2015 Recap / 2016 Goals

When I look back at another year of running and racing, qualifying for Boston (in 2017) at the Twin Cities Marathon stands out as one of the biggest highlights. However, when I look beyond that, I realize that I had a successful year all around. I broke 1:40 for a new half marathon PR at the Glass City Half Marathon in April. I knew I hadn’t lived up to my potential in the 10K, so I followed a 10K-specific workout plan for the first time. That led to a PR at the Mackinac Island Lilac Festival 10K in early June, which was followed by a bigger improvement a couple weeks later at the Corporate Cup 10K. I only ended up doing two triathlons this summer, but they were good ones. July’s Olympic-distance triathlon in Caseville was my second time racing the distance, and I improved my time by 12 minutes. It was definitely a solid year of racing!

A collection of t-shirts from this year's races.

A collection of t-shirts from this year’s races.

A couple weeks before the end of the year I realized I was awfully close to running 1,600 miles for the year. Since I like even numbers, I decided it would be a nice goal to hit. That’s about 250 more miles than my previous highest year.

Stats for the year.

Stats for the year. I spent a lot of time running!

Here are some other numbers:

  • I biked 1,370 miles
  • I swam a little over 32 miles
  • I did 12 races:  five 5Ks, two 10Ks, one 10-mile, one half marathon, one full marathon, one sprint triathlon, and one Olympic triathlon

Even though 2015 was a great year, there’s always something new to strive for. As soon as I finished the Twin Cities Marathon, I was anxious to run another marathon. I was thrilled that I got my BQ, but I also felt like there was room for improvement. I trained for a 3:30 marathon and ran 3:34. I was on track until I fell apart the last few miles. My main goal for 2016 is to see if I can “figure out” the marathon and work out some of the kinks. It may be a matter of fueling better, training for the fatigue of the last few miles, or a combination of both. I’ve toyed with the idea of following the Hansons Marathon Method for years, and I think I’ll finally give it a try. Their concept of “cumulative fatigue” should prepare me for the later miles of the race. I’ve used their speed and strength workouts during training, but have always mixed them into another training plan rather than following their whole plan. I’m curious to see if it will help.

Marathon #3 will be Bayshore Marathon in Traverse City at the end of May. I ran the half marathon in 2012 so I know that it’s a beautiful race. Rather than concentrating on a time goal, my biggest hope is to finish strong. If I can do that, of course my time should improve as well. I’ve trained through the winter for half marathons, but never for a full marathon. Getting that many miles in during the winter should be interesting!

I love running the most, but I keep saying that I want to do more triathlons too. Bayshore is going to be my priority for the first half of the year, then I’ll take it from there. I probably won’t be biking or swimming much (or at all) until after the marathon. That doesn’t leave much time to build up a base in those areas for summer races. Based on past experience, marathons wreck my left IT band and it can take some time to get back to running pain-free. Hopefully I can start to build up in June and get to some tris in July and August. It’s a bit overwhelming to think that far ahead right now, so running a solid race at Bayshore is my primary goal.

I’m hoping 2016 is as good or even better than 2015!

– Janet

Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography
Follow me on Instagram @janetboltz

 

 

Grand Blanc Chocolate 5K Recap

Matt and I went to Grand Blanc, MI to run the Chocolate 5K on Saturday, November 21st…the day when we happened to get the first major snow storm of the season. Perfect timing. I typically wait until the last second to sign up for races this time of year. It was still in the 60s and beautiful outside when I decided to register before the price jumped. Snow was not on my radar at that point and I was tempted by the cool shirt and promise of chocolate. I was harshly reminded how quickly the weather can change in Michigan. Honestly, it’s a good thing that I committed early. Had we waited until the last minute, we probably wouldn’t have gone and we would have missed out on a fun morning.

We ran this race in 2012 and knew we could expect a good time. You really can’t beat it – $20 for a long sleeve tech shirt, a flat course, and a ton of chocolate goodies after the race. I’d pay $20 for the shirt alone! I was especially happy when I found out they were high-quality New Balance shirts.

How cool is this Wonka-esque shirt?

How cool is this Wonka-esque shirt?

We’d heard all the hype about snow coming, so I was relieved that I didn’t see any when I woke up the morning of the race. It had started to accumulate a little on the grass by the time we left home though.

Grand Blanc High School is a great location for the race. It has a huge parking lot, large bathrooms, and plenty of space for people to stay warm beforehand.

It was snowing pretty steadily when it was time for the race to start, but we were lucky that it wasn’t sticking to the streets.

