Friday, December 30, 2011

A Year of Races

Since it's the end of the year, I feel the pressure need to do some sort of "let's look back over the year" kind of post.  A lot has happened this year, Jonny turned 1 and started walking, Calvin learned to tie his shoes and ride a bike, Emme turned 8, Leona discovered that it's okay to play with other kids... really I could go on all day, but since this is mostly a running blog and it's all about me I've talked very little bit about running lately (probably because I haven't been doing it) I think I'll look back on my races.

2011 was a big racing year for me.  I kind of caught the racing bug at the end of 2010 with the Eugene Women's Half Marathon (my 1st half), followed up by the EWEB half.  Those two races led me to sign up for the 2011 Eugene Marathon and a whole slew of other races this year.  Let's start at the beginning...

My first official (I did do a virtual 5K in January) race of 2011 was a 20 miler in February, The Fall Creek Run Around.
age group medal at Fall Creek Run Around
I signed up for this race last minute, as an opportunity to get in another long training run for the Eugene Marathon.  I figured it would be a good way for me to do a run without a stroller and see how I compared to other people.  The week of the race, Eugene had a pretty big cold spell which left ice and snow on the ground and made for a very small and somewhat precarious event.  It was the first time I had ever driven to a race all by myself, run it and then come home without much fanfare.  Although it wasn't my fastest 20 miler, finish time 3:03:39, I'm glad I ran it and felt pretty tough for doing so.

In April, my parent's sponsored me in the Pear Blossom 10 mile run.  I first ran the 5K with them as a sort of warm up (and to get in a few extra miles).  This was another new racing distance for me, therefore an automatic PR.  My main goal for it was to treat it as a progression run and for the most part it went according to plan.  I started out in the low 8's and finished off at 7:30 pace.  My finish time was 1:15:11.  It was a lot of fun to be with my parents and cheer them on for their races and then have them surprise me by being at the halfway turn around for mine.
halfway at the Pear Blossom
May 1st brought the Eugene Marathon, my first.  I felt pretty good going into the race and had a ton of support from my local friends.  It was awesome!  For the most part, I felt that the race went pretty well although I started slowing quite a bit at mile 18 and had some pretty bad calf cramping issues from about 22 on.  I had been hoping for closer to a 3:45 finish but was still very pleased with my official time of 3:52:41.
finishing the Eugene Marathon
I think I felt slightly like I had to prove something to myself after finishing Eugene, so with less than a week's recovery in the books, I signed up and started training for the Ridgeline Ramble Trail Marathon on May 28th.  Since I had a nice base built up for Eugene, a bunch of trail running and a couple more longer runs was all I needed to feel super ready for Ridgeline.  I kept the race kind of a secret and felt good about doing it just for me.  My mom came up to cheer me on and watched the kids so that Dan could meet my on the course at the halfway point.  I had no real goals for the race other than to finish it (within the course limit of 6 hours) and have a good fueling plan, including more sodium to help with cramps.  I stuck to my fueling and really felt pretty great the whole race.  Trail running makes me happy and I really did enjoy every bit of the run.  It was a very small race, only 22 finishers and being an out and back course we had the opportunity to cheer each other on at various points.  With a few miles to go, I passed a girl who said, "great job, I think you'll be the first woman".  I didn't think she was right but finished strong & happy nonetheless.
finishing the Ridgeline Ramble
Shortly after crossing the line, sure enough they announced my name as the first female finisher, which was absolutely awesome!!  Official time:  4:03:31.

In complete shock with my championship trophy and age group medal from the Ridgeline Ramble.
After May, I took a fairly long break, running as much as I could during the summer and getting ready for my adventures at Hood to Coast.  Hood to Coast was my next official race.  August 27-28th.  I was runner #9 which gave me the most mileage of the weekend at just over 20 miles in less than 24 hours.  I was very please with the splits for my legs and had a lot of fun.  I didn't know any of the ladies I was running with before the race but felt comfortable with them and would definitely be happy to race with them again in the future.
Our team, "Blister Sisters" at the finish.  I'm 3rd from the right in the back row.
We finished a disappointing 7th in our category (Women's Submasters, the top 6 get automatic entry into the following year, we would've been 6th in the Open Women's category) with a time of 27:12:58 and ended up 198th overall... which out of 1267 finishing teams isn't too shabby I suppose.

