Tunnel Marathon 2017- BQ Or Bust

I’m sure plenty of you heard me say I was done running marathons after the 2016 Tunnel race, clearly that was incorrect. I tried to keep it on the DL that I was going for one more BQ attempt at Tunnel 2017, didn’t last long. I learned a lot from the 2016 training cycle and had a pretty good idea of what I needed to do to reach 3:30 this time around. Having the Big Sur marathon at the 1.5 month to go mark was fun. It helped break up the 18 weeks of training. I focused on reaching Big Sur and then the remaining weeks till Tunnel didn’t seem so daunting. Training was not without some bumps. I totaled my car during week 7 of training, luckily I have an amazing chiropractor who told me to keep running as long as nothing was painful. This training cycle I averaged about 55 miles a week, peaking at 64 mpw. My tempos were faster and so were my long runs. I was also much better about strength training this cycle, two days a week I was going to TRX in addition to 6 days a week of running. I had so many great training partners; Jessica was an awesome long run partner (and such a sport for running my long run workouts with me when it was faster than she needed to go), Lisa Marie and I got our WUW on and I could always count on Eddie for the early lap, my tempo partners, Tina, Laura and Pam who pushed me faster even when I felt like I couldn’t. I ran every long run out on the Tunnel course the month before the race.  I came into race day more feeling as prepared as I possibly could. If I didn’t BQ on this cycle, I wasn’t sure what else I could do to get there.

Stating that you have one goal and one goal only is scary. I have a tendency to give myself multiple goals so if I have a bad I can say “well its ok, I still accomplished x.” There was none of that this time around. I wanted to qualify by enough to get me into Boston and nothing less than that was going to be considered a success in my book.

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SGLRG at the Start

Race morning came, I forced myself to eat (I’m always so nervous on race morning that eating is hard) and had some Gatorade and water. I double checked my fuel belt, threw a couple things in my bag and we headed off to Hyak. It was cold at the start, but I still ditched the arm warmers and opted for shorts and a tank. We found the SGLRG Tunnel crew and huddled around and chatted, took photos, I forced a little more food down about 45 minutes before the start. Turns out there was no 3:30 pacer, but I had my pace band I made from findmymarathon.com that allowed for a slower start and one Eddie gave me that was across the board even splits. Nancy, Lisa Marie, Dan Bunker and I stood together at the start, other people around us asked us our time goal and we formed a small 3:30 goal time group. Then we were off! I tried to focus on not going out too fast and I settled into my rhythm right as we hit the tunnel. It’s much more exciting running through the Tunnel with several hundred other runners.

Once we got out of the Tunnel I hit the lap on my watch at the first mile marker I saw and then proceeded to get yelled at by Nancy and Lisa Marie for running too fast. The miles ticked by, I sipped Gatorade every mile and took my Gu at 7, 14 and 21 miles, I was feeling great. I took on the role of the unofficial 3:30 pacer, calling out where we should be with overall time as we neared each mile marker. It helped take my mind off the miles ahead and gave me a “job” to do. I came through the halfway point about a minute ahead of pace and was feeling good. Nancy was still with me, I knew Lisa Marie was close too and we had Dan Bunker with us. Having people around me who I knew helped me relax. We hit 16 miles where Adam, Eddie, Danielle, Kirstin and Murphy were waiting. Seeing them all gave me another burst of energy. As we neared the 20 mile mark, where I knew Nellie would be, I could tell things weren’t feeling quite as easy as they had been. We hit 20 miles and Nellie eased in next to me. I told her just to hold me at 8 pace. I knew that was all I needed to reach my goal, I was now just over a minute ahead of my 3:30 goal.

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Mile 16

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Coming to the Finish

We came through Rattlesnake and saw all our SGLRG buddies, I smiled and waved but the earlier miles were beginning to wear on me. As we hit the flat coming out of Rattlesnake I had to stop and walk for a brief period. Nellie pulled me back to race pace and we were off. The next 5 miles were really really hard. I saw Nancy looking strong and she pulled ahead of us. I tried to stay focused and just put one foot in front of the other. Walk breaks continued at each mile marker. I was starting to get discouraged. I felt as if my BQ was slipping away. Nellie told me to shut up and get out of my head (thanks girl!). She was a godsend those last few miles. I don’t remember exactly what she said but having her there helped. We passed Rich and Izi with about 5k left. Izi reminded us we just had one lap around Green Lake to go. When we rounded the final corner and saw the finish, which felt like the longest .2 miles of my life. I had no idea what my pace was, what my projected finish time was. I just pushed as hard as I could. Just as I hit the line I saw 3:30:25 on the race clock and knew I was safe. Once I was over that line my legs stopped working. Thank you to Danielle, Nellie and Kirstin who helped me to a chair and got me water. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to cry, vomit or pass out. I had qualified for Boston. Official time 3:30:22

