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all the pretty races

10 Nov

For the last few years, I’ve packed my schedule with races.  Whether it was spring (one or two in the winter) or fall, I attempted to fill it with as many as I could afford.  All with the thought/plan to “REALLY train this time around” and make those PR’s happen.

this is how I feel about a PR…

This wasn’t the case.  And with each race there were a few more aches and pains because all too many times I didn’t quite prepare as much as I should have.

I decided to be slightly more realistic this year.  I did sign up for a mid-winter race and realized this was dumb and didn’t end up doing it.  Aside from that delusional moment, I did fairly well.  I signed up for the 5k/10k back to back in June with a 1/2 marathon the following weekend.

I trashed my knee (my poor patella) with some serious slanted sidewalk during that 5k/10k.  This race is HARD.  There is a reason the quote is “The Thrill, The Will, The Hill”.  The hill is a freakin’ beast.  I climbed it once during the 10k, a 2nd time to get to the 5k start and then a 3rd time because I decided parking near the start was a better idea than near the finish line.  Must learn for next time!

this race kicks my trash - every time.

this race kicks my trash – every time.

The 1/2 was a great time as I was able to escape “up North” –  Michandger speak anytime you head to the Northern part of Michigan.  It was in stunningly beautiful Charlevoix (go there – it’s listed as one of the most beautiful places to visit).  The race is really fun, has some sweet swag, an awesome medal and the course is nice.  I was worried about my knee but it wasn’t terribly bothersome.  Because of my lack of training, my goal was to hit under the 3 hr mark.  I did just this – yay!  Not to mention, I got to go with a great friend for a mini-break.

the front has the MI symbol on it and then on the back in the lower corner is Charlevoix piece. I did it.

the front has the MI symbol on it and then on the back in the lower corner is Charlevoix piece. I did it.

this medal is awesome! the bridge pieces go up and down!

this medal is awesome! the bridge pieces go up and down!

After this, it was onto France and then immediately back to work.  This is also when I dabbled/half decided to sign up for the marathon.  At this point, I had plans to sign up for two 1/2 marathons to help with marathon training along with my favorite 5k/10k Peacock Strut combo.

Despite signing up for the Peacock Strut and picking up my shirt, I woke up the next day with no desire to run.  I skipped it.  I still don’t regret it.  I also didn’t end up signing up for the 1/2 marathons and instead went to NY to visit my brother where I ran the Bronx 5k – a much better and more fun decision!

me and my little bro running the Bronx 5k!

me and my little bro running the Bronx 5k!

Suddenly October rolled around (I have no concept of time right now) and I ran three races – whoa!  The first was an impromptu 5 miler in Indiana with one of my great gal pals.  It was a very small, local race, which I always enjoy.  My knee was painful and stiff.  I couldn’t run the whole time (I added in some walk breaks).  It definitely made me nervous as the marathon was looming.  M and I stuck together and without her I would’ve walked a lot more.  Once again, I need to up my mental game.

Next up, the Detroit Marathon – have I mentioned this?!

Lastly, the weekend following the marathon was the Campus Classic here on campus.  I wasn’t sure I was going to do it, since you know, I could barely walk.  The Campus Classic is the first race I ever did.  I’ve told the story a couple of times here and I’ve never missed a race since.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to run it, which was a bummer but against my better judgement, I walked it.  The first mile was in the 17 min mile range.  I was being careful of my knee.  After I heard the time, I decided to screw my knee and the aftermath, I wanted to be done – faster.  I started focusing on catching people.  The second mile was in the 16 min pace and the last was a 15 min pace.  I was quite pleased with the negative splits, although the not so nice voice in my head provided some disparaging remarks regarding my overall time.  My friend used her real life voice to knock some sense into me.  Another race in the books!

probably my final campus classic -

probably my final campus classic

I don’t see the local Turkey Trot in my future.  I’m not sure if I’ve missed one since I started running though… if it does happen it will be another walking race.  I need to keep reminding myself that recovery is front and center.  Remind me of this if I start any crazy talk pretty please!

