Jack + Jill 26.2: Halfway Point Thoughts

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This past week marked halfway to the big shot at trying to get a BQ.  8 weeks under my feet, 8 more to go.  As I’ve been running this week, I’ve been reflecting on how I think it’s going and will continue to go until we get to Washington.   Generally, some days I feel like I’ve got a really good shot.  And other days I think there’s no way I can run that fast for that long.IMG_9477

Stuff That Makes Me Feel Confident:

  1. I haven’t missed a track workout.  I’m really proud of this!  Even on the cruise ship.  Even on days when I couldn’t do it in the mornings and I had to hit the treadmill or run in the heat of the afternoon.  I’m logging those fast paced miles and I know that it’s keeping me strong.
  2. Strong long runs.  Until recently, I’ve logged some relatively fast, not too painful long runs.  I try to keep those in mind as they’ve gotten harder in the past week or two.
  3. No major injuries.  Aside from falling down on a hike in Alaska and jamming up my back (fixed by Dr. B), I’ve had a relatively pain-free training cycle thus far.  This has never been the case in my past three rounds of marathoning.  I give credit to strength training, yoga, and regular chiropractic care.
  4. Race conditions.  It will be cooler.  It’ll be downhill.  I’ll have lots of people around me.  And it’ll be game day.

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Stuff That Makes Me Worry:

  1. I haven’t run long enough.  I wanted to have at least one or two 20 milers under my belt by now but the most I’ve done is 18 twice.  I’m glad that these runs don’t leave me too sore or tired the next day but I still want to hit that 20 mark.  Because there’s being conditioned for that long AND having to hit it at goal pace.
  2. I miss my running partner.   I’ve been logging some of these longer runs on my own because M has been battling her own injuries and our schedules just don’t match up well.  It makes getting those longer miles in super boring even with playlists and podcasts out the wazoo.
  3. It’s f*cking hot.  I did a 16 miler last weekend and was soaking wet hair to bra to shorts to shoes and it didn’t even rain.  I wish it would have rained – I would have been just as soaked but cooler.  It makes hitting the distances hard, and the paces harder.  And it’s only going to get worse.
  4. There’s only 7 weeks left.  That’s all.

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Yesterday, I tried to go out for a simple six miler.  One mile easy, 4 miles hard, one mile easy.  I quit at 2.5.  I’m not one to give up mid-training run but it was in the afternoon.  It was hot.  My legs were shaking and felt like I was running sub 7s but I was barely even in the low 8s.  I sat down on the west side of the Tulsa bridge and cried for a minute while I thought about what I was gonna do.  I decided that probably not enough rest, and not enough food (I really have a mental block with later in the day runs.  I don’t want to eat too much and get a cramp so I usually end up not eating enough) and the heat contributed to how I was feeling.  I threw in the towel because I really want tomorrow to go well.  I want to feel strong and rested when I hit the pavement at 5am.

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I’m feeling pretty discouraged.  And I have to come to terms with now the thought of what if we don’t get it?  This is classic Sprenkel.  I always like to think of the worst possible outcome to something, and how I’ll handle it.  So, I’ll keep lacing up and doing the best I can these next seven weeks with a huge emphasis on proper rest. Then come Sunday, July 30, I’ll give Jack and Jill my best shot. But if I don’t get that 3:30, I’m betting that I’ll hit a massive marathon PR in the process and have a breathtaking new state to cross off my list.

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Photos by Kayla Tandoc.

State 20: Garmin Half Marathon, KS

On this journey to run in all the states, sometimes I just pick a race that works with my schedule and budget, and sometimes I have a specific race in mind.  Kansas had a specific race.

The Wizard of Oz has long been a favorite story of mine.  I wanted to be Dorothy so badly when I was young that I dubbed my then-crawling little brother “Toto” and only responded to my parents if they addressed me as “Dorothy”.  My mama, being the superwoman she was, put together a homemade Dorothy costume out of a blue overall dress and patent red shoes from Walmart.  It was perfect, except for the reluctancy of “Toto” to actually follow along.

So of course I wanted to run in a Wizard of Oz themed race.  And of course I would dress up as Dorothy.  Due to conflicts the first two years I lived in Tulsa I couldn’t make the race but last April, I set an intention to get it this year.

I recruited Chap to drive with me through the pouring rain up to Olathe.  I managed to keep him company for the first two hours of our late Friday night drive and then gave in to the ZZZs somewhere in the flatlands of Kansas.   Since we weren’t planning to stay to tour around Olathe, I booked a last minute Priceline hotel pretty close to the start.   Once we arrived, I looked up the closest Starbucks for my morning fuel, plugged in my watch to charge and set an alarm.

