Category Archives: Race Recaps

Spartan Sprint

I think I promised you guys this review last week so apologies for the delay!  Last weekend, I participated in the Spartan Sprint.  Participation in this event was a last minute decision for our group, and one I’d consider making again.  For those unfamiliar, the Spartan race series involves grueling obstacles over the course of trail filled miles and crossing the finish line covered in mud is mandatory.  This type of event is one where consistent strength training in your weekly routine would help you be more prepared, but individuals of all shapes and sizes were up and at it on the course.  For the sprint distance, 4.8 miles were on the agenda and let me tell you, it was tough.  We faced steep up and downhills (it took place on a ski resort after all), lots of mud, 8 foot walls to climb over, monkey bars, and even a fire pit to jump over at the finish.  This was hands down one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  It took over 3 hours and just about every ounce of energy I had.  I’ll tell you one thing though, that post-race beer sure was refreshing.  Since it was way too muddy to carry a camera with me on the course, I will rely on the free, professional photos that the Spartan Series made available to event participants.  If you’re looking for a fun way to challenge yourself that isn’t running, a Spartan race is the way to do it.

Here’s the crew before we started. No mud!  That will change.   

Trudging through an over flooded creek.  Lots of super muddy “quick sand” like spots along the way for an added challenge!  

In between all of this, there were barbed wire fences we had to crawl in the mud to avoid, large walls to climb over, and even monkey bars to fall off of.  It’s safe to say I was stuck doing a lot of burpees.  For those unfamiliar, if you skip an obstacle or are unable to finish the obstacle, you are required to do 30 burpees.  Over 25 obstacles, I think I did 180 burpees.  Oof.

This was probably one of the worst.  Had fill this bucket up with what felt like a ton of rocks, and carry it up, then back down a steep ski slope.

 
Finally, the fire.  We wanted an epic, holding hands photo, as we jumped over the fire.  I ruined that.  I was terrified I wasn’t going to make it over and let go.  I think you can see the fear in my eyes.

 
It’s fine though, because everyone started cheering for me and I made it over.

 
Victory looks like mud.  Safe to say we all wanted to shower.

  
 
A few tips I’d suggest if you decide to do one of these bad boys:  do it with a group so you can help each other with the obstacles.  My team / random good people were crucial in my ability to make it over some of the walls we climbed.  I’d also suggest going in knowing your limits.  I love that I pushed myself to try things I’d never done before, but don’t force yourself to do things that you don’t think you can handle.  

I’m a Spartan now!  What’s the hardest rave you’ve ever done??

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Hyde Park Blast Recap + Other Adventures

You guys!  Saturday was my 6th Hyde Park Blast.  This fun, 4 mile race has a special place in my heart.  Back in June 2011, I decided I needed to get back into running.  I had always used my knees as an excuse but no more.  I decided that day if I could run this 4 mile race with no hiccups, I would sign up for my first half marathon.  The rest is history.  That hot, humid day in 2011 is mostly a blur, but I remember feeling accomplished when I crossed the finish line.  While it was hands down one of my slowest races of all time, I felt like crossing 13.1 off the theoretical bucket list was a realistic thing!  For your viewing pleasure, here’s a photo of me and my mom at the event in 2013 (my third blast).


Another thing I love about this race is that it’s become a really cool way for me to see how far my level of fitness has come through slowly but surely getting faster every summer.  I have a hard time believing that I was ever this slow, but online race results doesn’t lie!

2011- 44:07
2012- 42:46
2013- 38:30
2014- 35:40
2015- 42:15 (the chip time didn’t work during this one, so I’m not sure what my exact time was!)
2016- 32:31 (PR!)

  
So I guess spoiler alert already, I PR’d this weekend.  Although the super fun part about that PR is that my goal was really just to finish.  As of today, training for the Monumental Marathon in Indianapolis, IN has begun, and my goal for the blast was to finish.  My training plan had me scheduled to run 12 miles Saturday, which I wasn’t feeling, but knew I needed to get a few extra miles in, so I turned what could have been a 1 mile warm-up jog to the start line into a 3 mile adventure run from my apartment.

