Save 15% when you purchase by clicking on this banner!

Save 15% when you purchase by clicking on this banner!
Save 15% when you purchase by clicking on this banner and entering code AMB-bee4a78d!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Timp Trail Half Marathon.

Usually when I have a 20 mile run on my schedule, I would just sign up for a marathon, but with only 5 marathons left to my 100th marathon/ultra, I cannot add another marathon to my schedule if I want Arkansas Traveler 100 to be my 100th (which I do).

On Friday, I heard about the Timp Trail Marathon and Half Marathon. The description of the marathon said that if you run a 3:30 marathon, plan on running a 5:00-6:00 hour marathon on this course. I decided a difficult trail half marathon would still give me the time on my feet that a 20 mile road run would (3 hours on the road or trail is still 3 hours).

I rushed online to register, but the online registration had already closed. Thanks to Facebook, I was able to connect with the RD and he allowed me to register at the packet pick up.

I headed out to Orem Friday afternoon to the packet pick up and got registered. I asked the lady who registered me all the vital information (where the start was, what time the race started, etc.)

She told me the race started in Provo Canyon at 6:00am sharp, so I woke up at 4:00am and made sure I found the start without any issues. I hit the restroom, checked in (they wanted to make sure who was on the course) and before we knew it we were off!

All ready to hit the trail!

 The course was challenging from the get go. We started the steep climb up the mountain immediately. I had very little for breakfast as there were only 2 aid stations on the half course and the first one wasn't until mile 6. I did not want to have and unexpected restroom break that comes with eating too much before the race. This was a mistake.

Starting to climb from the start!

Not even a mile in I started to feel dizzy. My eyes were watering and I could hardly see. I started to worry a little. I stepped off the trial to let others pass me and took the only GU I had in my pack. After I took the GU, I felt much better and continued on the trail.

The course was stunning!

Thank goodness for a little flat section!

Feeling good now, I started to feel my legs and was running pretty strong. We climbed a bit more and the views were spectacular. 

I love this time of year when everything is so green.

At mile 6, we hit the first aid station. I stocked up on Swedish Fish and gummy bears and started another climb.

This climb was just the beginning of what was to come!

At mile 8 we hit the marathon and half marathon split. I had been talking to some girls on the trial and as I turned off, they called to me and told me I was going the wrong way. I told them that I was only doing the half. It was then that they told me that the half started at 8:00am! I started 2 hours early, so when I turned off, I was all alone. Oops!

Starting up Dry Creek.

Dry Creek was one of the steepest and longest climbs. It was tough, but beautiful! Being alone was a little scary as if any of you know me, you know that I love trails, but am scared of getting eaten by a mountain lion, bear or coyote. I must have looked like a real kook clapping my hands and talking to myself out loud to scare off critters I never saw! Ha Ha!

These steps were as high as my thigh. They were not the easiest to get up when you are tired!

I am smiling because I think the climbing is over. I am so naive.

At about 8.5 miles I hit the final aid station. I thought the climbing was over until I was informed that I had to still get to the top of the mountain before the course started going downhill. I grabbed some more gummy bears and headed back up the mountain.

The view was amazing!

At about mile 10, the course flattened out and I started heading back down towards the finish. This was probably the most beautiful part of the course to me.

This is one of my favorite views!

I loved all the flowers on both sides of the trail.

Pretty flowers

There was a rainbow over the mountain.

With 2,390 feet of elevation gain in the first 10 miles descending in 3 miles would be fairly steep. While I like downhill running, running downhill on the trail sometimes scares the heck out of me!

At around 10.5 miles I was heading down as I saw another runner (not in the race) coming up the trail. I tried to step off to the side to let him pass and when I did, I slipped and fell. The fall was OK, but my left calf suddenly got a knot in it the size of a baseball and I started to cramp. It hurt so bad I started yelling and the guy thought I was hurt bad when I fell. Luckily the cramp only lasted for a few seconds and the man helped me up and I was on my way.  

Steep downhill on trails scare me!

At mile 12 the trail dumped out onto the trail we came up on. I looked to the right and saw the pink ribbons that marked the trail. The problem was I also saw the pink ribbons on the left! I chose the left and realized after running a half mile, that I had picked wrong. I turned around and headed back up the trail when I started seeing the leaders in the half. When I asked one guy how far into the race they were, he said 5 miles. I knew that if I continued on to much further, I would hit the aid station again, which I new was too far.