One last thing!  My medal for the 2,015 miles in 2015 came in the mail the other day – a lovely piece of hardware!

2,015 in 2015

the lighting sucks in my apt – there are some cute mountains in there, too!


the race that wasn’t meant to be

8 Feb

Yesterday, my friend and I set out at 6:22 am to drive to Frankenmuth, MI for the Winterlaufe 8k.  With a 10 am start and a 2 1/2 hour drive there we decided to make a day of it and enjoy this random Bavarian town’s highlights once we froze our buns off for 5 miles.

lederhosen is common around them parts – kidding, I’m not

I mentioned I was nervous about racing again on Friday.  That evening I (over)packed a bag and got my running clothes ready.  This required an all-out hunt for my running pants and many changes to see what running jacket I would wear.  Also, a 3 mile run/walk on the tready to try to loosen my legs up a bit.  I packed way to much stuff and was ready to wear enough running clothing for 15* or below, weather.  Honestly, the drawback to having the treadmill is I haven’t had enough practice of being outside to see what is too much or not enough.  Oh well.

I was also very concerned about how chilly I would be after the race since baby wipes were going to be the extent of a “shower”.  No hot water available to soak heat back into my bones.  Naturally, I figured this meant I should pack a short sleeve t, a long sleeve t and then a hoodie along with my fleece to war afterward.

the temp was going to be in the high 20’s for the race and mid 30’s afterward – way to much fretting

Alas, 1/2 way there we had some car troubles.  Friend made some serious efforts to save the day – I’m not kidding, it was like traveling with MacGyver but these weren’t quite enough.  We ended up at a very random/small car repair shop.  There we got to watch what turned into some kind of auto repair shop soap opera.  It was highly entertaining.  A trip to Tim Horton’s on the way out of town and back to Kalamazoo we went.

While I was disappointed about the race/our day plans, hanging out with my friend is a good time no matter what the situation.  Hanging out with me is always an adventure – I probably should have reminded my friend of this fact.  I think I should start doing/planning the opposite of what I want the outcome to be and then it would turn out how I secretly wanted it to happen in the first place – reverse psychology on the universe?  Maybe?

very true

Oh yeah, and I ate a big fat gluten filled boston cream donut.  I couldn’t resist, it was taunting me from the case.  And a milk-filled coffee drink.  I was going to ask for some kind of special concoction but the cashier seemed only competent to fulfill the menu items and not any variations.  I’m not trying to be mean, I just didn’t want to be a pain in the ass for a drink that wouldn’t turn out anyway.  Stomach be damned.

I’m sure you are thinking I came home and ran on the tready to fulfill my planned miles.  Wrong!  I watched a mini-marathon of Supernatural and relaxed.  It seemed to be the universe’s plan all along.  Whenever things like this happen, and they happen a lot, I rationalize it that maybe something bad was going to happen had we made it to our intended destination.  You just never know, right?

see what could’ve happened?!

park to park 1/2 – this race is cursed.

12 Oct

Last year this race brought this happen stance:

the place of "the incident"

the place of “the incident”

My car key was the only thing that survived.  My handheld, fuel – all went down the toilet – literally.  As I mentioned last year, my scream sent dogs running.  I wanted to have some good memories of this race so I headed back to Holland, MI for another go-around.

I should have stayed in bed.

On Friday, I was telling office mate about my race.  He asked when it was and I confidently announced, “Sunday”.  He asked the time and I figured it was 7 or 8 am (standard start times) and proceeded to look it up.  Strike 1.  The race was on Saturday.  I started laughing, it was a bit maniacal, I admit.  How could this be?  Thank goodness I checked.

I set everything out on Friday night; typically I just wing it in the morning so I was proud of myself.  I woke up on time, 5:15 am and before falling asleep I decided I wanted to KT tape my arch, which has been nagging me.  I did so, although I couldn’t seem to get the tape just such.  Nevermind, I got into the car and hit the road.

