Race Recap: Lebanon 10K Trail Race (with video)

The Lebanon 10K trail race is one of five races in the Endless Summer Trail Run Series (ESTRS) hosted by Twin Cities Running Company and Rocksteady Running.

Looking back and reviewing my thoughts on this race I realized that it gave me a lot of firsts for one little 10K run.

  1. This was my first race where it rained through the entire event.
  2. First race I’ve ever gone to completely solo.  Drove there myself.  Check in and packet pickup on my own.  Started running alone.  After party of one.  Drove home by myself.  There are pros and cons to this.  I had the freedom to do things on at my own pace and didn’t worry about where anyone else was or how to meet up or any of those coordination items.  That said, it was super lonely!  I don’t think I would go it alone again if I could avoid it.  The after party was especially lonely.  It was a great event with pizza and beer and I just didn’t have anyone to share it with and recount the race with.
  3. Not my first trail race but it was my first trail 10K!
  4. First 10K that was a 3 mile loop twice.
  5. First race on a Tuesday evening after work.
  6. First race while recording with a GoPro.

The night before was a Monday evening.  I packed everything I would need into my gym bag instead of laying it out as I would for other races simply because the race was after work and not my first item of the day.  I also knew it would probably be rainy so I brought my rain jacket, a plastic sandwich bag for my phone and a towel for after the race.

After work on Tuesday I drove over to Lebanon Hills Regional Park and parked in the overflow lot.  Check in was IMG_0376seamless.  I gave the volunteers my name and bib # and was good to go.  Race registration also included glassware from Solomon.  Since my car was at the overflow lot, it was raining, and I didn’t have anyone with me to hold my stuff I hid my glass by one of the picnic tables.  Felt very sneaky for doing this but it worked out fine and was waiting for me when I finished.

I have to give race directors a shout out for starting on time.  And I mean really on time.  Super punctual.  The race was scheduled to start at 6:30 and we started exactly at 6:30 pm.

The race started on asphalt and quickly progressed into the trail through the woods.  It had been raining for 4 days in the Minneapolis area prior to Tuesday.  The mud was out of control and it was very difficult to not slip and fall.  Great workout but made for some slow running.IMG_0386

The first 3 miles felt like they flew by.  I had turned off the voice notifications on my Map My Run app to avoid bothering anyone and I didn’t notice any mile markers.  If they were there, I didn’t see them.  The whole time I didn’t know how far I was which I think made the time seem to go by faster.  Aid station was great (back at the start/finish) with water, gels, and really supportive volunteers cheering.  The second loop felt like it went by more slowly.  I think this was because I knew I was repeating everything I had just run through, I was more tired, and more soaked by then.  (Disclaimer: It wasn’t pouring, just a heavy mist/drizzle.  If it had been an outright downpour I might not have stuck it out!)  The park trail was beautiful despite the weather.  Picture lots of green foliage with wood bridges throughout.

I finished in little under an hour and 17 minutes.  Not too shabby for me considering the muddy trail and rain!  It was a great workout and I am proud of my time.IMG_0385

Afterwards there was pizza and beer.  Pizza and lemonade for me since I was driving myself home.  I have to say though, it tasted like the best meal ever after running in the rain for an hour!  This was a very well organized race and I truly enjoyed myself.  The volunteers were so nice, helpful, and encouraging.  I would absolutely run another ESTRS race again.  Next time though, I’m bringing some friends! ūüôā


Having it All vs. Doing it All

I’ve never no-showed a race. ¬†In fact, I rarely ever no-show anything at all. ¬†If I say I will do something, I do it. ¬†If I say I will be somewhere, I’m there. ¬†If I register for it, I show up and run. ¬†Until this weekend. ¬†A few months ago I registered for the Get in Gear 10k. ¬†Later my husband let me know that our 8 year old would have a hockey tournament – we just didn’t know what time of day. ¬†A couple weeks ago, in looking at my training plan realized that it called for an 8 mile run that day. ¬†It doesn’t take a genius to realize that 6 miles is not quite 8 miles. ¬†I decided to change my distance for Get in Gear to the half marathon. ¬†A few days ago we found out my son had two big tournament games the day of Get in Gear (yesterday). ¬†One at 8:15 am and another at 1:15 pm. ¬†The race was scheduled for 9:00 am. ¬†No way to do both. ¬†I would be lying if I said I didn’t even consider skipping the hockey tournament. ¬†It was extremely tempting. ¬†I really enjoy race days, they are the best. ¬†Sitting in a cold ice arena for hours is not always super fun. ¬†It crossed my mind but in the end I knew I needed to be there for him. ¬†When there’s a conflict – the Mom card trumps all. ¬†I got my first Did Not Start (or DNS in the running world). ¬†Kind of a bummer but I don’t regret it. ¬†I didn’t skip it because I forgot or slept late or was feeling lazy. ¬†I skipped it because my guy needed me. ¬†And he did. ¬†The first game of the tournament was a shut out, 0 to 10. ¬†The second was another loss at 1 to 10. ¬†He was super disapointed and I would have felt even worse if I hadn’t been there to give hugs and encouragement.