I decided to turn around and take an unmarked trial an head back down towards the finish line (which I could see from the trail) as I was already 14 miles in. I headed down the trail and hoped for the best.

Then I saw the trail markers again and knew I was back on track. When I finally finished, I had run over 15 miles. As it turns out, the trail I took was the right trail, but it had not been marked yet as to not confuse the half marathoners. Since I started early, that part of the trail had not been marked yet. I got lucky and they gave me an official time as I was the first person to cross the finish line and it was not chip timed anyway.

This was a wonderful race and I am really glad I found it. If you are looking for a very beautiful, challenging and technical trail race, this is for you.

I loved the t-shirt too!

The medal and t-shirt

Sunday, May 17, 2015

#95- The Ogden Marathon And My 1st Boston Qualifier!!!

Saying that I am walking on air today would be an understatement. Last year at the Ogden Marathon I ran a 4:48, this year I qualified for Boston with  3:44:08 (official time). What a difference a year makes!

How did it happen? I can't really put my finger on it. I had started a relationship with a man last June and was really inspired by how hard he was working to qualify and I guess that kind of rubbed off on me. He pushed me to work hard too and introduced me to streak running (which help with motivation to run everyday). I dropped some weight and my times just started coming down.

Once I got within 12 minutes of my BQ (Boston Qualifier) of 3:55 (but I was shooting for an 3:53, giving me a 2 minute buffer to get into Boston), I decided to work hard and see where it went.

In January, I ran my first sub 4:00 marathon at the Mississippi Blues Marathon (3:58:58) and that made me confident, that if I just kept plugging away, I could do it. A year ago, I NEVER EVER thought I could be fast enough to qualify, but with a sub 4:00, it seemed within reach, so I went for it!

I saw this and put it on my refrigerator as motivation! 

I started going to the gym and doing some strength training, doing a little speed work and hoped for the best. (HUGE THANK YOU to my strength trainer Suzy and the 1-800 Contacts OnSight Fitness staff for kicking my but over the winter!)

Between Mississippi Blues and Ogden, I didn't really have the opportunity to try for a BQ as all the races I had on my schedule were either ultras, trail races or pacing gigs. Ogden was the first race I thought I might have a shot.

Friday, I took a half day off work to prepare myself mentally and have plenty of time to make the one hour drive to Ogden, hit the expo and meet my friends for dinner at 5:00pm.

My friend and fellow Maniac and Idiot, Tim Gill lives about 15 minutes from the finish and he and his wife BJ were sweet enough to give me a place to stay Friday night, so I wouldn't have to make drive back home. They even let me bring Zoe, which was a tremendous help.

The Ogden Marathon expo was held at the Weber State University ice rink. It is pretty much like any other expo. I got there picked up my race packet and headed over to Tim's house before heading to dinner. 

Picking up my packet at the expo!
It was so cool to see my co-workers from Wasatch Running Center!

The expo

Zoe and I at the Expo
At 5:00pm, Tim, BJ and I met up with fellow Maniac and friend, Dawn Bentley and her husband Bob at Rovali's for dinner. They have a nice Italian menu at a reasonable price. They also have some very delicious desserts (the lavender cake was amazing).

After dinner we headed back to Tim and BJ's to get ready for the race and turn in.

Flat Angie ready to go!

We woke up at 4:00am, got dressed, ate some breakfast and got the bus to the start at 5:15am. I was so happy to see Dawn and we got the bus together (thanks for the ear Dawn)! Ogden is not a race to run late for. The first bus leaves for the start at 5:00am and the last bus leaves at 5:15am!

Getting a last minute snooze before getting off the bus. (Photo by Tim Gill)

The marathon starts just below Red Rock Outfitter's Ranch about 8 miles from Huntsville. The forecast for the race was sunny with scattered showers and with temps at about 55 degrees. This seemed to be a perfect forecast for running.

It was cool, but sunny when we got to the start.

For all that know me, you know that I am a social butterfly before a race. It is one of my favorite things to do, but this time after hitting the potty, I found a quiet place next to one of the fires and just contemplated what I had been through the last few months and how I could not let my depression get in the way of my goal. I had fought to keep my motivation to work hard, even on the days when I didn't feel I could get out of bed. This would be the first chance to to prove to myself that I was still strong.

Just a few Maniacs at the start. Tim Gill, Me Galen Garrison, Vincent Ma and John Bozung.

I found peace and warmth next to the fire.

