Race Recap: BYU’s Rex Lee Run 5k

I had an expected goal pace for this race, and I had a hopeful goal pace for this race—as I usually do. And then I got a little stressed the morning-of, scrapped all of that, and simply remembered that I was running for my Grandma Judy, who had died of pancreatic cancer in 2016. I decided I simply wanted to race smart and remember her.

And then two miles into the race, I scrapped all of that again and thought, “My legs are heavy, it’s really sunny, and I wish I hadn’t worn pants.”

All in all, this race felt like a crappy training run more than a wisely run race. Ha! Darn it. It happens, for various reasons. That said, as I’ve been processing the race today, there are some really positive things to note about it:

Pros:

  1. The race itself, the Rex Lee Run. All of the money from entry fees goes directly to cancer research, which I am SO in favor of. Like I said, this disease took my grandma, and took her quickly. I saw the state she was in when she passed—she was one tough lady, but this took so much out of her. Anything in this area of research, I am very much in support of, which is why I’ve run with my grandma’s name on my bib in 4 races now (two Temple to Temple 5k’s in 2016 and 2017, the AF Canyon Half Marathon to benefit local cancer patients in 2017, and now this race).
    The race was well organized. Also, all of the staff, volunteers (including LDS missionaries, which I LOVE!), and participants were so happy and excited to be there. The energy at this race was one of my favorites, and I can see why people keep doing it year after year.
    And, the shirts are cozy. Haha! I was one of the few who didn’t wear their shirt during the actual run because I wanted to come home afterward and cozy up in it.
  2. The race starts with a hill. I had a goal to run it at about a 9 min/mile pace. I ended up with an 8:55 min/mile pace, and I felt pretty good running the hill at that pace.
  3. After that hill, the second mile of downhill sure felt nice!
  4. One of my FAVORITE parts of the race was seeing Sam and my cousin Mikey at the end. They came to cheer me on. It meant so much to me.
  5. While I didn’t hit my race goals (any of them, really—time goals or racing wisely goals), I did do a very similar race route for the BYU Women’s Services Voices of Courage 5k in October 2016 where my time was 31:46 (so a 9:59 min/mile average pace). Part of that was surely because the race started in a more congested area so I was forced to start slow. But also, I’ve improved a LOT since then. It was an almost identical route, and this time I finished in 28:43 (9:05 min/mile pace). So while this wasn’t my best 5k, it wasn’t my worst, and I could see an immediate improvement on the course itself (at least with the numbers—I definitely think going slower in that 2016 race FELT a lot better than today did as a whole, haha).

Things I could have done better on:

  1. That starting hill was great, but the second mile, which was downhill, I did it at an 8:53 min/mile pace, which felt great. But also, should my easy downhill pace be the same as my difficult uphill pace? Hmm…
  2. I swear I checked the temperature in Provo last night and it said it would be in the 40’s (it was), and partly cloudy (it wasn’t). I debated between capris and long pants this morning, and ultimately decided on the pants (partly cloudy could also mean chilly), and oh man, did I regret that pretty quickly. I’m just grateful that I left my running gloves in my car. By mile 3 I was so hot, and even rolling up my sleeves just to get some more air on my body.
  3. I stopped briefly multiple times in that 3rd mile. Whereas my first two miles were about an 8:55 min/mile pace, my third was 9:33 min/mile. I’m glad that I listened to my body to pause and walk (I guess I raced smart in that regard), but also, poop. That was not my plan. On a similar note, there were some photographers along the course, and the first couple I could smile and feel pretty good. By the last photographer, I tried putting on a smile and distinctly remember thinking, “smiling is taking up a LOT of energy right now.”

So, this wasn’t my best 5k race, and it wasn’t my worst. I ran it, and I’m glad I did. The money —and awareness—went toward a great cause, and this race will help my body grow stronger as I work toward my upcoming goals.

Thank you to my dad and Bridget for texting me good luck the night before! Thank you to my roommate Katie for taping my shoulder this morning! And thank you so much to Sam and Mikey for coming out to hug my sweaty self at the finish line. Your support means so much to me!

Another 5k in the books, friends. Onto the next thing!

Why I Run!

I have a 5k coming up in just a few days and, as it often goes, my training plan didn’t quite turn out how I had intended it to. For example, my body was just naturally exhausted last Friday and Saturday, and I had been hoping to get a key run in one of those days. I tried, and it just didn’t happen. I’ve been taking this week easy and focusing on things like nutrition and getting proper rest instead.

I never viewed this race as THE RACE—I have another 5k later in the year that I have big goals for—but I wanted to do the best I could on this one, and I do have perhaps a small goal for it in mind. But last night as I was (for like, the third night in a row) imagining race day, I decided that I simply wanted to focus on:

I want to do this.

Because sometimes it’s hard to remember that when I’m tired, or when my body (or mind) is not performing as I’d like it to. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that when lounging and eating snacks and watching Netflix seems nice. Sometimes it’s hard to remember when it’s too cold or too hot, or in that pre-run moment when you choose to go without a jacket because you know you’ll warm up within a half mile, but you’ve still got that 15 minutes before the race starts + that half mile before the goosebumps on your arms go away.

But, I want to do this, and here’s why.

In the summer of 2008 I moved to Utah and started running on some warm summer nights—which is still one of my favorite times to run. In the solitude of darkness, meditating and praying, or simply being with my breath and rhythm as I roam my neighborhood.

