State 22: B.A.A. Half Marathon

When I was looking for a race to choose for Massachusetts, I knew I wanted it to be in Boston.  I stumbled across the B.A.A. Half Marathon in 2015 but had missed registration for it.  As I read about the race, I learned that it’s part of a distance challenge and the best way to guarantee entry is to sign up for the medley of a 5k, 10k and half spread across the year.   In 2016 I paid special attention to registration deadlines, set an alarm on my phone and registered for the medley right on time.  I never had any intention of doing the first two races, just wanted a guaranteed entry to the half.

When I learned the 5k race shared weekends with THE Boston Marathon, I decided to run that as well.  Chap and I used my companion pass to both get out there, and made a weekend of the 5k race, my first trip to Boston and spectating the marathon.  (Side note: Before we left for this trip, I had just signed up for the Jack and Jill Marathon with Michelle.  This is the trip that inspired me to train to qualify. )  This post isn’t about that weekend so I’m not going to write much about it here, but enjoy the pictures!

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State 22: Massachusetts

I loved Boston so much in April and was thrilled to revisit it this fall.  I was looking forward to colored leaves and crisp temperatures.  Unfortunately we didn’t get either of those.  Chap has been a reliable and wonderful travel and race companion but he didn’t get invited on this trip.   I wanted to share my companion pass with a long time soul sister and so invited one of my very oldest and best friends Katie (also the one who got me to Tulsa!) to come run with me.

We had a mediocre training cycle.  Honestly the summer and early fall just kind of disappeared in front of our eyes.  We’re both small business owners, Katie has a two year old and while we managed to stay very committed to working out, we just didn’t get the weekend long runs in.  We made it up to 8 miles in training and I knew that would be enough to get us across the line so we called it good.

It also helped us to enjoy our trip – alleviating the pressure of going for a particular time on an unfamiliar course.  I try to plan two or three runs a year where I’ll really go for it and the others are just meant to be enjoyable.  Because of this we were able to eat and drink and walk all over Boston without worrying about it affecting our performance on Sunday.

You can read a play by play of our tour of Boston on the Studio blog here.

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Carb loading.  Not totally justified but still delicious.

I want to recap three pros and three cons of the race on this blog today, more of a review of the event than the trip.

Pros

  1. Boston.  Boston is a historic city on its own.  But there is so much running history too.  One morning Katie and I went to the river to do a few shakeout miles and on our way back to the train stop, I saw a group of girls running through Boston Common who I recognized but couldn’t quite pinpoint.  I later recognized them as the women behind my favorite planner – Believe Training Journal.
  2. Race organization.  Our bibs were mailed to us.  We picked up our shirts at the finish line.  There was no waiting around or messing with an expo and it was awesome.
  3. Race course.  The course was scenic and beautiful.  We ran through the Emerald Necklace park system.  It was pretty full of rolling hills which I wasn’t really prepared for but we handled them (thanks, Tulsa).

Cons

  1. The Weather.  This was out of anyone’s control of course but our plans to just run and then dry shampoo our hair when we got back to the Air BnB (when we thought it would be in the 50s) went out the window in the first mile.  No one’s fault but still.
  2. Race organization.  There were over 6,000 runners and a single start!  On narrow park trails.  That is crazy to me.  Maybe because they’re Boston and they can get away with it.
  3. Race course. Though scenic, it was crowded because of the single start.  Parts of it had us running against later miles of the course and it was especially tight then.  And smelly.  Lots of humid, sweaty runners.

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    Crowded

This was definitely just a checkmark state and more of an excuse to go back to Boston with a best girlfriend.  It’s always better with some company, and not always about setting PRs, breaking 2 hours or running the whole way.

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Pre Race (we’re as tired as we look)

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If you want to be coached to your first or fastest race, email me!  coachsprenkel@gmail.com.  Customized plans, including run workouts, strength workouts and stretching.

