Category Archives: Races

Race Recap: Anchorage Mayor’s Marathon

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve blogged (and more on the reason for that soon enough), but I thought I’d get back in the game here with my Anchorage Mayor’s Marathon recap, which I ran in June of 2016.  Luckily, I log all my runs on another site so I don’t have to just try to remember everything that was going on during the race.  And obviously I have my GPS data for splits.

Anchorage Mayor’s Marathon Expo:

The expo was held at University of Alaska Anchorage, in their fieldhouse/basketball arena.  Nothing too crazy, but a nice mix of vendors.  I asked if I could pick my own number just for fun and they almost let me, but now I can’t remember why they didn’t.  I think the number I wanted was a designated half-marathon number, but I thought 868 was good.  I like even numbers.

anchorage mayor's marathon expo


Considering I’ve only run very large marathons (Chicago, Boston, and Columbus…which isn’t a large marathon, but starts with the half marathon which does have a large field size), the start line area and hype for the Anchorage Mayor’s Marathon was quite different than I’ve ever experienced.

anchorage mayor's marathon start

The full and half marathoners do not start together because each is a point-to-point course and the half start an hour and 30 minutes after the full so runners are finishing around the same time.

Aunt Sonja, Uncle Dave, Hanna, and Jane all came with to the start area, which was the parking lot of a high school, and hung outwith me right up until I had to line up…which was about 3 minutes before gun went off.  I got to meet some of their friends who were also running, use the port-a-potties a few times, and stretch out for awhile.

Miles 1 – 3: 7:36, 7:39, 7:45

This was way too fast.  And I knew that, but I felt like I was moving slow and even though I tried to slow myself down further, it didn’t really work.  Legs were tight, I think from it being chillier and only wearing shorts at the start.

These first few miles led from the high school down a highway – but we weren’t on the road – this is a small enough race that we were on the bike path to the side of the road.  It was a long, straight stretch.

Miles 4 – 10: 7:46, 7:32, 8:09, 7:55, 7:51, 7:45, 7:51

I started making friends with the few people around me.  We chatted, talked about races we’ve done in the past, etc.  So many of the people I talked to were just doing the Anchorage Mayor’s Marathon as part of training for ultra-marathons or Ironman triathlons.  These Alaskans are tough!


The bike trail continued until about miles 5 I believe and then we got onto a gravel trail – what they call the tank trail, which is on US Army land.  I had read a few race reviews/recaps in the few weeks before the race and was nervous for this because so many people said you’d be running over golf-ball and baseball-sized rocks.  Let me assure you that this was not the case at all.  There were a few patches that had more legit rocks than gravel, but I can’t say I felt like I had to be looking down and watching my feet the entire time.  I was trying as much as I could to just relax and enjoy the scenery!


The support crew was at a turn on the trail at mile 9 (where Aunt Sonja took this picture from) and I actually even stopped for a few seconds to grab a sip of a water bottle they had.  I ended up doing this later in the race as well; They didn’t have many official race water stations that I remember, so it worked out nicely that I could take some water from them…and that I wasn’t trying to PR in this race so I could afford to stop for a few extra seconds.

Mile 11: 8:33

There was a steep hill in this mile that I ended up walking up some of.  Just couldn’t muster the strength to get up it.  Chicago is flat.

Mile 12: 7:30

Due to the walking break, I lost the group of people I was running with.  This resulted in my being alone, running through the wilderness on Army land where no spectators were allowed.  It was not particularly comforting and I was sure a bear would come and eat me.  Sooo I’m pretty sure that’s why I sped up.

Miles 13 – 17: 8:51, 9:01, 8:20, 7:34, 8:12

Miles 13-14 I believe were when we got off the Army land/tank trail and onto more of a technical dirt trail.  I came though the half at exactly 1:45 and at this time,  I had caught up with one lady who was in the group of 3-4 I had run with earlier in the race, but I couldn’t stick with her.  The majority of these miles were all running, with a few short walk breaks.

Miles 18 – 22: 8:51, 7:56, 8:12, 8:47, 9:58

There were a lot more walking breaks during miles 18 through the finish.  But I got to see my support crew I think 3 times during these few miles!


