Marathon Training Week 10 (and The Color Run winner!!)

Hello, hello!!! I do have TWO winners from The Color Run Giveaway!! Congrats to……

This Mama Runs For Cupcakes aka: Sue
and
Magdalena Vargas

Congrats to you both!! I know you’re going to have a blast at the race!! Check your e-mails for some details..

Thank you to all who participated and if the The Shine Tour makes it your way, sign up!! It is the Happiest 5k On The Planet after all…

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I hope everyone else had a good weekend! Mine is still happening as I enjoy this Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday off from work 🙂

When I ran the Marine Corps Marathon last October, on my list was visiting the MLK memorial. I love literature and I love history and I seriously was so exciting about visiting so many places in our nation’s capitol.

The MLK memorial did not disappoint.

As you enter, the walls surrounding the memorial are engraved with some of King’s best quotes. I was delighted to recognize a few and completely moved by new ones I hadn’t heard before.

LOVE this!

LOVE this!

Then, the memorial itself. It was quite impressive. I’m not a big architecture buff, my husband started out a major before switching to Chemical Engineering so he appreciates stuff like that a lot more. But even then, I know something good when I see it.

The structure is two pieces with the piece of King himself separated from the second part. I took it as a metaphor for him stepping out, going away from the norm to stand apart from the rest.

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If you haven’t visited the memorial, make sure to put it on your list when you visit D.C. 🙂

Okay, back to our regularly scheduled recap lol!

It was a pretty uneventful but eventful week jaja! Monday was a rest day from running. I did a couple of ab videos at home and some wall sits and leg stuff but pretty boring day overall. Tuesday I met up with my run club and this time my husband was able to join me. I had 5 miles planned but my husband wanted me to run 4 faster ones so we could get home with plenty of time for bath day–the kids bath day that is. So 4 fast ones it was!

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Wednesday I met up with my club at the track. They’d started Yasso 800s a couple of weeks ago but I hadn’t been able to make it until that day. So, I started right where they’d left off doing 6×800. I wasn’t sure what pace I wanted to do. My coach said to do an 800 at the time I’d want to finish my marathon but that meant choosing a specific time. The pressure!! I knew I had to choose something so I decided to just run the first 800 at what felt comfortable and see where that put me. 4:06. Okay, there’s NO way I think or plan to finish my marathon at that time but that felt comfortable for me during the workout so the next 5 800s I shot to keep my pace there. And guess what? I was +/- 2 seconds each 800!!

When I came home, I checked to see what pace a 4:06 marathon would be and was surprised that it was a 9:25/mile pace. Why did this surprise me? My last 3 long runs of 14, 14, and 16 were all +/- 2 seconds from that pace!

All I want from Phoenix Marathon is a PR and if all the stars align, a sub 4:30. My training has gone really well, better than what the two times above would get me, but I’m being very cautiously realistic with my expectations. You never know what the day, your body, the world will be like come race day and 26.2 miles is no joke. I’m still not sure what my “strategy” is exactly but I plan to start off at what has been my comfortable long run pace and just go from there. I’ve found in my two most recent races that going in relaxed and with no pressure-filled goal has yielded me great results.

Thursday I was thinking about all of this and really felt like going for a run. I didn’t want anything harboring my thoughts so I went sans watch. It was a run to just run.

10922760_834012439996392_6540892640910240662_nFriday was my usual rest day and Saturday was Expo Day! I had a race on Sunday (that I’ll recap later but woohoo!!!) It was funny because Thursday was sans watch day and Saturday my NEW watch arrived in the mail!

I took it for a mile test run :)

Isn’t she lovely?? I took it for a mile test run 🙂

Overall, a pretty good week that was topped off by an awesome race. No PR on Sunday but I was pretty darn close–I’ll tell you all about it later this week but if you’re following me on Instagram or Facebook then you know that I am a very happy girl 🙂

Total Mileage: 23.4

Water Intake: A+

Success!

Success!

How was your running week? Did you race or long run?

Do you have today off from work (those stateside)? Have you visited the MLK memorial?

