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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!

Monday, August 07, 2017

Race Recap: Sweet Pea 5K

The course went clockwise
The Sweet Pea 5K took place Saturday, August 5, 2017 at 7:25am in Bozeman, Montana. There was also a 10K distance.

Initially, I wanted this to be a sub 8:00 m/m 5k, but after my weird week I threw that goal out the window.  Luckily, my diagnosis didn't affect my running (and don't worry, I made sure the doctors were ok with running). I knew it wasn't going to be a PR day unless something crazy happened.

Cheesin' at the start line
This will be a quick recap. Let me go mile by mile:

Mile 1: We set off and the course was a bit crowded for the first two tenths of a mile. I turned the first corner and almost ran into a little girl who stopped to walk. She was also heaving and practically crying with no parent in sight, so I had a weird moment of "should I help her?" - but honestly that probably would have terrified her more. Anyway, after that we got onto a paved trail and began to spread out. About a tenth of a mile later the paved trail changed to gravel and I already wanted to walk. My foot was sliding around on the rock dirt and I never felt like I got a good grip. We were almost all of the way down the trail when my watch buzzed 8:09. Welp, definitely no PR today.

Mile 2: We finished the trail and came out to a road. It was nice to be on asphalt, but once again I was ready to walk. Looking back, this part was all slightly uphill and maybe that's why I felt so tired (?). Let's be real: I wasn't feeling it. I allowed myself to slow down as we wound through the neighborhood. We came up to a water stop at mile 1.5 and even though I was really thirsty and considered walking through the stop, I knew if I did I wouldn't run the rest of the race. Just after the water stop we turned on the second-to-last straightaway. That got me pumped up. Mile 2: 8:15

Mile 3: We came down Willson and the 10k leader turned from his course onto ours. He was flying. It was kind of cool to see and put some pep in my step. I was also running near a very young girl in a Wonder Woman costume. I tried to concentrate on smiling at volunteers and staying with Wonder Woman. I wanted to walk, but you know, "the faster you run, the faster you're done." It helped that the entire last mile was downhill. We turned onto Main Street and I could see the finish line in the distance. About three tenths to go and it felt like forever. I sped up a little too soon, but whatever. I finished. Mile 3: 7:50 (!), .1: 7:40

Post race coffee
Final Time: 25:15
Overall: 160 / 779 (20%)
Gender: 65 / 482 (13%)
AG:  6 / 37 (16%)

Not bad for a Montana race! (The really fast people ran the 10k.) I'd definitely do this again -- plus, it was $15! Now that I know the course I think it'd be a good one for a PR - even with the dirt and gravel bits. Alex ended up running this almost 2 minutes slower than normal and still got third place in his age group! Even if I ran a PR I would have gotten 4th. Why are 30 year old ladies so fast?!?!

On the plus side, I'm almost back to my Ohio times. My most recent Montana half was very close to my Ohio PR and this 5k was only 45 seconds off. I cannot wait to go back to sea level and kick some butt!!

Weekly Review: A Hospital Stay?!

Waterfall #2 on Sunday (Grotto Falls)

Happy Monday! As always, 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!

July 31–August 6
Monday: 3 mi
Tuesday: 4.4 mi + dog walk
Wednesday: 4.4 mi (3.5 with BSWD)
Thursday: 1.4 mi dog walk
Friday: rest
Saturday: Sweet Pea 5K (recap) + 2.8 mi
Sunday: 6.4 mi + dog walk

Total RUN: 24.3 mi
Total elevation: 906 ft

Tuesday's run & example of the haze. Where are the mountains?!
Last week started off well. It was hot and hazy for my first two runs, but I finished them. Things started to derail on Wednesday. Alex and I went to the Big Sky Wind Drinkers fun run. I was feeling pretty rough, but chalked it up to the warm weather, windy conditions, and the wildfire haze in the distance. I walked a few times during the 3.5 miles, but still ended up with an 8:50 pace, which is pretty unbelievable with hills and walking. In fact, I didn't finish that far behind Alex.

Bite of Bozeman
Afterwards we went to Main Street for the Bite of Bozeman (lots of food trucks) and I didn't have an appetite. Very odd after a hard run. As I walked around my vision was a little blurry but I figured it was the fire haze getting into my contacts. Just when I'd settled on some food, I lost peripheral vision out of my right eye! My right hand went numb and I told Alex I had to leave. My vision came back pretty quickly, but it was weird. He wanted to go to the hospital, but I brushed it off.