Love the smell of fresh donuts before 7am.


Free TVs anyone?


I felt like it would have been bad luck to run through the finish area prior to even running the race so I ran around it.

I found my running pals, Mary included and we were off to the start.  I’ve been a big proponent recently of running based off of feel, so I didn’t have any real goals for this race.  When the gun went off, I felt good so I started booking it.  Then, some of the hills started killing me.  I slowed back just a bit and caught up with Mary.  I used her pace as motivation to keep moving quick for the rest of the race.


Even though I run this race every year, and I live a mile a way from the start, I always forget just how brutal the hills feel when moving at a faster race pace.  Oof!  Here are  two photos of Mary and I trudging along.


 Take a look at that elevation map.  See what I mean!? 

 
Before we knew it, 4 miles were done.  PRs for me and Mary!  Awesome.  Our friend Katie placed in the top 50 women in a 3000 runner field and Todd beat his goal time.  Everyone crushed it.  Go team.


 The activity didn’t stop with the blast.  Next on the agenda was Yelp’s Kick Off to Summer event at 50 West Production Works for some free craft beer and a sand volleyball tournament.  My team placed second, and my friend Julie’s team won!


 The rest of the day was spent wandering around town, which led us back to Hyde Park to watch the Chariot Races and some of the cycling.  So fun!  My legs are definitely sore this morning.

Who else enjoyed the sunshine this weekend?

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Memorial Day Things

Hi Friends.  Gosh.  I can’t believe it’s already Wednesday.  I have a proposal:  all weekends should be long ones.  It gives you time to do fun things and relax all while making the week fly by.  I feel like zero people would argue with a 4 day workweek.  Let’s make it a thing!  This is going to be one of those posts where I over share details of my long weekend with you.  Are you ready?

My weekend was filled with all the outside activities, starting out Saturday morning with the Clippard YMCA 5K sponsored by my running club.  Because I’m in summer training with Queen City running, my entry for this race was covered.  Since free is my favorite price, I was pretty stoked.  Not going to lie, I was pretty nervous prior to this race.  It’s been what feels like decades since I’ve actually raced a 5K.  I didn’t even know what my PR was.  Anyways, my friend Katie and I showed up bright and early to pick up our packets.  Almost too early.  We didn’t realize how small and casual this race was.  It was a very small field of runners, maybe 200 people tops, so there was no reason to arrive an hour before the race.  Regardless, we took advantage of that extra time to squeeze in a mile warm up jog and some stretching.  Since this race was so casual, they just had everyone line up together at the start in the parking lot, and had all the sub-9 minute milers line up in the front.  Hey!  That’s me!

  
And off we went!  The course was flat for the first mile and then the second 2 miles were very hilly.  This course was very small and very casual like I said, and they forgot to mark one of the turns, so some of the super fast runners missed one of the turns… oops!  Since I had a turn-doc, I didn’t miss the turn, but I could see how easy it would have been to follow the crowds.  Throughout the whole race, I was neck and neck with the second place female.  It was a fun feeling running a smaller race, knowing the entire time it was very likely I would place!  There was no chip timing for this race, it was all done by the gun, the old fashioned way.  I crossed the finish line about 9 seconds after the second place female in 24:09 (7:54 pace).  I’ve never placed outside of my age group category in a race before, so snagging the 3rd place overall female award was pretty exciting, even if my time wouldn’t have held it’s own at a larger 5K.  And shout out to Katie!  She placed first!  Our prizes you ask?  YMCA memberships.  Cool!

 

 
After there race, I rushed home to change as some of my college friends were coming to town for a visit.  First on the agenda?  Checking out the brand new rooftop patio at Rheingeist.  The space is super welcoming and perfect for hanging out.  I’ll be back all summer long.  