I got there with a little over 45 minutes to spare.  I would have been there earlier but construction had me a bit turned around.  On my way to packet pick up, I spotted a real live bathroom that I missed last year!  I was overjoyed!  I utilized the flushable facilities and went to figure out my bib number.  It wasn’t there.  Strike 2.  Turns out I wasn’t registered or they didn’t have my name.  I didn’t have a confirmation with me (seriously, I am not that organized) so I rushed to fork over $60 and high tailed it back to my car for my running gear.

In the car, I decided the KT tape was bugging me too much.  I didn’t take it all off, just one of the stability pieces.  Foreshadowing everyone.  I got to the start line, and off we went.  I hadn’t even run .3 of a mile before my stomach was making whale sounds.  Truth is, it had been jumpy prior to the start line but I figured it was nerves.  Strike 3.

I’m not kidding – I even tried talking all sweet like to my poor tummy.

I should have stayed in bed.

I’m conflicted on the outcome of this race.  Some parts went fairly well while other parts are staying with me – and not in a good way.  Here we are:

Good: I nailed my fueling.  Honey Stinger chews are fantastic.

Bad:  My stomach jumped around the whole race.  I wanted to curl up on the road side for a few hours.  Bad stomach cramps, nausea, heartburn – there was no lovin’ in my tummy.  No pit stops but I used a lot of grit to stay on the course.

Good:  My pace isn’t really fast.  But it was steady.  I picked up some SportLegs and tried it for the first time on Saturday.  This stuff is legit – it definitely helped with leg fatigue.

Bad:  My ankle started barking somewhere in those miles.  I don’t remember which one.  Maybe from the ill-fated KT tape job?

Good: I woke up on time, made it to register, used a REAL toilet and managed to keep my panic out of the red zone despite the race hiccups.

Good: I finished!  Considering I’ve done nothing but falter this entire training season, this was my # 1 goal (remember when # meant a number?  the good ol’ days).  I really wanted to enjoy the run and let go of any unrealistic expectations that my body wasn’t able to fulfill.  Done and done.  And I survived this cursed race.

Good:  It was a decent confidence boost for the Detroit marathon.  True, I’ll have to do 13.1 mile MORE and this won’t be pleasant but I’ll cross the finish line.

I’m glad I did it.  Now, a couple of weeks out, I’m still happy about my decision, although my ankle is still filing grievances.  This will be a work in progress and I’m sure I’ll be limping across Detroit.  But I can do anything for 5 or 6 hours.  THEN a doctor can fix me!

park to park 14

I know, I’m a terrible patient.

get out!

22 Jun

I didn’t want to get out of the car.

I’m not kidding.  I sat there and thought to myself, “I could drive home right now”.  Then I thought about how I drove hours to get there and paid for a hotel, paid for registration and there was this part of me that wanted to see what the medal would look like.  The previous ones were neato and this one promised to be as well.

it really is beautiful

it really is beautiful

So I got out.

The Charlevoix marathon is a quality race.  I’m really happy I did get out of the car because I would have missed out on it.  There is a lot to offer; a full and a 1/2 marathon for walkers, a full and 1/2 marathon, a 10k and a 5k.  It isn’t a large race, although they are working to become bigger.  There were 700 marathons and 1000 1/2 runners.  I missed packet pick up the night before as the drive up took 4 hours (I was told it was “more or less” 3 hours… umm…) so I grabbed it in the morning at 5:30 am.  It was quick and easy.  I was able to park about 10 minutes away so I hung out in the car until 15 mins before the 7 am start, which was nice since I was chilly.

here is a shot of the "ugly" place I raced

here is a shot of the “ugly” place I raced

The start line was a bit of a hill so I hung out at the top until runners of my pace walked past and then I jumped in.  Thankfully, it was ideal weather for running – breezy, 59* and overcast.  The course is, indeed beautiful.  Those promises were kept.  The aid stations were stocked with gatorade (and not just lemon lime!), water, GU and candy.  The volunteers seemed happy to be there and were helpful – especially when I got out of the porta potty with my skirt tucked in my compression shorts.  Thanks volunteer!