Disclaimer: It's probably a bad idea to share medical drama on the internet, but it didn't end up being anything embarrassing and ~40 people regularly read this blog. ;)  

Fast forward 20-30 minutes: I'd finished some cereal and started to look at twitter on my phone. All of the sudden I couldn't read a tweet. I could see it just fine, but the words didn't make sense! I called Alex over and he had me read it out loud. It was gibberish. I tried again and again. No luck. So, we got dressed and went to the hospital. I tried to laugh it off at first, but on the drive there I'd go through moments where I could say everything just fine to not being able to form a single coherent sentence. I knew what I wanted to say, but I couldn't get it out. I wasn't slurring or anything. I just couldn't find the right words.

We got to the hospital and I was back to normal. I described what happened to nurses and doctors and the first theory was a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA), or small stroke. So, they started the stroke "procedure." Over the next 18 hours I had an EKG, MRI, CAT scan, and Echocardiogram. It was weird and a little crazy, but I rolled with it. The techs were amazing. They walked me through everything. As each test came back negative for whatever they were looking for, it became apparent that I had a "complex migraine." It doesn't sound as exciting as a TIA, but I'm a-ok with that! The actual headache part of the migraine began Thursday morning and has stuck around since then (yep, still got it right now).

Anyway, I share all of this because: 1. I could have ignored it, but I'm glad I didn't, 2. At least now I know what all of those procedures feel like (wow, an MRI is loud), and 3. it's the same thing this reporter had a few years ago. I'd forgotten about her story!

Thursday's dog walk
I took Thursday off since I didn't get home until 4pm. We had a nice, long (for Tobias) dog walk around the neighborhood and it felt great to shake out my legs. I decided to take it easy on Friday in preparation for Saturday's 5k (recap). Post-5k we went out for breakfast and then I intended to run 6 miles, but unfortunately, I got a mid-run migraine and had to stop. We went out for lunch and shopping in the afternoon, so it wasn't a completely wasted Saturday.

Palisade Falls
Sunday was a nice, lazy morning followed by two waterfall hikes at nearby Hyalite. Beautiful trails! I went out for a run around 8:00pm and it felt fantastic. Thank goodness, finally a good run!

As I mentioned above, I still have a dull migraine. I'm trying to avoid taking meds, but I think that might be a silly idea. I hope this migraine is just a result of the wildfire haze, but it's not really that bad. It hasn't rained in about a month, so perhaps that's the cause? Whatever it is, I've never had a lasting migraine, so this is new territory. Luckily, it's not debilitating and I'm able to stay positive.

Weird week, for sure.

Have any remedies for migraines? 

Saturday, August 05, 2017

(Late) Race Recap: River of No Return 25k

Beautiful scenery in Challis, ID This is a real photo I TOOK from the race!
This recap is a long time coming. I almost skipped it since I'd waited so long, but once I started writing I realized I remembered more than I anticipated!

The River of No Return 25k took place Saturday, June 17, 2017 at 8:00am in Challis, Idaho. This race happened during Birdcamp Idaho, so when the camp organizer asked if we wanted to run I said yes. I agreed back in March, when I assumed I'd be a proficient Montana trail runner by June. (haha)

Pre Race
Packet pickup was the night before and included a chat from the race director, some course instructions, and a big info session for the [crazy] people running the 108k. Birdcampers went as a group, grabbed our bibs and swag, then went back to camp to prepare.

Packet pickup team photo
Oh man, I almost forgot: the night before the race we went to bed around 10:00 and at 11:00 – just as I was finally falling asleep – one of the campers screamed. Like a "there's a killer on the loose and he's standing next to my bed" scream. Turns out she does this a lot at home. Everything turned out ok: she was reassured nothing was wrong, then she passed back out (the next day she said she barely remembered it). Oh man, it was terrifying for the rest of us! My heart did not stop racing for at least an hour. Whew!

Birdcamp racers (minus the 108k-ers)
Anyway! We got to the start line early, went to the bathroom a million times, I changed my outfit (didn't know how my singlet would work with my new-ish hydration pack), and finally it was time to go. I cannot remember the last time I was so nervous before a race.

I was really nervous in this photo. Hiding it really well. Ha!
Did I mention this was my longest run ever? Like, including training (which was mostly non-existent because I couldn't find a good training plan for a hilly 25k).