Next stop?  Taste of Cincinnati.  This event happens every Memorial Day Weekend in the Queen City and I rarely attend.  Why?  It’s always super hot, sticky and crowded.  But visitors in town meant I had to show them some of Cincy’s best!  After sampling a few small bites (a taco from Red Sesame – DELISH, and Bella Luna’s bread pudding)  it was back to Over the Rhine!

  
 My friend Sarah is just as Holtman’s obssesed as I am, and she had to get her fix while in town.  I will never argue with a donut run followed by window shopping so of course I was down.

 
After a long nap back at my place, a late dinner was in order.  After spending the day in the heat, a light meal sounded tasty so I suggested E + O.  They are normally packed, however we snagged a seat on the patio lounge right away.  Awesome.  I ate here last month for a friend’s birthday and while the service disappointed then, the food did not.  Tonight the food was just as spectacular.  We tried a few things and shared.  The brussels sprout salad is my favorite, but the edamame guac and the sushi rolls were delish as well.  Plus, my margarita was super refreshing.  It had egg white in it which added a thicker mouthfeel to it.  I’m not sure if I loved it or not, but it definitely hit the spot.

   
   
After such a jam packed Saturday, I wanted Sunday to be slow.  Coffee emporium + Farmers Market were on the agenda.  Then lot’s of time spent hanging out on the couch.  Then, my visitors had to head home.  So sad.  Come back soon, Sarah and Molly!

  
Monday was the laziest of days.  After meeting up with Katie in the morning for a hot, sticky, humid, 6 mile run, I showered and headed over to Katie’s pool.  I think laying out poolside for half the day backfired because I got terribly sun burnt.  Oops!  After the pool, I headed over to my parents house to grill out.  On the menu?  An ice cold beer served with BBQ chicken, corn, zucchini and some good ‘ole blue oven bread.  Hit’s the spot every time.

    

What did you do this Memorial Day weekend?  What was the best thing you ate?

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The Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon Recap

Well folks, what can I say?  It was one heck of a weekend.  Hard to believe that 19 weeks of training have come to a close and marathon number 3 is one for the books!  It’s been no secret that breaking the 4 hour threshold was my goal, and I’ll throw this out in the open right now that I did not get there (yet).  However, I accomplished something Saturday that most people don’t get to say they’ve ever done so I have to be proud of that.  After the race Saturday, we adventured around Louisville so I’ll share the food related adventures later this week.  For now, I know you’re all really curious to hear about the marathon.

 
Obviously, the first stop we had to make while in Louisville was the race expo.  We wandered around for a bit, snapped some obligatory photos, and then decided to head off and actually drive the course.  

  

As I mentioned before, I trained for this race with Queen City Running Club and my two friends Mary and Katie.  For Mary and Katie, it was their first 26.2 so we wanted to drive the course to get a visual of what we’d be conquering the following morning.  Ended up being a great idea.  Driving through the course gave us a spot on perspective of what to expect, especially around miles 11-15 which various rumors had led me to believe would either be incredibly challenging, or not as bad as the hype.  I had been warned by many that these hilly miles through Iroquois Park would be brutal, but I needed to see it to believe it.  Having the visual image of what to expect coming into these hills was actually incredibly helpful, but more on that later.

  
After a successful run through of our race (on wheels of course!) we headed back to the apartment we booked through Airbnb.  This worked out well because instead of eating out, we stuck with a solid plan of cooking our pre-race dinner!  We decided on stir fry with chicken, veggies, and white rice to fuel us for the marathon.  Hit the spot.  Perfect way to fuel up before the race–a balanced plate with some carbs, protein, and veggies.  Awesome!

