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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Race Recap: Bozeman Half Marathon

(From a previous year, but it gives you an idea of the scenery.)
The Bozeman Half Marathon took place on Sunday, September 10 at 8:00am in Bozeman, Montana.

Before + Goals
As I mentioned two weeks ago, I hurt my ankle on a downhill run. At the same time, the wildfire smoke was thick in Bozeman, making even short runs difficult. My motivation to train for a PR went out the window. I wasn't completely honest with myself about how much I did not want to run this race until the Oiselle Volée meetup on Saturday. Someone asked about my ankle and even though I was wearing a wrap and it was still swollen, I knew it wouldn't be the reason I wouldn't PR on Sunday. I wasn't feeling it.

After Missoula, my goal was 1:55, but as I slogged through short runs and struggled to finish (or even plan!) my long runs, I did a bit of soul searching. Did I care about setting a new PR? Not really. Definitely not more than exploring new trails and running with new people. I tried to convince myself I could pull off a sub-2 run – which probably would have been doable if I was 100% and the air was clear – but my shakeout runs were pretty bad, so I set a new goal: just finish. It's been a long time since I set that goal! And if I'm honest, the only reason I went was to see my Oiselle teammates!

Near the start
Pre Race
We had to ride a shuttle to the start and it took about 10 or 15 minutes. Then we stood around at the start for almost an hour. If I'd been alone it would have been torture! I talked to teammates Wendie and Morgan about not being in the mood or ready and they agreed. Morgan was running the relay and had to wait for the leg 2 runner, so Wendie and I left her to line up. We chatted a bit more, then put on our headphones and said our good-byes and good lucks.

The race set off and Wendie was ahead of me. There weren't any pacers, which was kind of a bummer because I would have glommed onto any group. After a tenth of a mile I caught up to Wendie and asked if I could tag along. She said she didn't mind and that I should take off whenever I wanted to go faster. I told her I probably wouldn't leave and to let me know if I was bothering her.

Around mile 1. Thanks for the photo, Amber!
This is a short recap because guess what? We ran together the entire time. We spent the race chatting and ran without stopping until mile 6 when we stopped to take photos of the scenery.

The race was advertised as fast, flat, and downhill, but it was a lie. Yes, it was a net downhill, but there were several short climbs along the way. The sun was beating down by the halfway mark and I wish the race started at the same time as the marathon (7am). Montana Septembers are dicey, so I guess you can't predict the weather.
Technically downhill, but those hills = noooooope.
We kept chugging along but stopped at the remaining water stops so Wendie could fill her small handheld and I could grab Gatorade. It was hot! Wendie has asthma and had a hard time breathing on some of the climbs due to the hot sun and the haze. I don't have asthma, but I was also struggling to breathe at times. It wasn't terribly smokey like it has been, but it certainly wasn't clear. (Bummer because Saturday was lovely.)

Coming in to the finish
After mile 9 we both decided we were over it and ready to be done. Even though we felt that way, we were both having a good time and kept telling one another how terrible it would have been alone. After we crossed Kagy (major road) the race was mostly downhill so we were able to coast in. Afterwards we hung around to wait for more Oisellies (ha) to finish.

Free photos! The one on the right cracks me up.

Stats and Thoughts
This was my second slowest half (my slowest was an epic, sad disaster), but I had a ton of fun. We told stories, commiserated over a smokey summer, and socialized with volunteers and spectators. So thankful for good company!

Finish time: 2:24:47
Overall: ? / 447 (results divided by gender)
Gender: 210 / 319
Age: 38 / 48

The course itself was nice (even with the hills that weren't supposed to be there), but there wasn't much crowd support outside of the water stops. I don't usually care about that, but since it isn't a PR course I probably won't run the half again. I'd do the marathon relay.

...You know what? That opinion was formed during the race. Now that it's been a few days I've almost changed my mind about not doing it again. ;)

Oiselle Montana, represent!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Weekly Review: Meetups and Missteps

Favorite view from the week (near Emerald Lake)
Happy Tuesday! My wrap-up is a bit late, but I'm still joining Hoho Runs and MissSippiPiddlin's Weekly Wrap linkup and Courtney's training linkup. Be sure to visit the hosts if you haven't already!

