The Blonde Runs

Colorado lovin'


…Horsetooth Half Marathon Recap

So, I ran this on Sunday:

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I don’t know why I choose these types of races and expect to PR, but that’s exactly what I expected. And I expected it in the minutes. Might have been a little lofty but I didn’t realize it or accept it until around mile 10.

We have been blessed here in Colorado with some beautiful weather in the 60’s and 70’s. We’ve even hit 80 a couple of time in the past two weeks. But typical of Colorado’s bipolar spring weather, we were hit with a nasty little storm late Saturday and all day Sunday. Perfect for race day, I did not say. Temps in the mid-20’s, wind that dropped that temp even lower, and a snow/sleet mix that surely left a burn on my sweets cheeks. I was not excited for that headwind.

I jogged a great warmup with some striders so that my HR was up a bit right from the start. Didn’t want to start this race on an uphill at a resting HR! Thanks, Coach Ryan! I owe you on this one. I knew I wanted to play the hills conservatively and just push on the downhill and flats; despite that blowing snow/sleet headwind…

Mile 1 (8:23)
Mile 2 (8:15)
These two miles were all uphill, as clearly seen in the profile pic above. And not a pretty uphill. Despite all that upness, I was happy that I didn’t feel like I was overdoing it and I felt great when I hit the top and started the downhill.

Mile 3 (6:42)
Mile 4 (7:10)
DOWNHILL. That downhill was nice. I felt like I was floating. Aside from the wind and the cold and the snow and sleet which made me feel very much like I was on the ground. A few rollers in between those hills but I was feeling strong. Tried to just remember to take it “easy” on the ups.

Mile 5 (7:12)
Mile 6 (6:45)
Another big up. At least it was short. I noticed that when someone passed me on the beginning of the uphills, or pulled away from me if they were ahead of me, that by the time we would reach the top, I had caught them again. I’m not sure what this means, really, but it did make me feel like I was tackling the hills “smartly.” Starting the hills conservatively, but still having umph at the end when I crest the hill and make my way over.

Mile 7 (7:00)
Mile 8 (7:27)
The final two hills. And although they were both short, they both fell in mile 8, and I know this is what made my legs finally feel shattered. At least looking back. In the midst of it, I was just clicking off the miles in my head, happy to be 5 miles away from the start. I was still feeling really good.

Mile 9 (7:02)
Mile 10 (6:59)
And these were my last miles of feeling good. While this was a flat, even slightly downhill section, I don’t remember much from it, aside from being in a zone and being so excited about hitting mile 10 and having merely 3 to go.

Mile 11 (7:22)
Mile 12 (7:41)
I don’t know why I’m so prone to nausea lately while running, but once again it reared it’s ugly head. Almost exactly at mile 10. I didn’t see this coming at all! I never do. It just starts deep in my stomach and refuses to go away. And I did everything I could to fight through it and keep going. I know this caused me to slow down. That and the extremely slick 200 meter wooden bridge. I probably caught myself 4-5 times from falling. And this is when that hope of a big PR felt lofty.

Mile 13 (7:44)
Mile .1 (1:29)
And the final push. Ouch. The legs were pretty trashed at this point too. Almost forgot to mention that, I was so overwhelmed with the nausea. But, I’ll have you all know that I did NOT stop for a good puke sesh at anytime during those final 3.1 miles. No matter how much I was trying to talk myself into it.

I crossed the finish with a nice little grimace. Laura and Gordon (our Aussie counterparts) were there as my “Nick” to cheer for me. And I faked this little smile for them:


Time: 1:37:36
Overall: 62/1091
Female: 15/???
AG: 3/109

My previous half marathon was 1:39:02 and this race allowed me a minute and a half PR!! While deep down I was shooting for 1:35, I hate to be disappointed and get PR greedy on such a tough course. Given the hills and the elements, I will take this little PR and be happy with it. For now…



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…week 6: Greenland Trail 50k Training

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Week 6 Total: 56.43 miles

Monday: 5.75 miles
As a teacher, I get those random government holidays. For President’s Day, I left the house for a slow recovery run around town. Holy WIND! My favorite, you know…This is why I don’t like winter on the Front Range!

Tuesday: 9 miles
Hill repeats! My hip had been a little bit tight since my weekend long run, so I had upped my foam rolling and heating. Everything held up great for my workout! While I’m not really sure what to expect/shoot for on these repeats, I do want them to be somewhat consistent. I don’t actually look at my splits or pace until I am completely done. I go off of feel. Here is how it went: 2:40, 2:37, 2:29, 2:39, 2:34, 2:31, 2:34.