 

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Thirty Thursdays: 2 Night Camping Trip

The summer after we started dating, Chap introduced me to a type of landscape I hadn’t yet explored – the Colorado mountains.  In the heat of summer in Tulsa, a summer trip to hike is always on the mind.  The next winter, I conquered the winter mountains and learned to snow ski.  After that trip, we decided my next Colorado adventure should be a 2-night overnight camping trip.  I put it on my 30 before 30 list and it was planned a few months later.

Preparations

I had zero camping gear.  No boots, no sleeping gear, no suitable outerwear, no hiking socks, no tent, no backpack and no clue.  Just a lot of workout clothes (those came in handy!).  Luckily I had a team of two clients supply everything I could have imagined needing, right down to a hatchet.  Big backpack, smaller backpack, fleece jacket, rain jacket, water bottles, bear spray, headlamps and the list goes on.  Chap was able to supply everything else we would need (tent, blankets, water filter).

I packed everything I could think of.  Our not-so-specific plan was to land in Denver, stop at REI so I can get hiking boots and further our plan from there (pick a place to hike and camp).  Very much a team of flying by the seats of our pants.  We asked one of the REI employees to make a suggestion for the rest of our itinerary.  With his help, we decided we would head to hike up a 14er and then drive over to Indian Peaks to camp.

Hiking Mt. Evans

Neither of us had fully hiked a 14er before and we were both up for the challenge.  I can’t remember exactly how we decided on Mt. Evans, I think the employee helped us and Chap thought there was some passageway connecting to another peak.  It’s all a little fuzzy because of what unfolded after.

If there is any lesson to be learned from the following story, it’s that you should ALWAYS listen to the park rangers.  And the second lesson is don’t begin a hike to the summit in the afternoon.  We started our hike up Mt. Evans in the early afternoon, after being warned by a friendly park ranger that it wasn’t a good time to be going up, “afternoon storms will be rolling in.”  Well it seemed to be clear enough to us (idiots) and I was eager to get moving after hours in the car.

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Heading up Mt. Evans

We made it to the spot above and stopped for a picture.  This is where we debated continuing on or not.  I’m a go-getter and really wanted to make it all the way around the crest so we kept on.  It looked clear enough (see the sun behind us?!).  As we climbed, we encountered some goats and a few other hikers, two of whom passed us up to continue on.  The temperatures dropped so I put on my windbreaker and hood.  It started raining, and even hailing a little bit.

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Rain and hail

Just after this picture was taken, a little bit of chaos ensued.  Chap looked back at me and says (I’m taking his word for it, otherwise it’s the best prank he’s pulled on me ever), “Do you feel that hail on your jacket?”.  And yes, there was a little bit of hail but then his eyes got wide because my hair was standing straight up.   He threw his hat to the ground because he realized the sound of the “hail” on his hat was actually static electricity in his ears.  I still had no idea what was going on and he shouts at me, “Do you have anything metal on you?” and I was like, “I don’t know, a zipper, my phone, the keys what is going on”.

“We gotta get down this mountain as fast as we can.”

So, we started running.  We’re not really talking so that we can focus on jumping and stepping down the uneven terrain.  I’m ready at any moment to throw anything that I think is metal off my body, including the car key.  After about a half mile run down the mountain, we found some cover underneath a rock and I am ready to camp out and call it good.  But Chap said we had to go for it or we’d be stuck there for hours.  Just a few minutes after we resumed running a giant clap of thunder and flash of lightning struck somewhere behind us and I think for the first time in my life I actually thought I might be killed.  I was kind of anticipating the lightning strike on my body as we ran and also thinking about how grateful I was for Fit Camp and running as I ran for my life down that mountain.

We obviously made it down to safety and lived to tell the tale, but learned those two lessons on the way down.   The storms stuck around for a while, all along the towns on 70 so we decided to bag the first night of tent camping.  I’d had enough of mother nature for the day and wanted a sheltered room to sleep in, and some pizza.

