Race Recap: Fox Cities Half Marathon 2014

I don’t think this is the official name for this half marathon but I never really know what to call it. I think it’s actually like the Thedacare Half Marathon sponsored by blah, blah, blah… I don’t know but in my head, it’s always the Fox Cities Half Marathon!  In year’s past, this has always been a perfect weather weekend and one of the best weekends of the year for me but for some reason, this year, the weather was complete crap and I just was not that excited to run for once.

We headed to Appleton on Saturday afternoon to go to the expo and get my bib but I failed to notice that last year, when I did not do the race, they switched the race expo location… oops.  So we drove out to the Fox Valley Technical College campus only to realize it was actually at the UW-Fox Valley campus.  So we drove across town and then got where we needed to go.

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I got my bib picked up and spent way too much money on some new medal holders before we called it quits at the expo.

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Awesome!

We went for dinner at GingerRootz which is where we went two years ago when we did this race.  I really like this place and they have such good food!

SUSHI!

SUSHI!

I had sushi and wine plus the most delicious mochi ice cream balls for dessert!

SUGAR!

SUGAR!

I had a really hard time falling asleep on Saturday night because I was kind of dreading running in the morning… I didn’t think things were going to turn out too well and I also was not looking forward to the rain.  I finally fell asleep and then my alarm went off way too early and it was time to get ready to run 13.1.

Totally not ready for this

Totally not ready for this

I wanted to get to the start line early to have time to run one extra mile (per my Dopey plan) and also have time to find my friend running with My Team Triumph but the traffic for this race was HORRIBLE this year… I never remember having any traffic problems but this year was a mess from the get-g0.  We finally got parked and it was already after 6:30 which gave me just enough time to run my .9 miles and wait in the long porto-potty line.  Yikes!

Photo Sep 21, 7 00 20 AM

Oh, just a small rain cloud, you see…

Right at 7am the gun went off and we were off.  But not too quickly because Mile 1 was SO CROWDED!  I probably also started back a little too far in my corral but I don’t remember ever having such a problem running this first mile.  I don’t know why it was such a hot mess this year but it felt so packed!

Mile 2 I was still feeling zero interest in running fast and was having a hard time getting around people.  We had like a four lane road but still felt totally packed in and it was feeling hot because of all the body heat in such a small area.  I took a clif block at mile 2 and kept moving along.

Right before Mile 3 (I think?) the marathoners went straight when the half turned right and finally it started to feel like you had room to breathe again.  It was also around this time I saw a man with a Wicked umbrella!  I was super jealous of this and want one!

Mile 4 I was still not liking running very much and was wondering why I was even here today.  The rain was never super bad throughout my run but it would do this cold misty thing every once and awhile and it was just obnoxious.  I also started looking for my spectating crew in the spots they normally were but didn’t see them so I started to worry maybe my chip was not working and they thought I was having a horrible race but it turned out the traffic was just not working for them.

Mile 5 I took a Gu and that’s when things kind of started to come around in my head a little bit.  I was still feeling good about running (i.e. nothing hurt, just crappy in my head) but my paces were not horrible and I felt like I would at least finish today.

Mile 6 I finally saw the gang and that was nice but I didn’t take time to stop because I knew if I did, I would never start again…

Runners, they are so basic.

Runners, they are so basic.

Mile 7 I took another Clif shot block and drank some water and tried to just zone out.  I also was really wishing I had my music with me at this point.

Mile 8 I almost yelled at a lady on the side-lines who keps saying “You’re almost there!” Um, NO.  Not even almost.  The last FIVE miles are usually the hardest miles of any half marathon.  And five miles does not constitute “almost” to me, nope, not at all.

Mile 9 I almost got taken down by a lady darting for water right in front of me.  Come on people, check behind you before you dart backwards and sideways and all around!  I also took a Gu at this point and got it all over my hand but luckily there was a sprinkler set up so I got my hand wet and then wiped it off.  Why is all the Gu stuff so sticky!

Mile 10 I started to gain on the 2:00 pace “group” aka about three people by that point and thought about hanging with them but then I was actually feeling like their pace was not fast enough for what groove I was in.  It was at this point I started to realize that maybe, just maybe I was going to finish under two hours and freaked out a little bit.  It’s one thing to be with the pace team at mile three when anything can still happen but at mile ten, I felt like chances were much better I could make it.

