Physical Wellness: Harvest Half Series Recap

Before moving to Kansas, I had never heard of 39.3 challenges and before this year, there was just one in the local area in the Spring. I personally am not a fan of racing in the Spring but when I found out that there was going to be a 39.3 challenge in the Fall, I signed up immediately.

The Harvest Half is 3 half-marathons in 3 weeks (15 days from the first half to the last). You start off with the Kansas Half Marathon in Lawrence, Kansas, then move to the Gobbler Grind in Overland Park, Kansas, and finish with the Pilgrim Pacer in Shawnee, Kansas. I thought I would share my experience in case they do this series again.

If I were staying in the Kansas area, I would probably sign up for this series again because it was actually pretty fun. I finished the series with a total time 5:37:34. Overall, my stats… (based on the spreadsheet and based only on individuals that completed the entire series)

  • 57/301 overall
  • 9/173 female
  • 2/23 age group

I PR-ed during this series and actually could have set a second PR but fell short.

Kansas Half-Marathon (1:53:57)

Dear god this race. I ran the most magnificent race up until 8 miles. I was in front of the 1:50 pace group and I was just absolutely cruising. I kept having this overwhelming feeling of … not good enough. I hadn’t trained at all for this series. I had a few long runs, I did some hill repeats, but honestly my training was a joke. I kept being amazed that I was ahead of the 1:50 group when I had thought I would be struggling to keep up with the 2:00 group. Between beating myself up mentally and then hitting the levee (the absolute worst part of this race) and then having my shoulder act up, I had to peel off and work out my shoulder. I ended up having to walk a bit as well. So I was pretty surprised that I was able to finish under 1:54.

Kansas Half-Marathon wins for best crowd participation and loses for worst course. Sorry, I hate the levee.

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Gobbler Grind (1:51:28)

Well, spoiler alert, this is the race that I PR-ed. This race had a huuuuuge line for the bathrooms and I got to the finish line for just moments to spare. I quickly started the race and then impatiently stared at it as it couldn’t find location. The race was starting and my watch still hadn’t found location so I said fuck it and just decided to run blind. There is a girl that I know and I spotted her early on in the race. I thought, ok, I’m going to just try and stick with her as long as possible. She’s a far superior runner than I am so I thought if I could keep her in my sights for 5 miles or so, that would be awesome. We were a couple miles in and I was feeling pretty good so I decided to put my blinders on and just run. I knew that the course was go around a big circle, then go straight, go around a big circle, then go straight to the finish line. So I kept that in mind while I was running (I’m a “chunk it up” type of runner). At one point in time I started getting worried that I took a wrong turn and ended up running with the marathoners and not the half-marathoners. But I didn’t. I also didn’t see the girl I know (turns out she was tapering for a marathon) or any pacers. Around mile 11, I saw the 1:50 pacer pass me and I fought like hell to keep up with him. But I wasn’t able to. So I fell back a bit. Then around mile 12 I saw the 2nd 1:50 pacer and I tried keeping up with her. I was able to keep them in my sights but they were too unattainable for me. I sprinted to the finish line and glanced up at the clock…I thought…maybe just maybe I PR-ed. I walked around and found the results booth and found out that indeed I did PR!

Gobbler Grind wins for best course and loses for shirt. A brown long sleeve shirt that was sized very small and immediately ended up in my donation pile.

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Pilgrim Pacer (1:52:09)

This race. Oh this race. They had a shuttles picking up everyone. I ended up in the wrong parking lot and figured it out eventually, got parked, waited in line, got to the packet pick-up and learned that they weren’t going to have enough medals for everyone and some were going to have to have theirs mailed, the “secured drop bag” area was just bags thrown in a corner, and it was windy. And cold. There were no pacers for this race so I got where I thought I should be and waited. And waited. And waited. They ended up delaying the start of the race since the shuttles weren’t running as quickly as expected. The race finally started. I knew that it was an out and back so what I was seeing now, I would be seeing on my way back. Unfortunately, that meant 2 miles of hills, going up, on the way back. I tried to ignore it and concentrate on chunk 1 – which was seeing my sister. My sister lives in the area and came out to support me. I saw her and ran up to her and gave her dog, Molly, some pets. Spent about 10-15 seconds doing that. Didn’t regret it. Molly loved it. Then took off to get to the turn around point. I got there and took off – this was the place to make up time because it was all downhill. I got back to the park where my sister and Molly were at and didn’t stop this time. I felt it in me, I was going to get that PR. But yet again, after I hit mile 10, I fell apart. This time my calves were on fire and my mental game was thinking about those 2 uphill miles. I ended up peeling off to massage my calves and walk for a bit. And with it I said so long to my new PR.