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Flat Dorothy

I woke up, but not to my alarm.  Simply from the habit of having to be up around 6am most days of the week.  The clock said 6:07 (start time 6:45).  Shit.  I scrambled into my outfit and my running shoes, grabbed my watch and forced Chap awake.  Thank goodness I packed several Superhero Muffins from the Run Fast, Eat Slow cookbook because my extra sleep threw the chance of oatmeal and coffee out the window.  I chowed down on two of those muffins while carefully dressing up as Dorothy.

Being an out of town race, I hadn’t picked up my packet yet so that was the first order of business but every single route we tried was jam packed with traffic.  When we tried to get onto the interstate, the merging lane and the on ramp were bumper to bumper and not moving.  I thought about getting out right there and warmup running to the start.  Chap suggested we just backup in the shoulder lane off the on-ramp and take a backroad.  I’d blindly trust that man to go anywhere so I let him call the shots.  We found the backroad and he got me as close as he could to the start before the roads were blocked off.  Thanks babe.

As I was running down the road towards packet pickup, I got wind that the start of the race was postponed.  Probably because of all the trouble getting to the start.  So, I relaxed a little, grabbed my bib number and had time to revel in the fact that it was in the low 50s and not raining.

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The skirt is flared from the incredible headwind, not from my blazing speed.

I knew to expect a hilly race and had no plans to PR.  I just wanted to log some miles in pursuit of our marathon race in July, dressed up as Dorothy.  And I got exactly that.  The hills just rolled and rolled.  But I kept a steady pace through most of the race.  A lot of that is due to a fellow states-chaser and new running pal Jon.  We fell into step early on and started chatting about running (duh) and from there just hung together the rest of the race.  We saw other characters from the movie, fell into the 1:50 pace group led by a guy Jon dubbed “Drill Sergeant” who rattled off random facts as we crossed each mile (Did you know that there is a 5 year old boy who has run over 48 marathons?!  And the oldest person to ever complete one was 101 years old!).

When we got into the back miles it leveled off a little bit but the wind really started picking up.  At this point we had passed the Sarge and his group but could still hear his chants.  I heard him yell up to us, “Dorothy, get behind that guy and draft off of him.”  So I did.  For the rest of the race.

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There’s no place like the finish….

The last hill was brutal.  It comes at about 3/4 of a mile to go.  But I told Jon I wouldn’t quit on him and he stayed close enough for me to stick with him.  A few other runners joined conversation about different races and the hills.  This is definitely one of the chattiest runs I’ve done.  Maybe it was my costume 🙂

The course finally leveled off to a strong finish.  Chap found me and I posed for some pictures with some fans of the costume.  This was one of the best post-race parties I’ve ever seen.  They had a beer buffet of craft and less crafty beers, hot dogs, chicken sandwiches and margaritas from Chuy’s.  I had two more miles to log for training so Chap joined me on two loops around Garmin’s campus and then we had our party.

This was a wonderful race.  Aside from the trouble getting to the start, it was very well run, very friendly and a challenging but fun course.  I won’t be doing it again (no repeat states except home until the country is finished) but would definitely recommend it to friends.  And I highly recommend wearing a costume.  The “Go Dorothy” cheers definitely kept me going.  So much that I might become a costumed runner!

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Also, how do people wear these costumes without pants underneath?!

Boston Distance Medley

Back when I was researching specific races to check some more states off, I came across the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) half marathon, hosted in October.  I stumbled across this race last summer and it was already too late to register for it, but I made a point to pay attention to registration this year.

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Boston bound!

As I was double checking the registration date, I stumbled across a series of events called the Boston Distance Medley.  This race series includes a 5k, 10k and the half marathon.  Registration for the series opened up before all of the others and it guarantees your entry into each race.  I figured the little bit of extra money for all three was worth it to make sure I got into both the 5k and half, my two target races.

As excited as I am to cross the state off in October for the half marathon, I’m actually more excited for the 5k in April (I’ll probably skip the 10k.  Three trips to Boston is a little much for me in one year, when there are other states to cross off!)  The race is Saturday, April 15 which is 13 weeks away. That gives me the Sweetheart Race and the St. Patricks Day Run to practice breaking that 22 mark, and then I can really go for it on a historic course!  And the best part?  Marathon Monday is the Monday right after the 5k so of course I’ll stick around to see one of the (if not THE) most historic runs in the world.  Not sure if I’m more excited for my race, or that race.

