Friday, January 6, 2017

2016 Running Recap

It's already January 2017, but I wanted to recap my year of running in 2016. Better late than never I guess.

These were my goals from 2016 (copied and pasted from my post at the end of 2015):

1. Run 1,200 miles (I've fallen short of this goal the past two years, but not by much.)
I am proud to say that I exceeded this goal. Although 2016 got off to a slow start with sinus infections and just plain lack of motivation, I logged 100+ miles each month beginning in April through December. My total mileage for the year was 1,243 miles.
2. Moon up in Half Fanatics. I'm at the lowest qualifying level and would love to improve my stats.
I mooned up to Saturn by completing 4 half marathons in 28 days.
3. PR the half marathon. This is going to be tough since it took me so long to sub 2:00, but I think I'm capable of reaching it one day.
My previous PR was 1:59:57. It wasn't easy and it wasn't by much, but I did manage to PR the half marathon by exactly  1 minute and 1 second at the Pensacola Half Marathon in November. My new half marathon PR is 1:58:56!
4. Run a 3rd Full Marathon in the fall and hopefully reach my 4:40 goal or better. I think I may have settled on which full, but more on that when it's official.
I didn't run a full marathon in 2016. I had all intentions of running my third full marathon at Pensacola in November. I registered as soon as it opened in March and began training in July. I was consistent with my training until our house sold in late August. I struggled to complete my long runs while house hunting and packing. We found a house in the final stages of construction, but it wouldn't be completed until one month after we moved out of our house. We had to put everything in storage and move in with my grandfather for a month. This meant two moves: one on the date of my 18 mile long run and the second on the date of my last 20 mile long run. I decided to drop to the half marathon in Pensacola.
Shortly after dropping to the half in Pensacola, I registered for the Mobile First Light Marathon in January 2017. I've completed my training and I am hoping to finally break that 4:40 time goal that I've had for over a year now.

5. Be more consistent with cross training. I purchased my Trek a year ago and I'm ashamed to say I've only ridden it a handful of times.  I fell while test riding it and I've been nervous ever since then. I want to gain more confidence on the bike, and the only way to do that is practice, practice, practice!
Michael bought me a bike trainer in May. The trainer is not going to help me gain confidence shifting and steering, but at least the bike will get some use. I was riding once or twice a week for a few months until we sold our house and the bike was put in storage. I only logged 67.5 miles for the year. I hope to get back on the trainer soon. I could definitely feel the difference when I was riding consistently.
I accomplished most of my goals for 2016. Here are a few other accomplishments that weren't included in my goals for 2016:
I PR'd the 5K. It was only by 21 seconds, but a PR just the same.
I also PR'd the 10K by almost 2 minutes!
I ran my first ever trail run.
I completed the Runner's World Summer Run Streak, 39 days of running at least a mile each day from Memorial Day to the 4th of July. I wanted to do the Winter Streak too, but it interfered with marathon training.
I've thought long and hard about my goals for 2017. I'm sure that I will think of many more goals as the year progresses. These are just a few:
1. PR the marathon (4:45 or better). I'm hoping to check this one off my list on Sunday, January 8th.
2. Run 1,300 miles for the year. Why 1,300 you might wonder? That's an average of 25 miles a week for 52 weeks. I think this will be a nice challenge.
3.  Be more consistent with cross training. I include this one every year because I still struggle incorporating activities besides running into my routine. One day it is going to catch up with me.
To help me be more consistent with cross training, I will add a mileage goal for cycling (250 for the year). That is only 20 miles per month. I am number's person and I do better working towards goals that can be tracked or measured over time. I'm sure that is the teacher in me (It's all about that data).
Did you reach your goals for 2016? What are your goals for 2017?


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Pensacola Half Marathon Race Recap

November 13, 2016

I planned to run the Pensacola Marathon for my third full. I registered as soon as registration opened in March. I started my training in July. Despite the heat, I was maintaining consistency with my training.

