Just In Case You Forgot…

Hi everyone!  Since things have been super busy with the Her Tern Half for the past 13 weeks I realize that there are some things that may have been overlooked in my life.  Like this:

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Just in case you forgot/somehow missed it, I’m running my very first Ragnar Relay NEXT WEEKEND in Colorado!  In fact, I’m leaving for Denver tomorrow morning!  I’ll be busy from Friday through Wednesday at a work conference, and then I’ll meet up with my teammates on Thursday before running 200ish miles on Friday and Saturday with 12 total strangers through crazy high elevation and awesome mountain views.  And then I get back to Anchorage at midnight on Sunday.  Here’s the FAQs on the situation:

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Have I trained for this at all?  Um, not really.  No two-a-days or running at crazy hours of the night.  All I’m doing to prepare for this is banking on the fact that I ran 13.1 miles two weeks ago and hiked 16 miles last weekend.  I feel like I can handle any of my assigned legs after powering through those distances!

What exactly am I running?  I’m runner #2, which is honestly exciting because I go right after our captain and I don’t have to wait too long to get started.  The nervous pre-race feeling is the worst part!  And I’m not even running crazy distances or at any super weird times of the day so I got really lucky.  Here are my legs and projected start times, which are based on me running an adjusted 12:00/mile pace due to the heat and high elevation:

Leg 1:  6 hard miles at 8:27 am Friday
Leg 2:  3.8 easy miles at 8:43 pm  Friday
Leg 3:  5.1 moderate miles at 6:11 am Saturday (ugh that’s early)
Total:  14.9 miles in 23 hours!

Do I know anyone else on the team?  Nope!  When I found out I’d be in Denver a few days before this race I knew I couldn’t miss the opportunity to run it.  So I found a group of girls on the Ragnar Facebook page who were looking for another runner, and I signed right up!  The only tough part is that they all live in Colorado and a few have met before, so I’m nervous that I’ll be the odd girl out since I don’t live there.  Plus I may be the only one who dies from altitude sickness which would be pretty lame.

What am I most nervous about?  Honestly, the elevation is terrifying.  I ran the Zion Half at around 4000ish miles above sea level and definitely felt the effects of it towards the end, but leg #1 of this race has me ending at around 9400 feet!  That’s the highest leg out of my three and also my longest, so I’m worried that I’ll get hit hard in the beginning and be a hot mess for the rest of the weekend.  I really appreciated the advice I found on this website, which really breaks down what I need to do as a sea-level runner/hiker to adjust and to stay safe.  It’s good that I’ll be in Denver for a week to give my body time to adjust, although Denver is still significantly lower than Copper Mountain.

What am I most excited about?  Crossing a new state off of my 50 states list, running in a gorgeous place, testing my limits with running, and meeting lots of new runners!  Also, I’ll be eating a lot of Chipotle next week.  Which has nothing to do with running, but I’m just really excited about it!

How am I preparing over the next week and a half?  I’m planning on doing a few 3-4 milers while in Denver with a longer run on the weekend – maybe 7 miles?  I’ve also been stalking free/cheap yoga classes near my hotel downtown so that I can keep stretching throughout my time there, and plan on getting some kind of portable foam roller I can stick in my suitcase to keep my legs feeling fresh.  Oh, and these should help too:

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I’m so excited about my new shoes!  I realized last week after running an easy run that my feet, shins, and ankles were kind of feeling off.  It was that “Time for new shoes” feeling and the fact that I’d already run 300 miles in them this year made me realize that I needed new shoes before Colorado!  So I upgraded to the ASICS Gel-Kayano 21s.  When the saleswoman opened up the box I literally gasped – mint green is my favorite color!  They are so much prettier than my pink/orange/purple Kayano 20s and honestly I’m excited that for once in my life I found cute running shoes that actually work with my overpronating feet.  They fit perfectly and my test run in them last night was awesome!  No more pain at all, and I ran so fast that I caused a 6.2 earthquake!  (Just kidding.  Tectonic plates caused the earthquake, not me.  It was the biggest one I’ve ever felt and I had to take cover since things were falling off walls and shelves!  Oh, Alaska.)

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Overall, I’m honestly pretty excited about my first Ragnar!  My priorities are to have fun, take it slow, and not die out there, and my teammates are feeling the same way.  Next week I’ll take a closer look at what I’m packing and what advice I’ve been using to plan for the race, so stay tuned for that!

Have you ever run a Ragnar relay?  do you have any advice for a first timer/someone who lives at sea level and has to run at high elevation?

Lost Lake Trail Recap

Hi everyone!  We just got back from an awesome weekend trip down to Seward, Alaska and I’m pretty tired but excited to recap our latest adventure!  If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you’ll remember that I lived in Seward last summer from April to September.  I consider it one of the most beautiful places on earth!  It sits in a fjord surrounded by mountains and glaciers, and there are so many options for hiking, kayaking, and day cruises.  It’s the best place to spend a few days when you want to get out of Anchorage.  Since the weather in Anchorage was supposed to be super rainy and it was just supposed to be cloudy in Seward, we decided to head down there on Friday night.

