Run Like the Wind – Pre-Race Prep

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This weekend, I’m tackling race number two for 2016. I’m also checking off state number 13 and half marathon number 13! That’s pretty awesome, but I’m not sure how the race itself will go.

On Sunday, I am taking on the trails of Ellensburg, Washington. As many times as I’ve been to Washington I have yet to run a race there.   There’s a ton of great ones, yet the timing has never worked out.

Growing up, my Mom and I went out to Washington to visit my Grandparents, Aunts, and Uncles about once a year. At the time, my Grandparents lived in Snohomish, a small town outside of Seattle. As I got older, the trips weren’t as often, but I’ve still been out there a quite a few times, visiting Ellensburg instead, when my Grandparents moved to the other side of the mountains.

Visiting my grandparents as a kid. That's at Mount Saint Helens

Visiting my grandparents as a kid. That’s at Mount Saint Helen’s

Last year, if you remember I went out there sometime at the end of the summer to see my family. This time, my visit comes in conjunction with my Grandpa’s  memorial service. My Grandpa passed away at the end of last year.  We decided to hold the memorial service until his birthday so that it would not coincide with the holidays and give people time to plan the trip.

Knowing when I’d be traveling, I looked for a race in Washington. Bingo, I found one the weekend before, in the same town my Grandparents live in! The Run Like the Wind Running Festival is actually in Ellensburg, WA. It was a sign; I just had to do it! My Grandpa wasn’t a runner (that I know of) but running is my way to cope with life so I’m running this race in his honor. It might not mean much to any one else, but that’s how I can process him being gone and remember him.

My Grandpa and I were buds! I'm a lot like him now as I've gotten older!

My Grandpa and I were buds! I’m a lot like him now as I’ve gotten older.

My boyfriend is joining me, along with one of his friends. We have taken this week off from work to make it all around trip. I will fly out while Ben and his friend drive out. This whole trip will consist of me running a race, Ben and his friend climbing Mt. Rainier, family time, Grandpa’s memorial service and a road trip back to Colorado.  Knocking off a lot of things with one stone!

The Race Prep:

They call this a trail running festival. We’ll see how their trail race compares to those out here in Colorado. 😉 The course description says there’s still about 10% on the road so I’m not sure if my Roost MUT Team (the Mountain and Ultra race team I am on) will be impressed our not. Either way, trail race or not, it looks like a fun event..and hard!

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The race is hosted on the Wild Horse Wind and Solar Facility, hence the name Run Like the Wind. The trail description says you wind through the facility and get to run right next to the turbines! Cool, huh!? They also “promise” gorgeous views! Don’t worry, I’ll be running with my camera (mainly so I have a phone for when I die on the course).

I’m really excited about the course, even if it is hard, because it looks really cool judging from the description and the pictures on Facebook. I’m also really excited about the finish line for a few reasons:

1. I’ll be done with another state checked off.

2. There’s beer, a band and a wide array of finisher’s food!

3. The finisher’s medal looks SWEET!

4. My Grandma and Uncle will be waiting for me! That’s a new experience for me!

Now, just have to get through the actual 13.1 miles…

5d29f3393a55ec10c8982120a306e32f_1aj5The Actual Race Prep:

So… my training hasn’t been that great. Actually it’s been pretty awful. In fact, it’s pretty nonexistent. Don’t judge me. I’ve been lucky to get in three days a week of running and my longest run was about 8 or 9 miles, about a month ago. This is has been a lot to do with my schedule (working four jobs) and a couple of teams I have joined (my running team has obligations and I joined a volleyball league).

The lack of training is largely due to me being exhausted from doing all that. To be completely fair, if I was slightly more motivated, I’m sure I could have squeezed a full-fledged training program in there, but  that would have meant me being  even more exhausted (if that’s even possible) and less time to spend with my boyfriend.

I’m not here to play the “I’m busier than you game.” It is what it is.

The good thing: I did get in a 2 hour run (only 7.5 miles but on an intense trail) about two weeks ago. Take that however you want.

My plan:

Since I’ll be lucky if I have any sort of long distance endurance built up, I plan on taking it easy. My goal is to JUST FINISH. Oh, it’s going to hard to not go out strong in the beginning. There’s alway that little competitive me in the back of my head urging me to burn myself out, but I’m going to have to duck tape that little competitive me’s mouth shut.

I’m not going to like time. It’s going be painfully slow. I’m going to cringe when I see it. It’ll most likely be the slowest I have ever been.

But I’m going to have to just accept it.