One positive is that the streets were just wet.

One positive is that the streets were just wet.

The race had 450 runners and around 120 walkers, so it was a pretty decent crowd. There was a gun start and chip finish. Though I was close to the front, maybe I should have moved up a little more. I got boxed in at times early on and did a bit of weaving to get around people, but things spread out soon enough. We ran on one of the main roads to start then spent the majority of the race running through a neighborhood.

I’m basically in maintenance mode at this point of the year and not doing much structured speed training, so I wasn’t looking to “race” this one. I wasn’t too excited to have snow blowing in my face and really didn’t care what my time was, but still tried to put in some decent effort. I kept telling myself that it was all worth it for the shirt and the chocolate fountain waiting at the end.

My official time was 23:23, which is almost two minutes off of my PR.

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My splits.

Matt and I didn’t linger at the finish line – we headed back to the school immediately. We had to walk for several minutes and cross a main road to get back to the school. We were anxious to get inside where it was warm and get to the chocolate!

You can see the snow blowing in front of Matt as it started to accumulate.

You can see the snow blowing in front of Matt as it started to accumulate.

The post-race goodies were set up in a gym, and we had hustled back fast enough to avoid the crowd. There were several stations set up.

Melted fudge for dipping marshmallows, pretzels, and Nilla Wafers.

Melted fudge for dipping marshmallows, pretzels, and Nilla Wafers.

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An assortment of candy.

The chocolate fountain with strawberries, potato chips, pretzels, animal crackers, and candy canes for dipping.

The chocolate fountain with strawberries, potato chips, pretzels, animal crackers, and candy canes for dipping.

We sat on the floor to enjoy our treats as the crowd began to grow.

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At some point there was an announcement that people could collect their awards, so we headed out to the lobby to see how we had placed. Matt had missed third in his age group by less than a second, and I was surprised to see my name at the top of my age group. I love that this race lets you collect the awards when you’re ready rather than waiting through a long ceremony. When I told the volunteers how I had placed, they gave me a couple treats.

Fudge, salt water taffy, and a chocolate turkey. I'll take that kind of prize over a medal or plaque any day!

Fudge, salt water taffy, and a chocolate turkey. I’ll take that kind of prize over a medal or plaque any day!

Knowing that the snow wasn’t stopping and that we had a 40-mile drive home, we headed out as soon as I got my award. Good thing we did, because the road conditions were starting to get iffy. We didn’t go much faster than 50-something on the highway and saw several cars in the ditch. Luckily, we made it home safely.

As we drove through our neighborhood, I loved how beautiful the snow-covered trees looked. I had to take a quick walk down to the Paint Creek Trail to scope it out.

It's hard to believe that it was 60 degrees a few days earlier.

It’s hard to believe that it was 60 degrees a few days earlier.

I was thankful that we didn’t have any other plans for the day, so we settled in and stayed warm while 12+ inches of snow piled up throughout the day.

Although the weather tends to be questionable for this race most years, it’s definitely a good one and I’m glad we did it.

– Janet

Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography

GALlop for Children 5K Recap

Matt and I enjoy supporting the Oakland University volleyball team, so when we saw that they were going to play at Cleveland State University on a Saturday, it sparked the idea of taking a weekend road trip. I was curious if I could find any good races in Ohio the day after the game. The one that stood out the most was the GALlop for Children 5K at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. The race was only $20 and included a long sleeve tech shirt and admission to the zoo. It also benefited a good cause – the Guardian ad Litem (GAL) Project. GALs for the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court are appointed to represent the best interests of children involved in abuse, neglect, and a variety of other situations. We thought it would be nice to support the cause and visit a zoo we’d never been to.

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Posing by the flamingos before the race.

The race took place on Sunday, November 8th, and it was a beautiful, crisp morning. The parking lot wasn’t very full when we got there 45 minutes before the start. I had looked for info about the race and it didn’t look like a huge event – a little over 100 people had run last year. I couldn’t find any info about the race route though. Matt and I have run two races at zoos. The Cheetah Chase at Battle Creek’s Binder Park Zoo took us through part of the zoo, while Run Wild for the Detroit Zoo took us through the neighborhoods outside the zoo. After checking in, I asked a volunteer where the race started. I was excited to find out that we would actually run through the zoo.

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The pavilion was used for packet pickup, post-race snacks, and awards.

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The race’s tech shirt.

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A closer look at the logo on the shirt.