That was until our house went under contract at the end of August. Completing my long runs while packing and house hunting was difficult. We found a house that was in the final stages of construction. It wouldn't be ready until a month after we closed on our house. We had to put everything we owned in storage and spend a month with my grandfather. This also meant two moves, the first on the date of my 18 miler and the second on the date of my second 20 miler.

I didn't have the time to commit to that level of training, so I decided to drop to the half marathon in Pensacola. Sometimes life gets in the way of our best plans. The great thing about running is there is always another race. I decided to register for the First Light Marathon in Mobile after dropping to the half. I couldn't wait to run another full marathon and having one on the calendar gave me a goal to continue to work towards. I started back with week one of training at the end of September, which put my longer runs off until November and December. We would be settled in our new home by then.

We drove to Pensacola on Friday afternoon to pick up my packet. Packet pick up was well organized. There were a few booths from local vendors and discount merchandise from Running Wild. I didn't spend much time browsing the expo. We were staying at my mother in law's condo in Gulf Shores about 45 minutes away. I was ready to get settled.

We went to my sister in law's to watch the Bama game on Saturday. We ate at Wolf Bay Lodge later that evening. They have a decent menu with plenty of options. I like their Shrimp Alfredo and salad bar. After dinner we went back to the condo. I laid out my race day outfit and tried to get some rest.


We had to get up early on race morning to make the drive over to Pensacola. The race started at 6:30. I was worried about traffic and parking once we got downtown, so we left around 4:45. Traffic wasn't as bad as I anticipated and there was plenty of parking just a block from the start line.

Rick and Jodi arranged for several of us to meet before the start of the race. I met them at the Rock n' Fly Half earlier this year. It was great to see them again and meet new IG/Blogger friends: Alicia, Michelle, and Kari. It was also nice to see Valerie from back home. We took several pre-race selfies before lining up at the start line.

 IG/Blogger friends:Rick,  Jodi, Alicia, Michelle, Valerie, and Kari. 

If I wasn't going to run the full, I was going to push my hardest for a half marathon PR. I knew it wouldn't be easy, but I felt like I had a decent chance of making it. I ran my current half PR in the middle of my last marathon training cycle. They had pacers for the full marathon. My goal was to keep the 4:00 marathon pacer in sight until the split.

The first mile ran around Veteran's Memorial Park and parallel with Pensacola Bay. The water views were beautiful. I was settling into a comfortable sub 9:00 pace. The 4:00 marathon pacers were several strides ahead of me, but I tried to concentrate on keeping their sign in sight.

Mile 1- 8:53
Mile 2- 9:01

Just before reaching the Graffiti Bridge, a woman started running alongside me. She asked me if I was running the full and I replied, "No, I'm running the half." She explained that her running partner was injured recently and she was running this race without her. She wanted to run a sub 2:00. I told her that I've only run a sub 2:00 once before, but that I hoped to do the same. The woman's name was Jen. She was from the Mobile, AL area and she participated in First Light Marathon relay in year's past. She told me all about the race that I planned to run in January.

Graffiti Bridge
I enjoyed more stunning views of the bay during miles 3 through 5. Jen and I continued to pace well together. Conversation with her was a nice distraction as well.

Mile 3- 8:46
Mile 4- 9:01
Mile 5- 8:59

The photographer on course captured this picture of me and Jen.

The full marathoners split around 7.5 miles. As much as I can't wait for my next full marathon, I was so relieved to continue going straight. I was over halfway to the finish!

The split where the full marathoners turned right. Not today!

That excitement was short lived when we reached a decent sized hill just around mile 8. Jen said we couldn't afford to slow down on the hills. She took the hill in stride and I tried my best to stick with her. Once we reached the top, I had to take a walk break to catch my breath. I noticed we reached the point on the course where the streets were canopied with trees. I had to get a picture.  Jen kept going. I told her I would catch up.