Driving along Turnagain Arm

The drive down was gorgeous as usual, and I was so excited to be making our way down there for the first time since September!  We had plans to stay with some of our friends in their awesome house right outside of town, and we spent the first night catching up.  Saturday morning we slept in, and woke up to find that there were low clouds hanging over Seward.  We were really looking forward to hiking something that we hadn’t done last year, and despite the clouds we decided to try to hike the Lost Lake Trail.  This trail is almost 16 miles in length and has an elevation gain of 2100 ft.  It’s also the location of a trail race in August that sells out in about 15 minutes every year!  We’ve always wanted to do the entire point-to-point trail from Primrose to Seward, and since we had our friends’ car in addition to ours it meant we could park one car at either end and actually hike from one end to the other.  We started out around noon at the Primrose campground and were surprised to see that it was sunny out there!  The hike up was a long gradual incline and most of it was at a level that didn’t even get me out of breath, although there were quite a few steep sections.  The tree coverage kept us out of the sun and also provided us with so many pretty forest views.  Once we got up above the tree line our views got even better!

 About 1/3 of the trail was along the ridge, and I couldn’t get enough of the mountain views.  And once the lake came into view I was dying!  It was seriously one of the most gorgeous views I’ve ever seen on a hike!

     The rolling hills on the tundra were so beautiful and seemed to go on forever.  And there were lots of tiny lakes around every corner

 

   Despite the fact that we were starting to get tired, we kept up a pretty good pace and soon we were heading back down to the other side.  This side was pretty socked in with clouds and there wasn’t much to see, but once we were back down in the trees it didn’t matter anyways.  The trail gradually descended a few final miles until we hit the Lost Lake parking lot a little after 5:00 pm.  My husband and I were so excited to have finally checked such a big hike off of our must-do list, and we were also excited that we had officially hiked our longest distance ever in one day!  We celebrated with a soak in our friends’ hot tub, salmon mac and cheese, and a Dance Moms marathon.  Although the hike was very long and tiring at times, we honestly felt that Lost Lake was much easier than the Mount Marathon trail and we’d recommend it to anyone who is looking for a day hike or wants to do a slower backpacking trip with great camping at the top.  We definitely plan on doing it again and taking more time to actually explore closer to the lake next time.

On Sunday we spent the day visiting our old coworkers (and my favorite coffee place!) in the harbor before heading back to Anchorage.  I seriously miss it there so much and I can’t wait to go back a few more times this summer and fall – hopefully when it’s a bit more sunny!

 What did you do this weekend?  What was your longest/most scenic hike ever?

What Happened in Half Marathon #6

Hi everyone!  So I’m still trying to process what happened during Sunday’s Her Tern Half Marathon (for the race recap, go here).  As you may have noticed, I had a blast.  I also got semi-injured.  I also did not PR, or reach my sub-2:30 goal.  And I don’t know how I feel about all of it.  Warning:  this post is going to get pretty real right now.

hth finishFinish line picture with Kelsey – our official time was 2:41

If you read my race recap, you’ll know that I was pretty much on pace to meet my goal until mile 9.5ish, where I stopped for water and then noticed that my right hamstring behind my knee was starting to hurt.  I tried to stretch, but it didn’t really help.  And luckily for me I found my blogging buddy Kelsey and we had a blast walking/running and taking fun pictures until we reached the finish line.  So technically, the fact that I was 11 minutes over my goal time was okay because I had lots of fun and finished with a smile on my face – but also because I was in pain.  In fact, I was still feeling the pain a bit yesterday and I definitely needed to rest, ice, and do a lot of stretching to recover.  I’m finally feeling better and hope to ease into some running soon.  But one thing that’s really upsetting to me is that before I stopped to walk I was feeling so fast and strong.  My brain was being negative, but I felt like my body was okay and I was going to make it to the end.  So I have to wonder:  if I hadn’t stopped to walk for so long, would I have finished a lot faster (and possibly with a PR)?  It’s one big giant “What if?” and I’ll never actually know.  All I know is that I slowed way down in mile 10, and shifted my focus from the PR to having fun.

IMG_5898Taken in mile 11.  Yes we do kick ass!

Why am I being so silly about all of this?  The fact is that I’ve been trying to beat 2:30 for over a year, and I felt like I was finally ready – especially since this time I was properly trained and had 4 awesome coaches helping me get to where I needed to be.  And when I was running so strong in mile #8, I was finally realizing that I really was stronger and faster than I think I am, and that I was capable of meeting my goal.  So when I didn’t reach it, I felt frustrated.  I didn’t feel that way right away – in fact, after the race I was having a really good time, and my only focus was eating cupcakes and then getting home because my leg was in so much pain.  But by Sunday night my brain finally realized what had happened, and I was not really happy about it.  On Monday when my coworkers asked how it went, I wasn’t even sure how to answer!  Because two things simultaneously happened in this race:

1.  I was on pace to PR (or miss my PR by a minute or so) for most of the race, despite my brain telling me that there was a chance I couldn’t do it and that I should just give up.  In mile 9 I only intended to walk long enough to get a drink.  When I saw an opportunity to slow way down because of my leg and finding someone to walk with, my brain was relieved and I gave up my chance to PR.  And then my leg hurt for a few days, although the rest of my body was surprisingly less sore/exhausted than it’s ever been after a half marathon and I recovered really quickly.