The course was entirely on either a bike bath or a trail until the very very end, when you finished on a road and then on grass.


I was so happy in this picture because I had just seen the crew 2 times in the last mile or 2 already and then they quickly made it to another spot before I got there so it was fun to see them so much!  And I think this was around mile 18-19 so I wasn’t COMPLETELY dead yet…but I was getting there.

Miles 23 – 26.2:  8:47, 8:39, 8:37, 9:52

Finally, the end!  I did manage to catch up to a guy  from the pack earlier in the race – we kept alternating between running and walking and catching up to each other or falling behind.  So that kept me going for the last few miles, but they were rough.  These miles were still on the bike path and in the last mile we were running right next to the ocean.  Then, we had to come up from sea level to the finish area and that was anything but pleasant.  The worst hills of the race, right there in the last quarter mile.  But finally made it to the top and was able to push it in.

anchorage mayors marathon medal

(Sweaty Band = Simply Satin)

Finish time: 3:38:26

Overall, I finished this race eager to do another marathon.  Not having the pressure on myself to meet a certain time goal helped and I chose not to run with music so I could just try to enjoy my surroundings while I ran.  During the race, I did have some thoughts of finishing under 3:35 to potentially be able to run Boston in 2017, but my desire to do so was not strong enough to prevent me from my late-mile walk breaks.

The weather was great for this race – a little on the hotter side, especially at times when we were in the sun, but nothing to complain about really.  The summer sun in Alaska is a tricky thing – even when it says one temperature, it feels soooo much warmer (probably by about 10-15 degrees) because you are so much closer the sun.

Race Recap: Chase Corporate Challenge (24:44)

Last Thursday evening was the Chicago Chase Corporate Challenge.  This was my 3rd time running this particular event – the first 2 times in 2012 and 2013.

The Chase Corporate Challenge is a 3.5 mile race – I think think it may now just be called JP Morgan Corporate Challenge…those banks are always eating each other up and merging and changing names.  But Chase Corporate Challenge has a nicer ring to it, so that’s what I’m gonna go with.  Anyways, it’s a 3.5 mile race on the Thursday night before Memorial Day weekend.  Companies in the Chicagoland area can sponsor a team to compete and usually also offer hospitality tents and food & beverages for employees to just hang out at afterwards.


I was lucky enough to be the team captain for my current company.  It was hard work and time consuming to get all the moving pieces together (registration, ordering shirts, ordering food, getting everyone pumped, etc.), but definitely fun and worth the hassle.

We left the office as a group around 5:15pm and headed over to Grant Park.  Our company had a few volunteers who went to the park before us, after stopping at Jimmy John’s and Walgreens, to stake out a spot for us near Buckingham Fountain.  We arrived with some time to social, stretch it, and take a few photos.


I went for a quick warm-up jog with my friend Steve – about 1.5 miles easy + 4 quick, short strides to get some pick up in the legs.  After a few more team photos, I headed to the start line with Kristie and Jeremy.  We had special red bibs that got us into the first corral, based on the projected time we each entered at registration time.  Stu and Mitch joined us up there as well too.  We had a little while to wait and mainly just commented on the other companies’ shirts and hot and humid it was.  This was gonna hurt…

And finally, we were off!  My goal was to run 6:40 average pace.  I thought this was do-able given the speed of my first 5k during Shamrock Shuffle (about 6:43 pace.)

Well, I came through the 1st mile in 6:22.  And could tell there was no way I was holding that in this heat.  Why does the first mile always feel so easy??  Given that I ran a 6:18 mile race the prior weekend, which was an all-out effort, I should not be running the 1st mile of this race in 6:22.  And so I paid for it hard.

I came through the 2nd mile in 6:55.  Except I felt like I was still pushing just as hard.  I guess not…


(Having cropping issues..but I’m there in lime green!)

Right after the 2nd mile mark, there was a water station.  This was right after coming out from lower Wacker Drive (which felt like the equivalent of a sauna underneath there surrounded by other sweaty, hard-breathing bodies.  I stopped and walked probably 10 seconds to get my water in and re-group my thoughts.  But I basically decided I was just going to kinda coast in at this point because I couldn’t make myself go any faster.  The weird thing was that everyone around me seemed to have slowed down just as much because I felt like I was still around all the same runners during the 3rd mile that I was during the 1st.