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Nothing motivates like a race deadline

I’m hoping to find someone to go with me, either to run the race or just to go watch the marathon but this is one trip I’m so excited about I’d do it solo if I had to!

Any suggestions for things to do in Boston?!

State 18:Go! St. Louis Half Marathon

The road to all the states continues and for number 18 I took some friends with me.  I’m still working on getting all the states that my new home touches: MO, KS and NM remained.   St. Louis quickly won out among the group vote and so we began to plan for the April 9 race.

I had the privilege of coaching a group of friends through the first of 2016 leading up to the run – 2 who had one half under their belts and 2 who had none.  We had a great spring season and I was so confident in each of the runners.

Nicole and I drove up a day early to have some time in St. Louis to hang out.  We explored the city, picked up our packets and of course took some time for yoga under the arch!

Due to some shitty life circumstances, our 3-D friend Alexis couldn’t make the trip.  We took a flat version along all our adventures with us.  She went to the expo, the arch and enjoyed coffee at all of our stops around town.  I hate it when one of my kiddos trains for a race and for one reason or another can’t make it.  But that’s how racing goes, and life.

Katie and Justin joined us later in the day for some fun around town.  We walked around way too much for the day before a race but it was a beautiful spring day and we just couldn’t help ourselves.

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Dinner was of course, pizza.  We ate at a place recommended by local friends called Pizzeola.  They’re a wood fired thin crust place in a neighborhood east of the city.  Pretty tasty but be warned, there are no meat options!  It was fun watching the boys try vegan sausage and pepperoni though.

I was lucky enough to find an amazing downtown Air BnB to stay in for the weekend.  We were just a few blocks from the start line so we all met there on Sunday morning for bananas, low-quality coffee and a bathroom.  The plan was for me to pace Katie and Justin to keep them from that early stage energy that can sweep runners away and Nicole would enjoy her first half at her own pace.  Flat Alexis would tag along in Justin’s pocket!

We were worried about rain but otherwise it was a perfect morning weather wise.  The first 5k took us across into Illinois.  That bridge really sucked because there were construction cones adding to the already crowded and narrow exit ramps.  Katie had to stop to pull glass out of her shoe and we weaved in and out of the cones, dodging runners and watching our step the whole way.  The streets widened for a bit once we were across the river but then it seemed to get pretty crowded again.  It was great to not feel alone but a little too tight for my preference.

Even with my pace assistance, we went out a little too fast.  But managed to fall into a right-on-target pace for the rest of the race.  Justin pulled ahead and I stayed with Katie, enjoying a Sunday morning long run.  All was going great until we came up to the Brewery. We were chugging along, Katie had Taylor Swift on and I was listening to Sam Hunt.  Then out of nowhere this horrible smell of literal shit hung in the air.  We both looked at each other in horror “WHAT IS THAT?”  We had two ideas: the clydesdale horses or someone had pooped their pants.  Based on several pieces of evidence we found 1. Neither Justin (in front of us) nor Nicole (behind us) smelled it and 2. The horses don’t live at the brewery, we came to our own conclusions.  I’ll let you be your own detective.

Katie and I turned it on at the end to push for that sub-2.  We knew Justin made it since we never saw him again and we were cutting it close.  It was one of those finishes where you could hear the screaming and announcing but the line seemed to never appear.  We turned corner after corner until finally it was in sight.  Katie nailed a PR and they both made it under 2!  We hung around for a bit in the finish area and then I went in search of Nicole.

By this point the temperature was dropping and I was a little chilly even in my space blanket.  I ran upstream of the runners cheering them on and scanning the crowd for our smallest runner.  I spotted her and ran with her as long as I could hang.  She kept a steady pace to the end and finished her first half!

After cleaning up and packing up, we went out to a little coffeeshop and grabbed a brunch. Nicole and I hit the road again while Katie and Justin stayed behind.  This was not in the top half of my favorite races but I loved St. Louis and definitely want to go back when there is more time to enjoy the park, the City Museum, the baseball field and nightlife.

NEXT UP FOR THE STUDIONE RUNNERS!:  We will have our fall training groups starting in August.  We will target locally the Tulsa Run and Route 66.  I am taking into consideration our spring race options for next year but KS is in a strong first place!  Leave a comment if you’re interested in coaching – either electronically or locally in Tulsa :D.

