Missoula 1/2 Recap, Relaxing and Running

I had the best of intentions to get this blog written and posted in a timely manner buuuut 2 weeks later and here goes.  I had planned on running this half back in January after I was contacted by the race director.  I had come off a big PR at USA half champs and was eager to run sub 1:15.  I had never been to Missoula, my coach was going to the race and there was a good field of competition.  The day I was leaving, I went for a morning shake out run along a trail by the ocean.  It was a beautiful morning and I was enjoying the misty view and not paying attention and BAM sprawled onto the ground I went.  Immediately my left knee started to swell but I wiped the blood away with some weeds and finished the run.  I was, per usual, running late so I had no time to elevate or ice before jumping into the car and driving 5 hours to San Francisco to catch my 2 hour flight to Montana.  Deplaning in Montana, I could barely walk; my knee was so swollen and painful.

I met up with my coach and came to the conclusion sub 1:15 was not the goal anymore but rather run a smart race and work on finishing the second half stronger than the first which is not my strong suit.

Knee day I fell
Knee day I fell
Knee day of race
Knee day of race

Because of my knee and hardly being able to bear weight on it the days leading up to the race, I felt very relaxed.  The worst part about racing is the days leading up to it.  It took the anxiety out of racing for a time.  I stress about what to eat/do/sleep, every little detail.  I get so relieved when the race actually gets here because I can finally relax and just run.  This race was completely different.  I traveled to Montana with my partner, her mom and two other friends.

“run like there’s a tiger on your tail”

I hobbled around the town enjoying touristy shops, ate great food, and elevated my knee every time I sat down.  The day before the race, we rented a stand up paddleboard and went exploring a pond in a national park.  It was the most relaxed I have ever been, enjoying the experience and grateful to be able to travel to these beautiful places to do what I love.

Paddle boarding

First time busting out the Rizzo
First time busting out the Rizzo

Pre race relaxin

Pre race relaxin

Race day arrived and I woke up feeling great.  I slept like a rock the night before, which almost never happens.  I met Heather, a Oiselle teammate, in the lobby of our hotel race day morning and we headed over to the starting line.  The actual start was a little confusing.  The announcer comes over the speaker and says “30 seconds until the start” immediately followed by a loud BOOM!  Some people took off, others looked around confused.  Another BOOM went off and for a moment I thought they were recalling the start.  Eventually I figured it out and took off.  My main goal the first 4 miles was to stay relaxed and not go out too fast.  The course started on a beautiful rural road with the sun rising through the trees, perfect temperature outside.  I enjoyed the views, read the funny signs along the course and even was able to appreciate the man dressed in a tux and top hat playing classical music on his grand piano in his front yard.  Normally, I would blast on by these things, completely in my zone, unaware of the “scenery” surroundings.  I felt great and picked it up after the first 4 miles as planned and was able to finish strong.  I came in second in a time of 1:17:27.  My knee was sore but I had a great time and was happy with the result.  Steph also ran her first ½ marathon and did great!  She is already talking about her next one.  I think she might be hooked!

These two are both hooked on the half!
These two are both hooked on the half!

 

Oiselle representing
Post race picture with Oiselle fastie Heather
Post race picture with Oiselle fastie Heather

I am now finishing up my two weeks of rest and am eager to get back out there and tackle more goals, keep enjoying the experience and see what this next year of racing has in store for me.

USA Half Marathon

The racing high from USA Half Marathon Championships is starting to recede and now is a good time to reflect on my race. Flash back to the end of fall when I realized the half marathon was in January this year and I knew I wanted to race it. I missed the deadline to sign up for last year’s half by one day! (rookie mistake) Flash forward to a week before the race and I knew I was ready to roll. I was rolling through workouts, nailing the times and felt confident. The best I have felt probably ever. I had one set back during the last workout I had scheduled. It was supposed to be 3×300 with a 3k in the middle followed by 3×300. I have just worked four 12 hour nursing shifts in a row and was feeling it. I felt heavy, tired and blah and was way off pace time. It was only 4 days until race day and I was nervous. I put the bad workout behind me, thought about all the good ones and hopped on the plane to sunny Houston,Texas. Yee Haw!