We lingered near the start and found out that the half-mile kids’ run started first. A small group ran a quarter mile down the path and back. When everyone returned, the 5K runners were gathered and taken a short way down the path for the start.  A rock at the side seemed to mark the starting line. Our bibs didn’t have timing chips, so Matt and I lined up at the front.

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Where the race started.

A golf cart led the runners, and soon enough it was out of my view and I just followed the people in front of me. We hit a gradual hill fairly early and a more significant hill came a bit after that. I saw a few interesting birds and a horse-like animal, but didn’t see as many animals as I had hoped while running. Although the uphill portions slowed me down, a long downhill stretch had me flying enough to make up for it. We came back around to the start for another loop, but luckily the route was a little different and we didn’t have to climb the bigger hill a second time. We didn’t get the major downhill stretch either, but still had a nice downhill segment leading to the finish.

I treated this run as a fun run with some effort rather than an all-out race. I ended up with a nice negative split, finishing around 30-40 seconds slower than my PR. I was pleasantly surprised by that, and I was also a little bit faster than the 5K we ran at GVSU a couple weeks earlier. I think the downhills must have really helped my time.

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Our route through the zoo.

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My splits. I was happy that I sped up as I went.

I was able to catch a photo of Matt as he finished.

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They had told us at the start of the race that cookies would be waiting at the end, and they weren’t kidding. I had no idea how awesome the post-race spread would be. They had bottles of water, hot chocolate, coffee, apples, bananas…and cookies galore! They had over 20 varieties of homemade cookies and I was in heaven.

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Just a few of the many post-race cookies.

Nearly an hour and a half after the start of the race, they finally got around to awards. Matt was second in his age group and I was third in mine, so we each received something.

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Matt with his award.

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A closer look at my award.

Next, we took advantage of our admission to the zoo and walked around for a couple hours. Some areas were closed and we didn’t even try to get to everything, but we saw some fun stuff.

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A beautiful boardwalk.

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A beautiful lorikeet.

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A sleepy monkey.

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A sleepy koala.

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An entertaining lion.

Between watching OU’s volleyball team beat Cleveland State, running the 5K, then enjoying the zoo, we had a fun, action-packed weekend.

– Janet
Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography

 

GVSU Laker Homecoming 5K Recap

On Saturday, October 24th, Matt and I made the trek out to Grand Valley State University in Allendale, MI to run the Laker Homecoming 5K. Matt received his bachelor’s degree from GVSU and had been interested in running this race in the past, so we finally made it work. Matt signed up online a few days before the race, but I held off.

It had been three weeks since the Twin Cities Marathon and my recovery status was still a bit questionable. My first few post-marathon runs were not great. I ran a few miles six days after the marathon and felt my hamstring from the start. IT band/knee pain hit after two miles and shut me down shortly after that. IT band issues became a problem for me following my first marathon, so I wasn’t surprised that it happened again after my second marathon. I got a massage and tried running again a couple days later, but the same thing happened. I realized I needed more recovery time and took six more days off. My hamstring didn’t bother me much during runs after that, but knee pain still made it hard to get past three or four miles. I kept doing squats, lunges, and other hip/glute exercises in hopes of shaking the issue, and finally ran five pain-free miles 18 days after the marathon. That run made me feel like I could handle a 5K a couple days later, so I decided to sign up in person the day of the race.

The 10:00 a.m. start made it doable to make the 2.5-hour drive the morning of the race, but it meant leaving home at 6:30. When we got to the campus, we went into the Kelly Family Sports Center for registration/packet pickup. The building features an indoor turf field surrounded by a track. It’s a really nice facility.

Inside the Kelly Family Sports Center.

Inside the Kelly Family Sports Center.

Posing near the finish line before the start of the race.

Posing near the finish line before the start of the race.

The race started in the street outside of the building. With a gun start, Matt and I made sure to start near the front of the crowd of nearly 300 runners.

People gathering near the start.

People gathering near the start.

Matt, me, and another happy dude waiting for the start.

Matt, me, and another happy dude waiting for the start.

Despite a little wind in spots, we were pretty lucky weather-wise as the rain held off and it was around 60 degrees. The course was almost entirely flat and took us through the campus, which was especially pretty with all of the fall colors.

One of the buildings we saw as we ran through the campus.

One of the buildings we saw as we ran through the campus.

We ran by this clock tower during the race too.

We ran by this clock tower during the race too.