I am so thankful for every person I ran with this training cycle. There are too many to list individually, but you know who you are. I worked my butt off, but I also had a blast! So many laughs and good memories were made this time around. The BQ was just a very large cherry on a fantastic 18 weeks. Now I get to spend the next 3 months obsessing over the Boston cutoff time-although a 4:38 cushion should be ok.

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Hurray for friends

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Boston Bound Runners

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Light At The End of The Tunnel 2016

My training went pretty well. I took a friends advice and focused on plenty of miles at marathon pace and didn’t focus as much on track workouts. Looking back, I wish I had done more long speed (mile repeats, 2 mile repeats, etc) throughout.

Was feeling okay the week of the race, the stress of the car accident the previous Saturday wasn’t ideal but I did my best to not let it bother me. I focused on obsessing about the weather and finding the perfect pace band.
Race morning I woke nervous. I think I uttered the phrase “I’m going to throw up” about 15 times. Stefanie and Danielle met up at my house and our wonderful chauffer, Adam drove us up to Hyak.

I placed myself just behind the 3:30 pacer and just ahead of the 3:40 pacer. I planned on running slower through the tunnel but was hoping to keep 3:30 in my sights once we exited. The first couple miles in the tunnel were exciting, we created an informal pace group of Charlie, Izi, Brook and Nellie. I wasn’t too worried about my pace in the tunnel, I could tell my feel that I was within the range I wanted to be in. Garmin clocked miles 1 and 2 at 8:16 and 8:34, when we came out of the tunnel I lapped my watch at the race’s 3 mile marker to get back in sync (Gamin registered a 7:21 for my “mile 3”).
I could tell something wasn’t clicking the way it had on some of the training runs on the course, the legs couldn’t find the right rhythm even though my paces were dead on (if not a tiny bit fast at first). Charlie, Izi and Brook pulled ahead but I knew better then to try and follow- I had my own race to run.

The miles continued to tick by marked by the beep of my watch and a sip from my water bottle. Miles 4-7 were: 7:53, 7:55, 7:52, 8:06. Although I was on pace I knew if I was going to run a 3:30 marathon it was going to be a battle. I pushed any negative thoughts out of my head and tried to focus on the trail and my breathing. Luckily I had Nellie running with me, although I wasn’t much of a conversation partner (sorry Nellie). Took my first Gu at mile 7. Miles 8-13 continued to be on pace, but still no rhythm to my legs.
Second Gu at mile 14 and that’s when I knew something was starting to feel wrong, I shouldn’t be this tired and worn out after 14 miles. I came through mile 16-ish where Loka and his kids and Erin were cheering, I knew I should be more excited but it was taking all my focus. My pace began to slow, but I knew that I still had a few minutes of wiggle room to BQ. Suddenly right around mile 17 I knew something was really wrong, I was dizzy and the trail in front of me was blurry, I pulled back my pace slightly, took some more water, but my vision wasn’t improving. I finally stopped and walked (based on my watch it was just after mile 18). It was a miracle I didn’t fall off the trail, I zig-zagged and tried to blink away the dizziness. Ken and Katia passed me and asked if I was okay, I nodded yes as I watched them pass looking strong. I started jogging again and managed a 9:16 mile 18, but the dizziness came back with a vengeance and I was forced to walk, again. I stumbled into the aid station and drank the Gatorade the volunteer offered like I had been in the desert for weeks. By that point I knew my shot at a BQ was gone, but I was determined to finish strong. I logged an 8:18 and 8:23 for mile 21 and 22.