Official creds
Official creds

This was my first elite championship race and I was in awe of how organized and smooth it all ran. Stephanie came along as my support crew and they picked us up at the airport and shuttled us to the elite hotel. I tried to play it cool and not stare too hard when I realized Ryan and Sara Hall were in my shuttle group. We got an itinerary for the weekend which included free breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks anytime you want them. A bussed tour of the course on Saturday and a technical meeting to go over all the rules and pick up bib numbers. We were made to feel very welcome and it was great meeting new runners at the events. Saturday night the dinner opened at 6:30 which a huge line of runners getting in the last big meal before an early bed time. You could feel the nervous energy throughout and as usual, when a big gathering of runners occur, talks of splits, pacing, and fluid intake was a part of the never ending chatter. Afterward it was back to hotel room, ice bath, and a quick pep talk with my coach to make sure I knew the plan. Don’t go out too aggressive, drink fluids at 5, 10 and 15k, and race the second half. Bed time consisted of a lot of tossing and turning and little sleeping. Soon my 3:15am alarm was going off and I jumped out of bed already giddy with excitement for the day.

Stephanie decorated my water bottles to make sure I wouldn't miss them.  A good trauma always gets the adrenaline going for an ER nurse.
Stephanie decorated my water bottles to make sure I wouldn’t miss them. A good trauma always gets the adrenaline going for an ER nurse.

Pretty soon I was sitting on the bus ready to be taken to the start line. The weather was perfect. A little chilly with a slight breeze and the sun wasn’t set to come up until half way through the race. The warmup area consisted of 3 blocks to loop around in with enough porta cans for me to visit multiple times and not be stressed out about making it back in time. Our race was set to go off at 6:55, 5 minutes before the marathoners and rest of the halfers. I placed myself in the back of the crowd so I wouldn’t go out blazing and we were off! The front ladies separated themselves pretty quickly from the rest and I settled into a nice rhythm and found a group to run with. I am usually the one to get stuck in no man’s land so I was proud of the fact I had bodies around me. We were cruising along at a good pace, a little faster than I had discussed with my coach, but I felt strong and smooth so I stuck with it. The elite men marathoners passed us around mile 6 so smooth and effortless. They were a stinky group of men (phew!) but still inspiring all the same. We were going great until about mile 9 and then it started feeling really easy. The next mile proved why coming in around 5:50 pace which was 10 seconds slower then what we had been doing. The next group was way ahead and I knew would be difficult to catch on my own. I stayed with the group I was in, hoping we could rally and pick it up. Every mile got about 1 second slower and although I tried to push the pace a few times I kept settling back into the group. The last 2 miles were the roughest and even though the pace had dropped I knew I was still on PR pace. I crossed the finish, saw my time and was stoked! It was a 1:30 PR of 1:15:37 placing 26th overall and I felt great! I saw Caitlin Comfort, another Haute Volee runner, after the race and congratulated her studly performance. 3rd place with a blazing fast time! We went for a cool down together, although it was more of a shuffle because running had become rather painful.

Post race tired eyes.
Post race tired eyes.

I would definitely run this course again. It was fast, flat and spectator friendly with great temperatures. 20 women ran under the Olympic trial 2016 qualifying time for the marathon. Up next on the schedule is an indoor 5k at the University of Washington on February 14th. My goal is to finally break the cursed 17:00 minute barrier that has eluded me since my freshman year in college! Let’s start a trend #meganunder1700
Until next time!

Munich, Germany

Our vacation adventures have started with our first stop in Munich, Germany. When Steph and I initially planned our trip we didn’t even think about being in Munich at the heart of Oktoberfest but so glad we didn’t miss it! There were Lederhosen wearing happy drunk people by the thousands. It was a sight to see not to mention the good beer and German music.

So many people!
So many people!
The beer came in Liters!
The beer came in Liters!
popular German game where people pile up onto a spinning disc, the last one to stay on wins, very entertaining
popular German game where people pile up onto a spinning disc, the last one to stay on wins, very entertaining

There were so many great places to run. Munich was full huge parks, trails and active people everywhere!

long run along the Isar river
long run along the Isar river
There were no shortages of the Toi Tois
There were no shortages of the Toi Tois
beautiful parks to do all my runs through
beautiful parks to do all my runs through

The architecture was beautiful. So many cool buildings.