Wednesday: off day

Thursday: 10.1 miles
I had a round of parent teacher conferences scheduled for tonight, so I took the morning off and was able to get my mid-week long run in around the county roads by my house. There had just been a small storm that passed by over night, so Chase and I made fresh tracks in several inches of freshly fallen snow. Cold, beautiful, and a decent 7:55 pace.

Friday: 5 miles
Easy run with Erika on an oft run trail. There was still some snow pack and ice to maneuver. My right arch was a little achy afterward.

Saturday: 20 miles
The off and on snow we’ve had has left the foothills trails a real mess. I decided to just stick to the city bike paths instead. I wasn’t thrilled about this option, but I also wasn’t thrilled about gutting it out through snow, ice, slush, mud, slipping, etc. I chose the lesser of two evils. Better than opting out completely, right?! At least I was able to get a few miles in on a trail around Dixon Reservoir. It was perfect overcast running weather. The calm before another storm…


Sunday: 6.58 miles
We were under a Winter Storm Warning when I took to the town for a loop. I was SO close to having the boy drive me to the gym so I could avoid the high winds, blowing snow, ice, and Yaktrak weather, but I decided to toughen up. I even took Chase with me to toughen him up too! Spoiler alert! We survived.

Is Spring here yet? I know the importance of training on similar terrain to what the race course will be. However, I’m stumped as to what to do when the weather leaves the trails either closed or impractical. I’m hoping that just getting out on the trails when I can will be enough. Unfortunately, the storms and poor conditions seem to be effecting those weekend long runs where I should be spending the most time on the trails!


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…week 4: Greenland Trail 50k Training

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Week 4 Total: 50.8 miles*

Monday: 5.5 miles
It was another windy day by my work, so I decided to head north and run where there was less wind. I found a new path in Loveland that was perfect for an out and back. The downfall was that it takes me about 45 minutes or longer to get to Loveland, and it was already dusk by the time I started.

Tuesday: 7.5 miles
5x600m hill repeats. I ran a 2.3 mile w/u. Hill repeats went as followed: 2:44, 2:38, 2:45, 2:40, 2:49. I wasn’t disappointed with the times. I knew my last one was slow. As long as I’m completing these, it’s good for the legs!

Wednesday: 9.5 miles
I’m cristening Wednesdays as “Windy Wednesday.” It seems all of my mid-week long runs coincide with windy weather. To be honest, I’m over it. If it were less than 10mph, I’d be okay with the wind. But it just isn’t. 20+mph. Annoying.

Thursday: 5 miles
Easy and slow. I had run 7 days in a row and I was ready for Friday as my “off” day.

Friday: off

Saturday: 16 miles
Ran 2 miles before meeting up with Erika for 10 of her miles. After she left, I ran another 4 on my own. Said miles were run in Lyons, Colorado: Heil Valley Ranch. On the trail, we ran into a herd o 20+ deer, grazing and not bothered by us at all. It was a gorgeous run. We were both done right as a snow storm was coming in. Not much accumulation, but cold, nonetheless.



Sunday: 7.3 miles
Windy. What?! Yep. 17mph. Chase joined me. He loves it.

I’m sick of the wind.

*If I had known how close I was to 51 miles even, I would have run another .2 somewhere!

And if you’ve made it THIS far in my weekly write-up, note that I’m actually finishing up week 5 of training, but am a week behind on the write-ups. Still, oops.


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…away from the wildfires!

I’ve been a little distracted with all the fires in Colorado.

First it was High Park Fire, destroying the boy’s and my Fort Collins playground. He lives just 15 miles from the fire and he has been breathing smoke the last 20 days. Then, it was Waldo Canyon Fire, where my sister-in-law’s hometown is burning to the ground and only getting worse. Her family is threatened and it’s all very unnerving. And just yesterday, a fire in Boulder, the Flagstaff Fire, started in yet another of my favorite places to run. I had just summited Bear Peak on Thursday, and this morning, it’s ablaze. The Treasure Fire is burning in Leadville and has closed Mosquito Pass, causing concern for the Leadville Heavy Half Marathon this Saturday.

The handful of other fires around the state are just as disheartening. We are sad and frustrated over here in Colorado. Therefore, this little corner of my world has been on hold. Everything else just seems so trivial.

Flagstaff Fire

Flames visible on the east side of the ridge

Find out more from some of my Colorado girls here and here. They wrote more. And more eloquently.

I do have a Father’s Day post in the works. Coming soon.


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…the Front Range Sprint Relay

This was the race that wasn’t. Or couldn’t. Because of this. The High Park Fire.

Early Saturday morning, a small fire broke out just 15 miles west of Fort Collins, Colorado; the check-in and start area for the 1st Annual Front Range Sprint Relay. At the time, a 2 acre wildfire didn’t seem much of an imposition. But when it had dramatically exploded to a few thousand acres around noon, everyone started to pay attention.