Camping at Indian Peaks

After a semi-restful night at a roadside motel near Granby Lake, we set out for our hiking adventure.  Our new plan was to park the car, hike in with our camping gear, stay the night and hike back out in the morning.  After filling up with plenty of coffee and delicious breakfast, we visited the ranger station for a map and headed into the trail.

The weather was perfect, and I was especially grateful for the sunshine after our eventful storm adventure the day before.  All the excitement I wanted today was to see a moose.  We walked and walked, talking and talking.  My shoes were comfortable and the trail was ever changing.  It wasn’t a strenuous hike but a beautiful trail through the trees and sometimes through open valleys with the mountains on both sides of us.

We took our time, stopping at waterfalls for pictures and taking plenty of snack breaks.  I don’t think we really had an end point in mind, we were just looking for a soft place to pitch our tent after about 5 miles into the woods.

We set up camp and continued along the trail to Crater Lake.  The water was so crisp and clear!  Chap got in, but it was way too cold for my tastes (snow melt basically).

By this point in our trip we had run out of pre-packed water and were down to using a filter system.  I was a little wary of it but what choice did I have?  We stopped along a stream to fill back up, and then returned to our tent for a camp-cooked meal.  Chap, ever on the search for the best view, hiked us up past our tent to the top of a little rock formation.  It was perfect and beautiful.  There aren’t even any pictures because I knew that they wouldn’t do the view justice.  We sat up there cooking our freeze dried food and watched the sunset.

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It was hard to sleep for a few reasons.  The cold.  A tiny fear of wildlife.  The hard ground.  And the freeze dried food wasn’t sitting well in my stomach.  Or maybe it was the filtered water.  Either way, I was a big fan of this camping adventure, until we woke up the next morning.  We’d brought a shit shovel with us, because you’re supposed to cover your tracks and I was so hoping to not have to use it on our 36 hour adventure.  But that was not to be the case.  Was definitely not a fan of that just as my digestive system was not a fan of the home cooked meal.

After I returned to camp, we packed up and headed on our way out of the park.  I love the hiking aspect of camping, so if we can figure out a way to incorporate bathrooms and more comfortable sleeping arrangements in the middle of some long hikes, I’m game forever.

We ended this trip with a gigantic nap before we went to see Eric Church and Maren Morris at the Red Rocks.  A big bucket list trip!

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Refreshed after a shower and giant nap!

Do you have any good camping stories?  Or tips to help me out next time?

The Greatest Adventure

I wrote this post for our StudiOne blog right after the race but I never shared it here.  I’m not sure how much crossover there is between my two worlds but I wanted to re-share it here because I think there’s an important message about believing in yourself in my story.   Mine is specifically running, but yours could be anything else.  Job, school, relationships.  Put in the work and see what happens before you sell yourself short.  You just might believe you can do it (I’ll be trying again next year!).

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Whose idea was this anyway?

Last weekend, StudiOne instructor Michelle and I traveled to the west coast to run in our Jack and Jill Marathon.  We’d been training for 16 weeks in hopes of qualifying for the Boston Marathon.  I, Sprenkel, was originally planning to accompany Michelle on her BQ attempt and check off the half marathon distance of my 21st state.  But, on the day we registered back in February, the half was already sold out.  So I committed to the full, but only reluctantly.  I, Sprenkel, who after my last marathon in 2013 called my dad to make him promise to never let me sign up for another one, was game to run 26.2 miles again (never say never, eh?) but was not interested in the work or idea of qualifying for Boston.  Well, ok the idea of it because what runner isn’t?  But I am a half marathoner, a recent 5k racer and never in my 10 years of running would I have considered myself strong enough to qualify for Boston.  Never.  (This is important, are you getting it?)