I plan on going out at a nice steady pace; maybe even taking a one to two-minute walking break every mile. That way I don’t completely exhausted myself, or injure myself, before I’m walking the whole second half of the race!

There’s no sense in hurting myself just to get a good time. I can still get a new state, sweet medal by taking it easy and just finishing. I’m not going to drop down to a shorter distance because, frankly, I want a medal from the state of Washington!

At least I’ll come away with good pictures!

So if you would like to follow my clumsy journey in Washington, follow me on Instagram or Twitter. I’ll be sure to bring you up to date info of my race! 🙂

Your turn: Would you do this race, given a lack of training, to reach a goal (racing all the states)? Or are you super competitive and if you can’t do well, drop out?

Erin Go Braugh 7.77k Recap (first race of 2016!)

This post is about a month over due, as is always my fashion, but we’ve got a wet, slushy snowstorm in CO, and I have time to work on my blog. Here it goes anyway..

Back in March, it’s been a month now, I finally had a Saturday off from working. Almost every weekend I was either working one of 3W’s events or going to promote 3W at someone else’s event.

I decided to sign up to actually run the Erin Go Braugh 7.77k in Westminster, instead of sleeping in. This would be my first race of the year! It is one of our signature holiday races at 3W Races and I have run it for the past three years, this being the fourth.

The first time on this course was in 2013 with a couple of friends of mine, before I was a 3W Ambassador. We dressed up in lots of green, someone even wore a cape, and we took to the Westminster trail.

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2013 with Shay, Bajia and I can’t remember that guy’s name….. : /

In 2014, I was an ambassador and raced with my fellow 3W Friends.

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2014

Last year, I remember feeling really sick that day, but raced anyway since this is my favorite 3W event (tied with Turkey Trek in November).

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2015, Susan and I ran together for a lot of the race, then she took off! Yes, I ran with my clover balloon the whole race!

This year, I was super stoked  to race but hadn’t really set any goals, unsure of how I would do. I kinda wanted to PR (at this 7.77k distance), I kinda wanted to win my age group… but I wasn’t sure how fast I could actually run. My training has been on and off for a lot of reasons.

So I showed up to the race, tied my shoes and set off to run how I felt.

Turns out I felt pretty strong! I came in at 39:24, my second fastest time on this course (although this year’s course was tiny bit different). In 2013, I ran the 7.77k in 38:35, super fast, although I don’t want that to take away from this year’s accomplishment.

I started off steady, focussing on my breathing and found a nice comfortable pace. I found people up ahead to stick with and focussed on my form. As I got further and further into the race, I picked up my pace, dropping a lady I was running with for a majority of the race. Then, I found a girl ahead, “Purple Shorts,” I nicked named her.  In my head I told myself to catch up to her. We kept going back and forth with being in the lead. With about a quarter mile left, finish line in site, I kicked it!

I felt STRONG and flew like the wind (at least in my mind’s eye), and reached the finish line with a smile on my face! I found Purple Shorts to tell her good job and she says, “Geez, you have a good kick! I tried to keep up with you!”

While waiting for the results, hoping I had done well, I joined my friends and the boyfriend for a Lucky Charm feast!

Finally, results were in. I took first in my age group! Extremely happy with the race, Ben and I left, I took a nap and we finished the day with some rock climbing.

Bolder Boulder 2015 – Post Race Recap

I am going to recap this race first since it is most fresh in my mind. I still have the Colfax Relay from last week and the Colorado Women’s Classic from the week before to recap!

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The Bolder Boulder is one of those races that if you are a runner in Colorado, you have to go to this event. It’s the biggest running event in Colorado and voted America’s Favorite 10k! It’s, I want to say, the 3rd largest 10k in the country. Don’t quote me on that though.

It’s just a great event all around – and that’s saying a lot from me because with over 50,000 people, I don’t usually like being stuck in a crowd that large! But no matter if you’re a competitive runner, casual, social, or a walker, this race is perfect.

For that many people, you must have a wave system, and they do it perfectly. It’s always well-organized and tons of volunteers to help. They have a great transportation system in place (recruiting the local buses to help out), and a huge expo at the end.

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The wave system

The course is kinda difficult; pretty hilly and lots of turns, but it’s manageable. There is entertainment the whole way with bands, belly dancers, gymnastics, houses with slip and slides, beer, jello shots, bacon, cupcakes, and Doritos.

But the best part is when you finish in the stadium. With a quarter-mile left, you run up a steep, short hill and end up in Folsom Field, where the CU Buffalos throw a football around. There’s a ton of people in there and you make a horseshoe finish, with the sounds of everyone cheering for you! It’s an amazing and empowering moment.

