Haunted Half {Recap!}

I hope everyone had a good weekend and if you celebrated Halloween, you’ve recovered from your sugar coma 😀

I ran Phoenix’s first Haunted Half Marathon and even though it was advertised as “Phoenix,” it was actually in a suburb right next to where I live, lol! That was one of the reasons I was enticed to run it. That, and the medal. Seriously.

Anyway, I had heard about the race a long while ago but was iffy on it because it was three weeks after Chicago and I wasn’t sure I’d be up for 13.1 miles. Then about a week after the marathon, my friend posted there was a Groupon for the race and an additional 20% off making the entry fee under $40. I was sold. A bunch of my friends were also running it and I knew it’d be a lot of fun. Plus, medal.

My husband and I headed to the “expo” on Friday and maybe there was more inside Sports Chalet but packet pick up booths were outside and there wasn’t anything else there to see. No vendors, no nothing. The swag was pretty sweet though and considering I’d gotten a deal on my entry free, I was very satisfied.

Cotton V-neck tee, gloves, KT tape, and scary bag

Cotton V-neck tee, gloves, KT tape, and scary bag

They also had a little photo op thingy which of course I had my husband snap a shot

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The race was seriously right down the street from me, so I woke up the next morning around 4:30ish which is my usual wake-up time. I got dressed and realized there were several “firsts” happening with my outfit. It was the first race I would wear with full compression socks–up til then, I’d occasionally race in calf sleeves. It was also the first time I’d be racing in a skirt–a buddy loaned me a really pretty Sparkle Skirt, which I pulled over some shorts.

Then, because I figured I needed a third first (since you know, everything comes in threes), I brewed me some coffee. I’ve never had coffee before a run or a race. It was 5 in the morning and the race didn’t start til 7; I figured it was enough time and coffee sounded amazing at that moment. It certainly tasted amazing.

The course was a point to point so I arrived early enough to get on the first bus that would take us to the start. I met up with several run club buddies and we chatted as the bus got lost several times.

We finally arrived at the start which was at a familiar place near mountains I often run trails on. It was dark and very cold (for AZ) and volunteers gave us runner’s foil to wrap ourselves around. We found the porta potties and another first happened: I was the first one to use the porta potty. My friend, who was in the potty next to me, shouted, “Make sure you lift the seat!!” And thank goodness because that would’ve been a complete and total disaster.

I had quite a few friends pacing this race and I planned to stick with two who were pacing the 2:00 hour group. I was hoping I was in 2 hour half marathon shape and wanted to see how I could do at that pace. As I hung out with my buddies, I ran into Kindal @runningwithstrength, an Insta/blogging buddy that’s local. She’s got a marathon next weekend so this would be a training run for her and planned to run with the 1:55 group (she’s speedy).

But about 30 minutes before the race started, the coffee I had had worked its magic and I needed a porta potty fast. Unfortunately, many people needed a port potty fast and it took me well over 30 minutes to get to one. Kindal and I were in line together and we looked at each other when the announcer counted down the start–we were gonna miss the start!

We really needed to go so we stayed in line (10 porta potties=not enough, race directors!) and about 5 minutes after the start, Kindal and I crossed the line. We agreed she’d pace me for the first 10 miles and then she’d go on ahead.

Another appeal to this race was the course elevation–

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It mimicked the start of Phoenix Marathon.

And like with Phoenix, we’re always cautioned to not start off fast…. And we never listen.

Miles 1-8 went like this: Wooohoooo!!!! I got this!! Sub 2 BABY!!!! Yeahhhh!!!!

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 3.54.37 PMMiles 9-13.1: Whhhooaaa!!!! Wind!!! Wall!!! Why??!!! What was I thinking??!!!

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We made a right turned heading north at mile 9 into a breeze and by then, I was already so tired that trying to maintain a 9 minute pace seemed impossible. Kindal tried her best to get me back on track but when we reached mile 10, I wished her luck and knew it was going to be a tough 3.1. (She finished in 1:55 like a total badass.)

I tried to do math in my head to see what I needed to do to sneak in under 2, but thinking so hard was making me feel worse, so I just kept running as strong as I could. Luckily, no cramps were happening, but the legs were just tired. When I reached mile 12, I told myself to run this last mile fast and the only fast I could muster was a 9:30.

When I turned the last .1 corner, my teammates were along the side and their cheers gave me a surge. I stopped my watch just before I crossed (I didn’t want a watch stopping finish photo, lol!) and headed straight toward my friends. I needed their hugs.

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We were right near the insta results and I saw my name and time– 2:05:xx

I shook my head and everyone told me I was okay. This was a fun race, no pressure, 3 weeks post Chicago. So I got over it, grabbed a beer, and admired my medal.