Despite it getting sunny, the breeze kept up and it fairly cool with low humidity.  Such an incredible change from the Sunburst 1/2 a couple of weeks before.  I rocked my hydration with some Nuun in my water bottle – I drank two of these! – and got water and gatorade at each stop.  I got a GU at mile 4 and took another one at mile 8.

it didn't leak out of the top but at the lid - ugh

it didn’t leak out of the top but at the lid – ugh – my handheld was drenched

I resorted to my “old man” shuffle form early on as I KNEW this would be the only way I could finish.  I’ve barely been training and when I lift my knees, I go faster and I don’t have the endurance to support this right now.  I lost it at mile 7 – mentally and somewhat physically.  In my brain I kept thinking about how I knew I couldn’t do this even before I started.  Not to mention, I only got 2 hours and 15 minutes of broken sleep the night before due to a noisy hotel room.  But I hunkered down and kept up the shuffling.  When I saw mile 8, I knew I could finish.  It’s always mile 8 that’s my saving grace.

I got a bit of a GU tummy towards the end and mixed with all of the liquids sloshing in there, vomiting was certainly a possibility.  Mile 12 seemed to go on forever and I kept screaming (in my brain) where is the 13 mile marker?!  Instead the finish line came into view!  Yay!  I made it!

love this mdal

love this medal

All of the volunteers were unbelievably friendly.  They helped me swap out my too big zip up long sleeve tech jacket by just giving me a smaller size.  They were welcoming at the food table and just kept saying, “there’s more!  Take all you want!”  The food line had bananas, potato chips that are made in MI, hordes of chocolate milk and pizza.  Oh and Advil, haha.  The marina was offering showers for $2 and when I got there they just let me use it for free.

I had a decent race albeit painful!  About an hour before the start, I drank a juice, (I’m juice cleansing, more on this later) and had a chocolate Honey Stinger waffle so I felt pretty stable in the nutrition department.  The juice was the perp responsible for the port potty stop right after the first mile though.  This cost me at least 5 minutes, which sucked.  I’ll need to figure out something for future races in this regard.  Did I mention I finished?!  Oh and the medal?  It really is worth it.

one more shot of the medal and this is long sleeve tech jacket

sunburst 1/2 (kicked my booty, btw)

4 Jun

The Sunburst 1/2 was… difficult.

I could probably end the recap there but I wouldn’t be a very good blogger if I did so I shall spin my tale for y’all.

We had a bright and early wake up call at 4:15 am.  I was thrilled to be slumber party-ing it up with Meagan and her fam.  I adore her sweat pea of a little one and her hubby is entertaining.  Top off the good company with a yumo pizza dinner, some fro-yo and Meagan’s very cute puppy, I was set.  Oh, the puppy?  Her name is Sadie and she has the iconic patch over one eye.  She is cuddly and jumped up and was my spooning buddy in the middle of the night.  I’m not kidding, her head was resting next to mine on my pillow.  My heart melted a bit.

It took about an hour to get to the start and thankfully we found a spot in the (free) parking garage.  The race started RIGHT on time.  Starting out the weather was perfect and Meagan commented, “you know it could be a rough one when at 7:30 am it’s the perfect temperature.”  Foreshadowing at it’s finest.

I really wish I could tell you how despite odds being against us – neither one of us was exactly trained for 13.1, the weather was promising to be quite warm and some hesitant mental games, that we blew through the course.  Nope.  I was confident up until the 5th mile.  I pre-juiced with some Vega Sport pre-energizer at the start, which was why I made it that far!

