Thursday, December 25, 2014

2014 Recap / 2015 Goals

The Short Version:

2014 Recap: 24 races ran, including 7 marathons and 3 ultra-marathons. Highlights include: my first marathon (Walt Disney World Marathon), my first ultra-marathon (24 Hours of Utah 50K), Pikes Peak Marathon, Bear Chase 50 Miler, and ended the year on a fast note with a 46:29 10K!

2015 Primary Goal: I'm stepping back from ultra and trail running, to instead focus on speedwork and road running and hopefully run a 3:35 Marathon which will qualify me for Boston!

The Long Version:

Time Recaps with 2015 Goals: I didn't focus on time and speed very much in 2014, and instead focused on having fun, racing a TON, and building endurance and confidence in running at the marathon and ultra level. However, I still had some success towards the end of the year with my huge PR at the 10K distance, and of course some improvement in my marathon times. As I work towards a Boston Qualifying Marathon time, I hope to dramatically improve a lot of my other PR's in 2015 (specifically for the 5K and Half Marathon distances).

2012 PR: 34:42
2013 PR: 23:50
2014 Goal: Sub 23:50. 2014 Actual: 23:50 (matched my PR exactly)
2015 Goal: Sub-22:30

2013 PR: 51:25
2014 Goal: Sub-50:00; 2014 Actual: 46:29 (!!! Still in shock about this!)
2015 Goal: Sub-45:00

2013 PR: 1:56:35
2014 Goal: None (no goal Half's this year). 2014 Actual: I did run one half-marathon, but it was a week before Pikes Peak, so I ran it at a comfortable pace, finishing in 2:06:26.
2015 Goal: Sub-1:45

Full Marathon:
2013 PR: None
2014 Goal: Finish (later in the year, sub:4:00). 2014 Actual: Finished my first in 4:26:35. PR'd later in the year with 4:03:10
2015 Goal: Sub-3:35. This is obviously my biggest and most lofty goal. But what can I say, I'm a proponent of dreaming big!

2014 Race Recaps: A quick overview of all the races I ran this year:

01/12/14: Walt Disney World Marathon. Finished in 4:26:45 (First Marathon!)
02/08/14: Black Canyon Snowshoe 8K. Finished in 1:07:14 (First Snowshoe race)
02/15/14: Moab's Red Hot 33K. Finished in 4:37:19
03/22/14: 24 Hours of Utah 50K. Finished in 6:30:25 (First Ultra-Marathon!)
04/19/14: Desert RATS Trail Marathon. Finished in 6:30:55
05/03/14: Girls on the Run 5K. Finished in 29:24
05/04/14: Cimarron 50K Endurance Run. Finished in 6:37:29 (2nd Place Female)
05/17/14: Black Canyon Ascent 6 Miler. Finished in 1:12:52
05/18/14: Kaiser Permanente Colfax Marathon. Finished in 4:18:17
05/26.14: Bolder Boulder 10K. Finished in 1:00:39
06/14/14: Leadville Trail Marathon. Finished in 7:09:27
06/28/14: Trail Town 10 Miler. Finished in 1:30:45 (2nd Place Female)
07/19/14: Aspen Valley Marathon. Finished in 4:03:10 (PR!)
08/09/14: Mt. Sneffels Half Marathon. Finished in 2:06:26
08/17/14: Pikes Peak Marathon. Finished in 7:54:35
09/14/14: Lead King Loop 25K. Finished in 3:56:06
09/20/14: Broomfield Days 5K. Finished in 24:48
09/27/14: The Bear Chase 50 Miler. Finished in 12:31:16 (First 50!)
10/05/14: Black Canyon North Rim 20K. Finished in 1:57:23
10/19/14: Denver Rock-n-Roll Marathon. Finished in 4:27:11
11/01/14: Global Hope 5K. Finished in 23:50
11/22/14: Turkey Trek 10K. Finished in 51:32
11/27/14: Grand Junction Turkey Trot 5K. Finished in 32:43
12/06/14: Moab Winter Sun 10K. Finished in 46:29 (PR!)

Definitive Race Plans for 2015:

  • 02/28/14: Phoenix Marathon - as of now, my plan is to shoot for a 3:45 marathon at Phoenix
  • 03/21/14: Canyonlands Half Marathon - this race was my first half marathon 2 years ago, and my first race that left me feeling like a "true runner". I want to go back this year to "where it all began" and try for a PR.
  • 05/03/14: Colorado Marathon - dependent upon Phoenix, I'd like to go for 3:35 at Colorado
  • 07/19/14: Revel Rockies Marathon - hoping for sub-3:33 to hopefully secure a spot at Boston in 2016!
  • 11/22/14: Route 66 Marathon - HOPING to have already BQ'd, and if so, my plan is to just have fun at this one and go for the "Center of the Universe detour".

