Posts Tagged ‘personal records’

Not a new state, but a new PR!

Date: September 14, 2013Big Cottonwood

Distance: 13.1 (13.15)

Time: 1:52:33 (PR!)

What an amazing day. After seven years of running half marathons, I finally broke the sub-two hour time I’ve been coveting.  I wish I could attribute my accomplishment to following such an intense training regimen and impeccable diet, but I can’t. I give full credit to the really fast course.

This was the second year of the Big Cottonwood Canyon full and half marathons, and because I’m focusing on running races outside of my home state, I’ve been avoiding almost all Utah races for the past four or five years. The race is near my house, though, and it fit well in my race calendar this year. The website, too, showcased the beautiful course and promised very fast times.

The race certainly delivered.

The half marathon race begins about eight miles up Big Cottonwood Canyon at an elevation of 7200 feet.  (Big Cottonwood is the same canyon where Brighton and Solitude Ski Resorts are located). The course follows the very scenic, winding, paved road down the canyon and then becomes somewhat flatter and crosses into the city of Murray–just south of Salt Lake City–and ends at Cottonwood High School (elevation-4400 feet).cottonwood

In my previous post, I wrote about the possibility of getting a sub-two hour time because a recent training run down the canyon showed me that a fast time might be possible. Today, with the adrenaline and crowds, I ran even faster than I did during my training run. I felt as though I were flying down the canyon during those first eight miles and my internal mantra was, “open up and relax.” I gave myself permission to let the gravity simply pull me down the hill and I knew that, by taking full advantage of the fast downhill portion at the beginning, I would possibly shave off enough time up front to allow for a fast final time even though the course wouldn’t continue to be so steep at the end. That strategy worked, but it was exhausting.
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Is it possible?

Date: August 25, 2013

Distance: 10.85

Time: 1:44:45 (9:45 pace)

In preparation for the Big Cottonwood Canyon Half Marathon, I planned to complete a ten-mile training run yesterday that followed the last ten miles of the race course. (I’ll spare you the details about taking a wrong turn that added almost a mile to my planned route).

The course promises to be fast.  The website includes quotes from all sorts of runners reporting PRs (personal records) and BQs (Boston Qualifying times) at last year’s race. The fast, downhill course is pretty much the only reason I decided to run another Utah race instead of “saving myself” for other states. That, and the fact it’s close to my house and being held during a perfect time of the year to be racing down a scenic mountain canyon.

At my age, I have no idea how many more races I’m capable of so I’ve got to spend my racing miles allowance judiciously. Still have to get through 27 more states.

from Google images

from Google images

Months ago, when I registered, I had a tiny little thought in the back of my head suggesting, “You might be able to get that sub-2:00 time you’ve always wanted.” Despite the fact that my fastest time (2:03) was in 2007, and my last several races have averaged 2:18, I still haven’t given up that goal.

Yesterday’s trial run gave me an indication of what I might expect come race day–three weeks out.

The half marathon course will begin about 8 miles up Big Cottonwood Canyon, so I went about 5 miles up for my planned ten-miler. After leaving the mouth of the canyon, the course heads west, through residential areas, and ends at Cottonwood High School. The last five miles are mostly flat–with just a gradual descent. It’s those first miles, however, that allow for screaming fast times.

While I have averaged a 10:30 minutes/mile pace in my last five races, my first five miles of the training run were completed at 8:56, 9:05, 8:33, 8:42, and 8:47.  I was shocked when I would glance down at my Garmin and see how fast I was running–especially since I wasn’t breathing hard at all. If I could run an entire half marathon at an 8:33 pace, I would finish in 1:52!  No, I fully realize that won’t happen. There’s no way I’m running an entire race at 8:33. Still, I felt so incredibly good during this run, I realize that the 2:00 time just may be within reach. My pace for 10.85 miles was 9:45/mile and that pace would allow me to finish in about 2:07.

In three weeks, is it possible to shave off some more time? I really, really hope so.

I will admit to being incredibly sore today. My quads and calves are hurting and I feel upper glute/lower back muscles I didn’t know existed. The speed and the downhill course resulted in some achy muscles. I also admit to not having worked out at all for six days in a row this past week. I know, I know, skipping workouts will not get me to sub-2.

I’ve got to resolve to eat well, sleep well, and closely follow my training plan if I’m going to make that long-time goal of under two hours.