The race started at 7:15am. At 7:00am I hit the bathroom one more time as I didn't want to have to stop at all on the course. Every minute would count. As I was standing in the line, what I thought was ash from the fires started to fall. We all shortly realized that is wasn't ash, it was snow! Luckily it only lasted for a minute.

I took my bag to the gear check and before I knew it, it was time to start. I reached in my pocket to pull out my pace band and it was gone! This rattled me a bit and I thought I would be lost without it. The Cliff pacers were there, but there was only a 3:45 (which I thought was too fast) and a 4:00 pacer (which would have been too slow). I positioned myself between the two and just relied on my Garmin pace. It was very important that I didn't go out too fast. 

A 3:53 marathon meant I needed to hit an 8:53 pace. The first five miles went as follows (according to my Garmin and not the actual mile markers) :

Mile 1- 8:29
Mile 2- 8:30
Mile 3- 8:25
Mile 4- 8:20
Mile 5- 8:23

I felt really relaxed, but knew if I wanted that 3:53, I was playing with fire going out that fast. 

A mile into the race the rain started to fall. I thought it would just be temporary and the sun would peak through at anytime. It didn't. It rained and rained and got really cold. I started getting nervous as rain I can handle, but rain AND cold are my Kryptonite. I knew I was going to have to use every bit of mental power I had to over come this. 

By about mile 6, I had to go to the bathroom really bad (maybe it was all that water coming down), but I didn't want to stop, so I just kept plugging along.

I was still way under pace and not being at the half-way point, I felt great (besides the misery of the weather) and was just waiting to bonk. I tried not to over think it, and kept going.

I got to the half at 1:51:18 (8:30 pace). By this time, I could not not feel my legs they were so cold and I was just miserable. I was so lucky to have my cheap rain poncho and hand warmers on as they helped keep a little heat in. If I didn't have them, things may have been much worse. 

There are some rolling hills on this course, but we didn't hit the biggest one until about mile 15. I thought, this is where it would all end for me, but I pushed up that hill with no issues.By the time I hit the dam at about mile 17, I was pretty relieved. My pace was still consistent as I hit another nice downhill section of the course. 

At mile 18 I caught the 3:45 pacer. I was in shock! I asked him if he was on pace and he said he was. I told him that I could not believe I was with him! I was still feeling great (besides still having to use the bathroom and freezing) and was just waiting for the other shoe to drop where I would fall apart.

At mile 22 we came out of the canyon at ran on this rolling bike path for another 3 miles. At mile 25 I could not hold it any longer without risking an accident and I HAD to stop at the bathroom. I knew at this point that I had my BQ and did not want the finish photo of my greatest achievement yet, to look like that photo of the poor guy that pooped himself! I ran in and out as fast as I could and headed out for that last 1.2 miles.

The last 3/4 of a mile of the course feels like FOREVER! It is one long stretch and you can see the finish line, but it is further away than it looks. It never seems to get closer until you are right up on it.

While I was in the rest room the 3:45 pacer passed me, but as I caught and passed him, I said, "It looks like I got my BQ!" He slapped me a high five and I flew by him!

Working hard!

When I caught sight of the finish line, I started to cry. I thought about my relationship with the aforementioned man and how he broke my heart like it's never been broken, but he didn't break my spirit or determination to do my best. I am grateful to him actually. 

Coming up on the finish and the tears started to flow!

I thought about my friends and my sister, who even as I cried on their shoulders, listened to me as I tried to pick up the pieces, took over the role of pushing me and keeping me motivated. I thought about Rob, who had to go to Hong Kong on business the day before the race, but knew he would have stood out in that pouring rain to cheer for me!


I crossed the finish line in 3:44:08. Nearly 11 minutes faster than my BQ and 14.5 minutes faster than my previous my PR! I cried happy tears on the shoulder of the race volunteer who gave me my medal for a good 5 minutes after! I needed something to make me happy, and this did it! At that moment I knew that with hard work, dreams do come true!

This sweet volunteer hugged me as I cried the happiest tears of my life!

At the finish with my bling and my lucky $2 bill!

Maniac pal Jeff Bollman from Montana and I at the finish!

My official result!

After the race I forgot where I had parked the car and spent an hour looking for it. When I finally found it, I sat in my car for an hour with the heat on trying to warm up my hands. When I finally got warm, I headed back to Tim and BJ's house changed and waited for Tim to get back as I could not wait to eat everything I had denied myself during training! 

Tim dressed up for lunch in celebration of my BQ! Wait! Which one is Tim?

