Rock ‘n’ Roll St. Louis Half Marathon Recap

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Sunday, October 19 was the day I had been waiting for since the end of the Nike Half Marathon in April. When I crossed the finish line of the Nike Half, I had an immediate feeling of utter disappointment in myself because even though I did not yet know my official time, I knew that I did not reach my goal of finishing in under 2 hours. I remember wanting to cry and feel sorry for myself, but then I called Justin and he just told me that I would do it in October at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half, home in St. Louis. That was the only thing that made me feel better that day, knowing that I would have another shot in 2014 of reaching my goal.

So, when the day was finally here, I wasn’t really nervous as much I was excited that I had another chance. And deep down, I knew that this was the race that I was going to go under 2 hours. I realized this when I had looked at what pace I needed to be at – 9:09. I had been consistently going under 9 minutes per mile for all my training runs pretty easily, so I knew that as long as I didn’t get hurt or didn’t stop, the odds were in my favor.

The race had an early start of 7AM, so I woke up at 5AM. I wanted to make sure I had enough time to eat a small breakfast, get my outfit on, and then just to relax. We left around 6:15AM. This was DEFINITELY a mistake!

Justin was just going to drop me off and then go back home, so I thought it would be no problem to be able to have him drop me off close to the start line. I was wrong! I should have read all the notices about parking and road closures, so this is my fault. We left and about 5 minutes into our drive there was already roads blocked off. We turned to go another way and those roads were also blocked. This KEPT happening! We realized that not only the roads close to the start and the first few miles would be blocked off already, but it was the entire course. We kept driving around hoping to find a closer spot for him to drop me off, but at about 6:45AM we realized that about a mile away was the closest we were going to get. So I had Justin pull over and drop me off and then I ran probably about a mile to get to the start. I actually ended up not minding this though because it was a good warm-up and also I didn’t have to worry about standing around in the cooler weather!

I was in Corral 5, so it took me a while to weave into there since most of the people were already where they needed to be. I didn’t want to be a jerk and push people around, so when I got to Corral 6 and saw there was very little room to navigate myself to the corral I was supposed to be in, I just decided it was no big deal for me to stay put there and start one corral behind.

Not that I want to be cutting it so close on time in my future races, but I will say it was very nice to not have to stand around forever. By the time I got to Corral 6 the national anthem was playing so I knew it wouldn’t be long until the race started!

The first few miles of the race seemed to be constantly up and down on the rolling hills of St. Louis. I was really starting to feel it in my thighs around mile 5 and I was a bit worried that I would be too sore already to keep going at the pace I wanted to. But I just told myself that I had to keep going at that pace and of course it was going to hurt, but I had the rest of the day to lay on the couch! It was not time to relax or slow down!

My favorite part of this race is the race course itself. We had the chance to run by so many landmarks in St. Louis and through so many of the city’s beautiful neighborhoods. There were crowds of onlookers along the way that were so encouraging and gave  me so much energy. The best part was a little after mile 8. This mile went around my own neighborhood and Justin and Lilli were able to find me and even ran along with me while they were on the sidewalk so that was definitely the highlight of the race! Seeing how excited my little puppy was to see me filled me with so much happiness and it was a great distraction to the tiredness I was feeling!

Once I got to mile 10, I told myself that it was just a 5K to go. I kept up with my pace and really felt pretty strong as I headed to the finish. Around mile 12 I really realized that I was not only going to achieve my goal of going under 2 hours, I was going to do it pretty easily. It was a very overwhelming feeling.

I crossed the finish line with a  time of 1:53:52. I was so happy I almost felt like crying! It was a great feeling to achieve my goal and it was special to do it in my city. I also am really proud of myself and the progress I have made in my running this past year. Just one year earlier at this same exact race, I finished with a time of 2:12:09. I am going to keep up with my training and I can’t wait to see what time I am capable of at this race in 2015.