Sometimes having it all doesn’t mean doing it all. ¬†Sometimes the kitchen doesn’t get cleaned. ¬†Sometimes that last minute email gets answered the next day. ¬†Sometimes grad homework is turned in at the last minute (like this week!). ¬†And sometimes a DNS happens. ¬†That’s life as a parent. ¬†We sacrifice our own wants for our kids’ well being and happiness and it’s okay (and encouraged!) to give ourselves room to do that guilt free.

But it doesn’t have to be a total sacrifice. ¬†I skipped the race and am very glad I did. ¬†I gave up the half marathon but didn’t give up my training. ¬†It would have been easy to just say ‘oh well, that’s that, wasn’t meant to be’. ¬†But I still had those 8 miles on my training 8 mile trail trainingplan so I cranked out them out on some trials. ¬†(This trail stuff is growing on me although we ran into several harmless but startling snakes which I didn’t appreciate.) ¬†Had a great workout with a good friend in spite of the scheduling issues.

Sidebar: Looking for some feedback! ¬†I have been watching YouTube videos lately for running, workout and training tips. ¬†Playing around with the idea of doing some video blogging of my own. ¬†Thoughts? ¬†Good idea? ¬†Silly idea? ¬†Have you tried it or have any tips? ¬†Would welcome any comments. ūüôā

Hot Chocolate > Hot Dash

IMG_0098Yesterday’s Hot Chocolate 15K race went so much better than the Hot Dash 10 Mile. ¬†It’s amazing what putting in effort and training can do. ¬†The weather was gorgeous yesterday. ¬†My best running friend (I call her “the instigator” – she signs up for these races and I just copy her :)) and I left my house at about 6:30 am. ¬†All went according to our race agenda (we even found the perfect parking spot!) and were at the start with plenty of time to spare. ¬†Even got to meet some friends of hers who are also running fanatics.IMG_0118

I have stuck to my marathon training plan religiously these past 6 weeks putting all of my fitness focus on running.  I was pretty excited for this race.  I have never been in any type of qualifying coral but my previous race time in the Sioux Falls half marathon got me bumped up to Coral J which was the first coral at the 15K race.  It was super fun to start out with all of the fast people.  Most of them passed me quickly but a few of us finished together!

hot chocolateI didn’t feel like I was pushing or going out too fast at all. ¬†Looking at my splits, I probably could have pulled back a little more in the beginning but felt really good at the time. ¬†Usually I die a little every time someone passes me (which is often because I’m slowish) but yesterday my montra was “my race, my pace”. ¬†I focused on going as fast as I comfortably could. ¬†After the first few miles the rest just seemed to fly by. ¬†Every water stop also had gatorade which was really nice. ¬†Since it was chocolate themed, each stop also had candy. ¬†I skipped the sugary stuff for the most part except the very last water stop. ¬†At mile 7.5 Sugar by Maroon 5 thrummed into my ear buds just as I was approaching the break and I took it as a sign. ¬†I indulged with a good 45 seconds of snacking and Adam Levine fantasizing before continuing on to the finish.IMG_0117

Finished strong with an average pace of 10:30 per mile.  A huge improvement over my average pace at Hot Dash of 12:04 per mile for about the same distance.  And no blisters or injuries this time!

To “sweeten the deal”, the post-race snacks were totally awesome. ¬†Hot chocolate, chocolate fondue, bananas and real water bottles.

That’s all I have for now folks. ¬†GOOD LUCK to those of you running Boston tomorrow! ¬†Have a phenomenal race! ¬†I can’t wait to read all about it. ūüôā


Race Recap: Zumbro 17 Mile Trail Race

Friday night I didn’t have much to put together.  I had been picking my outfit out all week and lining things up.  Went to bed early and got a good night’s sleep.  Yesterday morning I woke up bright and early at 4:30 am.  Had plenty of time to take a shower get dressed, curl my hair, decide I wanted it braided instead, make breakfast, remember I needed sneakers, look for sneakers, forget my glasses, go back for glasses, and get to M’s house by 6:00 am.