I can't thank Tim and BJ enough for hosting my and buying me a celebratory lunch at Cracker Barrel where I ate my weight in fried food!

BJ made me a good luck swan!

My medal and pint glass!

For anyone reading this that thinks a BQ is not in your future, NEVER SAY NEVER!! I am proof that with hard work and determination YOU CAN DO IT!! I didn't have to hire a coach and did most of my training alone, but I sacrificed to make my goal a reality. I am still pinching myself thinking I am dreaming.

I finally earned a Boston jacket, I sure hope they pick good colors for next year! Ha Ha!

I am now ready to focus on my next goal, my 100 miler at Arkansas Traveler 100 to celebrate my 100th Marathon!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Goldilocks Half Marathon

A little over a week ago I got a message from Holly Garcia from RYR Pacers asking if I was available to pace the 2:30 group at the Goldilocks Half Marathon. I generally won't accept any pacing gigs slower than 2:20, but with Ogden next week (my first attempt to qualify for Boston), I said yes. I thought an easy run at new race would be fun and I love pacing, so it was a win-win.

Goldilocks has been around since 2012, but as a women's cycling event. This was the first year they added a 5K, 10K, and half marathon to the event. 

I got to the start at 6:30am and met the other pacers. The night before, the weather had been cold and rainy, but when I got to the race, the sky was overcast, but dry. I looked at my Weather Channel app and it too indicated that the rain would hold off until around noon. With the race starting at 7:15am, there was plenty of time to finish before it started to rain again...or so I thought. 

At the start of the Goldilocks Half Marathon

Goldilocks would not be the same without a bear or two..or three.

Pacers at the start!

Cyclists getting started.

The race was small, maybe 200 people. The 60 mile cyclists started at the same time, but in the corrals ahead of us. At 7:15am we were off.

Starting our 13.1 mile journey!

All lined up and ready to run!

About a mile into the race, it started to sprinkle and by mile 3, it was full on dumping rain and I immediately regretted leaving my jacket and hat in my gear bag. I have run many marathons in rainy conditions, but when you combine rain, wind and 40 degree temperatures, it can be miserable.  

I had two women running with me that were running their first half marathon. I tried to keep them pumped up through the bad conditions. Doing your first race is scary enough, add bad weather and it could mentally break you down.

Within the first few miles the rain fell hard!

Once it got really cold I had to watch my pace. The harder the rain fell and the colder I got, the faster I wanted to run just to get done, but I was there to do a job.

About 4 miles in I had to stop to use the bathroom (in one of the pink port-a-potties). My hands were already so cold, I had trouble untying my pants. I finally got done and had to make up for the time I lost in there. This was the best part of the run. I got to pick up the pace and the faster I ran, the more I warmed up!

I caught my group and when I got to the next mile marker, I had made up more than enough time and was a little ahead. I slowed back down, but by mile 7, I was having a hard time even holding the pacer balloons. Even with gloves on, my hands were so cold, they had already gone numb.

I was miserable, but I tried to keep smiling!

At mile 10, we merged with the 10K runners, which was nice as by this time the two ladies that were with me had fallen back and I was pretty much alone for a while. 

At mile 11, I hit the restroom one more time. My hands were so numb, I had to come out of the restroom and ask one of the 10K runners to help me pull my pants up all the way! We both had a good laugh about that.

When I finally finished, I collected my silver necklace and headed directly into the finisher building, where they had big pots of warm oatmeal with all the fixings, bagels, fruit, and drinks.

     Finally finished!

Instead of your standard race medal, Goldilocks gave runners this cute silver necklace!

I picked up my gear bag (where I had put my jacket), and I started to violently shake, I was so cold. A woman from the University of Utah Medical Center booth saw me and wrapped me in a foil blanket and helped me open my gear bag, as my hands were not working. I finally got my jacket on and had to ask another girl to help me zip it up!

I got a warm bowl of oatmeal and a half a bagel and was still freezing, so I decided to make my way back to my car and get the heat on ASAP. I sat in the car for a few minutes as it warmed up, but my hands were still so cold I could not grip the steering wheel. 

As the heat started to return, the worst pain went through my hands making me wonder if frostbite had set in, but by the time I was able to get home the pain had stopped and my hands were nearly back to normal.

I got home and had the longest, hottest shower ever!

The Goldilocks race shirt was so cute!

This race would have been so much fun if the weather was good. The course is pretty flat and running through Daybreak was actually fun. There are some really cute houses there! 

The race is really well organized and I highly recommend it!