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Overall, I was happy with this race but I was disappointed with a few things, including:

Packet Pickup: Rock ‘n’ Roll races are one of the few I am aware of that you have to be in person to pick up your packet. Many other races allow you to  have someone else pick it up for you as long as you have a copy of your ID and signed consent. I am really not sure why Rock ‘n’ Roll can also not have a similar procedure. They claim it is for security purposes, but I think that is bogus. I think it’s about money. I think they want you to be there in person because the person running the race is more likely to purchase something at the Expo than someone who is not running the race. If they are going to have these rules, they need to have better hours for the Expo. On Friday, the hours were 9AM-6PM, and on Saturday 10AM-5PM. Myself and most people I know work 9-5, so it is very difficult to make it for the Friday Expo if you are busy on Saturday. I think it would be better for the Expo to be open until at least 8PM on one of those days to accommodate more people’s schedules.

Bands on the race course: I was really disappointed in the lack of bands throughout the course. That is supposed to be one of the big elements of this race, and I noticed (along with other runners) that there were not that many bands. Last year, it seemed like there were bands every mile, but this year I would say I saw 5 or 6 on the half marathon course.

GU Station: The funny thing about the promised GU station on the half marathon course was – there wasn’t one! There was supposed to be a GU station around mile 8, but I did not see one and several other runners commented on the Facebook page that they didn’t see one either. I’m not a huge GU fan, but I was planning on taking one since there was supposed to be an exclusive flavor for Rock ‘n’ Roll races. I’m not sure what happened here, I really doubt that they had already ran out by the time I was there because it’s not like I was that far back.

Post race results: Our live unofficial results were posted immediately upon finishing which was nice. But then once the race was over, they took those results down and had nothing up for awhile. I was waiting to see my official time. Waiting. And waiting…. And waiting. After a while, they posted on Facebook that they would be up at 7PM. So I log back on at 7PM, and the results say they are up. I search for my name and nothing appears. I search my bib number and it’s a person from Denver. Then I realized…Rock ‘n’ Roll had put up the results from their Denver race on the St. Louis page! Doesn’t seem like this would be too hard to correct, right?! Wrong! It took them forever to fix this and when I and many other runners commented on the error page the Rock ‘n’ Roll person kept commenting that they were up! Yes, there were results up BUT they weren’t for anyone running the St. Louis race! Finally around 10PM the page was fixed and our results were up. Even if they were up at 7PM this seems like a ridiculous amount of time to wait, and since all of us pay a lot of money to run this race, we expect things to be a little more efficient.

Even though I had these issues, I know that I will continue to run in this race every year. I absolutely love the route of the course and that makes it worth it to me to run in this race. A lot of people commented on the Rock ‘n’ Roll St. Louis page about disappointments similar to mine, and the Rock ‘n’ Roll staff told us to include our issues in the post race survey. I filled out the survey and let them know about my problems, so hopefully they will read mine and others complaints and actually do something about them to improve on next year’s race.

Lilli loved the medal!

Lilli loved the medal!

Lauren

Weekly Recap

Monday, October 20—Rest Day

Tuesday, October 21—45 minutes running (4.26 miles at 10:33 pace on treadmill)

Wednesday, October 22—Rest Day

Thursday, October 23— 45 minutes running (4.24 miles at 10:37 pace on treadmill)

Friday, October 24—Rest Day

Saturday, October 25—7 mile walk (15:00 pace)

Sunday, October 26—17 mile run (11:13 pace)

 

Wow, what a week!!  First, work was absolutely hectic with two huge events on Friday and Saturdaynight, plus a ton of other work responsibilities throughout the week.  I’ll be happy when I can get back to doing my weekly runs outside.  Then, my friend from Indiana came in on Friday evening, so I had to rush downtown to see her and my friend Stacy on Saturday morning and then had lunch with them on Sunday.  It was great to see it, but it was tough with marathon training.

 

The mileage this week was intense.  Last week in my Dopey training program was supposed to be the crazy week, but with Detroit and another work event, I knew that it was smart to just delay it a week.  I wanted to make sure I followed the program this week exactly since Disney is a four day in a row deal.  For my seven mile walk, I had to start early—as in 6 am—about an hour before it was even light outside.  Since that is not very safe, I didn’t listen to any music for the first hour.  It was pretty boring!!  I wish I had someone to do these walks with!!  They get a little lonely and boring on the walks.