I knew Nicola was waiting at Rattlesnake to pace me into the finish so I focused on making it to Rattlesnake. I came around the corner to the now very familiar Cedar Falls sign and saw Julie, Nicola, Adam and some other SGLRGers I’m forgetting. I grabbed two more cups of Gatorade from the aid station and gave Adam my fuel belt. Many thanks to Maya for sharing some of her Gatorage with me before we took off. Mile 22 was another slow mile with some walking thrown in. Stefanie caught up to us around 22 and offered a little more much appreciated motivation. I believe her quote was “come on, we just did this 2 weeks ago.” With Nicola and Stefanie around the dizziness gone, I gritted my teeth and pushed to the finish. Those last 4 miles were tough but I knew they would have been tougher had I been alone and not surrounded by my training buddies. I knew I was going to PR based on the fact that the 3:40 pacer was just ahead of me, but all I cared about was it all being over. I collapsed, literally, once I crossed the finish line but I had done it. I have given everything I had to a marathon I spent months training for. Yes, it wasn’t the ideal result but I overcame struggles during the race and managed a 12 minute PR.

It was an amazing day for personal achievements all around. I am so proud of all my training buddies and runners who PR’d and/or BQ’d that day. I’m humbled I was able to take part in it.

Everett Half marathon 2:00 Pacer

I was asked to fill in as a Pacer for the Everett Half marathon on April 12th, 2015. I’ve paced a number of races at the 2:00 hour finish time and was happy to help out my running group.

Race morning I picked up my pacer buddy Stefanie and we headed to the Everett marina. After some confusion about parking and 20 wasted minutes sitting in the traffic line for the navy base (oops) we were parked and found the rest of our fellow SGLRG pacers.

We learned that the race had failed to provide us with pacer signs. For those who are unaware, a pacer is a runner whose job it is to hold a pace for a preset finish time (2:00, 1:50, 1:45 etc) for the racers to follow. Typically we are given a dowel with that finish time taped to the top which allows runners behind us to see what finish time we are aiming for.

More of our pacers.

More of our pacers.

After some quick thinking we improvised pacer signs by writing our finish times on Masking Tape and taping them to our pace. Some of us had lost our “signs” by the end of the race.

Just waiting for the start.

Just waiting for the start.

There wasn’t much to do besides get set in the starting shoot and wave when the race director pointed us out to the racers. The course was an out and back with really only one significant hill on the way out and back.

We had a decent group of people around us for a few miles, a tail wind on the way out aided us in reaching the halfway point with plenty of time banked. We had a couple people who had mentioned they wanted to break two hours and whenever I hear that I make it my mission to assist in accomplishing that goal.

As we reached the last few miles it was clear that we had plenty of time banked and that the runners still with us would break 2 hours. We crossed in 1:57:37. One of the gentleman who was aiming to break 2 came up to thank us for a monster PR.

Seeing the joy and appreciation on runners faces after they cross that line and reach the PR is an amazing feeling. A great way to give back to the running community that gives us so much joy.

Tacoma St. Paddy’s Day 5k

I’m going to begin by saying that the end result of this race makes it appear to be a much better race than it was. With that said, I begin:

Adam was trying to qualify second seed for Bloomsday so was running the 10k. Having run this 10k course before, hating that distance and not needing to qualify second seed (having already done it at Bloomsday last year), I was signed up for the 5k.

Although I hate to make excuses for a crummy race time, this race was only a week after Lake Sammamish and I had not taken a single day off in that week.

The weather was typical for Seattle/Tacoma, windy, cold and rainy.

We got down to Tacoma with plenty of time to pick up our bibs, hit the porta potty and complain about the weather.

The 10k started 20 minutes before the 5k so walked with Adam over to the starting line and cheered him on as he took off.

I had just enough time to visit the porta potty one more time before dropping my jacket at the car. I was not feeling this race at all, my legs were tired and I just didn’t have the fight in me I usually feel before races. I had looked at last year’s results and know if I had a solid race and no one insanely fast (ie Club Northwest) showed up I had a chance of placing in the Top 3.

As I was warming up I felt the windy hit me signaling we would have a head wind on the return to the finish, which was also the hilly portion. I lined up and eyeballed some of the women around me. One girl who I have raced against before was there as well as a girl from Oiselle.

The air horn went off and we all took off. Right off the bat the two speedsters along with the men took off. I knew better than to try and keep up, even on a good day that would have been a poor strategy. Instead I tucked a few paces behind the third place women and swore to stick with her as long as I could, if not pull ahead and hope she didn’t have a solid finishing kick.

