Run Find Your Happy Pace

finding my happy pace in running and life

Handle It, Move It and Get Ready to Run It! Plus a review of Covered Bridges Half Marathon

Long time not write.  Seriously its been since May???  How did that happen you say?  Because life people, life happens. Sometimes you need to prioritize. For me family comes first always!  Sometimes you put down the blogger hat and strap on that Mom hat a little tighter and handle when the poo hits the fan.  Sometimes you have to fall on your knees and pray (pretty sure I should do that way more often)  And oh yes that whole moving thing yea that happened too.  Because when we move we don’t mess around.  I moved from Cali back to the east coast with three kids, 2 cats and, oh thank God, my Dad to help me drive.
 We are pretty much settled in. Honestly I have just started ignoring the boxes in the “dinning room” that are still sitting there at least for the moment. For the most part those boxes are not mine so I cannot really do anything with them anyway.  The plan is to not move again any time soon. (fingers crossed)  Maybe that is wishful thinking but I like this little happy place of ignorant bliss for now.  🙂  Don’t judge me.
 Any who, now that I am back on the East Coast and finally re-adjusting to the humidity / dew point that was practically nonexistent in Cali.  I am ready to race.  I signed up for most of my upcoming races before leaving Cali. Gotta keep the motivation going. If you don’t a move will take over your life and next thing you know you haven’t run in weeks or even months.  I did well not letting that happen when we moved to Cali and have been doing great with this move too. So my first official race back east was this weekend in Swanzey, New Hampshire.   Check it out:
One of the 4 Covered Bridges on the course.

One of the 4 Covered Bridges on the course.

Covered Bridges Half Marathon (also known as Elijah’s Race) Swanzey, NH.

If you’re looking for a small New England Race this is for you! Classic New England town, beautiful scenery.  The course runs through (literally) not 1 but 4 covered bridges.  There is also about a mile of beautiful trail along the route.  Sigh, brings back the thoughts of all the lovely trails in California so I was stoked to run them.  You will also find rolling hills along a good portion of the course.  Pretty typical for the North East.  They weren’t steep but there were quite a few so if you ever run this race be prepared for them.   The weather was wet!  Like start to finish wet, rained the entire race.  A first for me and yes I realize how lucky I have been.  The saving grace was that the temps were in the 50’s and not lower.  Lower temps would have just been miserable!  The only time I got cold was after I finished and stopped running.  Brr.

So here is the good:

1) the 4 covered bridges are absolutely beautiful and you literally run right through them.

2) It’s a small race, there were less than 200 runners.

3) Beautiful country views. Lots of trees, Inns, some horses, donkeys and cows too.

4) About a mile or so of some lovely trails.  I like trails a lot so this is a good thing for me 🙂

5) The race is extremely easy to get to, packet pick up is day of the race and is at the local high school.

6) Great water stops manned by the local high school and scouts. They dressed up as characters and were very encouraging.  Star Wars, pirates, fairy’s and minions to name a few.

7) Free photos…always a bonus!

8) BBQ after the race. Hamburgers, watermelon, corn. Since it rained the entire morning the burgers were rather cold and blah. I’m pretty sure they did the best they could and if the weather was better we would have enjoyed it more.  Although I am not sure I would have eaten the corn anyway after running that far, but maybe that is just me.

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Corn poop, lol. Maybe corn isn’t the best post run food?

The Not-So-Good:

1) NO port-o-poties on the course, none what-so-ever.  And nobody mentioned that to us before we got to the start line. So make sure you go before you walk to the start. I do fine with that but I know some people don’t so beware.

2) The town DOES NOT close ANY of the course to traffic. It’s not an extremely busy town BUT since its small race you do have to keep an eye out for cars since there is a chance you may not be running with a group. There are some cones along some of the busier sections but between the rain and the cars it was a concern.

3) The course has a lot of bends and turns which made it hard to see oncoming traffic and for cars to see you. If found myself switching from side to side depending on how far ahead I could see. Also since it rained, the entire race, I had to give myself a bigger safety buffer.

4) If you’re in it for the bling….this probably isn’t the race for you. You do get a medal but this years was a stock medal with a sticker on the front. Its cute but its nothing to fancy if that’s your thing.

Would I recommend it? Yes, Swanzey is a beautiful New England town and the views don’t disappoint. Just be sure to check the Not-So-Good section to see if its right for you 🙂

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Headed into one of the bridges. You can see the traffic ahead too.

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Trails at the beginning of the race. Sorry its blurry didn’t stop running for the pic.

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Free photo 🙂 That’s me, I couldn’t run through the middle because of the truck that was oncoming.

