I had planned to use the Skirt Chasers 5k as a test of whether or not my speed workouts were resulting in any gains. I don’t know the answer to that question, because when I arrived at Mile High Stadium (sorry, Sports Authority- I can’t bring myself to call it “The Authority”) this is what greeted me:

Considering I don’t live in Phoenix, the Sahara Desert, or Hell, I am completely unaccustomed to running in that kind of heat. I’d even go so far as to say I specifically avoid it. However, I don’t live in a vacuum, and I knew the race was going to be capital H- Hot. Hydration was going to be key, so I spent the day before and the day of the race drinking water like it was my job, including an entire liter of water during the 2o minute drive to the field.

The concept behind the Skirt Chasers race series is really fun: the women start (ideally in a running skirt, which is included in your race fee) and then three minutes later, the men start. You are not only racing for your own time, but also for the honor of your gender. However, despite all my attempts at hydration, my mouth was dry before the men even started. The entire race took place on the grounds of Mile High- meaning that the vast majority of it was on black tar asphalt. My feet were burning up by about 5 minutes in.

The first man passed me at about the 3/4 mile mark (which I was actually pretty proud of- I thought it would happen sooner). When I arrived at the first water station, at the one mile mark, there were a lot of guys there ahead of me. And a lot of racers (of both genders) took a walk break. I decided to tough it out, and was rewarded for my efforts with a mild hill and a strong urge to puke. At about a mile and a quarter, I decided there was no shame in walking. According to the mapmyrun app, my first mile split was about 11 minutes, which probably means that first guy to pass me finished his first mile somewhere in the 7-8 minute per mile range. Yeah.

I crested that hill at about a mile and half, and decided the downhill, on concrete, and punctuated with trees was a good place to get going again. I let go of my legs and just let them carry me down, passing several guys on the way. Normally I don’t notice that much about the other racers, but this race is designed for you to notice them. Blessedly, at the bottom of this hill was a second water station (that’s right, a 5k with two water stations. Thank goodness the race organizers paid attention to the weather).

 As the race course came back around and hugged the stadium, and really started to heat up again, I was rewarded for my pride in passing some men in being passed by a dude wearing cut off jean shorts. Ego. Checked.

It was about then that I had to revise my goal down from a hopeful PR to instead finishing without puking. Sometimes you just have to know when enough is enough. The last half of the third mile is actually a lap around the field, which was pretty neat. However, when you enter the tunnel to get to the field, you learn that the tunnel is air conditioned. I wanted to lay down on the cold concrete and stay there. Probably the only reason I didn’t do that was because the race photographers had stationed themselves there.

The lap around the field was pretty neat. I met an awesome lady named Patty, when I jogged up next to her (she was walking) and suggested to her that she jog, after all, she didn’t want Bucky the Bronco to see her walking! We jogged the rest of the way around the field together. In a cruel twist, the race course goes back out in to the heat, through another air conditioned tunnel, and up a hill to the final .1 mile. I decided that hill was the perfect time to walk. Patty caught me walking, though, and made me run again, once outside. I finished strong, right at 36:03.

I have never been so proud of 12 minute miles.

On Monday (Memorial Day) I ran the last of three races in eight days with the Bolder Boulder. Because, really, what is 10 more Ks? As it turns out, I can actually run a 10K now and feel pretty great afterwards. I ran this race last year, and felt like I had been hit by a truck when I finally crossed the finish line.

This year’s race could not have been more different. My time was about 7 minutes faster, with every single mile split having been improved upon. The Bolder Boulder is an interesting race- there is a lot of in-race entertainment, and I participated in a lot of it. For example, one of the Boulder residents sets up a Slip-n-slide in their front lawn. Last year, I trotted right on by. This year, I got in line and took a couple of minutes to do it. Given that I had just completed the half the week before, I decided to take this race and really experience all the fun things that go along with it. The PR was a nice bonus, but it wasn’t the ultimate goal.

Next year, however, I will do a few things differently. I will register for a different wave, for instance. The last two years, I have registered for a walk/run wave, but I didn’t actually walk either year. Hopefully in changing that, I won’t have to weave throughout so many walkers. I will also definitely not do the slip-n-slide again. It was fun this year, but running in soaking wet clothes gets old after a bit.

My next race isn’t until the end of June! After 3 races in 8 days, I am sure to go through withdrawal. However, that race will be a 5K, and I am going to try out some different things to increase speed. I am sure those training plans and ideas will be featured here!

On Saturday, my running buddy, Jessica, and I completed the second of three races in eight days. Luckily, this one was only a 5K (though I remember vividly when a 5K would seem to be anything but “only”), and was a fun run- not even timed.

Based strictly on my facebook friends, I’d say the Color Run is a very popular race series. The idea behind the color run is that you start out the race with a nice clean, white shirt, and you end up covered in color.

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Pre-Race. See how clean we are?