The course runs downhill on Schuster Parkway and turns around just before the overpass which drops you onto Ruston Way.  Mile 1 was a respectable 6:46 aided by the downhill. I stayed even with the third place women (one and two were long gone). Slowly I pulled even with her and at the turn around I surged past her. I didn’t dare look behind me as she disappeared from my peripheral vision. We all felt the wind hitting us at this point and my legs were screaming, I had not rhythm. Mile 2 was 7:01, by no means terrible but I had hoped for another sub-7 mile.

By this point I was just willing myself to not stop or slow down. The top 10k males and females came flying by me. I knew the finish was close but I also knew we had a hill waiting for us. My legs were feeling every foot of the small climb. I kept telling myself I was third and had to hold onto that. The hill up to the finish broke me, it was as if I was standing still. I watched my mile pace drop to a dismal 7:22.

I gritted my teeth as hard as I could and pushed but my legs had nothing left.

As I reached the finish a young boy who had been running near me most of the race was behind me. I waved my hand at him signaling for him to catch me and told him to push to the finish.

I threw my exhausted body across the line in one final push.

I grabbed some water, caught my breath and went to watch Adam finish knowing he wouldn’t be far behind. Sure enough, I saw him crest the hill, unfortunately off pace for his Boomsday qualifying time. He looked as miserable as I felt during my race.

After we both caught our breath we wandered over to the results tent and I confirmed I had placed Third as well as First in my age group. Adam managed Fifth in his age group. The formal award ceremony wasn’t for another 45 minutes or so, so we grabbed our wallets and jacket from the car and grabbed a beer from the Matador while we waited.

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My first place ribbon and Adam’s 5th place.

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I haven’t run a 5k this slow since 2012.

It may not have been the time I was hoping for, the end result was still a good one.

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Can’t complain too much, I get a fun 3rd place plack.

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Saturday March 7 was the Lake Sammamish Half Marathon. The last three years Seattle Green Lake Running Group (SGLRG) has had a large group of runners on this race. I hadn’t ever signed up for several reasons: 1) its a bit pricey, 2) dead flat course, 3) boring course. For some reason this year, about a week before the race I started wishing I had signed up. As usual, the week leading up to the race we had some people trying to sell their bibs due to injury or conflicts. I managed to snag a bib (thanks Jen H.) for myself and for Adam (thanks Andrew). The night before the race we grabbed a quick pint at Flycaster Brewing, the owner told us whoever ran the faster time earned a free pint (more on that later). The race started at Marymoor at 7:30 am and parking, not to mention getting in the lot, can be tricky with a crowd. So we rolled out of bed at 5:30 am and were easily parked by 6:30 am. The sun was shining but a thin layer of log settling over the lake. The air was crisp, hundreds of runners shivered as they stood in line for the porta pottys or handed off their bags for bag check. SGLRG had another great showing, we gathered at 6:45 for a group photo, chatted paces and race plans and compared notes. Shortly after the photo we scattered across the park before regrouping shortly before the start in small little pace groups. The race start caught us a bit off guard but we surged forward under the start banner. There was plenty of chatting and joking (“are we done yet?”) as we settled into our paces. A group of SGLRG ladies were trying to run a 1:40 and they slowly moved ahead of me. I had planned to hold 8 minute pace for a few miles and see how it felt. Lisa-Marie, Jamie, Adam and I joined up as a little group. Our first mile was a 7:50, it felt okay, but faster than I had planned. There was no panic, I just continued to hold the pace. Slowly, my paced creeped faster, 7:44, 7:32, 7:35. The crushed dirt and rock trail crunched under our feet. Some of the locals living along the river sat in lawn chairs sipping coffee while they watched us run by. I was feeling much better than expected. I found myself in no-mans land, I spied a group of 15 or so runners ahead of me. At mile 6 I was greeted by the shouts and cheers of SGLRG members working the aid station. At this point I was locked into a pace and my legs just kept moving. I was still a bit shocked at how good my legs felt. I threw 3 fingers up in the air as we hit the 10 mile marker, indicating 3 miles left. I was slowly catching racers who had started faster than me. It’s a sick kind of motivation to pass struggling runners the in final few miles of a race. As we hit mile 11 I finally surged past a guy who had been leap-frogging me the whole race. The second SGLRG aid station added another much needed surge of adrenaline for the final few miles. The last mile includes a serpentine through the parking lot of Lake Sammamish State park. This allows you to see exactly who is ahead of you and how far you have left to go. I pushed mile 12 to a 7:20 pace and prayed I could hang on. As I entered the serpentine I saw Adam coming through the park a head of me, I gave a cheer and waved, I was proud he was running so well. I knew this wasn’t going to be a PR, but it was going to be darn close so I kept pushing. My legs had felt good the whole race so I wasn’t entirely shocked when they started to finally feel heavy around mile 12.5. I gritted my teeth and dug in harder knowing the finish was just around the corner out of sight. We rounded the corner and the finish line emerged out of the trees and bushes. My watched beeped as I hit mile 13 but I didn’t care about pace (learned later it was 7:15). I saw the finish and a girl who had passed me 2.5 miles earlier. I pushed as hard as I could towards that finish. My lungs and legs were screaming right along with the crowd as I threw my body towards my goal. I stumbled to a halt and shuffled over to the volunteer who cut the timing chip off my shoe before grabbing my medal and throwing my arms around Adam. After catching my breath I conferred with other SGLRG members about their race results and took a few photos. My final time was 1:38:55 which is 3 seconds shy of tying my second faster half marathon. Adam ran 1:35:40 for his first half marathon. We stuck around for a bit to grab some post-race snacks and cheered others on as they finished.
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We then topped off the day with some celebratory drinks at The Commons in Woodinville.
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Looking at my splits, I am very proud of the race I ran. I went into it feeling like I wasn’t properly trained for a fast half. I didn’t feel like my speed was where is used to be, but this race showed me that I am much stronger than I feel like I am and gave me some confidence for my upcoming races and the knowledge that I can push my workouts to a faster pace because I am capable. Onto the goal of running 1:35 this year!

