Tag Archives: race review

2014 Kansas City Half Marathon

23 Oct

Last Saturday, I ran the Kansas City Half Marathon. This was my 5th year running this race – and it is truly one of my favorites.

The course starts in Crown Center, where I work! Then travels through downtown, around to Westport, and back through the Plaza. They do such a great job of showing people how beautiful and unique Kansas City is. I would strongly suggest doing this race if you are looking for a smaller fall marathon or half marathon.

When I started my training for the St. Jude’s Marathon, I knew that the KC Half would be part of my training. I also knew that I would love to try to PR my half, which was a 1:34:31. I ran 1:34 at my very first half marathon, which happened to be the KC Half Marathon in 2008. It also happened to be 6 years to the day since I had ran my 1:34.

Leading up to the race, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had been experiencing some foot pains, as well as having a cold/bad allergies. With my asthma, any kind of cold or allergies can really knock me out, so I was just a tad (ok a TON) upset when I didn’t feel well. The week of the race, I was smart and finally got a prescription to knock out the gunk. I also got an amazing pep talk from my Mom and Stacy. They reminded me that it was just a run, and that I needed to go out and do my best. They always know what to say to me to make me feel better.

Saturday morning was a new day, and I woke up so excited to race! I decided to get up extra early to do a nebulizer treatment for my asthma, and also drink some warm coffee. I figured anything to loosen up my chest would be beneficial.

We arrived to the race around 6:15. First stop was an indoor restroom, then we went outside and I met up with my fellow GOTR SoleMates! It was fun to meet the other girls that had been raising money for GOTR. It was also nice to see some familiar and friendly faces at the booth.

Hanging with the other SoleMates!

Hanging with the other SoleMates!

After a few minutes at the tent, I headed to the start. I really wasn’t too nervous – mostly just excited to get the race started (and over with…)

At 7:05, after a little “Let’s Go Royals” chant, the race started.

I decided to run with the 3:05 marathon pacer. I figured that this pacer would be running a 1:32:3o half marathon time, which would make me extremely happy.

I stuck with this pacer for the first 5ish miles, then started to pull away. I was feeling good and confident. While I had a few coughs, I didn’t feel as though my breathing was slowing me down. And my legs felt great.

From this point on, I stopped looking at my watch and just ran on feel. I knew I was running a pace I could maintain, but didn’t know what that pace was. I figured it would be a great way to gauge my fitness and also practice pacing.

At mile 8, we split from the marathon and I popped my earbuds in. It was pretty sparse around me, so I decided a music distraction would be nice. The next few miles I focused on getting over the hills and to mile 10. Since I know this course so well, I knew that mile 10 starts 3 miles of some great downhills.

Mile 10-13 cruised by. I felt amazing and just tried to maintain the pace and effort. Around mile 12 I finally snuck a peek at my watch and was pleasantly surprised by the split – 6:23. I knew I was moving fast, but had no idea I was moving that fast! Eventually, I saw the 1:30 pace group and tried to close the gap as much as possible.

Running up the final hill of the race to the finish was awesome. I could see the clock and knew it said 1:30:xx. I couldn’t wait to finish.

When I hit my watch I actually couldn’t believe what I saw – 1:30:32. I just beat my PR that I had been chasing for 6 years. And best of all – it felt so good on my body.

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I won’t play it down – I was (and still am) so proud of myself. I overcame my mental and physical barrier of not feeling well and just ran the race.

“Shut up and run” is what I told myself. And that is what I did.

This race gave me confidence that my training is working and I am doing everything as I should. And I am excited to see what else this fall could bring 🙂

Splits:

  1. 7:45
  2. 7:01
  3. 7:11
  4. 7:01
  5. 6:51
  6. 6:45
  7. 6:31
  8. 6:36
  9. 6:51
  10. 7:02
  11. 6:35
  12. 6:23
  13. 6:30

Elevation chart:

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 8.56.51 PM

 

 

 

 

You can see the climbs and the downhills in my splits.

 

We wore KC Royals pride, and Ramsey PR'ed too!!

We wore KC Royals pride, and Ramsey PR’ed too!!

Celebrating by the blue fountains!

Celebrating by the blue fountains!

Boston Marathon Race Recap

12 Jun

Almost two months since Boston, and it is still on my mind every single day.

Every time I run, I think about it. Every time I hear a “boom”, I fear what it could be. Every time I hear a siren, I get chills. And every time I read something or someone talks about it, I have to hold back tears. Boston continues to weigh heavy on my mind and in my heart, and I have a feeling it will continue to do so for a while. Just as it will for the many others out there that experienced this, some not nearly as lucky as I was.

