Race Report: Wild Hog Half Marathon 2014

For this week's Tuesdays on the Run, the topic is "Favorite Race Distance". Even though I've been on a little streak of running half marathons this year, I still claim the full marathon to be my favorite distance and the half marathon is a close second.

My appreciation for half marathons has grown because:
  1. Training works really well for this season of life with a little one in the house.
  2. Half's are HARD. Running 13.1 miles isn't that challenging, but it's all about pace. Some runners race a half marathon at my speedwork pace! 
  3. The long runs don't need to be that long. The longest I ran this time was just over 13 miles.
  4. Post-race recovery is much quicker than the full. Three days after the race, I feel great... minus a nasty cold.
  5. The half medals are just as pretty as the full medals :)

The full marathon has a special place in my heart because that's where I started off as a new distance runner. I hope to run another 26.2 in 2015 but I know I won't be able to stay away from those half's for long!

Before I ramble on anymore, here is the race report for my second half marathon:


Wild Hog Half Marathon Results:

Finish Time - 01:36:30
Average Pace - 7:22/mile
Placing - Overall: 33rd out of 569. Females: 6th out of 331.


Race day was beautiful, sunny and warm (for a Fall day in ND). Temps ranged from 65-70°F with 12-20 mph winds.

Race summary:

On the Friday before the race, E and I made a quick trip to the race expo to pick up my number and then continued on to Sam's Club for groceries and lunch with my brother and sis-in-law.

The expo was small, but I really appreciated that since I was there with a toddler. It didn't take long to pick up my number and the race "swag" was great. They gave the half marathon runners a nice glass with the Wild Hog logo, Fitsok socks, a Kind granola bar (so good!), a pink water bottle (for out-of-town runners), and an obnoxiously bright zip-up shirt. The shirt is really comfy and I guess the wild color will be helpful when I run in the dark this fall/winter?

And here was my impulse buy of the race expo... I do my best to avoid buying anything at the expos, but this was a worthy purchase! This "GoFit Massage Bar" is the replacement for the kitchen rolling pin I have been using to roll out sore muscles. It's awesome and has completely relieved the hip tightness I've struggled with in the past!

Race day arrived. We were up at 4:40 on Saturday morning and I was off to a great start because I was actually able to eat breakfast! I put on my race clothes, ate a banana and a peanut butter waffle, plus drank some coffee. I wrote Psalm 115:1 as a focal point for this race:

My hardcore babysitter and good friend, Megan, was up with me at 4:40, too. We let E sleep until the van was packed and ready to go. After a quick diaper change, I handed him a sippy cup full of milk and smoothly transitioned him to his carseat. Success! He fell asleep again and we were on the road to Grand Forks.

We pulled into the race area at 6:30 a.m. and Dunn Bros was conveniently located right next to the parking lot. Megan got some much-needed coffee and we parked in the corn field across the street (only in farm country...). While waiting for the starting time, E loaded up on some super healthy cheese balls for his second breakfast.

At 7:45, I headed to line-up and my cheering squad found their place to watch. I found the 1:35 pace group and we headed off at the gun shot. For the first three miles, I tried to hold back and stick to the pace group. After fighting with myself for a while, I decided to head off on my own and see how it goes.

Mile 1 - 7:05
Mile 2 - 7:05
Mile 3 - 6:58
Mile 4 - 7:08
Mile 5 - 7:07

By mile 6, I was already running out of gas. The dizziness I had been struggling with earlier in the week started to creep up on me again and my prayer was "God, please don't let me pass out!". It would be super embarrassing to pass out in a race, but really it wouldn't be super healthy either. Plus, you need to finish to get a medal :) I ate my other gel and hoped that it would give me a boost of energy.

Mile 6 - 7:13
Mile 7 - 7:18
Mile 8 - 7:16

At this time, I knew that my goal of running a 1:30 was far out of reach. The dizziness was getting to me and hot spots were forming on both feet. My trusty shoes that covered many training miles decided to bug my feet now! My thoughts turned to "What's the point of pushing through this anymore? Should I just give up and walk?".

I looked down at the verse on my arm and knew that whether I ran a personal best or an absolute worst, God should be glorified through my actions and my attitude. What attitude was I going to have? Would just giving up because I was having a bad day be honoring to God? (There are legit reasons to DNF but my bad attitude was not one!) My pace continued to slow but I was still moving.

Mile 9 - 7:27
Mile 10 - 7:37
Mile 11 - 7:43
Mile 12 -7:51
Mile 13 - 7:42
Mile .1 - 7:22

Even in the last 2 miles, the thought of walking was tempting. After running 11 miles, how could I give up with only 2.1 to go?! One foot in front of the other. I let go of any pace goals and prayed that I didn't pass out or trip over my own feet before that finish line.