My friend Mitch (who ran a 6:08 mile in the Humboldt Mile the prior weekend) was slightly behind me and I was expecting him to catch up, but even he remained about equi-distant behind me the whole time.  And a girl I know who I was right near coming through the first mile ended up finishing a minute behind me.  So that’s me just rationalizing my extreme slow down.  The 3rd mile was 7:48.  Major yikes.  At least I had that good first mile that was close to my 1-mile race time…I can count that as a speed workout.


I headed back to our base camp area and waited for the others while cracking open a beer.  I got about halfway through the beer when Stu came back (after finishing 5th overall!!) and asked if I wanted to do a cool-down.  So we ran about 15 minutes super easy around the park and back, where I finished that beer and scarfed down some JJ’s.

So kinda a disappointing finishing time, or rather a disappointing extreme slow-down…maybe wouldn’t have been as “disappointing” if I just accepted the heat before starting and adjusted my pacing/goals accordingly.  Oh well, I’m not too concerned over it – it was a fun time with my co-workers!  I did place 64th female overall, which I thought was still great given the size of the race (over 25k+, so I’d guess about 12k or so females.)

And then I walked home and got fro yo.  That’s how most of my stories end.

Chicago friends – Did you run the Chase Corporate Challenge?

Does your company sponsor athletic events?  I also play on a soccer team through work :)  I declined the kickball and softball teams.

Race Recap: Humboldt Mile (6:18)

Yesterday I ran a brand new race – The Humboldt Mile.  Some co-workers and I have been getting pumped for the Chase Corporate Challenge (which is this Thursday!) and one of them was planning to do the Humboldt Mile with some friends from her gym, so she extended the invitation.  A few of us decided it’d be fun and signed up as well.

And it was well worth the $20 entry fee for a variety of reasons!

Concept: First of all, the concept of a 1-mile race is something unique if not on a track…which you usually only get the chance to race during high school or college.  So that was enough to make me want to do it.  I haven’t raced anything shorter than a 5k since college.  I’ve done some 1-mile or 2-mile repeats as part of longer workouts, but not raced.  So I really just wanted to see how fast I could go if I was trying for an all-out effort.

Shirt: Nike Dri-Fit!  This type of race shirt is my favorite, and I think I’ve only gotten them from any of the Bank of America races. (Chicago Marathon and Shamrock Shuffle)  And actually from the Columbus Marathon way back in 2011 pre-blogging days.  I’ve done races that cost $80+ that come with a crappier, no-name brand race shirt.  So this was definitely a bonus for me.

Humboldt Mile Race Shirt

Cause: The Humboldt Mile was put on in conjunction with Hope For The Day, which supports starting a conversation around suicide prevention.  So that was a cause I could get behind.

Pre-Race Organization: I had never been to Humboldt Park before, but getting there was super easy!  Jenn, Danielle, and I just took the North Ave bus straight over, which dropped us off right at the park.  I checked a bag (no line), used the bathroom (no line), socialized, took some photos, and then made our way over to the starting area when they called us over.

Risers at Humboldt Mile

Race: Another co-worker, Mitch, was in the same heat as me, so I found him at the start line and just chatted while we waited.  There were a little over 500 finishers total of the Humboldt Mile and when we registered, you had to choose 1 of 3 heats – the first being competitive and the other 2 being more for fun or walking.  Mitch and I chose the competitive heat (Jenn and Danielle were in the 2nd one) and each were thinking we could come close to 6 minutes.

I ran the 1st mile of the Shamrock Shuffle a few months ago in 6:36, so I knew I should definitely be under 6:30.  But like I said, I haven’t raced an all-out mile, or even really done mile repeats in a long time.  I had done 2-mile repeats recently, but those were at 6:55 pace at their fastest.  And included 3 sets of 2 mile repeats, so not exactly a way to judge my 1 mile speed.