A two hour drive from the cities to Theilman Minnesota later we arrived at the start of the Zumbro 17 mile trail race.  The race starts at the Zumbro River Bottoms campground area.  Here is info on the course and altitude for anyone interested.  The scene at the start was very laid back.  At packet pickup and check in we just gave them our names.  No scanning, no code, no ID necessary.  IMG_0076People were camping in tents with camp fires.  The weather was sunny and mild in the mid 50’s when we got there but was closer to 70 by the time we were done.  This race was the shortest distance of the event with 2 ultra marathon races already in progress.  50 miles (3 loops of the 17 mile course) and 100 miles (6 loops of the 17 mile course). 100 milers started 8:00 am the previous day and 50 milers had started at midnight on Friday.


Just after the start, heading into the woods.

So now that the stage has been set, here’s how this thing went down and what I learned along the way.


At the top of the first hill.

The race starts out with a brief flat straight away into the woods that immediately shoots straight up a massive incline which is the first of 4 major climbs on the course.  I don’t think I’ve ever been up something quite so steep.  I had looked at the elevation prior and realized I had 2 or 3 more of these to go.  The first couple miles M and I ran together.  She’s done plenty of these including a rim to rim to rim through the grand canyon and a major trail marathon.  This is a pretty good depiction of what I’m sure we would have looked like (picture M is Merlin and I’m the wolf):

After the first incline I was holding my own and felt pretty good but didn’t want to hold her back.  I was glad she continued on (and met her goal!).  Miles 2 through 3 were incredibly muddy.  And not a puddle here or there.  I’m talking about the super thick, sticks to your shoes nasty muck.  The course was full of giant rocks, leaves, roots.  Very different than the flat road races I’m used to.

Having just made it out of the mud and happy to be on dry land, mile 4 provided an extra special treat: SAND!  It was tough and slippery and I was happy to get out of the sand pits without breaking an ankle.

After the sand fiasco I picked up speed a little and cought up to some other racers.  I watched what they did, realizing this trail was definitely a different kind of race animal.  I walked as fast as I could up the hills.  Hydrated and took a short break at the top, jogged as fast as I could safely on the down hills.  Ran as fast as I could on any straight flat areas.

I also learned that trail racers are very chatty and super nice.  You can’t pass someone without having a conversation.  I tried once – it was super awkward I got a bunch of bad vibes.  You can talk about anything: the weather or the difficulty of the run or the nice scenery but you *have* to talk to each other and the pace is slow enough that this is doable.  I stuck with a pack of about 6 individuals (at least one was a 50 miler) from miles 6 to the finish.

Aid stations are weird.  People are super nice and helpful but it’s not the grab a cup of water or Gatorade and continue on.  There was a whole smorgasbord of snacks an beverage options.  Water, soda, candy, sandwiches, cookies, pretzels.  It all looked very tempting but I stuck to my nothing-new-on-race-day rule and skipped it all.  I only stopped at the last aid station at mile 14 for the porta-potty.  I probably could have skipped that one too but didn’t want to regret it on the next mile!

Speaking of regrets, my only true regret is not taking enough pictures.  As difficult as this race was, it was equally gorgeous.  I made the mistake of putting my phone in my jacket pocket.  When it got warmer I chucked the jacket in my hydration pack.  At the time, I was exhausted and it just felt like a hassle to get to it.


Finished! With our wood medals, course map in the background.

The number one lesson I learned is that trail racing is NOT road racing.  At all.  I would actually call it a completely different sport.  Different crowd, different pace, different expectations, and a drastically different course.


I finished the 16.86 miles in 4:35:40 with an average pace of 16:20.  I would have been extremely disappointed with that pace on a road race.  However, given the extreme conditions of the course, I’m damn proud of my finish at my first trail race.

Would I do it again?  You bet.

The Art of Not Freaking Out

I was blissfully going about my day yesterday when an email popped into my inbox. ¬†This was the subject: “Welcome to the 2015 Zumbro Endurance Run”. ¬†I immediately felt nauseous, sweaty and shaky. ¬†I hadn’t forgotten about the¬†race I registered for months ago. ¬†Far from it. ¬†I had been purposely not thinking about it (there’s a big difference). ¬†Here’s what enters my brain every time I think about this race.

I’m¬†in over my head.
I’m not this kind of runner.
I’ve never completed¬†a trail race or run of any distance.
I’ve never completed a run or race of this distance.
I’m estimating it will take me about 4.5-5 hours. ¬†I’ve never exercised for that long. ¬†Ever.
And I don’t like mud.