Mile 6- 8:58
Mile 7- 8:56
Mile 8- 8:48
The street canopied with trees
I never caught up with Jen. She checked back on me a few times and encouraged me to catch up. I told her to go on without me. I didn't want to slow her down. I reached an overpass around mile 10. There was an awesome drum line to motivate runners on the climb. I was so worn down from the hill at mile 8. I didn't attempt to run this one. I figured I could probably walk it up as fast as I could run it. Jen was widening the gap ahead of me. By the time I reached the top of the hill she was out of sight.

Mile 9- 9:22
Mile 10- 9:12

This picture doesn't do this hill justice. It was much more intense in person.

My overall pace was slowing on my Garmin. If I was going to PR, I couldn't afford any more walk breaks. The hills were behind me. It was time to push. The final 5K ran back towards and through downtown Pensacola. I turned down several photo opportunities, including the Pensacola pelicans, to reach my goal. I noticed some more race photographers on course. I tried to look strong and smile for the cameras even though deep down I couldn't wait to be finished.

Mile 11- 8:59
Mile 12- 9:12
Mile 13- 8:49
Mile 0.25- 8:14
The clock read 1:59:19 when I crossed the finish line, which was a PR. I knew my chip time would be faster, but I didn't know by how much. My Garmin read 1:58:56 and I hoped my chip time would be 1:58 as well.
Jen waited for me at the finish line. I thanked her keeping me company and for pushing me. I was disappointed that I couldn't stick with her until the end, but I was still proud that I reached my goal of a PR. I don't know if it would have been possible without her motivating me most of the way.
Post race selfie with Jen
They had plenty of post race food, entertainment, and massages at the finish. I grabbed a banana and a chocolate milk. I couldn't wait to get the print out with my official result. It read 1:58:56, same as my Garmin time. I was so excited! I PR'd by 1 minute and 1 second!

I met up with Valerie at the finish for a post race photo. I wish I could have stuck around to visit with the rest of my IG/blogger friends, but I wanted to go back to the condo to shower before heading home.

Post race pic with Valerie
I loved this race! The entire race weekend was well organized. I liked the race shirt, bag, and poster. I looked forward to the Blue Angels on the race shirt and medal and I was disappointed that they weren't part of this year's design. I wish the shirt and medal encompassed more of Pensacola's background and sights. The free photos are great quality and they captured some decent ones of me on the course. The course was pretty scenic and mostly flat, but the few hills were a real challenge. I would definitely run this race again!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Ryan's Run 5K Race Recap

November 26, 2016
I turned 30 on November 24th. This was my first race competing in my new age division. I was more nervous than excited. I've competed in the 20-29/25-29 year age division since I started running. The women in the 30-34/30-39 year age division are fast!
This was my third year running Ryan's Run. Ryan's Run is held each year on Iron Bowl weekend in memory of Ryan Colburn, who was an avid sports fan and loved the Iron Bowl Rivalry between Alabama and Auburn. Proceeds from this run benefit the Frazer Youth Worship Arts Program and the Ryan Colburn Youth Scholarship, which supports youth with disabilities to attend the National Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs Conference. Participants are encouraged to wear their favorite team colors.
This race came two weeks after running my fastest half marathon in Pensacola. I followed that half with an 18 mile long run. I could tell that my body had not fully recovered. My legs were sluggish and my weekly runs were slow leading up to this race. I didn't have any goals in mind at the start of the race. I was just going to see how I felt once the gun went off.

I weaved through several runners at the start and was positioned third female (or so I thought) by the first turn on the course.  I was neck and neck with Kaye, who I recognized from several other races. She was fast! If I could maintain pace with her it would be a real confidence booster.
Mile 1-8:01
I encountered the first hill just past Mile 1. I was determined not to lose momentum on the climb. To my surprise I passed Kaye at the top of the hill. I was certain that I was second place female. That was until I reached the turn around on this down and back course. 
Downhill stretch before the turn around
A woman in a Boston Marathon hat was way ahead of me and the woman in front of me. I was third place female. I was going to try my best to maintain that position, but the woman ahead of me wasn't slowing down and Kaye wasn't far behind me.