Tentative Race Plans for 2015:

  • 1/18/14 - Louisville Prairie Dog Half Marathon. Being on the other side of the mountains in the dead of winter, I am waiting to sign up dependent upon the weather forecast, but would really like to race this as prep for Phoenix Marathon.
  • 6/27/14 - Slacker Half Marathon. This course has some serious downhill, which will be great training for Revel Rockies. I definitely plan to sign up for this as soon as registration opens on January 1st.
  • 8/08/14 - Mt. Sneffels Half Marathon. This race is well put on, the course is gorgeous, and it's affordable, so I'll probably run it again this year.
  • 9/12/14 - Colorado Fall Classic Marathon OR Imogene Pass Run. This is dependent upon how my quest for a Boston Qualifying time is going. I'd really like to do Imogene again, but a BQ is my #1 goal this year, so if I need to run another marathon instead, I will.
  • 10/18/14 - The Other Half. This race is put on by the same people who put on Canyonlands, and I've heard nothing but wonderful things about it - so I want to finally run it this year!
  • November 2014 - Rim Rock Marathon and/or Relay. I really wanted to do this race in 2014, but it didn't work out, so I really hope to be able to do it next year. I may opt for the relay since I'll be running Route 66 Marathon on November 22nd.
I also plan to mix in some shorter distances as well (5K/10K), depending on what works out with my schedule and budget.

Other goals:

  • 2015 Miles in 2015!
    • Despite running much longer distances this year, my yearly mileage ended up about the same overall from 2013 to 2014 (see below). I want to really focus on consistency this next year and hopefully break 2015 miles (an average of 38.75 miles per week).
    • Mileage Recap:
      • 2013 - 1722 Miles Including Crosstraining / 1513 Total Running Miles
      • 2014 (as of 12/24) - 1680 Including Crosstraining / 1558 Running (note - I still have 7 days left this year - so I should actually be able to beat last years overall total).
  • Reach my goal racing weight of 122-125 lbs 
    •  (Now before I get comments about how I don't need to lose weight, here's the deal: No I don't "NEED" to lose weight, but as someone who is trying to get faster at running, it's pretty pertinent. Every extra pound you have is the equivalent to a minute off your marathon time. If I lose 10 lbs, that's 10 minutes off my marathon time right there and I need all the help I can get on my quest for a Boston qualifier, so I'm going to do what I can to get there. Also - according to the Body Mass Index (BMI), a healthy weight range for my height is 115-155 lbs. Getting to 122-125 still keeps me within the healthy range.)
  • Summit two more 14ers
    • I had this same goal for last year, which I did manage to do: Uncompahgre Peak and Pikes Peak! I hope to do at least 2 more next year. At the rate I'm going, I'll finish all of them in about 25 years :) 
  • 3 days of strength training per week
    • I don't know why this is so hard for me to do...I just have zero motivation for strength training. I'm not even talking lifting - just sit-ups, crunches, planks, squats etc. Nevertheless, I am going to try again this year!

So there you have it! Overall, 2014 was a pretty great year for running for me. I ran SO many amazing races, and am so lucky I was able to do so. I had a blast at my first marathon and am so grateful I got to go to Disney World to run it. I hope to go back someday to complete the Dopey Challenge (running the 5K, 10K, Half-Marathon, and Full-Marathon on consecutive days). I loved barely scratching the surface into the world of Ultra Marathons. I know I want to run more ultra's in the future, including attempting a 100 miler someday! But I am also really looking forward to stepping out of my comfort zone next year and focusing on speed. Speed is one thing that I've never enjoyed, but I do think I can get better at it with practice (just like all things in life, I am learning!). I honestly can't wait to see where consistency, and determination, and a little bit of speed training take me in 2015!

So to finish off this post, I will leave you with my motto for this next year:

"If your dreams don't scare you, they're not big enough."

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Moab Winter Sun 10K

The Moab Winter Sun 10K just might be the perfect end-of-the-year race. It's a great size, an awesome course for a PR (even with the giant hill at mile 2), and they have tons of fun giveaways afterwards. Plus only living an hour and half from Moab now, makes it a perfect little getaway race for December.

You may remember that I ran this race last year in what was freezing cold, snowy conditions. Even in those conditions, I still managed to run a PR by a long shot (previous PR was 56-something) and I ran this in 51:25. I was stoked and definitely planned to come back this year.