And then came Sunday, the big one, my furthest distance ever—17 miles.  I didn’t really plot out my route so I just decided to go with it.  I was slightly nervous, but I knew I could do it.  My plan was to complete the run in 3:15 and I finished in 3:10 J.  My ultimate goal for the marathon is to run it in 12:00minute pace or under which would put me at 5:14—but again the final goal is just to finish the race in the required time of 7:00 hours.  I had a pretty good run and didn’t push too hard so I could successfully finish.  I stopped at the half marathon mark to go to the bathroom and refill my water bottle and then I got right back outside to finish the final four miles.  Once I finished, I still had a mile walk to my car… I did pretty well with my walking, so I really did 18 miles J.  Either way, the marathon is only another 9 miles—and I think I can do it!!  It won’t be pretty or easy, but I know I’ll get it done.

I have a slower training week this week—only two 45 minute runs and a six mile run on the weekend.  Good thing because my largest event of the year will be on Friday evening, so I’ll be busy all week gearing up for that at work.

Have a great week!

Kathleen

Walt Disney Marathon Training Log – Lauren

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Monday, October 20: Rest day

Tuesday, October 21: 4 miles running, 21 Day Fix DVD

Wednesday, October 22: 7 miles running, 21 Day Fix DVD

Thursday, October 23: 4 miles running, 21 Day Fix DVD

Friday, October 24: 21 Day Fix DVD

Saturday, October 25: 21 Day Fix DVD

Sunday, October 26: 14 miles running

This was a great week of fitness for me! On Monday, I took a rest day so that my body could fully recover from the half marathon. So, I started my 21 Day Fix DVDs on Tuesday and did 2 DVD’s on Friday to make up for the one I missed. I am really loving the 21 Day Fix workouts, they are challenging but are only 30 minutes so it’s pretty easy to push yourself to finish them. I am loosely following the food plan given. At first I thought I was going to go all out and follow it to a T. But since I don’t want to lose any weight and I actually need more calories since I am running so much, I am not feeling too bad about eating more than the plan allows. I am still eating way more fruits, veggies and protein than I am used to, and I am realizing how important those food groups are for your diet.

My runs during the week were each 1 mile longer than they have been the past several weeks on my marathon training plan and then on Sunday I had a really great 14 mile run. It was a beautiful day to run, sunny and in the 60s, and I really felt like I could run much longer! We’ve been so lucky to have these unusual warmer weather as of late, but I am very aware that this is not going to last forever. Another part that made my run so awesome on Sunday was that instead of listening to music, I listened to an audiobook (This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper). I really enjoyed listening to the nook while I was running and I thought it kind of helped me to not think about the run and how many miles I had to go, but instead just focus on the story.

During my long run on Sunday, I tested out a new fuel – Jelly Belly Sport Beans. Kathleen has raved about this product to me, so I decided to buy some and test them out. I’m so happy I did, because they are delicious! I will definitely be using these to fuel all my long runs from now on!

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And just wanted to share a little Halloween-ish spirit with you with my new favorite headband from SweatyBands!

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I’ll be back on Wednesday with a full recap of my Rock ‘n’ Roll St. Louis Half Marathon. Have a great day!

Lauren

5 Things Friday – All Things Detroit!

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I’m not feeling 100%– pretty sure it’s a combination of running in 34 degree weather on Sunday, stress at work (2 huge events back to back, budgets and brochure copy for a recreation center), and continued training.  I’ve gotten in my two scheduled runs so far this week and I’m ready to tackle my 7 mile walk on Saturday and my 17 mile run on Sunday!

But I don’t want to skip my recap my experience this past weekend in Detroit!  It was my 7th Half Marathon of the year (9th overall) and my final one for the year :)

 

1—Getting to Detroit!

