August 26, 2013

Inaugural Rocky Mountain Half Marathon Recap


Around the 13th, I searched online to just see if there were any half marathons happening on Saturday (17th) to match up with the 13 miles I was scheduled to know....because racing is so much "easier" than forcing yourself to trudge through 13 miles alone.  I was surprised when I found a half marathon in Estes Park, which is an hour and a half away. I seem to know about most races that are in the area, but this one I hadn't even heard a little tiny detail about. After thinking about it for..oh..two seconds, I signed up.

Then I realized it was at 6am and that I would have to wake up at 3:30am. Ugh.

Instead of trying to pick up my packet Saturday morning before the race, because the organization advised against it (even though there was no line and no real hassle to doing it that morning) I decided to pay $10 in addition to my very high race fee just to get my bib in downtown Denver. Where they already had a packet pickup anyway. If you have to have people stand there just in case people pick it up early, don't be a dick and charge $10 when I already paid you $100. That's just rude. On top of that, don't let me pay that much money, get all the way to the packet pick up and then say you are sold out of the race shirt size I need. No no. I paid $100 to get the right size shirt. Jerks.

Anyway...(this whole recap will be a rant)...The shirt was decent enough, and so I spent my night doing the normal race prep stuff. Filling my water bottle, practicing using the hydrapouch because the race was cup free (btw I hate that thing. No matter how hard I tried to close the opening, I still managed to spill it on me), grab my nutrition, ipod, gps watch, etc. I laid out my clothes and went to bed early. And woke up promptly at 3:25.

I was suprised at how quickly I made it out the door and I was on my way in the pitch darkness of the wee morning to Estes Park...praying the wildlife stayed off the road. I made it to the Stanley without much problem and had enough time to gather my things, find the potty john, layer up my clothes because it was 40 degrees...etc. I popped some tylenol for my shoulder (long story short, my shoulder got mildy separated and was still pretty fatigued and sore on race day) and lined up with just enough time for the start.

It was pretty uneventful. Until we ran about a tenth of a mile and saw a whole bunch of elk just chillin at the gas station. It was THE highlight of my day. For real.

I had on my long capris, a short sleeve and long sleeve shirt, gloves, and ear warmers, and I was still pretty dang cold for most of the race. The course begins by going around Estes Lake and then up this hill, and then up this other hill for M.I.L.E.S. I'm not even exaggerating. It sucked. So I'm trudging up this awful, long hill, chatting with a few of the people around me about how awful it was, admiring the view every once in a while, and mainly just suffering. Walking and suffering. My legs were burning from GTIS Half and I had nothing in the tank to push me up that four mile long hill.

Eventually there was a downhill, and that helped but for the most part the damage had been done. I was sick of passing 'aid stations' with only one volunteer (if that, some had nobody), sick of being pushed off the road by passing cars because the race didn't allow hardly any room on the road...sick of freezing...

When I finally came around to the finish line, I was over it all. The runners have to run up this stupid dirt path, a short steep bump with rocks and whatnot, and over to the finishers shoot. It just seemed very poorly thought out. And rounding the corner there was extremely dangerous with traffic. I'm honestly surprised someone didn't get hurt.

Finally, after finishing, I walked over to the tent for some water and food and the selection was grim. I grabbed a piece of string cheese that was hot (gross!), filled up my water bottle with the jug they had (because again, even at the finish line, no water bottles or cups or anything...unless you wanted warm chocolate milk). I was underwhelmed, so I walked back to the car and headed back to my area. Where I stopped at Costco. Because going into a warehouse store after running a half marathon is a blast! Truthfully, I had to pee and Costco was on the I got to kill two birds with one stone :) Then I went to the big liquor store by Costco to buy wine bottles in an attempt to fill up our always empty wine cabinet. I don't know how that keeps happening...honestly...I don't.