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Finished! It rained the entire time but I did it!

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In a Running Rut? Need some Motivation? Aaptiv could be right for you!

This is the true story about how the app Aaptiv helped me to find MY happy pace in running again.

Backtrack to late last fall.

I had trained on my own for The Big Sur Half Marathon in November.  And by training I mean I managed the workouts, and the long runs etc, but my motivation was kind of in the pooper.  Like on a scale of 1-10 I was probably at a 3 or 4 at best but only because I was still running.  It wasn’t pretty and I wasn’t really enjoying myself at all.  I ran the half with no real expectations, no big hopes for a new PR.  I knew I would finish and chocked it up to enjoying the sights and sounds of my last Big Sur Half Marathon while here in CA.  Mission accomplished, in other words I got it done.  It’s a beautiful half for sure. Thank goodness.

Next up for me was the Star Wars Light Side Half in January.  Problem was although I was super excited to run the Star Wars themed race, I was still lacking any real motivation to continue to train.

Enter Aaptiv.

Changing word Unmotivated into motivated

Please note: I DO NOT receive ANY monetary compensation from sharing Aaptiv.  Nor did they ask me to write this post.  However I really and truly enjoy the app and use it regularly.  If you’re in a rut and lacking motivation like I was, or just want to try something new then this might be just the app for you

November 2016

My husband has been in a rigorous accelerated collage program to get his masters degree. In other words lots of time in class and even more time at the library.  That’s the reason we are in California so I’m not complaining just stating facts.  We also have three very active children, I work part-time at a local running store, and am responsible 99% of the time for making sure the kiddos get where they need to be, when they need to be there.   School, sports, scouts etc, etc. Like many of you my training is often superseded by family schedules.  Add in lack of motivation and you have a recipe for a running disaster.

face-plant

I had heard about Aaptiv online and had been curious about it.  I found out a local friend of mine had become an ambassador.  I contacted her and she hooked me up with a free trial, I mean what did I have to lose?  Except maybe my severe lack of motivation.  If this could help, then I was all in.

One word.  Wow!  I have to tell you joining Aaptiv has been a HUGE motivational boost for me!  It not only saved my half, but has given me a whole new outlook and joy in my everyday running and training.  In fact I was so hooked that before my trail period ended I not only signed up for the year I also applied to become an ambassador.

But before I go any further let me explain exactly what Aaptiv is?

Aaptiv is way more than a running app!  It’s a complete on demand, multi coach, fitness audio training app right on your phone.  It’s like having a coach in your pocket 24/7.  Chock full of classes you can do in your home, at the gym or take it with you outside.  The app has taken off since I have joined and now includes:

  • Indoor (treadmill) Classes
  • Outdoor Running Classes
  • 5k – full marathon training plans
  • Indoor Cycling classes
  • Yoga Classes
  • Strength Classes
  • Meditation Classes
  • Stairclimber Classes
  • Walking Classes
  • Stretching (classes are automatically suggested right on the app after each class, which I love because I can be a bit lazy when it comes to stretching)
  • elliptical classes
  • 7 minute quick HIIT classes
  • monthly challenges and so much more
  • there is also an Official Aaptiv Member Facebook page where you can connect with other members

In addition to choosing which type of class you want to take, filter options also include sorting by:

  • duration of the class
  • incline level (when applicable)
  • speed
  • difficulty level (green for beginner, yellow for intermediate and red for advanced)
  • classes by trainer (choose your favorite or try someone new)
  • new classes or classes previously taken

Classes are set to fantastic music too.  No stale old “who the heck is this?” music here.  You will find everything from Hip Hop and Rock to Country.  Everything from Foo Fighters, Brittany Spears, AC/DC and everything in between.  The trainers are motivating and informative, I love the extra push I get from having that trainer in my ear.

Back to my Half Training:

For the Star Wars Lightside I jumped into the half training plan at the appropriate week for my half schedule.  Weekly runs in the half plan include cross training / recovery days. (a complete explanation of the plans are available on the Aaptive website)  The half training includes days of speed work, tempo runs and even long runs.  Each day is led by a seasoned instructor who both motivates you and gives great information on how to prepare for your half.   Just click the day of the plan your on and go!  I was able to do most (and could have done all if needed) of my training on the treadmill because that’s what works best for me time wise.  The plan is great for indoor and outdoor training.  I not only performed really well at Disney I enjoy every single minute of that half!  Honestly.

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This was in between miles 12 & 13…see still smiling.

So what now?