I really didn’t know how to pace myself. I knew I shouldn’t run all-out a few weeks following the marathon. It had been two months since I had done any 5K-pace speedwork. I figured I might aim for half marathon pace. That lasted for the first mile as I gradually sped up through the race. Matt and I ran near each other most of the time, and I felt pretty good for the first couple miles. As I pushed the pace, I started to feel it during the last mile. With a little over a quarter mile left, I passed a guy. As I did, I heard him say, “Oh God.” His pace suddenly picked up and he sped off. Apparently he didn’t want to get passed by a girl. If that’s what it took to motivate him to finish strong, I’m glad I could help…I guess.

The race finished with a partial loop around the indoor track. I finished in 22:28, which is about a minute slower than my PR. It’s probably faster than I should have gone, but it seemed to work out just fine. Although I was winded at the end, my hamstring and knee were fine – nothing hurt. Hopefully that means I’m pretty much recovered from the marathon.

After grabbing a bottle of water, I headed to the locker room to shower since we planned to hang out on the campus all day. When I saw the results, I was listed as the ninth female and second in my age group. Age group awards were only given to those who placed first. I didn’t get one of the cotton shirts since I had registered in person, but Matt got one.

"Once Upon a Laker" was the homecoming theme.

“Once Upon a Laker” was the homecoming theme.

We enjoyed the post-race pancake breakfast with a couple of Matt’s friends from college, then hung out with them for a few hours as we hit some spots around campus. It poured for a while, so we were really lucky that it held off during the race. When the rain stopped, I wanted to grab some quick photos in the arboretum. It was absolutely beautiful.

The fall colors looked great despite the dreary day.

The fall colors looked great despite the dreary day.

A pretty spot in GVSU's arboretum.

A pretty spot in GVSU’s arboretum.

We took in a women’s volleyball game with Matt’s parents and went out to dinner together, then Matt and I drove to our hotel in Grand Haven. With beautiful weather forecasted for the following day, we wanted to check out the fall colors in the area. Here are a few highlights:

Rosy Mound Natural Area in Grand Haven.

Rosy Mound Natural Area in Grand Haven.

One of my favorite photos from the day -  Rosy Mound Natural Area.

One of my favorite photos from the day – Rosy Mound Natural Area.

Hemlock Crossing in West Olive, south of Grand Haven.

Hemlock Crossing in West Olive, south of Grand Haven.

Another from Hemlock Crossing.

Another from Hemlock Crossing.

Between the race, homecoming activities, seeing family/friends, and taking in some fall colors, we had a really nice weekend trip to the west side of the state.

– Janet

Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography

Twin Cities Marathon Recap

Marathon #2 – the one where I qualified for Boston!

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Obviously things went well in Minnesota, but I’ll start at the beginning. Back in March, Matt and I committed to the Twin Cities Marathon – the second marathon for each of us. We’ve been to Minneapolis a number of times and love the city, so it was an easy decision to choose “the most beautiful urban marathon in America.” I followed Hal Higdon’s Advanced 2 training plan for the most part, but substituted his Tuesday workouts with the speed/strength workouts from the Hansons Marathon Method book. When I determined that my goal pace was 8:00 per mile, I realized that would set me up to run a 3:30 marathon. With a Boston-qualifying time of 3:40 for my age group, I knew that getting my BQ was a very realistic possibility, so I made it one of my top goals for the race.

The race took place on Sunday, October 4th, and Matt and I flew from Detroit to Minneapolis/St. Paul on Friday the 2nd. One thing we love about the Twin Cities is the light rail system. We were able to get from the airport to our hotel and everywhere else without renting a car. We stayed at a Hyatt that was two blocks from the starting line and it was definitely ideal for us. There was a discounted rate for marathon participants, the room was quiet, had a big living room area with a fridge, and was only a few blocks away from the light rail system.

Downtown Minneapolis is beautiful.

Downtown Minneapolis is beautiful.

We took the light rail out to St. Paul for the expo on Friday afternoon. We spent more time there than we had planned because there was so much stuff to look at.

A very nice expo.

A very nice expo.

I loved the Brooks booth and the cool cotton shirt Matt bought.

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Too funny.

Too funny.

On Saturday morning we went for a quick two-mile shake out jog around the city, then took the light rail to the Mall of America. We’ve been to the mall several times and knew that it could be easy to spend half the day there if we weren’t careful. We made sure to target a few specific stores so we wouldn’t be on our feet too long.

Matt with Dora the Explorer at Nickelodeon Universe - the theme park in the middle of the mall.

Matt with Dora the Explorer at Nickelodeon Universe – the theme park in the middle of the mall.

The mall has a store dedicated to Peeps and every Mike & Ike flavor you can imagine.

The mall has a store dedicated to Peeps and every Mike & Ike flavor you can imagine.