The plume was very noticeable from where the boy and I were, 50 miles south in Boulder, so I wasn’t surprised when an email from Paul (Timberline Events Race Director) popped up in my inbox.

…As of now, the race is on and will go. As you know, fires are a fluid situation so much could be different by later today and tomorrow morning…There may be air quality issues on the first legs but south of the fire right now is fine as the wind is blowing northeast…

We continued to go about our day, making last minute preparations for the race. And occasionally, we’d check the news too. By that Saturday evening, the fire had grown to 8,000 acres with 0% containment.

…As of right now, the race is on with no changes necessary. The fire is northeast of the route and the wind is blowing away from where we’ll be…Obviously, if the wind changes direction, we’ll have to make changes. Worst case scenario is the air quality of the first legs would be so smokey, running through it would not be good for your health. We’ll make adjustments on the fly tomorrow morning if need be…

With a 4:30 am wake-up call, we headed to bed early. But when we woke, there had been an effecting turn of events.

Winds had shifted. The fire had grown. And an email was waiting.

…Conditions have changed dramatically. Winds have moved the smoke and there is a haze from the start to at least South of Loveland. My fear is that the smoke is probably sitting along the foothills for the entire course…We are at the start and it is uncomfortable to breathe. We cant, in good faith, ask people to run in this smoke. So it is with a heavy heart that the only smart but difficult decision, is to cancel the race…

Paul continued to state that he and his crew were at the start if anyone wanted to venture out, pick up the race shirts, and lament over a canceled race. The boy and I immediately headed up.

The wall of smoke as we entered Fort Collins

The race start: Hughes Stadium (about 15 miles from the origination area of the fire). Paul said he couldn’t even see the stadium when he had arrived a little before 5am that morning.

Although we weren’t outside for long, just to pick up the packet and chat for a few minutes, my hair smelled like a campfire.

We then drove the first few legs of the course.

While a some of the smoke had certainly burned off from the sun (no pun intended), the haze was still thick and my eyes began to burn just a little while we were driving in the area.

No doubt, this was not the day to be a race director.

In a post-race email, Paul expressed his sorrow, and also the fact that the race could not be rescheduled. Sadly, one of the team captains, as well as one of the race coordinators, ended up having to evacuate their homes that very day.

As of now, over 36,000 acres are burning in that area. There is still 0% containment. Much focus is going into effectively evacuating families/animals from the area (there is a Wolf Habitat that has had to evacuate also). 36 straight hours of evacuations. No one knows yet how the fire was stared.

Pray for safety and a change in the weather.



…Boston 2012; Part 2: The Race

WARNING:  Several references to puking (i.e. the liquid laugh, spray the puree) are made in this post.  And I can think of only one person who will truly appreciate it.  Stop now if you’d rather not know.

From early on, Boston became less of a race and purely about “body management.” And this perspective from a friend of a friend who placed 20th overall.

While I went out with a choked up “I-can’t-believe-I’m-running-Boston-again-this-place-is-beautiful-the-spectators-are-amazing-soak-it-all-up-be-in-the-moment-and-be-grateful” feeling, I also reminded myself over and over to conserve. A little bit because of the imminent hills. A little bit because of the heat and the consequential unknowns. I stuck to 8:15 miles, as I reveled in the foot pounding and serpentine flow of constant runners that preceded me on roads through once sleepy towns.

I remembered my new mantra of drink early, drink often, and I intended to grab-and-sip some water at the first aid station.  But I didn’t fully realize the predicament we were all in until I came to that first water stop.  It was completely packed with runners who weren’t just stopping to grab water for the road, but walking through, or stopping fully.  Several runners deep.  I couldn’t get close to a table if I wanted to keep moving.  I skipped it, hoping it would thin out by the next one, and shuffled through the crushed cups resting two, three, and four high.  Little did I know that this first aid station would set the climate for the entire race.

Conserving, I continued on, forcing my way in for some water at the next few aid stations.

I was looking forward to mile 6.5, when I saw the boy and my brother.  I gave a wave, a big smile, and kept moving.  But very soon after, it hit me.  Nauseau.  By mile 10, it wasn’t just a “maybe” my stomach feels funny, it was a “street pizza delivery” kind of stomach feeling.  Press on, I said.  By now, a friend of mine, Amanda, had found me, though she began in a different coral.  After checking in on each other, we both knew we were feeling less than fine.  We briefly discussed our goals going out the window and just running as much as we could together, take in the experience, get to the finish.

Amanda and I began walking through each aid station as we guzzled down water or Gatorade with the rest of the crowds.  It seemed a great majority were either walking through the stations or stopping completely to take in liquids.  While the volunteers were spectacular, there were several stations where the tables were completely void of water cups.  Not because there weren’t any, but because the volunteers could not fill the cups fast enough.  Each aid station was a sea of green crushed Poland Springs and Gatorade cups.

