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Saturday, January 11, 2020


My Instagram top nine for 2019
Just like 201520162017, and 2018 I'm recapping my year of running. I don't think Courtney does her linkup anymore, but I'll steal her questions.

2019 Stats

  • Total running miles: 1,123 miles
  • Elevation: 38,330 ft
  • Races: 8 (?) I didn't really keep track
  • Injury: 0 -- my knee bugs me periodically, but overall I felt a lot better in 2019. 

Linkup Questions

Best race experience: Easy! Chicago Marathon. First marathon, ran 90% with my BRF Wendie, and we had so much Oiselle team support along the course. Chicago is an amazing city and I'm pretty sad I didn't get in for 2020. I probably should have recapped the race...

One of the only official photos with both of us. Man, we were SO HAPPY!  
Best run: One of my favorite solo runs was during the Wulman's CDT 14k. (CDT stands for Continental Divide Trail, by the way.) The race changes direction every other year, so this was my first time going South to North and it was beautiful. The course was pretty runable and I felt like I was flying at times.  It was a great day, overall.

Wulman's: coming into the finish.

Best new piece of running gear: I really like my Salomon hydration vest with squishy bottles. I ended up using a bottle in the side pocket of my shorts during the marathon. I also love my Kara funnel neck, but I don't run in it.

Best running advice you’ve received this year: I have no idea. 2019 was mostly about training for and completing my first marathon. I wanted to get to the start line injury free and I wanted to have a fun race (so that I'd want to do it again someday). I didn't seek out much advice and instead tried to have FUN. Occasionally, I found myself dreading workouts and started taking it one day at a time and not looking ahead on my plan. That helped a ton.

Most inspirational runner: I attended Big Birdcamp in August (it's a Oiselle thing) and got to see Lauren Fleshman and Kara Goucher give a few talks. One of Kara's was a deep dive into her most challenging races and how she overcame difficult times. Lauren consistently keeps it real on on her podcast with her husband Jesse. I love their approach to Work, Play, and Love.

With Kara on the last day of camp. // Dancing with Lauren. 
Favorite picture from a run or race this year: I love this photo. I was waving to Alex and his sister Erin and asking for a new water bottle. There's a sillier story to the photo, but I'll tell you in person sometime...

About 13 miles in. Still loving life.

Race experience you would repeat in a heartbeat: Chicago, obviously. But since I can't do that this year, I'll say Run to the Pub. I'm not sure I'll be able to keep up with Megan this year, but I'd like to knock off at least 1 minute!

If you could sum up your year in a couple of words what would they be? An absolute blast.

Reviewing 2019 Goals

  • 5K PRAll miles under 7:55. NOPE. 2019 was not a speedy year.
  • Half PR. NOPE. I only ran one and my priorities were elsewhere.   
  • Finally run a full. YEP! 4:39 in case you're wondering. Looking back, I think I could've gone a little bit faster, but I hit a wall and enjoyed a few shots of beer. ;)   
  • Keep strength training. YEP. I'm still in TRIBE. 
  • Avoid injury. YEP. Some minor knee pain, but I can usually get it to go away.
  • Do hard things. KIND OF. I ran a marathon and did long midweek runs, but I did not seek out hills. I used Chicago's flat profile as an excuse to train on the flattest land possible. I also avoided trails because I was afraid I'd hurt myself. 

Set 2020 Goals

  • 10K PR. I have one chance at Run to the Pub in two months. Can I do it?? 
  • Half PR. I don't know if I really want this, but I'd love to hit the PR gong in Utah.   
  • Keep strength training. I'm just gonna keep this on here because I may quit TRIBE after next season and I need a replacement! 
  • Keep my knee in check. 
  • Run more trails. I've signed up for 3 trail races so far –including a train half marathon in Idaho– and I'm eyeing a 30k in the fall. 
  • Speed up. Overall, I'm slower compared to this same time last year, which has me a bit scared for RTTP. I'm also a little heavier. Not a big deal, but holiday eating and drinking really caught up with me this year and it's affected my motivation. Whoops! 