The week after Hood to Coast I had the Eugene Women's Half.  I was not at all looking forward to that race and didn't really have any great expectations for it.  I was still really tired from Hood to Coast, that was a lot of running with very little sleep and I was whining a lot.  The night before the race though, I told myself to stop whining and suck it up.  Race day morning, I looked up the splits for a 1:39 finish and decided I was going to go for a decent PR.  My best blogging buddy, Kim, was also running the race and picked me up for a nice, hassle and kid free race start.  We ended up having a nice little 8 minute delay, about a mile into the race while waiting for a train (seriously... it was pretty funny).  As soon as it passed we were off and it was really a great race from then on out.  I finished with a 1:37:39 (a 5 minute PR) and ended up 22nd overall. Part of the greatness of this race came from wearing the Traveling Sparkle Skirt from Team Sparkle, which really did have some magic in it!
Coming into a happy finish at the EWH in my sparkle skirt.

In October, I ran the Columbia River Power Marathon with my friend Heather.  It was my 3rd marathon and my 3rd on the year.  I had some ITB issues while training for it but managed to get them mostly worked out before race day.  I also discovered that I was pregnant the day before our last long training run and although I was fighting a bit with nausea I managed to feel pretty good (and energized) for the race. Heather and I sported tutus from Glam Runner which was a lot of fun.  We had lots of extra crowd support because of them and it made for some pretty cool pictures.  I didn't really expect to PR as it was a fairly difficult course and I was coming off an injury but still managed to pull off a 3:49:23 finish, which was a 3 minute PR and 3rd overall woman... I'll take it.
Powering up the last big hill at mile 24ish of the Columbia River Power Marathon.
My 2011 racing season ended just a couple of weeks ago at the Frozen Trail Run Fest 50K.  My first ultramarathon and a very muddy, hilly course.   Heather, again, was my partner in crime.  Running that far at almost 17 weeks pregnant probably wasn't the best idea but I really have been wanting to do an ultra and with this pregnancy I knew that it will be a while before I have my endurance built up to run that far again.  When I presented the idea to Heather and explained that we were already in marathon shape and it wouldn't take too much to train for an extra 5 miles she was all for it.   It was a tough race and I didn't enjoy every moment of it but I'm really glad I did it.  My finish time was 6:49:37, which was much slower than the 6 to 6:30 finish I was hoping for but I really can't complain.
Happily finishing 31 miles at the Frozen Trail Run Fest

There was a lot about each race that I really enjoyed.  I don't regret having run any of the races.  I don't know that I could pick a favorite, but if I had to it would probably be a toss up between the Eugene Women's Half (that I really didn't want to run) and the Ridgeline Ramble Trail Marathon (I really never, ever, ever expected to win a marathon).

I know that with a baby coming in May next year's racing will be pretty sparse but hopefully I'll get a chance to work a bit on my speed and get a few 5Ks in.  I'd love to do the Eugene Women's Half again but I'm not sure how ready I'll be 3 months postpartum... we'll have to see.  Hope your year of racing was as enjoyable as mine.  Best of luck to all your new year running adventures.  Run happy & run strong!


Anonymous said...

Great recap of your year! I did my first marathon this year too, and was hoping to do a second, but got sidelined for a bit... too much too soon, I guess. Congrats on your pregnancy!

BabyWeightMyFatAss said...

You had a wonderful year! Congrats!

Teamarcia said...

What an exciting year you've had! How did I miss the great 'bun in the oven' news? Shame on me. Congrats to you. Happy holidays!

Fruit Fly said...

This was quite a year of really BIG things! Looks like a lot of success and smiles... yay!