August 21–2
Monday: eclipse hikes at St. Anthony Sand Dunes
Tuesday: 4.2 miles
Wednesday: 3 mi with BSWD
Thursday: 4.2 mi
Friday: 9.4 mi + 4 mi
Saturday: 9.5 mi
Sunday: rest

Total: 34.3 mi
Total elevation: 6,762 ft (Can I get a HOLY CRAP for this elevation!?!?!)

The change in light from before to mid eclipse
Monday included the solar eclipse at the sand dunes. I've lost the ability to describe my feeling of "awe" during totality, but those 2+ minutes were amazing. I'd chase eclipses if I could guarantee cloud-less skies every time.

Tuesday: My only stop was to take this picture
Tuesday was my only true run of the week. I ran 4.2 miles in and around my neighborhood and sped up during the last half mile. It was a good one.

Bear Canyon on the way down.
Wednesday night was another Big Sky Wind Drinkers fun run on a new trail (Bear Canyon). Had I known how runnable it would be, I would have done the 5 miler instead of 3. The elevation was only 400 ft (only! haha! Ohio me is dying) and while I walked up a few steep sections, I maintained a quick-ish trail pace. I was running solo for most of the last mile, then caught a glimpse of a woman up ahead and made it my goal to catch her. I caught up right before the finish.

Learning about birds with my guide 
Thursday was my first of two run/hikes with an out of town Oiselle Volée member who I "know" through Instagram. We went to Sypes Canyon at sunrise (I woke up at 5am! Who am I?!) We stopped along the way for photos and birdwatching (she's legit - she had binocs and a field guide), but it was a pretty good run/hike.

On Friday we got up suuuuper early again and hiked to Emerald Lake. The lake was pretty, trail was well maintained, and we saw more interesting birds. Afterwards, I wanted to do my speedwork. Even though I wasn't exhausted after the trail, my legs must have been tired because my 4 miler was painful. Oh, and I did it at the hottest time of day. Fail!

On the way up Middle Cottonwood
I had an 11 miler Saturday but I wanted to avoid campus (move in) and couldn't find a flat path/road without traffic. Some running folks recommended a rural road with a narrow shoulder that wasn't long enough and a road by the airport. There's got to be something better! (If I'm honest, I miss the long bike paths in Columbus.) Instead, I convinced Alex to summit Saddle Peak via Middle Cottonwood. I figured we'd run a bit up, hike the hard stuff, then I'd run down solo.

Closer to the top -- less green
It didn't quite work out. I had to go back to the car to drop a layer, so I ran an extra mile at the beginning while he continued on. When we got past mile 3 sections were steep and rocky. (I'd recommend hiking boots and not trail running shoes.) We didn't fuel for a big hike, but luckily I brought a ton of snacks... but it still didn't end up being enough. And once we got past 7,000 ft elevation we were very slow. We made it to Little Saddle and called it quits because we were low on water. Bummer.

So close to Saddle Peak. But we had to turn back.
The way down was slow-going because of the loose rock. With a little over 3 miles to go we hit a nice clearing and I split off to run. Just as I was thinking, "It feels so good to run!" I twisted my ankle! It was terrible. I trip on trails a lot and usually shake it off immediately, but this time my vision flashed! It was nuts. I walked for a bit and worked up to a run. Felt ok. Then I twisted it again. I repeated this about 4 more times, never tripping on a rock, but I think my ankle gave out.

Needless to say, I took Sunday off. My ankle was purple and swollen, so I iced and wrapped. As of today (Tuesday) it's still tender, but mostly ok. At least I can walk without much pain!

Checking In 
My half training has kind of flown out the window. (Race is in less than two weeks.) My run/hike frequency is fine, but I'm not sticking to my plan. Runs over 5 miles rarely take place on flat land (where I can run without stopping to walk/hike). I still have no idea what my race pace is and I haven't finished speedwork in eons. Part of me is ready to throw in the towel and just have fun 'til summer is over. Another part is ready to declare a big goal and get to work. And still another part of me wants to wait and see how long/cold winter really is in Bozeman. (I like snow and winter running, so I should be fine. The windchill scares me.)

Oh well. At least I'm still enjoying the trails! Could be way worse.

Did you see the eclipse? 
Have you ever turned around on an ambitious hike? 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Weekly Review: Elevation Gains

View from ~mile 3 on Saturday

Happy day after the eclipse! My wrap-up is a day late, but I'm still joining Hoho Runs and MissSippiPiddlin's Weekly Wrap linkup and Courtney's training linkup. Be sure to visit the hosts if you haven't already!