Marienplatz, beautiful buildings
Marienplatz, beautiful buildings

So much to do in Munich and so little time. I feel we are barely scratching the surface and can definitely see myself coming back here at a future time. Today on the agenda is The Nyphenburg castle and Olympic park. The place where Munich hosted the 1972 Olympics. More to come!!

RockNRoll philly 1/2 marathon recap

Ok world, I have decided to start blogging about my races, travel ect. My first attempt at this will be a recap of the Philadelphia rocknroll half marathon.

I work full time as an emergency room nurse in Eureka, California and was frantically trying to wrap up a busy day to catch my flight that was supposed to leave in a few hours. Eureka’s airport is tiny. The same people that check you in also land and board the plane so flights are limited and notoriously famous for being delayed because of the redwood curtain of permanent fog. I arrived at the airport right on time to find out my flight was delayed and I would miss my connecting flight. Oh joy. I spent half the night on the SFO seats trying not to think about all the previous people and their germs they left behind. I was set to leave the next morning at 8:00 am but alas, more delays! The united staff were not even sure if I would make to Philadelphia that day so I opted for a flight to Newark airport instead and then rented a car and drove to Philadelphia. I finally ended up in the great ol city of Philadelphia where I promptly fell asleep too exhausted to do anything else.

Airport sleeping, you work with what ya got.

Trying out different sleep positions
Trying out different sleep positions

The next day I went to the expo where I met some awesome oiselle members and picked up my swag. I was still exhausted from the previous two days and was asleep by 8:30 that night ready for a 4:00am wakeup. My stomach is very sensitive and I get especially paranoid about bathroom mishaps on race days so I make sure to eat four hours before go time. I read the phrase PGP (pregame poop) on a tweet by Kristen Metcalf, oiselle’s awesome team manager, and will use the brilliant phrase here. It was almost go time and I had not taken care of the PGP! My body was not cooperating and I have had to run into bushes during races plenty enough to be paranoid about this detail. More on this later.

Time to finally head out to starting line which no one would ever have trouble finding. Just follow the MASS of people resembling runners all walking in the same direction. I showed up at the elite tent and was immediately denied entrance. I spent 10 minutes trying to convince them to let me in but I apparently didn’t have this magic red bracelet that granted entry. No one mentioned a red bracelet the day before! Finally an official looking guy came over and granted me entry. I dropped off my bag and went for a warm up run with Ashley, another Oiselle teammate. Into the elite tent again to drop off warm ups where again they wouldn’t let me in. This was starting to get old. Finally they remember me and it’s off to the start.

Warming up with Ashley, so awesome to have a warm up buddy!
Warming up with Ashley, so awesome to have a warm up buddy!

I was under coaching instructions to relax the first five miles, don’t blaze forth like I usually do. There were some fasties in this race and it was hard in the beginning to relax and let people pass me as I settled into pace. Around mile 4 I found myself running next to two big guys and overheard them say they were pacing themselves out to run in the 1:16ish range. This would be a big PR for me but I felt great so I tucked in behind them and ended up running the rest of the race like this. I love finding pacers especially during long races like this. The entire race went smooth. I kept waiting for the inevitable stomach cramp I am so used to during races reminding me, you didn’t do your PGP but it never came! The last 3 miles were tough as usual in half and I slowed to 6:00 minute pace the last 2 miles which took me out of the 1:16 range but I still ran a 1:00 PR and was happy with the performance. The one thing I need to work on in future halfs in refueling. I was supposed to try and drink the Gatorade offered at the aid stations around mile 5 and 10 but at each station I accidentally grabbed the water cup instead and got about 0.5% in my mouth with the rest all over me or up my nose.

My splits for the half:
5:52
5:52
5:59
6:06
5:40
5:53
5:48
5:53
5:59
5:49
5:45
5:59
5:58
37s

After the race, the two guarders of the elite entrance gate would of course would not let me in to pick up my clothes for the third time! Other than that mishap I loved racing here. The course was flat, fast and beautiful. I was happy with the day and ready to enjoy being a tourist.

Next up vacationing for a month in Europe and running with some awesome ultra runners in Spain. Blogs to follow!