2019 was a great year for training and pushing my weekly distance. I loved preparing for a full marathon, but I don't think I'm going to sign up for one this year unless it feels right. I will miss Chicago, but I don't think a charity entry is for me (I'm a terrible fundraiser). Instead, I'd like to concentrate on speed and trails. I'm not sure these two things usually go together, but I'm hoping more challenging routes will encourage me to push myself in flat races. Maybe I need a coach.... I definitely need some motivation! [She types as she avoids her Saturday "long run" of 7 miles.]   

How was your 2019? Does anyone even read this blog anymore? ;) 

Friday, March 22, 2019

From the drafts folder.... Race Recap: Run to the Pub 2019

Oiselle Montana team members afterwards

[This recap has been sitting in my drafts for MONTHS, so I think it's time to publish!] Run to the
Pub took place on March 16, 2019 in Bozeman, Montana. There were two distances: 10k and half marathon. I ran the 10k.

Pre Race
The weather on Saturday was chilly (24-31ยบ), but the sun was out which made it much more pleasant than last year. We rode the shuttle bus, arrived at the start, and immediately got in line for the bathroom. The line was crazy long and kind of unorganized, but we made it.

I had one goal: finish faster than last year. I got stuck in "traffic," so I knew I could improve miles 1 and 2. My 10k PR is from sea level, so I didn't think I could beat that.

The Race
Last year I got stuck behind walkers, so my friend Megan and I stood closer to the start line. This is a very popular race and for some reason there aren't corrals (or flags denoting pace), so it's kind of a cluster. We probably should have lined up even closer to the front. There were only a few walkers, but they were smack dab in the middle of the road. As always, I support racers of all speeds, but it can become such a mess when slower folks cause fast runners to dodge and weave. We had a few near collisions. (/rant over)

Even though Megan and I lined up together, I didn't expect to run with her. I knew I couldn't talk if I wanted to run relatively fast and for the most part we kept the chatting to a minimum. By the time we turned the corner onto Goldenstein we were finished dodging most of the walking/slower traffic.
Mile 1: 8:23 (last year: 10:12)

Around mile 1.5 we turned into a neighborhood to do a little horseshoe-shaped out and back. I knew this part was going to suck. First off, the street doesn't get much sun and it was fully covered in snow and slush. Second, we saw someone slip on ice when they turned. And third, even though it seems flat, it's a gradual hill. I'm glad I wore my trail shoes for this mile of slippery packed snow.
Mile 2: 8:34 (last year: 9:11)

We finished the neighborhood horseshoe (at this point I was slightly ahead of Megan, probably because she was wearing road shoes) and I tried to prepare for THE HILL. It's only 60+ feet over 3 tenths of a mile, but it's tough for me. My pace dropped a ton and I moaned to Megan. BUT I didn't stop because 1. I didn't stop last year and 2. there are two hills in my next 10k. It totally sucked, but I got through it.
Mile 3: 8:55 (last year: 9:02)

We turned onto Sourdough and began the downhill. There are a few baby hills, but overall it is a large net downhill. At this point, the half marathoners that started 45 minutes earlier were catching up and I found myself trying to match their pace, then getting tired. Besides that, I felt mostly good.
Mile 4: 8:16 (last year: 8:38)

Mile 5 and 6 were tough because I wanted to be done (obviously) and to stay with Megan, but also didn't want to hold her back. I have no idea what was going on in her race because she looked like she was out for an easy run. We were both breathing hard, but occasionally I'd say "ughhh" or "go ahead" and she'd tell me she wasn't leaving and that I could do it. She had lots of positive things to say. Wish I remembered them all! ;)
Mile 5: 8:25 (last year: 8:38)

By the time we got into mile 6 I was toast. I was paces behind Megan. I once again said something like, "ok bye" and she said nice things like, "you can do this" etc... but she caught my drift and didn't hold back any more. I stayed close to her for the rest of the race, but I couldn't gain those three or four steps to keep us even. At this point I was just trying to keep running. If she wasn't there I might have walked(?!). Ok, probably not.

Another motivator: I did not want to get passed by my Oiselle teammates running the half marathon. Last year three teammates passed me at various spots along the course and it kind of sucked. So far, no passing.