Somewhere between the time of signing up and starting our official training, I’d been convinced by two women that I could at least train like I wanted to qualify.  One of them was Michelle, who was begging for a training partner, and also believed in me before I did.  The other was Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to register and run in the infamous 1967 Boston Marathon.  I listened to her speak in April and this line brought me to tears, “We are very good at underestimating what we’re capable of.”  That settled it.  I flew home to Michelle and we started training the very next week.  Who am I to stand in my own way?

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Lots of miles on Brookside

The first half of training went really, exceptionally well.  Our schedules matched so we were able to run most of our training days together.  The weather was great, we were hitting our paces and the grudge of weeks and miles of training hadn’t set in yet.  Then more than halfway through, our schedules changed, the weather turned nasty and the long miles dragged on.  I was making bets left and right to help me eat right and get the last of my miles in.  But we dug in and got the training done.

Going into the race, we were both unsure of what to actually expect.  Michelle scoped out the course that was most likely to get us a fast time, which is why we hauled ass across the US to run.  The 40 degree temperature difference would certainly work in our favor and so would the downhill.  But still, that doubt lingered that we could hit the low 8:00 paces because we hadn’t been in the Tulsa heat and humidity.  I almost tossed in the BQ towel before the race even started.

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Shakeout run on the sound

We had a beautiful first full day in Seattle that we spent carefully eating and touring around.  We went for a shakeout run on the river at noon time and barely broke a sweat.  It was heaven.  There was a lot of chatter about our race strategy to keep us from going out too fast.  I definitely couldn’t pull one of my 5k race starts where I bolt out of the gate – too many miles for that.  We made sure to stock up on fuel for during the race (my Aunt Annie’s fruit snacks) and a blanket for the start line since we would be waiting around for an hour.  We tried to go to bed early but our nerves kept us up later than we would have liked.  Luckily we were running on more than 12 hours of sleep from the previous night.

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Marathon morning

Race day came at 3am on Sunday.  We got dressed in our layers and put our glide on all the proper seams.  There are so many sequential things important in this time period.  We had to leave by 3:45 am to make it to our 4:30 bus on time.  After we were dressed and made sure we had all the watches, headphones, playlists, snacks and pills (salt and Aleve) we would need, we made our breakfast of steel cut oats and ran out the door.

I stayed surprisingly calm throughout the whole morning.  I get more nervous for 5ks than I did for this.  I was calm on the bus, although I did get a little annoyed at all the race chatter going on on the bus.  At that point, you’ve done everything you can to get ready for the race and I didn’t want to hear any more what if this happens or what if that happens?  I stayed calm as we huddled under our blanket waiting for the start.  Even stayed calm on the walk to the start line and the quick hop into the bushes for one last bathroom break (hey it happens, and you don’t want to have to stop on the course if you’re going for time).  Before I knew it, we were off, and I was still calm.

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Headlamps for the tunnel

It felt so good to be running.  The mountains were incredible, the temperature was perfect and I had my best running pal by my side.  Without a definite plan still, I just wanted to run by feel and keep a mindful approach to my breath and effort levels.  About half a mile in we hit the famous Snoqualmie tunnel.  For about 2.5 miles of disorienting darkness, we paced behind the 3:35 pace man.  It was quiet except for the steps of runners, and occasional drip drip of water in puddles and the steady breathing of a dozen people around me.  I didn’t have any signal in the tunnel so had no music in my ears.

At mile 3 we popped out the other side and I was so happy to be able to see the whole ground beneath me.  I shed my top long sleeve layer and tossed the headlamps into the bucket.  Soon after, a flood of my Motigo messages for miles 1-3 came all at once.  Michelle and I laughed out loud in excitement of the familiar voices.

For a good amount of miles after the tunnel, we ran together, comfortably and steadily.  The scenery was indescribable and I wished often that I wasn’t racing so I could have stopped to take pictures.  We were surrounded by beautiful green trees, an expansive blue sky above us and the green landscape was dotted with bright, colorful flowers beside the trail.  Somewhere in those middle miles, I looked at Michelle and said, “I think we can make it.”

