Seattle Half 2015 Recap

I have a lot of races that I train pretty consistently for, but then for whatever reason, I do not take the last week very seriously.

This happens quite often with the Seattle Half, with its proximity to Thanksgiving.

I stay up too late baking pies the night before the day of feasting. And then my cousin and I will go Black Friday shopping and stay up late Thanksgiving night and/or Black Friday morning.

Dreams of actually racing the Seattle Half go down the drain (along with my wallet from said Black Friday shopping) and I figure I will just “push myself” and not expect any miraculous PR or anything.

After all, if you’re going to race, you can’t be depriving yourself of sleep those crucial nights before race day!

This year’s race, I was not only busy but was emotionally drained. I had back-to-back funerals around Thanksgiving. The race was at the bottom of my mind.

So, I really didn’t know what to expect that Sunday after Thanksgiving.

But, With Joanna and Mo by my side for a majority of the 13.1 miles, I had a pretty darn good race.

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Taking our photo before the race!

We didn’t start in our appropriate corral because we attempted to hit up the portapotties before the start. So, there was a lot of weaving at the beginning. It was cold and maybe shorts was a poor decision on my part.

We also had to be extra careful out running that morning. It was so icy and the roads were not salted. One woman even fell near us when we were running the I-90 expressways! (She got up and thankfully was OK).

But, there’s a feeling of nostalgia whenever I run this race. I guess it’s because I have done it so many times and the course runs by my high school!

My main goal of the race was to clock in around 1:50 (or sub-1:50). Mo was my trusty calculator since my Garmin was worthless after we went through the I-90 tunnel and lost signal.

I felt pretty good the entire race. Of course, that Madison hill was tough per usual. It was a nice treat to have my Oiselle teammates at the top cheering and screaming for me though!

The last 5K was also a struggle but I told myself to just stick with Mo for as long as I could. And, I did a fairly good job. She stayed within eye sight!

Final time was 1:48:32. (My next-best time to my actual half PR, and a Seattle course PR for myself).

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The whole gang!

Not too bad for a sleep-deprived runner. Not too bad for half marathon #20.

I love that I have friends who will train and race with me. I love that I have a body that will not quit running.

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I love that we had a rain-less Seattle Half 2015.

Banking the miles

I went from training for my first 25K trail race over the summer to now training for the Seattle Half Marathon.

What’s odd is that I don’t even feel like I’m training.

Last weekend was supposed to be an 8-miler for the long run. I split it up to 6 miles of continuous running followed by about 1.5 miles of ultimate Frisbee. I used my Garmin to track the distance and with all the stop-and-go of ultimate, it definitely wasn’t 1.5 miles of continuous running. But, I counted it as my 8-miler for the weekend.

This coming weekend I have 9 miles on deck. With the Halloween 5K race followed by (another) ultimate Frisbee game later that day, there’s really no time for a long run. And my Sunday is already pretty full with non-running activities. What is a runner to do?

I did my long run for the weekend today. Yes, on a Tuesday evening.

I ran the five miles home (like I often do as a one-way run commuter) and then dropped my pack at home where Joanna joined me for four more miles. We did an out and back from the house and talked the entire time as evening turned into dark night. We finished the run around 7 p.m. and I was glad I wore my headlamp.

I’m glad to bank the miles in now since I won’t have time this weekend, but I hope this doesn’t skew my training too badly. (Wednesday and Thursday weren’t options for doing a long run after work because of prior commitments and I didn’t want to do the long run the night before my 5K).

My weekend self will be thankful I banked the miles earlier in the week, right?

I hope so.

Ready or not, here I go — Unracing edition

I never had any plans to race it. I was even hesitant to do it at first because I knew at the end of January, my mileage would still be on the lower end (for my May marathon). But a friend of my roommate’s whom had registered for the race before he knew he was moving away offered to give me his entry.

Well, if I am going to be given an entry, the least I can do is run, right? I’m helping a friend out, right?

I’ve never been as “meh”-feeling about a race as I do now. Sure, I’ve done races in the past with little training and boy, do those H-U-R-T.

My longest run as of recent is around 50 minutes. Also, I just got back into playing ultimate again (after a 6-month hiatus for Portland Marathon training), and developed an ugly toe nail bruise last weekend. It finally feels somewhat normal to wear socks/shoes. (Yes, for a few days it hurt to wear socks!)

So, if you couldn’t tell from the title of this post or the writing above, I will not be racing this half marathon. But, true to its name, the Rain Run, I will enjoy a nice, flat, run-jog in the rain.