In the winter of 2014, with a heart healing from a deep depression, I found relief from the heaviness even for just those few moments on the elliptical, treadmill, or on the road. And the feeling of incredible accomplishment when I finished my first 10k race that June (and two weeks later, my first Ragnar relay). I had “run” 5k’s for years, just for fun, but these two races, to me, mark the point where I really began pushing myself as a runner.

In the winter of 2017, healing from betrayal and grief, I asked a friend of mine to be my running coach. For the first time, I completed specific workouts catered toward my goals (and committed to a larger-than-ever goal of completing my first half marathon). Running went hand-in-hand with my healing and betrayal trauma recovery, and I experienced many moments of elation as I found sincere joy and fulfillment in sprint workouts, and accomplishment in reaching new PR’s and new distances. I consider this the first time I started truly “training” as a runner.

Running has played different roles at different times of my life, and I have a feeling that this will continue to evolve especially over the next few months and this whole year.

But at this very moment, this is why I run:

I can let go of any bad day, stressful moment, heavy thought within 2 minutes of getting out on the road (okay, 5 minutes, tops). That’s all it takes to lift the heaviness.

It reminds me how far I’ve come, and also reminds me to be compassionate with myself when I still have a ways to go to reach my goals. If we didn’t have room for improvement, then what’s the point? I’m in no rush; I am learning.

I want to build up my speed and technique to go faster! I want to see what my mind and body can do.

And bonus: It IS a bit nice to be able to eat more when I’m training hard 😉

…but that’s not what I’m thinking of when I’m training or racing. Just the little bonus, haha!

So on Saturday, I want to enjoy every moment of that race. I want to bask in every step up that hill at the beginning, and I want to feel the breeze in my hair as I let go and fly down the hill. I want to savor every heavy step in the last stretch there—I know where I’ll be going, and I’m going to get there.

I run because I love it. I race because I love it. I want to do all of it, and I’m going to keep doing it, and enjoy every moment.

Race Recap: Saints and Sinners Half RELAY with Dani!

On the morning of my 29th birthday, I woke up at 5am, drove down to a starting line at 6:50am, and started running at 8am. I ran 6.45 miles, high fived Dani to run the second 6.5 miles, then took a bus down to the finish line to run the last .05 miles with her through the finish chute. We ate pretzels, cookies, and donuts at the finish line, then left and got more donuts at Friendly Donut House in Henderson. I ate more donuts, drank some beet juice, showered and napped. Then Seven Magic Mountains and a delicious dinner.

But more about that race, shall we??!

First off, I realize that running AF Canyon as my first half marathon has made me kind of a snob about half marathons. All money going to charity, a beautiful course, AND really great swag? Such a good race.

That said, the Saints and Sinner Half Marathon is a BEAUTIFUL course, at least the half that I ran! (And the bus ride to the finish line, in which I saw the last 2 miles of Dani’s run along Lake Mead, was incredible).

Dani and I ran the race as a 2-person relay, so we each took a half. I chose the first half because it included a hill, and I wanted that hill training for another upcoming race. Dani’s half included running through huge tunnels that were used to transport materials while constructing the Hoover Dam! Pro: History. Con: Dirt trails and very dark tunnels. From what I heard from Dani and another runner I chatted with at the finish line, it was dusty and warm, and not their favorite. BUT, those last two downhill miles by Lake Mead, they agreed, were beautiful!

One unexpectedly awesome part of the race: the title wasn’t only referencing the “Sin City” aspect of Las Vegas— members of the Latter-day SAINT church were involved in running the race! Haha! It was awesome. A lot of the volunteers were missionaries for the church, and were awesome with holding signs, directing runners, and passing out water cups. The only other run I’d done that missionaries helped with was the Temple to Temple 5k in Provo, Utah, which made sense. This was a fun surprise!

Now, let me tell you about MY run:

I went into this race telling myself it was a training run. For various reasons (including I had just signed up for the race literally 2 weeks prior, if that, when Dani suggested it), my training wasn’t where I would want it to be going into a 6.5 mile race. So I told myself (and others) that I was just going to take it easy.

But secretly, I did have a couple of little goals: get under 1 hour for the 10k, and pace myself well. I haven’t always paced myself well in races, so I really wanted to practice that mindfulness and awareness during this race.

The results: I not only hit personal records for both my 5k and 10k distances (!!!), but even more importantly—I paced myself exactly as I had hoped to, I listened to my body and adjusted my pace/breathing/form as needed, and I did NOT stop ONCE on the hill. I felt incredible about my run because I LISTENED to myself, and I pushed myself (with learned wisdom). Those are more important to me than any number.

…but if you wanted to know the numbers (because I’m sure excited about them still!):

According to Strava (a running app I have, that syncs with my GPS watch):

Best estimated 10k effort (54:12)
Best estimated 5k effort (26:14)

So I hit my best 5k and 10k times within that 6.5 miles I ran!

I worked hard for those times, both in the race and also in the preparation I did outside of it, by spending the last couple months working to heal my body, build strength, and improve my hydration and race nutrition (more on all of those things in future posts). I can’t think of a better way to start my birthday and a new year than by pushing myself and showing myself what I can do!

Thank you for all the birthday wishes! And thank you so much Dani and David for letting me spend the weekend with you guys! I LOVED my birthday!!

Next races in March and May! Can’t wait!

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