The Bolder Boulder is also all about Memorial Day. There is a big Memorial Day celebration after the race finishes and elites have gone with a fly over, para gliders dropping in to the stadium and more!

This is the 5th time I have run the Bolder Boulder, but not 5 years in a row, I skipped one somewhere in there…

In 2010, I ran it with my dear friend, Joanna. In 2011, I ran it with a guy I was dating at the time. 2012, I returned by myself after I started Racing the States and crushed all my previous times with a 53:03. I skipped the race in 2013 when finances were tight. I returned last year when I got a free race entry from 3W Races for running as an Ambassador and lolli-gagged around the course to finish in 55 min.

 

This year, I returned. Another free entry from 3W Races, and I crushed my previous course record of 53:03 to kill it with a 51:53!

I debated between running it for fun and taking part of all the free jello shots and slip and slides, but decided to try for a PR. After all, I did PR on this course in reverse at the Heart and Sole 10k last year. Although, I was looking for a PR today, I told myself I would settle for a Course PR. And that’s just fine with me. This course is hard! This year, with a decently fast qualifying time, I got to register for wave EB, a 7:15am start. The first wave starts around 6:55am, I think, and EB is the EARLIEST I have every gotten to start, which means slightly fewer people on the course to dodge!

Before I started!

Getting ready! Rockin’ 3W gear and my skirt sports skirt!

I started off conservatively, with the idea of finishing strong. I felt really strong for the first half. I slowed a bit with the hill at the midway point, but with 2 miles remaining, I picked it back up and felt incredibly strong, flying by people. It was right within the last quarter-mile, that I described above, that I was struggling, and tried to give it all I had.

Finished!

Finished!

I very happy with how it played out. After visiting with a ton of friends and some of the kids I coached at Green Mountain that also ran the race, I jumped over to the expo where the company I work for had a booth set up. Seeing how busy it was, I jumped in to help and hand out some prizes for the spinning wheel.

Exhausted after tearing down the booth once all the racers left, I was driven back to my car and straight home to my couch! I was super tired!

If you live in Colorado and haven’t done the Bolder Boulder, you should give it a whirl. If you are looking for a great destination race, it’s worth the trip, even though it’s only a 10k!

MORE:

Fellow Coloradoan’s Race Report

Bolder Boulder Website

Samwise Gamgee (Sean Astin) Runs the Bolder Boulder! 

Dream Catcher Half Marathon Review

20150307_111017Uh oh. Now that I work for a racing company, I have a feeling I am going to be super nit-picky about other races I go to and my recaps might become super detailed. I noticed it while running Saturday, thinking things like, “hmmm..I would have put a course marshal there” or “I would have explained things to the water people a little better.” But I guess that is part of the “biz” right? Hopefully I wont come off as rude.

About a month or so ago, I decided to register for the Dream Catcher Half. I was ready to get another half under my belt and knowing it was in Grand Junction (4 hours away from me), I wanted to treat it as a mini-vacation, (really mini – I was literally gone from my house for 23 hours and 45 minutes).

The last half I did was back in September of 2014. I beat myself up at that race and took about a month or more off, not completely, but a HUGE reduction in running. Running and I broke up for a bit of time. Then in November/December, we got back together. I used my own personal training knowledge and slowly started ramping up my training. I then read the 80/20 book (I will have a review on that soon, I promise), and my whole (running) world changed.

I was nearing a point of being able to run a half marathon based on a beginner time-table. That’s why I decided to register. I knew I wouldn’t PR and I pretty much wanted to treat it as a “long-run training” run. 13.1 miles is the most I’ve run (in a row) since September!

I haven’t done an in-depth race review in a long time, so without further ado, let’s get on with this review!

dclogo1The Dream Catcher Half Marathon:

Life has been pretty busy for me lately between my full-time job with 3W Races, track practice (I am a coach) and my few hours at the rec (my beer money, as I call it). I knew it would be a late night when I had to leave for Grand Junction after a track meet. Well, the meet was canceled, but we still had normal practice and I didn’t start my drive until 5:30pm.

I actually really hate night driving, wishing I had a co-pilot, but I headed west anyway. I may or may not have purchased a Taylor Swift album (her new one) to rock out to in the car. Don’t judge.

I made it to my destination, a friend of a friend’s place, around 9:30pm! I was super lucky to have some connections and one of my good friends has a friend that lives in Grand Junction that let me crash at her place! Saved me $50 or more on a hotel! I walked into game night, was handed a beer and we played the “worse case survival board game.” It was nice to meet new people and a good relaxation before a race.

