MM: March 20

This Kansas weather has been all over the place!  Yesterday it was 87 degrees, but earlier in the week it was 20! Insane.

Last week Monday, I went to cycle class. and had a great hard workout.  After not going to class regularly for a few months, it feels good to get back in the saddle once a week or so.

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Tuesday, like I said, it was chilly!  I whined enough to make Chris join me on an outdoor run because the sun is finally out later, and it turned out to be a pretty nice run, even though it was cold.

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Wednesday night was chilly too, but Amy and I had a great 5 mile run; the sun being out later helps those evening runs SO MUCH!   We had a nice run and got caught up on life happenings.

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Saturday morning, we headed out for 10 miles on the trails.  From the very first mile, I knew it was a rough run. The first 5 went great, but I was severely lacking energy, and knew the 5 after the turnaround would be hard.  I made a huge mistake of stopping at the halfway mark to take a gu and try to talk myself up a bit.  Stopping made it so very much harder to get going. I had nothing in the tank.  I ended up walking quite a bit on the way back. Chris powered through and got 10 miles, and I finished with 9.

I was pretty bummed about it, because Chris was feeling good and I was feeling like I was holding him back, but I know hard runs just happen sometimes.  He really helped me push through to finish.  I have to remember that in January and February, I ran about 55 miles each month.  With Saturday’s long run, I have just over 50 miles for March alone. Plus I’m still rehabbing my ankle a bit, so the fact that this run was especially hard shouldn’t have come as a big surprise.

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After the run, we went to Longboards for their amazing Cabo Beef Wraps.  Mmmmmmm!

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Sunday was a lot of fun! We planned to go to Shawnee Mission Park to walk/hike more of the trail we found a few weeks back.  We headed out for 6 miles, and somehow took a slightly different way back than we went out, but it was absolutely gorgeous out. There were so many people and dogs out, the weather was perfect, even a bit warm!  We finished with 6 miles and definitely want to go back out again soon.

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Did you get a chance to enjoy spring over the weekend?

Shawnee Mission Duathlon Recap

I did my very first duathlon on Sunday! I’ve been wanting to try a duathlon for a while now, since I got my pretty bike.  Once I bought a bike rack for my car, I decided it was time to try one! I chose the Open Options Shawnee Mission Triathlon and Duathlon.  This race is over 30 years old, it is held at Shawnee Mission Park every year; there was a long course and short course triathlon and a duathlon.  As of now I have no desire to swim, bike run, especially when the swim is in a lake, but I did want to try the running and biking.  The duathlon consisted of running a 5k (3.1 miles), biking 13.5 miles, and then running another 5k.

Saturday afternoon, I picked up my race packet and went to the information meeting.  I got everything ready to go, including my bike and helmet number.

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Sunday very early, Amy came over (my support team!) and we headed to Shawnee Mission Park.  We parked at the Theatre in the Park, and walked about a mile down to the lake.  I got body marked, which is a duathlon/triathlon thing.  They marked my arms with my bib number, and marked my calf with my age group.  So I ended up having my number on 2 arms, my bib, my bike, and my helmet.  And also on my ankle timing chip.  They sure didn’t want to lose anyone.

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I racked my bike in the transition area, used the bathroom, and watched the triathletes walk down to the water, and everyone finish up in the transition area.Photo Jul 10, 6 15 04 AM

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Soon, it was time for the duathlon to start.  There ended up being about 30 people total in the duathlon.  I think there were about 400 people doing the triathlon.  I knew there would be more people doing the triathlon, but I didn’t quite expect only 30 people in the duathlon!

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And then we were off! For the duathlon, we started off with a 5k.  It was warm, but not terribly hot yet.  Towards the end of the 5k, as we were running across the dam, I caught a glimpse of the long course triathletes swimming away in the lake.  I came into the transition and saw Amy smiling and cheering me on.  I knew the easiest part of the day was over, and was getting ready for a hilly bike ride.

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I spent about 2 minutes in the transition area, getting my helmet on and bike ready, and then I headed out onto the bike course.

