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Race Recap: Loveland Sweetheart Classic 2017

Before last weekend, the last time I had raced was in June, at the Skirt Sports 13er — and even then, I didn’t really race until the last couple of miles, when I realized I could place. Then I got injured in July, and moved and started a new job in August, and continued fighting that injury, so I hadn’t raced or trained hard for months.

Nevertheless, I decided to race the Loveland Sweetheart Classic 4-Miler last Saturday. My hamstring was feeling about 85% of healthy. I love this little race (this was my fourth time running it), and I figured that even though I’d have a slow-for-me time, it would give me a good baseline for getting back in shape for this year’s 13er. So I registered, and last Saturday morning found me lining up in the Loveland High School parking lot, enjoying the unseasonable warmth and getting re-familiarized with pre-race butterflies.
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One of my injury-healing (and -preventing) strategies is doing a thorough warm-up, so I did some dynamic stretching and ran an easy mile, returning to the start just in time to hear the National Anthem. Soon, the gun went off, and so did the runners. I wasn’t really sure how to pace myself, since the only fast running I’ve done recently is a few strides and a couple of fartlek workouts. I figured I’d just go by feel, playing it by ear and not paying too much attention to keeping even or negative splits, since the first mile-ish is downhill and the last mile-ish uphill.
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I ticked off the first mile in 6:50, feeling pretty decent. I picked it up a little for the flat second mile (6:42), passing a few people and high-fiving a few spectators (high-fiving little kids mid-race is the best. If you don’t usually make time for it, you need to start). Mile 3 is when I started to feel my lack  of fitness, and it was also my slowest mile (6:53), I guess thanks to a slight headwind? That’s when I started mentally repeating the mantra that got me through the end: “Just gut it out.” I knew that a race this short, even with minimal fitness, was mostly a mental game, and I just had to, well, gut it out.

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Don’t be jealous of my beautiful race face. (Photo courtesy of the Loveland Road Runners). 

Mile 4 ends with a mild uphill push, then a rewarding downhill sprint to the finish line. I managed to pass one more woman just after my watched beeped for mile 3, and then I was alone until the finish. I pushed it hard, hitting mile 4 in 6:47 and finishing in 27:36, good enough for fourth place.

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Gasping for air after the finish

After catching my breath for a few minutes, I jogged back along the course to meet my friend Christine and run her in, so I finished the day with just over 6 miles. We wandered around the post-race expo, I got a free post-race massage in the hopes that it would keep my hammy healthy, and then we stuck around for the awards ceremony. Since the overall top three women were excluded from age group awards, I took first in the 30-39 category (and my time was faster than all the 30-39 men. I like to brag). My prize was a handmade medal and a $15 gift certificate to Runners Roost. I was stoked, since I need new running shoes!
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After the awards, I took a baby-wipe bath in the bathroom (races with access to indoor bathrooms are the best), put on clean clothes, and headed to the Loveland Fire and Ice art festival with J.

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Snowman ice sculpture, part of the “ice” bit of the festival. 

Overall, I’m satisfied with how this race went. I ran hard but didn’t get reinjured, and I feel like I have a good baseline now as I build fitness for this year’s 13er, which I do plan to race (if you want to race with me, use code SKIRTAMB15 for 15% off!). Time to start training harder (but smarter)!

Have you raced lately? How did it go?

What’s your favorite local festival/event? We’re pretty darn excited to live closer to artsy things..

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Awkward Splits for Second Place: Loveland Sweetheart Classic Recap

On Saturday, I ran the Loveland Sweetheart Classic 4-Mile Race. Going in, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I’ve just recently started doing speedwork again, and I didn’t know how the course conditions would be, either. All of last week was frigid — as in, barely above zero — so when I saw that the temperature at start time was 20 degrees and  it was sunny, I got pretty excited.

The race started at 10, and we got there around 9. The start and finish were at a high school, which was nice because we got to stay inside and keep warm until start time. At about 9:30, I did a two-mile warm-up and hit the bathroom, and then it was go time. We lined up, shivered through the National Anthem, and took off.

At the starting line. Brrrrr.
At the starting line. Brrrrr.

I had only a vague plan and goal, as I knew my performance would be largely dependent on how much ice was on the course. I planned to start with a 6:30 mile and pick it up if possible — ideally, each mile faster than the last.

Mile 1 ticked by, right on pace: 6:29. Mile 2 was a smidge downhill, with a tailwind, and not much ice: 6:20. And then, mile 3 came along, with a lot of ice. Mile 3 was along the lake, and the wind over the water (ice) was chilly and in my face. Though my effort stayed pretty even, I ticked off mile 3 in 6:41. Mile 4 was even worse. The course is pretty flat, but most of mile 4 was a slight uphill with a number of icy patches. 6:45 was my pace there.

Photo copyright John C. Giroux. He gave each runner up to three complimentary images. That's pretty cool.
Photo copyright John C. Giroux. He gave each runner up to three complimentary images. That’s pretty cool.