 

State 17: The Sedona Marathon Event (2/3)

This race is the one that brought back some confidence to my feet, heart and mind.  You don’t know about the race that sucked it right out of me down to my lungs and bones because I haven’t written it yet.  I promise to, it’s important to see all the sides of racing but it’s not time yet.

It is time to review State 17: Arizona.  I picked Sedona because that’s where Grandpa Sprenkel lives and he invited me.   Also because it is a breathtakingly beautiful place.

The race was scheduled for a Saturday morning.  This is not unheard of in the running world (St. Jude Half another favorite that’s hosted on Saturday) but it is a little unusual.  I was carb loaded from the pasta the night before and after all that strategizing, we (my cheer team and I) went to bed with a pretty good plan for the morning.  There were parking lots with shuttles to the start but after the fiasco with state 15 shuttles, I’m a little wary of them.

We went to Starbucks first thing because it was on the way (they’re on the way to anything aren’t they?) for coffee and my pre-run meal of oatmeal, dried fruit, nuts and brown sugar (about half of each packet).  This is routine for me on race days no less than two hours before the start -either made at home or from Starbucks.  With a small cup of coffee and water on the side.

Next we drove to make sure we could find a parking spot.  Then, our plan kind of fell apart.  We found one but still had so much time before the 9am start.  I didn’t want to hang out in the cold at the start, and the cheer squad didn’t want to stay in the car.  So we hiked to a local breakfast diner and Grandpa got some food while I used the bathroom more than twice and continued to hydrate and try to stay warm.

After leaving Nick’s Cafe and seeing the long line of cars in the single-lane that the shuttle would be using, we made the decision to just walk to the start line.  I’m guessing it was maybe half a mile.  I was still shivering and my teeth were a chattering but the walking definitely helped (so did my moms calf-length down coat that she thoughtfully and selflessly gave to me in regular Davi fashion.  Thanks mama 🙂 ).

We made it to the start, hiking up the final hill I would have to climb to the finish, in time to see the marathoners get started.  They were on the same out and back course I was, except their out is twice as long.  From the preview drive we took Friday, I knew it was a doozy and hilly race.  But I took all the pressure off myself when I decided I would enjoy it fully, taking pictures along the way.

I made a playlist on Spotify during some of our downtime that morning, taking suggestions from friends on Facebook.  It was a mix of my favorite 90s tunes, some slow and sweet country and energy-driving techno.  I put it on shuffle in hopes the right songs would just appear when needed.  It worked.

The miles just rolled on by.  The air was as crisp and clear as the sky looks in my pictures.  My legs felt strong and pain free underneath me and lungs worked how they were supposed to.  I was in my own little world, surrounded by the most magnificent beauty of mother nature.

Everything went great until I accidentally snagged a water cup that was full of gatorade.  I knew it even before that first drop hit my tongue.  I could smell the lemon and just thought, “oh shit.”  I’ve had a bad experience with gatorade in the middle of a long training run – if you’re not used to it, the sugar can do crazy things to your insides.  Not a good thing period, but especially when you’re in the wilderness with limited options for disposal.  But I was too far committed to the quick shot of liquid.  I got the whole disgusting gulp.  Ugh.  But it all turned out fine and everything stayed in 😉

I remember one big hill towards the end (not the very last one) that was big and steep.  I fell into stride with the gal in white long sleeves in my pictures and we made a silent sort of deal to not stop running.  We made it to the top together and stayed close the last few miles.  With one mile to go I was still feeling strong but was starting to get warm due to the cloudless sky.  I stopped to take off my top layer and get one last drink of water before pushing through the last mile and up the final hill(s).

I finished somewhere around 2 hours but with some extra mileage on my app.  I went searching for the girl in white to tell her thanks for the hill support but my crew found me first.  I lamented about the mismeasured course while stretching and eating.  The 26 and 13 mile markers were together at the same spot, with the same start and finish line.  It just doesn’t work.  The half marathoners got an extra tenth of a mile I think.  Oh well, I wasn’t too caught up in it.  My mind had already moved on to pizza.

Overall I highly recommend this race as a recreational experience.  There are water and aide stations along the way but not every mile.  There are very little humans along the course cheering but it’s a great scenic run.  A little mismeasured but made for some mental conditioning.

I left the course feeling like myself again.  I know I can run 13.1(+) miles without walking too much.  I know I can do it in a strong and confident way.  I know I can do it on hills and at altitude.  Because I did!  Happy to be back 😀

State 17: The Sedona Marathon Event (1/3)

This past weekend I jetted to the southwest to complete my 17th state!  Arizona was not a new state for me to visit as my dad’s parents have lived there for most of my life.  We’ve all been to Phoenix and Sedona several times.  Grandpa had been inviting me to run the Sedona half as my Arizona state for a few years but the timing was never right.  Until this year!