In Orange Theory, I do my “All Out” pace at a 6:00 pace, but we never hold the all-out pace for more than a minute at a time.  So I wasn’t sure if I could do it for a full 6 minutes.  But yeah, that was my goal, to just get as close to 6:00 as possible.  And I also wanted to race people!  I don’t really get the chance to “race” in the longer races because it’s more just a race against yourself.  But I did get a little bit of that feeling during some of the shorter races I did last fall, like the Hot Chocolate 5k.

So…back to the race.  Right upon starting, I could tell this was going to hurt.  The first 100m or so (there were no markers) felt rough, like I was sooo not used to that speed.  Oh wait, let’s back up a tad to my pre-race.

I did not do any type of warm-up or strides right before the race, that’s probably why it felt so hard to get moving at the beginning.  I did, however, do a 40-minute run in the morning before getting on the bus to head over to the Humboldt Mile.  Basically so I could get in a little warm-up and have more mileage for the day.  Ok, now back to the race…

The Humboldt Mile course was like a horseshoe shape or a “U”- out for about a third of a mile, across for about a third, and then back for a third.  There were no markers, so I wasn’t sure how far in we were because I didn’t run the course beforehand, which maybe I should have done.  I looked at my watch for the first time when I was at 2:30.  Then some guy’s watch beeped at one point and I figured he had set it for half-mile splits so I checked my own watch and was at 3:04.

I looked at my watch again when I was around 4:30 and just did what I could to push it to the end.  These last quarter-ish is where I really started to race people because there were a few girls ahead of me that I could tell were slowing down and I just really wanted to cruise past, so that’s what I did.  It felt fun to feel like I was racing!

Humboldt Mile Results

I crossed the line in 6:18 and was somewhat disappointed I wasn’t closer to 6:00, but given I haven’t exactly done training for this short of a distance, it was as good as I could’ve hoped!

Post-Race: My only complaint about this race was that they did not have water at the finish.  They did have a water station back where all the pre-race stuff was set-up, but that was probably a 200m walk from the finish line, so I would’ve liked to see the water station right by the finish.

Humboldt Mile Post-Race

Other than that though, there was a coffee station sponsored by Dark Matter Coffee giving free mini iced coffees which was super clutch and a few other sponsors like Kind Bars and Revolution Brewery.  Unfortunately I was not in the mood for beer just yet.  I could not stop coughing after this race.  I don’t think my lungs were prepared for that type of intensity over a longer period of time than I’m used to.  Gotta build up that VO2 max!!

And then we followed up the race with brunch at Feast in Wicker Park.

Have you done a race shorter than a 5k since high school or college?

What is your favorite type of race t-shirt to get?

Race Recap: Carmel Half Marathon (1:41:12)

So after my “failed” half marathon PR attempt in St. Louis last weekend, I decided I wanted another chance because I thought I was in better shape and able to run a faster time.  On Wednesday, I made the decision to register for the Carmel Half Marathon and to just go by myself and try again.  The weather looked like it was going to be great, and then I made arrangements with some friends in Cincinnati to head there after the race to visit for a night.

I really can’t afford to keep racing all the time because these things are expensive, especially when you have to travel (and even more especially, traveling alone.)  However, I had a $100 Visa gift card that I won through work as part of our employee recognition program, so I thought this would be the perfect scenario to use it – on a $75 last minute race registration.  Of course, all the “official” race hotels in Carmel were booked already and even if they weren’t that’d a bit too be pricey for traveling alone.  So I scoured my Facebook friends, but couldn’t really come up with anyone in Indy that I was close enough with to ask if I could crash and such short notice.

Enter AirBnb.  I had never done it before, but figured this was the ideal scenario for why AirBnb exists.  And it was.  For $49 (+ a $6 service fee), I was able to stay at the lovely home of an empty-nester couple in a quiet, suburban Indianapolis neighborhood not far from the race.  It worked out perfectly.  Things that didn’t work out perfectly?  The race/my pacing strategy…

Let’s start at beginning with The Expo:

I drove straight from Chicago to the race expo in Carmel, arriving at about 7:10pm.  I had forgotten about the hour time difference between Chicago and Indy, but that didn’t matter much because the expo was open until 9pm.  However, when I arrived, I saw a sign for a FREE pasta dinner at the Whole Foods down the street until 7:30pm.  If I would’ve done proper research and known about this pasta dinner, I probably would’ve tried to go to save a few bucks.  However, I likely would’ve still probably neglected the time change and not made it there.