Mile 11 I saw the cheer group again but my pup was so confused.  I don’t think his distance vision is very good anymore so I don’t think he could see me :(  Poor guy!  He still loves coming along with the family to watch races though!

Let's pretend this was mile 11 but I don't know if that's true...

Let’s pretend this was mile 11 but I don’t know if that’s true…

Mile 12 things started to feel really challenging!  And yet I knew I was almost there and had plenty of time to finish sub-2 and then this dude came up behind me and started SINGING OUT LOUD!  NO!  He had the most horrible voice as well, totally out of tune and off key.  No one wants to hear that!  And then he proceeded to start a serious of disgusting sounding belches.  Eww, get away.  I thought about running ahead of him but my legs were not having it so I let him get ahead of me because I knew I still had 13 ish minutes for this mile.

Mile 13 I turned that last corner in the park where I knew the finish line was close and I just kept trying to keep going!  It was really hard and I had zero gas left in the tank to sprint to the finish so I just tried to keep moving forward!  It was so hard though!

Mile 13.1 FINISH LINE!!!!  And as I am booking it to the finish and cross the line, someone stops completely right in front of me and almost takes me out again.  I think I might have hit her with my cheering arm, actually.  That was two close calls in 13 miles!? What the heck, people?

Don't worry about checking behind you before STOPPING at a race, you know...

Don’t worry about checking behind you before STOPPING at a race, you know…

After I crossed the finish line, I realized my spectators had MISSED IT!  NO!!!  I finished under two-hours and no one was there!  I later found out they got stuck waiting for a stupid drawbridge for 15 minutes – WHAT?!  I also didn’t run with my phone and realized I might never find them again in the crowd since I missed them at the finish but about 10 or so minutes later, I saw my sister and pup walking toward me.

He's not impressed.

He’s not impressed.

I still cannot believe I finished under two hours! 1:57:29 to be precise! I did have the realization that fast running is not as much fun though, because you have to try too hard – ha!!  But all in all, I am glad to have this goal completed and now I can just proceed to run halfs any old speed and just enjoy them :)

The deets.

The deets.

It still feels a little surreal.  I’ve been shooting for this goal for a few years and really didn’t think it was going to happen today until about mile 10.  Now I don’t even know if I bother running fast or just go back to running as slow as I please since I am not PRing anything during the Dopey ;)

The medals were SO much better this year.  The finisher shirts too!

The medals were SO much better this year. The finisher shirts too!

A few years of disappointment but FINALLY! SUB-2!

Race Recap: Al’s Run for Kids 8k

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Honestly, I am a little tired of writing race recaps… I apparently decided 2014 was the year to run ALL THE RACES EVER and while that has been fine and fun, I don’t really know what else to say for a race recap.  So here is the recap of this race in bullet form, because that is easier for me to handle!

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Random things about this race:

  • This is apparently The Race to do in Milwaukee, even if you have never run before.  I assume it’s because it’s for a really good cause (the Children’s Hospital) and employers really push joining a team to raise more money.  That is why I ended up doing this, I joined a team through my work.
  • This race is CROWDED!  This was the first Milwaukee-area race I have done where the crowd was a little out of control.  I felt like I was dodging and weaving like I do for a Disney race…  I heard 16,000 people total between the run and the walk and I am pretty sure there were people running that were not registered as “runner” to get actual results.
ALL THE PEOPLES

ALL THE PEOPLES

  • I ran 4ish miles before the race and 1ish mile after to get a little longer run in than 5 miles.  This race was also at 10:30 am which is super late for me to be running so I had plenty of time to kill before it!
  • The course was really nice and the roads were actually closed throughout Downtown Milwaukee.  I can imagine it was not so fun to drive downtown that day but it was fun to be able to run the streets!

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  • I ran the first three miles with a co-worker and then the last two by myself and I somehow ended up with a complete progression run for these five miles.  I liked feeling fresh and ready to sprint at the end of this race and that makes me realize I need to start more races “slower” so I can experience this more often!
    I guess I was flying at the end ;)  I also think that .04 might be not quite 100% accurate.

