August Race Recaps Round 2 – Gaspin’ in the Aspen!

First Gaspin’ in the Aspen for this girl. Very first 15K, too. For the record ~ I was very nervous!

Packet pickup ran smoothly outside of Kickstand Kafe last night. The technical Adidas shirt in a women’s cut is just awesome! Here is a quick pick of the race’s logo on the front…

AspenShirt

I woke up to my alarm at 6:00 after a miserable night’s sleep: mishaps with the covers and our neighbor’s crazy dog. Last minute decisions about what to wear for the race were made (long sleeves? arm sleeves? water belt? hand held bottle?). I drank a cup of coffee and packed a cup for after the race, ate a slice of toast with PB&J, and we were on the road by 7:20 for an 8:00 start. Our IPhones said the weather was supposed to be sunny, but that wasn’t the case. It was cool, crisp, and overcast. To me that is perfect Flagstaff running weather.

Local High School students helped us with parking at the Flagstaff Nordic Center. I put on sunscreen, took a trip to the port-a-potty, and then made my way over to the start. Everyone was warming up, or jumping up and down trying to stay warm.

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Ian Torrence, our race director who did a bang-up job, made a few announcements right before the race and we were off!

AspenStart1

The 5K split from the 15K right away. The trails were varied: wide, narrow single track, tire tracks, grassy, rocky, smooth… but all were very well marked throughout the course. We had three large hills to charge through and they did not disappoint. “Gaspin’” is right! Not only were the hills no joke, but the race started at 7,976 feet according to my Garmin and peaked at 8,319 feet. I can only imagine how it would have felt for an out-of-towner to have to climb 684 total feet at that elevation! I know how I felt! Running down those hills made me feel like I could fly…

AspenElevation

The race was peaceful – runners around me, but not crowded. I love that about trail racing: solitude, quiet, and peace. There were 4 aid stations with folks handing out Gatorade and water. The volunteers were cheerful and prepared.

At one point in the race a girl who had passed me only a few minutes earlier took a wrong turn. I stopped and a few of us shouted to her to come back. Thankfully she wasn’t wearing earphones and she heard us and turned around. Crisis averted! Right around that time I met a friendly woman named Corine who writes the blog Zucchini Runner. She stopped here and there to take pictures. I’ll be looking for them on her blog!

Nearing 2-3 miles left in the race we came to a place in the course that this race must be named after. My friend Stephanie took this picture (I will NOT be shy about bringing my camera next year!)…

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Running through this thicket of Aspens was enough to take my breath away. The race started us off in the pines, and there were Aspens scattered throughout the course (lots of them in some areas). This place in the race, however, was unlike any other. Stunning.

With about a half a mile left Stephanie and I fell into stride with one another. All of her picture taking had put her behind me ~ heaven knows she’s much faster! As the trail wound around and the finish line came into sight we both began to speed up. Soon enough we realized that we were both pushing hard and trying not to let the other pass. I heard her say, “Let’s Go!” and we both ran full out for the remainder of the race. The crowd at the finish was super supportive and cheered for us as we came through.

I felt like a little kid again!

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(How cool is the slideshow insert? I haven’t tried that before now!)

As we crossed the finish line we were handed an awesome Nathan water bottle with the Gaspin’ in the Aspen logo on it.

AspenGoodies2In addition to happy post-race chatter the food tent had bagels, fruit, soda, Gatorade, water, and hot pre-purchased breakfast burritos plus coffee from Kickstand Kafe, I had a chance to chat a little with Cristy, a few of my other Team Run Flagstaff buddies, and one of the Step Into Running participants who was also there running the 10K.

My conclusion? It was a fantastic, beautiful, community-filled morning. When Glenn sent me the pics he took on his phone it made my heart swell. I am so blessed to have a husband who came to support me. I am so blessed to have friends at these events of all shapes, sizes, ages, and speeds to share these experiences with race after race.

The Run Flagstaff Summer Series was worth it ~ I look forward to next year!

Did anybody else race today? How did it go?

Do you listen to music while you run on trails (if you run on trails)?

Breakfast burrito or bagel?

 

August Race Recaps – Round 1!

One might think that three running events in one month would start to take the excitement out of racing.

Not a chance.

The Machine Solution Run and Walk for Kids 10K took place on a beautiful Flagstaff morning. The air had a slight chill to it, the sun was peeking out from behind the clouds, and the monsoon rains had dampened the course just enough that we weren’t kicking up too much dust…

I drove down to Fort Tuthill that morning and had some time to myself. I would choose to have family there to cheer me on at a race over being there alone ~ but I didn’t mind it quite as much as I thought I would. There are so many familiar faces at Flagstaff races for me now and I feel at home and supported even when I’m on my own.