And then¬†there’s my distance¬†running history to nag me as well:¬†Here is how I’ve felt after my previous half marathons.
2013 Sioux Falls Half: I thought I was going to die. I honestly couldn’t believe I finished it. I cried in my husbands arms when it was over. ¬†I was incredibly sore the rest of the day and for two days following.
2014 Sioux Falls Half: Ran fast and hard the whole way, set a PR 17 minutes faster than the same race last year. ¬†Legs and lungs¬†felt great but my feet were killing me. ¬†I don’t think I could have taken another step solely (see what I did there?) due to foot pain.
2014 Monster Dash Half: Went out too fast.  Wound up taking walk breaks around mile 11.  Legs were just dog tired.  Finished 3 minutes slower than my PR the month before.
12.5 Mile Training Run (three weeks ago): Almost didn’t finish it. ¬†I was just really tired. ¬†No excuse either, ran the whole thing slow and easy.

I can’t imaging running another 4 miles (for me that’s 40-60 minutes) after any one of these.

I hate feeling anxious. ¬†Anxiety just feels like poison coursing through my system and I won’t put myself through that for the next 4 days. ¬†Since it’s this Saturday, I know not thinking about it is no longer an option.¬†So I have two choices: 1.) Drop out and just decide to rain check until I feel more ready. Or 2.)¬†Get over myself and find a way to not freak out about this for the next 4 days.

Well, I don’t quit.

Time for option 2.

Positive thoughts for consideration: 
My training has been solid the past couple months. ¬†I have been running.¬† I’ve been running a lot. ¬†I have in fact focused only¬†on running and dropped the strength training completely (on Dr.’s orders). ¬†Usually that has bummed me out but right now it’s my beacon of hope.

It’s fun to run somewhere new.

I will set a PR (for distance) no matter what, because I don’t quit (see above). ¬†Even if I wind up walking/hiking most of it, it will be the farthest I’ve ever traveled on foot.

Most importantly, this is not the race. ¬†It is a race. ¬†This is a fun way to train on the way to the race. ¬†I can’t get too hung up on races that are not my¬†ultimate goal. ¬†My goal is to finish the marathon in October. ¬†And I know when I’m 4 days out from that thing, anxiety will be back in a very big way. At¬†that point I will¬†be able to¬†remind myself how well I did on a little 17 mile trail race back in April. ūüôā

Twin Cities Marathon: Registration Affirmation

I’m in! ¬†Today marathon registration opened at 10:00 am. ¬†By 10:30 I was registered with confirmation email and everything. ¬†It’s not until October but it feels very real now. ¬†This is going to happen. ¬†I’m going to run 26.2 miles. ¬†And I’m looking forward to it!

A few years ago my sister trained for and ran a marathon. ¬†I remember at the time thinking that training for and running a marathon just seemed like the scariest, most awful form of self torture I’d ever heard of. ¬†Who runs hours and hours a week for months to train and get prepare for a 3+ hour (if you’re fast) race? ¬†It’s not a run for survival. ¬†Nobody forces someone to run a marathon. ¬†So who does that?

Back when my sister was training if you asked me to jog for even 5 minutes I would have laughed in your face. ¬†Now a 5 minute jog is my warm up. ¬†Now I crave hitting the pavement. ¬†Now I am an athlete (granted, still a slow athlete) but I am going to run this marathon in October. ¬†What changed? ¬†All it takes is that spark. ¬†I’m inspired by my sister (yes you, Pan!), I’m in inspired by my BRF (you know who you are!), I’m inspired by my badass canyon-running idol (you know who you are too!).

So rewind to 10:20 am today.  Entering in all this great information, credit card in my teeth, typing away: name, age, address, phone, shirt size, emergency contact,

Pace & finish time… blank stare, blinking cursor. ¬†Not only do I need to commit to running a marathon today. ¬†I have to commit to actually finishing it. ¬†Stuff just got real. ¬†I thought. ¬†I thought and thought and thought. ¬†I honestly thought the page might time out. ¬†Then I typmarathoned 11 minute miles with a projected finish time of 4 hours 45 minutes. ¬†I know that they won’t come out and drag me off the course if I don’t meet my time but somehow this felt like a pledge. ¬†A pledge to get it done in less¬†than 5 hours. ¬†A pledge to give it my all. ¬†This is my first (and maybe only) marathon and I’m going into it with a goal to finish. ¬†Finishing in 4 hours 45 minutes is my target. ¬†4 hours 30 minutes is my stretch goal. ¬†Right now 11 minute miles are my easy I-could-run-forever pace. ¬†I think it’s doable. ¬†I hope it’s doable. ¬†However, a wise woman once told me “hope is not a plan” (you know who you are too). ¬†So the plan is this: ¬†Show up and run. ¬†Show up and run my heart out.

