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Category: Race all 50 states

IMT Des Moines Half Marathon

On Sunday I ran the IMT Des Moines Half Marathon with my friend Jaime.  I can honestly say it was a great race!

My last race was the Disneyland Half Marathon in August.  It was that week after the race that I decided not to run anymore the Chicago Marathon.  Since then my running/training went downhill.  I went back to work and was staying there till 6pm and honestly the last thing I wanted to do was go out for a run.  I ran a couple of Saturdays with Lety but I wasn’t exactly training for a half marathon.

I began to panic as the race day got closer and almost backed out because I didn’t feel ready.  I then decided to just go for it.  I am so glad I did.

The race began at 8am.  It was 39 degrees at 7am and I decided to wear shorts, compression socks, and a long sleeve shirt underneath my Oiselle singlet.  Jaime and I left the hotel at 7:30am and headed over to the start line.  It was chilly but the walking warmed me up a little bit.  Once we got there, we took a few pictures, and waited for the race to begin.  My favorite part of the beginning of a race is the National Anthem.

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Finally it was time to run.  I had no time goal.  I wore my watch but set it to only show the distance.  I also wore my iPod.  I don’t remember the last time I wore them during a race and it felt good to hear some good tunes while running.

The first couple of miles went by fast.  There were a few hills but nothing too horrible.  It was gorgeous outside and I was warming up with the sun.  I wasn’t uncomfortable hot but just warm.

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We ran through two parks.  That was my favorite part of the course.  It was beautiful plus it was flat. Very peaceful too.  It was after running through the second park that my left side began to hurt..from the glutes to the calf.  I would run, walk, and repeat.

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I had passed the 10 mile marker when two male marathon runners passed me up.  Wow, they were speedy!

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The last two miles were back to downtown Des Moines.  Luckily it was not as hilly as the beginning of the race.

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Four more marathon runners passed me up.  I hurried on determined not to let the female marathon winner passed me up too.  But I just couldn’t with that darn pain.  Then I heard a siren and knew the female winner was behind me.  And she passed me up.  I knew I was close to the finish line but just could not see it.  There were so many people cheering for her but I pretended that it was all for me. Finally I saw the finish line and ran for it.  Finish time is 2:31:56 and yes I am very happy with it.

The best part was the post-party.  There was food and more food.  It was neverending.  There was water, gatorade, chocolate milk, pizza, cookies, protein bars, chips with nacho cheese, and sandwiches. Jaime and I talked about how we’ve never seen this much food at other races.  Hmm, not even at the very expensive Disney or Rock ‘n’ Roll races.

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I love the long sleeve shirt we got.  I am definitely keeping this one.

Overall it was a great race.  I enjoyed the course and the weather was gorgeous.  There were plenty of water stations and two Gu stations.  The spectators and volunteers were wonderful.  And let’s not forget all of the food after the race.  The medal was OK.

As for my glutes and calf?  I foam rolled at the hotel after the race and am feeling much better.  The pain could have been caused from the lacking of training/running or from wearing a new pair of Superfeet insoles.  Who knows?  All I know is that it doesn’t hurt anymore.

Next race is Princeton Half Marathon on November 2nd.  Can’t wait!

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December and Year in Review 2013

Happy New Year!!

In December I ran 142.39 miles compared to 104.65 in November.  December was the month where I ran the most miles.  Plus, according to my cool spreadsheet, I finally ran over 1,000 miles this year.

I signed up again for the Runner’s World Holiday Running Streak.  I wasn’t able to complete it last summer nor last winter but three times is a charm right?  I did it…but barely.  How hard can it be to run one mile per day?  Ha, it was definitely more work for me.  Or maybe I was just lazy? During the week the last thing I wanted to do was go to the gym for that mile.  Yeah, I guess I could have ran outside but this crazy weather was not helpful.  Well, with all complaints aside, I completed this streak and that is all that matters.

Total miles ran in 2013 was 1018.59 miles compared to 848.41 in 2012.

This year I ran 24 races.  14 of those races were Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon Races.  I PR’d in the ING Hartford Half Marathon and at the Community Bank of Elmhurst 4 on the 4th.

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My best race experiences were the ING Hartford Half Marathon and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon.  Other cool races were the Little Rock Half Marathon because I met Bart Yasso and the Manchester City Half Marathon because I met the lovely Kathrine Switzer.

Best medals I received were from the Mississippi Blues Half Marathon and the Little Rock Half Marathon.  I would love to go back to Little Rock to run the full marathon because the medal is as big as my face.