Carmel Half Marathon Expo

The expo was small, much like you’d expect from a smaller race.  It was in a large gym of a local health club/community center in Carmel.  I picked up my race packet without issue and walked up and down the 2 aisles, just stopping for a free donut sample – little munchkin-type donuts.  So I was in and out in a matter of minutes and then hit up the local Panera for dinner.  Had my (current) usual – half turkey sandwich/half chicken BBQ salad and a French baguette.  I’ve been on a big Panera kick lately, btw.


The Carmel Half Marathon was probably the easiest pre-race experience I’ve had.  I took my time getting ready in the morning and headed to Carmel from my AirBnb home, which only took about 10 minutes.  I drove straight to the start/finish area because the website said there were 2 parking locations within half mile.  Luckily once I got to the area it was easy to follow the other cars into a parking lot and then follow a few others walking to the start area.

No lines for the port-a-pottys! (Yet!)

Carmel Half Marathon Restrooms

I used the bathroom, then put together my gear check bag, checked it, and set out for an easy warm-up of 1 mile at 9 minute pace.  I didn’t even need to throw away my “throw-away” clothes because I shed them early and put them into my gear check bag since it was so warm already.  After my warm-up, I also wished I could put my arm warmers into my gear check bag, but that didn’t seem possible because they hadn’t organized the bags by number yet (wouldn’t that be a fun volunteer job while the race was going on?) so they were all just in a big mess of a pile.  But actually during the race, I never once even thought of the arm warmers and wished I could take them off, so I guess it worked out OK.

I tried to wait for a port-a-potty after my warm-up, but due to the long lines, I had to abort early and go line up at the start.  I didn’t want another issue like the St. Louis Half the prior weekend.

The Race:

I had originally decided to try to do a race plan similar to what I had done in the Virginia Beach Shamrock Half Marathon last year – a few miles easy then start alternating 2 miles hard, 1 mile easy – to make it also kind of like a workout, but also going for a fast time.  And this strategy seemed to fit in well with what I could tell of the elevation chart of the course.


Mile 1: 7:08

Within the first mile, I realized I had started a little behind a pace group.  I wasn’t sure which it was, but I focused on staying relaxed for the beginning, but also gradually began to gain on them.  My watch beeped for a mile and I realized it was a little faster than my plan – I thought I should do about 7:25 for the first 2 miles.

Mile 2: 7:08

Fast again.  But a little after the 1st mile mark, I had caught up to the pace group, realized it was for a 1:35 half marathon, and decided to change my strategy to be sticking with that pace group for the entire race.

Miles 3 & 4: 7:14, 7:02

I still felt good and was very pleased with the weather and my decision to hang out with the pace group.  I tried to convince myself it was just a casual Saturday morning running group out for a run.

Miles 5 & 6: 7:19, 7:28

I was still with the pace group for the 5th and most of the 6th mile, but by the end of the 6th mile, I could tell I was not going to be able to keep up.  There was a water station right at the 6th mile mark and I stopped for a few seconds to walk to get in water.  Of course, my watch beeped for 6 miles while I was walking, but I said “Ok, a 7:28 for just walking a few seconds is still about a 7:20 running pace, so I just need to keep that up.”

Miles 7 – 9: 7:31, 7:39, 7:41

Well, clearly I could not keep that up.  There was a timing mat at the halfway point (6.55 miles) and I came through that at 47:25, so right on pace for the 1;35 (yet I was probably 30 seconds behind the pace group.)  I tried to convince myself I could still PR even if I slowed down a tad, but it also just didn’t seem possible because I was fading fast.  There were 2 or 3 other girls that had been with the 1:35 pacer that had dropped off as well and we seemed to each be playing ping pong with each other for these few miles – passing and then being passed.  I think in the 8th mile was where I walked through another water station for a few steps to get in my Gu/water.  And then I could do no more passing.

Also, somewhere in these miles I had to hop a fence?!?!  I guess we went the wrong way and ended up on a service road NEXT to the trail we were supposed to be on.  I can’t really describe a fence well, so I found this on Google that shows what type of fence it was…easy to climb, but still not ideal.