And to prove to you just how much I will not be racing, I’ve decided to not use my Garmin.

I saw my pink Garmin sitting on top of my dresser last night before I went to sleep. The screen was blank because the watch has been out of battery for like a month. I didn’t take it with me on my trip to Japan over New Years and I have yet to do a long enough run where I felt like I needed it. I think I will keep the watch dead for a little while longer.

I don’t need the added pressure of mile splits to this race.

I won’t need to be in the know on my pace at any exact moment.

Joanna and I will be unracing together. We did our first full marathon together five years ago and most recently, Portland last fall. She’s my true partner in pain.

So, let’s see where my baseline is at, shall we?

 

2014 running reflections and recap

When I PR’d in the 5K, half marathon and marathon (twice) last year, I definitely had high expectations and hopes for this year. I was recovering from an IT band injury that occurred at the end of 2013, so I knew that when I came back racing in full force this year, outcomes would be even better.

They were not.

I did not PR in the 5K, half marathon or marathon.

And while I was a bit sad about this after these races, now I am not.

I am proud.

I am proud that I eased back into running and took the necessary time off at the beginning of the year. I am proud that out of all the half marathons and the one full marathon I completed, I did not have any real IT band pain during or after those races.

I am proud that I tried something new. I organized and captained my own Ragnar relay team this year. It was a lot of work since I had never done a Ragnar but it was well worth it. My friends and I did Northwest Passage and had a great time.

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I am proud that while I did “ease” back into racing, I did more races this year than I have in years past. Normally I do one to two half marathons in one year. This year I did four. I am proud that I raced on my birthday and got third in my age group for the 5K race. I am proud that I joined the Oiselle Flock team and have a group of women to call my teammates.

There’s a lot more to look forward to next year.

After my “devastating” race in Portland, I am ready to make my comeback at the Eugene Marathon next year. I’m ready to put in the work (starting in January). I may also throw in a Ragnar Trail race next year to switch things up in terms of a relay-with-friends-race!

My look of pain

My look of pain

2014, you were good to me. I have no complaints or running-related regrets. I am thankful I had an injury-free year.

Running this year was full of some tears but many more miles and laughs. I’ve been keeping a running log of minutes for the year. Bryce and I have a yearly, friendly competition where we see who “runs the most.” We track it by time rather than miles because, well, he is faster than me so it wouldn’t be fair to go by miles, right? But, this is all for another post …

I can’t wait for 2015 training and racing to begin.

 

Let’s do this.

Seattle Half 2014: cold, smiles and friends

It was a little frigid when I woke up this morning.

But, I knew it would be cold since we got snow yesterday!

Cold, cold, cold!

Cold, cold, cold!

I’ve always said I prefer racing in cooler temps than hot ones but today was a little much.

But, I wore gloves and a ear-warmer headband and set out for my one and only race goal:

to finish with a positive attitude and a smile.

I’m happy to report that I did both.

There was a little mad dash to the start area and Mo and I didn’t have time to push our way forward closer to the start line. We ended up starting the race with the 2 hr. 15 min. pacers, which was obviously much slower than we ever would intend to race.

We didn’t freak out about it.

We passed slower folks and walkers when it was appropriate. We didn’t do too much weaving. We chit-chatted throughout a good portion of the first half of the race.

Yes, it was cold but it was also beautiful.

Hello, Seattle!

Hello, Seattle!

Even the hill up Lake Washington Boulevard wasn’t bad. The hill to Madison was also manageable. And, the big hill up actual Madison? Yes, my legs felt it but I was in no real pain. I was running with my friend and we were killing the hills. When we got to the downhill and turned into the Arboretum, another runner turned toward us and said, “I’m running with you guys!” I assumed that this was a compliment since we looked strong. He didn’t run with us for long because we kept picking off runners.

When we approached Seattle Prep (our high school alma mater,) Mo looked at her watch and calculated that we may be able to break 1:50 with about 2-ish miles away from the finish. I didn’t really have high hopes to do so since the last several miles we had really picked up the pace. My Garmin had lost satellite signals when we went in the express way tunnel of I-90 at the beginning of the race so my time/pace was all off on my watch. I wasn’t really paying attention to time at all!

We zipped down the steep downhills as we got closer and closer to the Seattle Center. The only time in the race I started to feel a bit uncomfortable was this part, this last mile.

