Scottsdale Half Marathon Race Recap (PR!!)

I gave it away in the post title–I GOT A PR!!! 1:42:45!!!

I went into this race hoping for a 1:45 (or under), my previous PR being 1:48:04. I know it’s cliche, but I really did not expect to have such a big improvement.

Leading up to this half, I had “prepared” by doing a few fast runs but I hadn’t done anything longer than 6 miles since NYC Marathon.

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My lone six miler averaging 8:00 minutes was from my 10k PR in February, lol!

On Friday, I had a few friends over for an early birthday celebration (it’s this Friday!) and I thought they were seriously trying to sabotage my PR hopes by bringing me so many yummy goodies…

Brownies are my faaaave!!

Brownies are my faaaave!!

Saturday was a busy day of breakfast with Santa in the morning and a kid’s birthday party in the afternoon.

<3

Sunday race morning, I met up with my run club around 6:15 at the tent they set up–we were registered as a team (more on that later). One of my friends was also going for 1:45 and we chatted for a bit.

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My team 🙂

Ashley and me

Ashley and me

I was there pretty early because I was taking advantage of race day packet pick-up. I love races that allow for that. Sometimes the packet-pick up places are inconvenient and picking up race day, for me, is definitely easier, especially if I can just drop off stuff in my car.

This race was a steal at $45 (early registration). Gender specific tee and beanie ftw!

This race was a steal at $45 (early registration). Gender specific tee and beanie ftw!

The Scottsdale Half Marathon & 5k is always in December and December here is absolutely beautiful, especially that day. Last year it was freezing (for us) and this year, we couldn’t have asked for more perfect weather. I’ll take a 50 degree morning any day and my shorts and short sleeve outfit was perfect.

The course is relatively flat with a few park hills near the end. It’s an easy course in that there’s not many twists and turns. You’re pretty much going north, south, east, or west for long stretches of time. It’s a race known for its PR potential, so it attracts a lot of fast runners. The winner of the half finished in 72 minutes.

There was a nice group of us who started together including a buddy of mine, Dallas, who I’d done a lot of my NYC Marathon training with. He’s a super fast runner but is currently marathon training himself so he wasn’t racing this particular race. My friend Ashley and I convinced him to be our pacer and he was more than happy to.

Miles 1-6

Our pace was right on as you can see:

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I felt great and my breathing was good. My friends know I’m not a chatterbox when I run so my silence wasn’t because I was struggling, I was just in the zone.

Feeling comfortable with the pace just below 8 minutes was awesome (mile 5 did irk me though, lol) and I hoped we could continue like that the rest of the way. My plan was to go to mile 10 at that pace and then push it for the final 5k.

Mile 7

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I took my lone Gu at this mile and we took a turn that would lead us to a super long straight stretch going south. It was here that I asked myself how I was feeling and if I could go faster. I knew that my plan was to wait until mile 10, but I also knew that this race wasn’t a “I will cry if I don’t PR” race and that I had nothing to lose by pushing myself a little harder than I was used to.

My husband always tells me that I’m faster than I think, and I thought about his words then and how much I wanted to show him that I could push hard.

So I went for it.

Miles 8-12

I didn’t say a word to Ashley, and Dallas could see I was increasing my pace so he followed suit staying ahead of me a bit to guide the way.

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Dallas was amazing, grabbing water for me at the stations and having it at hand so I wouldn’t lose my step. He always stayed just a bit in front so I was always at a distance of trying to “catch him” –which is how I prefer people to pace me.

I was passing so many people and that really helped me feel strong and confident. At this point, I had plugged myself in and allowed myself to enter the pain cave. I knew that I was almost done and that anything I felt would just be temporary.

It’s also in these miles that there were little, but still awful, steep hills and I just repeated, “Short, quick steps, Helly. Short, quick steps.”

There were runners that looked fit and strong and I couldn’t believe that I was passing them. I used to psych myself out when I would see runners who looked a certain way and tell myself I couldn’t hang with them.

Not this time.

Mile 13

We turned the corner for the last mile and I whispered to Dallas, “I want to die in this mile.”

“We’re almost done. You got this!” he said.

“No, I want to die. I want to go fast until I die!”

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Dallas and me

Dallas and me

I did really want to go as fast as I could. I wanted to see how fast I could run at that point and finish leaving nothing on the pavement. I tried my hardest to pick up my pace and when we reached a corner I saw the best thing I could’ve ever seen: my husband.

He had a huge smile because he knew I was on my way to killing my PR. He yelled words of encouragement and because he and the friend he was with knew I was approaching the last turn and finish line, yelled, “Turn and burn!!”

So I dug deep and ran….fast.

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final minute

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I wanted so badly to stay in the 1:42s that I gave zero fucks and ran like my life depended on it.