When we signed up for the race I thought I could do it in under 3 hours, but quickly realized that would only be possible on a flat trail. Alex and I did a crazy steep hike a few weeks before and mile times were in the 20s, so I adjusted my goal to under 4 hours. My plan: hike up, roll down. It became my mantra.

The race started on the road, then merged onto a gravel trail leading to the park where you began the major ascent. This trail was flatter than I expected and soon I was passing Oiselle teammates and feeling really strong. My plan was to take this section easy, but keep my pace quick-ish to bank time for the climb. According to the elevation chart, the main climb would begin at 3 or 3.5. I passed mile 3 and man, I felt great and in control. In fact, I felt really good until halfway through mile 4.
Miles 1-4: 10:06, 9:41, 9:49, 14:02

Feeling good
I ate a gel during my second or third walk break. I was already too hungry: something I'd been having a problem with on trail runs at this point in my training. Nothing filled me up and I walked a lot. Luckily, everyone did. But somewhere around mile 5 or 6 (it's all blurry) I started to get passed by all those Oiselle teammates I'd pass. Just to be clear: a lot of these ladies are experienced runners and I was fully prepared to finish after them, but I was kind of bummed my mile 1-3 high didn't last longer. I quickly realized I'm not good at power hiking up an insane hill. They were tired, but I was struggling. Each one said something encouraging as they passed. I appreciated it!

Miles 5 thru 7 were really difficult. At one point I noticed my hands swelling. I kept drinking water, but I needed salt. Luckily, I'd packed pretzels at the last minute, but they didn't kick in for a while. I ambled up the hill. It was getting really hot in the full sun and I was exhausted. I just needed to make it to the aid station and then it was all downhill! I was getting passed a lot, but I was more worried about survival than my overall place. It was hot, it was hard. I was dead. BUT I knew I could do it. I knew I'd be fine once I hit the aid station.

This was during one of the hardest parts of the climb. I had to STOP, so I took a photo. 
Mile 8 lead to the aid station and it was relatively flat. It was so nice to run again! It was also an out-and-back so I began to see race leaders and Oiselle teammates. I made it to the aid station and a volunteer took my pack and filled it with Tailwind. I grabbed M&Ms, Lays, and more pretzels. I scarfed a few snacks then stored the rest for later (advice: bring a ziploc bag. It was a lifesaver!). I chilled at the aid station for about 5 minutes, regaining my strength. Obviously, I wasn't worried about time!
Miles 5-9: 21:34, 19:54, 28:19 (clearly dying), 15:04, 16:54 (aid station)

Perfect course elevation: finish on a downhill
I felt like a new person after the aid station. The tough stuff was behind me! I can do downhills! My food had finally caught up with me and the Tailwind was giving me power. I was strong again. I passed some people, I made up some time. I also tripped a lot because this part of the course was basically just loose rock on a cliff, but I didn't die, so I kept running. I wasn't flying, but it still felt great. (I truly believe walking far is harder than running far.) Those last miles felt a little lonely because everyone was so spread out, but I was having a blast.
Miles 10-12: 11:57, 11:39, 13:56 (unstable ground)

Back on asphalt, loving life
Finally, we got back to the main road that lead into town. It was nice to be back on asphalt. Deep down, I think I'm still more comfortable road running. I kicked up my pace and ended up passing a few people in the last two miles. And when I came down Main Street and saw non-racing Oiselle teammates cheering up ahead, I picked up my pace a little more to take the final turn into the finish.
Final miles: 9:30, 8:36, 8:30

Best race photo of my life
Thoughts and Stats
Unlike any road half marathon I've run, there wasn't a point of "why do I do this?" or "I'm dying." Even when I actually was almost dying (dramatic, much?) on that full-sun climb from hell, I'd turn around and look down at the trail. I looked at where I'd come from and took a few pictures of the beautiful view, then straightened up and got back to work. THAT was a cool new feeling. "Once I make it through this part, the rest is easy." (And fun.)

Final Time: 3:22:03
Overall: 64 / 111
Gender: 43 / 75

I had two beers
I'd do this race again in a heartbeat. I know that climb is going to suck. Even now, I'm probably remembering it wrong because I'm telling myself it'll be easier next time. I'll be a little faster next year and maybe more prepared (especially my nutrition), but honestly, it'll probably still suck a little bit and it will most definitely be hard.
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