Monday, December 28, 2015

Maratón Powerade Monterrey - A Tale of 3 Marathons (Part I)

In the 'Zona de Recuperacion' after Maraton Powerade Monterrey

I decided to break this post into 2 parts, because every time I sit down to write about the race, I start penning a novel. (I guess that's what happens when you only write 3-4 blog posts a year) 

Last Sunday I finally reached my goal of breaking 5 hours in the marathon. This was my third shot at the distance, and I've learned so much about proper training since my first attempt in March of 2013.

The first time around, I finished in 5:42 and was really bummed about it. I thought I would finish closer to 5 hours, even though most of my longer training runs were around 12-13 minute mile pace or slower. I had a handful of friends who had run the distance, and I googled their finish times (like a psycho) to get an idea of when I might finish. They all finished under 5 hours (or only slightly above) so I thought I could too.

Lala Marathon, March 2013

I probably could have run that first race in around 5 hours if I had trained properly, but I didn't have a clue what I was doing. In hindsight, I hadn't built a solid base before increasing mileage, and as a result, I couldn't get all the weekday runs in that I was supposed to because I needed more time off to recover from my long runs.

In 2014, I came a little closer and finished LaLa in 5:14. Although I had completed a lot more of the training runs I was supposed to, I still hit the wall really hard at mile 21 and had to walk a lot near the end.
Lala 2014

This time around, I didn't want to leave anything to chance and hired a running coach. Based on my finish times at shorter distances, there was no reason I shouldn't be able to run a marathon in under 5 hours.

I started e-training with Coach Bob from RunningQuest in June, slowly building a base before I even attempted training for 26.2 This was necessary since I had surgery in April and had to gradually ease back into running.

I think that's one of the main reasons training and the race went so well this time around. I finished in 4:48:29, shaving 26 minutes off my 2014 time and nearly an hour off my 2013 time. If I were going to give just one piece of advice to anyone training for a marathon, that would be it: build a solid base first!

Increasing mileage too quickly leads to injury, which I learned the hard way last year when I had to drop out of a scheduled marathon and take 5 weeks off to recover from what the doctor here said was tendonitis.

I made it through this training cycle injury free, only skipping a few runs here and there when I got sick.

During the race, I kept waiting to "hit the wall," but it just never happened! I actually felt better in the second half of the race than the first. My fastest mile was 21, which I ran in 10:18. The last 10k was still hard, but I never felt like I had to stop and walk. I only did when I needed to take in fuel (I used Sports Beans) and hydrate.

Even as I'm writing this 5 days later, I feel fine. I was really sore in the quads for two days, but after some foam rolling and stretching, I'm almost back to normal. After the last two marathons, I was sore for a week and took the elevator at work instead of the stairs. This time around I was back on stairs in 3 days.

So what's next? I know I will run a marathon again in the future someday, but for now, I feel like I finally have a marathon time that I'm proud of and that reflects my overall fitness. It feels very strange not having a goal race on the horizon for 2016, but my husband and I plan to start a family this year so I am only running to maintain fitness for now. (I hope he's okay with me sharing that with the world, Lol.)

I have a few folks to thank before I hit the publish button. First of all, my husband, for putting up with an always hungry and often cranky, tired wife in training. Secondly, Coach Bob at Running Quest, who got me to the finish line without injury and with a 26 minute PR, and finally, my running buddies here in Torreon, who helped motivate me to drag my butt out of bed at 4:30 am many mornings this Fall. They made training a lot more fun :)
Yay for running buddies! (Jennifer & Erin) 

I'll post again about the actual race itself, but for now, I'm off to eat all the things. I still have the munchies 5 days after the fact ;) 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Esprit de She 5k 50th & France Race Recap

One of the free race photos :)

I signed up for the Esprit de She 5k on 50th & France for the same reason I've signed up for races in the past: cute shirts! The race shirts were MPG women's cut performance tanks. 

That and the fact that there would be champagne at the finish sounded really fun. Mexico hasn't really caught onto the whole booze-at-the-finish phenomenon yet. I also got married on July 17th, so having a race on the calendar shortly after would ensure I stayed consistent with running over the summer. 

I tried to talk all of my bridesmaids into running this race with me, because I thought it would be fun to wear matching shirts and possibly tutus, but my sister is the only one that took the bait. She had run a 5k before, but in October, and if you ask her, this race was a lot of fun, except for the part where we actually had to run. Her face in this finish line photo says it all: 

"Taryn, I hate you" 

Overall this race was a blast and I'd highly recommend it, if only for the after party and swag. The price was a little steep for a 5k, but the post-race food, swag, "Bubbly Bar" and free race photos more than made up for the $45 registration fee. I was really impressed with all of the freebies we got. 
 Nat posing with her kale chicken salad and swag bag 

So many freebies! 