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nailed it!

And I finished absolutely elated!!! Absolutely, incredibly proud that I had decided to push myself, to allow myself to see what I could do if I just went for it.

The second medal is b/c I came in third for my group and as a team, we placed second :D

The second medal is b/c I came in third for my group and as a team, we placed second 😀

My husband, in previous half marathons, had gone from 1:48 to 1:42 in his half marathon time and I had told him earlier in the week how cool it would be if I could match his progression. I NEVER thought it would could actually happen. (Of course then he went from 1:42 to 1:36 and then on Sunday’s race finished 2nd in his Age Group with a 1:32–so now there’s no way I can continue this trend, lol!!!)

Me and my winner <3

Me and my winner ❤

It was such an amazing day. Honestly, I never, never thought I could run the way I’m running. That is the honest truth. I don’t really know how to explain beyond what I wrote here, what has happened or why I’m all of a sudden running paces I’ve never seen. Clearly, something in me has changed. I’m still processing it and figuring out what it means, but I’m definitely hoping that this newfound confidence doesn’t go away. I hope that I always give myself a shot, that I believe in myself enough to try hard things and that even if I “fail,” I continue to learn from each experience.

As always, thank you all so much for your encouragement. I love having this little space to document my growth and share it with you ❤

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Brand Spankin’ New 5k PR!! And First Female Overall!!

Wow. Just, wow. I ran a 5k on Thanksgiving that I had no idea I had in me. I won the whole damn thing (for the girls, anyway) and have never ran so fast in my life.

Ahhhhh!!!!!

Ahhhhh!!!!!

So the past 3-4 years, since I started “running” running, my husband and I have done our local town’s Turkey Trot 5k. Even though I know the course/streets very well since I grew up on them and could run them in my sleep, this race always kills me. Always.

The first mile is downhill and half of the 2nd and half of the 3rd are on an long, gradual incline that just does me in every. single. time.

This graph makes it look worse but this is what it feels like, LOL

This graph makes it look worse but this is what it feels like, LOL

To put in perspective–the first time I ran this race was back in 2013 and I finished in 25:44, a PR at the time. As time passed, I PR’d on other 5k courses (down to 23:40) but in 2014 and 2015 I couldn’t beat my 2013 time on that dang Turkey Trot course!!

Anyway, going into the race my goal was to beat my course PR. But, my brother really wanted me to beat his course PR–24:30. I was okay with simply getting sub 25 but my brother was pretty insistent on me beating his time. So, I decided to shoot for that thinking it would be a pretty sweet win if I made it.

I had a really good run under my belt going in. The Tuesday before I had done a 5 mile run with my husband. But like, really with my husband. At his pace. Whenever we run together, he slows down to accommodate me, but on Tuesday, I was feeling it (and really, I wanted to actually run with him, lol) and he didn’t have to slow down all that much.

5 miles–8:20, 8;04, 7:45, 7:35, 7:23

So having done that run and feeling pretty good, I was confident I could get the time my brother wanted me to get.

5k First mile–7:14

Yeah…..like I said, it’s downhill and I worried that I’d blown it going so fast. Especially knowing I had the dreaded uphill coming my way.

5k Second mile–7:32

Holy crap, I couldn’t believe it. I remember climbing up (it really is such a subtle incline but it feels mountainous) and telling myself to push, push, push!!! I saw a girl up ahead start walking and that fueled me. I sought to catch and pass her and that helped me speed up on that uphill. When I did pass her, I told her to join me, but she was done.

As I approached the third mile, I saw that that girl I’d passed was the only girl in front of me!!! I was the first female at that point!

5k Third mile–7:25

No way was I gonna lose this chance. We got into the park to do the final loop and I just gunned it. I told myself to run as fast as I could, fast where it hurt. I told myself to make it hurt.

5k point one–5:50 pace

And I was the first female overall!!!! I have no idea where the young cross country girls were (the overall male was a 16 year-old cross country runner) but I’m glad as hell they sat this one out 😀

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I won this cool plate and my picture was taken for our local paper and I felt like such a badass, haha!!!

I may never win another race, but I’m so proud and happy I won my town’s 5k (and their last one, unfortunately).

–Have you ever won a race?

–Does your town have a popular race?

–How was your Thanksgiving, Americans?

 

 

2016 NYC Marathon Race Recap

I did it.

I still can’t believe it, but I did it.

3:58:40

3:58:40

I had prepared for this race for such a long time and was just so ready for it; I honestly was not nervous at all. I had never felt so calm at the start line for a race as I did at this one–the biggest marathon in the country and up to this point, the marathon with the highest expectations. The goal was to finish under four hours.

I hoped to reach the halfway point in under 2 and try and keep the halves as close as I could time wise. I knew the second half was “harder” but I was intent on giving it my best.