Despite the fact that there was once again no sun again this year (maybe next year??), at-least the weather was MUCH warmer and without snow. The temperature was in the 40's, which is honestly perfect running weather. I rode down to Moab with some friends who I was also planning to stay the weekend with. After missing the I-70 turn off to Moab, and driving an extra 40+ miles, we made it with just enough time to check in at packet pick-up, get on the bus to the start, and then get in line for the bathrooms. Unfortunately, despite getting in line for the bathroom with 15 minutes to spare, the line was moving SO slow, and I just barely made it through with 2 minutes to spare. The only problem with this was that I had no time to warm-up. So I did a quick couple of strides before joining the masses getting ready to start.

This race isn't chipped timed, so I wanted to make sure I started pretty close to the front for the most accurate time. The gun officially went off about a minute or two after 10:00am. I started off strong, but a little too fast, as I looked at my watch and was running a 6:00-something mile. I pulled back a little but tried to keep it strong.

Mile 1: 7:29

As I heard my watch beep for mile 1 and saw 7:29, I told myself, "There's no way I'll be able to hold this pace for 5 more miles." But I also wanted to keep running strong, as I knew there were 2 hills coming up including a really big one right after mile 2, and I wanted to bank some time since I knew I would slow during those. There was some significant downhill at the end of mile two, so I picked the pace up a little more.

Mile 2: 7:13 (Woohoo downhill!)

As mentioned above, right after you hit mile 2 is a pretty big uphill. I definitely slowed on this quite a bit, but told myself to just keep running strong. I also knew after this hill it was all downhill, which kept me motivated to run hard up the hill. After the hill is a gentle downhill again, so I was able to make up some time, and I was surprised to see I still managed another sub-8:00 mile.

Mile 3: 7:55

I was able to catch my breath and pick up my pace again during mile 4. There was a girl who looked like she could be in my age group that I was kind of leap frogging with. She had passed me around mile 2 and I passed her during mile 3. She passed me again.

Mile 4: 7:17

By mile 4, I was honestly in shock that I now had multiple miles under 7:30. My goal for this race was sub-50:00 which is an 8:02 pace. I've been doing speedwork and tempo runs for the last month, but still hadn't been running miles anywhere near 7:15-7:30 (technically my speedwork has me running this pace - but only for a lap or two around the track and then I recover before doing another - running this pace consistently is a whole other ballgame).

Mile 5: 7:26

During miles 5 & 6 I started to slow a little. I still knew I could finish strong, and by this point I knew I could for sure run sub-50:00, but I also knew I was getting tired! I kept at it and continued on. The course leaves the road and goes onto a paved bike path somewhere during this stretch. I tried to keep my pace up as much as I could.

Mile 6: 7:22

Right around the 6 mile mark, the course cuts across some grass on the way to the high school track. I got onto the track and picked my pace up as much as I could. I managed to pass the girl I had been leap frogging earlier again, and sprinted as much as I could for the last 300 meters where I then finished in 46:29. SO much faster than I ever thought I was capable of running! 

Race: Moab's Winter Sun 10K
Distance: 10K (6.2 miles)
Date: 12/06/2014
Elevation: 107' Gain / 587' Loss
Bib Number: 68
Weather: Upper 40's and cloudy (in other words - PERFECT racing weather)
Official Time: 46:29.9
Average Pace: 7:28 minutes/mile
Overall Rank: 66/396
Gender Rank: 14/249
Division Rank (F20-29): 5/41
Garmin Splits: 7:29, 7:13, 7:55, 7:17, 7:26, 7:22, 6:09 (last .2)

So overall, I really like this race (I think I said this same thing last year)! The few hills on the course give it some challenging terrain, but the overall net downhill allows you to really push yourself and run hard. I know I ran this race just about perfect - I finished feeling like I had truly given it everything I had, but also finished strong. I ran faster than I even thought capable - running at a faster per-mile pace than my current 5K PR! This race left me feeling SO much better and more confident about my goal to Boston Qualify next year.

Despite running 5 minutes faster than I did last year, I ended up with the same age group placement - 5th. I tried not to be, given my huge PR, but I honestly was a little bummed about this. I was really hoping for a podium finish (definitely wasn't expecting 1st or anything - but I thought I could've at least gotten 3rd). However, looking at the awards, the next fastest girl in my age group ran 3+ minutes faster than me - so I honestly didn't even have a chance at an age group award. But, I've said it before and I'll say it again, since I clearly need the reminder - winning is really all about who shows up that day - seeing as I've placed in races where I've ran a lot slower than this! So maybe next year!

