The Blonde Runs

Colorado lovin'


5 Comments

…USATF Half Marathon Championships

Somewhere in the middle of our long drive to Minnesota, I hopped on Twitter and followed the Oiselle excitement of the USATF Outdoor Championship where our very own birds, Kate Grace, Kara Millhouse, and Collier Lawrence, were racing with wings out. I was only mostly disappointed that we hadn’t planned our trip a little more carefully since we drove right through Des Moines, where the meet was taking place, and right about the time Kate Grace was running her 800 semi-final. But there was a glimmer of hope when I almost immediately started noting the Twitter references to the USATF Half Marathon Champs in Duluth that next day. Grandma’s Marathon was hosting.

It’s at this point that I’d like to play the “blonde card” for not realizing my good fortune until this moment. I don’t know how this little fact completely escaped me. Especially since I had been browsing the Grandma’s website multiple times the previous week AND I HAD OISELLE TEAMMATES RACING! Duh.

Nick and I were already planning to spectate Grandma’s Half to see his brother and some friends. So when I excitedly (kid-at-Christmas-kind-of-excitement) told Nick that THREE of my Oiselle teammates were racing the Half Champs, only several hours before we’d see his brother trotting down the road (completing his 1st half) and started begging if we could leave the house (north St. Paul) at 4am and stand around in the cold, misty, damp air, to make sure we saw the girls race, he sweetly obliged. He’s a good one like that.

And so, with only a few hours of sleep, Nick and I made the drive to Duluth for some serious spectating. Okay, it was really just me and my camera, yelling like an idiot at mile 11.

Marci Gage
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Deanna Ardrey
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Melissa Gacek
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And the icing on the cake was this guy. Meb KeflezighiIMG_6672

I was so happy to have been able to see these ladies race. Inspiring to say the very least. Shivering in the cold, damp, humid air was TOTALLY worth it!

And then, of course, seeing Nick’s brother finish his 1st half marathon was pretty sweet as well! It would be silly to say there weren’t tears off and on all morning. I’m a race sap.

So there you go. Go spectate. Go run your 1st half marathon. Let me have my tears.

XO,

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9 Comments

…why the Oiselle Mio Mesh Tank is full of awesome

I’m back from Minnesota, and boy do I have a lot of fun stuff to cover: USATF Half Champs, running trails, a really cool dog (Chase), and more. But FIRST, I have to tell you how the Mio Mesh Tank was a win in the hot, humid weather of Minnesota.

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I was definitely fashionably late to the Mio Mesh party. And what a mistake that was. This double-layered nylon mesh tank kept me surprisingly cool on those super sticky runs (i.e. 95% humidity). The light layers, combined with the mesh material, flowed and fluttered as I ran (not THAT fast-humidity feels like you’re breathing through a wet sock!), creating my very own homemade breeze. It was like I was running with an AC unit; or a big box fan, perhaps. And it made those super sticky runs a lot more bearable.

And for the ultra win, the Mio Mesh Tank transitions seamlessly for non-running activities. Shorts, skirts, swimsuit coverups? All, yes!

Trust me. This top is worth it! If not for yourselves (one Kanadian in particular), at least for the ladies in your life who deserve to feel like they are running with Kate Grace’s very cool cooling vest.

*Also featured in the #selfie: Strappy Bra

XO,


16 Comments

…Bolder Boulder 10k

Holy PR! Yep. I went and spoiled this post with the first sentence. No build up here.

After the 50k, I wasn’t quite sure how to transition into speed work for the Bolder Boulder. I only had three weeks to prepare. At least that’s what I had in my head. In reality, I had really been preparing since January…

A few days after the race, I IG’d Ryan Knapp and asked for advice. He suggested a full week off, followed by some short speed/interval training. Sounded manageable to me. And since I didn’t want to risk injury by switching distances so drastically, I made sure to keep my weekly mileage relatively low. I threw in a couple of tempo runs and mile repeat workouts and before I knew it, the Bolder Boulder was was here.

I was up early on Memorial Day, pre-race routines, blah, blah, blah. I made it into Boulder for packet pick-up around 6:15. My AB wave would begin at 7:02ish. Warm-up, bathroom, friends, etc.

Startline. My goal? To PR, of course! I think 90% of the time that’s always my goal; whether it’s realistic or not. I knew that for this race, I needed to stay sub-7 minute miles to do just that. Like many runners, I figured I would take the first mile to see how I felt and go from there. I truly had no idea what my body would allow given the past few months.