Anyway, we passed Peet's Hill, which is a park close to downtown, so I knew it was time to kick it up. I got a second (or third?) wind, which helped power me to the finish. My pace went down into the 7s, though I slowed into the chute. Some people passed me, but I only finished 7 seconds behind Megan.
Mile 6: 8:11 (last year: 8:29)

Cool event video

Post Race
Afterwards I met up with Oiselle teammates and other Bozeman friends. We had our free beers, tasty mimosas, and good food while we waited for the prize drawing (a trip to Ireland). Sadly, none of us won the trip. Maybe next year...

Final Stats and Thoughts 
Time: 50:55
Pace: 8:13 race site / 8:27 GPS (short course)
Overall: 324 / 2540 (12.7%)
Gender: 103 / 1684 (6%)
Age Group: 41 / 542 (7.5%)

I'm pleased I ran faster than last year (53:40), but a little bummed about the neighborhood + hill mile being the same pace. We didn't have snow/slush last year, so I suppose it was a great effort overall. I felt really tired in mile 6, but recovered immediately. I hope this translates into a faster Tenacious Ten performance.

It was a "PR" if you look at overall time, but I won't count it because the course was short. Pace-wise, Tenacious Ten is still my fastest. But, hey, at least this was a Bozeman PR! Running mid to low 8s in Bozeman is something to be proud of!

It was a fun day. (Me and Megan)

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

2018 Year of Running + 2019 Goals

My Instagram top nine
Just like 20152016, and 2017 I'm joining Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC for the annual Year of Running linkup. But first, some stats and notes:

2018 Stats

  • Total running miles: 1,031 miles 
  • Elevation: 58,719 ft
  • Races: 12
  • Injury: 1 -- It got better in the spring, but flared up on the trails in June. I know what to do to avoid it, but I'm chronically lazy about doing my stretches. At the moment my knee is mostly fine. Minor pain and an all clear from the PT. 

Linkup Questions

Best race experience: I didn't have a great second half of the year for racing: two half marathons were ruined by stomach issues and I felt underprepared for speed in three 5ks. But the beginning of the year was pretty good. On the road, I enjoyed Cap City because I felt bad going in, but by mile 5 everything clicked and I had a big PR. On the trail, I enjoyed the Rut 11k.

Best run: All of my best runs have been with my friend Wendie, including my first 20 miler! Our personal best (/fastest) was a kick ass 14 miler a month ago. My best solo run is harder to pin down. Maybe doing 3 M laps in June and feeling really strong. M laps mean "running" (walking) up the side of a nearby mountain and coming down.

Best new piece of running gear: I don't think I bought any new gear– just more clothes. My current favorite running tights are Bird Hug by Oiselle. My favorite top is the Flyout tee in a size up for a looser fit. (By the way, if you've never tried Oiselle, here's a code for $20 off $50.)

Best running advice you’ve received this year: Lauren Fleshman gave a talk at the Tenacious Ten about envisioning your race finish and making a race plan to achieve it. I wanted to be "satisfied and smiling" and because I was more focused on enjoying myself, I didn't look at my watch and ended up running paces I never imagined. Also –I don't usually bookmark quotes on Instagram because I'm kind of heartless– this quote stood out and may be the way I approach 2019. Adapted from here:
"Be a hill seeker. Most of us try to avoid hills... Life happens on the hills. They're opportunities to prove to yourself that you're stronger than you ever imagined."
Most inspirational runner: I continue to enjoy following "normal" runners on Instagram. The people who fit in runs however they can in a busy, well-rounded life.

Favorite picture from a run or race this year: I really only had 2 competitive races this year and some decent official race photos, but since my focus was on FUN, I like these:

Tenacious Ten with Megan; Bozeman Half with Wendie

Race experience you would repeat in a heartbeat: I don't have a go-to Montana race yet... maybe Run to the Pub if I can stay out of the walking traffic. I'm looking forward to trying a new half in Utah this year.

If you could sum up your year in a couple of words what would they be? Fun. Envy. Stupid knee. But mostly, FUN.

Review 2018 Goals

  • 5K PR. All miles under 7:55. NOPE. I didn't feel 100% at the 5ks I ran this year 
  • Half PR. All miles under 8:59. YEP. 1:53. I basically crushed it. Yay "altitude training."
  • 10k PR. 8:30 pace or better. YEP. 51:57. My friend Megan helped! 
  • Keep up strength training. YEP. I go to TRIBE 2x a week, but could still do better. 
  • Avoid injury! KIND OF? I didn't get a new injury and I can run without much knee pain. 
  • Keep running with other people. YEP. All of my high mileage runs were with Wendie!