After I got home I took a cold epsom salt bath, a hot shower, and crawled into bed. You might remember that last time I mentioned I wouldn't be able to nap until 4, but sadly and luckily, the krav maga thing got canceled so I got to try and rest.

Which wasn't very successful. My muscles always make me too uncomfortable to sleep after a race.

So that's the recap. I won't do that race again. But at least I got a medal, which is more than I can say for the Mountain Chile Cha Cha I did this past weekend. Recap on that bad boy to come.

August 15, 2013

Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Recap

Ugh....heel striking.

Look at how my foot lands. Just awful! I need to work on that.
 Cruising into the finish

Only decent picture of the day!

Oh my...what can I really say about those pictures?! How horrific! I thought I would share the awfulness anyway.

I seem to take the worst race photos. I always look twenty pounds heavier and just blergh.

So onto the actual race report! 

I woke up at 4:25am, threw my running gear on, grabbed my breakfast and gear and hopped in the car to drive the hour to Idaho Springs.  

I got to IS and parked and realized that I was a little late to meet 3W's group of runners at the football field (and I wasn't sure where the field was...), so I hopped on the shuttle that takes runners to the start line area in Georgetown. I went to the packet pickup area by the start and gave them my name, but I wasn't in there. They told me to check at the other table that had the official list, and I wasn't on there either. I explained the situation of how I won the free entry from 3W Races ( but the RD came over and told me that wasn't possible since they allow absolutely NO TRANSFERS. Okay then...I'm without a bib, I don't know who any of the 3W people are....but I woke up at 430am to come out here and run a race. Luckily, one of the ladies at the table took pity on me and when the RD walked away, she gave me a bib, telling me that everyone is out here to have fun anyway. NBD. I was extremely grateful.

I did eventually find some of the 3W group before the start of the race, and we chatted about how we were all undertrained for this distance. Comforting. The start time got closer and I decided to line myself up by the back of the pack (like waaay back...behind the 3 hour pace group). I didn't have my garmin with me, so I decided I would just enjoy the run and try to survive the distance.

The first two miles take you around and through Georgetown, which is very quaint and scenic along the creek. A few early risers came out of their houses to cheer on the runners, but I just tuned into my ipod and some running podcasts and cruised for a while.

I had the best time. Probably my favorite half marathon. Which is strange...because I wasn't very prepared for it, I was freezing for a few hours before the race started, I felt nauseous 99% of the race, and I was out there completely alone. But I had THE BEST TIME.

Anyway, so after the race, I hung out at the 3W tent for a while and then made the hour drive back home. I felt pretty decent after the race and ran some errands the rest of the day and then hit a friend's birthday party.

So this week, on Tuesday, I decided to go to Anchor for the workout but ended up tweaking my already pissed off shoulder. Thank goodness I already had a PT appointment set up for the following day (ironically, I thought about cancelling the appointment since my spine and hip have been doing really well lately...good thing I didn't cancel it!). I went to see him yesterday and it is one of the most painful appointments I've had in the five + months that I've been seeing him. He thinks I somehow slightly separated my shoulder. Awesome. Hopefully what he did will cure my problems and I don't have to go through that again because damn that hurt!

Makes me a little worried for this weekend. I found a half marathon in Estes Park, the inaugural year, on Saturday...but I don't know how bad it will hurt to swing my arm for 13 miles. I guess I'll find out. I have to wake up at 3:45am on Saturday to make my way out there for a 6am start time. That's insane. I suggest that they start just a liiiittle later next year. I'm excited for the race should be beautiful!

I'll recap here probably on Sunday or sometime next week. Saturday will be crazy for me because after the race I have a self defense class from 12-4 at my box. Krav Maga here I come! I'm going to be one sore, tired lady!

Chat soon!

August 09, 2013

Month of Half Marathons

So how exactly does one run a half marathon while still sick, at a dumb level of elevation, after waking up at 430am to get to the race shuttle by 6 even though the race doesn't start until 8am, and not having run 13 miles since last June, only running 10 miles in May and 8 a few weeks ago with no real long run since?!?!? Hmmm???