Lake Sammamish Half Marathon

Love ’em or Leave ’em 5k

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On Valentines Day, Adam and I raced this 5k at green lake. Neither of us were particularly prepared (somehow Adam always manages to go out and run sub-2o minute 5ks without trying), but we had run this race together when we first started dating so it seemed cute to run it again.

We showed up about an hour early to insure we had prime parking, so we had plenty of time to wander around and have a little warm up run. As time went on more and more people showed up. Club Northwest had a good showing. Adam and I had signed up as a team so we kept scoping out the team competition since we quickly realized there were a lot of fast folks so overall or age group contention was out the window.

I lined up and prepared for the starting gun, hoping and praying I could just run sub-22.

The gun went off and the crowd took off, I tried to ignore Adam and the rest of the fast people to make sure I didn’t get pulled out too fast. I was feeling better than I anticipated, I did the quick check of the watch a couple times before settling in to a quick but comfortable pace.

As we cruised closer to the bath house theatre I zeroed in on a couple in tri suits (why run a 5k in that?). I could tell the girl didn’t want me to pass her, which I promptly did. She tried to speed up to stay with me as we passed the first mile marker. I checked my watch, 6:45, crap, too fast, but I was feeling okay so I tried to hold it. The couple dropped behind me and I didn’t see them again.

One of the advantages of running races at green lake is that I know the course like the back of my hand (thanks SGLRG)! I knew the two mile marker was at Starbucks so I focused on holding my pace, which was slipping a bit. Came through the two mile marker at 6:54 pace which was still decent but slower than I was hoping given the first mile.

The last mile also happens to be my least favorite part of the lake, for some reason the mile from Starbucks to the track always feels like it takes forever. There were some guys and a couple girls around me at this point. One girl passed me just after the 2 mile marker, I let her go but swore I would keep her close and focused on passing a couple other girls who had been just ahead of me the whole race.

I was feeling much better than I thought I would given my less than stellar training (or lack thereof training) the last month or so. Soon I spied the 3 mile marker signaling the finish was near. I ignored my watch as it beeped my 3rd mile pace (it was a 6:51). As we neared the turn on the inner loop Barry was running back towards me (crazy guy was running 6 miles, racing, then running another 6). I passed the girl in front of me and gave a quick kick, praying she didn’t have a finishing kick. I saw Adam as I came up to the finish. I could hear another runner behind me, I pushed as hard as I could to prevent getting passed in the chute (happened last year at a 10k and man does it suck).

After catching my breath and suppressing the gag reflex, I stumbled off to have my timing chip clipped off and find Adam. We stuck around long enough to hear the awards. Uli Steidl won with sub 15 minute 5k!!!! The top 27 runners all ran un 18 minutes.

I managed to run a 21:23 and 12th in my age group, which I was happy with, wished I had run faster, but it was faster than I thought I would do. Adam ran 19:52 and got 12th in his age group. We also were the 4th place team in our category.

 

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