So those are some silly splits, but I don’t feel too bad about them, as their unevenness was due more to conditions than poor pacing on my part (though I probably should have eased up on mile 2). I crossed the line in 26:49 — good enough for second female and first in my age group.

Photo copyright John Giroux. My favorite part of this picture is Jordan in the background.
Photo copyright John Giroux. My favorite part of this picture is Jordan in the background.

The first woman and I compared notes after the race. Both our Garmins registered 4.1 miles, but we agreed that it was probably more that we were dodging ice than that the race was long. Overall, I was happy with my performance — it was right where I expected to be, given the shape I’m in and the course conditions.

I really enjoyed this race and definitely recommend it. I’ve done it before, at its old location, and I liked this location (through neighborhoods and around the lake) much more. The race had some minor organizational snafus, but nothing major. It’s not a huge race (519 runners this year), and all the profits go to local high school cross country teams, so I’m willing to overlook those minor issues.

Right after the race, still trying to breathe.
Right after the race, still trying to breathe.

Also, the age group award medals were adorable, and they came with a $25 gift certificate to Runner’s Roost. Sweet.

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I’m excited now to see what my time will be for my goal 10k in a few weeks. Hopefully a few solid weeks of speedwork (and less snow and ice, fingers crossed) will make for a great race!

What’s your favorite race distance?

Weekly Recap: January 6-12, and My 2014 Race Plans

Hey friends! Did you notice the new layout? What do you think? I’m not completely in love with the header, but after spending waaaay too long yesterday fighting with my ancient computer, I gave up and called it good enough. Anybody want to donate to the “Cassie Wants a New Laptop” Fund?

This was our first week back at work after the holidays, which is always kind of a weird one. The teachers and students are all about half-rejuvenated from break, everyone is busy right off the bat, and the mood is just a little…off. For all that, though, it was a pretty decent week, and I was satisfied with both the work aspect and the workout aspect.

Here’s how my training went down:

Monday: 5 easy miles and some core work

Tuesday: AM: 10 x 400m; 6 miles total with warm-up and cool down. It was my first non-fartlek speedwork since the marathon in October, and it felt good, even if what was supposed to be 5k pace was a little slower. PM: 60 minutes lifting. The gym was surprisingly (and delightfully) quiet for a Tuesday in January.

Wednesday: 6 miles easy plus core

Thursday: 7 miles of treadmill hills. After a 10-minute warm-up, I did one minute at 5% incline and marathon pace, then two minutes to recover, and just repeated that sequence until I hit seven miles. It was easy at first, but it got brutal by the end.

Friday: An hour of lifting followed by 5 easy miles.

Saturday: 10 glorious outdoor miles. There was still a lot of ice, which slowed my overall pace, but I was so happy to be outside running that I didn’t even kind of care.

photo 1 (1)Days like yesterday make me wish I was running a spring marathon after all. And then days like today, with its 40-mph wind gusts, remind me that no, I do not wish that.

Sunday: 60 minutes of yoga. Full disclosure: I haven’t actually done this yoga yet, but if I post it now, I’ll have to do it. It has been months since I’ve done yoga, and my increased strength training is making my muscles even more tight than before (if that’s even possible), so I need to get back on the yoga train.

So that’s the past. Now let’s talk about the future.

Over Christmas break, I started to plan out what my 2014 races. I knew I wasn’t going to run a spring marathon, but I wasn’t sure which shorter races (or even distances) to target. Then, I found out that I won the Better With Veggies Move Happy Challenge, which included a 5k or 10k training plan. So, since I needed to get back to Heather with my choice, J and I sat down and cranked out a plan. Here’s what’s coming up:

  • February 8: Loveland Sweetheart Classic 4-mile
  • March 15: Brush St. Patrick’s Day 5k (a local race that I may race or I may walk with Jordan and our friend Sarah)
  • March 22: Spring Fever 10k in Golden. This is the race that Heather’s making my training plan for. I’ve never done it before, but I’ve heard good things, so I’m excited. (There’s also a 5k and a half marathon, if you’re interested).
  • May 17: Run to the Shrine 10k in Colorado Springs. At least that’s what I’m planning; there’s no 2014 info up yet for this race yet, so I’m hoping that it’s still happening and that’s the right date.

I’m also thinking about a race in April, either the Horsetooth Half or the Cherry Creek Sneak 10-mile, but April’s a pretty crazy month between school stuff and family stuff. I’m not sure if either will work out schedule-wise.

Summer races are up in the air right now. We need to get our vacation on the books first. Priorities, people.

I definitely want to run a fall marathon, and I recently found out about the Monument Marathon in Scottsbluff, NE in September. It sounds like a great race, and they have cash prizes for the top three competitors. Last year’s winner ran a 3:21. Hmmm.  But I also have a soft spot for Rock n Roll Denver. I still have time to make that decision, at least.

Those are my plans for now, anyway. I’ll keep you posted as they change and develop.

Anybody running any of the same races I am?

What races am I missing that I should definitely do?