Since January I have continued to use Aaptive 4-5 days a week.  I branched off from the plan and now include weekly classes like hill training, speed training and even cross training days.  I am so thankful to be excited about working out and especially running again.  I have found new motivation to work on getting better, faster, stronger all while finding my happy pace in running and life!

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Great run thanks to Aaptiv even with some hills!

Are you needing a little motivation or a change in your routine and want to try Aaptiv too?  Feel free to use my code

DARLENAKOLPAKCLUB (click my code for the website and enter it there)  

Cancel at anytime during the trial period if you don’t love it.  

Any problems or questions, just ask!

 

 

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This One is Gonna Hurt. When you know its time for a DNS

February 2017

25K Trail Race

My first ever DNS (did not start)  

But why?

  • Was I sick?  No
  • Was I unprepared?  I thought so.
  • Hard decision…definetly!
  • Right decision?  I still say yes.
  • Does it hurt?  A little

I was signed up for my first ever 25K trail race.  I was distance prepared but not hilly trail prepared for this race.  I had done a half just a few weeks earlier at Disney but my trail hill training was lacking.  I was hoping to get a few good long, hilly, trail runs in the few weeks between races.  I have to thank the Treadmill and my friend Sharon (Rungry Runner) for the few that did happen.

Never regret the steps you have taken for they all lead you somewhere.  

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Sharon aka: RungyRunner

Sharon aka: Rungy Runner

I was uneasy the entire week leading up to the race, and especially the night before.  I personally knew not one person who was also doing the 25k.  I knew people doing the 10k and some doing the 50k.  If I had one partner in crime I would have toughed it out no matter how long it took me.  Once you commit to a trail race your out there.  And if that means your out there alone then that’s your situation.  Distance trail races are different from road races.  I have done quite a few half marathons out here in Cali alone.  But being a less experienced trail runner, and this would be my longest trail race ever, I just wasn’t feeling it.

I woke up at about 4 and told my hubby I decided not to do the race.  He said are you sick?  Nope, just not ready.  I got up at about 6 instead and headed out for some less hilly trail miles close to me.  The more I ran the more sure I was that I had made the right decision.  And if you believe in signs these were some pretty good ones.  Rainbows, lots of rainbows out during my run.

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I guess sometimes DNS is the right thing to do, its just hard.  

 

 

 

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Have you ever had a DNS?  Well, now you know your not alone.

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2017 So Far… Did Someone Say Star Wars?

Its been a while, and this post is pretty late but I haven’t fallen off the running wagon!  In fact I ran Disney in January.  But not just any Disney race, a total “Bucket List” Star Wars half marathon race for me.

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This wasn’t my first Disney race but it was my first half at Disneyland.  And having it be a Star Wars was more that just the icing on the cake for me.  I am a HUGE Star Wars nerd.  In fact we are an entire family of Star Wars nerds.  No regrets, no excuses.  I grew up on Star Wars and my favorites were always the droids….and of course Princess Leia. #princesspower

 

As luck would have it my kiddos also had a few days off from school around the race so we made it a Mommy & kiddo weekend.  We are currently about 5 1/2 hours from Disneyland so we drove.  Through fog (lots of fog) a crazy rain and wind storm (thank you Grapevine!?!) and fog and almost snow and fog because did I mention the fog?  Geez who knew I might have to worry about snow driving to southern California?!?  Amazingly we made it in exactly 5 1/2 hours on the dot.  BAM.  Go Mom.

The kiddos and I headed to the expo not too long after we got to Anaheim.  The hardest part for me was figuring out where the expo was and how to get there, lol.  I am slightly directionally challenged, ok maybe more than slightly.  But we managed.  Packet pick up complete.  Next we were off to lunch at Rainforest Cafe.  No rest for the wicked (or pre-race Mom) we spent most of the day in the parks.  #worthit

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Unfortunately I wasn’t able to participate in any of the weekend challenge races but it was fun to see people walking around the parks with all their medals.  My race was all about Sunday’s half.  I was ready and so excited.  I had decided to dress as BB8 because I had gotten a SWEET BB8 shirt from InknBurn.  And I am always a sucker for the droids.  Not too long before the race the world lost our Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher)  so I decided to do an ode to Leia by wearing my hair in Princess Leia styled buns for the half.  RIP Carrie.

Race morning was chilly but I meet up with a fellow Subbers (Sub 30 club) Shannon and Mary and we headed out to the half together.  OK they totally showed me how to get to the start because apparently the kids and I had been taking a round about way to enter the parks.  See, directionally challenged my friends.  We met up for a pre race group Subber pic and then said our goodbyes as we were in different corrals.