We had a big lunch at Noodles and Company, then headed back to the hotel to rest our legs. We weren’t very hungry when dinnertime rolled around, but I knew I should eat something else. I thought a sandwich from Jimmy John’s or Subway might be good, yet every location near our hotel was closed by 6:00! Luckily our hotel had some decent pre-packaged sandwiches to choose from, so Matt and I split one of those and a huge blueberry muffin to get a few more carbs before bed. As expected, I didn’t sleep very well. I woke up pretty much every hour.

We woke up for good around 6:00, and I had a Picky Bar and water for breakfast. Our room’s window overlooked the starting line and the people starting to gather. It was nice that we could stay warm and have access to our own bathroom! With an 8:00 start time, I thought we might be pushing our luck not leaving the room until 7:45. Everything worked out perfectly though. We warmed up by jogging the couple of blocks to our corral. The starting corrals and gear check areas were extremely organized, making it easy for us to pull off our last minute arrival.

This map made it easy to know exactly where to go.

This map made it easy to know exactly where to go.

We got into Corral 1 easily and still had time to kill – picture time!

Matt and I at the start.

Matt and I at the start.

What a beautiful view.

What a beautiful view.

It was in the low 40s to start, sunny, and there was little wind. We really lucked out! I was comfortable in a t-shirt and shorts, and kept gloves on for the first few miles. I saw the 3:25 and 3:35 pace groups, but didn’t see 3:30. We stood somewhere in between to start. I really wasn’t nervous – I was excited. Matt and I stuck together for the first mile or so, taking in the great sights of downtown – skyscrapers, theaters, concert venues, and the ringing bells of the Basilica of Saint Mary. Congestion wasn’t a problem and I was happy and upbeat. Matt and I had different goals for the race, so we parted ways and wished each other good luck. After a few miles, we reached the chain of lakes. This is definitely where the “most beautiful urban marathon in America” part really comes into play. Captured from Google Maps, here are a couple of photos that show where we got to run.

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As if the beautiful scenery wasn’t enough, the crowd support was amazing. I was blown away by how many spectators lined the course. They kept me entertained and distracted. It was fun to look at all of the signs, and a couple stood out as favorites:

“If Donald Trump can make it to the primaries, you can make it to the Capitol.”

“I tried running once. (Picture of Grumpy Cat) It was terrible.”

I usually think that crowd support is nice but not necessary for me to enjoy a race. After this race, I might think differently. That crowd definitely boosted my spirits and made me smile. Whenever I hit stretches without spectators, it gave me time to think…which wasn’t always a good thing! Much of the course was flat, and I rolled along feeling great. Whenever I did hit a hill early on, it was fairly minor and kind of nice to change things up for my leg muscles. I didn’t pay much attention to my watch early in the race. I ran at a pace that felt comfortable and glanced down from time to time to see my splits. I guess I got a good feel for my pace during training, because I naturally ran somewhere between 7:50-8:00 per mile. I wore a hydration belt with water in one bottle and GU Brew in another bottle. I grabbed water at a few stops because I figured my bottles alone wouldn’t get me through the whole race. My Zoot triathlon shorts with side pockets worked great for nutrition storage. I ate five Honey Stinger Energy Chews around miles 5, 10, 15, and 19.

Things were all good for over half of the race. At a certain point, I started to feel the outside of my left knee. I hoped IT band issues wouldn’t become a problem. In addition, I started to feel my left hamstring and both calves. My muscles were definitely working hard. When I crossed the Mississippi River and reached Summit Avenue in St. Paul, that’s when things started to fall apart. I looked at my watch more often, counting down the remaining distance. I kept telling myself things like, “Just a 10K pace run left.” I knew that miles 20-23 would be tough because of a steady climb. I first broke around 21.5 miles after reaching the peak of one hill. I decided it would be best if I took a brief walk break – maybe only 10 seconds or so. I kept trucking along, but had to take another quick walk break after 23 miles. Another came after 25. I still managed to keep my pace in the 8:40s for the most part despite the brief breaks, but it’s clear from my splits that things went bad from 22 miles on. It was a struggle. My hamstrings and calves were wiped out. I wasn’t smiling anymore!

Based on my first marathon, I figured I’d end up running closer to 26.5 rather than 26.2. As much as I try to run the tangents, it can be hard when the streets are so wide and there are people to weave around. I knew that extra bit would add a couple minutes to my time, but I also knew that even if I hit a 9:00 pace for the last couple miles, I’d finish in at least 3:35. With a BQ time of 3:40, I was still on track. Eventually I made it to the final half mile, which was basically all downhill – in a good way! I came up to the 3:35 pacer who encouraged everyone to finish ahead of him. That downhill was a savior. I finished mile 26 in 8:38, but suddenly dropped to a 7:26 pace for the last half mile! Rather than stumbling across the finish line, I felt like I was flying. What a great way to end the race. I think every marathon should end down a hill!