2.  I finished 12 weeks of tough training with a group of amazing girls and coaches, and it ended with a 13.1 mile celebration of what we’d achieved and how fast/strong we’d become.  Between pre-race yoga, starting the race with a whole group of HTH training group girls, going to mile 7 with one of my running buddies, pushing through my strongest mile 8 in any race ever, and then finishing with some silliness and fun with my first real-life blogging buddy, it ended up being the most fun half marathon I’ve ever run.  And I finished 10 minutes faster than the Zion Half Marathon back in March while feeling so much better post-race.

jumping hthSeriously, I can’t get enough of this picture from mile 13ish!

So how did the race go?  It really depends on how I choose to look at it.  And after some pretty intense days of processing everything, I’ve realized that this was probably one of my most successful and important races ever.  I’ve always wanted to learn how to do speed training and join a running community, and through the HTH training group I finally got to do that.  It felt like I knew so many people running this race, and we were all so supportive and happy the whole time.  So maybe this was never meant to be my PR race.  Maybe this was meant to be a memorable race because it was the first race where I felt like I belonged here in Anchorage, and the first time that I felt totally trained for a race.  I know that from now on I’ll always have friends to run with at the Tuesday night pub runs, won’t have to race alone, and will have an outlet to talk about running stuff without driving my non-running friends crazy.  HTH wasn’t the end of running with other people and doing speed workouts – it was just the beginning.  And I’m so excited to get back out there and run fast with everyone as soon as I feel better!

IMG_5903So happy about wearing this bracelet around town – it has the finish line coordinates on it so I’ll never forget how important this race was to me!

And as for the PR thing, I’ve decided that I’m clearly going to need to do another half marathon ASAP while I’m still feeling fast and strong from all of my training!  Now before anyone gets concerned, I’m going to stay super aware of how my leg is feeling because I’ve got quite a few things lined up in the fall already, as well as Ragnar Colorado in 2 weeks.  No PR is worth getting an injury.  But if I’m feeling good a month from now, I’ll probably do a last minute sign up for the Skinny Raven Half Marathon at Big Wild Life Runs here in Anchorage with a few of my HTH running buddies.  If I’m not feeling 100% by then, I’ll try to run the Kenai River Half Marathon down in Kenai in September.  I plan on staying in half marathon shape for a while (doing longer runs on the weekends) so that I can get more comfortable mentally and physically with running long because I still feel like that is my weak point.  For now, I’m just looking forward to trying again in the future.  You can never run too many races, right?  :)

How do you handle coming up short of a goal that you’ve had for a while?  Have you ever had to change your goals mid-race?

Race Recap: Her Tern Half Marathon 2015

Hi everyone!  Well, I did it:  I ran my 6th half marathon!  I ran the Her Tern Half Marathon, an all girls half marathon here in Anchorage.  I also ran this last year and was hoping for some improvement overall since last year’s race ended with me hitting a wall!  Let’s start from the beginning:

On Saturday, I woke up bright and early for our last HTH group run.  We ran 20 easy minutes, did some drills, and ran 5 strides.  We all got kind of emotional after the last stride because it meant we were finally ready for the race!  After all of that work it was finally time for us to party at the expotique, and it did not disappoint!  First, we got our HTH training group water bottles.  Then we got our race bags which included a super cute Baggu bag with tons of coupons and our tech race shirts!

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Once we had our coupons, it was time to shop!  I hung out with my friends for at least an hour trying on all the cute Brooks HTH branded stuff, and finally decided on this boxy HTH shirt ($25 off), a Nathan phone carrier ($10 off), 3 tubes of Nuun (buy 2 get 1 free), and I also caved and bought the HTH race necklace!  It’s the same design as the bracelet but I honestly needed a new necklace and getting one with the finish line coordinates just seemed like a good choice – especially considering that basically all races in Anchorage end at the same place!

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We also stopped by the HTH wall of runner names!  We were so excited to officially be running this!

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IMG_5889That’s me!

At the expo, I discovered that my one running buddy was running with her mom as a pacer to hit 2:30 – and I could run with them too!  So I switched my start time to 9:00 and prepared to hit my goal.  I tried to relax the rest of the day and was actually feeling much calmer than I thought I’d be!

I woke up on Sunday and was actually pretty excited for race day.  I loved showing up at the race and knowing so many people there.  We spent the time before the race running some easy laps on the park strip and doing yoga led by one of our awesome coaches.  And before I knew it, it was time to run!

pre hthStarting the race with some of my HTH training group members!

For the first half of the race, I was hanging close to my friend and her mom.  We were listening to music but not doing too much talking, so you could tell we were serious (although I may have fist pumped and sung along with some Nelly songs!).  We were sticking pretty close to our goal time and I was actually feeling really good – much better than any recent long runs, even with the heat and sun!  We turned around at mile 7 and I pulled ahead of them for a bit because I was starting to realize that running a race with others was way harder than I thought. If they wanted to take a quick break my brain was like “Do it too!” even if I felt good enough to keep going.  And I had my own strategy of taking breaks when it was hilly, which they weren’t really aware of.  So when she stopped to walk for a few seconds I decided to keep going until I hit a hill around mile 8.  After walking for a few seconds, I sped through the rest of the hilly portion of the race course in an 11:25 pace!  Usually at mile 8 I’m halfway dead and my brain is telling me that it’s time to stop and that I should never run again.  I was so proud of myself, but I was still doubting I’d be able to make it to the end running that fast.  When I stopped in the 9th mile at the water stop it was really hard for me to get going again, mostly because I started feeling this nagging muscle pain on the back of my right knee.  And then guess who I ran into!