For the past few weeks, I have been debating whether or not I would write a race recap for Boston. Partially because I didn’t know if it was appropriate, and partially because I didn’t know if I was ready. To be honest, it has taken me time to even remember things from the race.

Well, I have made the decision that I am READY to write this race recap and I will CELEBRATE the finish of that race. I must remember that before 2:50pm on April 15th, I was having one of the most amazing days of my life. And I had been experiencing an amazing weekend in Boston prior.

Everything I write in this recap will be prior to 2:50pm. While much of my experience is still a blur, I do believe I have enough memories to write a pretty good recap!

Morning of the Race

5:15am on the morning of the race, I sprung out of bed. I was so darn excited! My clothes had been laid out since the night before, and I was ready to run. I got dressed, did my hair, put on some makeup (yep, I wear makeup when I race, judge away!), and headed downstairs to meet my friends.

Lulu all the way.

Lulu all the way.

I had my Girls on the Run girls with me.

I had my Girls on the Run girls with me.

At 6:15am, I saw my friends in the lobby and we had one big group hug. We were nervous but excited for the adventure to come. We took some pre-race photos with our families (we have the most amazing support systems!) and headed to Boston Common to meet our bus.

So supportive.

So supportive.

Looking our best in throwaway clothes!

Looking our best in throwaway clothes!

Mom and Dad :)

Mom and Dad 🙂

When we got to Boston Common, I was stunned by the lines. I had seriously never seen a line that long, and we had to wait in it in order to get to the starting line in Hopkinton! At first I panicked a little bit thinking we should’ve arrived earlier. The “what ifs” of not making it on the bus were going round and round in my head. Thankfully I had Stacy with me, who calmed my nerves and assured me we would make it to the start on time.

The insane lines!

The insane lines!

Happy, excited and nervous as can be!

Happy, excited and nervous as can be!

At 7:45am, we FINALLY made it to the front of the line and got on the bus. Note to self the next time I run Boston: get to Boston Common earlier!! We were one of the last buses to load up for the 26.2 mile journey to the start line.

Breakfast on the bus.

Breakfast on the bus.

Hopkinton!!!

Hopkinton!!!

Runner's

No Stopping Monday!!!

Around 8:45am, we got off the bus in Athlete’s Village in Hopkinton, MA. The sight there was amazing. It was FULL of runners and porta potties – I had not ever seen so many porta potties in my life. Photographic proof below!

CRAZY!!!

CRAZY!!!

We decided that our first order of business would be a trip to the previously mentioned porta potties before we were in an emergency situation (pretty sure I drank at least one bottle of water on the bus). We got into line, and 20 minutes later, we were still in line. All those porta potties, and they could’ve used 100 more. As we got to the front of the line, a man approached us and offered us toilet paper if we let him cut in line. Pretty smart guy if you ask me….as almost every porta potty was out of toilet paper!!

He was awesome.

He was awesome.

Diana did not cooperate!

Diana did not cooperate!

Stacy and I eagerly accepted his offer, but Diana did not…girlfriend had to go BAD and no one was cutting in front of her!!

We didn’t get out of that porta potty line until 9:30am, and by then it was time to start walking to the infamous starting line.

Pre-race jitters were in full bloom. I am pretty sure that everything on my body was shaking I was so nervous and excited for the journey ahead! When we finally got down the start (it felt like it was at least a half mile from Athlete’s Village) we found a little spot to sit down.

Follow the arrows.

Follow the arrows.

BABY GUURLL!!!

BABY GUURLL!!!

At our spot, we put Diana’s pretty pink blanket to full use. The story of the blanket could be its own blog post….we had to force Diana to bring “baby girl” (quick back story: the blanket was originally meant for Di’s “baby girl”…but Di had two baby boys, therefore “baby girl” never served her true purpose) to the start line of the race and leave her behind. We needed baby girl to keep us warm and shield us just in case we needed an emergency impromptu bathroom break (no comment on whether or not it was used for that…)

Baby Girl ended up saving the morning for us, and she will be remembered dearly. (Diana, I hope you read this so you can see that I paid tribute to your blanket in this post!!!)

At 9:55am, we went to the starting line and waited to be lined up in our corral. We watched the first wave start their journey, then made our way into corral #9.

At 10:15am, I posed for a pre-race photo and uploaded it to all my social media outlets. I wanted all the positive energy I could get, and I knew my social media friends would take care of that for me. You all are the best!

"It's go time"

“It’s go time”

Stacy at the start too!

Stacy at the start too!

Race Time

10:20am, the journey from Hopkinton to Boston began. I had just crossed the starting line of the BOSTON MARATHON. Holy freaking cow. I was living a dream.

