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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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 😀

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?

State 16: Minnesota (1/3) – The Birthday Surprise

Hello y’all!  I’ve got another state under my belt – Minnesota!  I didn’t reveal anything leading up to the trip because it was a surprise visit for Popsicle who turned 60 (!) the week after the race.  So now I will start at the beginning for you:

June

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Cali dreams

In June I went to visit my brother and future sister-in-law in California where they lived for a few months during his job training.  Shelby came on a 6 mile run with me and I dropped the idea in her ear that she should train for a half and I’d love to coach and run with her.  We all knew they were eventually going to land in Minnesota and I hadn’t run that state yet.  She floated through that six miler, so we started to make plans for the big race before I left. We had a few picked out in mid-September to try to get everyone together for the big surprise.  I had to call in Momsie to figure out what their chicken-related travel plans were (none, but a big Californian sailing trip was taking up some September time).

Ultimately we landed on the Land of the Lakes Memorial Half Marathon.  Once Momsie committed she and dad, and Shelby committed to purchasing an entry, I got my ticket to MN and signed up too.  It was more of a challenge than it should have been to keep that a secret.  There’s wedding planning going on, we’ve got group texts of various sporting teams and daily chicken updates – I’m proud of all of us for keeping the details of the trip out of those texts dad was included in.  No small feat for this clan.

July-September

I trained Shelby over emails and texts for about 8 weeks for her first half marathon.  Normally I wouldn’t advise that quick of a training routine but like I said, she sailed through the six in Cali with no problem so I felt more comfortable pushing it.  And to both of our surprises she turned out to be quite the runner.  I was not at all surprised that she could keep up with the miles but she blew it out of the water.  SO FAST!  She kept up with everything I prescribed to her, sending me screenshots when she finished of her routes and I kept telling her, “You’re doing so great!  Your times are really fast, I won’t be able to keep up with you!”  And she brushed it off in disbelief.  But really, you’ll see, I couldn’t keep up with her.

The week before the race

I was stricken suddenly with some kind of stomach virus the week of the race and wasn’t able to do any running before making the trip.  Shelby was right on schedule, my parents’ trip was right on schedule and I recovered by Thursday of race week.   I was definitely not hopeful of keeping up with Speedy Shelby at this point.

Friday

We knew that I would be arriving late.  We knew my parents would be out to dinner with Nathan and Shelby.  We knew I would take the light rail into the city and meet them wherever they were.  But that’s about it as far as having a planned surprise for my dad.  I asked if Nathan could acquire sixty balloons that I could walk in with but that idea was vetoed quickly.  So I started the group texting on my light rail ride in from the airport.  The final plan was for me to grab dad’s drink at the apartment lobby bar and take it to their table.

After a little detour (the light rail was closed for maintenance on the last leg of the trip so we were herded onto buses.  It was the smoothest public transportation transition I’ve ever experienced – good work Mpls!), I made it to Nathan’s apartment complex and was hurried to the front desk where I stashed my bags and waited for the “GO” text.  I had to re-watch Serena battle it out for a shot at the Grand Slam title but finally it was go time.

I approached the bar, and like the well-executing pranksters the Sprenkels are, the bartender knew I was coming.  I had a Manhattan to deliver to my dad, as the rest of the crew had their drinks delivered just before me.  I don’t know why I was nervous but I was.  Didn’t want to spoil the surprise too early, drop the glass on the way, spill it all over me.  You know mess it up.  Turns out I had very little to worry about.

I came up behind my dad, made eye contact with mom and brother, trying not to laugh and said “A manhattan for the old man! Happy birthday!”  He was very gracious and said thank you but didn’t really register that it was me.  So I hung around for a second and continued to converse with him, sliding in a one arm hug and even calling him dad once or twice.  Still didn’t recognize me.  Everyone at the table was stifling giggles at this point, a little incredulous that a dad didn’t recognize his own daughter.  Finally I said, “DAD!  It’s me, Happy Birthday!”.

“Whoa, what are you doing here?!  I was just texting with you a minute ago!”

“Yep, funny how that works, I can text from wherever I am and I was just in the lobby.”

I’d like to cut him some slack – it was dark, he was tired from lots of late nights editing chicken shit and I was wearing makeup. All reasons you might not recognize your first born.  Apparently my hair is extra blonde these days too (it’s not).

Surprise!

Surprise!

The Sprenkel Gang

The Sprenkel Gang

Stay tuned for Saturday’s festivities of touring Minneapolis and wedding dress shopping!  Happy Birthday Popsicle!