When we got to the mile 15 water stop, I knew some of the toughest miles were ahead of us.  I was still feeling strong so I kept a pretty good pace.  I have to walk through the water stops or I’ll swallow too much air, but I tried to move as quickly as I could.  Working for the next mile marker and Motigo message with every step.  The water tables were about two miles apart and by 17 I didn’t have Michelle in my sights anymore when I looked back over my shoulder.  We’d made an agreement that we would stay together as long as we could, but then if one of us needed to push on, to leave the other.

There’s a famous quote in the running world: “The first half of the marathon is 20 miles, the second half is the last 6.2”.  And y’all is there truth to that.  When I hit mile 20, I was still moving along at goal pace but then it’s like all at once all your systems start to shut down.  Knees, feet and ankles were aching.  Soon the shoulders joined in the party.  I felt like I was going as fast as I could but I also knew I had slowed down.  But I kept moving.  Keep moving for the cheers!  I was always excited to see who would be there to greet me at the next mile.   And I even got a little miffed on a few miles when I knew there were certain people aware of the difficulty of those miles (18 and 20).

Those final six miles passed so slowly and at this point, after the 3:35 pacer passed me, I had no expectation of hitting a qualifying time.  But I was still so so amazed at my own run.  The last mile was the hardest: Motigo had no option for cheers at mile 26 (something I plan to speak to them about), a man on the sidelines cheering shouted out, “Just under 500 yards to go” and I spent at least 500 yards trying to figure out how far that is in meters, and still had no finish line in sight, and my shoulders were aching so much.  I’d developed a calf cramp that had modified my gait a little bit and was pretty much shuffling along the trail.  Then I saw it.  And perked up a bit.  Despite all the pain, I still felt surprisingly strong so I put on my best sprint and crossed the finish line.

I took my medal and two bottles of water before trotting back to find Michelle.  She finished strong, not far behind me.  We both hobbled around gathering up snacks and our start line bags.  We called or texted our biggest fans with our times and limped over to the shuttle bus.  Michelle couldn’t feel her legs and I had such a bad cramp in my shoulder that I couldn’t move my left arm.

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We did it!

Looking back, a week later, I don’t remember any sadness or disappointment from either of us.  During the race I was reminded so powerfully of the magic of running, and especially the magic of a well-trained for marathon.  They’re not always enjoyable, and not every step of Jack and Jill was bliss.  But, for most of those 26.2 miles, I felt fearless, strong and capable.  I thought back on training struggles, days I wanted to give up, and doubts I had in myself.  I remembered years ago when running used to be a punishment to myself for overeating or indulging in delicious food.  And I celebrated that now running is a tool I use to feel strong and able.  I listened with so much love in my heart to my messages from friends and family, near and far.  I was overwhelmed with gratitude and humility that so many people would take time out of their days to cheer for me (Motigo founder reached out to me to tell me I set the record for cheers in a single race <3).

Before the race, I thought of one of my favorite quotes, “Maybe it won’t work out, but maybe seeing if it will is the greatest adventure ever.”  I was at peace at that starting line that even if we missed it, I grew as a runner in that training cycle.  My perception of myself and my capabilities completely shifted.  I never missed a track workout. I completed long runs in the 80+ degrees of the Tulsa summer, while friends were in town and before vacations.  I ran on treadmills on cruise ships.  I said no to brunch and dinner plans, donuts and ice cream for 16 weeks.  And oh man, did Michelle and I adventure through the city streets and weather of Oklahoma.  But I grew.  I stretched.  I pushed.  Michelle gave me the nudge I needed to at least think about it, and then the support I needed to get through it.  Kathrine gave me the push to commit to trying.  And I gave myself permission to fly.  I can’t wait to go back and get that BQ!

Don’t stand in your own way y’all.  We are our biggest critics, doubters and obstacles.  If you need a nudge, or a support team like I had, myself, Teresa and the students and teachers at StudiOne can help you.  It’s fall racing season in Tulsa – pick an October or November race and see what you can do!

