that this was impossible for me. 26.2 miles that is insane. But now…….I managed a half marathon on basically no training. My 15 miler went surprising well and only about 20s/mile slower than during the summer. I’m wavering. I’m actually thinking about running it. I think I can get my long run up to 18 miles and this should be enough to get me to the finish line. And that is all I’m interested in right now. Not worried about time or pace or BQs. The course is flat or downhill (900 ft drop over the whole race), it’s near my house and my husband is running it. His thinking is that if he can run a 32 mile trail race with a 15 mile long run then I should be able to finish a marathon. My cardio has been maintained during my injury spell. I’ve done the distance before so I know how hard it will be but also how to pace myself to finish. I’ll obviously pull out if my injury comes back (or something else happens) but I’m feeling great right now. I know it’s not ideal but is it totally crazy, stupid or both?