Now that I know the course (no more wrong turns), I’ll follow it for next week’s 11-mile training run. That will give me an even better indication of how I might do come race day.

Negative splits. NOT


Date: April 8, 2012

Distance: 11.02 miles

Time: 2:00:54

Glorious Easter run, although I got a little carried away and started off way too fast and then paid the price at the end.

At first, I intended to do a gym workout today but the 70-degree temperature and clear blue sky beckoned. I had my husband drive me 11 miles up Emigration Canyon and drop me off. That’s one sure way to make certain to get the intended mileage in.

If you are from Utah, you know how beautiful the mountains are. We are surrounded by pristine landscapes and we sometimes take it for granted because we are so used to them. Today, I took it all in and appreciated the natural beauty all around and began my run, surrounded by snow-covered mountains.

In addition to being outside, I was looking forward to this run for a couple of other reasons as well–I had just downloaded some new running music on my iPod and the eleven-mile run was all downhill. I couldn’t wait to begin.

I guess I got the adrenaline going a bit too much right from the beginning either due to my motivating music, the downhill course, or the simple fact that I wasn’t paying attention to much else other than the mountain views around me.

For whatever reason, I looked down at my Garmin at about mile four and realized that I had been running nine-minute miles. Oops. I knew right then that I was going to hit a wall before my training run was completed. Nine-minute miles are too fast for this old lady. To put things into perspective, a two-hour half marathon averages out to 9:10 per mile. My ultimate goal would be to run a sub-two hour half, but it’s likely not going to happen. The best I’ve ever run has been 2:03 and that was about five years ago.

Anyway, runners are advised to attempt to have negative splits–that’s defined as running the second half of a race faster than the first. Or, running each consecutive mile faster than the previous. That ensures that you don’t deplete your energy early on and hit the proverbial wall before the race is over.

I certainly did NOT do that today and it was a good illustration why training runs are so important in preparation for races. Figure out your strategies BEFORE any planned race and you won’t make mistakes when it matters.

Since I’m dishing out advice, here’s more…

1. Chocolate milk IS a good post-recovery workout snack. At the very least, it’s yummy.

2. Coconut water is good for hydration. Depending on what source you read, it is sometimes touted as being as good as or better than drinks such as Gatorade or Powerade. I like the taste and I like that it’s natural. The kind I buy is pure coconut water–no additives. I filled my water bottle today with half coconut water and half filtered water. That’s a strategy I’ll probably keep. Also yummy.

3. Vanilla Bean Gu is the best, but Espresso Love is a close second. I do NOT recommend chocolate or margarita flavors. A real margarita or real chocolate post race, however, is highly recommended.

4. Bodyglide is one of the best inventions ever. I’ll spare you the full details.

5. A motivating playlist can get you through anything. Latest song recommendation? Check Yes, Juliet by We the Kings.

Nashville Half is less than one month away. Foot is good, training is going well, and I can’t wait to run this race with mi esposo. Should be a very fun weekend.

Portland Downhill Dash (10K)

Date: 10/09/11

Distance: 10K (6.2 miles)

Time: 57:43 (PR!)

Another fun weekend with my Portland marathon buddies! For the third year in a row, a small contingency of the Bozeman Hawks class of ’86, and one adopted member, met up in Portland for some catching up time.

Jen was the most ambitious of the group and ran the full marathon; Todd, Anne, Angie, and Suze completed the half marathon, and I chose to complete the inaugural 10K Downhill Dash.

The Downhill Dash was a blast. The course covered the last 6.2 miles of the full marathon course and the conditions must have been in my favor–cool weather and a light rain or mist, along with a mostly downhill course allowed me to run my fastest 10K so far. I was just hoping for a sub-one hour time and met that goal by over two minutes.

After I picked up my race medal, received my post-race space blanket, and grazed my way through the amazingly well-

stocked food tables, I walked against the stream of racers to find the half-marathon crew. At about 2.5 miles in, I saw Anne. She was doing great and finished first among the half crew. At about 3 miles in, I saw Todd and Angie. They both had big smiles on their faces and were walking much faster than I had expected them to be. They were doing great.

With about one mile left, Todd decided to run and crossed the finish line next. I left the course with just a couple of blocks from the finish and Angie triumphantly completed her first half marathon. Suze crossed soon after that–also completing her first half marathon. I was so proud of both of them! Jen finished not too long after the walkers–and had a great, 4:27 time. Amazing.