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Members of the Sub 30 Club

If there is one thing I am always happy for it’s a good toss away shirt / sweatshirt for waiting in the corrals at the start of the race. Can I get an Amen?  Even though Disney always keeps things lively there isn’t much they can do about the cold.  I was really happy I had a sweatshirt for that 30-40 minute wait for my corral to get on their way.  Running through the parks and Anaheim were magical for sure. If I included all the pics I took this post would be more like a mini novel.  Here are a few of my favs and no surprise with some of my favorite droids.

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By far this was my favorite Disney race so far.  And yes it was totally because it was Star Wars themed.  Characters of all kinds were plentiful both inside and outside the park.

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Getting close to the end and yes I was still this happy!! #StarWarsNerd #foundmyhappypace

My time was even better than I had anticipated despite stopping too many times to count.  I know a lot of that had to do with my training.  Since my last half in November I had been using the Aaptive App Half Marathon Training Plan.  What you have never heard of Aaptive??  Oh my friend have you been missing out….but that’s for another blog entry.  Best App I have ever used for running hands down, just saying.

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After more pics and making my way back to the hotel I showered and changed and soon the kiddos and I were off to the parks for the next few days.  Admittedly I was quite sore after this half, more so than usual.  The only thing I can think is maybe all the stopping and starting for character pictures but again #worthit.

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Me and Chewie!!!

I can’t wait to do Disney again and it will be another new race for me.  Disney Wine and Dine back at Disney World in November. Bonus…I will earn my coast to coast medal too!

 

Have you ever run Disney?  What was your favorite Disney Race?  

If not which would you like to run?

 

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Heart Rate Training (HRT) Works! I Ran Slow and Got a PR

As some of you may know I have been know to do a HRT Heart Rate (based) Training.  Read months of running slow…very slow in my aerobic zone.  Following my last half back in November I decided to go back to HRT once again.  After completing another round of purely base HRT I switched to an 80/20 Half Marathon Training plan for my next half marathon.  What is 80/20?  Basically its running 80% of your runs at / below your Max Aerobic Heart Rate Training number.  So yes I did continued to run 80% of my training slow.  The other 20% of it was spent in my anerobic training zone.  As the plan progressed that included things like hill repeats.  This past Sunday I ran the Surfer’s Path Capitola Half Marathon a beautiful course that started and ended at the famous Boardwalk in Santa Cruz. The course took us passed several well known surfing spots (thus the name).  As luck would have it the waves were not happening Sunday morning.  Lots of surfers basically just wading in the water 🙁  However the view…still amazing.  But the best part?  I PR’d!  Up until last November I had not PR’d a half marathon in a few YEARS. So yes you can be older AND still get faster 🙂 using HRT, as long as you give it time.

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Surfers waiting on some waves.

So how did it go?  

First off I had NO planed goal for this race.  My friend had to pull out earlier in the week so I was going solo and my eating over my birthday weekend and beyond was less than stellar.  I wasn’t expecting anything other than enjoying the views and finishing.  I was more than pleasantly surprised by the PR!

My plan: I decided to go with a 2:1 run/walk ratio. I did run the entire first mile just to break up the field of runners a bit and warm up.  I also ran this race by Cadence rather than a pace. Why you may ask?  Well just out of curiosity I did my last tempo run by cadence and it felt pretty good and my time wasnt too shabby.  My cadence goal for running was 180.  I’m very happy to say I nailed it!  My walking cadence was around 124, personally I would like to see this go a bit higher, but that’s my new goal for the next race.

The course:  It wasn’t super hilly, but it wasn’t all flat either. The unfortunate part was that most of the roads had a very noticeable slant to it.  I did my best to stay on the flattest part of the road, however this wasn’t always possible.

My race: After the turn around (it was an out and back) I noticed I started passing people #winning
However by mile 8 I felt a twinge in my right knee.  No,no, no…try to adjust my form, don’t get lazy, don’t slouch!  However by about mile 9 the twinge turned more into pain. IT band related knee pain.
I continued to push through with the walk/ run.  I had IT problems happen to me about 3 years ago during a race and I knew it wasn’t as bad as that time ( I hobbled to the finish line for that one, it was awful) so I figured as long as it didn’t get worse I could continue on.

Finish:  I never looked at the time on my watch during the race. I just kept an eye on my cadence. In fact I didn’t realize I PR’d until I got home later, lol.

Feeling happy that my knee held out and didn't get worse!

Feeling happy that my knee held out and didn’t get worse! InknBurn Run or Die, the perfect shirt choice for the day :)

I like walk run because it helps me keep my HR down (however I don’t wear my Heart Rate Monitor when racing) I run by feel for races and I have to say I felt good during the entire race, knee pain aside.