    I guess I was flying at the end ;)

     

  • I don’t know if I will do this race in the future.  I like doing races where I can just run and not spend all my brain power weaving around strollers and dogs… Unless I am in Disney, then I am good with weaving all day :)
  • Five miles races are my favorite distance.
  • My official total finish time was 44:15 which I think is really good considering the number of miles already on my legs that day!  I still don’t understand why I can run faster at races but feel like death doing 11 minute miles on a training run… Running, I will never quite understand you.

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FCM Week 13/Dopey Week 3

Only one more week after this one for Fox Cities training and then it’s on to just focusing on Dopey.  I am not very good at only signing up for races when they fit exactly in my training plan so these last couple weeks have feel kinda spazzy.

Monday: Nothing.

Tuesday: 3 mile run that felt like death and 20ish minutes of the weights DVD that I hate so much.  I think I might just have to throw it away because it annoys me so much.  I don’t understand how you can be SO SMUG and self-righteous in a DVD when you are doing the “modified moves” but somehow it can be done.

Wednesday: Another not great run. 5 miles total.  It was so dark and started raining when I was 2 miles away… I was creeped out by the dark and then annoyed by the rain so it was just a crabby, crappy run all around.  And on the note of me being annoyed this week, there is a biker that insists of riding on the sidewalk WITH NO LIGHTS ON HIS STUPID BIKE! So he almost runs into me every freaking day.  I want to yell at him so bad because seriously, you do not belong on the sidewalk for 1 and for 2, you should not be riding your bike in the dark with NO LIGHTS!  This does not seem like a difficult concept to catch on to… I think I might start carrying a flashlight and shining it at him so he gets out of my way.

Thursday: A COLD morning 3 mile run.  Still felt like I was crawling but at least averaged 9:57 which felt like speedwork from my normal weekday paces :)  Then I did a 20 minute weight circuit in the basement.

Friday: rest day

Saturday: 5.7 extraneous miles of running as well as the Al’s Run for the Kids 8k (recap to follow at some point).  Short story is I tried to take it easy but of course that never happens so I probably will implode this Saturday at my half ;)

Sunday: Spent 90 minutes trying to get my bike trainer set up and this bluetooth pedal thing hooked up… only to be disrupted by my lack of a pedal wrench. They don’t even talk about it in the video and make it sound like NO BIG THING to just take your pedal off but really, that’s a total lie.  So now I just pedal for time I guess?  Until I find a way to get the pedal off.  Doing this process resulted in two bloody fingers and zero interest to actually use it but I rallied later in the day to ride and read inside for an hour or so.  I forgot to look at the time though so who knows how long I made it.  If I can’t log it, did it really happen!?!?!

Total running mileage: 21.7ish miles

And only one more week until Fox Cities?!?!  AHHHHH!  I am excited but a little nervous too.  I just love this race though :)

I also get back to swimming this week as lessons start tonight!  I am also hoping to swim with the master’s group on Thursday’s for practice (something that the lessons place recommends for practice).  I am excited to permanently reek like chlorine again!

Ironman: Volunteer/Spectator Edition.

I honestly don’t know how the actual racers go back to normal after Ironman weekend because I am all out of sorts because it’s over already and all I did was volunteer and spectate!  Anyways, on Sunday, I headed over to Madison to volunteer for Ironman at one of the bike aide stations.  I really like volunteering with running races so I thought it would be a good way to see what Ironman is like without actually having to do anything :)  19 or so members of our tri club were doing Ironman so I also thought it would be fun to watch them race (even though I don’t know that many of them, but still interesting to recognize people or their tri-wear out of the mass of racers).

I picked a later afternoon shift thinking it would be better to not leave my house early but I failed to realize that that also meant I missed all the elite athletes on the bike portion and the finish portion.  Spectator fail on my part.  Next year I will have to go back and help earlier so I can see them.  I got to Cross Plains around 11:45 and found the station and got all dressed up in Hawaiian gear as that was the theme for that aid station – lol!  I was given a quick lesson and then it was out to the front lines!