Do you ever run sans watch?

Marine Corps Marathon Recap

Absolutely incredible.

If I had to sum it up, there it is.

For those that dislike long, drawn out recaps (because this is what this is 🙂 ), I finished in 4:57:58. Not a PR unfortunately.

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And for those who don’t mind details….

THE EXPO

We arrived in D.C. Friday afternoon, and we immediately went to our hotel, dropped off our stuff, and got on the metro to the expo.

I walked up to it slowly as I knew that my marathon weekend was just about to begin! To say I was excited is an understatement!

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Eeep!

Once inside, we were met with tons of vendors. We decided to get my bib first and then look around.

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Cheesin’ real hard!

Bib in hand, we made our way to the Brooks gear. There were so many super cute t-shirts, jackets, hats, socks, shorts, you name it! I wanted EVERYTHING. My husband decided I had to have this jacket

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Oh just me and my jacket in front of the White House…nbd.

and then I also got a few things for my family–and of course a shirt for my ex-Marine dad

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Port-a-Potty VIP: All this means is that I spent too much money at the Expo.

We walked around a bit more just kinda relishing it all in. I did see the big poster challenging runners to “beat Oprah!” Lol! In 1994, Oprah finished MCM in 4:29! I’ve been coveting a 4:30 marathon since running my first–(I’m gonnna get you Oprah. Someday. But I’m gunnin’ for you.)

Afterwards, we went back to the hotel and got our rest on. The next day, Saturday, would be spent touring D.C. I knew I should save my legs and not walk too much but I was in our nation’s capitol! There is so much to see! I ended up walking about 4 miles going to different monuments and museums (more about this in another post) but managed to get back to the hotel relatively early to rest.

RACE DAY

I had been debating what to wear as it was chillier in D.C. than what I was used here in the desert. But ultimately I decided to stick with what I had trained in: shorts and a cap sleeve. I threw on some arm sleeves to help with the cold.

Except, it was freezing that morning. Like holy cold freezing temperatures freezing. Now I know you’ll probably read other recaps and people might not comment on the weather that morning, but for this Arizonan, it was freaking cold. I was a grumpy, shivering runner up until the start. I kept cursing myself for not being prepared with a warm throwaway. And it seemed like eternity for the race to near its start time.

When it finally came, I positioned myself in the 4:30-5:00 estimated finish corral and finally allowed myself to soak the atmosphere in. The National Anthem was sung and the tears began to well. Aircrafts flew overhead and the tears began to fall. Parachuters dropped with huge American flags and by then I was mess. All before the gun had even shot off.

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Where’s Helly?!? 🙂

My husband kissed me good luck and then it was go time.

I had studied the map and knew the first part was going to be hilly. I made sure to not start out fast and just maintain a steady pace. I was pleased to see the first mile tick off 10:30something. The next two miles were around the same and then there was a crazy 9:19 mile four that I think was on a downhill. I regrouped and by mile 6 I was riding a steady 10:15ish minute/mile pace.

I kept it that way through miles 7, 8, 9, all the way to mile 13.

My husband had met me a few times along the way and praised me for keeping pace and told me to keep it going, I was doing great.

And then I got to mile 16.

It was like dejavu from my first marathon. Mile 16 I started feeling a cramp in my quad the size of a golf ball. It really felt like a hard ball was in my quad. I had prepared myself for this to happen; it was like I knew that at mile 16 shit would start to hit the fan.

But I kept telling myself, “Become one with the pain. Become one with the pain.” Do you have a mantra you repeat? This is the craziness that I was telling myself at mile 16 lol!

I kept running and hoping that it would go way but it didn’t. I started to see my pace slow down. Considerably.

The goal was to get to mile 20 without stopping. If I could just get myself there and then see that I only had 6.2 miles left, maybe somehow I could convince myself I could keep going.

I made it to mile 19. I texted my husband that I had stopped as I knew he’d be waiting for me at mile 20. When I caught up to him, he reassured me that I was fine. But I was fighting tears and trying to keep myself together and keep going but I just couldn’t. I felt like such a failure.