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Santa Cruz Boardwalk

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Chillin’ at the beach post race.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So you might be wondering how one gets injured if doing HRT? I am 99% sure my IT band issues are from two things, and 100% sure none of it has to do with my actual HRT training!
1)Too much actual racing too close together
2) Not stretching enough.

I have done 3 “longish” races in less than a month. A nine miler, a double road race (8k followed 30 minutes by a 5k) and now this half. My body isn’t used to doing that much fast pace racing so close together.

Phillip-4032

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Big Sur Weekend Recap!

Hello everyone!  I’ve been busy with family lately so once again this is a little late here is my recap from my first Big Sur Weekend.

BUT FIRST…one word.  Bart!  If you know running there is no other words necessary.  Except I do have to say and you can quote me:  “Nicest guy ever!”   He acted like he was more excited to meet me than I was to meet him.

Bart and me!!  Swoon! Rabbit ears courtesy of my 8 year old :)

Bart and me!! Swoon!
Rabbit ears courtesy of my 8 year old :)

But on to the races:

First race up:  The By the Bay 3k with my youngest kiddo.  The culmination of weeks of running and training with the Just Run Program at his school and part of the Big Sur Weekend!  It’s always great to spend time doing something you love, but even better to do it with SOMEONE you love 🙂  I’m so proud of this guy!

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My son and I post race

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Proud Mom moment :)

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Next up:  April 24th the Big Sur 9 miler, part of the Big Sur Marathon Weekend.  Running in Big Sur is a huge bucket list item for many runners, I am extremely fortunate to live and work very close to Big Sur.  In fact the finish line of all the Big Sur weekend races end in the parking lot of the CrossRoads in Carmel where I work at The Treadmill.  Although I wasn’t able to register early enough for the marathon, 20 or 10.6 milers (due to family commitments) I was finally able to commit to the 9 miler.  At first I was a tad bummed because a lot of the 9 miler is held inside Point Lobos and not on the marathon course, but man was I elated when I ran the course.  Point Lobos  truly is the crowned jewel of the California State park system.  An absolutely stunning course, honestly the pictures do not do it justice, with part of the course even held on some trail, my new love in California.

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My favorite part was the mile plus run on the trails be the sea :)

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This pic does Point Lobos zero justice. Its stunning in real life

 

Post Race Roll out courtesy of The Treadmill

Post Race Roll out courtesy of The Treadmill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BONUS:  the final stretch of the 9 miler comes back out onto the marathon part of the course and I happen to get there at the exact time the winner was coming down into the final mile.  I got to cheer him on (as he flew by) which was pretty darn cool!

I would HIGHLY recommend doing ANY of the races included in

The Big Sur Marathon Weekend if you get the chance!  

Well run, breathtaking scenery and great support.

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My First (and Definitely Not My Last) California Trail Race

This weekend I participated in my first trail race out here in California.  I had done only a few back in Virginia so I’m still basically a newbie, however I am pretty sure I am hooked!  I met a bunch of amazing runners out there and just set out to enjoy myself.  No pace or finish expectations.  For me this was all about the experience of trail running with a few added bonuses.  #1 it was a Saturday race which I just love and #2 I got to see some amazing friends set out on some Ultra distance racing adventures.

Hosted by Inside Trail out at the beautiful Fort Ord, the race distances stretched from the 10k to 25k, 50k  and 100K distances.  Being newer to the sport I opted for the 10k which for the most part was held on fire roads with a modest 900 ft elevation gain.  The course was a stunner none the less.  The combination of beautiful weather, lots of rolling hills and plenty of green, due to the recent rains and break in the drought, made for an awesome first trail race.

Beautiful!

Beautiful!

 Inside Trail provided well-marked trails, along with great aid stations.  In fact I was so pleased that next year I am hoping to at least participate in the 25k.  The volunteers were friendly and I felt great support being a 10k runner as I assume the longer distances felt.  Here are a few more pictures from the day.    I am a bit sore in my hips from the hills but man was it totally worth it!

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View from the run

and up we go….again

and up we go….again

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Do you enjoy trail running and racing?  Have you ever tried?

If you haven’t I suggest you do it at least once.  Who knows you might just get hooked!

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Race Recap: Big Sur Half Marathon On Monterey Bay and a 5k to Boot

Back when I was still living in Virginia I signed up for The Big Sur Half Marathon mainly for two reasons.

