Race Recap: Mt. Nebo Half Marathon

Written Monday, 28 August 2017.

I went into this race aiming for a sub-2 half marathon. I didn’t get it.

 

Pros: The course itself was gorgeous. I was grateful to be able to drive up with Brad and his friends Kaden and BreeAnn, and BreeAnn and I actually ran the first 9 miles together, which was a pleasant surprise (a lot of people have different paces and such, so it was a tender mercy to have her, someone I had just met, to run with). There were times when I’d look up and just be amazed that I was running in this lush forest. It was gorgeous. And it was all downhill, which helped me keep my pace up and felt fun and fast.

Cons: The downhill killed my legs. I noticed this probably while I stopped to walk an aid station around mile 4 or 6. My legs were jello even then. People had told me this, but I had trained some downhill, and my last half was downhill as well down American Fork Canyon, but not THIS kind of downhill.

Haley taped my shoulder the night before the race (thank you KT Tape and Haley!) and I stretched it in the morning and right before the race. It hurt from probably miles 2-4 though, until BreeAnne helped me stretch it at I think the mile 4 aid station. Because of my shoulder, I feel like I was very self-aware the whole race, noticing my posture, re-adjusting slightly here and there when I felt an ache or imbalance anywhere (That was a pro I guess!). About halfway through the race, around miles 6 or 8, I reached up to wipe sweat from my forehead… and there was none. And that was a red flag for me because I always sweat A TON. So I knew something was up. At each aid station after that I tried to drink a bit more water but I never started sweating, or at least not noticeably.

At about mile 11, there was one of those mister things set up for runners to run through and cool off. I thought, this will be great! I’m out of the canyon now and there’s a lot of sun. This will feel good. I ran through, it was very chilly water, and I had goosebumps for the last two miles. My body just couldn’t deal.

After mile 10, like during my last (and first) half marathon, I struggled a lot. I had to keep walking here and there, and the last 1.5 miles were the worst. Mentally I was like, I only have 1.5 left, that’s nothing, I should just be able to push through it. But I couldn’t. I had a short wave of nausea and had to pause briefly yet again with only .2 miles left and a guy I know ran up beside me and I think just thought I was ridiculous. (And I felt a lot of shame about that moment later in the day, during my post-race emotional crash).

Pro: I finished the race and saw Haley, Deon, and Masson at the finish line, cheering me on, taking photos and videos, then sitting with me, getting me extra water, and loving me even though I was wiped out. Then I drank chocolate milk (SO GOOD), and we went out to breakfast at Denny’s.

Con: I didn’t get my goal time. If we go by official race results, I did PR by about 3 minutes, but that’s because during the first race, my running buddy stopped to use the restroom and I paused my Garmin.

If we go by my Garmin, I missed my goal time by 1 minute. I’m pretty disappointed. My official finish time (official race results + Garmin) for this race was two hours and 1 minute.

Also, the post-race blues, as Sam called them. I emotionally crashed. I had to go to work right afterward and I physically did better than I thought, but emotionally I just crashed. I paused at work to text a couple friends and just get it out. I was also doubting my abilities as a runner, and reconsidering my focus there (as in, maybe I should focus on a different distance or something).

Pro: My chat with Sam on Sunday. I told him what I experienced (not sweating, having chills, having little energy during the last 3 miles, that brief bit of nausea, and being bummed about not getting my sub-2 hour half marathon), and he told me: I was severely dehydrated, likely had heat exhaustion, and Sam —now an amazing ultra runner and placing in/winning 5k’s whenever he runs them— it took him a year to get his sub-2 hour half marathon. And now look where he’s at. (If you don’t know where he’s at, listen to my podcast interview with him because he is AWESOME and has worked so hard to get there). Chatting with Sam made me feel a lot better. (I guess put in the word “severe” and it kind of makes it all more legit?). I really did give it all I had. And I will take a break from running for a few days, practice better hydration during long runs, and see where I am at then.

Side note on hydration: It really did surprise me that I was dehydrated. I had been drinking a lot and eating well the day before, started my morning with water and half a Nuun tablet, and drunk a bit before the race and at every aid station. And TMI, my pee looked fine! Haha! (Runners are gross). But Sam noted that if my body didn’t have the salt to absorb it, something something something science. Ha! I don’t know. I’m not an expert. But it’s stuff I will figure out. Learning and moving forward.

I’m still disappointed about this race. The race t-shirt is so soft and I don’t even want to wear it because I’m bitter. Ha! My legs are tight and sore, more than I remember experiencing, and more than I thought possible.

But, happy things: friends, mountains, and finishing something hard. I’ll work on focusing on that.