I was pleasantly surprised to cross the timer at 1:36:30. The last few miles seemed to take a decade and I wasn't sure when I would finish.

I love running, but I was SO GLAD TO BE DONE with that one. Maybe it was running in the heat when I'm not used to it or being sick that really affected me this race; I'm not sure. Either way, I have no complaints. This was a great race and I know I pushed myself to the absolute limit. There was nothing left when I cross the finish!

After wobbling down the finisher's shoot, I grabbed a banana for E along with some pretzels and went to find my cheering squad. The best part about smaller races is it's super easy to find your people and chances are you will see some familiar faces, too :)

After cleaning up, we headed to Panera for the best lunch ever! A BBQ chicken flatbread sandwich with tomato soup for me, cinnamon bagel with peanut butter for E, and a Mediterranean flatbread sandwich with pasta for Megan.

Conclusion: Mindset is just as important as fitness on race day. I hadn't been feeling physically well this week, but my mind proved to be a greater challenge for me than my body.

I am so thankful for my supportive friends and family, for God giving me the health to run, and for possibly our last beautiful summer-ish day of the year.

Grand Forks sure knows how to put on a good race!

My #1 Fan!

How do you keep yourself going when your mind tells you to stop?

Linking up at Tuesdays on the Run and Fitness Friday.

Taper Week + Apple Everything

It's taper week for this Saturday's half marathon! That means I'm A.) Attempting to rest (whatever that means with a toddler at home) and B.) Baking a lot.

This morning's run was a "dress rehearsal" for race day; basically, just wear whatever you plan on wearing on race day and make sure everything works. By "works" I mean, no chafing, rubbing, or blistering issues. I haven't met a single person who enjoys chafing and blisters! Vaseline is a runner's best friend.

Here we are, my "dress rehearsal", minus the construction worker's vest and hand light (it was 5:30 a.m.). I suppose the dark running gear won't be necessary on race day as the race starts at 8:00 a.m. Running in the daylight will be quite a treat!

E and I are heading to the race expo on Friday and then getting some power groceries - I'm looking forward to both! Love race expos... and groceries. Leo has duties this weekend and won't be able to watch me run, but I am very excited to spend time with my best friend this weekend. We're having a girls' night (plus E) on Friday and she is babysitting while I run on Saturday.

For each race, I write a verse from Scripture on my arm and I'm thinking this is the one for Saturday >>> Psalm 115:1 reminds me of God being my #1 priority. Everything we do is all for His glory! Keeping my eyes on God enables me to compete with less stress and more joy.
Not to us, LORD, not to us but to Your Name be the glory, because of Your love and faithfulness. PSALM 115:1
My favorite little cheeser

When Life Gives You Apples...

Make lots of apple things, eat wayyy too many apple-related dishes in one week, and completely burn out on apples.

One of our awesome neighbors gave me a whole load of apples last week! I have been an apple-bake-a-holic in order to cook them up before they spoil. I definitely have the "carb-loading" aspect of racing mastered. Here are a few recipes that I've tried so far:

Crockpot Apple Crisp. Easy to make, delicious, and relatively healthy (for a dessert).

Crockpot Apple Crisp Recipe

Overnight Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal. Something fun to try with steel cut oats.

Overnight Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

Apple Cinnamon Granola. This recipe was one of my favorites, especially with peanut butter and dates added to the recipe.

Apple Cinnamon Granola

Homemade Apple Sauce. My neighbor gave me a quick run-down of how to make homemade apple sauce. Making apple sauce was much easier than I expected but peeling the apples did take a while.

Homemade Apple Sauce

Apple-Filled Crepes. Since the guys are gone for harvest most evenings, E and I can eat breakfast food for supper :)

Apple-Filled Crepes

The apple crisp was E's favorite!

Do you have any half marathon taper tips?
What is your favorite apple-related recipe?

Linking up at Tuesdays on the Run and Fitness Friday.

Priority Check: Weeding My Life

This morning the Parable of the Sower took on a new meaning to me, especially in relation to thorns and weeds. Luke 8:1-15 has very important truths to share about our priorities in this life and what we are allowing to consume us.
“This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is God’s word.

The seeds that fell on the footpath represent those who hear the message, only to have the devil come and take it away from their hearts and prevent them from believing and being saved.

The seeds on the rocky soil represent those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they believe for a while, then they fall away when they face temptation.

The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity.