Miles 10 – 13: 8:40, 8:52, 8:06, 8:03

These miles were just straight pain.  If I had known where I was, I probably would’ve just dropped out and found the quickest walking route back to the end.  They were filled with not being able to pick up my legs when I did try to run and a few walking breaks.  I did manage to make myself run the entire 12th mile…that’s what my goal changed into – run this entire mile without stopping.  So still not being able to squeak out under 8 minutes wasn’t too cool.

But at least my sunglasses made me look cool:

Carmel Half Marathon Finish

(Sweaty Band = Wicked Exclusive Turquoise 1″)

Last .1 Mile  – 7:12 pace

Major struggle just to push it in, but was so glad to be done.  Gives new meaning to the term “positive split” – first 6 miles in 43 minutes, next 6 in 49 minutes…  I’m in sweet shape for the 8k or 10k I guess though.  I don’t know what my long distance issue is now, but I’ll write out some thoughts on that later.

Finish Time: 1:41:12


The finish area at the Carmel Half Marathon was THE BEST.  Chocolate milk + bagels + those little munchkin donuts I had samples of at the expo.  Plus water and bags of chips and pretzels and fruit.  I took a few items, picked up my bag from gear check, then just sat on the curb about .1 mile away from the finish watching runners finish.  I had especially wanted to see the first marathoners come through, which was exciting.  I never get to see the winners of a race!  Since, you know, I’m behind them.

After awhile, I headed back to my AirBnB host’s home to shower, then hit the road to go to Cincinnati for the rest of the day/night to soak up the sun.


Lindsey almost has me convinced to tone down the running this summer to concentrate on learning to swim and bike so I do a half-Ironman with her in the fall… But first I need to get through the Anchorage Marathon!  I guess you could say I’m marathon training now…9 weeks to go.

Have you ever stayed at an AirBnB?  What was your experience like?

Any stories about going the wrong way in a race?  I can’t really say this counts because it didn’t actually seem to affect the distance at all, but it was weird.

Reflecting On My 1st Boston Marathon, 1 Year Later

The Boston Marathon is in 3 days!!  I’m jealous of everyone that is doing it, but I was definitely not ready to commit to another marathon during registration time last fall.  I thought it’d be fun to reflect on the weekend (you can read about my training summary, pre-race, RACE, and post-race) now that we are a year removed.

Although last year was a (very cold) dream and an amazing experience, there are of course some things I’d do differently:

  • Not buy as much paraphernalia.  I bought a lot of Boston Marathon 2015 items – 2 long sleeve shirts (in addition to the long sleeve shirt that was in the race packet), a pint glass, and the jacket.  But it was my first one, so that is acceptable.  When I do it again (assuming I qualify again, of course), I’d probably just stick to the jacket and OK, probably like 1 other thing, even if just a glass.  But do you even need more than 1 Boston jacket?  Most likely.  Oh, and then I was at a random outlet mall when I was on vacation in Florida in June (2 months after the race) and went into the adidas shop and they had extremely discounted Boston merch, so I bought 2 more clothing items.  And I wear them all with pride now.  So if it’s your first Boston, go all out.  But next time, I’ll try to rein it in a little.

Boston Jacket

  • Find a friend (or at least a moderate acquaintance/friend-of-a-friend in Boston to stay with.  Last year I was very lucky to have my parents, aunt & uncle & cousin, and Angela to stay in a hotel with.  So although I didn’t have to pay for the hotel, my mom said it was the most they’ve EVER paid for a standard hotel room.  Unless I was traveling with a larger group again, I’d probably try to use my social network to find someone I know there to stay with and mooch housing off of.  Or even if I was going to get a hotel, I guess I’d try to book as early and as cheaply as possible…if even possible.  I’m sure that city makes bank this weekend.  As does adidas (see above.)