Pilgrim Pacer wins for best shirt and loses for organization of race.

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Mile 90 photographed the Kansas Half and Pilgrim Pacer. They do amazing work and let you download the photos for free.

It was a great experience – 7/10 would recommend for a good challenge but also some fairly irritating aspects to the series (logistical stuff). If I did this series again, I would need to train better. All 3 races I felt great and was ahead of the 1:50 pace but fell apart at the end. I imagine that me falling apart is mostly due to the fact that I just didn’t put the miles in for training. It also makes me wonder…if I actually trained, is a 1:45 half in reach???

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Physical Wellness: Garmin Vivofit Review

It’s been awhile. Between being busy and just being unmotivated to blog, this blog has taken a backseat to my life. I don’t know what regular blogging schedule I will be on, but here is a post.

For my birthday, I received a gift card and with it, I purchased a Garmin Vivofit (the original one). I’ve had for about 3 weeks now and wanted to provide a review of it.

Pros:

I do love that it keeps me motivated to be active. I will sometimes get home and just want to sit down (remember, I have a standing desk so pretty much from 5 am – 7 pm I am standing M-F) and relax. But then I will look down and see that I have 3000 more steps to hit my goal for the day and realize that it’s only a little more than a mile and I could just go and do a really quick run or go for a walk and get my steps in for the day.

I love that it tracks your sleep. Not that I can’t tell you on my own when I didn’t get a good night of sleep, but I really enjoy seeing the data from that

I love seeing the data and how many steps I actually accumulate throughout the day. Like I mentioned above, I have a standing desk. Beyond that, 3 days a week I walk to work and most days I walk for 30 minutes with a friend at work.

Cons:

It only tracks if you move your arm while walking. So while I’m at my desk taking a few steps or whatnot, it never tracks because my hands are up at my shelf/desk on my keyboard. Or if I am carrying stuff with my left hand and not moving it enough, the step don’t count. On the flip side of that, when I’m washing my dishes and moving my hands around, steps are being counted even though they aren’t really being taken. I figure they probably even out with the steps that I have taken versus the steps that I haven’t taken but annoying.

I definitely feel guilty when I don’t hit my number. And that irritates me that I feel guilty. There have been a couple of nights where I have stayed up and just paced in my apartment to finish getting my steps. It also annoys me that I’m so fixated on getting these steps.

It sometimes takes forever to sync and when it does sync, it doesn’t sync correctly.

Overall

I really enjoy my Garmin Vivofit. I also really want to give a shout out to Garmin’s social media team because they have always responded to my tweets and seem to be very active and involved with their customers. Which I think is great. For me, the pros out weigh the cons and I’m enjoying having goals set by something other than my insane brain which seems to think that I should be running 10 miles every weekend even though the longest run I have done all year long was a 6 mile run at the beginning of March…

Do you have any of these step trackers? How do you like them? How do you utilize them?

Physical Wellness: Kansas Half Marathon

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PR-ed by 7 1/2 minutes which I think is not too shabby for being exactly 2 weeks post marathon.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to do this race – since it was so soon after my full but I had in my mind that I wanted to if I was feeling good. The company putting the race on used our Thursday night run club to get promo pictures for the event so I felt a little more “obligation” to do the race since I was part of the promo. I learned in this race that I’m not good at running with a pace group. I went into the race thinking, “Alright, I’m going to try and stick with the 1:55 group and if I can’t keep up, then I can back off a bit and hopefully finish in a sub-2.” Plus the winds were supposed to be 15-20 mph (thanks Kansas) so I wasn’t expecting to PR. So that’s what I tried doing but I just got so irritated with everyone. People kept trying to block me out, a guy almost spit on me (which really pissed me off – we were right beside a wooded area, if you need to spit, fine but don’t do it towards people when you have the option to do away from people), and I just generally really was irritated by being around a lot of people. See, I love the silence and solitude of running not necessarily the social aspect of running. I generally train by myself, do runs early in the morning when people in general are not out, and get to relish in silence. Being around lots of people is not my, well, jam.