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Kelsey from Keeping Up With Kelsey!  I was so excited to see her here!  She’s the one who is hosting the 50 states run challenge that I’m featuring on the side of my blog, and when she told me she was coming to Alaska for a wedding I knew exactly what race to recommend for her to run!  It was pure luck that I ran into her just as I was starting to feel like I was in serious pain, because she was feeling some knee pain too.  So we walked to mile 10 and then hobbled our way through a 12:00/mile 5k to the finish.  But it was actually just what I needed!  I was starting to feel the serious pressure that comes with gunning for a PR, and I was forgetting how much fun this race could be.  So we spent those miles talking, running, and having way too much fun on the race course.  We may have done some epic jump shots for the photographers and gotten a little too silly with our pictures  :)  When we got to the N Street hill I was so glad to see my amazing HTH training group coaches at the bottom just waiting to run me up!  I could not have done it without them!  At the top of the hill I still had to run 2 blocks to the finish line, which almost killed me.  But I made it!

jumping hthAt the bottom of the N Street hill!  LOVE THIS!

And no, I did not PR.  I had so many girls from our group congratulate me on finishing, and I received the awesome finisher’s bracelet.  But I was more focused on getting a drink and eating some cupcakes.  I was super excited to see that there were water bottles and bagels too, which is a huge improvement from last year!  After taking a few pictures I was starting to realize that my leg pain was getting to be pretty intense, so I hobbled back to the car and went home for some relaxing and leg icing to feel better.  I actually feel like I recovered from this race so much easier than any other half marathon!  I was really proud of how strong I felt after it was over, and I’m kind of looking forward to running another one as soon as possible.  That is, if my leg isn’t actually injured.  I’m not sure what’s going on there, but it feels painful behind my knee when I stretch my leg out straight.  I’m hoping some more rest, ice, and yoga will help me get back to normal in a few days.

Overall, I would highly recommend this race for any women who are looking to run a race with great swag, awesome pre and post run activities, and lots of fun running support!  It was a great race and if/when I run it again I’ll make sure to join the running group again too.  If you’re wondering how I’m feeling now that the race is over, stay tuned to hear more about that later this week.  I can’t just not PR and leave it at that!

Have you ever had a mid-race injury?  How do you deal with running races that don’t end up the way you planned?  What is the most fun race you’ve ever run?

Note:  all race day pictures were borrowed from Facebook friends/the course photographer because I left my phone in the car  :)

Friday Five: Favorite Race Swag

Hi everyone!  It’s been a loooong week, so I’m pretty excited that it’s almost over!  And I’m really excited about the Her Tern Half on Sunday and the expotique tomorrow!  Make sure to follow me on Instagram and Twitter to see how things go this weekend!  Anyways, since it’s the Friday before a race weekend I was super excited to see that this Friday’s Friday Five prompt from Cynthia, Mar, and Courtney is “Favorite Race Swag”.  I’m a huge fan of good race swag, and I can’t wait to share my favorites with you!

fav race swag

1.  Zion Half Marathon:  Not only was the race shirt the cutest one I’ve ever gotten, the medal was HUGE!  And after the race we got an entire box of food to take with us.  I will run another Vacation Races race again for some more awesome swag!

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2.  Disney Princess Half Marathon:  Honestly, the swag that came with this race wasn’t that great, although the medal was pretty awesome.  But the stuff they had for sale at the expo was legit!  I spent way too much money in the official merchandise tent, but I use this stuff all the time so it was worth it!

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3.  Beat The Blerch Half Marathon:  I’m in love with the medal.  We also got a sweet zip up shirt.  But I honestly think the best part of this race was getting The Oatmeal to autograph my race bib and his book!

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4.  The Love Run Half Marathon:  We got a nice tech shirt and a sweet medal, but the coolest part was the finisher’s mug!  I love drinking coffee out of it after a long run.

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5.  The Kris Kringle 5 Miler:  This is a pretty cheap, low key race in Reading, PA.  There’s not even a medal for finishers.  But runners get a really cool hoodie, and the design changes each year!  Plus the post race food spread is pretty insane.

20131107-083717.jpgWearing my hoodie from my first KK5M!

I’m hoping I can run this race WHEN I GO HOME FOR CHRISTMAS!!!!!  That’s right ladies and gentlemen, I’m coming back to Philly for a week and a half at the end of December!  Just writing those words gives me goosebumps.  I’m so excited!  If anyone wants to run with me while I’m chillin on the east coast let me know!  You know I’m always on the lookout for fun races  :)

There’s one more race with awesome swag that needs to be mentioned, but the swag is so awesome that it seriously needs its own blog post.  Which it will actually have on Monday, because I’m talking about the Her Tern Half right here in Anchorage!  This race is advertised as Alaska’s most plush women’s only event, and they’re pretty serious about that. Here’s some pictures from last year’s expotique:

IMG_5885Taken from the Her Tern Half Facebook page

Race entry comes with a shirt, as well as some gift certificates to Brooks, Her Tern Boutique, and Nathan.  There are so many cute Brooks HTH shirts for sale, HTH Nathan water bottles, and lots of cute running accessories!  The best part is after the race though – we’ll be getting a seriously awesome bracelet with the finish line coordinates on it instead of a medal, plus a HTH champagne glass for our free mimosas.  I love having the option to purchase lots of cute race branded swag, so I plan on going nuts on Saturday!