And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest." LUKE 8:11-15 (emphasis added by me)
In this parable, Jesus warns us of the danger of thorns and weeds in our lives and He's not talking about the ones that are overpopulating my garden right now. The thorns and weeds of He is talking about are worldly responsibilities, material things and pleasures that gradually begin to consume our thoughts and priorities

Most people would agree that weeds and thorns are bad but really they are plants too. The problem is that they are misplaced plants - they don't belong in our garden space and they choke out our crops. This same concept can apply to the things in this world that distract us and steal our passion for God. Sin draws us away from God; we'll call it the "thorns" because sin is just a big 'ole pain. Now the weeds are the good things in our lives that Satan so sneakily manipulates into bad things.

Even good things can turn into weeds that choke out our passion for God when they are misplaced in our lives. Problems begin when these good things start to consume our thoughts and our priorities. Just like the nasty weeds in our garden attempted to choke out this year's crop, the weeds and thorns in our lives will eventually start to choke out our relationship with God if left unattended.

The most annoying weed ever, Cirsium arvense, a.k.a. the Canadian Thistle

Here it comes, another reference to Ryan Hall's book, Running with Joy... I felt like Hall was describing my personality to a T in the below quote. (It's basically a nice way of describing the "Type-A" personality)
"God created me with a passionate, driven, and focused personality, but it can work against me when I focus more on the gift than on the God who lovingly gave me the gift." Ryan Hall, Running with Joy
I'm passionate, motivated and focused in many areas of my life (aside from putting away laundry maybe) but this has also gotten me in trouble in the past. If my zeal is misdirected, I can end up running away from God instead of growing closer to him.

God has blessed me with so many good things - my sweet family, the passion for running, a piano, and a heart for writing - but the key is to keep my priorities in line. When something sneaks it's way to the #1 seat in my heart, it becomes an idol. Relationships have attempted to steal that #1 seat, so has running, and even my old job! Thank God for His Holy Spirit that warns me when things are getting out of line and that guides me back to where I need to be.

Keeping my priorities in line is a daily battle and that is yet another reason why I am also so thankful for God's patience and unconditional love for His children!.
And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest." LUKE 8:15
P.S. Even though E and I can't keep those weeds down in our actual garden, we still have a really good time pretending we're gardeners :)

What worldly thorns and weeds are distracting you from God today?
How do you keep yourself in check?

Linking up at Friday Favorites and Mommy Moments.

Wild Hog Half Goals

I've got a countdown going... only 10 days until race day!

This morning was another dark, early morning run. I am definitely the only person in this little town who runs around in a reflective vest (aside from construction workers). I don't earn any points for fashion, but the last thing I want to do is get hit by a car!

Reflective vest, GPS watch, and headlamp. Check, check, check. (P.S. I wrap the headlamp around my hand instead of trying to run with it on my head.)

6-mile tempo run for today - 9:12 (warm-up), 7:30, 7:25, 7:42, 7:34, 7:52 (cool-down). I dropped into the 6-minute miles here and there, but wasn't able to maintain it. Guess I should have eaten my Wheaties pre-run!

Clear skies this morning!

Aside from earlier morning runs due to sugar beet pre-pile starting, training for this half has been really fun. The longest run I have had was 13.18 miles and it has been much easier to fit training in before everyone wakes up! It feels good to have a run under my belt, breakfast cooking, coffee brewing, and then to see this smiling face :)

My Wild Hog Goals

Switching to the Wild Hog Half Marathon was a last minute decision. Like, as of last week-last minute. I scratched out of the Blue Ox Half Marathon and switched to the Wild Hog because it's closer, no hotel required, and my best friend is going to babysit E for me! Added benefit: the course is flat :)

Since the race is next week, I thought it may be nice to have a few goals established. Here we go:

Have joy regardless of my performance.

As I'm re-reading "Running with Joy", Ryan Hall noted that he has to remind himself before races that the only thing that matters is receiving Christ's love and giving it out to others. Getting wrapped up in times and performances is something he struggles with and it has been a struggle for me over my entire life!

God loves those who come to Him simply because they are His children. Performing well or performing poorly will not change God's love for me! His love is something that can't be "earned". God's children are saved by grace through faith - it's a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8-9).
"My message is that even if you don't land on the podium or run a personal best, even if you have a bad workout or are struggling with an injury, you can experience joy to the fullest." Ryan Hall

Be a blessing.

I love this saying: "We are blessed to be a blessing." God has given every person specific gifts and passions that are to be used to bless others.

Our gifts give us each a unique sphere of influence and new opportunities to share the love of Christ with the people we meet. That doesn't mean I need to yell "Repent!" at people as I pass them (or as they pass me). Blessing people in daily life is actually quite simple.

