Garden of the Gods 10 Miler Race Recap

I did it!! I finished this race!! I was waaaaay slower than my PR and finishing at 2:09…but I’m done 🙂

Pre-Race: Honestly, I’ve been pretty relaxed in terms of my prep for this race. I want to challenge myself but I want to do it on my own term. In the training department, I had a schedule to follow but I wasn’t very good at sticking with it during certain weeks. I had several great practice runs (and it forced me to work on hills) and overall, I became a lot closer with my running friend, B (added bonus). Although I had everything planned out, the two weeks leading up to the race was just absolutely nuts in terms of “life.” Two days before the race, I managed to squeeze in some time and picked up my bib at a local running store. This race also marked the first time that I drove myself to a race, ran it, and then drove myself home (my husband usually drives me and I will force him to cheer me on). I’m usually very excited by the prospect of running a race so I always do a little outfit planning the night before (mostly in anticipation of the weather). This time, however, I just sort of winged it the morning of the race.

The Course: They weren’t kidding when they said HILLS on the course. This is the most challenging course I have ever run on. The hills were frequent, some very large, and the altitude was an added bonus. I had decided beforehand that I was going to run/walk the course mainly to deal with the frequent uphills. I also need to make sure that I don’t push myself too hard because I had “other” things to do in the days following the race (I will go into this later). Despite that this is not an easy course, it was BEAUTIFUL. I had my phone with me and managed to snap several pictures on my run (yes, I wasn’t there to win the race). The view was simply amazing!! I hope I will have the opportunity to run this race again next year and with more prep, maybe I will beat my time from this year.

IMG_1575

IMG_1576

Afterthought: It’s amazing for me to think that I only ran my first race (ever) Spring 2012. That was only a little over a year ago! A year later, I have two 10 mile races, one half marathon, and several 5Ks under my belt. I love this feeling of growth! I love that I’ve found something that I truly enjoy in the midst of all that goes on in our live (career, bills, relationships, marriage…you name it)! It’s an awesome knowledge that I can continue to challenge myself physically and mentally through my runs. Running will always be my sanctuary. I’m leaving for California on a short work-related trip starting tomorrow. This time, I won’t be brining my running kicks with me because my legs will need a little time to recover. I’m already thinking about my next race though – what distance and what location? I have several in mind, including the Santa Barbara Half, but I’m definitely on the look out for others.

IMG_1578

B and I post race!

It was indeed happy running!

GoG 10 Miler Training

After I signed up for the Garden of the Gods 10 Miler (hereafter referred to as GoG10), I managed to also convince two other fellow Army wives to sign up! My friend  M will be running the 5k event while another friend B decided to challenge the 10 miler with me. What have we done??? 

In my last post about the GoG10, I mentioned that the course is challenging so after some half-hearted attempt at working out/running this week while I recover from being under the weather, I decided that I seriously need a plan and I will need to stick to it. Since running and road races have became so popular these days, there are A TON of resources out on there for runners of all levels. And also thanks to the plethora of running/fitness related blogs, one can simply go to a search engine and type in the relevant keywords to a race to find out more info from other people’s experiences. It’s pretty cool and I’ve found my favorite running blogs this way. I digress…

Anyhow, I decided to follow a modified version of the famous Hal Higdon training program (I’m using the 15k novice version). Here’s my updated version to account for several factors such as time to race, my own experiences, and the course I’ll be running on.

GoG10 Training

The original Hal Higdon is a 10 week program, but I only have 9 weeks until race time. Since I’ve done several races before and is in OK shape right now, I just decided to take out the first week. One of my main objectives between now and June 10th is to raise my overall level of fitness…this means that I’ll be incorporating more strength training and will be cross training with the bike. This is something I’ve never really focused on when I trained for all my other races (I just ran) but will probably be necessary and helpful as I get prepared for GoG10. Also, I need to work on HILLS. I hate hills and the ones around my house (and this town!) are absolutely evil. But the terrain of this race looks something like this:

GoG10 Elevation

Um yeah, I would be crazy if I didn’t train on hills. I hope by the end of this journey, I’ll have the level of fitness and the confidence to zoom up those challenging hills around my house (and on the race course too)! I think the training plan is slightly lower on the number of miles I usually run to prep for a race…but I guess the focus of my training is slightly different from what it has been in the past. Anyways, tomorrow starts day 1 of official training. I had hoped that the weather would be good, spring running weather here on out but of course that’s not the case. It’s suppose to snow this week! Fortuntely, the designated snow day is Tuesday, which is my rest/yoga day 🙂

Alright, let the training begin and be sure to check for my progress in one week’s time!