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I failed to realize how intense bike aid stations are compared to running stations though… instead of runners going like 7-8 miles per hour, they are now doing like 10-20 miles per hour!  It took me a little while to try to get the hang of handing a water bottle to a moving target and I still never quite got that perfected in the 3.5 hours I was out there. I managed to not cause any crashes though so that’s good!  Most of the time I would miss someone when they would either speed up or slow down as they were getting to me or when I would not realize someone was going to try to grab something from me!  It was a very complicated process.  I also got incredibly, incredibly sick of yelling “water” “water” “water” all afternoon :)  Also what do you say to cheer people on??? I always struggle with this.  “Good luck” sounds condescending, they are most certainly not almost there… WHAT TO SAY!?

Quiet moment.

Quiet moment.

A second hazard of the job was being near the toss area for empty bottles!  I got nailed in the legs by Perform just about every 20 minutes, as soon as the last drenching would dry!  The water evaporated quicker but the Perform (gatordate-like stuff) was SO STICKY!  I also got hit by what I assume was a Bonk Breaker – that kind of hurt as well :)

Despite the hazards, it was really awesome to watch so many athletes out there working hard!  I thought I might recognize some of the tri club people but with helmets and game faces on, I was totally lost.  Sometimes I would figure out who was who after they were past me but then it was too late to cheer them on.  That station was at the 80 mile marker so everyone still had 32 miles to go but had already been riding for hours so no one was particularly perky looking at that point either :)  I also got to see the Team Triumph group go through which was really cool!

I left around 3:30 to try to figure out where to go for the spectating portion of the day.  That was easier said than done!  I ended up parking at the Alliant Energy Center and just walking to find my group because downtown just sounded crazy busy and road were closed, etc. The shuttle ended up being really good though and two other tri club members happened to get on the bus and sat behind me so we chatted a bit and then tried to walk to find the other portion of the group.

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We made our way to the finish line and got there with about 20 minutes to spare before the first club member finished!  She seems to have been born for triathlons though because she only started doing them a few years ago and this was her first Ironman and she qualified for Kona and took 1st in her age group.  Amazing!  She finished in about 10:30 hours and then we stood around for another 1 1/2 hours to watch the next few finishers and also a number of them loop around for their second loop of the run course.  I think we ended up seeing almost everyone from the tri club at some point or another!

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I really wanted to stay all night and watch finishers but I knew I had a 90 minute drive home and work in the morning so I left around 7pm and settled for watching another hour or so of finishers when I got home :)  Next year I need to plan ahead more and be able to stay the night!

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I feel like watching Ironman actually makes me want to do one less – lol.  Knowing myself, I will probably sign up for one at some point in my life (like 20 years from now, maybe) but it does make me feel more compelled to attempt a 70.3 next year.  But even then, I need to get so much better on the bike (and less clumsy) and get my shit together with swimming before that could actually happen.  But I do hope that I can at least make it back to Madison to help and watch again next year!  So much fun!

fcm week 12/Dopey week 2.

This week was an odd week because of  Labor Day.  It’s always hard to get back in the swing of things when you have a long weekend (at least that’s how it is for me!).  I have also decided to take a little break from swimming until lessons start up again because I’ve been having shoulder pains again.  I am hoping two weeks is long enough to heal it up!

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: 3 mile SLOW run plus a weight circuit I made up.  Jump squats, lunges, pushups, bicep curls, tricep extensions and shoulder presses using the BOSU – repeat x 4.  I felt more out of breath doing this weight circuit then I did while running although that might have to do with the fact that I was running like 11+ minutes miles again.  But since I am still a little bit recovering from the weekend’s workouts, I figure that’s not terrible!

Wednesday: 5 mile speekwork run around the track by my house.  After this run through, I decided to take a short break from the rest of my runs this week to try to get my hip flexor in a better mood again.  It seems like it flares up, gets better, flares up, etc., etc.

Also, Hi Fall!

Also, Hi Fall!

Thursday: 40 minute weight DVD.

Friday Rest

Saturday: What was supposed to be a 2 hour long bike ride turned into a 1.5 hour bike ride plus a 30 minute stop to get my leg to stop bleeding after I took a little tumble… oops.  I fell at mile 4.5 and almost headed right home but nice people stopped and gave me napkins and then someone else stopped with a bandaid so I decided to keep going since it was so nice out and it only hurt a small amount (and was just an abrasion, not anything that impacted my bones or joints, luckily). 23 miles in 2 hours which is a whopping 11.5 miles per hour – lol.

Scene of the crime.

Scene of the crime.