Mile one. 6:46. Okay, the first mile of this race is always fast. I don’t care if they changed the course a few years ago. It’s the hype and the masses and the sheer excitement of starting the race with a bugle horn for every. single. wave. But the pace had me a little nervous. I was running 6:45 mile repeats the previous week and it felt tough. This did not. So I wondered how I would feel in a few miles and if I could really maintain it.

Mile two. 6:50. I guess this is maintaining. Granted, the hills are coming, the hills are coming! I take in all the course entertainment, the foot pounding, and heavy breathing around me. Running with 50,000 people is entertaining in and of itself.

Mile three. 6:57. That one hill. It’s fine really, as long as I stay sub-7. I’m thinking it’s getting pretty hot at this point. The sweat pooling on my forehead is probably a decent indicator.

Mile four. 6:53. That other hill. At the top, there is a sign, indicating it’s the highest point in the race. This certainly isn’t a flat road race. But after you crest Casey Hill, it’s mostly downhill from here. These last couple of miles are my favorite anyway.

Mile five. 6:45. Hey, downhill! Turns out, I am feeling okay with this pace at the end of the race. Running through downtown Boulder, directly into the sun, in the early morning hours, is the best part of the race. I don’t know if it’s because I’m so close to the finish. Or because it’s such a difference from how I normally view downtown Boulder. Either way, I know I’ve picked up the pace a little and it feels just fine. If “fine” feels like heavy breathing with a scrunched up face and fighting back puking.

Mile six.two. 6:54. It’s the final push and a long stretch down Folsom and into the stadium for a dramatic finish. I’m certain now of my PR, but don’t know for sure how much time I’ve shaved off my 10k time, until I cross the finish line.

Results
Time: 42:33
Pace: 6:51
AG: 9th out of 599
Gender: 115th out of 23,273
Overall: 926 out of 48,741

After I cross the finish, someone asks, “Are you @theblonderuns?” It’s Jessica! I’m so thrilled to finally meet her, after following her on IG and Twitter! Not as creepy as it sounds while typing this. I promise.

JPandme

Met up with Luke and Courtney.

Candme

Finally met Laura, my Oiselle teammate, and her new little.

Lauraandme

This Bolder Boulder felt like a meet and greet! I loved every moment. And with a 1:45 minute PR, I was definitely satisfied with the day.

XO,


14 Comments

…Greenland Trail 50k Race Report

The moment you’ve all been waiting for…

Pre-Race
3am-We were up early on Saturday in order to make it to the 7am start area on time. I didn’t want to be there too early, as I wasn’t planning a warm-up. But I needed to get my race packet and didn’t want to feel rushed with any final preparations. The boy and I ate a quick breakfast, packed up the truck and Chase (it would end up being a very long day with a grad party later that night), and made sure all of my race gear was prepped. I was definitely feeling nervous. And I was definitely still coughing and stuffed up.

4am-We left our house (north Fort Collins) to make the two hour drive to Larkspur and Greenland Trail Open Space, which is south of Denver by about 45 minutes. I tried to sleep, or at least rest my eyes, on the drive. We made a couple of stops along the way and still made it to the race start a little before 6am, thanks to the early hours and no traffic.

6am-Arrived to a cool mid-30’s race area. I was able to quickly pick up my bib, t-shirt, and race packet; not just because I was there earlier than expected but because it was a smaller race that was well-organized. I’m tending to like these types of races that aren’t driven by pomp and circumstance, but instead by the pure love of running. I’m not saying I don’t have a love for the big races (Hello, Boston!!) but I feel a little more comfortable in these locally organized, mom-and-pop type races. I took the next hour to finalize my gear and get my fuel bag ready for the boy to have at each loop.

I found it a bit ironic that I was bib #1. I know it’s sometimes based on last name, and most assuredly in this case. However, the irony comes when I recalled that I was also bib #1 in the marathon where I said I wanted to run a 50k. And now at that 50k, bib #1…

greenlandtrailbib

The Race
7am-The start of the 50k! The cooler temps at the start was refreshing, as I know this race is “iffy” when it comes to the weather. I knew it would only get up to the low 50’s at most, throughout the race. I donned my Oiselle arm warmers which would not only be great for the temps, but would also serve me well throughout the race for things entirely different than warmth.

greenlandtrailstart

The course would be 4 lollipops in the open space. Each would be roughly 7.8 miles, with a final .25 (or so) to the finish. At each turn-around point, the spectators gathered. I knew the boy and Chase would be there for me to support my fueling or whatever I needed. I was actually happy to have a course that I would be able to see him a little more often. I would certainly give me something to look forward to during each lap. Especially when the going got tough.