After the race we hung around for the raffle, where I managed to win a gift card to Zak's (a really good local restaurant)! Then we all went to the Moab Brewery for lunch with a bunch of different folks from Grand Junction, before heading to our hotel to check-in.

We stayed at the Best Western Plus in Moab, which is officially my favorite hotel in Moab now (except their in-season rates are over $200/night - so I probably won't be staying there anytime between March and October...). After checking-in, we went and explored Moonflower Canyon and a little bit of the Behind the Rocks area, before getting dinner and watching the Parade of Lights that night.

On Sunday we had an awesome breakfast at the hotel and then went for a hike to Corona Arch before heading home. I loved this hike - it's about 3 miles and would be a perfect hike if I ever brought friends/family to Moab. While we were there, there was also a group of people repelling down from the arch, which was pretty cool to watch.

So without further ado - lots and lots of pictures:

No sun at the Winter Sun!
This was the only picture I got with my bib.
Me with Randee, Rochelle, and Jeni before the start!
Finish line!
Most of the Grand Junction runners!
Exploring Moonflower Canyon

Behind the Rocks area

Corona Arch

There's a section on the way to Corona Arch with tons of Cairns. It's tradition to add a rock when you hike this!
Watching people repel down from the arch. Pretty cool!
Jeni, Rochelle, and I.


Friday, December 19, 2014

Exploring Western Colorado: Dominguez Canyon, Rattlesnake Arches & The Colorado National Monument

Whew, I am a bit behind on my blog posting. Back in October I did a little exploring close to what is now our new home. On October 12th I went and checked out some of Dominguez Canyon. On October 25th, Scott and I set out to try a hike I had been eying for awhile now: Rattlesnake Arches. Then on the 26th, I went with some friends to the Colorado National Monument. So here's a brief description and lots of pictures.

Dominguez Canyon

I had planned to go up to the Grand Mesa this day for a trail run through what I had hoped would be some gorgeous fall foliage. Unfortunately, the weather had other plans, as the Mesa ended up getting a lot of snow the night before my planned excursion. So, I made a last minute change and met my friend Lori, who lives in Montrose at Dominguez Canyon instead. Dominguez Canyon is situated about half-way between Delta and Grand Junction. I had never been here before, so it was fun to explore this new place. The trailhead is also only about a 20 minute drive from Grand Junction which is nice. I also think this canyon could be good for running almost year round (although definitely would be HOT in the summer!). We ended up running about 9 miles, but you could definitely get more miles in if need be, as we turned around when there was definitely still more to explore.

Rattlesnake Arches

Rattlesnake Arches, just west of Fruita, holds the highest concentration of natural arches outside of Arches National Park. So naturally, I really wanted to do it - especially with it being so close to home. The only downside is that it can be a very long hike, and it's a lot of up/down/up/down...but definitely worth it! It's a great hike to do in fall or spring, although despite it being almost November when we did this, it still got incredibly hot!

To sum it up briefly, Scott and I started just before sunrise. The route heads mostly west through and over several different canyons. There was one section on the trail that freaked me out a little - you have to walk over some steep slick rock that is literally on the side of a cliff. Scott helped me through that though (I don't like exposure) and we continued on. Finally after what felt like FOREVER we reached the first arch! We then spent some time going to all of the different arches before stopping at one for some lunch and then heading back.

Hike: Rattlesnake Arches
Location: Fruita, CO
Date: 10/25/14
Weather: Sunny and HOT
Distance: 15 Miles (there are shorter ways to do this hike, but they require either a high clearance, 4WD vehicle or floating the river.)
Elevation Gain: 3,297 Feet

Sunrise over the Grand Valley

This was our lunch spot! It echoed a lot!

This was the section that seemed scary because you had to walk along the slick rock here (on the other side of the bush in the lower right corner) - which was not flat in the slightest.

Colorado National Monument / Serpent's Trail

The next day I went into the National Monument with my friends Taryn and Melissa. We hiked Serpent's Trail which is a 3.5 mile round trip out-and-back hike with about 700' of elevation gain, before driving through the monument and stopping at some of the various sights. I ran Serpent's Trail several times over the summer - it's really close to town and gives you some nice elevation gain.

Pictures from the hike:

At the top of "Serpent's Trail"
View from the top of Serpent's Trail. Love this picture!

Pictures from the drive through the National Monument:

So there you have it. All of these hikes were within about a 20 minute drive from home, which is pretty cool! I am loving all of the trails close by and most of them are fairly accessible in the winter as well which is really nice!

Flattop Mountain & Hallett Peak

I've been wanting to hike to the top of Hallett Peak ever since I found out it was the gorgeous mountain towering above Dream and Emera...