I think I ran with tears in my eyes for the first mile. I was so excited to be there, and what I was about to accomplish really hit me. In a few short hours, I would be crossing the most exciting and prestigious finish line in all of marathon world!

The first few miles flew by. The main thing I remember about these miles is how many pregnant women I saw! I ran by at least three obviously pregnant women, all with little signs attached to them that said “running for two”, or something of that nature. Seeing these pregnant women out there running a marathon reaffirmed what I always thought and knew – you cannot stop a woman on a mission!! Especially a woman-runner on a mission. If she qualified for Boston, she is running Boston and you can’t stop her!

Around mile 6 I met a girl that reminded me of myself. We were almost the same age, and had both qualified for Boston at rainy races in Dallas. We ran and chatted for about a mile, and then she pulled back because she was battling an injury and had promised she would take it easy. I still think about this girl and hope that she was able to get her finish and was safe.

Mile 9 we hit Natick and I loved how familiar it felt. I used to have a client in Natick and have been up there a few times, so I could recognize the streets. I am sad I wasn’t able to see my old clients along the course, but I understood why I didn’t. Natick had some of the most amazing crowds along the entire course. I remember running through an intersection and I couldn’t believe  how loud it was. People were screaming and cheering to a point that I couldn’t have ever imagined. I remember looking at Diana and making eye contact with her. We both had tears in our eyes because we could not believe the experience. It was incredible and I cannot wait to experience it again.

Another one of my favorite parts of this race was leaving Natick and heading towards Wellesley. Around mile 12, we passed through an extremely loud cheering section with gangham style blaring. I love that song, so I perked  up immediately when I heard it. Then I saw something that made it even better. Lined along the right side of the road were at least 15 kids jumping on mini trampolines doing the pony. I still laugh every time I think about that.

Wellesley College was everything I heard it would be. Screaming girls waving their signs throwing out their hands were everywhere. I now understand why people say to watch your pace through Wellesley, because it would be so easy to get excited and run too fast. The energy passing through Wellesley was incredible, and it was one of my top 5 moments of the day.

My favorite sign from a Wellesley girl: “Kiss ME! I’m in a long distance relationship!”

After Wellesley we hit the halfway mark. It was so fun to hit the race “milestones”, because we would make sure we ran over the tracking device at the exact same time. When we hit them we would say, “HI!” to our family and friends we knew were following us.

My brother was tracking us! Loved how it showed us as little runners!

My brother was tracking us! Loved how it showed us as little runners!

We knew if we hit them at the same time, our supporters would know our plan was working out and we were doing it all together. No matter what, we would finish this race together. That was always the plan.

Following the halfway, we started to hit our big hills. I remember thinking on one of them that it might not ever end. This is the first time in the race when I felt tired and questioned if my legs would be carrying me 26.2 miles that day.

Diana zoomed up these hills with grace, while Stacy and I brought up the back. Di was having her “A” day, I was about a “B”, and Stacy was probably a “C”. Having a B or C day on the Newton Hills was tough. But with the help of each other we would make it through ‘em.

Running by Dick Hoyt and his son. Don't know who they are? Google it NOW!

Running by Dick Hoyt and his son. Don’t know who they are? Google it NOW!

Mile 16ish.

Mile 16ish.

Heartbreak Hill was something I feared for months. Mile 20 is one of the hardest miles of a marathon, and knowing we had a huge hill to face at 20.5 was terrifying. But guess what? I ran up Heartbreak Hill and didn’t even know it! At the top of the hill I saw a sign that said “You just conquered Heartbreak Hill!”. I didn’t believe it. I had to ask the give girl running next to me (remember…Di was A, I was B, Stacy was C, so we weren’t together at the top!) if I really just ran up Heartbreak Hill! She confirmed that I did, and when I saw Diana I screamed “WE JUST RAN HEARTBREAK HILL!!!!!”.

The last few miles of this race were miles of survival and getting to the finish. The downhills started to hurt far worse than the uphills because of the pounding on our already sore hamstrings.

We knew our families planned to be between mile 24 – 25, so we were on the look out. By this time of the race, we were hurting BAD. We were hurting so bad, we weren’t even talking anymore (that means it was BAD!). It was really a moment of thinking, “every step is one step closer”.

Mile 25, we saw our families and it was so exciting!!! We heard them yell and saw their excitement for us. We ran to them and got our high fives and the last bit of encouragement we needed.

ahhhhh hi!!!!

ahhhhh hi!!!!

I love our faces here. You can tell we were so tired, but so excited.

I love our faces here. You can tell we were so tired, but so excited.