As always, FREE downloadable photos of the race…

MachineSolutions10K

Fast forward (however slightly) to this Saturday for the Dave McKay Memorial Big Brothers Big Sisters of Flagstaff Half Marathon… this race pulled out all the stops! Packet pick-up on Thursday afternoon at our awesome running store, Run Flagstaff, went off without a hitch. On Friday night runners could pick up their packets at the free spaghetti (‘carbo load’) dinner down at Thorpe Park. I didn’t attend the dinner, but I probably will next year!

The Half Marathon walkers started at 6:00 AM ~ I was able to see a pic of their happy faces on Facebook when I was getting ready at home ~ and the runners started at 7:30…

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At 7:29:50 AM the race director began a “10! 9! 8!…” countdown and at 7:30 AM we were off!

As you can see, we went nothing but up-Up-UP for the first 7.5 miles!

BBBSHM_2014Elevation

The course was well-marked with cheerfully-manned aid stations throughout. Volunteers were handing out water, Gatorade, and encouragement. Others were there to mark down racers’ numbers to be sure we made it safely through the course.This picture doesn’t quite capture the beauty of the view we enjoyed when we got to the Observatory Mesa… but I’m not sure any picture could…

Photo from NATRA on FB

Photo from NATRA on FB

Glenn caught me coming off of the trails and heading to the finish line…

BBBSHM_2014_Glenn2Still happy after 13.1 tough miles?

Of course!

Photo courtesy of NATRA! You guys and gals ROCK!

Photo courtesy of NATRA! You guys and gals ROCK!

Personal Results… 16th out of 35 in my age group with a time of 2:09:06. I am thrilled with that time (2nd fastest ever for me) and pace for my first half marathon in Flagstaff at elevation and my first half marathon on a trail (with 785 feet of elevation gain!).

More to come about my thoughts before, during and after the race…

Did you race this weekend?

How do you recover from longer races? Do you run the day after? Do you take a few days off?

What’s your favorite night-before-the-big-race meal?

 

 

Running News ~ Going for it!

How is your running/exercising/activity level going? For many this is a tough time of the year because of the heat and humidity. If I get out early it’s good because the temperature hasn’t risen (nor has the sun risen too high in the sky quite yet). Sometimes my schedule demands an afternoon run and I have to hope that the monsoon rains haven’t started yet because they can be unpredictably fierce.

On Friday I did my long run out on Lake Mary Road. I had Glenn take my picture because I was wearing my “I Run 4 Jenna” shirt and I’m rooting for Tim Boyle to be on the cover of Runners World Magazine. I know that whoever wins is going to make for a GREAT story… but my heart is with Tim on this one!

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There were some runs before Friday’s… I ran again yesterday, too. Monday’s run, however, was really wonderful. I headed up a dirt road near my house and ran near the Observatory Mesa. I enjoyed beautiful, peaceful surroundings, a gorgeous view, and quite a climb! I had one of those moments when I was heading back down the hill, looking at the San Francisco Peaks where I just put my arms out like they were wings and felt like I could fly…

Tuesday it was time to head to the track for our TRF speed workout. Tuesday’s workout was 3 fartlek intervals of 3 min – 2 min – 1 min with 2 minutes of recovery (recovery, slower-paced running) throughout. I was greeted with a beautiful sky…

 

Today, since I took the day off of running, I thought I’d do three things:

#1 – Try not to panic that I have THREE races this month! All of them are trail races. One of them is a Half Marathon that my email says is “considered one of the most scenic and challenging Half Marathons in the Southwest!” One of them is called “Gaspin’ in the Aspen” and in a mountain town at 7,000 feet that can only mean one thing!

#2 – Sign up for my one and only marathon for 2014. Tucson Marathon here I come!

#3 – Sign up for my VERY FIRST Ultra! The Pemberton Trail 50K is on Valentine’s Day 2015. Do I panic now? No way (well maybe a little)! I am SO INCREDIBLY excited to start this journey! Running all of the trails around Flagstaff will be a must ~ and I can’t wait to share all of my training here. So much to learn…

Now I leave you with a funny I saw online on Facebook or Instagram (@nowirun)! Props to Runners World for getting this one right…

photoIs there anything you’re planning on doing that you never thought you’d EVER do? When I was in college playing basketball we had to run 4 miles in 35 minutes (and repeat the run if we didn’t make the time cutoff) during preseason. It took me two tries and I barely made it on my second try. There is no way on God’s Green Earth that I ever imagined running more than 30!

What’s your go-to fuel on a long run?

Random Question of the Day: What’s your favorite summer fruit?