  1. To keep myself accountable as far as continuing to run once we moved
  2. Because its one of America’s most beautiful half marathons

Mission completed.  I’m still running and it truly was an absolutely beautiful run.  Here’s my recap of the weekend:

5k

Late Friday night I decided last minute to run the Lighthouse 5k on Saturday morning.  The 5k is part of the Half Marathon weekend and because well why not right?  Back in VA there are plenty of events with multiple races on the same weekend.  Why not make one for myself.  The course is a short walk from my house and my youngest would be there for the annual Cub Scout pancake breakfast.  So bright and early Saturday I made my way down to Lover’s Point and signed up at walk up registration.  I decided to use this flat beautiful course as a shakeout run, nice and easy.  It was a perfect cool sunny morning for a run along the beautiful coast.  In the end I was pleasantly surprised that I completed my shakeout at a pace I use to struggle to complete a 5k at.  Could those training hills be working?  Or did I go too fast and possibly jeopardize my half?  Eeek!  

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Saturday Night.

I met up with a few fellow Sub 30 Club friends who came to town for the Half Marathon.  We had dinner in downtown Monterey with some great food and conversation.  It’s funny how runners can just meet up and talk for hours and hours isn’t it?  Awesome peeps!  Highlight of the night, we each got to sign one of the famous Sub 30 Flags.  The flag is being sent all around the country to subbers for good luck and comradery from the main group of almost 4,000 running buddies.  What a great boost for Sunday’s race!

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Subbers and I from the Sub 30 Club

 

Race Day:

I had plan A, plan B and the no fail plan C for Sunday’s half.

  • Plan A – shoot for a new PR of at least one minute
  • Plan B – shoot for an even better PR
  • Plan C – if it doesn’t happen, enjoy the ride!

California has brought me some new running buddies along with lots of hills to train on.  Hills are something that are hard to find in Virginia Beach.  So for the past 4 months I have learned the love/hate relationship of running them.  Oh and Palo Corona, which is more of a mountain really.  But I digress, in my mind if I have been running all these hills then they must have a pay off at some point.  At least I sure hoped so!  Thus my quest for a new PR.

The half itself is run like a well oiled machine.  The folks at BSIM (Big Sur International Marathon) sure know what they are doing.  Everything from packet pick up and the shuttles to/from the race were easy to find and navigate.  Volunteers were plentiful on the course as were water / Gatorade etc.  I even had the joy of having my oldest volunteering on the course!  Getting a hug (and some water) at around mile 8-9 from my son was amazing 🙂  The course has a few uphill climbs, but nothing close to what I have trained on so I did fine.  There was live music and DJ’s along the course, and post race grub was also plentiful.  But the real winner of the race… the views along the course.

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I was blessed to bump into one of my Wednesday night running buddies in he starting corral.  I told her about my hopes to PR, she graciously volunteered herself and her husband to pace me for my goal.  Saki is awesome, and a machine, for real.

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Saki and I in the starting corral

And by the way her husband is an awesome pacer!  The two of them had just come off a 10 mile trail run the previous day and were taking it easy for the half (lucky for me!)  Her PR for this course is a 2:01!  So we decided on a plan of staying with the pace group for the first half and then seeing how I felt at the turnaround.  *Except for a quick stop (yes I failed and got in the corral to early and had to pee!! Ughh.)   We stayed with the pacers until just after the turnaround.  side note:  If that port-o-potty stop had cost me my PR I would probably never forgive myself.   After the turnaround (just about mile 7 1/2) we slowly and steadily we made our surge.

Mile 10 is usually my hardest mile, and this half was no different.  I started with my self-doubt.  “I can’t PR, I have to walk blah, blah, blah, etc” Then I started to hear the pacer’s voice from the group we had broken away from.  I may have used a few choice words, which I shall not repeat here, out loud and decided “That’s it!” “I do not want to hear them again!”  Off I went.  Did you know being mad really can make you faster?  I thought about God, my Mom and my I run 4 buddy Logan.  I wanted to do this for all of them and myself.  I kept repeating their names in my head.  Saki paced me until sometime around mile 10 1/2 – 11 and then sent me on my way.  I was in the zone and the last two miles ended up being my fastest miles of the entire race.  I really appreciated Saki more than she can ever know.

I PR’d by almost 3 minutes!  Which for me is huge!  So hooray for hills, I might be getting older but I am also getting a bit faster 🙂  And I have to admit there were also some tears of joy at the end of the race.  And as if it wasn’t already a great day I got to meet the Kara Goucher!  She ran the race and had come in first for the women with a 1:11.  An additional bonus was I actually got to see her on the course.  She is amazing.