I started losing it at what I thought was mile 6.  I told Meagan, “I don’t think I am going to make it.”  Meagan: “We are almost at mile 8, you WILL make it.”  I was grateful to hear we were almost to 8 but I was still doubting my mad running skillz.  Meagan said right as I was losing hope, she was feeling confident – this was perfect.  Meagan emotionally carried me for the rest of the race.

just another perk of running!

It was warm.  I’ve never done this race before and it was rerouted from previous years since we couldn’t end in the Notre Dame stadium.  The nice part was there was a lot of shade and the course was really pretty.  There were some rolling hills with a few steeper ones that we walked.  We did start to do some walk/running bouts.  Meagan would call out our stops and starts – essentially I didn’t have to think, just run.

The water stops were about every mile and half or so, with awesome volunteers, water and gatorade.  There was also GU at one of them – strawberry/banana (umm… no) and I grabbed it at mile 5.  Salted caramel came to the rescue at mile 10.  Mile 11 or so, I started feeling heat-strokey.  I started getting chills and wasn’t feeling well.  I let Meagan know.  This kept up for about a mile.  During this time, some of the neighborhoods had sprinklers out and I took full advantage.  This definitely helped but I knew I needed the med-tent when we crossed the finish line.

I'm smiling so hard because we are done

I’m smiling so hard because we are done

Yep, we made it.  Son of a triscuit, it was hard.  I wanted to quit oh so badly and was proud that I didn’t.  Meagan’s recap is here and while she says that she was hurting, she certainly didn’t let on, which is probably why we finished!  Right after the volunteers passed out the medals, there were folks passing out cold, wet towels – I started feeling better almost immediately.  We got our knees wrapped in ice, hit the after-race snacks, FRUIT CUPS!  This is the first time I’ve ever had this and there wasn’t even honey-dew filler!  I grabbed a popsicle (yeah!), guzzled a chocolate milk, and picked up a bagel and banana for the road.

it's blurry because my hands were shaking a bit!

it’s blurry because my hands were shaking a bit! still so pretty

I told you it was going to be a tale… A couple of things I took away from this race: 1) the gut check 2) running with someone is so much fun!  The last time I ran with anyone was a year ago – with Meagan in fact!  Yet another reason I decided run camp was a good idea.  Oh yeah, and 3) the nutty things I will do for a t-shirt and a medal.

***No picture of said medal and t-shirt because I was too tired lazy to get up off of the couch and take one… maybe another day.***

25k race=15.5 miles of tough running

12 May

The 5/3 Riverbank 25k is the largest road race of its distance in the country.  As I mentioned yesterday, 7,000 people take to the streets of Grand Rapids, MI and there are runners from all over.

25k start line

I spent the night with friends who live about 25 minutes away from downtown GR.  Hanging out with friends the night before a race is a great way to ease any anxieties.  Pre-race fueling of pizza and a beer, playing with an adorable munchkin (who loved saying my name – it was adorable) and hitting the sack around 11:30 pm was the order of the night.  I woke up on time (and multiple times during the night) and despite my game plan to leave at 6:45 am I made it out the door at 7 am.

I ate a bit too much pizza the night before as I was too hungry by the time it arrived.  I mention this because on the drive to the start, I almost had to pull over and throw up.  Jostling around for the next few hours was not appetizing and I didn’t eat my peanut butter sandwich until I arrived.  I did manage to drink some coffee though – priorities.

deep cleansing breaths kept the vomit at bay…

I drank some Vega Sport Pre-Workout Enegizer 20 minutes before the start.  I will post a review of this product in the next few days and it’s quality.  I’ve now tried it with training along with a race and I’m impressed.  The race started right on time, 8:20 am and I made it over the start line at 8:29 and this was the 11 min pace group.  The race is efficient.