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Lap 1-7.8 miles
I started the race at a mostly conservative 9:30 pace. I was feeling really good, despite the constant snot rockets and spitting. The arm warmers were perfect for quick wipe-ups of the nose. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I felt badly for those around me who probably thought I had a real problem. I guess I kind of did. I think it was just more annoying than anything.

The miles were ticking off quickly as the pack of runners was tight and I was listening to their chatting and banter. I decided to run sans-music and just enjoy the race. It was a good plan. I like being available to chat with people and make short-term friends. It’s a good support and I find I learn a lot from them. I met a man named Pete who hadn’t raced since the early 80’s. He had been focusing on mountain bike races. Nice come-back with a 50k…

There was a well-stocked aid station at mile 3.5, but I kept going, as I had what I needed for now in my fuel pack. There were some loooong gradual hills throughout the course, and after this aid station was the 2nd one. I trudged up the hill, running as much as possible (though slowing down on the uphill) for as long as I could. Some short rolling up and downs along the saddle and then another loooong gradual uphill before the final downhill mile into the turn-around point. I fueled as normal with a few Clif Blocks at the hour mark. I completed the first loop in about 1:14. Definitely faster than I had predicted, but I was feeling SO good! Would this contribute to my demise? I kissed the boy, petted Chase, and continued on my way for lap 2.

greenlandtraillap1

Lap 2-15.6 miles
Knowing what to expect, my plan was to keep my pace as best I could and continue fueling as normal. The course was pretty busy at this point, now that the 25k runners AND the 8 milers were also on the same loop. I enjoyed seeing so many people and having the 25kers passing me! I knew my friend, Libby, was running the 8 miler and hoped to see her out on the course.

I was still feeling great. My running nose was constant and still annoying, but I was taking care of it as best I could. I continued to ease up on the gradual ascents, and kept my eyes up to propel me to the tops of each. The miles were still flying by. I couldn’t believe how quickly, actually. I fueled again with some Sport Beans at one of the hilltops and kept a steady pace on the downhill and back into the turn-around.

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I was at about 2:22 when I finished the 2nd lap, so I stopped and chatted with the boy for a few minutes, taking in some salty potato wedges I had prepared early this morning. It seemed to be just what I needed. I was still running faster than I wanted, but was still happy that I felt so good.

Lap 3-23.4 miles
I knew this would be the hardest lap. Just like the 3rd lap in the mile (thanks, Erika!). At the aid station, I made a quick pit-stop (now that there was no line) and grabbed a few potato chips. Not long after (around mile 19), on that loooong gradual uphill, I started to feel the beginning signs of upset stomach. Just the smallest niggle in my tummy. But I wanted to take care of it right away. I took out some crystallized ginger that I had in my pack and started to suck on it as I continued to run. An ultrarunner friend of mine suggested this about a month or so ago when I asked for advice about the sometimes-quesy-long-run-stomach-I-get-at-the-most-random-times-and-I-can’t-pinpoint-why issue that I have. Honestly, it worked! Or at least postponed the inevitable. I rallied. I power-walked the hills, hoping that slowing down would settle my stomach. And then I fueled again with more Sport Beans/Clif Blocks. But as I started that descent into the final turn-around, my stomach was not feeling 100% and I was nervous for what it meant.

Pete caught up with me in those final few yards into the turn-around and our chatting got my mind off of my stomach. I was also distracted by my supporters who came out to the course to see me complete my first ultra. Two of my co-workers, a couple friend of the boy and I (and their daughter), and Libby (who ran the 8 miler) stayed around the cheer me as well. Of course, I had to stop and give hugs to everyone for coming out! I stopped to chat with the boy, to tell him how I was feeling, to tell him how I was off my pace now.

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Lap 4-31.06 miles
I was nervous starting this lap. I knew it would be my slowest, based on how my stomach was feeling. The next few miles out to the aid station were slow. Occasionally, someone would pass me, or miraculously, I’d pass them. I remembered to take a photo of the course on this lap.

greenlandtrail

It was starting to warm up (upper 40’s/low 50’s-BEATING sun) and I thought it best to ditch the arm warmers, despite that constant flowing nose. I didn’t want to risk over heating (Hello, Hot Boston!) and I had a fleeting thought that maybe I was already too warm, which may have been contributing to the upset stomach. I took them off at the aid station, had a volunteer shove them into my pack, and continued on my way. But when I started to power walk that hill, I felt lightheaded and the queasy stomach was persistent. I tried another piece of ginger. But, I knew what I really had to do in order to finish those final 5 miles. I had to “fertilize the bushes.” I got off the trail, turned away, put my finger down my throat, and took care of business. Luckily, the runners were so far apart that only a few passed me at this point.