2019 Goals

  • 5K PR. All miles under 7:55. Let's try this again, shall we? 
  • Half PR. Why not? 
  • Finally run a full. I got into Chicago, so I'll put this on the list so I can cross it off. 
  • Keep strength training. Perhaps I'll add another class. We'll see. 
  • Avoid injury. Do PT stretches!!! No excuses! It keeps the knee pain away. 
  • Do hard things. I avoid hills. I avoid long midweek runs. And I avoid running with people faster than me. I avoid all of these things even though I feel happy and accomplished when the runs are over. I need to embrace the suck and I will get stronger! 

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Books of 2018

79 Books 

Won on Goodreads: 15
Nonfiction: 18
Re-reads: 12

I didn't read as many books this year, mainly because I slacked off during the summer. To recharge, I re-read a few of my favorites including Harry Potter, Rainbow Rowell, Born to Run, and The Little Stranger. I didn't have a particular goal and just read whatever, whenever. My biggest departures were books about Van Gogh and the Star Wars novelizations. (I recommend Leia and Phasma. The Aftermath trilogy was not my jam.) All in all, a good year. Looking to diversify a bit more in 2019.

What I read

Won on Goodreads

Nonfiction and memoirs


Did we read any of the same books? Any recommendations? 
And as always, if you're on Goodreads, let's be friends.

Past years: 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

(Happy) Recap: The Rut 11k

The Rut 11k took place on Sunday, September 2 at 8:00am in Big Sky, MT. There are four races in the entire Rut series: VK, 11k, 28k, and 50k.

The Rut takes over Big Sky Resort on Labor Day weekend. Last year we handed out medals for the 28k and knew we wanted to run in 2018. A few of The Rut races sell out almost immediately, so we went to a sign up party back in winter to register for the 11k. The longer distances are pretty extreme, running over scree at 11,000+ft, so the 11k sounded fine to me!

Pre Race
Alex volunteered on Saturday. I would have liked to but we had a friend visiting, so I showed her around Big Sky. Later, we checked into our hotel (as close to the start/finish as we could get!), our friend headed to Yellowstone, and Alex and I settled in for the night.

We woke up a little after 6, got ready, and had a ton of time to kill before the race. About 10 minutes before line up we ambled down to the start and I immediately saw some Bozeman friends.

Bozeman runner friends!

Goals, etc.
I didn't have big goals for this race because my knee had been bothering me since the Missoula Half and Cross Cut. I had to wait almost a month for a PT appointment, but she taped me up and gave me some instructions (smaller steps, quicker cadence). My "big goals" were:

A. Don't finish last
B. Don't hurt your knee
C. Scout the course for next time
D. Finish sub 1:47*
(*because that's how long it took my friends to finish a few years ago and it seemed like a good goal.)

Crappy photo of the start

The Race
I thought I'd run with the Bozeman ladies, but they had their own goals, so I was on my own. We lined up in Wave 2 and we were off. Three tenths into the race–just as I was starting to feel tired on an uphill–we switched from double- to single-track and there was a traffic jam. Alex said this kind of happened in Wave 1, but he didn't have to walk much. Honestly, I was kind of thankful. The walking was easy–we weren't climbing a big hill–and it allowed me to warm up. It was pretty annoying to be stuck behind so many people, but I wasn't going for speed, so I just tucked in. Looking back, I'd probably start at the front of Wave 2 and not the back. 

After about three minutes of walking we started trotting and wound our way through some woods, then emerged on a ski hill. It was a little rocky and the two times I looked around to enjoy the scenery I tripped, but if I kept my eyes on my feet I was ok. It was technically technical, but nothing like the trails the 28k and 50k racers would see. 

Going into this race, I knew there was one BIG climb and then a steep downhill. The big climb started just after mile 1 and lasted until mile 5. It was *only* 1,500ft, so just a teeny bit more than the second climb in Cross Cut, but knowing this race was 3 miles shorter with a single tough climb made all the difference. Easy! I can do that.

This is my kind of course. ONE giant climb. That's it. 