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The medal. IT OPENS.

And when I got home, I told my husband about my race and he asked me about the difference in Garmin time versus race time; four minutes was a lot. I realized I hadn’t even looked at my watch time; after I crossed, I went immediately to my friends (thank goodness for autosave). But I told him my watch kept beeping way before the mile markers so I figured the course was off (longer). He said that was still a lot of time difference so he went online and sure enough

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You’d think by now I’d know to look at Net Time and not Clock Time…oh, Helly….

Even though I was sooo close to a sub 2 and maaaaybe could’ve done it had I had the ability to do math and get my butt moving, I’m really happy with this time.

I wanted to run this race for a few reasons: 1.) the medal 2.) assess my half marathon skillz 3.) have fun

Check, check, check! 😀

–Ever got your times mixed up?

–Ever ran a race mostly for the medal? (I’m not usually so medal influenced but for some reason, I thought this one was pretty cool, lol!)

–How was your Halloween? Costume?

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Did you R.I.P?

Corner Store Country Run 5k {Recap}

Free and fabulous!!!

That’s what this race was. There was a code for a limited time that gifted runners free entry to this race and you know I jumped on it. I’m SO glad I did!

Swag.

Swag.

The theme, as you can tell from the blog post title and swag, was country and I gladly dusted off the ‘ol hat 😀

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I had registered my husband and I to run but decided I’d just hang out with the kids while he raced. Part of the course was on dirt road and I didn’t want to attempt to navigate it with my spiffy two seater, lol! Plus, there were A LOT of people–I also didn’t want to battle that with two kids in a stroller.

Runners were told to start as close to the front as possible as the their times would start when the race clock started–(those who had purchased chip timed bibs). My husband had a chip timed bib so he parked himself right at the front so as soon as the gun went off, he started his watch and got going.

That view though.

That view though.

I knew it wouldn’t be too long before we saw him again so we walked to the finish line to hang out. Luckily, there were cows to keep us company.

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Race volunteers were distributing cow bells to spectators to cheer in the finishers and my kids certainly loved that (although the bells magically got lost when we got home).

A little after 18 minutes, the first runner made his way through. I knew my husband would be shooting for a sub 20 (yes, even though Chicago marathon was a mere 2 weeks in the past, lol!). I wanted to snag a finish photo but it was tough with the excitement of my kids to navigate my phone camera. Instead, at just over 20 minutes, we screamed and rang the cow bells as loud as we could for daddy.

Garmin time–20:39. NEW PR!!!

But, and big butt but, the race clock registered him at 20:53!! 😦 Whaaa??? He had started at the front–his toe practically touching the start line!

Soon after, another run club member crossed and we saw him pause his watch as soon as passed the line. His time was also off! Oh no!

My husband is reluctant to claim this new PR since the “official” time is different but I’m telling him who the hell cares, count that sucker!! He ended up getting 3rd in his age group, too!

Daddy and his good luck charm <3

Daddy and his good luck charm ❤

The bling.

The bling.

Immediately after, we were given a bag/backpack and the fun began!

We entered Rawhide, which is Western themed park and all along the “road” were different vendors giving away a SHIT TON OF STUFF. All. for. free. We’re talking sunglasses, frisbees, waters, gatorade, soda, protein bars, chips, candy, apples, oranges, slushies, cookies…I wish I would’ve taken a pic but I was too busy tasting this and tasting that. Here’s a pic of the loot a run club buddy scored (our loot wasn’t too far off!).

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Then, at the very end…..

the beer booth.

Yep, they were even giving away free beer.

A showing of your I.D got you two free beers and right next to the saloon were tables to munch away on your goodies while listening to some country & western.

Of course we danced.

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It ended up being such a fun day. My kids napped like champs, too!! 😀

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Later that night, keeping with the country theme, my husband and I went to see…..

GARTH BROOKS!!!

I totally didn’t think it would happen. It was our anniversary Friday and ever since I found out he was coming, I’d thought it’d be a perfect anniversary outing. But, trying to get a babysitter is so tough–we don’t have a regular, or anyone really, lol..

THEN, my father-in-law surprised us with a visit!! He practically pushed us out the door to go (okay, maybe we kinda pushed ourselves) and luckily, there were still tickets available when we arrived at the arena. Unbelievable!!

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IMG_20151024_220325Sometimes the unplanned events turn out to be the funnest–this weekend was pretty amazing. ❤

–You a Garth fan?

–Ever run a free race as awesome as the one we did? (Seriously, look up Corner Store Country Run) And fyi–I was not asked to write this review nor was I provided a free entry for the purpose of writing a review. The free entry was from a code provided by the race’s Facebook page.