Shortly after, I went to bed and woke up the next morning for my race. I wasn’t set to race until 9am! Not that early at all! Grand Junction is not that big and it only took me 10 minutes to drive there about an hour and 15 min before race time. I got my packet, ate my breakfast and warmed up.

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 4.09.39 PMThe Course (design, aid stations, etc): I really liked this course! It was not over challenging being relatively flat. There was one big hill around mile 1 that lasted for about a half mile. From then on out it was flat with a few tiny hills here and there.

The layout of the course was nice as well. For the first 3 miles you did a small lollypop loop out east, came back by the start/finish line and did the remaining 10 miles as an out and back. This really broke it up nicely for me, as I play mental games with the remaining miles of my races. When you hit the turn around, at 8 miles, there’s only 5 left, less than half!

The course was next to a river the whole time and offered really pretty views of the surrounding rocks. Not sure if they were quite mountains or not, but they were pretty!

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 4.10.12 PMHere’s the nit picky part: They had sticker arrows marking the course with a few stand up signs. The signs they used were pretty flimsy and one was turned about backwards from the wind. Luckily there was people in front of me who investigated and realized it was telling us to turn right. The sticker arrows were stuck everywhere: on the sidewalk, fences and sometimes the dirt. I have never seen these used before, and I wondered how A) the didn’t come off (some were stepped on enough times that were barely distinguishable) and B) did they have to go through afterwards and un-stick all of them!?! I’m glad we don’t use those at my job.

The other nit picky thing I have is there was two or three spots I think could have used course marshals. Two of those spots were street crossings. Now, I didn’t encounter any cars myself, but one of the streets was in a residential neighborhood we only ran through for a quarter-mile (the rest was on the trail following the creek), but you never know! The other spot I would have put a course marshal at was where the turnaround at 8 miles was. It was another small lollipop, but where the circle came back around and joined the main course, there was a group of spectators standing there waiting for their racer. That’s fantastic, however, they left only a small opening for runners to get through. It was strange.

That view the whole time!

That view the whole time!

Water stations: There was definitely plenty, and the volunteers did fantastic and I appreciate them being out there, but no one was holding out water, they left in on the tables so you had to really stop, grab one and then throw it away. Just another small nit picky thing I would never have noticed if I didn’t have my current job.

Organization: Every thing was well-organized. The emails prior to the race were detailed and left me with no questions. All the race volunteers/organizers were nice and answered any questions I did have and they seemed to run things well.

A couple unique things about this race though:

1.They had a runner’s program in the goody bag. This had all the sponsors info in it as well as nicely printed course maps! I liked that a lot!

2. They had a staggered race start time, but in the opposite way. It broke down based on your average half time like this:

7:00AM – Rocker Start (4 hours or greater)

8:00 AM – Roller Start (3-4 hours)

9:00 AM – Flyer Start (2-3 hours)

9:30 AM – Jack Rabbit Start (less than 2 hours)

I chose to start at 9:00 even though I told them my time was sub 2 hours (barely). At packet pickup, I heard someone ask if they could start earlier and they said yes. Now, I selected that time at registration. I wasn’t sure if I would finished under 2 hours. In the group that I started with, only about 4 people went out in front of me and stayed that way for the whole race, as I expected. However, with 3 miles left, I was passed by a handful of speedy people who started at 9:30, after me. It was SUPER demoralizing. I did not like it at all. I passed people who started early than me as well and I have no idea if they felt that way too or not. It’s not like the faster people said anything to me, I’m sure they didn’t even noticed, but here I was trying my hardest to simply finish my first half in a long time and these people passed me. Not only did they pass me, they FLEW by me!

I know why they had start times like that, (to make sure all the runners had support on the course), I get that, 100%, but I just did not like being passed like that. Its one thing when you all start at the same time, but when someone who started 30 minutes after just flies by, it really just breaks ya down, mentally. That’s my opinion.

IMG_20150307_112705Swag: Oh man! Lot’s! The medal itself was pretty sweet. It was connected to the neck ribbon by a key chain.  You also got a long-sleeve, gender specific tech shirt, a goody bag full of fun snacks, samples and coupons, and a lunch bag at the finish line!

After party: Really close to the race was a brewery. All the runners got a free beer, free meal (not just snacks they had at the finish line but at registration you selected one of three meal options) and they were doing giveaways! It was a really good after party.

Now, here’s the sad part. I got done with my race and headed over to the brewery. I got my free beer and with both hands full I proceeded to walk around to find a seat.