I text the boy to let him know what happened and hoped he would get what I was implying-that I wouldn’t be at the finish any time soon. When I was ready to start again, I realized I was at 26.5 miles. Hmmm…was this my bodies humorous way of telling me it didn’t want to do more than the marathon distance? I actually felt much better after that little episode, but it was really hard to get back into a decent pace that late in the game. I still kept a slow running pace and was actually back in the 9:30 range in the last mile or two.

When I passed the turn-around point to continue on the trail into the finish, I started to tear up. I was so happy to have completed the race, even if it didn’t end exactly how it seemed to be going initially. My whole goal was to finish anyway, and I met that goal. But I was also disappointed that I had tummy issues. I have so many thoughts around this (again) that will be addressed later. I really think that running heightens my emotions, and I also think I’ve cried in almost every race I’ve run. They are mostly happy tears! I teared up even more when I saw the boy, he joined me on the trail, and ran with me for a few strides before jumping off the trail so I could enter the finish chute solo. He teased me, “Are you crying?!” Yes!

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Total Time: 5:30:44

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This race might not have been pretty, it might not have been perfect, but it was a PR! I am so happy to have completed a new distance. Once again, I learned so much about myself from this race. I learned so much about the distance too. At the time, I had no desire to run another 50k. I think I needed to forget about the race, the pain, the puke. Today, a different story. I’m on board for another 50k! But probably not this year… ๐Ÿ˜‰

XO,


19 Comments

…Golden Gate Headlands Trail Marathon Race Report

I needed a 26 mile run the first weekend of April to fit into my 50k training. Instead of just any old 26 mile run on my own, I started searching for a trail marathon. I mean, if I’m already going to run 26 miles, why not an extra .2?! Unfortunately, there were no trail marathons in Colorado that particular weekend, so I started looking for a destination race. The boy and I are always looking for excuses to go to California, so I was excited to find one just outside of San Francisco in the Marin Headlands: Golden Gate Headlands Trail Marathon. Many a blogger have posted photos of their views in this area, so I found it to be an incredible opportunity to get a glimpse of what some of my fellow runners see.

Keep in mind, this was a training run. It was for the sole purpose of practicing fueling and pacing. I didn’t expect it to end the way it did.

You can scroll down now if you’d like to see the results…

GGHstartfinish

The boy and I arrived at the start area about an hour before the festivities began. As many other small races, and I can assume other trail races go, this was a casual gathering of fellow lovers of running. Not a huge crowd. Not a lot of pomp and circumstance. I totally appreciate this!

It was overcast with low hanging clouds, and then it started drizzling. I stayed in the warm car as long as possible before meeting up with Paulette, a fellow Oiselle team runner.

GGHpaulette

We were able to chat for a bit at the start before I realized the marathon group was starting. I was in the back of the crowd of runners and couldn’t hear the RD announce which group was starting first (no megaphone). Oops! I abruptly left the conversation and caught up with the small group of marathoners.

I told myself to just have fun, talk to some people, take some pictures, and take the pressure off! My main focus was to practice for the 50k.

There is a 2 mile climb right away. Being as I was at the back of the pack, I was getting a little boxed in on those single-track trails and stairs. I was finally able to pass some runners and be on my merry way. Since I would run this lap 2x, I wanted to take it all in and decide where I wanted to stop and take pictures on the 2nd lap. That’s where my Type-A comes in…

Around mile 3, I ran with a group of 3, one of which was a 65 year old ultra marathoner. I chatted him up about ultras as we cruised down the muddy trails. About a mile and a half later, the half-marathon leaders started passing us. No worries, I told myself, you still have another lap to do! At this point, there was another 2 mile climb. I considered hiking it, because I know I need to be okay with this. But I really wanted to run as much of the course as I could. Especially on the first lap. So, I kept trudging on. All the while being passed incessantly by half-marathoners. This is also where I pulled away from my group of 3 running buddies. Around mile 8, when everything began to even out on the trails, I found myself running completely alone. The fog was so thick, I couldn’t see more than a 100 yards or so ahead of me. Totally unfamiliar with the area and the course, I only hoped I was moving in the right direction. Orange flags. Orange flags. A couple of times, I really questioned myself on the trails because I hadn’t seen any. Then, I’d see them waving in the wind. A final half mile ascent and then, views of the finish at Rodeo Beach. As we come down from the Headlands, the final push is running through the sand on the beach. A complete shock to your leg muscles!

GGHbeachlap1

As I finished the first lap, I was feeling good. Feeling great! I was soaking wet from the rain, muddy from the trails, but incredibly happy. This was awesome!! I glanced at my watch. Just around 12 miles. Hmmmm….Did I really cut the tangents that well? Like, a mile well?! I checked at the aid station, the boy fed me potatoes and snapped a million pictures of me eating, and I was off again for lap 2. Here’s were the pictures come in.