I stuck with my pace group for Miles 1 (8:51) and 2 (8:32) and by Mile 3 (8:16) I had pulled away from the group and was running my own race. The miles were clicking by 4 (8:20), 5 (8:23), 6 (8:18), 7 (8:17). I was feeling good and the strong winds were really not getting me that much. Until I hit around Mile 8 (8:37). Man that was strong wind and it was reflected in my times. There was a section of the race that we ran on the levee and I could tell running to the turn around point that I was running with the wind so I tried as much as I could to pick up my pace and try to gain as much time as I could because I knew as soon as I got to the turn around point I would be running into the wind. (Mile 9, 8:49, Mile 10, 8:38, Mile 11 9:06). Getting off the levee I knew I just had some weaving through residential area and then I was done. But the wind and me being unprepared didn’t help me out and I could feel myself fading (Mile 12 8:45). I saw the last mile and tried to kick but we were weaving through a playground and an underground tunnel and random steep (but short hills) and I just couldn’t find my kick (Mile 13 9:08) but once I saw the finish line I just started going. I pulled my headphones out (something I have found I like to do when crossing the finish line) and heard someone say “Wow she looks like she is running a 100 meter dash!” and I assume this person was talking about me because I wasn’t in a group/cluster of people. That was pretty cool to hear.

I crossed the finish line and saw a 1:52:45 (official time 1:52:43) and felt pleased. I wish I would have gone out a bit harder at the beginning and I wish I had more left in me to have a strong sub 8 minute finish for my last mile. But I can say that as I finished I did feel like I put everything I had on that race course and I’m really glad that I didn’t try to stick with my pace group. I don’t think I will be using pacers for future races besides knowing where to line up.

So what’s next? I’m going to take some time off and start looking at spring races to do. I’ve had in my mind that I’d like to hit a 1:45 half marathon. I would also like to complete the 39.3 challenge that is 3 half marathons in about 5 weeks – all local races. My only drawback from doing this is that I hate running races in Kansas with the crazy wind. But for the immediate future, I am going to get back into hitting my workouts hard and keep running and working towards that 1:45 half!

Physical Wellness: IMT Des Moines Marathon ReCap

I’ll start this blog off with this…

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I did finish the marathon. Although there for a while I didn’t think I was going to. Let’s recap the day, shall we?

I arrived downtown around 7:15 just enough time to get in line at a real bathroom and get into my position at the starting line. While I was in line for the real bathroom, a race volunteer came around and told the line of 30 ish women that there were porta potties upstairs with no lines if we wanted to use those. Not a single person moved. We all knew waiting in line to use a real bathroom was worth it. I got a quick chat with Eric in, found my place at the starting line and waited.

Start

This was before things got crazy. I haven’t heard the official numbers yet but I know they were looking at having over 10,000 people at this race. It was huge. And freezing. After what felt like forever waiting, my pace group (4:10) finally made it to the starting line. I warmed up around mile 2. Miles 3-7 were hilly but absolutely stunning. Running through some of the most lavish parts of Des Moines on what was basically a perfect fall day was awesome. Part of me is kicking myself for not snapping a few pics. By the time I hit the 10k mark, I knew something was off about my pace. I only now realized that I never chatted with the 4:10 pacer to see what his game plan was for the race. I just assumed that if I stayed in front of him I should be good. However, all my splits were crappy. I’m guessing they were starting out slower and building speed. Whereas I tend to start out faster and well, lose speed, but the starting out faster kind of equals itself out, in my mind. Regardless, I crossed the 10k mark right exactly at 1:00:00. By mile 7 I was out of the hills and mostly cruising through flat terrain. I started hurting and could feel it the most in my hips which was weird because my hips haven’t been bothering me at all during my entire training. One of the biggest highlights for me during this race was getting to run a lap at Drake Stadium where the Drake Relays are held. I’ve never been on their blue track before but I have seen many times. It was actually really awesome to get to run a race lap on their track.

15

My splits were still slow but I was still in front of my pace group. This is me at mile 15. I was still feeling good and trucking along. We were going through some gorgeous scenery and there were tons of supporters along the course. I purposely wore my UNI tshirt because I knew there would be UNI alums, fans, students, employees, etc. along the course and just seeing a UNI shirt would spur them to yell something supportive. I was right. I even told my mom this before the race and she said that whenever she saw someone wearing a UNI shirt, she would cheer for them. Ok, so everything seems to be going well, right? Still ahead of my pace group, still feeling good, still running. Something happens at mile 18 and I mentally just break. And almost immediately as I mentally break, my pace group passes me. I try to keep up but within 30 seconds they are out of range. My mile times are over 10 minutes, over 11 minutes and I’m just breaking.