IMG_5609We were trying to control ourselves at the Her Tern Bracelet Reveal party!

I love finding races with awesome swag, and since I’m looking for races to run in all 50 states I’d love your suggestions! What’s your favorite race swag?

 

What I Learned From My Training Group

Hi everyone!  I’m only a few days away from the Her Tern Half (ahhh!!!!) and as I said earlier this week, I’m nervous!  This is a big race for me and I’m hoping for a PR.  Last year, I ran this race in 2:33:59.  I crossed the finish line looking like death, and may have wanted to puke up the post-race cupcakes because I felt so awful.  I hadn’t really put in all the training I should have, and it showed.  I thought I’d never run the HTH again, even though I’d had a pretty good time overall (read the recap here!).

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Earlier this year, Skinny Raven contacted me about trying out their HTH training plan and giving the race a second chance.  I was honestly excited about the opportunity at first – I love trying out new things and I knew it would help me train better and hopefully finish faster.  As the start of the training group approached I became more and more nervous though!  I’d never trained with other people, and I was worried I’d be too slow to keep up.  But I knew from day one that this was going to be a really awesome group of helpful, supportive women who were all here to get better – and to have fun!  I plan on recapping exactly what we did over our 12 weeks of training in the next few weeks, but right now I’d like to share some overall lessons that I learned from the HTH training group, and how those lessons are going to get me across the finish line:

HTH what I learned

Running with friends is more fun than running alone.  As I’ve said many times, I’m a solo runner.  There’s nothing better than a few miles on the trails after a tough day of work.  But by the end of the first week of training I was already meeting some amazing girls who not only ran at my speed, but were willing to stick with me for hours!  I think our group has around 100 runners (some run in the morning session instead of my afternoon one) and I never met a runner who I didn’t click with.  We made each other laugh during the running drills on speed day, and cheered each other on while speeding up hills and running long on the coastal trail.  I learned that if you’re going to run hard, you might as well have fun doing it!

IMG_5600Shoutout to Besa for being an awesome running buddy!

And running with friends makes you faster.  In week 2 of training, we did a pretty tough run around my hilly neighborhood.  I started out my tempo session alone (as usual) and completed one loop.  While grabbing water, I began talking with two girls, and when they started their next loop I hung with them and tried to keep up.  They were fast, but not so fast that I wasn’t able to keep up.  They pushed me to finish faster than I thought was possible, and from that moment on they became my speed work running buddies!  There were some practices where I wanted to fall back and let them go on ahead, but I ended up sticking with them and being able to finish fast.  I couldn’t have done that if I was alone!  My first track tempo pace was 10:00/mile for a half mile.  My last track tempo pace with my buddies was 9:30/mile for 2 miles.  No matter what my finishing time is, that’s a huge achievement for me and proof that I’m faster than I think!

IMG_5270And track workouts really do help you get faster!

Proper form is key to not feeling like death while running.  This is probably common sense to everyone but me, but if you have good form while running you’ll feel better and look better.  I went into training doing some sort of crazy arm thing – I kept my arms high with my elbows glued to my sides, and instead of pumping my arms I rotated my whole upper body.  I also hunched over and stared at the ground.  In the second and third week our coaches really began working with us on our running form and would give us lots of feedback on what we needed to do as we ran past them.

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If you’re wondering what proper form looks like, here it is:  keep your arms bent and low by your hips, and pump them as if you’re reaching back to put something in your back pocket.  Don’t rotate your upper body and keep your shoulders back and down.  And look forward, not down!  Being all hunched over and looking down actually prevents you from taking full breaths, especially while going uphill.  And on that note…

You need to embrace the hills.  Hills are going to happen in every run and in every race.  So avoiding them in training (which is what I used to do) is not going to work!  It’s all about knowing how to attack the uphill and handle the downhill to maximize your energy.  The hardest part is the mental aspect of hills, but we discussed ways to tackle them and make them part of our race training.  This race (and basically all AK races) ends on a hill so it’s important for us to learn how to run them!

IMG_5881On Monday I practiced the finish line hill one more time!  I got this!

And the most important lesson of all:  I’ve got this!  I love that I’m going into this race knowing that not only do I have 100 awesome runny buddies from this group all around me, I have my 4 awesome coaches there too.  It’s nice to know that for the first time ever, I’ve got more than just my husband rooting for me to finish.  And throughout the training process we all used the HTH training group Facebook page to post inspiring comments, positive thoughts, and cheers for each of our accomplishments along the way.  I’m incredibly nervous about this race still, but I know that these girls will be there to support me and get me across that finish line!

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Overall, I had a blast training with the HTH training group and I don’t want it to end this weekend!  And not only that, I truly believe that they prepared me for this race more than I’ve ever been for any other race.  Just knowing that I did speed work, hill repeats, pushed myself on long runs, and trained in all kinds of crazy weather makes me feel more confident about my ability to finish.  Now we just need to see what happens on race day!