Strong + Gentle Podcast Show Notes: Episode 2: Sam Monsivais

Sam Monsivais. Episode 2. Sam is legit. He’s not only a stellar runner, he’s also one of the kindest people I know, always willing to help out. I didn’t know him too well until last fall when I invited him to be on a Red Rock Relay team with me, and spending a whole day in a van with 5 other people just tends to bring people together. That led to “New Girl Nights” with me, Sam, and his roommate Dane (who we also mention in the podcast). And THAT led to a 6-mile run together down a canyon on a dark, rainy November night (which, at the time, was a long run for me) at the end of a really crummy day for me (or rather, in the middle of a really crummy SEASON for me). Earlier this year when I decided to really focus on running, he was there, assigning me training runs, talking nutrition and hydration, and offering encouragement. What a guy. I’m lucky to have him as a friend.

Thanks for letting me gush. Now onto the podcast: Sam has accomplished so much as a runner in just a few short years, and it was really fun to sit down and get the facts on how he went from carrying extra weight and losing his breath playing soccer with friends, to running ultra marathons. Sam also talks a lot about injury prevention and recovery, as he was hit with an overuse injury early on in his running endeavors and had to take a break for a few months (focusing on yoga instead!).

Our conversation was pretty long, so this was edited down. Purchase the whole Strong + Gentle program to get the full conversation.

Hydration supplements we we talk about: Skratch Labs, Nuun

Race Recap: Temple to Temple 5k

Last Monday I ran the Temple to Temple 5k (THOUGH IT WAS ONLY 3.04 MILES TAKE NOTE but I’m counting it as my PR because I slayed it).

Race: According to my GPS, the distance was 3.04, and I completed it in 24:38 (average pace of 8:05 min/mile). According to the timing chip on my bib, with the assumption that the course is an actual 5k (3.1 miles), my chip time was 24:34 (average pace of 7:55 min/mile).

Course: Downhill from the Provo LDS Temple to the Provo City Center Temple. (First mile -149 feet, second mile -89 feet, third mile -39 feet). I chose to pay for a timing chip to be in a smaller group of runners to start out. This race was PACKED with families and kids, so it was worth it to me, knowing I wanted to race it, to pay for the timing chip.

How I PR’d: I LOVE NERDING OUT ABOUT THIS so I hope you enjoy this section. Haha! Here are the details:

Last year (2016), same race, I finished in 28:43 (average pace of 9:15 min/mile), so by training speed this year, I improved my time by over 4 minutes (shaving off over 1:15 min/mile). I’m pretty dang stoked about it.

I should also note, I did another race last year and I got that same 9:15 min/mile average, so that was just kind of what it was. And let’s go back a bit further: I have run on and off casually since probably 2008, and did start running more consistently and doing longer races in 2014, but I wouldn’t say I started training until maybe February or March of this year. When I started training, I actually had a friend coaching me (Sam! :D) and we had me training both with distance (training for that half last month) and speed, for the first time in my life.

In May I did the Race to Red 5k, after starting those speed workouts, and got down to a 8:39 average mile. BUT, I didn’t race smart. I went out too fast and burned out by the end. I’ve been looking forward to this race to try again, and I DID it. I’m so proud of how I raced. My times for each mile were better than I had hoped, but I listened to how my body was feeling as I raced, and I went by that. I loved it. I feel so good.

Thanks for celebrating with me! And if you’re looking for a great downhill 5k to do next year, perhaps with your family, and perhaps with religious significance (if you’re a Mormon!), I highly recommend this race! It’s a sweet experience.

AF Canyon Half Marathon Recap

I can’t believe I haven’t written about my race yet, but I guess two weeks late will have to do! You guys, I RAN A HALF MARATHON. Ha! It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but always seemed out of reach. Or something I’d do LATER, you know? But earlier this year when parts of my personal life crumbled around me, I realized: I can do anything. I can do whatever the heck I want. (And maybe it was a little bit of, I’ve already lived through this sucky crappy thing and I survived, so of course I can do this other really hard thing, BY CHOICE!)

My friend Sam Monsivais coached me, and I will forever be grateful for that. Having a training schedule helped me work toward something when I was climbing out of that broken place. It was a huge part of my healing. My friend Haley and I trained together, running just about all of our long runs together, and running the entire race together. She has been such a blessing to me this whole time. We balance each other out very nicely when we run, as you will soon see an example of!

I should note: The night before the race I got 26 text messages from Haley in a row—mostly nervous emoticons and gifs. Ha! Haley is the best. But also, while she was nervous, I was surprisingly calm. I think I had gone through my nervousness a couple weeks earlier, and I figured, this is just another training run, and we’ll go on this adventure and just keep running and enjoying it. And I knew I was bringing just-in-case stuff in my running belt, and there were aid stations + bathrooms every 3-4 miles, so I knew we’d be okay. And, I just wasn’t nervous— I was EXCITED!

I got about 4 hours of sleep, Haley got like, none. Ha! We drove up to American Fork, boarded a bus, and got to the start line at Tibble Fork Reservoir with plenty of time.

One of the first things that anyone would probably ever tell you about this race is that it is SO WELL ORGANIZED. Like, I felt I had very little to worry about, as I mentioned earlier. We got to the start, wrapped up in our space blankets that the race provided (which worked SO well to help keep us warm), then when the time got closer, put our stuff in our drop bags (which the race also provided at packet pickup the day before), threw it in the back of a truck, and got ready to run.