Here are some additional pics from the day.  First California Half (and 5k) in the books!

 

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Kara and I…she may be my girl crush

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Sub 30 “Dark Side” Flag. Post Race

 

 

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Running for MY Future – Heart Rate Training Update

Disclaimer ** Please note I am not a personal trainer nor any other sort of medical professional.  Information is based on my personal experience and is just that.  Please consult a doctor before performing any sort of physical activity.

 

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Last August I started Heart Rate Training (HRT)  (to read more about it click here for: Why Running Slow Really Might Be the New Fast)

Although I originally chose HRT to help me get back into distance running after 6 months of low mileage running, I’m now looking at is a solid plan for my running future.  When I first started researching HRT I actually got a lot of negative feedback from people.  Mostly “Oh, that’s only for elite athletes.”  Well being the stubborn bull I am (I’m a Taurus) I decided to go for it anyway and I’m glad I did.  FYI: Apparently I possess all the best traits for HRT.

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First of let me lay all MY cards on the table as to why its time for me to start looking into the future of my running:

1)I’m not in my twenties or thirties anymore.  Alright dang it I’m in my mid 40’s.  (But really it’s not so bad, honest!)

2)I’ve never been super speedy, or even very speedy for that matter and HRT isn’t going to make me speedy.

In fact some days I feel like Homer:

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3) I didn’t start running until my mid thirties and didn’t run my first half marathon until I was 40.  Just call me a late bloomer 🙂

So why on earth would I choose HRT?  Well, for this one main reason.  I want to run into my future for as long and healthy as I can, period.

So lets revisit the benefits of HRT:

You will build up a solid aerobic base.
You will run more efficiently.
Most runs are done at an easy comfortable pace (which gets faster with time I promise)
It will prevent over-training or under training by working at the right intensity for each run.
You don’t feel beat up at the end of a run.
You should be less prone to injury.
Eventually your pace will improve (you will be running longer and stronger at an easier effort)

 

So how has spending so much time in my aerobic zone helped?  Well lets look at some of my actual Heart Rate data.  ***I wanted to include some of my older HRT data but Garmin Connect has lost my 2014 data.  Whaaaaaaaaa!  I sent them an email and hoping they can get it back!!  (My first HRT runs looked much more like my third chart (post flu) listed below.)

January 2015 – 8 mile run: Slow and steady but still a lot of HR fluctuation.  

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Recent 10 mile long run.  Notice that my heart rate is much more steady and in zone, that’s what your aiming for. Staying steadily in your zone.

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Another nice thing, though be it frustrating at times, is knowing when to slow down especially due to sickness / recovery.  In January I got the flu.  Coming back from said flu was no joke.  But I trusted my instincts and my heart rate and new when I was pushing too hard, too soon. (see below) 

HRT 2 mile run right after having the flu:  (yea, not good.) PS:  This is more like what my early HRT runs looked like.

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So am I blazing fast?  Hahahaha…no.  I’m still working on speed, however I rarely feel spent after a run, even a long run.  I have done 6 half marathons since starting HRT with my average time as before HRT with less fatigue, less soreness   Please note I do NOT wear my Heart Rate Monitor for races.  I run by feel.  In fact in November 2014 I missed a PR by seconds!

Does it happen overnight?  No, no and no.  Patience is key.  I also belong to an online group of HRT runners ( Sub 30 Heart Rate Training) We share a lot of support and information and its nice to see the transformation and success stories.

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Are there some down sides?  Well yes.  I rarely have “pace” running buddies.  My hubby will run with me when he can just so we can spend time together #keeper.  HRT paces are really individual and most runners do NOT run in their aerobic zone but go all out every run and end up spending most to all their time in their anaerobic zone.  It can still be very humbling when I am out there running on the roads and trails.  Getting passed by other runners is a daily occurrence.  I have to remind myself that it’s not about their pace, it’s about my fitness and this is the type of training I choose.  And hey when you have this view to look at, I think I can deal just fine!

What more info about HRT?  Check out these books **  Please not I am in now way connected to nor a sponsor for the following books.  Names are provided for informational purposes only.

Heart Monitor Training for the Compleat Idiot  (John L. Parker)

The Maffetone Method (Philip Maffetone)

80/20 Running: Run Stronger and Race Faster by Training Slow  (Matt Fitzgerald and Robert Johnson)

 

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One Month In Already? The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of a Cross Country Trek

Has it really been an entire month since this?

I made it, I can't believe I made it!

I made it, I can’t believe I made it!

Apparently yes, yes it has.  We have now officially been in California for an entire whirlwind of a month.  So here is the good, the bad and the ugly.