We began the climb in a grassy field and I remember turning a corner and seeing the switchbacks ahead. It was a bit daunting to see how far we had to climb, but I stuck with the folks around me.

At mile 3 I ate my gel very slowly. I was still cautious after my terrible gel-induced cramps at Missoula, but this one seemed to go down ok. I took advantage of every flat section and downhill and passed a few people. I was tired and it was hard, but it wasn't the end of the world.

Just before mile 4 we took a sharp switchback and the real climb began. Hoo boy. Not only was this section of trail way rockier and filled with loose dirt, but it was super steep. For less than a half mile we climbed grades betweens 15 and 30%. Woof. 

I was thankful for Cross Cut. I was thankful I tried to climb the steep M trail a week before (and kind of failed, but at least I knew I'd make it). And I was thankful for the guy directly in front of me. He looked super fit (always a boost to be around someone like that–I think he ran the 28k the day before) and had a tattoo on his ankle that I could focus on. There was a guy behind me who'd run this before and kept making funny comments. It was nice to know the people around me were struggling, but that we were all in a good mood.

I totally would have stopped if I was hiking the trail alone or if I'd found myself alone on the course. I think that's important for me to remember: I need to be around people when the going gets tough. If I'm on a trail run with friends I always feel stronger. And in the races I've hated it's usually because I've gone in with a bad attitude, I'm getting passed left and right, and not staying with a group. Sometimes I need to tuck in and follow until I get my strength back.

I know proofs are lame, but people hate this photo company... (there's a whole story)
That super steep bit ended and we were back to 3-15% inclines, which felt "easy." This part of the course included a banked mountain bike trail where it was hard to cut corners because of the slope on the edge. We hit a few false summits, but the people around me kept it light.

I eventually caught up to a Oiselle teammate, which I was not expecting. Honestly, that put a little pep in my step. She wasn't having a stellar day and didn't seem as excited to see me (you know, her injured slowpoke teammate lol), but we chatted until we came to the aid station at the top of the hill.

The aid station sat on a wide access road and marked the beginning of the downhill. For a lovely three tenths of a mile we ran on a wide gravel road. I felt so fast! The course abruptly turned back into the woods and I was faced with an insane downhill. Strava says -38% grade. It looked like a slide. I was thankful to be near my Oiselle teammate because she'd run the race before and slid down on her butt. I followed, happy that I hadn't tried to run it and mess up my leg.

Speaking of my leg: NO PAIN! I'd taped it, but I'd also concentrated on upping my cadence. The biggest test of my knee was the downhill. My PT said to take short, quick, steps to the sides. It worked! I ran the downhills faster than normal. My footing was more confident than Cross Cut's steep descent. I have been stronger on casual trail runs this year vs. last (less trips and falls) and it felt so good to finally feel some progress!

I knew the course was short, so I flew down to the finish (and passed 20+ people according to the split data). I stayed with a pod of other runners, passing some on the short uphills. My Oiselle teammate took off, but I didn't finish far behind. When we came to the final wide gravel trail I sped up, but didn't want to bite it in front of the spectators so I kept myself in check.


Post Race
I crossed the line and wandered around for a while trying to find Alex. I saw one of my Bozeman friends finish and met up with Oiselle teammates. Two of them won the 60+ age group, so we stuck around to watch the awards while drinking free coffee and chocolate milk.

Some Oiselle MT teammates

Leanne and me

Stats and Thoughts
I was so happy when I crossed the finish line and had tons of energy to spare, so I know I could go faster. It was night and day from my bad attitude at Cross Cut. I loved this race! The climb was hard, but the downhill was rewarding.

Time: 1:34:46
Overall: 242 / 498
Gender: 143 / 342
Age Group: 62 / 123

I can't wait to try this again with more training and less knee pain in the lead up. I'd like to say I'd run the 28k, but it's a very exposed course at high altitude, which is not my scenic jam. Additionally (and maybe most importantly) it took a similarly paced Oiselle teammate 7:30 to finish and I don't want to spend that much time on a race that isn't a 50k.

Sunday Fun
Directly after the race Alex and I returned to the hotel and took advantage of the outdoor heated pool and hot tub. It was amazing. Post shower and check out, we headed back to the finish line to watch our friend finish the 50k, then drove home. It was such a lovely Sunday.

I'm jealous of myself and I was there.
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