Have you ever done a half marathon training group before?  What did you learn from it?

Her Tern Half Training: Week 11

Well guys, this is it:  the final training update of the Her Tern Half training cycle!  Here was my week:

Monday:  I was finally ready for my week 10 long run…except the weather was super hot and rainy.  People were describing it with the word “muggy” which I didn’t think was possible in Alaska.  So I took my run to the gym!  I reverted back to my old “run 9:00/walk 1:00″ treadmill plan to help break up the monotony of running indoors and also watched HGTV to stay distracted, and after one hour and 45 minutes I was done!

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Tuesday:  Deep Stretch yoga class at AY.  So good.

Wednesday:  HTH training group speed day.  This was a big day for us as we were running hill repeats up the N Street hill AKA the torturous end of the race.  I stuck with my trusty tempo running buddy and she had me booking it up that hill so fast!  We ran the loop 3 times, which consisted of 1.5 loops of tempo uphill and easy downhill back to the lagoon. We averaged about 10:40 per mile for almost 5 miles!

Thursday:  Flow yoga class at AY.  This instructor didn’t turn on the heat (still sweated a ton!) and was really awesome, so I plan on taking her class as much as possible!

IMG_5800Flow class aftermath in the car.

Friday:  Our company had a booth set up at the Bear Paw Festival in Eagle River, and my coworker and I had to work at the booth all day which meant I spent 8 hours on my feet!

Saturday:  I was so tired after Bear Paw that I decided to sleep in and run my final HTH long run on my own.  I was super hot and dehydrated the whole time, but managed to get 6 miles of running (and some walking) done.  I decided to stop at 6 and call it a day.  I then worked another 3 hours at Bear Paw, where I might have eaten fried oreos and pecan pie for dinner.  #sorrynotsorry

Sunday:  Disc golf at Kincaid park!  I love that the course is so hilly and long that I’m able to count this as a 2.5 mile “hike”.

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Right now I’m feeling…well, I’m honestly feeling a lot of things.  This time next week the race will be over, and I have no idea what’s going to happen.  I’m feeling:

  • Nervous!  I want to get a PR so bad and my last few long runs have been slow and filled with water breaks.  I don’t want my race to be like that.
  • Anxious.  I’ve never trained this well for a race and I’m dying to see how it affects my race performance.
  • Excited!  The vibe of all-girl races is so much fun, and the fact that I know so many of these girls makes it even better.  Between Saturday’s expo and Sunday’s race I know I’ll be having a blast with all the girls I’ve met.
  • Wise-ish.  I’m trying to be calm and wise and just think of this as a fun event where I get the chance to run with so many amazing girls and celebrate 12 weeks of hard work.  But it’s hard.
  • Sad?  I don’t want the training group to end!  What am I going to do with my Wednesday nights?

I feel like I need to work a bit more to get my mind in a more positive and calm place.  I know that it’s silly to put so much pressure on myself for this race, and that there will be other races out there where I can reach my goals if I don’t get there on Sunday.  But I want this SO BAD.  And my last few long runs don’t show that fire – they just show me being a hot mess under pressure.  I want to reach a balance between a drive to get this race done fast and an enjoyment of a great race with my training group ladies.  This week I’ll only be running twice before the race (not counting the short group jog on Saturday before the expo) so most of my effort will be spent getting my mind prepped for the race.  I know I can finish, and I know I can have fun.  Now I just need to make sure I’m able to tell myself that all throughout the race!

running brain quote

How do you prep your mind before a big race day?  How do you get yourself through tough times on the race course?  Any running mantras you want to share with me?

Friday Five: Five Fitness Trends I’ll Never Try

Hi everyone!  It’s Friday, which means it’s time for another Friday Five with Courtney, Cynthia, and Mar!  This week’s topic is “Five fitness trends I’ll never try”.  I feel like there are quite a few fitness trends that I immediately know I’m not going to get into no matter how much other people like them.  As I learned from Pilates, not every type of workout will work for each person – everyone has different preferences, goals, and body types.  I’m looking for things that will make me a better runner and make my body feel good while getting in a good workout.  You might love this stuff, and that’s awesome that it works for your body and your fitness!  But these 5 things just won’t work for me:

fitness trends i'll never try

1.  Bikram:  I’m not a fan of super hot environments (that’s why I live in Alaska!) so 105 degree heat inside a small room with lots of sweaty people sounds awful.  I think the 85 degree flow class at AY is my limit on heated yoga!

2.  Crossfit:  It seems too intense for me and not really what I’m looking for in a workout.  Plus we all know that both runners and crossfitters both exhibit cult-like workout behavior, and I’m firmly in the running cult.  I’m not leaving it for box jumps and all that jazz.

3.  Zumba:  I’m a terrible dancer so there is no way I’m going to try choreographed dancing designed to make me sweat!

4.  Mud runs:  to be fair, I’ve done one of these before.  I ran the Dirty Girl Mud Run in 2013 and it was pretty awful.  As a klutz I feel like I’m going to sprain my ankle from normal life things, so having to deal with obstacles was terrifying!  It ended with a giant slide into mud and the slide kept getting shut down because people kept getting injured when they slammed into the bottom.  Nope, not doing that again!  Plus I keep reading news articles about people getting super sick from gross poop bacteria in the mud at big mud runs and that is seriously enough to keep me away from all mud for the rest of my life!