August 14–20
Monday: rest
Tuesday: 6.7 miles
Wednesday: 3.8 mi with BRC
Thursday: 4 mi
Friday: rest
Saturday: 7.2 mi
Sunday: 1 mi + 1 mi dune hike

Total RUN: 22.7 mi
Total RUN elevation: 2,536 ft

Last week was a pretty good one for elevation and adventure.

Top of Story Hills -- I love this view
I went out Tuesday morning for a 6.7 mi run with my two new running friends (and a dog named Tupelo). I'm really enjoying our outings. They usually pick close by trails and I learn a bit about Bozeman. They're both older with families and such, so we don't do much social hanging out, but I really appreciate the running company. Plus, the hills and conversation force me to SLOW DOWN which was my #1 goal for easy runs this training cycle.

The brewery was crazy packed (even before the runners arrived!)

I had a hard to remember workout on the plan (Hard mile 20 sec-30 sec under goal pace. 3 min rest. 15 min tempo 10 sec over goal pace, 2-3 min rest, hard 800m.), so I decided to use Wednesday night's Bozeman Running Co beer run as "speed work." The course was really 3.8 miles and I ended up taking a few walk breaks after mile 2 ("to simulate the breaks in my plan" aka catch my breath). Even with three breaks from mile 3–end, my mile times were 7:44, 8:22, 8:28, 8:59 (final .7). Not bad! It was a hot night and probably a little lame that I walked during a 5k, but at least I kind of did my speedwork.

Hot and hazy. Terrible conditions for a run.

Thursday's run was silly. I ran around 11am and could see and smell the smoke in the air. Needless to say, getting in 4 miles was tough.

Another great view

This was a cutback week so my long run was only 7 miles. I went to Middle Cottonwood with Alex Saturday morning. He did his own thing and we crossed paths around my mile 2. I ran what I could, but mile 3 was a big climb and I ended up hiking most of it. I need to get better at big uphills, so it was productive! There were a half dozen water crossings, but they didn't slow me down too much and I only tripped twice. I ran back down, then added a final mile on the gravel road leading to the trailhead. It was a beautiful morning. Bozeman was still smoky, but this trail wasn't. I think Middle Cottonwood is Alex's new favorite trail, so we'll be back!

Ready for eclipse camping!
On Sunday we drove to Idaho for the eclipse. We originally intended to go to Rexburg, Idaho with the flexible plan of finding a nearby hike-in campsite. Rexburg's in-town campsites were $75-150/night (3 night minimum) and we saw a hotel listing for $1,566/night (a Super 8!!), so we knew we weren't staying there. On our way to town we saw a sign for St. Anthony Sand Dunes. After we checked out Rexburg (and found a free backup place to stay), we went to the dunes to kill time. Turns out it was a BLM dispersed camping area and the campsites were free!

Our campsite 
There were a few people there, but it was not crowded. There was a bit of a crowd for the actual eclipse, but they came Monday and parked in the day lot. Our campsite was on the edge of the dunes and led to a private trail, so we were able to get away from the crowd to watch the eclipse. It was pretty awesome how it all came together, but I guess I'll hold onto that info for another time... Oh yeah, and I ran a mile, mainly so I wouldn't have to say I took three rest days. ;)

Monday, August 14, 2017

Weekly Review: Good times, tired legs

From Sunday's long run

Happy Monday! Once again, I'm joining Hoho Runs and MissSippiPiddlin's Weekly Wrap linkup, plus Courtney's training linkup. Be sure to visit the hosts if you haven't already!

Last week was a good one. No hospital visits or (new) migraines. I consider that a win! In addition, I hit my mileage and adhered to "easy" run paces. Maybe a little too easy at times (*cough* walking), but you win some, you lose some.

August 7–13
Monday: 4 mi
Tuesday: 4 mi + 1 mi dog walk
Wednesday: 5 mi (2.8 with BSWD)
Thursday: 5 mi
Friday: rest + 1.4 mi dog walk
Saturday: 3 mi
Sunday: 10 mi + 2.8 mi hike

Total RUN: 31.2 mi
Total RUN elevation: 1,608 ft

Before my 4 miler on Monday I found out I'm the new co-leader of Oiselle Volée in Montana. Volée is the group that allows me to do all sorts of fun things like go to Bird Camp (Michigan and Idaho), visit the Oiselle HQ in Seattle (and participate in a photoshoot!), and meet tons of badass lady runners from across the country. I've never done a post about Volée, but if you have any questions, shoot them my way. There's a team opening this week!