I saw Bryce right outside the stadium and gave my glamor wave — or did what I hoped was a wave but I couldn’t really feel my hands (even with the gloves!) As I turned off of Mercer, a stranger yelled, “Good job, young lady!” I thought, “He thinks I am doing a good job and that I am young!” I was back to being in high spirits again. It was time to finish this cold, cold, race and get my warm, warm clothes back on.

Once my shoes hit the turf of memorial stadium, I took a few paces to “gain composure.” (Prior to the stranger cheering for me I got a whiff of what smelled like pizza and it made me feel like throwing up). But, after a second or two in the stadium, I got on my horse and full-out sprinted to that finish line.

And, as I crossed it, I made sure to smile. My mouth was the only part of me that wasn’t numb or frozen.

I did it. I finished with a positive attitude and a smile.

SPXC alum all finished and done!

SPXC alum all finished and done!

I used to think a good race meant PR’ing. You can’t PR them all. In fact, your goal shouldn’t be to PR them all.

Sometimes, racing with friends and celebrating with them afterwards is even better.

The Portland Marathon two months ago was a rough one for me. I’m glad I decided to do the Seattle Half to end 2014 racing on the right foot.

Seattle, we did well.

The race that started it all

It all took place about eight years ago.

The race that got me racing.

It was the Seafair Half Marathon, which actually doesn’t exist anymore. (Seattle Rock ‘n Roll took its place).

To give you a quick idea on what kind of runner I was back then: I raced in a cotton T-shirt.

I raced in a white “I love New York” shirt and didn’t take any Gu throughout the entire 13.1 miles. I’m not sure if I even took any Gatorade or whatever energy drink they were handing out, for that matter!

To prepare for this race, my training consisted of mid-week runs that were between 30-40 minutes and a weekend long run of about six miles. I know, I know! I never did a single run in the double digits! … What was I thinking?

I was thinking, “Hey, I ran cross-country in high school! I can run!”

It was the end of June — right after finishing my first year of college — and I took on a half marathon in uncanny hot Seattle/Bellevue weather. (Although it was a Seafair event, the race took place on the Eastside in Bellevue). I also convinced Julia to do the race with me. It was a little less scary knowing that a friend was doing something new with me.

Back when race timing chips were those ankle bracelets that made you feel like felon in house arrest!

Back when race timing chips were those ankle bracelets that made you feel like a criminal under house arrest!

We started together. I don’t remember much about how I felt since I am recalling an event that occurred almost a decade ago. But, I do know I was full of excitement. I ran with Julia for about the first three miles (or less) and then we continued on at our respective paces (fast for her, not-so-fast for me).

There was a lot of adrenaline running through my veins. It was all new and exciting! Our parents were along the course cheering us on at a few different places. I was running through sprinklers that neighbors along the course used to cool off the runners. I grabbed water at many of the aid stations. I was having fun! I was on summer vacation and running a half marathon!

All smiles early on in the race

I distinctly remember how at mile 8, my legs were already giving out. Yes, this is not a typo. I was hurting at mile 8, but remember, I had never done more than about 6 miles prior to this race. My legs hurt. My feet hurt. I was tired! I was experiencing a type of pain I had never felt up until this point in my life. I continued on and remember seeing a young boy, no older than 10, sprint past me.

Of course I didn’t walk. I kept running — in a sweaty hot mess.

My one and only goal of the race was to finish without walking.

Even the infamous “Kristin kick” made an appearance as it did during every high school 5K I raced. My mom would always ask me why I waited until the end to full-out sprint. “Why didn’t I go faster throughout the entire race?” she would continually ask. It’s just a natural instinct. I can’t explain it but when I see that finish banner, there’s somehow another level I can dig deeper into.

Happy to see the finish

Happy to see the finish

As soon as I crossed the finish line, I immediately stopped and gasped for air. I just completed my first half marathon. And, as luck had it, an old high school classmate who was one of those Seafair princesses was there handing out medals. Dressed in a fancy dress and full makeup, she placed a medal around my neck and congratulated me. I thanked her with a half-smile and stumbled to find my family and Julia.

That piece of watermelon I ate soon after was probably the best tasting watermelon to date.

We're half marathoners!

We’re half marathoners!

I had no goal time in mind and was merely relieved and excited that I finished. I could now officially call myself a long-distance runner, right?

This had been the most physically draining and exhausting activity I had ever done. I had never raced any distance longer than a 5K. I know some people work their way up by doing a 10K before a half but that thought never even crossed my mind.

If a half marathon hurt this much, there was no way I’d ever do a full marathon. (Little did I know that four-and-a-half years later, I would be running my first full marathon).