I ran in 19 states last year.  Also, I ran my 100th race in my sweet town Chicago!  I submitted this photo to Pavement Runner as one of The Best Photos of 2013 and he posted it on his blog!  There are other amazing photos so make sure to check it out.
 
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I ran in the Mizuno Wave Elixir but fell deeply in love with the Brooks PureFlow 2 and the PureConnect 2.  I love them so much that I’ve purchased several pairs from Running Warehouse. Are 8 pairs enough?

 
 
I discovered Huma Energy Gels but also found out about Gu Energy Gel in Salted Caramel thanks to Kim at (Just) Trying is for Little Girls.  Run with Jess had 12 Days of Christmas Giveaways and I won Day 12 which was an 8pk of Gu Energy Gels in Salted Caramel.  Yep, that made me very happy.
 

2013 was a frustrating year for me.  I could not even get close to a sub 2 half marathon (which was my goal in 2013) but I was also frustrated for being hard on myself and not being able to fully experience and enjoy each race.  However, after various pep talks from several people and a big change of attitude, I was no longer frustrated and instead made the best of each race.  I loved traveling to each state and look forward to many more this year.

Follow my journey as I travel to run in more states, each RunDisney Half Marathon, and a 50K all in 2014.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon

Done, state #29 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

This was my last race in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series.  Last year I bought a TourPass which gave me “free” registration to their races this year.  I ran almost each one and the TourPass was the best deal ever!  I know it is being offered again for next year but now you have to pay a $7 processing fee for each race.

I got into Las Vegas after 4pm and my friend, DB, picked me up at the airport.  DB is a Swirlgear Ambassador and I met her this summer at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon.  From the airport she dropped me off at the convention center to pick up my bib.  Her daughter was with her and since they had already been to the convention center, DB told me that she would wait for me.

Once I got to the front of the line, I was told that my packet was on the 2nd floor.  I did not but went upstairs.  Imagine my surprise when I found out I had VIP status. Apparently I’ve ran 15 or more RnR races.  I got a backpack with more goodies inside, a wristband that gave me access to the VIP lounge before and after the race, and champagne to enjoy.  Amazing!

Fast forward to race day.  The VIP lounge was amazing!  Food and more food was everywhere.  Plus, there was water, coffee, and a bunch of other stuff.  I did have to go to the bathroom and did not have to wait long.  Score!  Before I knew it, it was time to head over to the start line.

It took me 10 minutes to cross the start line.  There was so much energy and excitement around me. Everyone was pumped up for the race.  I took it easy because I had stomach issues.  The first mile was not exciting because we ran away from the strip.  But once we got to the strip everything changed.  It was already dark but the lights along the strip were just breathtaking.  There were so many supporters along the route.  It felt amazing knowing that the strip was closed to traffic but open to us runners.

Miles 7-9 took us away from the strip.  I did not like that at all because it was dark, boring, and no spectators at all.  I paid close attention to where I was running to make sure I did not trip.  It did go by fast because then we were back on the strip towards the finish line.

The last 3 miles were difficult for me.  I would run and walk.  I was not sure what was going on because I was fine up until mile 10.  Somehow I got some energy and made it to the finish line for a finish time of 2:27:16.  There were so many people cheering there and I felt so happy but sad at the same time.  Despite how I had been feeling the last three miles, I was sad because it was my last RnR for the year.  This year had been amazing with so many wonderful races.

Once I was done my next stop was the VIP lounge at Serendipity 3.  I knew it was by Caesar’s Palace but getting out of the secure zone was a hassle.  Finally I found the place and the food was ever better than what was offered before the race.  I wasn’t too hungry but ate some pizza and drank a beer.  I chatted with a few folks and left about an hour later because I was cold and tired.  The walk back to the hotel was NOT fun at all.  It was about 2 miles to the Luxor and there were so many people out there.  I received compliments on my socks and someone asked me if I had won the race. When I told him that I didn’t, he told me that maybe next time.

This is the best RnR race I’ve ever ran and would definitely run it again!!  This race should be on everyone’s list.  A few things I would do different:

  • Arrive early to take advantage of the expo
  • Check into hotel early to avoid risk of hotel not having non-smoking rooms available
  • Do better job to hydrate and eat properly prior to race
  • Stay at a hotel halfway between start and finish line
  • Go see a Cirque du Soleil show

Again, every runner MUST do this race.  I promise you will have a wonderful time!!