 

Chicago Marathon {Race Recap}

I finished.

And it feels so good to be able to type that.

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Things didn’t go as hoped/planned and if you follow me on Instagram and/or Facebook, then you already know what happened.

People have been asking me how I feel and I’ve been saying Fine, Good, Happy (that I finished) but if I’m to be completely honest, and I’m always honest here, I’m angry.

I’m angry that my body just didn’t want to cooperate. My mind and my heart were there, willing to fight, but my legs weren’t.

I stuck to my plan of starting with the 4:25 pace group (about a 10:05/mile) thinking this would be the smartest way to go. My ultimate goal was a sub 4:30 and I wasn’t going to get risky by trying to attempt anything faster than that. My long runs had all been around the 4:25 pace and I felt this was “safest”.

It’s impossible to get comfortable the first mile or so in a race so big and that’s understandable. My watch had gone wonky after passing the first tunnel and mile two told me I’d run a 7 something mile (ja!) way before I reached mile two. I saw that my watch would not be a good go-to for assessing mile splits and there was no way I would be attempting any math. I ended up just turning it off (and then turning it back on at mile 6 figuring I could do math now that I would have an even 20 miles to count from). In retrospect, I should’ve left it on from the beginning to at least have the running time. You live and you learn.

At mile 4 though, my legs began tightening and by mile 8 that turned into full on cramping. I begin cursing and told myself there was no way I was walking now, so early.

I made it to mile 14.

At mile 14 I watched the 4:25 pace group go and I was so angry because I should’ve been there with them, running.

But the cramps had become debilitating and they were everywhere. My quads, my hamstrings, my calves, my shins, the bottoms of my feet, my toes. I’m not kidding when I say my entire legs were cramping.

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I had done everything just as I’d trained. Fueled every 5 miles, salt tabs at miles 4, 11, and 17, water at every station.

I walked for a bit at mile 14 and told myself to shake it out and keep going. I would only walk when the cramps were unbearable.

From then on, it was me running from cramp to cramp. When they became excruciating, when I could feel the balls of crampage against my skin (they left me bruises), I would walk–not for too long, and then keep going.

Not a single tear was shed.

Because it wasn’t sadness that I was feeling. It was anger. I was angry I wasn’t running the race I trained for. I was angry I couldn’t race how I’d like for all those who were cheering me on. I was angry that I wanted to so badly run and my legs wouldn’t let me.

It was this anger that kept me going. It was this anger that kept this race from being a total disaster–because even though I didn’t get the time I wanted, it could’ve been much, much worse. I’m not reflecting on this race as a loss or a let down; in fact, this was a race where I proved my mental strength has grown. I finished in 4:45:08, less than a minute from my marathon PR.

Any other time, I think, I would’ve cried, pulled over to the side, walked a lot more, maybe even given up because of how awful I felt and how upset I was at was happening to me.

But the whole time I kept thinking how this race wasn’t about me, it was about my buddy Graisyn who I Run 4, whose family stay at a Ronald McDonald House when he goes to hospitals. This race was about the people who donated, who helped me get to Chicago in the first place–that without them, I wouldn’t have been able to even get to the start line. This race was about my husband, who was running his very first marathon.

This race wasn’t about me at all.

And the anger I felt inside wasn’t going to let those people down.

So I kept going.

It hurt. A lot. My legs were battling me, testing all my strength. I saw the 4:30 pace group pass me around mile 18. I didn’t cry.

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Mile 20 came and I ran through Pilsen, Chicago’s Latin community, and they all helped me push through the next two miles. I felt a deep sense of comfort being around people like me, whose language I understood, whose cheers I felt were so heartfelt–“Animo!” My legs were trying to stop me from enjoying this neighborhood, but I didn’t let them.

The last 4 miles were awful. I passed through Chinatown and soon after saw mile 24. Two miles left. I knew my husband would be waiting for me and that kept me going. Mile 25 seemed like eternity. I wanted to run the entire last mile, but couldn’t. My legs won that time. I turned a corner and saw a sign that said, 400m left! There was no way I would walk across the finish line. No way.

Limping, dragging my legs (by this point they were shaking), I hobbled across.

Smiling.

And I finished.

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Thank you all SO much for your support throughout this entire training. Wow. I’m completely overwhelmed by your love–it’s part of what keeps me going. And I’m going to keep on going 😀 I’ll be sharing more Chicago marathon memories with you in the next couple of days; I just really wanted to get my race thoughts down first.

❤ you all,

helly

–Ever experienced insane cramping?

–How ’bout them race photos, eh? Ever had the camera catch you in pain?