After completing this race, I was set on Seafair being my “one and only.” You know, like if I had a bucket list, I would have just checked “half marathon” off this list and continued to casually race 5Ks.

I don’t know what happened but five months later Julia and I were signed up for the Seattle Half Marathon.

I PR’d by nearly 10 minutes during this second race. And, after that, I was hooked.

I wanted more. I needed more.

I learned to push through pain, to run a little faster. I learned to work a little harder.

It all started with this half marathon when I was 19 years old. When I didn’t quite understand long distance running. When I didn’t know how to properly train. When it was all “just running.”

And, it continues to be “just running” for me to this day.

I just run even longer distances now!

 

A rockin’ and a rollin’ — and runnin’

The two weeks prior to the Seattle Rock ‘n Roll Half-Marathon looked like this for me:

6/8: 5K (birthday race) – the recap is here.

6/9: Rest/nothing

6/10: Rest/nothing

6/11: Rest/nothing

6/12: Rest/nothing

6/13: Rest/nothing/you get the idea

6/14: 5.5 mile run at Discovery Park

6/15: 30-min run

6/16: Rest/nothing

6/17: 20-min run

6/18: 35-min run

6/19: Decide to do a half-marathon in two days

6/20: 2.8-mile run around inner Green Lake

In the two weeks before the half-marathon, my longest run was only 5.5 miles. Prior to that, my longest run was my previous half-marathon in April (the Whidbey half!)

Jo and I before the race!

Jo and I before the race!

Somehow, I convinced Joanna to run Rock n’ Roll with me and we decided to just “see how it goes.” If we felt like pushing ourselves and racing, we would. If not, then we wouldn’t.

We started out going a little over 8 min/mile pace. We thought that that was a good place to be. Hey, if we kept up and went faster, maybe, just maybe we could get me a PR?

Nope.

About two miles into the race, I felt like I needed to use the bathroom.

And, I wasn’t going to be able to just “sweat it out.”

We probably jinxed it because right before the race, Joanna and I had been talking about how lucky we had been for never having “to go” during a race — ever. (And we’ve done quite a handful of races!)

So, shortly after the 3-mile mark, I found a porta-potty tucked behind the stage of one of the musicians performing along the course.

After taking care of business, I felt much better.

And we continued running but sights of PR-ing, or even just pushing ourselves were now over.

“Portland Marathon training starts today!” I told Joanna.

And, to be honest, the first day of training sucked (for me).

I was dragging my feet and not feeling so great starting at maybe mile 8 or 9. Joanna (as always,) was a great cheerleader and running buddy. I told her to tell me some stories (specifically funny, but not too funny). She told me about the preparations for her friend’s upcoming wedding. She told me of her boyfriend’s travel experience in Jordan.

When we got onto the Alaskan Way Viaduct, as dead as my legs and feet felt, it was a pretty spectacular view. We had a full view of Puget Sound with ferries going in and out of the terminal. The ferris wheel was right below us. The sun was out and the skies were blue. It was perfect (Seattle running weather).

My body just did not feel perfect.

With three miles left to go, Joanna reminded me that all we had left to do was “a quick loop around Green Lake,” our neighborhood stomping grounds.

Those three miles seemed longer than three miles. And, my feet and legs felt like they were doing a full marathon rather than a half!

“What is this madness??” I thought to myself.

(Oh right, I did this to myself. I thought that it would be fun to do a half-marathon with no training).

Finally we were approaching the finish. Right before turning the corner onto Mercer (the finish line street,) I heard people yell my name. I turned to find two of my running friends! It was so nice to see them cheering!

I smiled (or at least I tried to,) and continued on. There was one last dip and uphill on Mercer (not to mention that the finish ends on an incline!!)

I am moving at a very slow speed. I am going up a hill (sure, it may not be steep but at this point, it doesn’t matter!) and a 10-year-old boy passes Joanna and I. We cringe, We can’t let him beat us!

But I didn’t have it in me to catch him.

“Joanna, go catch him and beat him!” I told her.

She asked me if I was sure and if it was really OK for her to leave me. (I told her “yes” as long as she beat the kid).

She did.

And, I eventually finished (like two minutes after her).

Jo and I after the race!

Jo and I after the race!

We clocked in sub-2 hours. For first-day-of-Portland Marathon, training I’d say that’s pretty good.

My final time was 1:56:08.

I feel like lately my motto has been: Just think how fast I’d be if I trained!

I want it to turn into: Look how fast I am since I trained!

So, everything I do between now and October will be for the Portland Marathon. (Sub-4 hours, I’m coming for you!!)