 

Thirty Thursdays: Red Rocks Concert (and Eric Church)!

When Chap and I went to Colorado for the first time (my first time ever) in 2015, I was completely mesmerized by the landscape.  We hiked Rocky Mountain National Park, White water rafted, ran a half marathon and climbed all over the Red Rocks.  As we were driving back to Tulsa, in between my sobs, I decided I wanted to see a concert at the Red Rocks.  And what a great thing to have on a bucket list.

Eric Church comes into this because he’s long been on my list of concerts to see.  I was supposed to see him in graduate school, had my tickets and everything but it was right as I was gearing up to move and I just couldn’t swing it.

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Light packers?!

When I saw that he was playing at the Red Rocks, it was such an easy decision to jump into.  And lucky for me, Chap is fairly easy to convince to go to Colorado – even for country concerts.  This time around we’d planned to camp (also on my bucket list), hike and end the trip with the concert.  I’ll have to write about the camping and hiking later, maybe next week.  But after a few days of some crazy weather and being one with nature, we crashed at our favorite Air Bnb, the same mountain castle we stayed in last time.  Unfortunately it’s a little out of our price range now so it’s our last time there.

We were so tired.  We’d been driving for a while, after spending the past two days hiking our way to Crater Lake and spending the night in a tent somewhere along that trail.  My sleep was pretty fitful that night because of discomfort, cold and a tiny fear of bears.  So, as soon as we got to our castle, we showered and passed out hard.  I woke up a little bit before Chap, to read about the parking and drinking protocols for the Red Rocks Amphitheater.  And I about leapt off the bed with excitement when I saw that my fave little songwriter Maren Morris was opening for Mr. Church.  I’m not ashamed to say I was legitimately more excited to see her than Eric (sorry, man).

The wait to get into the venue wasn’t too bad.  It rained on us a little but we had drinks and the company of the Church Choir (what Eric calls his fans) and it’s good company y’all.  Funny, good country company.  Seating was pretty open so we picked a seat in the middle and waited for Maren.  The views while we waited were amazing.  Storms performed an intense show as a back ground to the stage and the night air was perfect.

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I loved both shows, the venue and my company!  It ranks high up there with my favorite concerts.  Eric is amazing, and I’ve seen him again in Tulsa since – if you like his music, I highly recommend seeing him live.  Maren is a little powerhouse vocalist and I love that she writes her own music.  I will always try to see her live if she’s close (or hell, I’ll go back to the Red Rocks to see her!)  Her lyrics just speak to my little soul.

This is a little side note for those of you still with us.  Maren and her band were on our flight back to Tulsa the next morning.  I realized it too late and didn’t get to sit in the empty seat next to her, but Chap did!  And he didn’t even get an autographed napkin for me or anything.  I didn’t talk to her while we waited for our bags because I never know what to do with famous people.  This is not the first time I’ve been with some low-key (not high-key like Tom Hanks you know?) celebrity and not known what to do.  What would you have said?

Have you been to the Red Rocks?  Who did you see?

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?!

Thirty Thursdays: Snow Ski

Here we go for your first tale of the 30 Before 30 Checklist:

Until this past March, I’d never been snow skiing.  Never with my family.  Never with the high school youth groups.  I blame some of it on our geographical location smack in the midwest (although airplanes these days will take you just about anywhere).  More of it on how my dad’s very last trip snow skiing ended (on a medic sled with a torn ACL).  And most of it on our (rightful) preference for beach vacations or family reunions in the Georgia mountains.

I don’t blame my parents nor do I hold any grudges for the lack of this experience in my youth (certainly not like the swingset and Barbie Jeep grudges) because I’m not a huge fan of the snow myself.  I tolerated it growing up because I had to, and I sure loved a decent sledding hill but as soon as I could fly the coop in college, I headed south. And now have settled just a bit farther south.

