Tag Archives: Run to the Shrine

So, What’s Next?

Hi friends! Thanks for all the sweet comments on my last post! You guys are the best. Seriously.

Now that my goal 10k is over and spring has officially arrived, it’s time to think about what comes next. Actually, I’ve been thinking about what comes next for a while, so it’s time to start what comes next. And I’m excited for it!

My next race is the Run to the Shrine 10k in Colorado Springs in May. I wrote about this race in my favorite Colorado races post, and of course I’m excited to do it again! It’s incredibly challenging and incredibly fun, and the top three finishers get the most unique medal I’ve ever seen: It’s made of poop (freeze-dried and sealed in plastic). The first year I ran, it was elephant. The next year, it was rhino.

(image from the race website linked above)

I’m not sure what it is this year, but I WANT ONE. That’s weird, I know. But I don’t care.  I was fourth in 2012 and fifth in 2013; I want to be third or better in 2014 and get that medal.

Anyway, now I’m on a poo-medal ramble when I meant to be telling you about my training plans for the next several weeks. Back on track now. I have a few main goals:

  • Build mileage. Marathon training will start the week after Run  to the Shrine. I want to have completed several weeks in the 50+ mile range before starting training, so it’s time to build back up!
  • Run hills. So many hills. The first four miles of Run to the Shrine are on an average 8.5% grade. Hill training needs to happen. I’ve been doing some hill work, but now it needs to be my focus instead of a supplement.
  • Build strength, especially core. Past years at Run to the Shrine have shown me that a strong core is really beneficial for pulling the ol’ body up the massive hill. You should’ve seen the abs on last year’s women’s winner. Whoa.
  • Shed a little body fat. I almost didn’t share this goal, because I feel like goals like this are touchy in the healthy-living blog world, especially if the blogger is already at a healthy weight (I know I am. Don’t yell at me). But remember when I wrote about trying the Paleo diet, and I mentioned that I’d gained a few pounds on it? Well, those pounds are still hanging around, and I’d like them to go away. To clarify, I don’t think a few extra pounds are big deal, but if I gain a few pounds every year, suddenly it’s not a few anymore, and then it’s a problem. And also to clarify, I’m not doing anything drastic — just keeping a closer eye on my intake and gradually upping mileage.

    (I don’t really know the relevance of that image, but I like it.)

Last weekend, I wrote up a training plan for the eight weeks between now and Run to the Shrine. It’s nothing fancy and is flexible, but it should get me better prepared for the climb and get my mileage back up safely. I won’t bore you with the week-by-week details, but here’s an overview:

Monday: Easy + core
Tuesday: Short hills + strength
Wednesday: Easy + core
Thursday: Long hill climb + strength
Friday: Easy + core
Saturday: Long run
Sunday: Rest and maybe light yoga (because that’s the only kind I do.)

So that’s two hill days a week to start. In a few weeks, I’ll also start taking my long runs out to the only decent hills near me, but I’ll give my legs some time to get used to hills before I do that.

(source)

Since the aforementioned hills are neither all that long nor all that convenient, my mid-week hill runs will have to be treadmillers. I made those double days (run a.m., strength p.m.) because it’s a lot easier to commit to the treadmill when it’s early and dark than when it’s after work and sunny. Then, if it’s nice out in the evening, I can either walk or easy jog to the gym to lift and still get in some of my beloved Vitamin D.

So that’s the plan, Stan. (If I have a reader named Stan, you now get bonus points).

What do you think of my plan? Any pointers?

What unique race medals have you seen/ do you own?

 

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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?

A Few of My Favorite Things: Colorado Races Edition

Among many other things, Colorado is famous for being a great place to run. It makes sense, then, that the state is chock-full of incredible races. I haven’t done nearly as many of them as I’d like to (I’ve never even run the famous BolderBoulder…pathetic, I know), but I have run some that stand out as fantastic. Here they are, with their dates for this year, in chronological order (from right now). All the names are linked to the race websites.

Rock ‘n Roll Denver Marathon and 1/2 Marathon: October 20, 2013

I first ran this race in 2009, the year before it became part of the Rock ‘n Roll series and was still the regular old Denver Marathon. Every year since, I’ve run either the full or the half, and I absolutely love both races. Both races start and finish in Denver’s Civic Center Park and take you on a nice little tour of Denver. Both courses take you past Coors Field (home of the Colorado Rockies), all around City Park (your spectators can catch you at least twice here), and through Cheesman Park. The full splits off at Cheesman and takes you through some more neighborhoods, over to Wash Park (another of Denver’s most popular parks), around some pretty ritzy neighborhoods, and finally back to Civic Center. The course is mostly pretty and very spectator-friendly — and the spectators are out in full force. From the bands to the cheer squads to the ordinary spectators, you’re never without someone to cheer you on.

DENL0381(This is me finishing the half in 2010…such a flattering photo.)

The course is pretty flat; the only significant hill is in Cheesman Park, around mile 9 or 10. A smaller hill at mile 24ish feels brutal just because your legs are dead, but it’s short and spectator-packed, so it’s really not so bad.

