Thursday, April 24, 2014

Mustang 50th Anniversary Half Marathon Race Recap

Months and months ago, probably late last year, my friend Becky told me there was going to be a one time half marathon in Vegas celebrating the Mustang's 50th anniversary at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  Her fiance and his friends are huge "car people" and were going to go for the conventions.  We decided it would make for a great vacation and I'm always up for throwing in destination half marathons!

And after the winter we have had, I could NOT WAIT for 80's and sun! In fact, it snowed the couple days before we left last Wednesday!  Seriously! Get me out of this state!

I'm not going to make this recap very detailed. Why? Well, it's the only one that will ever be. There won't be a future one, so I don't have to tell you whether I think it will be a good idea to sign up next year. There won't be a next year! 

When planning this trip, several friends of Becky's decided they would try and train for the half.  Not really being runners at all, this was definitely going to be challenging for them.  I wasn't there for their training so only know what they told me at the hotel. Some embraced the challenge and joy of running more than others. I will say...we all started.  And we all finished!  There were 7 of us running it and 4 were first time half marathoners!  Very proud of everyone! 

The packet pickup was at the Mandalay Bay.  There wasn't really an expo. Just bring your ID and get your packet. It was organized as far as that went, so that was good. I was really expecting a mess since that's how first time races usually go.  Race morning started early and we left about 5:30 a.m. to head to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  The course was going to be a lap around the track, then all around the outskirts of the track and all the smaller tracks around it.  I knew it was going to be warm. I knew the temps would be around 70 and sunny.  I haven't been able to train in those conditions, which the exception of the Saturday before when I ran in the middle of the day because it was going to be in the 70's.  I told Becky I thought we should start out together and just see how it goes. If one was feeling good, they could take off (and leave the other in the dust)! 

We got to the track and there were no signs telling us where to go.  We started following people and just hoped we went in the right directions. Finally, we made it to the starting area.  And of course, took some photos...

FNRC L-R: Becky, Derek, Me

Our group L-R: Tony, Maryanne, Madaya, Joe, Becky, Me, Derek
(The 4 on the left were the first time half marathoners)

I knew today wasn't a day to try to run fast. In fact, the day before, we got an email from the race directions telling us it's going to be hot and that since most of us have had long and cold winters (thanks for rubbing that in Vegas), we haven't been able to train in these conditions (truth) and to not try to PR and run slow.  I was all for that!  Yes! I got permission to run slow. I mean, the race directors told me to, right? And I'm a rule follower, right?

The race started. Becky and I started together.  Around mile 2, there was a water stop. I stopped and took a short walk for water. Becky stayed ahead and I was not about to try to catch up to her. But shortly thereafter (around mile 3), we took a short walk break. The sun had been glaring at us since before we started the race. I was a swift one and forgot to put sunscreen on.  When we started walking around mile 3, that started our run/walk for the race.  It was early and we had a long way left. I told Becky I thought we should stick together, if she was good with that. We tried for a 15-20 min run/1 min walk. I'm not really sure if we really ever stuck to that. I walked when Becky told me to, I ran when we felt ready.  Once I remember telling Becky that I needed to stop and walk (as I stopped) but she said we had 2 minutes left and so I ran the longest two minutes of my life.

I like to keep reminding people that the sun was beating down on us. And there was no shade. I keep reiterating that fact because when I say that in Chicago, there is still a "bit" of shade (a few trees somewhere).  Here, there was none. None. Nothing. Did I say there was no shade?

One of two really big hills. Take note, no shade, lots of sun.
On the way back to the track. Again take note, no shade, lots of sun. Although how pretty are those mountains!
The temps were only about 70 degrees. But that sun made it feel like 90!  I tried not to complain about it. In the beginning, I tried just putting my head down and gearing up for the run ahead of me. The thing that concerned me the most was that I didn't put sunscreen on. I was sure I would be burnt to a crisp when I was done and there was nothing I could do, nothing I could put on, and no where to go to prevent that from happening. Spoiler: I didn't get an ounce of sunburn!

In the middle, after a walk break, when I tried to run I would start to feel a bit nauseous.  I would just think "How am I going to do this when I just started running after a walk break and I just feel like I can't run at all?"  I would shuffle push through and eventually the feeling usually faded.  The middle miles (like always) were the roughest for me.  Becky definitely helped keep me going during the middle miles.

Nearing the last few miles, I started feeling good. I love when that happens.  It doesn't always happen so I'll take it when I could get it.  I knew Becky was having some leg/foot issues and those last few miles were probably the hardest for her. So as she supported me, I tried to support her.  We kept with some run/walking. We did the best we could given the circumstances.  We got to what I said was our last walk break.  When I was deciding where to start back up, I said "the yellow bin".  Becky said that the words on the track wall looked better.  In my mind, that was too far, so I said "the 4th speaker".  Becky pushed it a bit further and said the orange cone. Done! This exchange and compromise made me giggle.  We started running.  Becky who always tells me she doesn't sprint at the end (like myself), told me we should run fast to the finish line. Sigh.  Ok.  And we finished. 