  
Our alarms went off bright and early at 5:30 AM and we were ready.  It also looked like the rain was going to hold off until about 9 or 10 AM meaning we’d get to start out running this race nice and dry.  I was definitely excited about that!  By 6:30, we were out the door and walking to the start.  That’s right, I said walking!  Benefits to Airbnb?  We booked a place within blocks of the start line.  After taking some obligatory pre-race photos, Katie split off from me and Mary to find a faster pace group to run with, and Mary and I lined up with the 4 hour pacers, since that was my goal time.

  
 
Before we knew it, the guns hand sounded and we were off.  Within seconds of crossing the start, our 4 our pacers had weaved their way through the crowd, going almost a minute faster than the average goal pace for a sub-4 race, so Mary and I while frustrated, decided it would be better to keep a consistent pace on our own instead of trying to chase these women (who quite frankly weren’t being very good pace leaders the way they were shoving their way through the crowd).  So, adrenaline aside, our first mile wasn’t ridiculously fast, it was right around where I expected it to be.

Mile 1- 8:50

After making our way out of the classic “start of a race bottleneck,” Mary and I made the decision to stay together until I felt I was ready to push off.  This is a new to me thing as I typically go all out, but I knew that I wanted this 4 hour marathon so bad, that I wanted to try my best to conserve energy for the end of the race, especially since I knew there would be some brutal hills at the half way mark.  After the first mile, Mary and I slowly settled in to the pace needed for a sub-4 race:  9:09.  To be completely honest, the next few miles up until we hit Churchill Downs were pretty flat, boring and uneventful.  We saw Mary’s boyfriend around mile 6, which was motivating as well, but for the most part, the flat, boring course made keeping this pace pretty easy.

Mile 2- 9:06
Mile 3- 9:12
Mile 4– 9:09
Mile 5– 9:15
Mile 6– 9:15
Mile 7– 9:12

Around mile 7.5 or so, we hit Churchill Downs.  This was arguably the coolest part of the race.  Obviously since this was the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon, there was hype built up around this very facility where the derby takes place year after year.  It was incredibly surreal  running through Churchill Downs.  The horses were out, and they had the whole place lit up just for the runners.  Totally awesome.  Even better was that the rain held off until right around this point in the race, so I got a solid hour or so of running in before the continuing rain that I had to endure the rest of the race.  Our first “hills” of the race happened in Churchill Downs as well.  The ramps into and out of the facility were quite steep and narrow, but I still somehow maintained a solid pace.  I slowed down a little bit on the ramp leading out of the facility but not by much.

Mile 8-  9:06
Mile 9- 9:24

After leaving Churchill Downs, the course became slightly mundane again.  The rain had really started to fall at this point so the roads were wet and the crowd support was non existent, which was a mega bummer.  Mary and I kept strong and decided to continue motivating each other because we knew the big bad hills of Iriquois Park were coming up around mile 11.5.  Around mile 10, we met a new friend, I think his name was Dave, who was shooting for a similar goal time.  Dave was looking for some extra motivation because he was used to the Miami, FL heat he trained in, not the cool, rainy temps we were experiencing.  We all decided to run together for a bit to motivate each other in preparation for the hills.  The motivation definitely helped!

Mile 10- 9:06
Mile 11- 8:57

The dreaded climb began around mile 11.5 and that’s when our pace started to slow.  This was planned though as Mary and I had no interest in wasting energy at this point in the race knowing we still had so much further to run.  We were chatting too and while Mary was at the upper end of her limits as far as pushing pace (go Mary!), I had a lot more to give and knew after the hills I’d eventually break away.  While constant ups and downs of the rolling hills in the park were no joke, the park itself was absolutely beautiful.  With the rain falling, it felt like we were in a rain forest.  It was a nice change in scenery from the barren, flat roads we had previously been running on.

derby

Mile 12- 9:27
Mile 13- 9:42
Mile 14- 9:45
Mile 15- 9:45

As you can see, the hills definitely took a toll on our pace, however I had the energy and mental drive to bounce back.  I had planned for these slow downs the entire time and my theoretical goal was to come back and eventually hit some sub 9 miles.  With this plan in mind, my sub-4 marathon was still in the scope of realistic things.  At mile 16, I was feeling AWESOME and turned to Mary.  It was time and we waved our goodbyes as I slowly started to increase my pace.  I was having a blast and dancing to the music, waving at the few brave soles who came to cheer in the rain.  I was motivated and pumped up.  I had a goal to chase!