Mind Games for the Long Run

Some Back Story
I haven’t been running for very long.¬† I started in May of 2013 when a friend of mine encouraged me to run a 5k with her.¬† The very thought of running any distance at all sounded like torture let alone slightly over 3 miles.¬† Thing is, I love a challenge.¬† I remember it vividly.¬†¬†I immediately got on the treadmill at the hotel I was staying for¬†a work¬†trip and walked/slogged through 3 miles.¬†¬†It took me almost 50 minutes but I¬†knew I would be able to at least finish a 5K.¬† I registered for it.¬† I ran it.¬† Let me say that again… I¬†ran it.¬†¬†The whole¬†thing.¬† At the time I had never run continuously for that long.¬† I crossed the finish line and was hooked.¬†¬†Here is a little known fact: I don’t really like running that much.¬† I’ll do it and I have those runs that are just incredible and give me the euphoric runner’s high.¬†¬†Most of the time though, my training runs are just okay.¬† I¬†don’t love running.¬† I love racing.¬† I live for race day.¬† I know race day is going to be awful if I don’t get my training runs though so I make sure they happen.

The Long Run: Mind over Matter
Even better than a race day is a long race day.¬† I’d call the 10 miler my jam.¬† It’s the perfect distance for me right now.¬† It’s challenging, it’s¬†long enough to feel like a major accomplishment without the pain and next day soreness of the half marathon.¬† I’m easing into those feelings¬†about my¬†half marathon but those extra 3 miles make a world of difference.

IMG_0284Total honesty –¬†anything over 5 miles still feels like a long run to me.¬† I dread it, I get psyched up¬†for it and eventually push through it but I rarely look forward to the long training run.¬† I’ve learned through trial and error that running is as much about the mind as it is about the muscles.¬† When I get that feeling of¬†I’m too tired, I can’t do this anymore, I don’t want to do this anymore,¬†I¬†give myself¬†a quick check up.¬†¬†Legs: Are your legs sore/hurting/injured?¬† Heart: Are you gasping for breath/heart rate too high? If the answer¬†yes I¬†will slow down or take a walk break.¬†¬†But usually the answer is no for both at which point I know it has to be in my head.¬† I need to¬†bring out¬†my mental tool box and fix what’s¬†broken.

For me at least the very worst thing I can do is think about how much is left.¬† How¬†big of a bummer is it when you’re tired and bored and just don’t want to continue and all you can think of is I have 4 miles left, that’s 40 minutes if I’m lucky, which is almost an hour,¬†I’d really rather be napping for almost an hour, so how much is left¬†now? 3.8 miles, ugh this is going to last forever!¬† I found myself in that exact predicament 3 miles into my 6 mile easy pace run last night.¬† I really had to dig deep to keep focused.¬† Here are some tricks that I use that have worked for me.

  1. Try to think of anything else other than the run itself.¬† I think about things I want to get done for the week, things that have happened at work, what I might snack on when I’m done running etc.¬† Usually that will keep me occupied for a little while but if not I proceed to #2.
  2. Look at things going on around me.¬† Try counting trees or look for interesting people to watch.¬† Try to remember everything as if there’s going to be a test when I’m done.¬† If I’m on the treadmill try different music or watching a movie.¬† When this isn’t enough it’s time for #3.
  3. I visualize that I’m playing a game and I’m collecting “points” (fractions of miles).¬† For some reason getting something feels better to focus on instead of thinking how much is left.¬† Focusing on what I already “have” and trying to increase some virtual high score that doesn’t exist helps me avoid thinking about how much distance or time still remains. If you’ve played the Temple Run app, that is a great visual.¬† In the game you get more points for running longer.
  4. This one’s a little weird so¬†bear with me.¬† I call it “God’s Thumb”.¬† If I need to speed up a little (which I probably need to do if I’m considering stopping) I picture a giant thumb applying gentle pressure to my lower back.¬† This simultaneously fixes my form and speeds me up just a little.¬† It also prevents me from speeding up by¬†sprinting which will only lead to an energy¬†crash later.¬† If I try this and still feel like I have nothing left, am super bored and not enjoying the run I move to #4.
  5. This is when I start pulling out the big guns.  This is my last big mind game and I only use it when I really need it.  I visualize my running friends are right next to me.  I imagine my trainers and coaches are yelling at me to push forward.  And these trainers and coaches are sometimes people I have never met!  Dolvett from Biggest Loser and Chalene from BeachBody are just a few.  If they motivate me, they join me on my little mental cheer team.  I also picture my family waiting for me at the end of the big 26.2 when it happens.

These have worked for me although I know I’ll need to add to my mental repertoire as my training runs get longer¬†¬†Share in comments if you have some of your own!