Crossing the finish line!

Crossing the finish line!

My official finish time was 3:34:01 – eight minutes faster than my first marathon, and 5:59 under my BQ time! It sunk in and emotions got to me for a second when a volunteer put the medal around my neck. I really did it – I finished my second marathon and did it fast enough to make it to Boston! Here’s how the race played out for me, mile by mile:

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I walked around for a few minutes and stretched my hamstrings and calves. After my first marathon, all I could think about was how much I hurt. Despite struggling through the final miles of this race, I actually felt okay when I was done. I drank some Powerade and chocolate milk. I ate a roll, but my mouth didn’t feel great trying to chew it. I also got a bag of potato chips.

The finish area.

The finish area.

After recovering for a few minutes, I had to check my phone to see how Matt was doing. His dad was so supportive and tracked both of us. He had already sent a congratulatory text to me. Matt had struggled with breathing problems and low energy the entire training segment, and his dad told me that Matt had crashed around 20 miles with breathing problems. By that time, he had just passed the 24-mile mark. I kept checking my phone, then got the text from the race tracker saying that he had finished. I rushed back towards the finish line to find him. We hugged and both of us got a bit emotional. He was excited that I had gotten my BQ, and I was excited that he toughed it out and finished the marathon. I knew it had to be a struggle for him, but he did it.

The Capitol building (under construction) in the background.

The Capitol building (under construction) in the background.

We collected some refreshments for Matt, then headed to gear check so we could get into some warmer clothes. Next, we picked up our finisher shirts. One fun thing about the Twin Cities Marathon is that they keep their medals and finisher shirts secret so people are surprised on race day. You have to actually finish the race to earn the shirt. I wasn’t thrilled when I saw that the shirt was white. White is not my favorite color since it tends to be see-through. Oh well. I do really like how they cleverly used the “15” in “finisher.” At the very least, Matt and I had both ordered training shirts when we signed up for the marathon, so I already wear that shirt a lot.

The official race shirt.

The official race shirt.

Training shirts.

Training shirts.

We got our free beers and hung out for a few more minutes.

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Eventually we knew we should head back to Minneapolis and get something to eat. My head started to feel funny, almost dizzy-like, and I realized later that I probably should have eaten more than a roll and a bag of chips. Nearly two hours had passed since I had finished. We had a nice big meal at an Irish Pub and I felt a lot better. Knee/IT band pain kicked in and left me limping a bit, but nothing like after my first marathon. I actually felt pretty good! That all changed by the next morning, when the true soreness kicked in. It was a slow walk through the airport on Monday! I was sore for a couple days after the race, but pretty much normal again by Thursday.

Matt and I both absolutely loved our Twin Cities experience. Aside from struggling through the late miles on Summit Avenue, everything was amazing. I highly recommend this race. While it took a couple years in between for me to get around to running my second marathon, this one immediately left me anxious to go run another one. At the very least, it looks like I’ll have to plan on heading to Boston in 2017!

– Janet

Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography

Crim 10-Mile Race Recap

The Crim is a legendary race in Flint, Michigan that draws somewhere around 10,000 participants between the 5K, 8K, and 10-mile races. A Michigan Mile race also occurs the night before. It seems like nearly every serious local runner I know has participated, yet Matt and I had never gotten around to it. When someone at work asked if I wanted to sign up for the 10-mile race as part of a group to get a discount, it gave us an extra boost to finally commit.

The race took place on Saturday, August 22nd and we lucked out with a beautiful day. It had been hot and humid in the days leading up to the race, so we were very fortunate to have a partly cloudy morning in the 60s.

Downtown Flint looked beautiful the morning of the race.

Downtown Flint looked beautiful the morning of the race.

Because the race is so big and the roads close at least an hour before the start, I knew we needed to get there extra early. We left the house at 5:45 for the 45-minute drive to Flint. We were able to park in a huge lot on the campus of University of Michigan-Flint just after 6:30. Had we gotten there 10 minutes later, things could have been much more stressful. Even though the roads were still open and the lot had a ton of empty spaces, security blocked all of the entrances. I’m relieved that we got there when we did so we didn’t have to scramble like so many other people who had planned to use the parking lot.