  • Do more anti-rain dances in the weeks leading up to the race.  JK, I can’t control this one…or can I?…


Trying to smile, but so cold. (Sweaty Band = Chevron Slide 1″)

  • Leave on Tuesday.  Last year, I thought it was a grand ole idea to “make a vacation” out of it and stay til Wednesday.  Vacationing/site-seeing Ben Franklin’s church and Paul Revere’s grave is by no means enjoyable when you can barely walk.  On a scale of 1-10, I’d put the Freedom Trail normally at like a 6 maybe?  But when it’s the day after a marathon, at least 1 toenail is going to fall off, and your legs are extremely stiff, the Freedom Trail’s “fun rating” goes down to a 1.


(Sweaty Band = Hex in the City 1″)

  • Don’t throw up on the T.  Rather, try not to need to get off the T a stop earlier than your hotel to puke on the platform.  Not sure how this one could’ve been prevented…maybe I didn’t eat enough the day I was flying or maybe it was just nerves, but by the time I arrived in Boston I had a huge headache and felt extremely nauseous.


So those are just the things I’d do differently.  There were so many great parts of the experience that I would not change.  If you’re running this year, the most important thing is to have fun and enjoy the entire experience!!  I get extremely jealous when I see the photos appearing on social media advertising the race because every one seems to NOT be from last year because I’m sure everyone looks at least 60% more miserable last year than the previous.  So I wouldn’t want to advertise a marathon with photos of freezing people in rainy, cloudy weather either.  So all the sunshine photos make me want to run it again soon so I can enjoy the actual race more!  Not that I didn’t enjoy it, but I just don’t think I got the true experience.

Our spectators had some travel issues on race day that I doubt could have been prevented…lots of people and lots of security.

But what are some things I’d definitely do again??



Red Sox!  We were chilly at the game so spent a lot of time in the concourse and just outside of the ballpark where we could stand in the sun, but it was great to experience.


(Sweaty Band = Color Wash 1″)

Visiting the Finish line area the day before the race!  The weather was nicer that day, so we did a shake-out jog around Boston, near Harvard (I think?), and had a photo shot by the finish line.  A selfie stick would’ve come in handy, but luckily everyone was nice, so we took turns with some strangers taking each others picture.


The food!  These were some delicious gourmet fries and sauces we ate while waiting for our table at the famous seafood restaurant, Union Oyster House.


Taking a private bus to the start!


My training group in Cincinnati had a large enough crowd all going to the race, that they chartered a private bus for us.  This made everything a little less stressful.  It was a long, drizzly ride there and I thought “how am I going to run the whole way back downtown?”  But it was comforting to be around people I knew and our leader kept us entertained.  We all introduced ourselves, said what number marathon it is and what number Boston Marathon it is for us, etc.

And of course, the marathon!


My hair was not in a good state after that run…so many wet tangly knots.


Race Recap: Go! St. Louis Half Marathon (1:39:50)

Oh man, what to say about this race?  It was a rough one, both physically and emotionally.

The Expo:

My mom and I got into St. Louis early afternoon and went straight to St. Louis Bread Co. (aka Panera Bread) for lunch, then headed to Chaifetz Arena for the Go! St. Louis Marathon & Half Marathon expo.  We met Liz, Casey, Angela, and Emily there and walked around for a bit.  We were on the hunt for black arm warmers, but didn’t have any luck there.  It was a very random collection of expo vendors – some running stores, some local restaurants/gyms, and a guy selling pots and pans.

After the expo, Angela and I took Lulu for a long walk to shake out our legs.  And hers…


We spent the night making dinner, watching Revenge, and getting all our race gear ready to go!


The race started at 7am, so we had a very early wake-up call.  But that allowed us to take our time getting ready and I ate half a bagel with peanut butter and drank water and a cup of coffee.

We picked up Liz & Casey and found parking really easily.  But then we had a little bit of a trek to get to the start area and need a stop at the port-a-pottys which had outrageous lines.  Serious question – is it possible for a race to ever have enough port-a-potties?  I don’t think so.  Every race I’ve ever been at has far too few.  (Except Boston, because Boston does everything to perfection at this point I’m sure.)  I would be OK if race directors wanted to use my entry fee for more port-a-potties and less bags of pretzels and chips at the end of races.

After we finally made it through the port-a-potties, the race was literally starting so we ran to try to get up into Corral B.  We ended up at the back of Corral C, with just a fraction of a second to take a selfie:


(Sweaty Bands = Wicked Exclusive Fuchsia 1″)

If I had more seconds, I would try to get a better one, but this one will have to do.  Then I scrambled with my iPod, had a moment of not knowing if it was going to work or not, but then it started and so did we.