I saw the 4:45 pace group run by and then I just let myself cry. Any chance of a PR was fleeing right before my eyes.

But my husband reminded me what this race was all about. Definitely not me. He told me to look around–I was in Washington freaking D.C. running the Marine Corps Marathon! He said he’d be at mile 24 and to keep going til we met again.

So I mustered up whatever energy I had and started running. I could feel the cramps, by this time they were everywhere–quads, hamstrings, calves, and each step I took was extremely painful. I decided to walk/run it the rest of the way; the last thing I wanted was to injure myself or even worse, DNF.

When I reached mile 24, I took off my water pack and handed it my husband. He said to finish strong, only 2.2 left.

Nearing the end, the crowd was getting louder. I could hear Mary J. Blige blasting from a speaker and I sang along as I ran/chugged along. The last small bit was an uphill battle, literally, but as I ran to the finish the emotions came rushing back, this time not from disappointment at lost time goals, but from pride and happiness at having been able to cross that line. A Marine put a medal over my head, saluted, and thanked me and I sobbed , “No, thank you!”

It was over.

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Looking back, even now just 3 days later, I don’t remember so much the pain or the frustration of time goals. All that I recall are things that make this race so special, the things that made me want to run this race so bad in the first place. The people being so kind; the awesomeness that is running past places like Arlington Cemetery, Lincoln Memorial, The White House; the mile stretch where you ran past pictures of fallen soldiers (I was bawling through it); the seemingly non-stop crowd support; the faces of Marines and volunteers at aid/water stations so encouraging–those are the memories that I’m choosing to keep.

The race was most definitely hard; it was the most challenging I’ve faced yet, but the Marine Corps Marathon is more than just a course– it’s 26.2 miles of transfiguration, of renewal, of gratitude to those who experience pain beyond what one may ever experience during a race.

That’s what I’ll never forget.

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Thank you guys SO much for your words of encouragement. I was truly overwhelmed by your kindness via my Instagram and Facebook page before, during, and after the race. I’m so thankful to be a part of a community that is so supportive and so positive.

There were some other major highlights of my Marine Corps Marathon weekend that I’ll be sharing with you in the next couple of days. Here’s a teaser–I got to meet a certain somebody in person! 😀

❤ helly

 

Adrenaline 27k Night Trail Race {Recap}

I’m alive!!

Let me tell you something, that. was. brutal.

I’ll start at the beginning.

We didn’t do much on Saturday so I wasn’t exhausted by the day thankfully. I was planning on leaving my house early as I didn’t get my bib the two days prior so I was out the door by 5 p.m. Bib pick-up started at 6 and the race location was almost an hour away–yes, an hour!! Game time was 7:30 so I wanted to make sure I got there with plenty of time.

I drove the 45+ minutes to get to the middle of nowhere aka: McDowell Mountain Park. I had never been there before so I had no clue what to expect. I also hadn’t looked at the course map or elevation chart before (<–um yeah, that would’ve been smart).

Started with the 10 mile loop followed by the 10k loop (see mountain).

Started with the Long Loop 10 mile (bottom) followed by the Short Loop 10k (top–see mountain).

After glancing at the elevation chart(wha??!!), I picked up my bib and shirt (love!) and then headed over to my running group’s tent. There were about 40 of us that had signed up for the 10k and 27k. (Btw, there’s been much talk amongst my blogging friends on how cool running groups are. Mine is pretty amazing and will write soon on how I found them.)

AZTNT at Adrenaline :)

AZTNT at Adrenaline 🙂

As we all chatted, we said how nice it was that it had gotten below 100 degrees. It actually felt pretty good out lol!

Pre-race pic!

Pre-race pic!

Go time was right before sunset:

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And we were off!

I started the race having absolutely no idea what to expect. I had never done a trail race and I had never raced at night. I figured I’d just go and see how it went.

I began with three teammates who are pretty fast. I knew I wasn’t going to stay with them long at all but it was nice to be around familiar faces at the start. After the first mile beeped though, I knew I was going too fast: 9:48. With my personal experience trail running, my easy comfort zone is way slower than that so I immediately slowed down.