Now that I’m in Oklahoma, I’ve never met so many people who travel to Colorado to ski in the winter or to escape the heat in the summer.  It’s a serious hobby here.  Even that wasn’t enough to get me interested.  But then, I started dating this guy around Christmas time.  He is one of those snow skiing hobbyists.  He went at least three times that first season we were together.  His love for the mountains isn’t just limited to the winter either.  Our very first big trip together was a drive from Tulsa to Colorado for one of those summer escapes everyone here seems to do.

That’s when the snow ski pressure started.  While we were hiking there was lots of imagining this place covered in snow, and tales of horrible traffic going out of Denver into the mountains on the weekends.  After a long weekend of hiking, rafting and running a race, I was smitten with the Rockies.

That initial infatuation with Colorado coupled with Chap’s incessant snow ski talk, led to a 2015 snow gear-themed Christmas.  I got ski pants and a ski coat which was just what I wanted that year to get ready for a spring trip.  New Year’s eve we spontaneously booked flights to Denver in March, and that was that.

First rule of ski travel, as I was told by Chap, was to take the earliest flight out.  We had to check bags (I hate it) to fit all of the bulky snow gear in.  And of course barely made it to our gate.  Then there was the trek with all our stuff to the rental car place and then the drive into the mountains.  It had been snowing (still was really) so the drive took us a couple of hours.  5 of us crammed into a Jeep Cherokee.

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We finally made it to Breckenridge.  The boys were so anxious to get on the slopes for the afternoon but Maaike and I hadn’t ever skied before.  First we stopped at the house to drop things off and for the skiers to get layered up.  Next, we had to go get our rental skis and boots (this hobby is not for the faint of heart, or the shallow pockets.  I saved for most of 2015 to afford these four days).  Finally, we dropped the guys off at the lift and then opted for pizza and some grocery shopping for the weekend while we let the guys play.  Our plan was to check into ski school the next day.

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Sending the fellas off!

Y’all just getting dressed for this activity is a workout in itself.  Base layer of skin tight warm clothes comes first.  Then a comfortable cotton shirt on top.  Then the puffy layer of ski coat and pants.  Gloves then mittens.  Face warmer and neck guard.  Helmet with goggles attached.  Skis and  boots.  These boots are an exercise machine in themselves.  Heavy and awkward to walk in.  Even requiring help snapping them shut.

Ski school was such a good decision and investment for me.  I think I certainly could have gotten the hang of it on my own, but I’m glad I opted for the full day of drills and practice.  First lesson was just maneuvering over to our instructor on a flat spot in our skis.  That’s still the hardest part to me (followed right up by walking around in the boots).  Then we got to practice keeping our skis apart on a downhill by railroad tracking down a snake hose.  After that skill was mastered, we moved on to the bunny slope.  This is not even a hill y’all.  But it was exhilarating for the first time and great practice just staying up on the skis.  We practiced that hill over and over, working more towards french fries (fast stance), and away from pizza (brake stance).

After a lunch break and catching up with the boys who’d already been on several longer runs, we went back to our instructor.  This time we graduated to a real ski lift and got to practice going down some real hills.  I feel like we both mastered enough of the technique pretty fast.  Maaike and I spent an hour or two together on those slopes and then decided it was time for a green run.  The guys helped us down by leading the way, turning at appropriate times and shouting encouragement.  Before long I was ready to head off with Chap for some longer runs.

I was confident but in no way a master.  I’d start down a hill and then feel completely out of control which led to one of three scenarios:

  1. Me staying on my feet but screaming the whole way down for people to get out of my way “I’m out of control!  Can’t stop!” (hey, at least I give fair warning.  and really, I’m surprised there aren’t more collisions out there)
  2. Me falling into the snow on purpose in what I dubbed a “controlled wipeout” in order to stop the next option from happening.  Sort of picture a gentle fall to either side, or just completely sitting down.
  3. A complete wipeout.  These are terrifying and should be avoided.  I had two big ones where skis came off (that is a workout too, getting those suckers back on and trying not to slide across the slopes) and it ended my run for the day.