5.  The beer mile:  I read an article in Runner’s World about the beer mile (chugging a beer after each loop around a track for one mile while simultaneously trying to run faster than everyone else) and I could not understand how that is a thing.  Beer after a 5k is totally awesome.  Beer while sprinting as fast as possible is totally crazy!  Also add to this one any race involving food consumption while running.  I love food and I love running, but my stomach needs them to be separate!

And now that I’ve listed a bunch of stuff I’ll never do, I’d like to take a moment to list five fitness activities I’m dying to try!  If you haven’t tried these, what are you waiting for?

1.  Running a marathon:  Okay this is not really a trend, but it’s just really hard and I want to do it someday!

2.  Skiing:  Either cross country or skate skiing, because both happen on flat ground.  As I said before, I’m a klutz!

3.  Ice skating: My balance is horrible so this will be interesting.  But I bought myself skates and I’m ready for the Westchester Lagoon to freeze over in a few months so I can try them out!

4.  Spin:  Anchorage is FINALLY getting their first spin studio in August and even though I’ve only taken 2 spin classes in my life I’m really excited to see what our newest fitness studio will be like!

5.  SUP:  I bought a Groupon for this so it’s totally going to happen soon!

What fitness trend will you never try?  What fitness activity have you never tried but really want to?

Things You Should Not Do in Yoga Class

Hi everyone!  Lately I’ve been taking quite a few yoga classes in the studio, and it’s definitely a different experience than doing yoga at home.  I love the feeling of being in a room with so many people who chose to work on their practice today, the calming and affirming messages the teachers give us throughout class, and the way that I’m pushed harder than I am at home and can do some poses in class that I couldn’t do before!  And even though I hate being in a heated room, it definitely helps stretch me out after a long week of running.  The most awkward part of doing yoga in a studio is that you’re doing it with lots of other people…and not everyone practices yoga the same way.  I’m noticing this a lot at my new studio, which is usually absolutely packed with people in every class.  For me, yoga should be a very calming and personal event, and I take the time before class to really get myself into a relaxed mindset after a long day and to prepare for the class ahead.  When I get to yoga I do the following:

  1. Quietly check in to class.  If I have any injuries or pains that I think the instructor should know about, I let her know before going inside the classroom.  This helps her give me modifications when necessary so that I can participate in every pose.
  2. Silently enter the classroom and choose a spot either against the back wall or against a side wall if possible.  I like to have a little bit of private space.
  3. Roll out my mat as quietly as possible and get situated in my space.  I try really hard to take up as little space around me as possible with all of the props we need for class.
  4. Lay down on my mat with my feet on the floor and my eyes closed, focusing on my breathing until class begins.
  5. During class I’m very focused on the class itself while being mindful of how I’m taking up space (if I’m moving beyond my mat space, where my props are, etc.).
  6. After class I clean up my area and leave.  I don’t want those calming vibes to go away anytime soon!

Most of the other people in the class are doing the same thing…but not everyone.  Here’s a list of some of the things I’ve already witnessed people doing in yoga class, AKA things that you should definitely not do during yoga class:

should not do in yoga

  • Be loud before class.  I know that people like to do yoga with their friends, but once you’re in the classroom you’re expected to stay pretty quiet and not disrupt others.  I’ve been to quite a few studios and I feel like it’s Yoga Code or something.  The room is silent so I can hear everything you’re saying and I don’t really need that when I’m trying to forget about my own stressful day, you know?
  • This one is usually banned at all fitness studios, but just in case you didn’t know:  using cell phones in the classroom!  Watching people scroll through their Facebook feed or text people when we’re supposed to be disconnecting from all that stuff seems so counterproductive.
  • Come in late.  People who come in late are a flustered mess and have to climb over everyone else to get to that one spot left at the front of the room.  Most studios actually have a cutoff point where they won’t let you in the studio if you’re late past a certain point because it distracts from the class.
  • Wear perfume.  You’re in a tiny room with other people working out, please don’t do this!
  • The opposite of wearing perfume – which is not wearing enough deodorant.  In my heated flow class the smell is pretty crazy by the end of class.  I understand that we’re all working really hard and things happen sometimes, but I can definitely tell that some people are slacking in the deodorant/fresh shower department.
  • Put your mat too close to other people.  It’s pretty easy to keep your mat in line with others (and my studio has lines on the floor to help guide people), but some people seem to enjoy breaking the straight lines and do whatever they want.  I got kicked in the face today by a guy who was way too close to my mat.
  • Put your props and stuff all over the place.  Yesterday I had the pleasure of dealing with some guy’s sweat towel on the edge of my mat the whole time, and then he somehow stole my yoga block and it was in his giant pile of stuff.
  • Adding this one because I didn’t remember it until I went to bed:  sleep in class.  Someone in my Deep Stretch classes always falls asleep towards the end and is snoring loudly.  It makes me feel like I’m on an airplane.
  • Leave early.  Savasana is my favorite pose, and when people are cleaning up their stuff and walking around while I’m trying to relax it totally ruins the moment.  This one drives me crazy!  Why would you miss the relaxation at the end of class?

savasana

I honestly have to say that I’m noticing these things a lot more now that I’m going to the super crowded and popular studio here in Anchorage, and lots of these things can be avoided by finding one that doesn’t have full classes of 50 people.  I’m not sure that this studio is for me, even though I’m loving the actual classes and instructors.  But I think that no matter where you go you’ll probably run into some of this.  If you’ve never been to yoga class before, don’t worry about being “that guy”!  If you’re ever unsure of what to do you can always ask someone at the front desk before taking a class, and many of these things are mentioned on yoga studio websites – especially not being late, not wearing perfume, and being quiet/not using cell phones in the classrooms.  And if you’ve been taking classes for a while, I’m sure you’ve seen at least one of these things before!