We had plenty of time to kill, so we walked around a bit and took in the atmosphere. Matt went to the expo the day before to pick up our packets, but it was also open from 7-12 the day of the race. Bauman’s Running Store was there and I saw some good stuff, so we decided to stop by again after the race.

We scoped out the starting line while things were still quiet.

We scoped out the starting line while things were still quiet.

Matt and I got a picture on the famous bricks an hour before the start.

Matt and I got a picture on the famous bricks an hour before the start.

We had access to the MLive building before and after the race since I was a part of the Team Challenge through work. Private restrooms were supposed to be one of the perks, but there was a long enough line before and after the race that we ended up using porta-potties anyway.

About 15 minutes before everyone else, members of the Crim 30-Year Club started the 10-mile race. Men and women who have completed 30 or more Crim 10-mile races are a part of the special club. Following their start, I jogged around for about half a mile to warm up before entering my corral. One thing I really loved about this race was the corral system. People were placed based on their estimated finish times, and separate waves were released every couple minutes. This was a great way to avoid congestion problems in a race with nearly 7,000 people. I would love to see more large races use this method.

Waiting in my corral.

Waiting in my corral.

The Twin Cities Marathon in October is my goal race right now, so I did not plan to race all-out. I purposely started easy and finished hard, but didn’t try to hit a specific pace. I hoped to average at least 7:45 per mile if I felt good, but I really just ran by feel.

I had heard that the whole city of Flint comes out to support this race. It was awesome to see so many people along the course and cheering in front of their houses. Aside from the official course entertainment (bands, cheer teams, etc.), I saw a woman bouncing on a mini trampoline, people with a beer stop, “Champagne Corner,” two little boys in superhero pajamas, Gumby handing out water, and much more. I enjoyed running by the University of Michigan-Flint’s campus, Kettering University, frat houses, and some really nice houses across from a golf course. I loved seeing the 30-year runners on the course. It was great to hear them receiving congratulations and so much encouragement from the other runners. Many of them had special things written on the backs of their shirts. I especially liked the guy with “Crim 35 year runner – slowing down at 86” on his shirt. There was always something to see along the course. It was a great environment that made the miles go by quickly. I don’t mind running races that don’t have spectators, but when the course support is there, I realize how much more fun it is.

The Bradley Hills, which come between miles five and six, receive a lot of attention. The race even sets up timing mats to identify the “king and queen” of the hills. The elevation map makes it look like the hills go on for nearly a mile.

2015-08-22 - crim elevation

There were a couple of decent climbs, but after so much hype, I was actually pleasantly surprised that they weren’t as bad as I thought they’d be. It seemed like the worst of it was over pretty quickly and didn’t really affect my pace. What I didn’t realize is that so much of the course would be rolling after that. I thought it would be pretty flat and a breeze through the end, but that was not the case. The rolling hills don’t seem to be apparent on the elevation map, but I sure felt them. Every time I thought I’d pick up the pace, it seemed like another gradual climb was ahead that would cause me to hold back. However, I try to tell myself that running downhill helps me more than running uphill hurts me, so it balanced out.

I still felt good as I got to the last couple miles, so I decided it was time to pick up the pace. After I rounded the last corner before the finish, I pushed as hard as I could for the final quarter mile. The brick road isn’t the easiest surface to finish on, so I was careful about my footing as I booked it to the end.

My splits.

My splits.

My official time was an even 1:16:00. I thought it was kind of fun that I hit it right on the dot!

2015-08-22 - crim results

Right after the finish, we got our medals and walked by tents with water, chocolate milk, cereal bars, bananas, and popsicles.

The medal.

The medal.

After the finish line.

After the finish line.

The official post-race area had even more. We got some Timbits from Tim Hortons and some orange drink from McDonald’s. I also stopped for a picture with Ronald McDonald.

I couldn't resist.

I couldn’t resist.

Our bibs had tickets for pizza and beer, so we got those next. Eventually we worked our way back to the MLive building for the Team Challenge after party. There was plenty of food there as well, and I ended up with some watermelon, a brownie, and some cookies. It was nice to have an air conditioned place to sit, and we didn’t even realize at first that they had a tent out back with a dance party!

The Team Challenge after party.

The Team Challenge after party.

A tent and dancing out back.

A tent and dancing out back.

We hit the expo before we left, where I found a couple of fun shirts and got some shoes for $10 off.

A shirt from Bauman's.

A shirt from Bauman’s.

A cute Flintstones shirt that refers to the bricks at the start and finish of the race.