Encouraging a fellow runner, taking the time to visit before the race, or even smiling at someone makes a difference. I know this because I remember the people who have encouraged me in each race I have run. A simple act of genuine kindness makes a huge impact. And, if I feel the Holy Spirit prompting me to tell someone about Jesus, I pray that I will boldly be all over that!

I remember meeting these ladies in the porta-potty line in the Boston Marathon Athletes' Village (glamorous meeting place). Just a simple conversation and encouraging one another brought my nerves down one notch and they made the wait for the starting line much more enjoyable. It was simple and they probably didn't even realize it, but I was blessed by our visit.

Turns out the porta-potty line is a great way to meet people! Boston 2012

Run my best race.

Like most runners, I would love to set a new personal best in this race but my focal point isn't on a specific number. Tina Muir wrote an excellent post on all of the factors that affect each run or race. From your emotions to the week's accumulated sleep, there is a long list of what can affect your time on race day.

My greedy side wants to run a 1:30 for this half marathon but really all I want to do is have a good run. Running is a sport; just go out there and have fun. Though, we are called to be "all-in" and to do everything as though we are working for the Lord (Colossians 3:23) - yes, even running for the Lord! To summarize it, I'll share something my dad would say: "If you aren't going to give it your all, don't bother going out there."

When race day comes around, I'm going to run my brains out and then go on a lunch date with my best friend and little E. Hopefully I can fill Leo in on the race when he has a break from the army that day.

Read the rest of Tina's post here.

Discipline my thoughts.

When 2 Corinthians 10:5 talks about taking our thoughts captive and making them obedient to Christ. He wants us to think on what is true, pure, right, excellent - not talk trash about ourselves (Philippians 4:8). This truth applies to every area of our lives; whether it's parenting, body image, or running.

Negative thoughts have been a struggle for most of my life. Back in college, I had lost many tennis matches in my own head before I even stepped on to the court. As I am growing in my relationship with the Lord, I am making a conscience effort to make my thoughts obedient to Christ. Negative comments still sneak in but I do my best to hand them over to God ASAP!
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5
Happy running this week! Only a few more days until the taper :)

Are you a nocturnal runner/exerciser?
What goals do you have for this month?

Linking up at Tuesdays on the Run and Fitness Friday.

Thankful Things: Camping Edition

This weekend, little E and I went camping at the Itasca State Park with my family. We had an absolute blast despite the weather being a bit chilly and the fact that Leo couldn't join us. The farm is busy with harvest so both Leo and Uncle Wayne stayed home to work (while we went to play... that doesn't sound fair!).

There are too many pictures that I could share from this weekend so here are "just" a few things (and people) that I am thankful for!

My 8 Thankful Things

First of all, it was my dad's birthday this week and I was excited to give him his birthday present >>> Pumpkin and carrot cake muffins that I later smothered in buttercream frosting:

Sibling time. I had so much fun being with my brothers and my sister-in-law this weekend. E loves those uncles and his auntie!

On Saturday, we headed out on a family run-bike-roll. My parents were biking, the guys were long-boarding, and the girls ran (with E in the stroller). 5 miles out-and-back with hills. Running on actual hills is a rarity for me! That's probably why we look so excited.

A Happily Sleeping Toddler. E had a hard time sleeping in the RV and I was so thankful he fell asleep on our run. It's just no fun when he is tired and cranky! Like my mom said, "Sleeping baby, happy mommy."

Fudge Samples. The Headwaters Gift Shop had free fudge sampling, which is really dangerous. Salted nut roll was great, chocolate cherry was... okay, and the watermelon fudge was unique. Fruit-flavored fudge was a first for me.

We took a breather after all those samples and then headed out on the road again. I had to let all that fudge settle before the last 2.5 miles.

Burnt S'Mores. Camping isn't camping without s'mores and I like 'em burnt.

Family Memories. I'm thankful E gets this time to bond with Grandma and Grandpa, his uncles, and aunt. I love watching him make memories like these:

The "Feed Me" Face. Not sure what he wanted to eat, but I hope someone fed him quickly! He wants whatever good things you're eating.

Leo, a.k.a. "Daddy". I saved the best for last. I am so thankful for my husband, for the long hours he works to provide for our family, and for the great job that God has blessed him with!

Spending time in God's creation and just getting away from ordinary life makes me feel even more in awe of God and all He does for us on a daily basis. Technology is helpful and has its place, yet "unplugging" from the noise and distractions of this world re-boots my soul. This verse from 1 Chronicles has stuck with me. It's simple and it's the Truth.
Sing to Him, sing praise to Him; Tell of all His wonderful acts.
1 Chronicles 16:9
What weekend things are you thankful for?
Have you ever tried watermelon fudge?