My position after the turn around
Mile 2-8:00
I passed the 2nd place female as I approached the mile 2 marker. I worried we would be back and forth to the finish. I could hear cheers for Kaye from volunteers on the course. I knew she was gaining on me. I tried to pick up speed. Kaye passed me as I made the final turn towards the finish line. I pushed harder, but it wasn't enough to catch up to her. She crossed the finish line three seconds before me. It felt amazing to hang with her for the majority of this race.
Mile 3-7:48
I crossed the finish line in 24:30, my second fastest 5K to date. I also finished 3rd overall female. It turns out my new age group didn't matter for this race. My 30's might not be so bad after all.

3rd Overall Female

I enjoyed catching up with members of the River Region Runner's group after the race. They are a great group of people. I really should be more involved with them.

Beth and Chris from River Region Runners
I also enjoyed visiting with members of Team Zac. I went to daycare with Zac when I was just a baby. His mom and step dad organize this race each year. Zac was feeling a little under the weather. He was able to get some medicine and make it back in time for the end of the race and the awards.

Team Zac

My #1 spectator Michael came to cheer me on.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

WES Frankenstein 5K Race Recap

October 22, 2016

My school hosted its second annual Frankenstein 5K Run this October. I wasn't able to participate in this run last year because my mom and I ran the Gulf Coast Half Marathon in Mandeville, LA. This year I served on the committee to help organize the run and I was excited for the opportunity to participate on race day.

WES Frankenstein Committee

Our school received a lot of support from local sponsors throughout the community. Signs were posted all over town and several of us handed out flyers at local businesses. The run was well advertised in my opinion. It is so hard to compete with established runs that are held this time of the year. I know of at least five other runs that took place on this Saturday.

It was a beautiful day for a race. The sun was shining, but it was a little chilly at 40 degrees for the start of the race. I ordered my Spandits! Rumpleskullskins Boardies and my skeleton runner tank top weeks in advance. I looked crazy, but I planned that outfit just for this race. I meant that I was going to wear it!

There were only 15 runners in the 5K race and probably another 15-20 runners for the fun run. It was not the crowd that they had last year. I didn't know what to expect for this race. I was exhausted from racing the past two weekends and moving all day on Friday. This race fell on the same weekend we moved into our new home, but I knew I needed to be there to support my school.

I was familiar with the course. I met my friend for several training runs near the school. I started out way too fast as usual. Going into the first turn I was positioned first female. I wanted so badly to maintain the lead.

Mile 1- 7:42
I could feel my pace slowing down in the second mile. I was certain I would clock it well over 8 minutes. A few people on our committee passed by in a golf cart and cheered for me. "Go, Mrs.Weldon! First female!" That motivated me to push harder.
Mile 2- 7:52
I was surprised when my Garmin vibrated, notifying me that I clocked mile 2 in 7:52. It was 10 seconds slower than my first mile, but it was still a sub 8 minute mile. I have never run all sub 8 minute miles in a 5K before, so I made it my goal to try for another one on the third and final mile. Thoughts of a PR entered my mind. If I could maintain my pace, I was going to PR if only by a few seconds.
I had no idea how far ahead I was of the second female. When my thoughts went to her, I reminded myself that the competition was not behind me. I was competing against my own personal best time and that is where I shifted my focus. My Garmin vibrated again as I made the turn towards the finish. My third mile was also a sub 8 minute mile and it was my fastest one of the race!
Mile 3- 7:38
I crossed the finish line in 24:12 (a 21 second PR)! I also placed 1st Overall Female.
First Overall Male and Female




Sunday, November 27, 2016

Shrimp Festival 10K Race Recap

October 15, 2016

The National Shrimp Festival is held each year in October on the white, sandy beaches of Gulf Shores, AL. The festival offers live music, seafood, arts and crafts exhibits, sand sculpture contests, a golf tournament, and a 5K/10K run. Everyone should attend the festival at least once in their lifetime. There's plenty to see and do, and it's great fun for all.