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen in yoga class?  What’s you’re number one yoga class rule that you don’t ever break?

Her Tern Half Training: Week 10 And Hydration Questions

Hi everyone!  Week 10 of HTH training is complete…well, sort of.

Monday:  total rest day after my hot mess long run last Sunday.  I still felt really sick, and after talking to my coworkers I realized that I probably caught whatever stomach bug they had in Seattle!  It made me feel a little better about how hard that run was for me.

Tuesday:  It was my birthday!  I ran 2.8 miles to celebrate turning 28, and also went for a little hike with my friends.

IMG_5780Morning running view from the coastal trail

Wednesday:  Our last HTH speed workout at the track!  We had to run a 20 minute tempo and I was a bit worried about it, but I ended up running with my usual tempo buddies and we did great!  We ran 20 minutes at a faster pace than we did in our 5 minute tempos 10 weeks ago.  So awesome!

Thursday:  I was feeling like I needed a good stretch, so I signed up for a 1 month membership at Anchorage Yoga and went right to Deep Stretch class!  It was sooooo good.

Friday:  I was off work and took the noon Flow class at AY.  I’ve taken it before and knew it would be pretty warm in there (yes, 85 degrees is warm!) but it was a pretty tough class and I had to take a few breaks in child’s pose when I felt like I was getting too overheated.  How do people get through Bikram?  Right after class my friend flew in from Bethel and we got ready for a fun long weekend together!

Saturday:  It was a pretty cold and drizzly 4th of July, but it didn’t really matter because the burn ban is still in effect in Anchorage and all fireworks were cancelled.  Boo.  We spent the first part of the day watching live coverage of the Mount Marathon Race (you might remember my post about this ridiculous 5k when I lived in Seward last year and saw the race in person!) and I was blown away by the men’s race!  Kilian Jornet, a big ultra runner from Spain, was running the race and everyone was favoring him to win.  He was in second place going up the mountain, but when he started running down he took off and no one else stood a chance!  He broke the men’s record and his girlfriend Emilie Forsberg from Sweden broke the women’s record as well.  After that we were super inspired to (slowly) go climb a mountain, so we headed up to Little O’Malley peak in Anchorage.  Except that it was crazy windy as well as rainy and cold, and we were honestly concerned for our safety at the top of the mountain!  So we hiked a few hours on the Williwaw Lakes trail instead.

IMG_5822Posing in front of Little O’Malley

IMG_5836And we snuck some yoga in there too!  Tree pose above the tree line!

Sunday:  My friend flew back home and I was planning on running my long run after she left, but I had a few weird pains in my legs from the hike and I decided to listen to my body and push my long run back to Monday instead.  I’m being super paranoid about getting injured this close to the race and want to make sure my body can handle these next two weeks!

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about hydration options while running.  I know I’ll probably need to carry some water on me during Ragnar because of the heat and elevation, and I’d like to not look ridiculous and be uncomfortable while doing it.  I currently own a handheld water bottle as well as a Nathan hydration belt with 1 bottle and a small zippered compartment, but neither is really working for me.  The handheld bottle is pretty big which means it has room for my phone, but it also means that it holds a lot of water and gets so heavy after a while (and filling it halfway makes it have that annoying sloshy sound for hours).  The hydration belt is lighter but doesn’t have enough room for all of my stuff, and I honestly feel silly wearing it – but it’s more comfortable than my handheld bottle.  I bought them both at TJ Maxx back in Philly and I think they were both on clearance so I was willing to try them out!

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I only use them when I’m running over 7 or 8 miles (depending on the heat) but I really want to get a new one and I’m looking for the following:

  • Comfort.  Which might be impossible.
  • A place to store my keys, Sport Beans, and my phone (which I carry for safety reasons)
  • Enough water to keep me safe
  • A way to keep the water cool in the summer and not frozen in the winter which neither of my systems current do

Here in Anchorage most of the running trails are through the woods, in the mountains, or along the coast.  There aren’t water fountains anywhere, and even if I’m running through the downtown area it’s not like I’m going to stop somewhere and buy water.  And stashing water along the course is going to be pretty tough when the course is on the coastal trail and you can’t drive on it.  So when I head out on a run I’m probably going to be unassisted the whole time and need to bring anything I need with me.  I’ve got some birthday money and I’d like to spend it on something that fits all of my needs, but don’t even know where to start!

So help me out:  what do you use to hydrate on long runs when you’re not near any water?  Have you ever used a small hydration backpack while running?  What is the most comfortable option for carrying water and your phone?