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The bike course was 3 loops around the lake, on the park roads.  It starts with a huge hill, called the dam hill (ha, get it? it was a damn hill, and it happened to be the hill at the end of the dam).  Let me tell you, that’s a hill, folks.  I ended up walking my bike up the dam hill the second two loops, because it was just a massive hill and I was tired!

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I was instructed, by Kristen, to try to get in some nutrition on the bike. It’s hard to eat a luna bar while biking! I managed to get most of it down, and also get my gatorade down.  The bike course was supposed to be about 13.5 miles.  My bike computer showed about 11 miles, but it may have been off a little?  I finished the bike quicker than I thought I would, which leads me to believe the course was a couple miles short.

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I finished the 3rd lap of the bike course, and headed back into the transition area.  I was in transition for about 2 minutes, racked my bike, ditched my helmet, and grabbed my gu.  The second 5k was much harder than the first.  It was much warmer, as I had been out on the course for about an hour and a half already.  We began the 5k by once again going up the dam hill, around the course, and then finishing where we started, near the transition area.  I walked quite a bit during the second 5k, which I expected.  I wish I would have pushed myself a bit harder and ran more of it.

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I came across the finish line (up another hill, naturally), and was cheered on by Amy and lots of spectators.  I received my medal and a water, and sat down with Amy to catch my breath.

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We made our way down to the finish festival, and I had a delicious chocolate milk and a cup of orange tang.  With only about 30 people doing the duathlon, and most of those people men, I had a feeling I may have won my age group (won, as in, I was the only one in my age group).  After checking the results, I was the only female 30-34, so, by default, I won my age group!

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There was a short awards ceremony, and I was presented a really nice plaque! Amy and I saw a few other people from the running club, and celebrated our accomplishments.

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I went back to get my bike and walk the mile (ughhhh!) back up to my car, and ran into Tammy, who is a fellow running groupie, and she crushed her long course triathlon.

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Amy and I finally made it up to my car, got my bike hooked up, and promptly went to breakfast!  I’m now a duathlete!

I’m not sure if I’ll be doing any more duathlons any time soon, but it was a really fun learning experience, and I’m really glad I did it.  The course and race itself was very well set up and organized, and the volunteers and race directors were fantastic.  I was worried about the logistics, getting confused on the course with so many different people doing different things… none of those fears came true.  It was easy to navigate the course with their help, and everything went very smoothly.

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Have you ever done a duathlon or triathlon? If so, you’re a badass!!

Running with the Cows Race Recap

The Running with the Cows half marathon and 5k was this past weekend, and I’m here to tell you all about it!

This year was the 7th year for Running with the Cows, and I can attest to how well everything is run.  The pre-race and post race festivities are top notch, the course support was fantastic, and there were more spectators in the middle of nowhere, cheering for us, than I thought there would be.

Thursday and Friday, my parents and sister got to town.  We had a great pre-race dinner Friday night at Grinder’s, then headed back to my apartment to get our clothes ready to go.  While Mom and I were setting out our flat runners, Dad said he wanted to have a flat Dad, so Kristen got that all set up too.

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Very very very early on Saturday morning, we made it to Bucyrus Kansas, which is south of Kansas City, in the countryside just south of Olathe.  We were able to hang out inside the school until it got closer to the race.  There were tons of fun cow things to see near the starting line, including this huge Hiland Dairy cow.  It was chilly, but the sun was out and it looked to be a beautiful day.

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After a couple bathroom stops and bag drop, we made our way to the starting line.  Kristen was running the 5k, so she waved us off before starting her warmup.  I even met a few blog readers! Thanks for saying hi, ladies! I really enjoyed meeting you! (I should have gotten a picture, dang it! – I had some pre-race nerves, and wasn’t even thinking to grab a photo!)

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The race started right at 7:30, and we were off! I don’t have any pictures from the course, but it was sure pretty.  Rolling hills, vast countrysides, it was gorgeous.  It was also windy.  And chilly, and mostly windy.