We love you!

We love you!

The best support group!

The best support group!

After passing our cheerleaders, we had our eyes and minds on the finish.

We approached Boylston Street, and knew we were so close. The volume of the cheering on Boylston was incredible and I soaked in every step.

As we got closer to the finish, we veered towards the right side of the street and embraced our hands. We threw them up high in the air, and celebrated the finish exactly as we had planned.

The happiest photo.

The happiest photo.

The entire race went as planned and was one of the best experiences ever. For the first time ever, my running buddies and I all three ran a race together. And it was the best race we could’ve possibly run together.

I will be proud of this finish and celebrate this finish. I will hang my finish line medal in my home, and reflect on the amazing time we had during those 26.2 miles.

And I will run Boston again.

Xo,

Ali

 

Top 5 Moments of the Race

  1. Passing the Starting Line
  2. Wellesley
  3. Seeing Our Families
  4. Running 26.2 side by side with Stacy and Diana
  5. Crossing the most exciting and famous finish line in the world of marathons

 Splits:

  1. 8:31
  2. 8:33
  3. 8:38
  4. 8:20
  5. 8:48
  6. 8:23
  7. 8:35
  8. 8:41
  9. 8:21
  10. 8:32
  11. 8:37
  12. 8:35
  13. 8:40
  14. 8:48
  15. 8:45
  16. 8:32
  17. 8:53
  18. 9:02
  19. 9:07
  20. 9:10
  21. 9:47
  22. 8:53
  23. 9:07
  24. 9:33
  25. 9:14
  26. 9:43

 

More photos from the weekend (before the bombings)

The finish line on Saturday. I cried when I was taking this photo. So excited to be there.

The finish line on Saturday. I cried when I was taking this photo. So excited to be there.

14445 - my new lucky number.

14445 – my new lucky number.

:)

🙂

Excited!

Excited!

Glad they talked me into a jacket!

Glad they talked me into a jacket!

Cheers to us.

Cheers to us.

The whole group.

The whole group.

laying on the finish line. Dirty, but fun :)

laying on the finish line. Dirty, but fun 🙂

We did it!

We did it!

Mom and Dad.

Mom and Dad.

Gobbler Grind Half Marathon

19 Nov

Yesterday, I ran the Gobbler Grind half marathon. I have been trying to get creative with fitting in speed workouts and long runs these last few weeks of training (because I am getting a tad burnt out!), so I signed up for this half.

I wanted to use this race as a long run, and also as a trial run practicing the pace. All along I have been saying I wanted to break 3:30 for my next marathon. But lately I have been reevaluating my goal. Since I have been training so hard and so long, I decided that maybe a 3:25 could be doable.

The time goal for this race would be under 1:45, at a pace that felt comfortable and possible for 26.2.

This race was relatively small, but very well organized. The course was fun to run because it was in a very familiar area – right next to my office!! Parts of the run were on trails that I often use for my lunch time runs, so I knew what to expect. Although there were some big hills along the way, it wasn’t anything crazy. The water stops were well spread out and had a ton of volunteers helping at each. And even though 3/4 of the race was on the Indian Creek Trail, it never felt too congested.

Bundled up at the start! (I ended up being slightly overdressed….)

And they’re off!!

I tried to keep a 7:45 pace going for most of the race. I kept reminding myself that this race was a practice and that I had no reason to kill myself. When I would speed up to a pace that started feeling uncomfortable, I would quickly rein myself back in.

The goal was to be able to talk the entire time, which I practiced by telling all the runners “Good Job!” when I passed them. I also wanted to ensure I had minimal leg burn, so I knew I wasn’t pushing too hard. Sure, some of the hills hurt but nothing felt like something I couldn’t have continued after crossing the finish line.

It was a beautiful day out there!

Do I think I could’ve doubled this run yesterday and kept going at the same pace? No. But do I think I could with the proper taper and nutrition? Yep.

My splits for the race were as follows:

1. 7:48
2. 7:46
3. 7:48
4. 7:47
5. 7:52
6. 7:30
7. 7:37
8. 7:43
9. 7:40
10: 7:54 (HILLS)
11: 7:29
12: 7:55 (HILLS)
13: 7:39

Overall time: 1:41:11, ~7:42 pace
First place in my age group too!

This race was a great confidence boost for me. I had a really hard week of training last week, ate terrible the night before (mexican and margs!), but still felt great. It amazed me how easy this pace could feel, even though it sounds so scary.

After this trial run, I do believe that a 3:25 could be possible come race day 🙂

Any thoughts from the readers on what I could be capable of? I always love to hear ’em!

xoxo,

Ali

 

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