I'll find out tomorrow. It's going to be a rough but interesting 13.1.

Catch you on the flip side of the race tomorrow.

And so begins the month of half marathons!!!


August 05, 2013

Figuring Out Altitude

So I've been reading all these articles the past couple days about altitude and the effects it has on the body. For informational purposes. I really want to solve this mystery of WHY it's so hard for me out here, when will it get easier, and the effects it will have on my race. It got me curious.

I read this article on TrailandUltraRunning.Com: The Chemistry of High Altitude Running and it really broke down what the body goes through at higher altitude. It also mentions a LHTL training style. Live High, Train Low. That's people who live at altitude but do their training at say, sea level, which isn't really an option for me.

So what about the people who LHTHRL, or Live High, Train High, Race Low? What impact do the conditions of living and training at altitude have when you toe the starting line for your race at sea level?

Or how about those of us that UTLLTLBNLHTHRHAL, or if you can't figure that out (how could you not, though?!) - Used To Live Low, Train Low, But Now Live High, Train High, Race High And Low.

What about me? 

I was born in Texas - 772 ft elevation.

Lived in Mississippi 3 years- 20 ft elevation (no lie)

Lived in Alabama 3 years- 220 ft elevation

Lived in Utah for nine months as a wee one - 4,226 ft elevation

Lived in Kansas for 3 years - 840 ft elevation

Lived in South Carolina for 5 years - 292 ft elevation

Lived in Virginia off and on for what feels like forever - 325 ft in NOVA, and 2,080 ft when I lived in Blacksburg

And now in Colorado for a year - 5,000 ft elevation and dying to breathe.

This weekend, I was at 6,500 ft.

Saturday I will be running a half marathon at 8,500 ft.

Two weeks after that, I'm doing another half marathon at 7,000 ft.

One week after that, I'm doing yet another half marathon at 6,500 ft.

So I found this other article ( Altitude Training for Sea-Level Competition: "The higher you go in the atmosphere, the thinner the air. Thinner air means less air resistance, so athletes who sprint, jump, or cycle will perform better at high-altitude venues. But thinner air also means less oxygen, so the pace of hard endurance training and competition--which depends on high rates of oxygen consumption--gets slower at altitude. If you live at altitude for several weeks, your body adapts to the shortage of oxygen. The most important adaptation for the endurance athlete is an increase in the number of red blood cells, which are produced in response to greater release of the hormone erythropoietin (EPO) by the kidneys. Red cells carry oxygen from your lungs to your muscles. More red cells means your blood can carry more oxygen, which partly makes up for the shortage of oxygen in the air. So to compete in an endurance event at altitude, you should live at altitude for several weeks before the event. But what about when you come back to sea level? Will the extra blood cells supercharge your muscles with oxygen and push you along faster than ever? That's what should happen, but there are problems. When you first move to altitude, the shortage of oxygen makes it difficult to train intensely, and you may also suffer from altitude sickness. If you don't adapt well to altitude, you may overtrain or lose muscle mass. Even if you do adapt well, you still can't train with the same intensity as at sea level. The result? You detrain. When you come back down to sea level, you may do better or worse than before, depending on the balance between adaptation and detraining." 

Better OR worse than before?! Ugh.

"A potential solution to this problem is to live on a mountain, but avoid detraining by coming down each day to train--in short, to live high and train low."

So then I'm back where I started.

I keep saying that I don't want to assume training at altitude will give me an advantage or help me be faster, but you can't help but hope it will make the race 'easier'. Any help for fifty miles would be appreciated. 

In other news, my Nike trail shoes should be coming in today! And I've been using my Kinvaras. Not sure what I'll race in this weekend. 

Here's a few pictures from New Mexico this weekend.  Hot air ballooning was terrifying at first but once we got off the ground it was so smooth and beautiful!

Getting in Shape

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