I really really wanted to do well at this race.  I’d been working on figuring out my dizziness problems lately, and hoped to stay strong and get through the race feeling that strength.  I decided to hang with the 2:20 pacer, and not have to worry about my pace, I’d just have to hang with the pace group.  (I’ve gone back and forth on my thoughts about pacers and pace groups, but I’ll save that for another post).  I was able to hang with the pace group through mile 7, and then I just couldn’t anymore.

I was between the 2:20 and 2:25 for another mile or two, and had no dizziness issues, but just couldn’t hang onto the pace.  It wasn’t too crazy fast, but I just haven’t put in enough longer runs past 7-8 miles, so I had nothing left.  I do think I went out with a faster pace group than I should have – it felt good, but comfortably hard.  At the beginning to middle of a half marathon, I don’t think it should have felt comfortably hard, it should have felt comfortable to easy, then push the last half to comfortably hard.

The last 5 miles were rough.  I did a walk-run-walk-run through the last 5 miles, and unfortunately probably walked more than I ran.  The course was basically an out and back, and the out was mostly into the wind.  The wind was pretty strong, and that’s also where I was pushing with the faster pace group.  I think the combination of a faster pace, the headwind, and not having lots of long runs under my belt just wiped me out, and resulted in a rough last 5 miles.

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Photo courtesy Running with the Cows Facebook page.

I was feeling pretty discouraged during the last 3 miles.  I was tired, I wanted to be done, and I was frustrated that I wasn’t performing like I’d hoped.  I was happy that I didn’t get dizzy; I think I’ve figured out what my fuel, hydration, and electrolyte timing need to be, but I was very frustrated with myself that I couldn’t keep running.  I didn’t want to let my dad and sister down – Kristen had finished her 5k and she and dad were biking around the course to cheer Mom and I on.  I didn’t want to let my friends down, my readers, or myself.  I finished, and it ended up being my third fastest time, but I missed my PR by 7 minutes, and finished 3 minutes slower than Rock the Parkway.

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In the end, I finished, and I’m very proud of that.  This was my 9th half marathon, and it definitely won’t be my last.  I’m stronger than I was in my first half marathon.  I’m stronger than I was last month in my last half marathon.  I’m learning more every time I run a half marathon.  I’m learning about me, I’m learning what works and what doesn’t for a half marathon, and I’m learning about what I’m capable of doing.  I’m very proud of what I’ve done, and know that if I keep going, keep running, and keep working, I’ll run a half marathon that feels strong from start to finish.  When that happens, I’ll be on top of the world, but until then, and even after then, I’m going to keep on working and running and trying.  Running, just like life, is about the journey.

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After the race, we changed into dry clothes and hit up the feast in the church.  The entire town seems to come together to bring tons of food for the finishers and spectators.   There actually were cows along the course near the beginning and end, and I saw lots of horses in the fields as well.  This adorable baby cow was hanging out in the petting zoo area for the race too.

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We made our way back to the car, and stopped by this huge silo on the way home for some pictures.  I’m so happy that my parents and Kristen were here for this race.  It was a ton of fun to do it with my family.  I’m so thankful to have an amazing family and such supportive friends to have all of these adventures with.

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After the race, we celebrated with margaritas and Mexican food.  By the way, my sister WON the women’s 5k race! WON IT!  Congrats Kristen, you speedy beast!  She’s running a marathon (her second marathon!) this weekend, so she opted for the 5k last weekend, and completely rocked it.

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Sunday morning, after sleeping in a bit, we went out to Shawnee Mission Park.  Mom and I ran a bit of a shakeout, then Kristen ran 8 miles while Mom, Dad, and I biked along.  Mom snapped this picture while I was finishing my run and Kristen was starting hers.  Dad’s up ahead on his bike.

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Kristen finished her 8 miles, and I walked my bike up the big hill at the end because my quads were over it by then – they were a bit cranky after the half, and the bike ride just pushed them right over.  After our shakeouts, and Kristen’s run, we grabbed a late lunch and had to to say goodbye to Kristen at the airport.

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Between the fun with my family, meeting some awesome readers, and finding the beauty in the misery of the half marathon on Saturday, then a fun adventure at the park on Sunday, it was a great weekend.

Next up is the Hospital Hill half marathon, in 2 weeks!