For some reason I did my Tuesday run at 1pm and it was way too hot. I took a walk break at mile 2, then stop/started a lot from 3 to 4. I guess that's one way to slow down my easy runs?

Turnaround point on our Middle Cottonwood run

Wednesday night we went to Middle Cottonwood to join the Big Sky Wind Drinkers. I'm loving their group runs. Every week they have a 1-ish, 3-ish, and 5-ish mile option and meet at different trails around town. This was our first time at Middle Cottonwood. We picked the 3-ish route and had a rocky 666ft (eek!) climb to a beautiful overlook. It was tough (and there was a creek crossing), but I had energy to spare so I ran 2 more miles at home before dark.

Highland Glen
I got up bright and early Thursday to meet two ladies (and a dog) for a run around Highland Glen. It's one of my favorite trails and the ladies took me in a new direction. We ran most of it, but walked some uphills. I probably would have run it too fast and burnt out on my own, so it was nice to have constant conversation to keep it easy.

My legs were tired from back to back trail runs, so Friday was a rest day. Alex and I went on a dog walk in the evening and got caught in the rain. I'm happy to report the return of rain to Bozeman. July was a very dry month.

Not a fan of the haze
On Saturday we went to the REI garage sale where I picked up some BOGO Salomon hiking boots and Keen water shoes. Garage sale items are hit and miss, but both pairs of shoes were in great shape. Afterwards, we ran more errands, then... I can't remember. I ran around 8pm and the wildfire haze was worse than ever. In fact, we'd planned an epic hike Saturday but cancelled due to the smoke. My 3 miler felt fast, but it wasn't. I was just working hard to breathe!

New to me section in Graf Park
Sunday was my long run. I didn't really feel like going, so I decided to take photos at every mile. I made my way towards campus then jumped on some new trails. I got lost around mile 5 and after my gel stop at mile 6 I was not feeling it. I stopped every half mile at least 'til the end of my run. It was more humid than normal and my thighs totally chaffed in my run skirt (bummer). Luckily, the smoke cleared, so it was easy to breathe. I had a really great time, but looking at my Strava data after made me feel a little guilty for stopping so much. I really miss my Columbus training group on weekend long runs. I'd run any distance with friends there to distract me.

About halfway up the M trail
Post long run, Alex and I went to hike the M Trail. It started to rain while we were up there, so we had the trail to ourselves. It was about 800ft of climbing and I kept a good pace considering the 10 miler in the morning. We went to a brewery afterwards and made some (old people) friends at the bar. A good end to the weekend!

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

(Late) Race Recap: Missoula Half Marathon

This bridge was around 3.5. (Free race photos!)
The Missoula Half Marathon took place Sunday, July 9 at 6am in Missoula, Montana. [Race information] Another delayed recap... but better late than never.

Pre Race
Tobias really enjoyed the Oiselle meetup
Alex and I arrived in Missoula around noon on Saturday and went to the Oiselle team meetup in the park by packet pickup. We had a little mini pizza party and got to know some fellow Montanans. It was suuuuuuper hot, but at least we were in the shade. I grabbed my packet and bib before we left the park to head to the hotel.

After check in we came back downtown to go to a brewery, then ended up at Notorious P-I-G BBQ. I could not resist that name. I had a half rack of ribs and sides and was feeling mildly stuffed. On the way back to the hotel we stopped at a build your own fro-yo place. I was breaking all sorts of pre-race eating rules, but whatever.

Somewhere around 4:00 or 5:00 pm – after watching Roxane Gay on C-SPAN, of all things – I started to get a massive migraine. This was my first Montana headache and my first migraine ever outside of spring or fall season change. (Little did I know, it would become a new thing for me.) Alex ran out to get Chipotle and medicine. Unfortunately, I could not make room for food. The migraine was so bad it made me nauseous and I had some GI issues. Between my rough, food-less night and the 4am wake up, I was seriously considering not running the race in the morning.

I set out my gear the night before 
Race Morning
Luckily, I woke up just before my 4:00 am alarm and felt okay. My stomach still felt icky, but I was able to eat my toast and peanut butter breakfast. My head hurt a bit, but I took meds and it dulled the pain. I wasn't in tip-top shape, but I was in a really good mood for some reason and I'd gotten solid sleep from 12-4, so I figured why not roll with it?