I’ve heard some pretty crummy stuff about RnR races, but this is one of my absolute favorites. It’s always been well-organized, and I’ve never had a bad experience here. (Knocking on wood for October…)

Yeti Chase 5k/10k: January 26, 2014

I have done this race only once, in 2012, but definitely hope to run it again. It’s held at Bear Creek Lake State Park, which is a beautiful park near the Denver foothills. I ran the 10k, which was challenging but incredibly fun. The course is hilly…I got tricked by the early downhills and burned myself out early — which is part of why I want to run it again. I know better now.

Anyway, the course takes you past two lakes, which are frigid but beautiful, and along part of the bike path through the park. It’s not a very spectator-friendly course, but I actually kind of liked that. The field is small, so I was running alone a lot of the time, left to take in the beauty and try not to think about how my cheeks were freezing.

One of the best parts about the race was the post-race homemade banana bread. The day before, Racing Underground (who hosts the event) posted on Facebook that they were baking banana bread. So obviously it was pretty fresh, and it tasted SO GOOD. Seriously, that’s a big part of why I want to do this race again. Also, you get to have your picture taken with a yeti.

yeti chaseThis race is now part of a three-part winter racing series: a 5k in December, the Yeti Chase in January, and a half in February. I’d love to do the whole series, but I’m not sure if it’s in the budget right now. Sigh.

Run to the Shrine 5k/10k: 2014 date not announced yet

The website still has the 2013 information up, but based on past years, I’m guessing it will be May 17. It benefits Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, which is a pretty stellar cause.

This is the most challenging 10k I have ever run. Unless this is your first 10k, you will not PR. Not even close. The race runs up…waaaay up…to the Will Rogers Shrine at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. If you’ve never been there, here’s how the race website describes it: “The Run to the Shrine is a particularly demanding run due to the 8.5% gradient increase from the base of the Zoo (6,800 feet) to the Shrine (8,100 feet).” And that’s the first four miles. Yeah, it’s hard. I’ve never seen slower splits on my Garmin.

But then you get to run two miles DOWN that same hill to the finish line at the zoo. Yay, fast!

RTTS13_1(This was before the race, so my quads are still attached.)

The best thing about this race is the camaraderie. In just about every race, people are nice, but the runners here are honestly the nicest people ever. Everyone encourages each other the whole way. And with that sweet downhill bit, you’ve got lots of breath to shout encouragement to those still climbing.

The second best thing about this race is the medal. The first year I ran, the first three males and females in each race got a medal made of elephant poo (freeze-dried and in plastic). Last year, it was rhino. Maybe I’m just gross, but I think that’s the coolest thing ever. I desperately want one. In 2012, I was fourth. Last year, I was fifth. I fully intend to come back in May and be at least third. I want a poo medal, dangit!

Also worth mentioning — the post-race party is at the zoo, and there are keepers out with different animals that you can look at and sometimes touch. You also get a day pass into the zoo free with entry. And it’s a pretty sweet zoo.

Colorado Colfax Marathon: May 18, 2014

This was my first half (2009) and my second full (2011). The half course has been dramatically changed since I ran it (for the better — I hear it’s cool now), so I don’t think it’s fair for me to review it. I’ll talk about the full instead.

Like Rock ‘n Roll, Colfax gives you a pretty nifty tour of Denver — and you see things that you don’t during the fall marathon. It starts at City Park and runs along Colfax Avenue for a while, then drops onto the Cherry Creek bike path. The bike path goes through the heart of Denver, so you get to see some cool stuff — the Center for the Performing Arts with its statues, Elitch Gardens Amusement Park, and lots of downtown. Then, you run through Mile High Stadium, home of the Denver Broncos (this is new…when I ran it, we just ran around the stadium. Jealous.) You run around Sloan’s Lake (wave to my brother…he lives over there), through the campus of the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design, through some nice, ritzy neighborhoods that make you scared to even spit, and then back onto Colfax, where you see some of what Colfax is famous for (sketchiness), but it’s amusing. Finally, you backtrack through the stadium and on the bike path back to City Park and the finish.

colfax(I don’t have any pictures from during the race, so here’s one from after with my brother and his girlfriend. It rained that year; hence my soggy noggin.)

I liked this race a lot. I’d love to do it again, but for the last couple of years, it’s been the same day as graduation. It is again in 2014. Lamesauce.

Estes Park Marathon: June 15, 2014

This is by far the most beautiful race I have ever run. Estes Park is one of Jordan and my favorite places, so that made this race even more fun for me. Estes is a mountain town, so although this is a road race, not a trail race, you’re still running in the mountains.

This is the view for pretty much the whole time. (Photo from the race website. I don’t know that guy.)

The course runs all around town, around Lake Estes, up by the Stanley Hotel…and never stops being stunning. It’s definitely a challenging race — I won the women’s division with a 3:37, my slowest-ever time (it was also super windy that year). It’s a small race (obviously), and spectators are spotty, but I loved every minute. If you’re a 50-stater and need a Colorado race, I’d say do this one, for sure.

estesPhoto from the Estes Park Trail Gazette.

That’s just a small sampling of the wonderful races Colorado has to offer. Try them out!

Colorado runners: Any races not on this list that I just have to try?

Non-Colorado runners: What races do I need to do if I come to your state?