Motivation for Running

Aside from feeling more upbeat about my academic work, I am also trying to pull myself out of a running slump. I am definitely not an athlete or even someone who just relish a good sweaty workout. I’ve been really inactive most of my young adult life (aside from the mandatory gym class) and even through college. Before I was 22 or so, I’ve been blessed to live in a big city where the main mode of transportation was the subway/bus/walking. Finally when I was in my third year of my phd program, I finally realized that I had to workout regularly because I was living an extremely sedentary lifestyle. That’s when I started running. The reason I picked up running was mainly because it was relatively low-cost (just need a pair of good sneakers), I had the flexibility to run whenever I feel like it, and I could do it anywhere (since I was traveling a lot during that time).

In the 2+ years that I’ve taken up running, there’s been some up and downs. I’ve been blessed with only suffering very minor strains/injuries but my motivation for running ebbs and flows. When I lived in California, it was really easy to run all year long. The weather was just perfect even during some of the colder months and for a year or two, I sported a nice winter tan from running outside. Since I’ve moved to my current town, I’ve been running far less because I’m intrinsically not very motivated by physcial acitivies. This slump in running coincided with the period when I started to struggle with my own life goals (let’s just call it an existential crisis because that’s what it is). One thing that have always helped (somewhat) to keep me motivated in my running is actually signing up for races. I’ve ran a few here and there…not doing phenomenal in any…but I’ve managed to finish almost every one of them running the whole way.

After looking around for a bit (and chickening out a few times), I finally signed up for the Garden of Gods 10 Miler! Honestly, I’m a little scared because even though the course is supposedly beautiful, it is hilly with a total of  200+ feet elevation gain throughout the course. It’s also in June so depending on how the weather is, it may be hot. But I guess there’s no use psyching myself out before the race is even here…plus I have about 2 months to seriously train for the course. It’ll take a lot of work on hills and upping my cardio-vascular capabilities so I can run hills at an altitude!

I think I’m up for this challenge! Please check back for training updates as I prep for this awesome race!

Run and Friendships

We celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. this past weekend. Whenever I think about Dr. King and the inspiration he is to so many, I think about love, the choice of love, patience, and compassion over violence. My husband is once again away from home for work. He’s been very, very busy and stressed out for the past 2 months…and every night, I have to remind him to trust God and everything will turn out OK. So for this long weekend without him, I had planned to spend some time down in Phoenix with friends and run my first half-marathon.

Yup, you read right! I ran my first half this past weekend and it was such a fun, exhilarating, and empowering experience. I will admit that I’m somewhat of a lazy-bum so I am probably slightly undertrained for all my races. I am also the internally competitive type, meaning I usually only care about whether I reached my own goals (and not what others are doing or have done). I wasn’t too sure what to expect for my first half so I set the goal of 1) finishing under 3 hours (OK, like I said, I am not only lazy but also slow) and 2) running all of the 13.1 miles. It turns out I ran the race at 2:42 and I was running/shuffling the whole way! I even pulled out a short sprint at the last 50-100 feet! It was very exciting :D

The best part though, about the whole experience, was running and sharing my weekend with friends. One of the best things about living this Army life is the friends you make along the way. My friend S and I had been talking about doing a race together for a long time. We finally decided to meet up in Phoenix for my first half. We were talking and laughing the whole time during the race and I am so happy that we were able to catch up again. My friend K and her husband (who’s an old friend of my huband’s) were also at the race. I just saw K and Co. in November. It was lovely to hang out together again so soon. You see, these are Army friendships. I live in Colorado, S lives in Texas, and K lives in Arizona, so we usually don’t get to see each other. But this time, we were able to all meet up at one place to catch up and share our lives. More than anything, this is one of the gems that makes this transient-like Army life bearable; this is the stuff that keeps us going.

While the trip was awesome, it was a short one for me. I was home the same day as my run (and I could barely walk to my car because my feet were so sore)! After some TLC the next day (lots of sleep, hot baths/showers, a relaxation massage with a foot scrub), I am almost back to normal. I will probably go on a short run later this week but it’s mostly back to work (aka sitting at my desk), yoga, and walking for now. Nonetheless, I will hold the experiences and the joy I felt this weekend in me for a long time. In a larger sense, this weekend was a reminder that despite all my #firstworldproblems, I am more than blessed. I recognize the beauty that is a life with friends and I cherish it. I thank the universe for all the love.