·         As you can remember, I was a little nervous about getting to the airport on time.  I was worried for no reason!  My best friend Stacy was a great driver, got me to the airport safely, and I made it thru security in no time.  Once I got to Detroit, I was able to get my rental car easily and headed straight to the expo.  I made it to the expo around 5ish and had plenty of time to make it thru the expo.

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My one complaint about the expo was that I had to go all the way to the back of the expo to get my participant bib and shirt.  You had to weave up and down each aisle to get to the back.  A huge pain in the butt!! The shirt was definitely a keeper!  I’m not a huge fan of gray but the back of the shirt is awesome.

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I didn’t purchase anything at the expo except for this magnet.  I had purchased this hoodie a few weeks beforehand online and I’m glad I did because since I got to the expo late, sizes were pretty picked over.  Other than that, I looked at the Cincinnati Flying Pig medal again (I met some ladies on Sunday who pretty much convinced me to do the marathon—they are walkers and said it is very walker friendly!) and I visited with the Pittsburgh Marathon booth (that will be my half someday for Pennsylvania).

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2—Hotel and Dinner

·         Sadly, hotels in downtown Detroit were very expensive for this race.  I ended up having to stay about 10 miles outside of Detroit.  The hotel itself was very nice except that it was very crowded with lots of young hockey players.  These hockey players were very energetic and decided that running up and down the hallways until 2 am was acceptable.  I was pretty tired so it didn’t bother me too much other than waking up a couple of times in the middle of the night.

Unfortunately, this was my first race in awhile without a pre race dinner… major bummer!  My hotel was in the middle of nowhere, but there was a mall across the street with a few good restaurants.  Unfortunately, the Italian restaurant was very crowded, so I had to order my food to go—which I enjoyed in my room!

3—Pre Race Jitters

·         The race started at 7 am.  Unfortunately, since I was far away, wasn’t sure of the parking situation, I left my hotel around 4:45 am.  I was able to secure free parking at one of the casinos around 5:15 am.  It was very cold (34 degrees), so I was able to stay inside the hotel for awhile charging my phone and staying warm until closer to the race start.

4—Quick Race Recap

·         After checking my bag and making my way to the start, I stood in my corral for about 20 minutes before the race started.  Right before the start, they played “Lose Yourself” as well as both the USA and Canadian National Anthem.  Each corral was spread out about every 2 minutes.  I was supposed to be in Corral K, but I moved up to J because that’s where I thought I belonged and no one was enforcing the corrals at all.  About 16 minutes into the race, I finally started!  The first few miles were not good time wise for me (my first mile  was the slowest one) as I was super cold and my fingers were frozen.  Around mile 3, we started to make our way over the Ambassador Bridge and into Canada.  It was very cool to run into Windsor with the USA flag on one side and the Canadian flag on the other.  We ran for about 3 miles in Canada before going into the underwater mile tunnel to go back to the USA.  It was cool but it was hot!!  I was relieved when we made it out of there and back into the cold.  After the underwater mile, it was just a quick 5 miles to the finish line.  I remember having lots of water stops and food stops (oranges, M&Ms, GU, and even bourbon) along the race course too. About a mile from the finish, I thought I might have a chance to get around 2:20, so I started running hard.  It wasn’t fast enough as I finished in 2:23:46.  Am I upset?  No way.  I’ve had a great year of running (2 races in less than 2:20—which was my original 2014 goal) and I knew I had a difficult weekend ahead of me after the race, so I didn’t want to go all out.

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5—Final Thoughts

·         Am I happy I ran this race?  Absolutely… it was a unique experience getting to run in Canada and the USA in the same race.  Would I do it again?  Probably not… the medal is pretty much the same each year (just the Chevy car changes) and Detroit is a bit of a scary place.  I had an encounter with a person with extreme road rage on Sunday morning at 5 am and I was terrified.  So, what’s next for me?!  I have one more race in 2014… the Hot Chocolate 15k in Chicago on November 9th.  2015 is shaping up to be a great one—I’m planning 6 new states by May (yippy!!  3 flights, 3 driving ones and one is going to be a double weekend.. ahh!!).

Cannot wait to check in again next week after my busy weekend!