At several locations along the course, BAA had set up water spray tunnels.  Arched tunnels, 20 feet long, spraying cool water throughout.  Everyone diverted.  Every single time.  Not only this, but the spectators who had access to a hose were spraying any runners who ran by.  At times, there were single file lines by the sidewalks, as we each humbly begged for a quick spray.  Ice.  Oranges.  Extra water.  Popsicles.  All for the 22,500 runner who chose to gut it out on that hot day.

Amanda and I ran through Wellesley.  We supported each other at the beginning of the Newton hills.  We saw the boy and my family again at mile 15.5 and waved.  As I passed them, I turned and gave a thumbs-down sign.  It was my only way of letting them know I felt awful and I wouldn’t have a good time.  I only hoped they understood.

Shortly thereafter, Amanda, feeling better than I, slowly pulled away from me.  We had determined earlier that if one of us were feeling good, that girl should go.  This was her moment.  I was glad one of us was feeling okay!  Me, all I wanted to do was unswallow everything I had already swallowed for the day.  It was that feeling when you know that if you do that, you will surely feel better.  Several miles later, I even stopped by a large trash can, in hopes that I would be productive.  But I got all crowd shy, and nothing happened.  On I went.  But then, I started realizing how lightheaded I was.  At each aid station, I was not walking straight.  Zig-zagging along.  I’d pour water on my arms, down my neck, over my head.  Anything to cool me down.

Somewhere in those Newton hills, I saw a reader board with the temperature:  86.  And with all of that direct sun and no breeze, I wondered about “real feel.”  Humidity.  Heat index.

By mile 21, my only goal was to finish.  There was a chance I could beat my previous PW (personal worst).  I had even briefly considered a DNF at one point.  But realizing I had already bought the jacket, I couldn’t just quit now!  And I’m too stubborn to not finish.  Even though laying down felt like the greatest thing since the hula hoop.

Most of this race was a blur.  Putting one foot in front of the other took a lot of convincing.  Also taking a lot of convincing, holding back on the involuntarily personal protein spill.  I remember negotiating a lot with myself. Adjusting my time goals. Accepting a slower time. And finally coming to grips with it being my slowest time. By the time my PW had past, I was already in the city and the crowds were thick.

When I turned on to Boylston, it was bittersweet.  Relief that all the discomfort I was in would go away.  Sadness that it would be over all too soon.  If it’s possible, the heat seemed to swell even more in this short .2 mile stretch. But I kicked it in past the shouting crowds, past the grandstands, past the Finish line.



…Boston 2012; Part 1: Pre Race

After obsessing about the weather, but never seeing a change, I came to grips with the fact that I’d be starting the Boston Marathon in the mid-70s. By the time I was halfway, it would be close to peaking at the high temperature for the day: 86 degrees. With a heat index of 89. Oh yeah, and about 50% humidity.

I woke early, as I normally do before a race, and completed the rituals: oatmeal, bagel, coffee. I had already methodically placed everything in my check-bag for what I might need after the race and I knew I’d be ready for a couple of hours in Athlete’s Village.

It was already pleasantly warm when the boy, and my family, left the hotel at 6am, headed to the T. I felt overdressed in my old, thin yoga pants and light GoLite long sleeve top.

I had planned to meet up with a few girls at Boston Common. With a meet time of 6:30, Kelly, Kaitlin, Amanda, and I found each other quickly, and after casual introductions, we got in line with the masses to head to Hopkinton.

A short hour later, the girls and I planted roots in a shaded corner, given off by the Boston College Team’s tent. Anything to get out of the direct sun and heat, as it was already in the mid-70’s. We chit-chatted, caught up with life, discussed fueling, and tried to avoid the elephant in the field. Probably the thing on everyone’s mind: the heat. I couldn’t help but wonder how BAA had prepared, knowing about some other marathons gone bad (i.e. Chicago 2007). But I had a lot of faith. If they had been sending out emails trying to warn people of the heat, then the MUST be preparing themselves.

I applied sunscreen. I packed my SpyBelt with fuel. I put on my lulu hat. I even decided to wear arm coolers. None of it would have really mattered.

The time had finally come. I packed everything else away in my check-bag. So much for getting rid of those old yoga pants and oversized GoLite shirt at the start line as my throw-away clothes. In fact, I had dropped them all soon after arriving at Athlete’s Village. I packed them in my check-bag too. Much too warm. I guess they remain for my next race.

If it’s possible to already by hot before a race, then this was that moment. Because I was. As I dropped my bag in the corresponding numbered bus, and walked the .7 miles to the start, I reminded myself to conserve. Go slower than my original plan and just see how I feel. No goals.

I hit the start mat and hoped for the best.