20

This is me around the 20 mile mark. At this point I’m 10000% ready to be done. Not only has my 4:10 group passed me but the 4:25 group breezed past me as well. My goal (4:10-4:20) is completely shot. The only thing keeping me going is my stubbornness and refusal to give up and quit. I started walking a bit. I would only allow myself to walk for 30-40 seconds and tried to only do it once per mile, twice tops, As we left Water Tower Park and got into Grey’s Lake, I felt the end was near but still so far away. I used to run Grey’s Lake all the time when I worked at the airport so I knew the route and the terrain. Leaving Grey’s Lake there is a itty bitty teeny tiny hill but I got to it was like “NOPE NO NO NO I’M NOT RUNNING UP ANY MORE HILLS!” So I walked up that hill and that was the last time I walked. Because soon I saw Mile 25 and I refused to walk again. My mile time was dragging. Over a 12 minute mile. But I kept trucking. I kept running. Then I saw Mile 26 and I could see the finish line. It took all I had and I started “sprinting” towards the finish line trying to hold back the tears. I got really emotional. Because at Mile 18 when I mentally broke, I broke bad and went to some dark places. The fact that I was even able to keep pushing after that and get to the finish line…felt incredible. I crossed the finish line and service members from the Army were giving out medals. I felt horrible b/c I could even muster a thank you and thank you for your service. I could barely speak. I called Eric right after and I just I finished and then basically hung up. I completely forgot to stop my watch and it kept going for 10 minutes after I finished.

Finish

I finished in 4:33:41 (10:26 pace). There are a number of things that I could “blame” my time on, wind being the first thing that comes to mind but the past month I dealt with serious foot issues that hindered my training greatly. The week before the marathon I was massively sick (so sick that I puked orange powerade through my nose…and can never drink orange powerade again). So all in all, it wasn’t a total failure but it wasn’t the race that I had imagined. The course itself was gorgeous. The weather was nearly perfect (sans the wind). The volunteers were amazing and the City of Des Moines was fantastic. I honestly highly recommend this race. The half-marathon course is completely flat. But it was so amazing to be around so many athletes, be in a city that is so supportive of this race, and to be running a race that is this well put together. From having plenty of aid stations, to having boxes of tissues and Vaseline and Biofreeze ON THE COURSE! It was awesome.

I felt pretty good after the race, just some soreness in my legs. I made the decision to drive 4 hours home after the race that day instead of waiting and man alive am I glad I did that. My problem foot is a problem and my whole body is sore. I’m glad I got the long drive done yesterday instead of waiting. So I’m home sweet home. And what is next for me? Another marathon? Likely not. I went into this marathon thinking ok, this is either a check it off the bucket list thing or it is something that I will find out I enjoy and want to do more of. For me, the pain is not really worth it. I’m content saying I have finished a marathon. I want to concentrate on shorter distances now (5k, 10ks, and half marathons) and see if I can get a bit more competitive in my age group with those. But for this week, I’m going to take a few days off and recover and hit the gym again. I’m going to be starting a new lifting program specifically designed for runners and starting a new running plan. I love running, the marathon didn’t take that away from me, but I think I love running shorter distances.

Physical Wellness: Marathon Recaps for the weeks

Whoa have I been absent. Marathon training took a toll on me and being injured should have probably led to more posts but it did not. After getting injured during my 17 mile run, I somehow managed an 18 mile run at a 9:39 pace. I didn’t hardly do anything else that week except hobble around. The following week I set out to run 19 miles and within 1 mile I knew it wasn’t going to happen. I felt ill and was in intense pain. So I stopped and turned around. The following week I set out to do 20 miles. At 15.64 miles a guy lunged and screamed at me and freaked me out so much I burst into tears. I had no idea if this guy was crazy enough to try and attack me on  a main road or if he just thought it would be funny. I ended up calling Eric to come and get me as I was in no shape to continue running. I think the guy just thought he would be funny but I genuinely thought he was trying to attack me. And after some of the comments I have gotten from people driving by including an SUV of frat guys that did a 180 and started following me, I don’t think my fear comes from an irrational place.