The dye they use to color you is very similar to the dye used in the Hindu festival of Holi- basically colored corn starch. The race series also chooses a local charity to donate part of the proceeds as a part of their visit to that city. In the case of Denver, the selected charity was Children’s Hospital, an organization that is near and dear to my heart.

Half baked

The race had a really great atmosphere. The race itself is really laid back, and the pre/post race atmosphere was excellent. They played great music and the DJ they had really knew how to work the crowd.

In case it isn’t clear, I really loved this race. It was a lot of fun, and definitely unlike any race I have done before! My only gripe is the lack of post-race snacks. But, that won’t stop me from doing it again next year!

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Post-Race. My bangs always do ridiculous things when I run.

Even though I already ran the half marathon, I thought I’d post the training plan I used. It is very similar to the training plans designed by Hal Higdon. My research (ie, google) tells me that his plans are some of the most popular training plans out there, maybe excepting the Couch to 5K program. I really wanted an app, though, and the choices for the Hal Higdon plans on app were pretty limited. I did, however, find a couple of free apps that worked great for training.

The first is an app called 26Point2. You put in the information about your race (date, distance, experience level), and it gives you a check off training plan. I really liked this app, because I love lists. Being able to check things off as I complete them is awesome. I also really like that it has you doing strength training two days a week. I really think that a good strength training program is important for runners, and is often overlooked in training plans (this is another reason I liked the Hal Higdon plans- he incorporates strength, too).

To track my runs, I used the app MapMyRUN. I have tried a few different run tracking apps, and I like this one the best. You get in-ear updates on distance and pace, hill information, and the ability to save routes. The web component is nice, too, in that you can see splits and access your info from an actual computer and not just the phone. It also has the ability to track more than just run workouts, so you can put all your workout logs in one place.

Without further ado, this is more or less what I did:

Week Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
1 3 mi 2 mi Stregth 3 mi Rest 4 mi Strength
2 3 mi 2 mi Stregth 3 mi Rest 4 mi Strength
3 3.5 mi 2 mi Stregth 3.5 mi Rest 5 mi Strength
4 3.5 mi 2 mi Stregth 3.5 mi Rest 5 mi Strength
5 4 mi 2 mi Stregth 4 mi Rest 6 mi Strength
6 4 mi 2 mi Stregth 4 mi Rest 5K Test Strength
7 4.5 mi 3 mi Stregth 4.5 mi Rest 7 mi Strength
8 4.5 mi 3 mi Stregth 4.5 mi Rest 8 mi Strength
9 5 mi 3 mi Stregth 5 mi Rest 10K Test Strength
10 5 mi 3 mi Stregth 5 mi Rest 9 mi Strength
11 5 mi 3 mi Stregth 5 mi Rest 10 mi Strength
12 4 mi 3 mi Stregth 2 mi Rest Rest RACE

Occasionally I would switch up the days when I needed to fit things differently in my schedule. Sometimes I would do Yoga or Boot Camp instead of a straight lifting workout. All in all, I was very happy with this training plan. It definitely got me to the finish line.

Finally, a pic of my running buddy Jessica and me before the race:

I started this blog almost two years ago as a way to document my attempts to get in shape after having a baby. My plan was to start running 5Ks, doing one a month for a year. I did end up doing that, but I didn’t end up blogging about all of them, and I have since deleted the few posts I did make. The main reason for that was that I wasn’t really making any progress in terms of physical fitness, nor in time, nor motivation, nor anything else that normally accompanies getting in shape. In short: I was going through the motions.

About a year ago, my mentality towards running started to change. I finally began to think of myself a runner. I got fitted for my first pair of “real” running shoes, I signed up for a few races that were longer than a 5K, and really started to embrace my time out on the road. My entire approach to the whole thing felt really different than it had when I was running all those races. Then, 6 weeks before my first 10K, I sprained my ankle.

To say it was a blow is a bit of an understatement. I still ran that 10K, but it was painful. The race itself was really fun, but I was stressed and worried about my ankle the whole time. After that race, I didn’t run for most of the summer. I did a couple of short races in the fall and winter, but I had lost the spark I had ignited.

We had an uncharacteristically warm Spring here in Colorado, and my thoughts started to turn to running again. My running buddy, Jessica, and I set our sights on some races, and started training. I am so proud to report that today, I completed my first half-marathon. During the race, all I could think about was how I wanted to share the experience with the world at large. I decided that this blog needed to come to life again- as a space to share my plans, goals, and, hopefully, successes.

This post is getting a bit long already, so I won’t do a full breakdown of the race today, but here are the vitals:

Race: Colfax Half Marathon

Time: 2:57

Notes: Fun race, nice flat course. I did not like having to pick up my packet at a specified expo, rather than at a running store, or on race day. Water stations every 2 miles, which was perfect and awesome.

Up Next: Color Run Denver

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