Uniquely, this run was scheduled for a Saturday morning (perhaps  due to Super Bowl Sunday?) so I made plans to fly in on Friday morning.  My parents jumped in on the fun and met me there.  I wasn’t expecting them to be there while I was doing most of my planning so I can tell you that there are shuttles at reasonable prices from the Phoenix airport to Sedona (which is what I’d planned to do), and back.

I left Tulsa Friday morning but not before swinging through Foolish Things to grab some chocolate for my hosts, a coffee for me and to start on my glycogen storing, I grabbed a delicious CinnaBomb.

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Making other travelers jealous

I don’t follow a specific pre-race eating routine, but I do try to eat a tad more “fast” carb treats than I normally would allow.  It works for me, and my taste buds.  This CinnaBomb was like a fluffy cake donut magically dipped in cinnamon and sugar.  It didn’t feel heavy at all and after staring at it in the pastry case for weeks at the cafe, it was wonderful to finally meet it.

The flight was delightfully direct and I was scooped up by my parents quickly after landing.  They spent the night before with college friends in Phoenix, reliving the glory days I’m sure.  The drive from Phoenix to Sedona is about two hours so we decided to stop for a bite to eat on the way.  I couldn’t resist the opportunity for some photos by the really large Sajuaro cacti all around us.  They’re ugly but majestic things.

I tried my best to stay awake in the car but backseat traveling, especially on winding roads after eating, has never been a strength of mine.  The landscape was amazing to look at while I was awake though!

The general plan for the rest of the day was to visit with Grandpa, hit the packet pickup and grab dinner at a pasta place.  We arrived in Sedona, visited for a bit and then made the trek to the packet pickup at Yavapai College.

Packet pickup was very small and straightforward.  Everyone was exceptionally friendly and Grandpa knew a few people at the info desk.  We stopped to strategize parking and shuttles, studying maps and clocks for a while before moving on to the Clif bar sample table.

It was Grandpa’s idea to drive the course.  I’m not sure if I appreciated seeing the hills ahead of time or not.  The course is out and back so half uphill and half downhill.  We hit some downhills initially and I just thought, “coming back up that at the end is gonna suck.”  Oh well, that was to be dealt with the next morning.

Here is a little snapshot of the elevation profile:

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Half up, half down

The course was breathtaking that’s for sure.  I was putting no pressure on this run and was just going to enjoy running in the middle of this incredible wild landscape.  So, the hills didn’t scare me too much.  A little challenge for a casual run.

Soon after, it was time for dinner!  My thoughtful Grandpa had already made reservations at a local italian restaurant, thinking I would want some pasta before the run.  It was a great decision.  I had wine, a fantastic caesar salad with mushrooms and kale, and a light veggie pasta dish.

The restaurant was Cucina Rustica.  My pasta noodles were made in house that day and what a difference!  Dinner was full of catching up on chicken business (my parents), studio updates (me) and travel plans (Grandpa and Martha).  It was great company and delicious food.

We headed home so I could catch some sleep before the run.  Luckily it was a later start – 9:10 so we wouldn’t have to get up unreasonably early.  All of our planning today landed us on a 6:30am departure from Grandpa’s house for coffee and to head to a shuttle stop.  After the Revel Rockies shuttle fiasco I was a little nervous but knew I would find the start either way.

Announcing State 17!

For a long time my dad’s dad has been inviting me to run my state race in his current hometown.  For one reason or another, I’d never been able to commit.  After about 3 mailings of newspaper clippings, registration info and more invites I am pleased to announce that state 17 will be:

ARIZONA!

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State 17!

Image from localfirstaz.com

The race is right around the corner: February 6!

Grandpa lives in Sedona and he has bragged on their local race to me since this dream was born.  In lieu of a Rock n’ Roll or other “chain” race in Phoenix, I opted for the scenic Sedona (Half) Marathon.  Just from browsing the website I can tell this will give my Revel Rockies race a run for the “most scenic race” crown.

Since I’m still focusing on 5k training I have no goals for this race except to finish, take beautiful pictures and enjoy the scenery.  I’d also like to enjoy our day trip to the Grand Canyon the day following the race, so it certainly will not be an all out effort day for me.

Where’s your next race?  Anything in Sedona or the Grand Canyon you recommend to do or eat?