They also provided a free shuttle to the start from Southdale Mall, which was a brilliant idea, since parking is limited near 50th and France, and we got an extra drink ticket for riding the shuttle. Score!
Free Shuttle from Southdale 

I dressed up as a "Runaway Bride" and got a special shout-out from the announcer at the finish line along with many wishes of congratulations from fellow runners. 

After the race was over and my sister recovered (she's not a fan of running in the heat) we headed to the Bubbly Bar first for our free champagne. They also had red or white wine. 


After a glass of bubbly, we decided we should probably go back and check out the food at the "Food Lounge and Lifestyle Market." That's where all the freebies were. We got canvas Target bags stuffed with coupons, free product samples, chapstick, etc. They also had free Kale chicken salad (which was delicious) yogurt, organic tomatoes, luna bars, etc. 

Free food 
(I don't eat meat and gave my sister the chicken) 

After getting something to eat, we want back to the Bubbly Bar for our second (and third, for me) glass of champagne. My sister and I sat on the ground, sipping champagne and digging through our goodie bags :) 
Chapstick! (We're easily impressed) 

What a fun race and after party! My only complaint would be the narrow path though the park that created a "runner jam" when the lead runners were finishing. My sister and I were in the last wave of runners, which was huge, and one of the lead runners nearly fell off the path as she was flying down the hill because it was so crowded. They could fix that for next year. 

Esprit de She has lots of other running/athletic events in several cities, so check out their website to see if there's an event near you. I would definitely sign up for another one. 

There's one coming up in Maple Grove, MN on September 17th that I would totally sign up for if I was in town. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Rock 'n' Roll Mexico City Half Marathon

What an awesome weekend! Rock 'n' Roll Mexico City was sort of a "consolation race" after I realized I couldn't run the local marathon (Maratón Lala) this year, but it all worked out for the best because not only was it a super fun race, but I finally got to meet two of my fiancé's good friends who live there, one of whom is a groomsmen in our wedding. It also worked out perfectly that we had Monday off of school for Benito Juarez Day, so I didn't have to take a day off of work.

The race was on Sunday night at 6:30 pm. We arrived from Torreón late Friday night, as our flight was delayed several hours (normal for Viva Aerobus) so we had dinner at a little burger joint in the Condessa area and then went back to Miguel's apartment to crash.

On Saturday morning we went to the expo fairly early to avoid the crowds. We got our packets and T- shirts right away and went to look around, but to be perfectly honest, it wasn't the greatest expo I've been to. They had some cute gear, but imported brands like Asics and Saucony are so ridiculously expensive here. I did end up buying a Flip Belt and some Zensah Compression socks, but I decided I could wait for Spring Break if I needed anything else, since I'm going back to Minnesota for a week. Everything is so much cheaper in the States. 

Saturday night we had dinner with some of my fiancé's friends and I ended up drinking a fair amount of wine, but I had all day Sunday to hydrate, right? Normally I wouldn't drink at all the night before a race. 

It was a little odd planning around an evening start time. We weren't really sure what to do with ourselves Sunday. We ended up having a late lunch around 3pm, which worked out fine as we had 3+ hours to digest before running. Luis tried to talk Miguel and me out of running so we could relax and drink beers all afternoon, and I have to admit it was really tempting. It was a cold and rainy afternoon, and I have become such a wimp living in warm, sunny Torreón the past 3.5 years. But we stuck to our guns and split up with the group. 

Miguel and I headed to the Hipodromo around 4pm, were parked by 4:30 pm, and had 2 hours to change and bum around until the race started.

It was a little chilly when we arrived, but the sun was out at first, so it didn't feel that cold. As 6:30 approached, however, clouds covered the sun and the temp started to drop. After I dropped off my sweats, I had to keep moving to stay warm.
WiFi/Charging Station. Genius

We stayed in the Wi-Fi/Phone-charging area to juice up my phone (best idea ever, by the way) and chatted with a guy from San Diego who had flown down for the race. Wasn't he nervous about running at 7,000+ feet, we asked? He said no, but I was freaking out. I'd never run at high altitude (Torreón is 3,670 ft) and felt winded just going up the stairs to Miguel's 3rd floor apartment. I envisioned either walking a good portion of the race and/or passing out from the altitude.

I planned on taking it easy, as I had no idea how my body would react to the altitude, but I secretly hoped to finish in under 2:30. (My fastest time is 2:10, at low elevation.)

When it was time to line up in our corral, I was so cold that my teeth were chattering uncontrollably. I just wanted to start running so I could warm up, but we were in one of the later corrals and it was a wave start.

The muddy start line (and finish) 

Finally it was our turn, and I started to jog through the muck. As soon as I started running, I warmed up, but the Flip Belt I purchased at the expo was pretty tight and squeezing my bladder. All I could think about the first mile or so was going to the bathroom.