Stair climb in the first 2 miles
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A big, squishy puddle
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The trails were much worse on the 2nd lap. A combination of continued rain and all of the 7 milers and half-marathoners that had come through, the trails were just a mess. There were many time I wasn’t able to get traction either going up or going down. A lot of slipping and sliding. At each aid station, I checked in with my bib number and chatted with the volunteers.

This beautiful sight was a “must capture” for lap 2
GGHtrees

After running the two 2-mile hills on the 2nd lap, I was definitely starting to feel it in my legs! On that 2nd hill, I did power walk and jog it, off and on. I would only give myself a certain amount of time or a certain distance to hike, and then started running again. But I was constantly moving. I was doing a great job of fueling and wasn’t nauseous at all (something I struggle with from time to time). I was still cruising on the downhills at about an 8:30 pace. I wondered if I was pushing it too much, but I felt good and, overall, was maintaining a pace I typically did on my trail runs.

At the top of the final hill, you overlook Rodeo Beach and the finish
GGHfinish

I ran down the hill, tears in my eyes, happy that I had completed another marathon in such a beautiful location, feeling amazing throughout, and having the boy there with me.

The run across the beach was lonely as most other runners had left, due to the weather. As I approached the finish, the boy said, “I think you were 10th.” Some bundled up girls were cheering me on from the side. And at the finish, the timers said, “You’re the first woman!” What?! No, I’m not! “Yes! You get the chicken purse!”

I was shocked. I’ve never been first female. Ever. I had no idea that the whole 2nd lap, when I was running solo, that I was actually vying for a Female Win. I’m still in awe.

GGH1st

Time: 4:13:53
Gender: 1st
AG: 1st
Overall: 10th

My Garmin 610 read 24.2 miles. I was half tempted to run another 1.8 miles to give me 26, but I was done when I crossed that finish line. I don’t think missing those 2 miles will make or break my 50k race. At least I hope.

XO,

As an aside, the boy realized there was a 7 mile race option and he registered within 10 minutes of the start. He hasn’t run in months. That’s how he rolls. Naturally, he killed it couch-to-7mile. I heart him.

Time: 1:05
Gender: 12th
AG: 2nd
Overall: 17th


3 Comments

…Oiselle Lookbook Round 2

The winners of the #oisellelookbook photo competition will be chosen this week. I honestly think it’s a shot in the dark that I win anything, because there were SO many fantastic, creative, artistic photos submitted. But, it was really fun to take #selfies and have friends take photos of me wearing the beautiful Oiselle clothes. Here are a few others I submitted:

bigbirdraglan
Big bird raglan tee

fa
50/50 tee

fa+distance
Distance short; 50/50 tee

happyhoodie
Distance short; Happy hoodie

rundelicious
Roga short; Rundelicious top

wingsoutPRnecklace
Silver “Wings Out” PR necklace

XO,


7 Comments

…Oiselle lookbook

If you’ve been following my blog, or “know” me through IG, Twitter, or Facebook, then you know I am a part of Oiselle‘s running team. Last fall, I was accepted as one of their ambassadors and race with their kit, promoting the Oiselle name. I couldn’t have been happier! I was on cloud 9 when I found out and am truly enjoying being an extension of such a fabulous woman’s apparel company.

While I already had several Oiselle pieces, I have naturally felt compelled to collect more running clothes along the way. As a typical 6-day a week runner, I am constantly “running” out of clothes to wear or washing the ones I do have a few times a week. Really, this is just a big excuse to buy more Oiselle. ๐Ÿ˜‰ However, the comfort, versatility, and design of their products makes it hard to say no!

At the beginning of March, Oiselle launched a contest encouraging Oiselletes to create a running look with their product (old and new). Through March 22, participants need to post photos through IG, Facebook, and Twitter with #oisellelookbook. 12 looks will be featured on the Oiselle website, and the top 3 will win gift certificates.

I, for one, LOVE contests. As a kid, I was the Queen of Coloring Contests. My mom only freaked once when some man from Albertsons called to tell me I had won $5 for the best colored leprechaun.

So….I thought I would share some of the photos I’ve submitted to Oiselle thus far. Since the contest is still going, I do have more photos I’ll be posting over the next two weeks.

born+raced
Stride short; 50/50 tee

tank
Go long running tank

stripey
Stripey long sleeve; Stride short

If you haven’t tried any Oiselle products yet, do yourself a favor and change that! You really will love the way you feel and you won’t regret it!

More pics to come…

XO,