All along Becky told me that we would not finish before 2:30. She was estimating 2:35.  I was really fine with whatever time we finished in but for the last 4 miles, I kept thinking we could break 2:30.  And my final time.......2:29:55 (Becky finished 1 second faster. What can I say, I can't sprint).

Not my best time for sure but I wasn't pushing for that. Ever since I signed up for this half, I knew the difference in climate would be a factor. I was proud of our finish and proud of our effort to keep moving during the race. Now that the race is over, I had a very good time! :)  I really enjoyed the palm trees and the mountain views for parts of our run.  I've never done a race with palm trees and mountains so it was beautiful.  I'm also really glad I'll never have to run a race there again!  As my boyfriend Derek likes to keep saying... "We ran through the Mojave Desert!"  He's a nerd. But he is correct.

Another thing to note was that the race never ran out of water throughout the race. Thankfully. They did however, run out of bananas before I got to the finish (and I love my bananas).  They still had the granola bars and pretzels but ran out of all food by the time Derek finished.  They really should make sure there is enough food for every finisher.  Just a gripe I have with races sometimes.

Becky and I were the first finishers in our group but then again, we should be as we are the most trained in the half marathons right now.  The rest of our group were relatively close together as they trickled in to the finish.  And we all got our medals. And we are all half marathoners!  Great job to everyone in my group!  And everyone else that ran!

Me and Becky with our finishers medals
Finishers: The girls (Madaya, Maryanne, Becky, Me)

The whole group!! 

Derek and I (You know, because I got to include this)
Closer shot of the awesome medal! One of my favorite medals!
Really big (because size matters)
 ...and really heavy!
So... in recap. I don't recommend you decide to do this race. Well, because there won't ever be another one!  Now, spring, please come. Please!

Monday, April 7, 2014

March in Review

I don't know about you but this year is moving too fast!  Although I'm not sorry to see the winter go, I am ready for spring and summer.  Chicago is trying...temps will be ranging between 40-60 degrees so that's an improvement.  Let's see how things shaped up for March.

Running Miles: 77.22
Swim Distance: 2,350 yards (2 swim days)
Crossfit Days: 0
Strength Training/Cross Training Days: 8
# of Workout Days this month: 20 (64.5%)

March was definitely a step in the right direction. 

Running: My running mileage improved with 77.22 for March (January was 63.66, February was 55.09).  I was sick the first week of March so I barely ran during the week, and I probably would have run 1 or 2 more days this month if I hadn't been sick.

Swim Distance: This also improved as far as total yards went although I still did only get in 2 days of swimming and that was in the second half of the month. Total yards have been 800 for January, 1,625 for February, and 2,350 yards for March.  My goal for swimming this month is to swim at least 4 times regardless of total distance each time.

Crossfit: Well, that was zero because I stopped going when my groupon ended.  My idea was to buy the punch card and go 1 or 2 times a week but I never wanted to fork over the money. We will see what happens with this. I really liked going.

Strength Training/Cross Training:  This category includes all things not running. So biking, swimming, walking, ab work, etc.  I did decent this month, the same as for the month of January and a step up from February. I still need to get better in the strength training department.

# of Workout days this month: I realized that I didn't want to put too much emphasis on this category but it is fun to keep track of. So far every month, I've worked out 64% - 65% which is interesting. Again, with the week of being sick, I took 4 total days off for being sick and probably would have worked out 2 of those days so my average could have been a bit higher this month. No worries. As long as I'm moving, I'm good.

Weight Loss - another thing I was doing was weight watchers. As I said before, I originally lost 90 lbs on weight watchers but put back on 30-35 pounds. My goal is to take that off.  I lost 12.2 lbs so far but last week was less than stellar and put back on 3-ish pounds. That woke me up (and that hurt!), so dusting myself off and back to the grind!  I will keep you posted on my progress.  I'm very happy with it so far and feel great.

This past weekend, I watched and helped out some amazing friends run the Lakefront Ultra 50k. I ended up running a total of 14.28 miles, mostly with my friend Sharon and then with Melanie. They all did great and I'm so proud of them! Makes me want to do another...sometime. 

Running some miles with Melanie

After the race L-R, Melanie, Julie, Judy, Jill, Amanda, Me
(Jill and I did not run the 50k - just supporting!)
Melanie and I posing at the turn-around sign.
Running selfie - Ran into Maggie on the trail!

Hope you all had a fantastic weekend. I know I did! My friends are awesome people!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Chicago 13.1 - And the winner is...

Thank you everyone that participated in my giveaway for the Michelob Ultra Chicago 13.1 Marathon!  This was my very first giveaway ever and it was a great one! So without further delay...

The winner is...


Kimberly Jenkins! Congratulations. Please email me at to claim your race entry!

If you didn't win, there is another giveaway for this race here!  The winner for that giveaway will be chosen on Monday, April 7th so hurry on over and enter!

If you prefer, you can also just go ahead and register for the race here.

Thanks again everyone for entering this giveaway!