The good. I drove well over 3,000 miles (see above photo)  Yes me, if you really know me this is a HUGE accomplishment for the girl who falls asleep when not driving if a trip is longer than 15 minutes.  I also learned that “endurance” driving is like doing a half marathon.  If you want the time to go by you need to be alert yet in the zone at the same time.  I thank my time spent distance running for helping pass 8-10 hours on the road each day.  Get in the zone, don’t think about how much longer you have, just get it done.  You see we drove both our cars from the east coast.  In the Mom-mobile my crew was both my sons and just for fun our 2 cats, because if your going to drive cross-country you might as well add a few animals into the mix.

Snickers.  Cat, dog or ferret?

Snickers. Cat, dog or ferret?

 

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Traveling is exhausting

Traveling is exhausting

For the first few days we had some pretty good (read: blinding) rain storms rain storms.  So on day 3 we replaced my wipers.  As you can probably guess….it never rained again, lol.   We did however get to see some really neat places on our travels such as this…

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That is salt NOT snow, pretty cool.

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And this.

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OK we have no idea what that is but it was cool.  We renamed it the tennis ball tree.

My youngest played the iPad (ok probably too much, but hey it kept the complaints to a minimum so don’t judge me) and cracked jokes along the way.  We played a couple of entertaining, if not slightly disturbing, rounds of “Would you rather”.  Side note: whoever wrote the cards for that game has some issues…just saying.  My oldest was a pretty awesome copilot, keeping me company and reading google news to me when I started to get tired.  But best of all we got to spend time together and I realized he an I have the same sense of humor.  We like to laugh at the same things and enjoyed spending quality time with squishy (inside joke)  I love you kiddos!

The bad:  We saw very few accidents (ok yes that is good) except for the day the SUV right in front of my husband and daughter almost flipped.  Two things here, I am glad my husband had taken a drivers defense course at one time and God had his hand on that SUV, it swerved, spun and even went up on two tires but never flipped or hit any other vehicles on this busy stretch of road.  Depending on which way you take, driving across country can be very boring.  Lots of road, not a lot to look.  Unless you like grass, sand, dirt and lots of tractor trailers.  Also apparently different GPS’s don’t always agree.  We only lost each other once.

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The ugly:  In true PCS style (ok wait for it here comes the whinny part of the trip) a bunch of unexpected events happened.  This time not broken appliances or lost household goods.  As a family we lost not one but two Uncles (on my husband’s side) God Bless you Uncle James and Uncle Michael.  As we were just arriving in Cali this made it impossible to grieve with family as they are now literally on the other side of the country.  I also found out one of my Brother In Laws has been pretty ill  (at the time) due to an unknown cause, don’t worry he is fine now.  Then within a weeks time of arriving in California my Dad was rushed to the ER and later received triple bypass surgery.  Again we are here he is waaaaay on the east coast.  A few days later my husband’s aunt lands in the hospital with a severe illness.  I swear to you we cannot make this stuff up.  My daughter fell in a freak accident after church and nearly broke her nose, it was a close call.  Apparently if you can sprain your nose that’s what she did.  Thankfully no black eyes and only minor swelling but a good amount of pain.  We had placed ourselves and all our family in God’s hands, even before we ever hit the road here.  God is good, we know he has everything under control.  Imagine what would have happened if we didn’t trust in Him.

But enough of that!  This part of California is lovely, beautiful, breathtaking and like perfect running conditions EVERY day.  I am not kidding.  No humidity and partly cloudy to sunny.  Mornings start in the upper 50’s and go to highs in the 70’s.  I think we had one day in the 80’s, the locals were dying.  There are many misty mornings but hardly ever rains (both good and bad).  We had a thunderstorm last weekend which didn’t faze us being from the east coast, however according to the locals this was a really big deal.  Apparently they haven’t had a thunderstorm here in years.  Yes read that again my East Coast friends….years.  Who knew?  The downside for me at the moment is hills.  Virginia Beach is flat-as-a-pancake land.  Spending the last 5+ years running there makes one not well hill adapted.  I should have spent some more quality time at Mount Trashmore.  However I am determined to rock these hills….eventually.  Or at least climb them without dying.  If not at least I know if I am ever a flat lander again I should be speedy, or at least speedier than when I got here.

I have a feeling it will be hard to leave here when the time comes at least from a running point of view.  Luckily we have a few years here to enjoy it all.   Check it out…try not to drool.

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Oh and one last thing.  Never fear I have found a cupcake place here 🙂  Gotta have my cupcakes.

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