The weekend was emotional–we were happy to spend time together and celebrate our continued friendships. The past few years have presented us all with a variety of emotional and physical challenges and I’m very thankful for the friendship and support of my Portland group. We spent the weekend, as usual, talking about the good and the bad that life brings.

Over the weekend we hatched possible future race plans–all running next year’s Portland half with daughters or nieces, all running Bloomsday in Spokane, or all running among the redwoods in California. Whatever we decide, one thing is certain: we all look forward to our annual get together, wherever that may be.

About the Portland Marathon:

Ranked as one of the best first time marathons (I would agree–it’s very well-organized and the course is great).

Best food at the end in terms of variety and abundance. Where most races will have a few items at the finish–the standard juice, bananas, bagels–Portland offers much more. I remember seeing several different types of yogurt, nuts, donuts, cheese sticks, chips, cookies, licorice, candy bars, and more. Oh, and along the course, you’ll also get Gummy Bears at some of the many well-placed drink stations.

Two shirts. By running the full or the half, you will receive a shirt in your goodie bag as well as a finishers’ shirt. And I love the finishers’ shirts–long-sleeved, nicely designed, and a great tech material. I didn’t get one this year since I only ran the 10K and was bummed.

Great crowd support. Even in the rain, the course is lined with lots of people cheering the runners.

Bridges. If you like running across bridges, you’ll get that in Portland’s full and 10K races.

Different Distances: Racers can complete the full marathon, which has been offered for the past forty years, the half marathon, which has been offered for the past two years, the 10K family walk (don’t know how long that’s been offered), and the 10K race–new this year.

Live Music. Portland has included live bands along the race course long before Rock and Roll marathons gained popularity. Even when it’s raining, the bands are out there, playing their hearts out.

Rain. Did you hear that it rains a lot in Portland? It’s true. When you plan to race in Portland, plan to run in the rain. Two of the three years I’ve run there, it’s rained. Just dress accordingly, put dry clothes in your gear bag for the end, and you’ll be fine.

Run for the Nuns–Race for Grace 5K

From Run for the Nuns Facebook page

Date: September 18, 2011

Distance: 5K

Time: 27:11

Great morning for a race–blue skies, no wind, and 70-degree temp. Add to that a later-than-normal 10:00 a.m. start, close proximity to my house, my race fee going to a great cause, and that’s perfection, in my book.

Today I ran a 5K race that was part of an annual fundraising effort for  the Carmelite Monastery that is just about five miles away from where I live. A friend of mine organizes this event and I was happy to support it. No t-shirts were given out and medals only went to the top three finishers, so I left with only my sense of accomplishment and swag bag–which primarily consisted of a free plastic water bottle.

Normally, such skimpy booty would be disappointing, but not in this case. Knowing that more of my race fee went to the fundraiser (and who needs another race shirt anyway) was fine by me. Although I do like the race logo and slogan–it looks great on the t-shirts I saw the volunteers wearing today.

The race included only about a hundred participants, if my estimate is accurate. Several people brought jogging strollers and others brought dogs. And as my friend, Helen, said at the start, the dogs would have made Sister Mary Joseph very happy. The race is in honor of her. She was a nun at the monastery who passed away last year and, evidently, loved dogs. Had I known, I would have probably brought Rocco along. After all, his name comes from “Saint Rocco,” the patron saint of dogs.

Here’s a humorous tidbit–quick research on the internet will inform you that St. Rocco is also the patron saint of contagious diseases, bachelors, surgeons, tile makers, falsely accused people, invalids, and diseased cattle. There’s a patron saint for everything, I tell you.

Had I brought Rocco, however, I can guarantee you that I would not have had such a good finish time–27:11. A new personal record.

I was thrilled about my time, especially since the first part of the course included a brutal uphill climb, until I looked down at my Garmin as I crossed the finish line and it said I had only covered 2.95 miles. A short course probably explains my great time. Had I not been wearing my Garmin, however, I wouldn’t have reason to question the distance. So, despite my doubts about the validity of my time, I’m counting this as my best 5K time so far, darn it.

So, next week I have another half marathon to look forward to–in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Well, maybe saying “looking forward to” is not quite accurate. Orlando had an overnight there last night and said it was 31-degrees when he woke up this morning. Brrrrr! I’m not ready for that.  Nor am I looking forward to 6000 feet elevation and an uphill course. Definitely WON’T be reporting a PR time for that race!