The Race:

I’m going to lay out my splits according to my Garmin, but splits according to the official race time seem quite different, at least for the first few miles.

Mile 1: 7:16

The race started winding through some streets of downtown St. Louis.  It seemed like there were a lot of turns and we were fighting through people.  I tried not to be too aggressive, but it was frustrating at some points, and then I would speed up whenever I did have a clear path.  It was very hard to judge pace while doing this and I could tell that it didn’t feel easy.  At this point I was still with Angela and Liz, but Liz took off ahead of us right after the first mile.  We passed the 1st mile marker when my watch said 7:06, but then the Garmin beeped for a mile a little later at 7:15.

Miles 2 & 3: 7:06, 7:05

These 2 miles were over the Mississippi River and into East St. Louis, IL.  Not the best smelling town… But mile 2 had a pretty nice downhill and Mile 3 was a few rolling hills.  I felt decent here, but not as good as I would’ve liked.

Miles 4 – 6: 7:28, 7:22, 7:25

This is where things started getting rough.  There was a huge hill, that I was able to see coming for awhile and then finally approached it and hurt so bad going up.  It was at least a half mile long to get up that hill to go over the bridge back to Missouri.


In case you’re wondering, no, the race’s website does not allude to this misery and shows a joke of an elevation chart.  Everything after mile 3 felt like it was nothing but uphill.

The weather was OK, but there was a part while I was running over the bridge during mile 4 that the wind was pushing me a bit sideways.  Other than over that bridge, I didn’t feel too much wind and the weather never bothered me. (Until I was done, then I was freezing.)

Mentally, I started to go pretty far south during miles 5 and 6.  I had no hope of maintaining under a 7:20 pace and was struggling hard to stay under 7:30.

I also yelled at some water-stop volunteers.  They were all crowding the street, making the path for runners to run through about 2-people wide.  So I told them to back up.  Runners will go to the side when they want water.  They don’t need to keep inching their way to the center with their arms stretched out trying to get people to take your cup.  If you hold it, they will come.  So that’s what kind of state I was in…nasty.

Mile 7: 7:25 + a 1 minute hiatus….

I was so mad.  I tried to tell myself that running doesn’t define me.  But then what does?  I don’t have anything else going on in my life except work.  I stopped when I saw my mom and wanted to quit the race (which is why I stopped my watch).  I threw my iPod off, cried and yelled for a bit, and then Angela convinced me to keep going with her.

Miles 8-12: 7:31, 7:49, 7:55, 7:30, 8:03, 7:38

Everything was hard.  Every thought I had was negative.  I hated myself every step because I had already failed myself by giving up.  But I had to finish because there was no other way back.  Angela continued to help to keep me going though and I tried to just keep my eye on her, even when I slowed down.  There was a photographer somewhere in this stretch:


I saw that photographer and I made the decision not to smile.  Normally I try to at least fake a smile, but I actually think this worked out better because I look focused.

Mile 13: 7:24

That’s actually pretty surprising…guess I was able to kick it in a little.

Finish Time: 1:39:50.  Actual time running from my Garmin was 1:38:44 since I had stopped it while I was stopped.

Post Race:

The finish area was nice – a good variety of food – toasted ravioli (a St. Louis delicacy), ice cream sandwiches, PB&J sandwiches, fruit, etc.  But I wasn’t interested in any of it.

What was by the far the most poor-planned thing ever was the gear check.  It was in a building across the street from the finish area.  The only way to get there was to cross the street…the street all the runners were running on.  So really, nobody could possibly yell it you for doing it because how else were you supposed to get your gear?

Final Thoughts:

Running really sucks sometimes.  I tried to spin this recap as positively as possible.  Well, not necessarily that, but just didn’t go into as much negative detail as I could.  There was a lot of typing and erasing because otherwise it would’ve just been a rant against myself.

Under 1:40 is still a great time that I am happy with for it being a bad race.  I’m going to try again in another half marathon this coming weekend and can only hope it goes better/I mentally hold up better when it gets rough.

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