I was exhausted and I was by myself.  I am the most non-threatening looking person ever. I approached multiple people who were at big tables with plenty of empty seats and asked if I could sit and join them. I do stuff like this all the time, especially when I am by myself. 99.9% of the time I make new friends. This was the 0.1%. These people were so rude. I don’t know if it was the families of the racers or the racers themselves, but I was rejected multiple times, telling me that they were saving the seats. There was a couple of other ladies that were either looking for seats themselves or just content on standing, but they were outwardly disgusted by the others as well, and even said, “well, shouldn’t the people who have already finished get to sit too,” giving me a sympathetic look. They wandered off. I, on the verge of tears, found a small table inside.

20150307_113154I was a little bit embarrassed, saddened, but also dumbfounded at the rudeness of those people. I do want to make it clear that it was NOT anyone associated with putting on the event or the brewery workers. The people rude to me were racers and their families.

Inside, I ate my delicious chicken burger and drank my free beer while playing on my phone and without trying to make any more new friends, got back in my car to head back to Denver.

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All the swag!

Overall/Cost: Well worth the price! The race, at the highest cost was $80. I registered for slightly under $65 with a discount. For the medal, the goodie bags, shirt, and the actual production…well worth it! I do recommend this race! It was fun, organized and great swag!

My Race: Alright, here’s important stuff.

My goals for this race were: 1. Race and Finish strong. 2. Sub 2 hours. Those were my only goals. No PR, no crazy things. I wanted to treat it like a training-long run.

I did, indeed accomplish both goals. I ran strong and finished strong. And I did indeed finish under 2 hours with a time of 1:58:17.

I felt really good for the first 10 miles, after that was when I started hurting. Thankfully, I didn’t have any real pain (for once in my life!) I was just aching and tired. I had a GU on me (they didn’t provide those at the race), and decided to eat it then. It helped, but only a little. It was the last one and half miles that were REALLY hard.

I looked at my overall time. I had 10 minutes to finish and get under 2 hours, with 1.1 miles left. “I could do this,” I told myself. It was hard though, my legs were hurting, my cardiovascular fitness was trudging, but I was almost there. I was right next to a lady and I was trying to pull ahead but she kept catching up. With 0.1 miles left, I kicked it in and sped up considerably. Thinking I had left her, she totally passed me with less than 20 measly feet left. I literally laughed out loud!

I never used to be an analyzer of my own times or recap the break down of my miles. In fact I usually skim over it your blogs. Sorry. Skip this part if you like, but I think with my goals this year to PR in the half, I need to. I had my GPS watch on and even though it said the miles were off, I can still see how generally fast each mile was:

Mile 1: 9:10, Mile 2:8:30, Mile 3: 8:35, Mile 4: 8:35, Mile 5: 8:48, Mile 6: 9:06, Mile 7: 8:56, Mile 8: 9:26, Mile 9: 9:49, Mile 10: 9:39, Mile 11: 9:52, Mile 12: 9:31, Mile 13: 9:30

Now, these aren’t that accurate because like I said, my GPS was off, but you can see that I really started slowing at mile 8. Although, I still felt well here. It was mile 10 that I started feeling really tired, and the last mile was definitely was the hardest.

Now, to beat my PR, I have to get my average pace to 8:12 min/mile! I have a long way to go.

Overall, I felt exhausted afterwards. Like I could NOT have pushed myself any harder. That’s good and bad. It’s good that I raced that way. I wanted to. I wanted to race strong and finish strong. I did that. But my brain couldn’t help going to the fact that I was so beat, so tired, and I finished in 1:58, 10 minutes slower than my PR. How in the world am I going to get faster!?!

I know, I know. Training. I know this better than all of you. I am a coach and a trainer myself…it is just really hard to train yourself. See, even the Coaches deal with the same things you guys go through! I guarantee it! Even the elites have thoughts like these, but on a different scale.

The aftermath: I am resting it up today (Sunday), and putting together a training plan. I will be taking an “easy week” and will cycle and swim this week as well as get in some short, easy runs. This saturday coming up, I am running a 7.77K (about 4.8 miles), the Erin Go Braugh, with the company I work for. (You can join me, use code 2015WhitneyV15 for 15% off). Then, after a low-key week, I begin training for the Horsetooth Half Marathon. A hard half, no PR expected, but another one to build up my strength.

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Dream Catcher Half Website

Your Turn: I’m curious, have any of you had a run in (no pun intended) with mean runners?? Usually runners are SUPER nice and welcoming. The people I talked to at the after party were super rude!