Mile 16- 9:24
Mile 17- 9:18

Mile 18 I started to feel a minor cramp in the right side of my stomach so I slowed down a bit.  Gotta listen to your body.  I grabbed some powerade at a hydration station and kept going.  The electrolytes solved my cramping issue almost immediately and I was back on my original plan of slowly speeding up.

Mile 18- 9:39
Mile 199:21

It was around miles 20-21 where things started to go downhill.  All of a sudden, my ankle started throbbing.  It was a pain I had never experienced before.  My ankle muscles had been twitchy on and off since the start of the race, but nothing that I couldn’t conquer.  This minor ankle pain had happened on one of my long runs but I bounced back so quick from it I didn’t think anything of it.  I decided to listen to my body, since the pain was pretty bad and slow down.  I had to readjust my frame of mind at this point because I knew as my miles slowed, I would not get my sub 4 hour marathon.  I decided maybe a sub 4:15 would be realistic.

Mile 20- 9:48
Mile 21- 11:06
Mile 22- 10:48

Right after 22 was when it really got bad.  The pain continually got worse and I decided to start run-walking.  I started walking through water stops and increasing my walking bouts as the pain worsened.  Over the last 4 miles of the race, my pace slowed so significantly that the once seemingly realistic finish time of 4:15 blew away and I knew I just wanted to PR–less than 4:29?  It was possible.  My drive to ring the PR gong at the finish line was the only thing keeping me from hiding out in a porta pottie and quitting.  It was mentally tough.  These miles were made slightly better though by some good conversation with other runners.  I met a few people doing back to back marathons and asking me for advice on the Cincinnati Flying Pig, my favorite race and hometown race!  I don’t think I could ever run back to back marathons so props to these people.  Eventually around mile 23 or so, Mary passed me.  She had slowed down too but was still looking strong.  Go Mary!

Mile 23- 12:24
Mile 24- 12:57
Mile 25- 12:39

With just over a mile to go, the sky opened up and what was a constant drizzle became a pretty major downpour.  I knew I had just over a mile to go and was ready to get this brutal race over with.  My feet were cold and soggy and mentally, I was over the entire thing.  Ankle pain or not, I started to speed up.  I was getting my PR even if it wasn’t the one I had originally set out for!

Mile 26– 11:27
Last .2 nubbin’- 9:03

 
I did it!  I sprinted through the finish line and powering through that pain exerted so much physical energy from me that I started wheezing and hyperventilating.  The medical tent attendees tried to get me to sit down but I didn’t want to.  I was a mix of emotions.  I had PR’d, yes, but it wasn’t the PR I had hoped for.  I let them give me some water and then I moved on through the finish area to find some nourishment.

Final time- 4:20:40 (average pace 9:57)

 
As you can see, the ankle issues I endured really took a toll on my time but I still PR’d by over 8 minutes so I’ll take the win.  It was frustrating knowing I had worked so hard for a specific goal and I was physically capable of it, but the cards just didn’t play in my favor.  Regardless, I ran my third marathon and that itself is an accomplishment.  Sunday evening, we met up with our training group for the post marathon celebration event at Braxton.  It was such a great time swapping battle stories with fellow running friends.

 

So, I’m still pretty set on this goal still, and I’m like 99% certain that I’ll make a final attempt to conquer that sub-4 goal in November in Indianapolis.  Every marathoner says they’ll quit running marathons until the next one… am I right? 🙂

 

 
Who has a favorite race?  Anyone run a marathon this weekend too?  Any tips for better ankle support while running?  Who’s used KT tape?

 

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