A cute Flintstones shirt that refers to the bricks at the start and finish of the race.

The women's version of the official race shirt kind of reminds me of hospital scrubs.

The women’s version of the official race shirt kind of reminds me of hospital scrubs.

Now that I’ve finally run the Crim, I understand why it’s such a big event. We had a great time and definitely hope to return in the future.

– Janet
Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography

Twin Cities Training Update – 7 Weeks Out

Training for the Twin Cities Marathon began on June 1st, and now I’m less than two months out from running my second marathon. Hal Higdon’s training plan worked well for me when I ran the Grand Rapids Marathon in 2013, so I’m using one of his plans again. I’ve made some tweaks though, substituting his Tuesday workouts with those from the Hansons’ plan. Higdon rotates between tempo runs, hill repeats, and 800s on Tuesdays. I wanted something different this time and believe the Hansons’ workouts will give me some variety and make me stronger. I’m still not ready to commit to following their plan for the marathon, though I’ve considered trying it in the future.

The marathon training plan I've been following.

The marathon training plan I’ve been following.

As I typically do, I adjust my training when necessary and haven’t followed the plan shown above 100% of the time. When I created the schedule, I adjusted the Tuesday workouts for the first four weeks so I could concentrate on 10K-specific speedwork before racing the Corporate Cup 10K. I took a week off from speed following that race before starting up with the Hansons’ speed segment of the plan. The speed segment had me running repeats at a 7:00 pace, which is just a hair slower than my best 5K pace. I went to the track a few times and hit the treadmill a couple times when it was ridiculously hot outside. Between the heat and the lack of traction on loose stones, I couldn’t successfully pull off 5K speed on the trail. I’ve been using the Paint Creek Trail for many of my other runs though.

I love living so close to the Paint Creek Trail.

I love living so close to the Paint Creek Trail.

This week I began the “strength” segment of the Hansons’ workouts – repeats of 1-3 miles at a time at a pace 10 seconds faster than marathon pace. In addition to Higdon’s pace runs, I think these workouts will be extremely valuable when it comes to building race pace endurance. Getting through a workout of 6×1 mile at a 7:50 pace wasn’t a breeze, but I definitely felt strong after I finished.

The marathon pace runs I have done on weekends have gone really well so far. Last weekend I ran nine miles just under an 8:00 pace and felt great. I felt even better about my training when I followed up with 19 solid miles the next day. So far so good! My best long runs have been those that I’ve done very early in the morning. Sleeping in sure would be nice, but I know that the heat and sun drag me down when I start my runs too late in the morning. I’ve been heading out the door by 6:30 nearly every weekend morning and I love how peaceful it is at that time of day. I get motivated to run because I wonder how things will look in the early morning light. We live in an area that can be very busy and congested, but there are dirt roads and farmland just a few miles away. It’s like a whole different world, and I’ve enjoyed exploring some of those areas during my long runs.

It's worthwhile to wake up so early when I see sights like this.

It’s worthwhile to wake up so early when I see sights like this.

Seen on my run.

Seen on my run.

In order to figure out my goal marathon pace, I entered my Glass City Half Marathon time into Greg McMillan’s calculator. It told me that I could aim for an 8:00 pace and run the marathon in about 3:30. Even if I’m a few minutes off, it looks like I might have the potential to qualify for Boston. I’ve moved into a new age group since I last ran a marathon, and now my qualifying time is 3:40. Since I’m training for 3:30, of course I should try to be confident that I will hit that time. The realistic side of me knows that the marathon is quite a monster, and with only one under my belt, I still don’t know what to expect. I was about seven minutes off of my goal time in my first marathon, which I finished in 3:42. I’ve gotten faster since then, so I’m hopeful that I can at least pull off a 3:35. Hopefully that would give me enough of a buffer to get into Boston, knowing that people typically have to be a few minutes under the qualifying time to actually make it in. When I realized I might be on the verge of qualifying, I decided I had to order the Boston “Lobster Launch” shoes from Brooks to help motivate me. The Launch is probably my favorite shoe, and I couldn’t resist when I saw this special edition design.

Motivation to qualify for Boston!

Motivation to qualify for Boston!

In a couple weeks I’m going to run the Crim 10 Mile Race for my first time. It’s a huge race for this area and pretty much every runner I know has run it, so it’s finally time to give it a try. I don’t plan on truly racing, but I’ll probably give it a good effort. In the meantime, this weekend is my first of three 20-milers. With 10 miles to run the other day, it will be a 30-mile weekend. I plan on eating a LOT this weekend!

– Janet
Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography