Friday, November 30, 2012

Headed to Las Vegas to run a Half Marathon

Tomorrow I head to Las Vegas for my annual girls weekend to run the half marathon.  This will be the 3rd year for me and I think the 5th year for my friends.  It is always a blast, both the running part and the going out in Vegas part.

LV RnRI went to look for photos from the previous trips, but then I remembered the Vegas code and left them alone.  Plus, I didn’t even get any photos from last year and the photos from 2 years ago I was making disgusting faces.

But I did look up photos from the actual race and found I only made a disgusting face in 2011.  In 2010 I don’t know what I was trying to do, raise the roof? Double wave?  Either way, I was telling you to “Relax.”

LV RnR raceThe Las Vegas half has treated me right the last few years as I got a PR both times.  Its a pancake flat course, has very few turns, and a great atmosphere.  When I signed up for this 10 months ago, I was planning on trying to break 1:30 this year. 

Then NYC was canceled and I had to push back my marathon 2 weeks and the replacement marathon shredded my leg muscles.  Two weeks later and I am still not fully recovered.  In fact, I have only ran 3 times in the last 2 weeks and felt like by legs were giant worthless turds.

Needless to say, I don’t think I will be able to break 1:30, or even run a PR, or even run at a 8:00 pace.  In fact, I’ll be happy to finish.  So Sunday’s race is most likely going to be a fun run to take in the sights…

But I know when I toe the start line my competitive side is going to want to push my legs to that sub-7:00 pace.  And this is where I need to be smart…I should not run this race fast and risk injuring myself.  So to make sure I feel extra terrible Sunday, I plan on not holding back Saturday night and will drink most everything in sight.  This will ensure I am extra hungover and will be unable to push my legs even if I wanted to. 

Best. Race. Plan. Ever.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thanksgiving Road Trip to KC and STL

One of the BIGGEST benefits of moving to Denver is being within driving distance to family (my family is in Kansas City, Jeff’s family is in St Louis).  This means that instead of battling the airport crowds around Thanksgiving and Christmas, we can leisurely drive across Colorado, Kansas and Missouri with the dogs.
Not only is driving less stressful (flying around the holidays is the absolute WORST), but it saves us a lot of money.

We spent just over $200 in gas to made the drive to see both my family in Kansas City and Jeff’s family in St Louis.  If we would have flown we would have paid at least $200 per plane ticket ($400), airport parking ($50), transportation between KC and STL ($100), and having someone watch the dogs ($250).  By driving we saved us over $600!  Score.

PLUS we love road trips!

Kansas has a bad reputation for being extremely boring to drive through.  I beg to differ, just look at the proof (although I am partial because I am a Kansas native):
views from KS road trip
Plus Jeff and I had an Audio Book about CIA and terrorism; it was like listening to an episode of Homeland.  It made the road trip fly by!

It was great to see both of our families and friends and to do some much needed relaxing and eating of home cooked meals by our awesome moms.  We ate so much wonderful food….

We did get to go on 1 run with Jeff’s brother in STL; we did some trail running at Castlewood Park.  It was an awesome trail and even though my legs were STILL dead from the marathon, we got in 7 miles and ran off some of that wonderful food.  It was so much fun to run with Chris and we can’t wait to run a marathon with him in the spring!  Mark my words, all three of us will be breaking some personal running records in 2013…maybe even running a sub-3 hour marathon…

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Mesquite Tri State Marathon Recap

The Mesquite Tri State Marathon was on Saturday morning November 17th.  Bulleted summary with results:

  • Last minute decision to run this race (signed up Nov 2 when I found out NYC was canceled).
  • It is a very small marathon, only 133 marathoners.
  • It is not a very organized race (no emails, not a lot of info on the blog-website).
  • It is located in the middle of the desert. It is a point to point course and goes through 3 states (Utah, Arizona, Nevada). No crowd support and the roads are not closed to traffic.
  • It is a mostly downhill course. Neither Jeff nor I had trained to run downhills (or uphills for that matter).
  • The weather was almost perfect for a marathon; in the 50s, partly cloudy, and only a slight headwind for approx. 6 of the middle miles.
  • Jeff and I started pretty fast, each coming in at the half point around 1:30.
  • There was a noticeable headwind from mile 10-16, hills started at mile 13. There were 3 major hills that were 1/2 mile to a mile in length, long and annoying.  Plus our muscles were not ready for the uphills after all the downhill action. 
  • Aid stations were every 2-3 miles, they had water and orange Gatorade in plastic cups.  We have not trained with Gatorade, it was gross and didn’t settle well for either of us.  They only had GU available at mile 18 (I was glad I had my own and took a GU at miles 7, 14, and 20).
  • We both died in the second half and hated every step from mile 16 to the finish. Jeff knew he wasn’t going to BQ by mile 16 and just took it “easy” the last 10.  Mentally and physically, this race was tough.
  • Results:


  • Neither of us were happy with our performances.
  • Our legs, specifically our quads, are completely trashed from the 13 miles of downhill.  In fact, our whole bodies hurt worse then they ever have after a marathon. 
  • Jeff puked his brains out for several hours after the race.  It looked just like the orange Gatorade.  Fun fact, Jeff is the loudest most dramatic puker.  When he pukes it sounds like the world is ending for him.
  • They didn’t have cash awards for the top 3 men/women like they did last year (last year 1st- $800, 2nd- $400, 3rd- $200). This year they gave cow bells for awards?!  I was robbed.  I did not accept the cow bell in protest.

Ok, here is a more detailed account of the race:

Jeff and I got up before 5:00 AM, ate some food (bagel, Greek yogurt, Clif Bar), drank some coffee, and got dressed. 

pre-raceWe both had to wear shorts with lots of pockets to stash all of our GU (4 each) and brought bottles to carry electrolytes because we didn’t know what support would be like on the course.  I also brought a roll of toilet paper because I was unsure if they would have porta potties at the start.

The course was point to point so we took a bus to the start.  The buses were nice and we left the host casino at 5:30 AM to get to the start. We ate some more food during the ride (Honey Stinger waffle and chews).  The bus ride took about 45 minutes and we were at the start line at 6:15 AM. 

There were only 3 porta potties, it was cold (they made us get off the bus), and the race didn’t start until 7:00 AM; it was not an ideal start area.  We waited in line for the porta potty for 30 minutes before I decided to go find myself a nice desert toilet and took a glorious pre-marathon dump behind a bush (good thing I brought my toilet paper!).  Jeff jogged around to keep warm.  Last minute we decided not to carry our electrolytes and “checked” a bag in the back of the race director’s car (WRONG decision, should have bought our own electrolytes to drink).

Soon it was time to start, the “announcer” said “Ready, set, go!” and everyone started running.  Small races are so strangely uneventful.  Here are my splits and in red next to the associated split is how I felt:

Marathon splits

(And THAT, my friends, is how NOT to run a marathon.  But I will take my PR and all the lessons that I learned.)

The last 4 miles I was all alone, no other runners in sight ahead of me, no fans cheering me on, and was running on the side of a road that was not closed to traffic (it was like a very bad end to a horrible training run).  It was VERY hard mentally to push through to the finish.  Plus I was second guessing whether I was still on the course.  I finally saw the finish line, crossed it in a very pissed off mood, grabbed my metal and collapsed on the ground in a ridiculously dramatic fashion.  And nobody said “Great Job!” or even went up to me to see if I was ok; it was such a weird race, atmosphere and experience. 

Jeff finished a little later, was also very pissed off, and went to the car where he started his dramatic pukefest.  We returned to the hotel where the pukefest continued for Jeff and I had to nurse him back to health.  My legs hurt but I sucked it up and catered to Jeff, even going as far as walking to the cafe across the street to get him crackers and 7UP to ease his tummy.  Poor Jeff.

Finally I was able to prepare myself an ice bath where I sat in the amazingly cold water which numbed my trashed legs. Oh and when I finally took off my socks, I saw my bloody disgusting feet covered in blisters. Owwwwwww! Those downhills KILLED me.  And just for reference, here is the elevation grade profile again.

Mequite Marathon

(All that green = OUCH, especially if you don’t train for it.  HERE is an article that describes how we SHOULD have trained for this downhill marathon and why things went so wrong for us.)

Not every marathon is ideal, and really no marathon ever feels good.  I made the best of a canceled marathon and a last minute decision to run this one adding another 2 weeks of taper.  I still got a PR, but was still frustrated because I KNOW I could have ran 5-10 minutes faster in NYC and probably would have felt better as well.

It was hard to pass Jeff at mile 18 knowing he wouldn’t make his goal, but everyone has to run their own race.  I probably would have stayed with him (and done a lot more walking) if I wouldn’t have had that 3rd place woman just in sight of me (I really wanted to pass her and get in the top 3) and being so close to getting a PR.  I am very proud of myself for pushing myself at the end and am glad I have learned how to tough things out mentally when situations are not ideal.   

I learned a lot from this marathon and will do another post on the lessons I learned.

Until next time…..

Monday, November 19, 2012

Road Trip to Nevada for a Marathon

Oh how I love me some ROAD TRIP action!  And this Road Trip did not disappoint!
Road Trip 1
Jeff and I left Thursday night after work making it to Grand Junction, CO where we stayed the night. We stayed at the same hotel and ate dinner at Enzo’s Italian restaurant, just as we had done in June on our way to the Utah Valley Marathon. We had a good night’s rest 2 nights before the marathon, which is what I hear is most important.

Friday morning we got up early and continued on our Road Trip, deciding to take 70 west to I-89 South for a more scenic route through Utah.  We stopped often to stretch, soak in the views (or a geology lesson), walk the dogs and move (or jump) around.Utah 1
We have been wanting to check out Zion National Park and were able to drive through this time of year (during the summer and early fall they don’t allow personal vehicles to drive through). I cannot wait to get to go back and spend more time at Zion NP!
zion 1  zion 2 IMG_3481 And of course we got in some more fun jump photos……
zion jump 1 And some really ridiculous jump photos…. do not ask what the heck we were doing, but at the time it was hysterical.
zion jump 2

And if you were ever wondering what a close up of our facial expressions look like….
close up crazy faces Gross. And disturbingly scary.

Our drive on Friday ended with driving the marathon course that we would be running on Saturday morning.  We tried to stay positive that it was PR/BQ friendly, but it looked tough.
marathon course
After picking up our race numbers (highly disorganized), we ate dinner and went to bed. 

Marathon #10 for both of us on Saturday November 17, race recap to follow….

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Road Trip + Marathon = AWESOME

In two days, Jeff and I will depart on a road trip to go run a marathon that goes through 3 states in the DESERT! 

I love road trips. I love the desert states. I love running.

Therefore, driving from Denver to go run the Mesquite Tri-State Marathon is pretty much the most awesome idea ever. (This was actually Jeff’s glorious idea after the canceled NYC Marathon, WAY TO GO JEFF!)

Road Trip Thursday- We will leave after work and drive to Grand Junction, CO to stay the night.  We did this same drive schedule before the Utah Valley Marathon and are staying at the same hotel and eating at the same restaurant that we did 2 days before that race.  It worked in June, so why change what already worked for us!

Friday- We will allow ourselves to sleep in and then drive through gorgeous Utah to Mesquite, Nevada.  We will have all day to drive the 5 hours, so we will take our time and stop along the way…maybe check out Zion National Park? When we get to Mesquite, we will pick up our race packets, eat and get to sleep early.

Saturday- MARATHON DAY! The bus to the start line leaves Mesquite at 5:30 AM and the race itself starts at 7:00 AM. The course starts in Utah, runs through Arizona, and ends in Nevada.  It goes downhill  the first half (hopefully my quads can handle it) and the second half is basically flat with 2 “major” uphills (those will suck, but oh well, marathons aren’t exactly rainbows and gumdrops).

Mesquite Marathon The weather is looking very promising to make for good race day conditions; partly sunny in the 40s-50s during the race and minimal wind from the east/southeast.

weather I’m hoping the winds shift a little bit so they are more from the NE, but what we have here shouldn’t be an issue.  Let’s hope this course and weather make for a BQ time for Jeff and a big PR for me!  (worst case we bonk and I will just blame it on the whole NYC marathon being canceled thing, ha!)

After the race we will stay in Mesquite, check out the area and most likely play some cheap blackjack and drink some cold brews.  Small casino towns always make for interesting (and sometimes depressing) people watching.  I think Mesquite is a big retirement community, but I am an old woman trapped in a 30-year-old’s body so I will fit in nicely.  Maybe we can even play Bingo?!?

Sunday- We will get up early and drive all the way back to Denver. 

GETTING SO EXCITED!!!!!! I love road trips.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

NYC Marathon Canceled…what’s next?

(Disclaimer, obviously the nature of the damage and devastation along the east coast is way more important than a running race. I feel terribly for all those affected by the storm and its aftermath. These posts are just my feelings as a marathoner tied to the whole mess.)

As many of you have heard, the Mayor of NYC and the NYRR finally came to their senses and canceled the NYC Marathon.  The decision came way late (announced Friday afternoon around 5:00 PM EDT), after many athletes had already boarded their planes and were on their way or were already in NYC.

NYCM canceledI was actually one of the lucky ones; I received the news about an hour before I was to board my flight.  I was able to cancel my flight and hotel and was not out any money. 

But WOW, what an emotional week for everyone involved.  I am just a recreational runner and this week was a mini roller coaster of decisions and emotions; I cannot even imagine what the city of NYC, race officials, and the pro runners went through.  Here is what was going through my mind throughout the week:

  • Monday and Tuesday- (watching every detail relating to the storm, devastation, etc.) There is NO way this marathon will be held, when will they announce the cancellation?  I feel so bad for the east coast, I cannot imagine traveling there and getting mixed up in this mess!  But what about all these months of training and preparing to run, and all the money I have tied up in this?  I guess I will just wait and see….
  • Wednesday- Continue to wait, but mentally not where I should be the week before a marathon. Reports say that the marathon will be held, but still with uncertainty. Trying to keep focus with the assumption that I will run a marathon on Sunday and continue to take care of myself during taper week.  On the side, I am looking up other fall marathons to run just in case…
  • Thursday- The Mayor and NYRR are assuring everyone that the marathon will be held.  They are telling runners to come to NYC to economically help the city by spending money on travel and tourism.  Alright, they are telling me its on and to come to NYC.  They know the situation better than I do, I will keep my plans and travel to NYC.  I now am mentally back into running this race and I am getting EXCITED to run; the weather will be great, fewer entrants with many choosing to defer, my legs feel great and I am ready to PR!
  • Friday morning/early afternoon- My flight is not canceled and I ready to run, in fact, I am PUMPED about the race!  I can’t wait to get to NYC.

But I knew the decision to hold the race was controversial and I was hearing many reports of New Yorkers being FURIOUS over the decision to hold the race.  Runners were already feeling attacked for the race being held and we had no control over the situation; I even had a random New Yorker respond to a tweet making me feel unwelcome and a little uneasy about my choice to head to NYC.

twitter conversationAbout an hour before I was set to board my plane to head to NYC, I heard the news.  Jeff and I just got through security when his phone rang; it was him mom who was watching the news and saw the announcement that the NYC Marathon was canceled.  We didn’t even make it to our gate, we turned around, headed to the Southwest check-in and canceled our flight.  We then called our hotel and were able to cancel that as well.  All in all, we were VERY lucky (my friend was not as lucky, she heard of the cancellation on the way from the airport to her hotel in NYC… even more disappointing for her).