Alex dropped me off to catch a shuttle and I was able to get on a bus almost immediately. It was a 10-15 minute ride to the start and I made a friend on the bus. The start line had a bajillion bathrooms and plenty of space for everyone to sit/stand in the grass. I met up with the Oiselle team and we applied temporary tattoos, took a few photos, then split up to get ready to run.

Lovely ladies, ready to run
The Race
I stood behind the 2:00 pace group at the start. My original goal was to run a sub-2:00, but this being Montana (elevation) and me being sick (blarghhhh) I had no idea what to expect. My revised goal was under 2:05. I know I can do that - even with walk breaks.

Ha - I'm a burry figure in this photo, scarffing down a gel.
The start line announcers were great and as soon as we set off there were fireworks. A ton of fireworks. I tried to watch, but they were behind us. Oh well. The first mile was beautiful. We were running through a rolling valley with mountains all around. I wish I had a picture. This is probably an unpopular opinion, but I think Bozeman is prettier than Missoula. However, the first few miles of this race were so pretty I'd be willing to take back my initial assessment.

Anyway, I was running. The 2:00 pacers were ahead of me after the crowd settled, but I caught up with them. I think mile 2 was when we passed a man wearing a tux playing the "Chariots of Fire" theme on a grand piano in his front yard. I don't know how long I ran with the pacers, but at least through mile 4 or 5. They were steady pacers and very friendly guys.

Miles 1-5: 8:56, 8:50, 9:06, 9:02, 9:06

All I remember about mile 6 was some guy in a red shirt coming up next to me and asking my pace, then saying I was super steady and he was going to follow me. I think he stopped to grab water or something because we split up. Little did I know he was still close behind. (More later!)

I'm pretty sure that's red shirt guy back there!
I really don't remember anything in this section. I was listening to The Archers, of course, and it was entertaining. We were winding through neighborhoods and I ran under EVERY sprinkler. It was warm, but not Ohio summer hot, so I didn't think it was that bad. My stomach still felt like crap, but it was a distraction from normal run pain. I was maintaining a pretty steady 9:00 pace without pacers, so that was also cool.

Miles 6-10: 8:59, 9:00, 9:06, 9:00, 8:56

Mile 10 or 11 I caught up to another Oiselle teammate. We exchanged pleasantries (nice way of saying I have no idea what we talked about) and I continued on. Turns out she had a 12 or 14 minute PR when she finished! Holy cow!

I was starting to get le tired and my stomach was cramping a lot. There were some turns in this section that slowed me down. In mile 12 I got that half marathon "ughhhhh" feeling. I usually get it at mile 10, so it was a total bummer it even appeared. I'm not sure if I walked quite yet, but the red shirt guy from before was suddenly next to me saying something about my super-consistent pacing and how he'd been trying to catch me. It was so nice to hear, so I ran with him for about 100 ft then I HAD to walk. Totally lame to walk at 12.4, but I needed it.

Mouth breathin' into the finish. 
I took about a minute to regroup then began to run. I could see red shirt guy up ahead, but knew I wouldn't catch him. At 12.9 we made the final turn into the finish chute, which was on a bridge to downtown. Lordy, that bridge felt really long. I kicked up my pace and got into the upper 7s and it hurt. But when I saw my finish time it was all good.

Miles 11-13.1: 9:02, 9:15, 9:21, 7:57 (.1)

By the way, I found red shirt after and told him thanks for the mile 12 motivation. He finished about 30 seconds ahead of me.

Great success!
Final Stats and Thoughts
The Missoula Half is a well run race. Big medal, nice shirt, good post-race food, free beer, and free photos! Plus, the course is relatively flat with 203ft of elevation gain. There are a few small hills in the beginning, but most of the gain happens from mile 5 to 13.1 and it's so gradual you barely notice.

Final Time: 1:58:44
Overall: 621 / 2824 (22%)
Gender: 276 / 1897 (14.5%)
Age Group: 48 / 284 (17%)

I'm pretty proud of a sub-2 in Montana while feeling like absolute crap (but in a good mood - attitude is everything!). Missoula is 1,600 feet lower than Bozeman, so maybe the extra air helped? By the way, if you're keeping score: this is only 30 seconds off of my PR. I was planning to break it at an April race in Ohio, but after we moved I decided to see what happened in Missoula before declaring half marathon goals. I'm currently training for a faster half in September, but I'll be honest: training isn't going well.

Giant medal!
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