I was looking around taking the scenery in. It was pretty cool to be out there in the desert watching the sun set and hearing nature. I think I got caught up with all of it because what I was hoping wouldn’t happen happened a lot earlier than expected. I flew into the air and almost fell flat on my face! I had tripped over a rock, hard, but was able to catch my balance mid air to escape disaster. Then, not just a few minutes later, I slipped and tweaked my ankle! Luckily, it wasn’t anything serious–but this was barely mile 2!!

Wouldn't this distract you too?? Photo Cred: B. Swanson

Wouldn’t this distract you too??
Photo Cred: B. S (AZTNT)

I told myself to get it together; I still had 14 miles to go.

I slowed down considerably and was battling the up, down, up, down portion of the course. It finally settled into just up and I took my time as I climbed the hills.

A little after mile 5 was the first water station. I had heard from my running group that the stations were well stocked–as in, they had an assortment of candy, chips, watermelon, soda, water, gatorade. It was pretty cool! One of the volunteers even refilled my hydration pack for me!

I gobbled a watermelon slice, took a salt tablet, and got going.

Finally, I was at the downhill part of the first loop and it was nice because the trail was finally clear. No more jumping rocks 🙂 I settled in and cruised the next couple of miles. By this time, it was dark and my head lamp was on. It did a good job of lighting the path and it also helped that I had other runners around me. Like the guy in front running barefoot.

My watch beeped mile 8 and I was so glad to know that I was halfway done. I absolutely love trail running but it’s definitely a different type of running. A lot more concentration is involved–i.e. not tripping, twisting your ankle, getting lost–which i don’t mind but I learned that’s doubled when you’re trail running at night. I was already so exhausted!

We had to turn off the trail to start the second loop and this was SO confusing. I, along with several others, had missed it and had to turn back. We had to get on a trail that took us to the start line where we would get on a the 10k trail. It meant that for about a mile, those in front were running back and those still going were on the same trail. Not cool and this would be the only black spot I’d have on the race.

Plus, having to pass the start/finish line made me want to stop. Knowing I still had 6 miles left was tough. But, it was nice to hear the cheers from everyone.

The 10k loop was absolutely awful. From the very beginning you were climbing a mountain. The trail had gotten rocky again; I didn’t mind walking but I did wish I knew how long I had to the top– it seemed never ending. I started Lebronning (cramping) around mile 11 and I never fully recovered. My legs were so tight and I was fighting some serious pain.

It was around this time too that the crowd had really dissipated. I was alone for a long time with the exception of one girl who I’d pass and who’d catch up–we went like this for a while until I passed her and didn’t see her again.

It was very dark out. The moon provided some light but out there in the mountains it was difficult to navigate. Several times I had to stop and look around to make sure I was on the right path. I’d taken an extra hand flashlight (thank goodness) and that helped provide me with extra light to figure out where I was going.

Everything was hurting. My legs continued to cramp off and on and my feet hurt so bad. I was concentrating so hard on the trail but even then I found myself sailing forward again! I was able to catch myself for the second time and avoid any battle wounds.

I did a lot of jog and then walk, jog and then walk until I saw mile 15 and then I just told myself to try my hardest to keep running. Not seeing the end anywhere near was tough but when I was at halfway through the mile I finally heard life. I was close! I picked up it up (ja!! I was limping at this point) and tried to finish strong. With whatever strength I had, I lifted my arms up in celebration as I crossed the finish line 3 hours and 19 minutes later–I was finally done!

SO happy to be done! :)

SO happy! 🙂

This was a great race put on my awesome people. If you’re ever in Arizona, definitely check out Aravaipa Running. I had so much fun although I do think I was ambitious in attempting the 27k as my first trail race (at night). Two days later, I’m still really sore and with marathon training 10 days away, it was poor planning on my part.

But all in all, it was a great experience and something I can cross off my list–and I love doing that 🙂

–Have you tripped during a race?

–What race exhausted you the most?