Jeff and I headed straight to a few breweries to get my mind off things.  The best cure for a canceled marathon is beer, honey whiskey, fried chicken, and mashed potatoes. 


Over the wonderful spread before us, Jeff and I started discussing my options…. and his options for running another marathon to qualify for Boston.  Glued to our smart phones, we scoured the internet for a marathon to run in the next few weeks.  We decided on…

mesquite marathon We don’t know a lot about the race, except that it is small, in the middle of the desert, and it runs through 3 states (Utah, Arizona, and Nevada).  We plan on making a mini road trip and driving to Nevada, staying in Mesquite the night before the race, and then heading to Las Vegas Saturday night after the race.  Why not?

The course looks interesting; it is downhill the first half and rolling hills the second half.  It is point to point so there are very few turns.  There is a huge potential for windy conditions, but you can’t control weather!  Who knows if it is PR or BQ friendly, but we went for it either way. 

Now I have two weeks to keep up my fitness (have a good week of training this week and a nice taper next week) and stay injury-free.  I’m looking forward to this small race in the middle of nowhere.  You have to make positives out of every situation…

positivesLike being able to keep the amazing throw-away hoodie/robe that I was planning on wearing to the NYC start.  Its the coziest thrift store find yet, and is super flattering!

Friday, November 2, 2012

I’m Running NYC…

My flight is on as scheduled and I will arrive in NYC tonight!  My hotel has power and transportation options are getting better by the hour. 

The NYC marathon will be held and I will be running it. 

I know there are a lot of opinions for and against holding the marathon Sunday…and I see both sides.  I honestly would have totally understood if it would have been cancelled, but as long as it isn’t, I will be towing the start line. 

My bib # is 10472 if you want to follow me online. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Show (or marathon) MUST go ON!

The ING New York City Marathon will be held as scheduled this Sunday despite the “controversy” surrounding it.  Lots of articles about it HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.

There are still a TON of unanswered questions, specifically relating to the logistics of getting to the start and any course modifications.  But the show MUST go ON!  The marathon MUST be RUN (according to the Mayor and the NYRR)!

With that being said, as long as I can get to New York City, I will be running on Sunday. 

As of today (Thursday afternoon), my flight is not cancelled.  But things could very well change tomorrow.  I fly into LaGuardia and that was the airport hit the worst and is just opening up today for a few flights.  Even if my flight isn’t cancelled, it will be overbooked or delayed at the very least. 

Here is where I stand:

  • Ideally, I will get on my 4:50 PM Friday flight as planned.  Go to my hotel in Brooklyn late Friday night, sleep in Saturday, go to the expo to get my race stuff and other important into, and head back to the hotel for dinner and sleep before the race.  Based on the transportation tie-ups, there will be little time for anything else Saturday.
  • If I get bumped from my Friday flight, I will fly out first thing Saturday morning, head straight to the expo, then to my hotel for the night.
  • But if my airline can’t get me out until after noon Saturday, I will most likely just cancel the trip altogether.
    • I don’t want to arrive in NYC late Saturday, rush to get to the expo before it closes and then to my hotel late for little sleep.  Too many unknowns with transportation and other travel logistics (not to mention, when would I eat?!?).

Even if I can make it to NYC, I still have questions concerning the race itself:

  • Will there be course modifications?  Will it make the race harder, easier, or no change?
  • How will I get to the start?  Will the start still be the same?
  • Will Jeff be able to navigate the city to be able to see me run?  Will he be able to make it to the finish to meet me there?
  • Will I be able to run my best race based on all of these unknowns?
  • Will New Yorkers be disgruntled that the race was held and harass the runners?  Actually, I hope this is the case because it will make me run faster ;)

More waiting, more unknowns for me personally.  Who knows if I will be running a marathon on Sunday….

And if you were wondering, I have a backup plan if I don’t run a marathon Sunday.  I have put in so much time for training, I don’t want it to go to waste!  I already have a trip planned to run a half marathon in Las Vegas on Dec. 2, I will just switch and run the full marathon there (assuming it is not already full).