Luckily I spotted a Burger King around 2k and I decided to go for it rather than be miserable for the rest of the race. I normally wouldn't stop go to the bathroom during a half, but I had been hydrating all day and maybe overdid it a little.

I felt so much better afterwards and could finally start enjoying the race. The stretch along Reforma was really cool, especially the Angel Statue which was all lit up. I stopped to take a ton of pictures in this section.

There was a turn-around after the angel, and the course started to go uphill. I definitely felt more winded than I usually do while running, but not so much that I had to stop. I picked up the pace a little and was able to maintain it until the end (about 10:42 min/mile) in spite of a few hills. I was feeling good.

The race finished back at the Hipodromo where there was an after party with live bands and beer.  We got a lot stuff at the end; the pizza and mylar blanket were especially appreciated. Food at the finish line is the way to my heart, and the mylar blanket actually kept me toasty warm until I was able to pick up my sweats. 

Pretty stoked about finishing in 2:20 when I thought I might end up in a medical tent instead due to altitude sickness ;)

I skipped the beer & concert part (I was feeling pretty nauseated at this point, probably from the elevation) but I'm sure it was appreciated by the rest of the 10,000 fellow runners. Overall I was really impressed with how everything was run. It was well-organized and we got lots of good stuff, like not only a tech shirt but a finishers' Tee. The only thing that wasn't so great was the Rock 'n' Roll merchandise, or lack thereof. I guess for licensing/tax reasons they couldn't sell much of the official RNR gear. I kept seeing people walking around with sweet jackets from other RNR races like San Diego, but there wasn't much available for purchase at the expo.

Oh well, just another reason to sign up for a RNR event in the States, which I plan to do. It was an awesome "racecation" and I'd drop the cash for it all over again.

I have my sights set on RNR Merida in October and RNR San Antonio in December, but we'll see how the injury heals in the coming months. I've learned my lesson about signing up for races too far in advance.

P.S. On Monday, before we flew back home, we went to the Zócalo to get some artsy medal shots, and we ran into Bill and Justin, who had run the DC2MX Capital City Challenge, meaning they ran Rock 'n' Roll DC Saturday morning, then flew down to Mexico City to run the Rock 'n' Roll half the next evening. They were sight-seeing and chatting with us like it was nothing. Justin had run the 5k AND full marathon in DC before the Mexico City race. I was really impressed that he was still walking. Runners continually amaze me. I love meeting folks who are even more crazy about this sport than I am. Great job Bill & Justin and all the other #DC2MX runners! Maybe I'll take on a similar challenge someday :)
New Runner friends :) 

With our medals at Palacio Bellas Artes, which unfortunately we didn't have time to tour. Next time!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Mapimi Puente de Ojuela 10k Recap

I wasn't sure I wanted to write a recap for this race, since it was my slowest 10k ever and probably one of the most awful races I've ever run. There was also an embarrassing incident where I thought I received 3rd place in my Age Group, but was mistaken. (The award was for "Sharon Lee", not "Taryn Lee." What are the chances?) 

In hindsight, this was not the smartest choice of race for someone nursing an injury, but at least the view was gorgeous.  

The days leading up to the race I was thinking, oh, it's "just" a 10k, but I didn't factor in that we would park outside of Mapimi, the little pueblo where the race started, and then run almost 2 miles to the start. We got there with about 25 minutes until the race began, and my coworkers, one who is an elite marathoner, and the other who is training for his first ultra, raced ahead of me.  When I finally got to the start, I had about 5 minutes to drop my bag off and head to the bathroom (I had downed water and coffee during the 45 minute drive to the race) 

In the bathroom I lathered my hands up with soap only to find that water wasn't coming out of the sink. So I grabbed a bunch of paper towels from the bathroom attendant, tried to smear off as much as I could, and ran over to the start, just as the gun was going off, sticky soap hands and all. 

Despite the hectic start, I enjoyed the first half of the race. The scenery was beautiful and I was snapping lots of pictures and enjoying the company. Several runners were dressed in costume (including a pink fairy and lucha libre guy) which always makes me chuckle. 

When we got to about mile 4, the pavement started getting worse (lots of holes and rocks) and the gradual incline began. It was also getting really hot. (Whoever decided that black, long sleeve T-shirts were a good idea for this race made a poor decision.) I was roasting. However, I was still enjoying the scenery and the fact that I was running somewhere other than loops in my neighborhood. 

Then we got to the REAL uphill portion of the race that was on this horrible concrete/rock combination of ground. I would have had to stop and walk anyway because of how steep the hill was, but I walked more than I normally would have because of that blasted concrete. It had to be pretty much the worst scenario possible for an injured runner trying to take it easy.