I was frustrated beyond belief with what happened. I wish so much that I had kept on running and not let what that individual do get to me. It was slated to be my last long run of training. And now I was looking at going into my marathon with my longest run being 18 miles. I felt disappointed and unprepared. Then I decided that I would try for 20 again. This time Eric insisted on riding behind me the entire time to make sure nothing happened to me. For all but 4 1/2 miles that I did on the track, he stayed right beside me and made sure I was ok. I finished my 20 mile run at a 9:44 pace (3:14:42). I was slated to do a 10 mile run this morning but after going home early on Thursday and calling in sick on Friday, I vetoed that run. For the sake of my health, I decided to not to the run. I’m still recovering from whatever it is that knocked me out for a couple of days, but I feel loads better.

This week I will stick to my usual and start planning out what life looks like post marathon. What my workouts will look like and be centered on. Even now, a week out from my marathon I’m so thankful for what this has taught me. I feel re-energized that distance running is more my style. And I feel more determined to keep running distance. My lifting and cross training will reflect that.

In terms of goals for my marathon, obviously crossing the finish line is my primary goal. This past month has been riddled with injuries and illness so just finishing will be awesome. I have some time goals in mind. I’d like to finish between a 4:10 – 4:22 marathon. a 4:22 puts me at a 9:59 pace which all of my runs have been under that pace. I’m hopeful that my marathon will be as well. Whether I will run another marathon or not is not a question I’m ready to decide on but I have been seriously considering signing up for the Kansas Half Marathon which is a couple weeks after my full marathon. I’m not sure how I will be feeling and how I will be recovered but I may do it just for fun.

I’m hoping to return to some kind of blogging schedule soon. To be honest my days have been full with work, training, and spending time with Eric. I know I need to prioritize my blog more, but for the past couple of months it has taken a serious back burner in my life. I need to decide what I want to do moving forward.

Thank you all for your support during this time that I have been training and definitely look next Sunday or Monday for a full recap of my experience. If any of you happen to be running the IMT Des Moines Marathon, best of luck! If you see me, be sure to say hi! I will be wearing a highlighter yellow “Northern Iowa Panthers” shirt.

Physical Wellness: Marathon Training Week 15 Recap

Sunday:  17 miles at 9:03 pace. Awesome, awesome, awesome. Except for I spent the rest of the week not running and nursing a foot injury. I lifted Monday, Wednesday, and Friday but spent the entire week with my foot wrapped up and icing it.

I’m definitely to the point that I am ready for this marathon to be done. I’m ready to walk without hurting. I’m ready to sleep past 5 am on Sundays. I’m ready to eat like a normal human and not consume all the foods on Sundays. I’m not sure if I will do other marathons after this one. There is one that I really want to do – an international marathon starting in Michigan and crossing into Canada. But after that one…I might be done.

I’ve been trying to think about what I want to do after this marathon. I may want to start trying to be more competitive in 5ks. There is a half-marathon that is a few weeks after my marathon and I might do that one just for fun. I don’t know. All I know of is that I’m ready to run this marathon.

Physical Wellness: Marathon Training Week 14 Recap

Sunday:  14.19 miles at a 9:25 pace. Was supposed to be 16 miles. This was a painful run. 2 miles into the run I started feeling the twinges of a migraine. At 8 miles, my head felt like it was exploding. Plus I tried to do a different route so at 14.19 miles I ended up at the bottom of a seriously steep hill. I decided that I would walk up the hill and then finish up my last bit after. By the time I got to the top of the hill, my watch had auto saved my run. I threw my hands up and just headed home. All in all, I probably got close to 16 but it was a really rough run.

Monday:  Labor Day, rest day.

Tuesday:  4 miles of speed work in the AM, 1 hour of tennis in the PM

Wednesday:  I attempted to do lower body work. I got squats in and then realized that when I came in during a flash flood which soaked my bag, that my work clothes might have also gotten soaked. And if they did, then I would need to go home and get dry clothes. They were a bit wet, but I dried them with a hand dryer in the locker room. Also, walking from the parking lot to the gym in a flash flood is no fun, FYI.

Thursday:  4 miles with run club

Friday:  Arms and abs

Saturday:  rest day. 2 rest days? Well, my gym was closed on Labor day and I have been enjoying having my rest day before my long run. I make no apologies.

Wow has my blog taken a hit…I have only been uploading these snippets. Life has just been downright crazy these past couple of weeks. With my training, I am just trying to remain as healthy as possible before my marathon. I’ll try to upload some actually wellness stuff this week.