Kathleen

 

Rock ‘n’ Roll 5K & Expo Recap

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My Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon weekend did not start off on a great foot. Friday night, I rushed after work to the expo which was open on Friday from 9AM-6PM. I get off work at 5PM, and can make it downtown in around 30 minutes on a good day. Unfortunately, on a Friday afternoon, there was no way I was making it in 30 minutes because there was of course tons of traffic. I thought that there would be no packet pickup in the morning before the 5K, so that’s why I wanted to make sure to get there Friday before it closed.

I was going crazy in the car because my GPS kept saying I would get there later and later and started to seem like I wouldn’t get there in time. So of course, I was freaking out! I was worried I spent all this money to run the 5K on Saturday, and I wouldn’t even be able to! I finally got off the exit at about 5:45PM, but the downtown traffic was also horrible, so I was still concerned. I finally got to the America’s Center where the expo was at around 5:50PM. Of course there was no parking on the street around there and I was in a rush, so I ended up spending $15 to park! Oh well, at least I knew I would be getting my packet!

I ran inside and found the area where Rock ‘n’ Roll was pretty easily. It was clear they were about to close because the only area open was where the packets and tshirts were. I quickly grabbed my bib for the half, then I had to go to a separate table to pick up my bib for the 5K and then I had to go in another area to pick up the shirts! As I was still in there, they started to turn off the lights so it was clear- it was time to go! Obviously the expo part was closed so I decided to go back on Saturday after my 5K since it was open from 10AM-5PM. Oh and by the way, later I found out that I could have picked up my packet for the 5K (not the half) on the morning of the race. I will not forget this next year!

5K Race Shirt

5K Race Shirt

The 5K started on Saturday at 8AM. So, I woke up around 6AM and got ready in my race outfit. I had planned to just wear a short-sleeve shirt and capris, but after looking at the weather forecast one more time, I decided to also where a pullover because race time temperature was going to be around 45 degrees.

My outfit for the race. I was laughing because Lilli kept trying to get in the picture! (You can see her tail!)

My outfit for the race. I was laughing because Lilli kept trying to get in the picture! (You can see her tail!)

Justin, Lilli, and I headed downtown about 7:15AM and got to the start in plenty of time so we found a place to park so we could walk over to the start together. Justin wasn’t running but was just going to stick around there since it was a short race. Lilli seemed a little upset that she couldn’t run with me, but no doggies allowed in this race!

It was cool but sunny out and I was excited to be racing. I decided to just push myself as much as I could because it was only a 5K and I would have plenty of time during the day to take it easy! There was a lot of people running, but a lot seemed to be taking it easy because of the half or marathon they had the next day, and others seemed to be beginners to racing.

Once we started, I was off at a pretty quick pace that I was able to closely maintain throughout the course of the race. We got to run past Busch Stadium (where the Cardinals play) and through part of the downtown business district, so I really enjoyed looking at the various sites throughout the race course.

Close to the finish line

Close to the finish line

Before I knew it, my GPS was telling me we were about .5 miles from the finish line. This race seemed so fast especially with the longer distances I have been doing with my marathon training. My thighs were burning, though, because of the faster pace we were going!

I crossed the finish line with a time of 23:57. This was not a PR for me, but it was pretty close and I was very pleased with my time. I know I would have regretted it later if I just took it easy, so I was happy that I decided to really race this 5K. I ended up getting 2nd out of 95 in my division, and 51 out of 1121 overall. Not too bad!

5K Medal

5K Medal

Results

Results

Later in the day we went back downtown for the race expo. I really liked the merchandise this year for the race, but I decided not to get anything simply because I have SO many racing clothes! Other than the merchandise, I really wasn’t that impressed with this expo. Last year’s expo seemed to be much more interactive with the sponsors, and that aspect just wasn’t there this year. The only thing I ended up getting was some Clifshots, but I could have just got those at the grocery store! Oh well, probably better for my wallet that there wasn’t that much that excited me at the expo.

Next week, I will be back with a full recap of my PR in the Rock ‘n’ Roll St. Louis Half!