I felt good for the first 5 miles.  I was using my quads and kept my ipod in my pocket so I could be in the moment.  I got stuck behind one guy who was complaining up a storm because the shirts didn’t say 25k on them.  It was a universal shirt for the 5k, 10k and 25k.  You could pay extra for a tech shirt with 25k on it ($15) but he “certainly” wasn’t going to do that.  He also said how he was going to send a nasty email to the director later this week.  Now mind you, I paid $35 for this race.  CHEAP!  Suck it up dude…

the shirt mr. grumpy pants was complaining about

the shirt mr. grumpy pants was complaining about

At mile 5 I took a powergel – provided, and turned on my tunes.  The water stops started at about 1.5 miles and they were approximately every mile and half after this, sometimes two miles.  The volunteers were incredible.  There was water, Gatorade followed by oranges and more water and then ICE!  Oh my goodness, I have never been offered cups of ice in a race but it was magical.  It was probably around mile 7 when it started and I would take a cup at each one hereafter.  It was heavenly.

After mile 6 miles my quads started cramping a bit.  Mile 8 was my magic mile as I knew at this point there would be no question to me finishing.  This was also my first lovely embrace with some biofreeze.  I think mile 7 was the start of the hills.  Man oh man, the hills kept coming!  I had forgotten about them, conveniently I might add, but I took them in stride = I walked many of them.

While I was keeping 11 min miles in the beginning, this crept to 12 by the halfway point.  Mile 1o I took another gel.  I also kept focusing on what a cool experience this was and how lucky I was.  The last time I did this race, my mental attitude was already in the toilet at this point.

this is a great depiction of my previous meltdown

The last five and half miles were tough.  More hills, more quad cramping, one more biofreeze stop and lots of water.  It was a beautiful day with a breeze, which was lovely but I was seriously reaching my “I’m done” point.  The last mile and half took forever and horror of horrors you have to run UP a hill to the finish line.

25k finish line

this was at the top of a long hill

My leg muscles were melting at this point.  I kept saying, “c’mon legs” almost yelling at them as I wasn’t sure if I could stay standing.  It was so, so tough!  I had nothing left – heck, even the girl who was puking her guts out that I passed a few feet behind me managed to beat me.  I made it though.

at this point, I could barely stand up straight - I kept almost falling backwards

at this point, I could barely stand up straight – I kept almost falling backwards

Hard/enjoyable race and I ran my buns off.  I have some work to do before my next half (it’s in 3 weeks) and I’m keeping some of my newly employed racing strategies.  Good gel timing, starting my music later and a positive mental attitude – putting these into practice again!

25k… the aftermath

11 May

My race recap will be up in tomorrow but the following has been swirling around my brain:

1.  More/real training would have made those 15.5 miles much easier!

2.  I think my rebellious streak comes into play with regards to running.  Maybe a “let’s see what I can do without training!” attitude.  Is this rebellion?  I don’t know but it’s how I used to shoot myself in the foot with regards to my academics as well.  I will also say it’s part of the procrastinator’s creed – if you don’t give your all to the preparation then you don’t have to risk your best being a “failure”.

deep thoughts on the hour drive up to the race and then back

3.  My legs were absolute gelatin as I crossed the finish line.  I completely left it all out on the course!  I was proud of myself.

4.  I stretched after the race, which I rarely do.  Solid plan Amy.

5.  Today my legs are fairly fatigued and sore.  My quads are especially tender.  I see some serious squats in my immediate future.

6.  I have a lot more determination and heart than I give myself credit for.

but I didn’t quit!

7.   I ran with 7,000 other runners!  This is the largest 25k in the country.  We all love running!

8.  Biofreeze is my bestie.

I’m talking to you biofreeze

9.  I didn’t run with my thumb brace because I knew it would be difficult to grab water and other fuel.  Adrenaline got me through the race buuut it wasn’t a great idea later.

10.  I parked about 8 blocks away.  Wow – it was a long way back!  A woman with her two kids offered me a ride to my car and while I was tempted I’ve watched way to much Investigative Discovery to take her up on it.

More tomorrow… all smiles though.  I seriously thought about not running – I had a prime excuse!  A dislocated thumb?  Prime!  However, I needed to prove something to myself.  I’m a proud runner!


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