First half–1:57
Second half–2:01

Really, I couldn’t have asked for better. Considering the second half had the infamous Queensboro Bridge and the hills of Central Park, I am ridiculously happy with those half splits.

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Miles 1-6

I knew the first mile was going to be all uphill and I knew that it was going to be cold and windy. It was all of those things. I started off slowly and with no rush or concern for passing people. The first mile beeped right as I passed the marker at 9:49. I knew I’d be picking it up and I did as the second mile alert came in in at 8:26–except it came a ways before I reached the mile marker. I was little bummed to see that already my watch was not matching the course. But luckily, I had a 4 hour pace bracelet that at the last minute, my friend had given me before we started. So I didn’t panic and instead told myself to just use the elapsed time to keep track.

On I went. I wasn’t obsessing at my watch, only occasionally looking down to make sure I wasn’t going too fast. I took in the crowds–it was exactly as advertised. There were soooo many people on both sides screaming, cheering, dancing, laughing. You really couldn’t help but smile yourself. The best was seeing people find their runner and squeal with joy. Oh my god, I loved that so much.

I reached the 10k mark with so much happiness. I felt good, I felt strong.

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But I knew I still had a long ways to go.

Miles 6-15

I knew my friend Elle (A Fast Paced Life) would be at mile 8-9ish so I started to to look around for her when I approached the end of mile 7. The next three miles were a blur trying to find her and I was sad I didn’t, but I just pressed on.

With the exception of the first mile, miles 2-10 were all between 8:26-8:47. My watch kept beeping before the mile marks so I never really knew what the pace was exactly for each mile but I just kept glancing down at the pace bracelet and making sure I was under whatever it said for each mile.

I just concentrated on running by feel, and I truly felt great. Every now and then I’d do a body check and everything would pass. My breathing was fantastic. I was seriously in disbelief with how great things were going. I’d never felt this way at this point in a marathon, lol!

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Miles 15-20

Up to mile 15, I had been running unplugged, but I had my little I-pod in case I needed some musical inspiration. When I approached Queensboro Bridge, I decided that was the time.

There are no spectators on the bridge and I knew that this was going to be a rough incline, so I put my earphones in and put my head down. I marched on completely oblivious to my surroundings. Even though my mile split for 16 was 10:09, I passed so many people.

When I made the turn onto First Ave, I unplugged so I could relish the cheer from the crowd. I had heard so many things about the “sound boom” runners get coming out of the bridge and boy did I welcome it.

However, at around mile 19 I started to feel a little ball grow where where my ankle meets my foot. A cramp! I re-plugged and kept going. I knew that if I could just make myself keep going, it would either go away or I’d forget about it. One could hope, right?

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Miles 20-24

Oh my gosh, these miles were tough. My breathing was absolutely perfect. There was no huffing or puffing or struggling on my part. But the cramps….oh, the cramps!!! My quads, my hamstrings, my calves, my toes–everything hurt and I was dying.

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But you know what? I didn’t panic. I didn’t stress. And most importantly, I didn’t stop. I would ask myself how I felt, and I honestly felt fine–my breathing was good and my body didn’t feel tired or sluggish. It was just the cramps.

So I isolated them. I set them apart from the rest of my body and pretended they didn’t exist. I was in such a zone, so completely immersed in the moment. I was in the middle of Central Park at this point but I couldn’t see or hear a thing. I was *in* the race.

The cramps would come and go, but I kept on running.

Miles 25–Finish

I was still cramping pretty badly but at this point, I knew I had my sub 4 marathon and I was so ridiculously happy.

I kept thinking about my husband and my kids and my brother and sister and all the people who mean so much to me and all the people who donated to my charity. I don’t think I’d ever been so happy during a race in my entire life.

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I looked down at my watch to make sure I wasn’t crazy, but I’d done it!! I crossed the finish line in under 4 hours!

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I was absolutely giddy. And as soon as I stopped, the cramps dissipated and I looked and felt like I could’ve kept going.

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I wanted to jump, I wanted to scream with joy!! I wanted to hug everyone. I wanted to kiss the final race photographer and the woman who put the race sheet around me. I wanted to find my husband and tell him that I had just finished the race of my life…

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It was a long walk to the family meet-up where I knew my husband was waiting. I saw him before he saw me and my heart swelled. I was so happy that finally, finally, I was coming to him with good news.

His eyes locked mine, a nervous look as he searched for an answer…Choking back tears of joy, I whispered:

I did it.

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************There’s so much more I have to say about this race and I’ll be doing so in the next couple of days/weeks, but first–oh my goodness guys, thank you SO much for your words of encouragement and love on here and Instagram. Many of you have been with me on this long, long journey and really, you have no idea what your support means to me. I will never forget it. ❤ , helly