This race was my 49th half marathon.  Now I am on a mission to run a race possibly next month in Chicago for my 50th half marathon.  If I don’t, then my next half marathon will be in January for the Goofy Challenge.

Manchester City Half Marathon

Done with state #28 in NH!

I will admit that the course description scared me.  It is described as “hilly, challenging, and scenic”.  I almost backed out but am glad that I did in fact run this race.

The expo was really small.  The highlight of it was meeting Kathrine Switzer.  She is so friendly and down to earth.  She hugged me and I felt like we’ve known each other for years.  I bought one of her books and can’t wait to read it.

The race began at 8:50am.  I woke up at my normal time of 6am.  I tried going back to sleep but couldn’t.  I went downstairs to get coffee and began getting ready.  The weather was  41 degrees and I was not sure whether to wear pants or a skirt.  I decided to go with the skirt and my ProCompression socks.

It was windy and cold and I almost regretted not wearing pants.  I got in line to use the bathroom and made it to the start line with one minute to go.

The course is exactly as mentioned on the website: hilly, challenging and scenic.  Beautiful course!  I love running during the fall because of all of the colors.  There were plenty of water stations and they were not crowded at all.  There were some places with a lot of crowd support.  There were houses in which families were gathered outside having their own little gathering and cheering for the runners.  And yes it was hilly and challenging!  My legs were screaming at me to stop!  I took some walk breaks, especially during the hills.  There was just no way I could run up all of them.

My finish time is 2:25:57.  I am very happy with it because the course was not easy.  The weather helped too.

Next race is Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas which will be by 29th state.  Plus, it will be my 49th half marathon.  After Las Vegas my next race is the Goofy Challenge in FL.  But you know for sure I will be planning a 50th half marathon in my hometown, Chicago.

Rock ‘n’ Roll St. Louis Half Marathon

Whew!  Done with state #27!

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Last week I was supposed to run in Denver but a few days before the race I decided not to go.  I was tired and my mother was going back to Mexico and I wanted to spend more time with her.

I arrived in St. Louis at 10am and got on the MetroLink to get to the hotel.  Once I was settled in I made my way to the expo at the Convention Center to pick up my bib.  I like the shirt a lot  but my favorite part were the two Chipotle cards I picked up.

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Back of shirt.

After the expo I went to the Gateway Arch.  It was a beautiful afternoon and I sat down and relaxed for a bit.

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Nothing to do with the Arch but I thought it was pretty neat.

Race day came and I was up at 5:40 am.  I got ready, made coffee, ate my ClifBar, and was out the door by 6:30am.   It was COLD!!  I know I am from Chicago but it’s been a while since I’ve ran in 28 degree weather.  I had a Nike longsleeve shirt/jacket underneath my Swirlgear shirt, capri pants, and gloves.

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Why couldn’t it be 41 degrees at 7am?!?!

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There were hills and downhills.  I don’t look at the elevation map anymore before a race because I know there will be hills.  I just mentally prepare myself for them.  I liked the course.  We ran through some nice parts of St. Louis.  However, my favorite part was after Mile 9.  The area and homes were just gorgeous.  I never take any pictures along the course but wish I did.  I read other race recaps full of pictures and I get jealous.

Throughout the course I like reading the spectators’ signs.  I don’t get tired of reading them except one: “Worst Parade Ever”.  For some reason that one really annoys me.  My favorite ones I saw today: “You’re Running Better Than the Government” and something along the lines of “Forget This Race and Let’s Grab a Beer”.  Both signs made me laugh.  Oh, and the latter sign was at mile 12.

The weather did get better along the way.  I was still cold but not as cold as in the morning.  The sun did help but there were some shaded area and that’s when I was cold again.  On the plus side there was no wind at all.

My finish time?  I am really happy with my time.   I did not wear my watch.  Instead, I used my Nike + app on my phone and then once the race began I put it away in my Fitletic belt.  I am glad I did because I have a bad habit of constantly checking my pace and time.

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Downhill and uphill before the finish line.
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Another uphill and downhill to the finish line.

Next race is Manchester City Half Marathon on November 3rd.  According to the website, the course is hilly and challenging with perfect running weather.  The best part of the race is that the VIP is Kathrine Switzer.  She is best known for being the first woman to officially enter the Boston Marathon only to be physically assaulted by the race director.  That did not stop her and she continued with the race.   And it did not end there.  She went on to run 39 marathons and won the New York City Marathon in 1974.  Such an inspiring woman!