I also was grossly unprepared, as I haven't done ANY hill training since the doc told me to stay on flat ground in early November. I also have been logging only 12 mile weeks, 2 runs per week. I want to be able to run the Rock 'n' Roll half, but I don't want to do further damage to my tendon/shin/ankle/whatever it is, so I've been doing very minimal running and trying to cross train instead. 

So I walked probably the last 2 miles of the race with some intermittent jogging when I felt up to it, the whole time thinking "this is the worst possible race I could have chosen to start out with this year." 

After an hour and 22 minutes (also known as my slowest 10k ever) the torture was over, and they handed out free gorditas at the finish - score! I found Roger, Tim and Javi, wolfed down 4 gorditas, snapped some pics and waited until it was time for the awards, as Tim, not surprisingly, took 1st place. (He's wicked fast)

Free Gorditas! 

Javi, Roger, me & Tim

At one point during the age group awards, I swear I heard the announcer call my name. "Taryn Lee, Estados Unidos." No one came up to the podium, so I went up there, and just when I was about to ask to see the paper she was holding to make sure, she grabbed my arm and hoisted me up with the other age group winners. There weren't a lot of female runners, so I figured there must not have been many people in my age group. It seemed probable. They handed me an envelope with 500 pesos, and suddenly I was in a much better mood. 

Tim won first place overall (for reals) 

We drove home to Torreon, everyone sharing a good laugh over the look of shock on my face when I received what I thought was my Age Group award. When the race results were posted, I was curious to see just how many runners were in my age group. (I figured three) It turns out there was a "Sharon Lee" who got 3rd in our age group, not me. I had actually gotten 10th. 

I felt like a complete idiot. I was fully prepared to accept that there were only 3 women in my age group, I was not prepared to hear that I mistakenly took someone else's prize money. So Sharon Lee, wherever you are, I'm sorry I accidentally took your money. I plan on donating it to charity. 

Many lessons were learned at this race. First of all, don't sign up for a hilly race when you're injured. Secondly, check to make sure it's actually YOU when receiving an Age Group award. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

I may have jumped the gun...

I feel a little silly starting a running blog when I haven't been doing much running as of late. I realized this week that a month off might not have been enough. The tendonitis/ankle pain was back in full force after an easy 4 miler on Saturday, so my break from running may be longer than anticipated. 
Gorgeous & sunny Sunday run with Ellie 
(Unfortunately my ankle wasn't a fan) 

I'm not sure what to do now. I don't want to keep running on it and make it worse, but I'm signed up for the Rock n Roll Mexico City Half Marathon on March 15th and paid $75.00 for it, which is über expensive by Mexico standards. (The most I've ever paid for a race here is a little over 400 pesos, which is like 30 bucks.) I also don't want to drop out of yet another scheduled race. I realized last month I couldn't  do the Lala Marathon, so I was looking forward to running this one instead.

I think I'm just going to have to take it a day at time, and replace runs with cross training as much as possible. It's just really hard to give it up completely. Running has become such a huge part of my life now

My new friend the stationary bike. 
P.S. How fun is the Fitsnap app?

I did get a quick 3 miler in last night. I wore my new PRO Compression sleeves for the first time, which I initially thought  were super tight and I wondered if I needed to size up. But they were perfect for my ankle; I didn't have any pain during the run. This gives me some hope that I can keep running. Vamos a ver. (We will see) 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

New Year, New Shoes

This feels like a betrayal to the Brooks Pure Flows that have served me well for 2+ years and 2 marathons, but after dealing with recurring injuries this fall, I'm switching from a minimalist shoe to a stability shoe.

I read Christopher McDougall's Born to Run in 2012 which convinced me to A. Sign up for a marathon, and B. Try a minimalist shoe. (By the way if you haven't read it yet, it's my favorite running book of all time.) I love the Brooks Pure Flow and I credit the shoe with turning me into a midfoot/forefoot striker.

But starting this October, I've had this annoying knee/ankle pain and inflammation that doesn't seem to be going away. I took the month of December off of running and I plan to slowly ease back into it. Even though I know that a running shoe alone won't solve all my problems, I think it might help. Recent race photos seem to indicate that I'm landing on the outside of my foot when I run, like in this photo from a 10k in November.

Gran Maratón Pacífico 10k in Mazatlán 

I also plan to incorporate some hip/glute strengthening exercises into my routine, because I suspect my IT band and hips have something to do with it.

The guy at the running store gave me stability models to try from Brooks and Saucony, but the Mizuno Wave Rider 18 felt like it was made for my foot. I have a good feeling about these shoes and am really excited to try them out. So far I've only taken them grocery shopping.

Aren't they pretty? I'm in love :)
I'll let you know how it goes.
P.S. My fiancé would like everyone to know that he is the one who originally suggested Mizunos.