Sunday: Rest and instead drove to Madison to volunteer for Ironman!  More on that later this week.

Weekly milage: Pathetic.sad miles.  (aka 8)  And now next week is a more restful week to prepare for my half marathon on the 21st!  MUCH FITNESS!

29 Hours 31 Minutes.

This will probably not excite anyone as much as it interests me :)  But I have this thing with numbers where I like to track them and know them and find averages and things.  So since I finished my 13th half marathon on Saturday which means 13.1 x 13, if felt like I needed to do some number crunching and figure out what else that means to me.

Lucky #13!

Lucky #13!

First, I listed all my finish times from fastest to slowest:

  1. Haunted Hustle 2011 – 2:03:53
  2. Lake Country Half Marathon 2014 – 2:05:07
  3. Fox Cities Half 2011 – 2:06:15
  4. Madison Half 2014 – 2:07:11
  5. Fox Cities Half 2010 – 2:12:56
  6. Rocky Mountain Half – 2:14:52
  7. Fox Cities Half 202 – 2:15:34
  8. Nashville Rock n Roll – 2:15:54
  9. Summerfest 2013 – 2:17:04
  10. Madison Mini 2013 – 2:17:49
  11. Summerfest 2011 – 2:24:45
  12. Disney World 2012 – 2:30:56
  13. Disneyland Half 2013 – 2:38:44
My favorite half medal.

My favorite half medal.

Then, I added up the total amount of time spent running half marathons – 29 HOURS 31 MINUTES!  Oh my gosh, that’s more than a whole day of my life…

Rain, snow, sleet, just like the post office? ha!

Rain, snow, sleet, just like the post office? ha!

Third, I figured out my average finish time is 2:16:13.

Still my PR... three years strong.

Still my PR… three years strong.

Finally, I just made some general observations: 1) My Disney races are my slowest races, 2) My very first half marathon still remains faster than my average finish time! 3) I actually run better races when I train for them, shocker, right?? 4) but not when I put any pressure on myself to finish in X time and 5) I am still just as addicted to running them as I’ve ever been.

The race I hardly remember running...

The race I hardly remember running…

It was also interesting to me to go back and read some of my recaps and learn from my mistakes.  It’s clear to me that now my races are going much better than the first two or three that I did.  I can pace myself better, fuel better and finish stronger.  So really it’s good that I didn’t quit after race #3 or whatever when I didn’t really know if I liked this running thing or not :)

Such a young, naive, little runner girl.

Such a young, naive, little runner girl.

All this data makes my brain very happy!  And I can’t wait to keep running half marathons because they really are my favorite even though they still kick my butt in those last miles Every.Single.Time.

#fcm week 11 and Dopey week 1.

Last week felt a little like a step-back week because all of a sudden, I am not biking and swimming for training anymore :(  It feels weird to just be running again…

Monday: Rest, because.

Tuesday: 3 mile easy(ish) run in the morning.  I didn’t push my pace but it still felt more challenging than 11 minute miles should feel at this point.  Weights DVD in the evening.

Wednesday: DARK mornings now.  The sun didn’t even start to appear until close to 6am!  So sad.  I decided to try a little speedwork session but the internet was not working before I left so I just modified a workout I already had on my watch and ended up realizing it was not really that great of one.  I did five miles total with two of those miles at an intended 8:30 pace.  I ended up running two miles fast and three miles slow which is kind of dumb.  But oh well, I still finished it without too many problems which proves I can run fast.  Sometimes.  For short distances.

Thursday: 30 minute weight DVD in the evening.

Friday: 3 miles in the DARK! Gosh, absolutely no sunlight this morning.  At least it made me run faster?!  I averaged 9:35 for these miles even though I was supposed to keep it easy because of the half the next day.

Also took a two-mile walk because it was someone’s 15th Birthday!!!

Is it my birthday?

Is it my birthday?

Saturday: Lake Country Half Marathon!

Sunday: I didn’t really want to work out this morning but I managed to drag myself to the gym for a little swimming and a little running.  40 minutes of swimming and a three mile run through Germany? Hehe.  The treadmills at the gym have this cool feature where you can run certain routes and it simulates the inclines and scenery, it definitely made three miles on the mill pass just a little bit faster.

Totals for the week:

Running 27.1 miles

Weights x2