Then, we started running!

We went in the first wave of runners, which was anyone with a 9:30 pace or faster. (Spoiler alert: we came in with an average page of 9:29 haha!) I was in charge of keeping our pace. I was surprised how many people were barrelling past us the first mile or so. I knew we had to conserve energy and take it easy starting out, so we just kept doing what we were doing! (We maintained about an 8:30-9 minute/mile pace through the canyon). Walked at water stations. One bathroom break around mile 8. And just kept going!

*One very, very heartwarming thing about this race for me is that all of the money from entrance fees goes to local cancer patients, and they were able to raise over $380,000 for that purpose. Holy moly. I get teary eyed thinking about that. Many people—myself included—wore the names of loved ones who had battled cancer on their backs. I ran for my grandma Judy Williamson who passed away from pancreatic cancer last year. As I ran down the canyon my thoughts went to my grandma, and also to a friend’s mother who had passed away from cancer a few years ago. I never met my friend’s mother, but there was a moment when I felt she was with me (as odd as I still feel like that sounds, ha! yikes). I got teary eyed thinking about these women, and also seeing the many names of loved ones along the course. This is a very special race.

Back to the running itself: Haley was super out of it as she really didn’t sleep well the night before, and so the first 10 miles or so was me giving a lot of words of affirmation, singing the few words I knew of Moana, and pushing her with pace every so often when I felt us lagging. She was amazing. She handled that lack of sleep WAY better than I would have.

We ran out of the canyon and onto a paved trail through a really beautiful golf course. Some rolling hills but it was still great. Then onto a trail through some shaded neighborhoods.

Again, so many amazing volunteers and so many resources for the runners. It was such a good experience.

We then hit mile 10 (the furthest either of us had run up to that point). And THEN, the Murdock Canal Trail. Haley and I ran parts of the Murdock Canal Trail during training, but it’s always a bit rough. Very little shade, and just flat. The last 2-3 miles of this race were on that trail, and yes, there was NO SHADE and it was just flat. The sun was luckily at our backs, but it was still really hot, and I don’t do well with sunshine while running. This is where our roles changed: Haley had to pull me along those last 2-3 miles. She was feeling much better at this point and I’m so glad, because I needed her here. (See? We really do balance each other out as runners. I love being her running buddy!)

We ran, ran, ran, and finally, the finish line.

Two hours and 4 minutes. Average pace of 9:29 min/mile

We saw Sam there waiting for us (he rocked it, by the way, and I think was 11th overall? Maybe? His Strava says he finished in 1:20 with an average pace of 6:07), and our other friend Mikala who also rocked her race! Haley’s mom and brother were there waiting for us as well, which I loved. (Basically my fake family lately 🙂

Fact: Sam had anticipated that we’d finish closer to 2:30. Was proving him wrong a motivator for me? Yes. Absolutely yes. Ha!

I finished the race and went straight to the giant bucket of ice cold water bottles, and squatted, holding the edge of the bucket. Haha! I FELT AWFUL. I THEN got water, and got my medal (totally passed them before). We hung around in the sun chatting with Haley’s family and Sam for a bit and I casually was like “hey, can we go to the shade?” and finally I just walked away to find that shade, and luckily everyone followed! Ha! This is me after a race: feisty and demanding, apparently.

We picked up our drop bags and again, as everything else was, the process was simple and the race volunteers were SO on top of it. We got our card with our official times, took a group picture, then Haley went to get the free Kneaders french toast and I left. (Because I was pretty sure that post-race stomach + rich french toast = vomit, so, no thank you).

I was drowsy all day, and sore for 2 days. The worst day was probably Monday morning, waking up still sore, knowing I had to teach yoga at 8am. Ha! But I taught yoga and Erin came, who also ran the half on Saturday. Yay, friendship! So we had a good chat while we practiced yoga together. I think yoga is exactly what I needed, because by that evening my muscles/body felt much better.

It’s crazy that this was just two weeks ago. I still haven’t decided exactly what race I’m doing next, but I’ve kind of decided on a training plan to keep doing all the things. Ha!

Make It Magical

The thing about trauma is, it can connect to so many things. For a lot of people, and for me, holidays are tough. Really tough. Even minor holidays like my town’s Summerfest. For me, it was a mix of association and anxiety at the thought of bumping into certain people. But the thing I’ve learned about holidays and other difficult occasions/places/things: they can be reframed. You can go to that place and make a new memory there; you can make new traditions; you can sort things out with a friend or therapist or coach; you can take the broken pieces and make something magical.

 

The night of Summerfest I passed on an opportunity to watch fireworks with friends and decided instead to go on a run, timed perfectly with the fireworks. I ran down the main street and watched the fireworks go off in the distance, breeze blowing through my hair, warm sweat on my skin, and it just felt so good to be alive—and alone, though I was surrounded by families watching the fireworks on the grass along the sidewalk. And just like that—magical.