Linking up at Mommy Moments and Titus 2 Tuesdays.

Homemade Mocha Energy Gel Recipe

Well, I'm back to report that the homemade energy gel trial was a success!

Monday morning's workout was 4 x 1600 meter intervals at 7:00~7:30/mile for a total of 6.5 miles. About 15 minutes before heading out the door, I took in 1/4 cup of energy gel. Before most weekly training runs, I don't eat anything but I was antsy to try this recipe out (and I was extra hungry yesterday morning)!

Overall, the taste was great and the energy gel didn't bother my stomach at all. Whew... GI distress is the worst, especially during speed workouts. I look forward to using this in the upcoming half marathon!

Speaking of my upcoming half, I just switched from the Blue Ox Half Marathon to the Wild Hog Marathon which is coming up on September 27th. This race is closer, we won't need to have hotel reservations, and my best friend is going to watch little man! Win, win, win.

Here is my energy gel recipe if you are looking to try it yourself:

Homemade Mocha Energy Gel

  • 8 dates, pitted
  • 1/2 c. honey
  • 1/4 c. maple syrup
  • 1 T. cocoa powder
  • 1/8 c. brewed coffee (optional)

Chop the dates into slices.

Soak the chopped dates in water for about 1 hour in the refrigerator.

Drain extra water off dates and pour into food processor. Add honey, maple syrup, cocoa powder and brewed coffee. Process until smooth.

This recipe makes approximately 4 servings. Approximately 1/4 cup of energy gel is equal to one serving for the long run. Store in the fridge until you are ready to run.

To use on the run, store in a snack-sized ziplock (the below baggie was a bit big). I'm sure everyone will have their own unique technique for this, but I plan to bite/tear off the corner of the bag and eat it like that. **Update** I did order a set of Mygreen Travel Bottles to try for carrying the gel!

One last thing. Be sure you don't spill any energy gel on your clothes, the color of this gel may look a bit awkward on your shorts...

What is your go-to long run fuel?

Linking up at Tuesdays on the Run, Pin It Thursday and Fitness Friday.

Food for Thought

This past weekend has been full of good things >> Food and Fellowship.

E helped me bake round #2 of our energy bars that I mentioned in the last post. He was much happier while helping than he was 5 minutes prior having a meltdown on the floor. Hand the boy a measuring cup and all is well in the world!

Craisin Date Energy Bars: After this weekend's long run, I found that these bars work great for me pre-run but not so well during the run. Chewing and running at the same time just don't work for me... or my stomach. Gel texture has worked in the past so I will share my experimental energy gel recipe below :)

Carrot Cake Cookies: I made a batch of these cookies plus butter cream frosting for girls' night on Friday. This was my first time baking carrot cake anything and they were delicious! The recipe was super quick and easy, too. E, Leo and Uncle Wayne approved of them.

Girls' nights need to happen more often. It's been way too long since I've seen these ladies! E was the only boy allowed and he seemed to enjoy the attention :)

Tim Horton's Doughnuts: Thanks to my friend, Erica (pictured far left), I brought a dozen doughnuts home to the guys that night. So many doughnuts, so many choices. Which one would you have picked?!

I'm not usually too crazy about doughnuts but I couldn't resist one of these. The pumpkin one was all mine.

After Saturday's early morning 12.2-miler, I refueled with that pumpkin doughnut (followed by some egg pancakes). I was so hungry that it tasted absolutely phenomenal! A doughnut once in a while won't hurt, I suppose.

Homemade Energy Gels: While full/half marathon training, GU energy gels have worked great (except the Espresso Love because of the high caffeine content... not good).

My problem with GU gels is they are expensive and I have to order them off Amazon plus pay shipping on top of that.I got brave this weekend and made my first batch of energy gels. We'll see how these go tomorrow morning.

To make these, I chopped up and soaked 4 pitted dates. Then I combined them with 1/4 cup maple syrup (I was out of honey) and 1 Tablespoon cocoa powder in the food processor. Process until smooth, pour into ziplock bags and store in the fridge. This recipe makes 2 servings.

I'll let you know how the gels go tomorrow. If they sit well, I will have to make a bigger batch. It's about time to figure out a plan for fueling during the run. Only 5 weeks left until the Bemidji Blue Ox Half Marathon!

Do you have any recipes to recommend?
Runners: Have you made your own "fuel" before?

Linking up at Mommy Moments and Fitness Friday.