Lauren

Weekly Recap

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Monday, October 13th: Rest day

Tuesday, October 14th: 1.5 miles running

Wednesday, October 15th: 6 miles running

Thursday, October 16th: 3 miles running

Friday, October 17th: Rest day

Saturday, October 18th: Rock ‘n’ Roll St. Louis 5K

Sunday, October 19th: Rock ‘n’ Roll St. Louis Half Marathon

Wow, it was quite a week for me! I had my regular marathon training during the week, and then had my two Rock ‘n’ Roll races during the weekend. I really pushed myself hard in both of the races, and the results from each of those races definitely made my hard effort worth it. I will have recaps of both of the races coming up later this week (and maybe next week) and I can’t wait to share my experiences with all of you! I have been looking forward to this weekend for so long, and I am kind of bummed that it has come to an end. Luckily, I have two more races for 2014, and of course am in the middle of training for the Walt Disney World Marathon, so I have plenty ahead to look forward to!

Last week, my 21 Day Fix program came in the mail. I started the program yesterday with just the eating plan since I was taking a rest day after the half, and so far so good. The eating plan is really easy to follow and I am excited to start with the first video today. The videos are meant to be done each day, so on Friday I will do two to make up for the one I didn’t do on Monday. I tested out a few of the exercises last week and I really liked them. The instructor, Autumn Calabrese, is really an awesome trainer and motivator, and let me just say my girl Jillian Michaels might have some competition! haha. I will post my full review after the 21 days!

Have a great week everyone! I hope you all have some beautiful fall weather to run in :)

Lauren

 

Weekly Recap

Monday, October 13—45 minutes running (4 miles at 11:17 pace on treadmill)

Tuesday, October 14—45 minutes running (4.26 miles at 10:33 pace on treadmill)

Wednesday, October 15—Rest Day

Thursday, October 16— 45 minutes running (4.28 miles at 10:31 pace on treadmill)

Friday, October 17—Rest Day

Saturday, October 18—Rest Day

Sunday, October 19—Detroit Chevy Dealers Intl’ Half Marathon 2:23:46 (13.1 miles at 10:58 pace)

What a busy week!!  I left Chicago on Saturday at 1:50 pm for Detroit (I made my flight with no issues) and I was back in Chicago by 3:00 pm today.  How crazy!!  I’m really exhausted from the experience—Detroit is on Eastern Time, so I was felt like I was up at 3 am this morning and now it’s 8:30 pm Central Time as I am writing this.  I’ll have a quick expo recap and full race recap on Wednesday.  My goal for the race was 2:20… I didn’t hit my goal, but honestly, I’m not upset at all.  I had a great race in Omaha last month and I have a 17 mile run next week—so I wasn’t planning on going all out anyways.

This week is going to be intense—work, personally and running wise.  Triple whammy.  For work, I have two huge events—one on Friday evening and one on Saturday evening.  Friday night’s event has a good chance of being cancelled, but I won’t really know until Tuesday or Wednesday.  Personally, I have a good friend coming into town on Friday evening and staying until Sunday lunchtime.  One of my best friend’s Stacy and I went to Ireland in November 2013.  It has always been a dream of mine to go to Ireland and in December 2012, Stacy and I decided to make that dream a reality (what a great friend).  We went with a tour group and we made some great new friends.  One of those people was Erin who actually lives in Indiana!  So, Erin will be staying at Stacy’s this weekend and we’re going to be hanging out at some Chicago places and hopefully planning our next big trip J.  But I am also training for my marathon, so that doesn’t stop this weekend.  This past week called for a 7 mile walk on Saturday and a 17 mile run on Sunday.  With work and travel on Saturday, it just wasn’t feasible to do my 7 mile walk and since I didn’t have time for the 7 mile walk, I knew that it wouldn’t be smart to do 17.  So I flip flopped the weeks.  Besides the following week is a cutback week too… so it’s not like I’ll be doing a 17 miler and then a 19 miler the following weekend.  

I cannot wait to hear all about Lauren’s big weekend tomorrow… she had quite the racing weekend!

Kathleen