The Shrimp Festival 5K/10K starts at the Orange Beach Sports Complex. The course runs along the paved Backcountry Trails. The race attracts several hundred participants. All net proceeds of the run are donated to Coastal Baldwin Education Enrichment Foundation, benefitting the local Gulf Shores & Orange Beach public schools.

I was excited to see Kristin (BamaGirlRuns) before the start of the race. I met Kristin last November at the Magic City Half Marathon. I saw that she was running the 10K through her posts on Instagram. I looked forward to seeing her again. We talked about her training for the NYC Marathon and her plans to run Disney again. I told her that I hoped to run the Mercedes Half Marathon in her hometown in 2017. It's amazing how comfortable our conversation flowed even though this was only our second time seeing each other. It's like we've known each other forever. I love that about the running community.

This was my fourth year participating in the Shrimp Festival 10K. I've placed in my age division the past two years (3rd in 2014 and 2nd in 2015). This year my sights were set on a 1st place finish in my age division, but I knew it wouldn't come easy. Previous first place finishers ran the 10K in 51 and 52 minutes. My best time was 53:19.

I took off running a sub 8 minute pace, but I knew I couldn't maintain it. I tried my best to back off and settle into a more conservative pace. That pace was between 8:00-8:05 minute miles. I was still concerned that it was too fast, but it felt comfortable. I was going to try to maintain it as long as I could.

Mile 1- 8:03
Mile 2- 8:10

Mile 3 would be my slowest mile of the race. I stopped for water and took a walk break. I knew from previous years that there wouldn't be another water stop until Mile 5. At this point in the race thoughts of a PR entered my mind. I always slow down in the final miles of this race. Not this year, this year I was going to push.

Mile 3- 8:23

Up ahead I saw two women who looked like they might be in my age division. I wanted to push, but not too hard too soon. My mantra for the final miles was "My race, my pace." I reminded myself to first focus on the PR, it would happen if I maintained pace. I tried to keep that focus, but I couldn't help but notice I was closing the gap on the two women ahead of me.

Mile 4- 8:17

Just past mile 4 one of the two women stopped to walk. She hung her head and put her hands on her hips. She looked worn down at this point. I passed her, but as soon as I did she started running again. "Just keep a steady pace. My race, my pace." I kept repeating my mantra over and over again in my head. I was worried if I couldn't get ahead of these two women, my hopes of an age group placement would be over. I tried to maintain focus on getting that PR. I would be thrilled if I could do just that.

Mile 5- 8:20

I peaked behind me at the final water stop. I widened the gap between myself and the woman I passed earlier. I didn't stop for water because I was closing the gap on the other woman ahead of me. I didn't want to pass her too soon and have a target on my back going into the final stretch. We went over one of the wooden bridges around 5.5 miles. She must have heard my footsteps behind her because she looked over her shoulder at me and picked up her pace.

Mile 6- 8:19

We were neck and neck going into the final stretch to the finish. My heart was beating out of my chest. "What is she going to do?" "Is she going to surge past me?" "I want to surge, but not too soon." All these thoughts were flooding my mind. One of us had to make a move. I pumped my arms and pushed as hard as I possibly could to the finish line. I still worried that she would pass me at any moment, but she didn't. I did it!

Final 0.25 Miles- 1:54 (7:50 avg pace)

I finished in 51:26, a PR by almost 2 minutes. It turns out I was right about the two women on the course. They were in my age group. I really had to push for that first place finish. This was the closest race I've ever encountered with other women in my age division. They were fierce competitors and afterwards we congratulated each other on a great race.

    We finished 30th, 31st, and 32nd overall.
That's how close the competition was in my age division this year.

They gave out glasses this year instead of medals. They also gave the 1st place finisher in each age group a nice bag with the Shrimp Festival logo and this year's Shrimp Festival hat and poster. They normally save these bags for the overall finishers, so that was a nice surprise. This is my favorite 10K race. I hope to continue to run it year after year.