The end of the day was always fun because the five of us would come together over drinks in the base camp bar and watch NCAA March Madness.  Showers, naps and snacks by the fire at our condo came next and then we’d head out somewhere into the darling town of Breckenridge for dinner.

The tale of the Single Blac

On the last day, Chap talked me into looking down a black slope.  It was on the way to one of the blue runs I liked so he said, “let’s just go look at it, and we can skip if you want to”.  We got there and peering over the edge was like looking off a cliff.  One of our other guys was there too, and he was just a little more experienced than me.  We decided to go for it, but even after that decision I just stood there staring at the run for at least five minutes.  Finally, I devised a strategy to take it as wide across the pass as I could, and then employ step number 2, before whipping my skis around to face the other direction.  Repeat.  I did this about five times before I felt far enough down the hill to not have too much momentum gather behind me if I lost control.  And then we were on a blue again, and soon enough I was done with my first ski trip!

It was so fun!  I completely buy into the hype, save year round for my ski lift fund and plan to go at least once a year for as long as I can!

An Evening Ritual

I ran today!  It’s amazing because we’ve been in a constant state of icy/freezing/cold drizzle since mid-week last week.  And Michelle and I still got some of that on our run (wrapped in my robe under a blanket and my feet are still cold!) today but the key was it wasn’t raining when we started.  We went for a good 6 miler on the river and then warmed up on the R Bar patio talking training plans.  We may have wagered a deal that ropes me into another full…..maybe.  Don’t mix a shivering me with a mimosa.

6 miles, 50:03, 8:21 average.  Splits: 8:43, 8:18, 8:14, 8:09, 8:13, 8:27

Confession time.  Last week was a major struggle for me.  We were coming back east from a ski trip in Lake Tahoe and I’m not sure if it was the time change, the couple of days of skiing, lack of sleep on the first few nights back or all the germs of travel but I got knocked down again.   Zero energy.  Not just too-tired-for -workouts low energy, but the so tired I had a headache and nausea tired.  Or maybe the cause was vice versa.  Whatever it was, I was an unproductive sleepy and sick gal for the latter half of the week – making appointments when I could and sleeping all the rest of the time.

I’m feeling much better now after taking it easy Thursday and Friday, and sleeping over 14 hours each of those days.  Things are about to get extremely busy both for my personal running training with upcoming races, my coaching at the studio and some other growing client bases.  It’s all so good, and I want to be alert, focused and energized for all of it.

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Bedtime helpers

I’d really like to get back to the days when I would wake up an hour before 6am classes to have some time with myself before my days got crazy.  I miss the quiet morning time, reading, practicing yoga for myself and having a clear mind to think about the flow of the day.  But simply setting the alarm for 5 am hasn’t been working for me.  I just snooze until the very last possible minute.  So, the next logical place to go is the front end of the sleep cycle.

I’m creating an evening ritual, and once I’ve mastered this for two weeks, I’ll start working on the morning ritual.  Every night beginning at 9:30pm I will:

  • Turn off electronics – email, blog, scrolling, texts
  • Drink a big glass of water
  • Brush/floss my teeth
  • White strips
  • Face washing routine – wash, toner, lotions, eye cremes
  • Lotion – legs and hands, this winter dryness is killing my skin!
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Ritual essentials close by.

This should put me in bed at 10pm, where I’m allowed to read until I get tired.  I think it sounds like a pretty good plan.  I think the 9:30pm time could be a challenge since most nights I get home from my last appointment after 8 and I like to cook dinner and do some work on the computer.  I’ll have to be more strategic about what I get done on the screen during the daytime.

Do you have an evening ritual, or you just get in bed when you’re ready?  How  do you fight overwhelming fatigue?