Her Tern Half Marathon 2017 Race Recap

I don’t think words can express how happy I am about this race! I literally could not have asked for it to go better, and it was everything I secretly hoped it would be!

Eight months ago, my sister, Kristy, and her husband, Nick, made plans to come to Alaska mid-July. I convinced them to come for the Her Tern Half Marathon, which is my favorite race all year! By the grace of God, I overcame my hip injury, and we were both able to be healthy for this race. (This has not always been the case; often times one of us is injured.)

Training leading up to the race went really well for me. I’ve been running mileage in the 50s and 60s and topped out at 67 miles one week. But then I had a 7 mile workout just two days before the race where I was supposed to run 3 x 2 minutes at goal half marathon pace, which Nichole said was 6:40-6:45 pace (1:27-1:28 finish time). This pace-for just 2 minutes-should have come very easily for me, but I was majorly struggling! The 6:40/6:45 pace felt so hard, and I kept thinking, How am I going to run this pace for nearly 90 minutes in two day?!

But you do what you can, and put your best foot forward. I knew I was capable of a 1:27/1:28 finish time, but I also secretly hoped that I could run 1:26-something. This was my ‘A’ goal, which I usually don’t share with anyone. I tried to rest as much as possible on Friday and Saturday, but it was hard because I was getting ready for my sister and brother-in-law and their trip here to Alaska: cleaning the house, doing laundry, prepping food, while watching Cullen all day.

Kristy and Nick flew in the day before. I ended up spending more time on my feet than I wanted to with coaching the training group in the morning, working at the Expotique that morning, and then getting ready for their arrival. Finally, after dinner, I put my feet up and tried to give them a break. I also took an ice bath Saturday night, which I am definitely going to be keeping in my pre-race ritual.

Sunday morning, I got ready, had half of a bagel with vegan cream cheese for breakfast. I never eat anything before running in the morning, so it is hard to get myself to eat something on race mornings. I also had a few sips of decaf coffee with non-dairy creamer, my Generation UCAN pre-workout drink mix, and a GU right before the race started. Kristy and I left for the race and had about 40 minutes to warm-up, which was the perfect amount of time because I felt ready to go by the time the gun went off.

Kristy and I had strategized quite a bit before we ran the race. We decided we were definitely going to run the entire race together. We have run a handful of other races together, but we have ended up running them at our own paces: Twin Cities Marathon and Boston Marathon. We could only think of 3 other races we have done together and all 3 we weren’t as competitive because either I was doing it as a workout or one of us was injured. We talked about what pace we were aiming for, the course profile, running the tangents, how much we were going to talk, etc. So when the gun went off, we pretty much knew the plan, and now we just had to execute it. Starting out, I felt really good (unlike Friday’s workout!), so I was optimistic I could maintain a pace closer to 6:40.

One of the faster girls took off from the start leading the rest of the way. (By the way, she is only one year postpartum and is wicked fast! Congrats Mandy!) That left Kristy and I in 3rd and 4th place behind another runner. We followed her for about 5 miles. I kept trying to read whether or not she was going to be able to maintain this pace or if she was going to drop off. I wanted to be competitive and pass her sooner, but I knew that wasn’t smart, so we stuck with her for about 5 miles. We finally gained a little ground, but I knew she was still hanging on. The turn-around is at mile 7, and she was still on our tail at that point. I kept thinking I needed to put more distance between us and try to lose her for good. (In the nicest way possible!) Luckily I never heard her behind us again, so I knew we had 2nd and 3rd place secured.

The majority of the race is out-and-back, so on the way ‘out’ there isn’t much else going on, but on the way ‘back,’ we get to see all of the other people racing, which was fun because I was able to cheer for friends or for ladies from the training group. (Sometimes all I could do was smile or wave though because I was too out of breath.) It was also encouraging to get cheers from other people running.

The way ‘back’ is every so slightly downhill, and I can always feel it. By the last few miles, my legs were pretty beat up, so they appreciate this decline. However, then last half mile of the course is a gradual uphill to the finish with a steep one-block hill the last 0.1 mile. This is when things get really tough. I hit the bottom of that hill, and I had to tell Kristy to wait for me because my legs were beat. I felt like I was walking up that last hill, but then I saw the clock-1:36:xx, and I knew I had to book it to get under 1:27 because it was about to turn.

Kristy and I stayed side-by-side (and even stride-for-stride) through the finish line and tried to cross at exactly the same time. I glanced down at my watch and saw 1:26:56, and I was so incredibly happy! I had gotten my ‘A’ goal!

I knew the computer would have to pick one person to be 2nd and one to be 3rd, so when I saw I had beaten her by one one-hundreth of a second (0.01), I burst out laughing and told her I would split any prizes with her because really we had tied for 2nd place.

I think it’s funny that it looks like she beats me in this photo, but from a different angle it kind of looks like I inched her out.

Other notables:

Throughout the whole race, I think Kristy and I exchanged a total of 10 words. Of course we weren’t going to do much chit-chatting since we needed to conserve our energy for running, but she told me she doesn’t like it when people talk to her when she’s running, so I kept quiet. It was fine because we have ESP, so we pretty much could read what the other was thinking anyhow. I pushed at the beginning a little more than I know she would have, and I could tell by her breathing she was struggling a little, but I also knew she would hold on. Then I felt she wanted to pick up the pace at mile 10, but I didn’t have much left in the tank, so she hung with me.

We saw 2 moose right off the trail during the race. Luckily they are pretty used to people, so they didn’t bother us.

I didn’t take any energy gels while running. You have enough glycogen stores for 90 minutes, so I know I don’t need anything. More recently my half marathons haven’t been much more than 90 minutes, so I haven’t been taking an calories in mid-race, and I haven’t felt a dip in my energy while racing. I think the Generation UCAN really helps me have sustained energy throughout the race.

Local newspaper (Alaska Dispatch News) article HERE.

I am still on cloud nine from this race, and I am so glad Kristy was able to run it with me!

Monday Miscellaneous

Happy almost 4th of July!

I know many of you took an extended weekend and have been celebrating already. I worked on Saturday but had Sunday off, so I spent the entire day cleaning the house. Not exactly the most exciting thing, but the weather was rainy anyhow, and I love the feeling of going to bed with a clean house.

Let’s highlight a few things on this Monday!

Running

Running has been going really well for me! I started working with my coach, Nichole, again, and I am loving having someone else plan every workout for me. I hit 67 miles last week that included a pretty tough interval workout, 13 mile tempo run, and a long run of 19 miles. You can read more about my workouts in this post.

Still my favorite running shoes.

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Nutrition

We have been whipping up some really good meals lately.

I finally caved and bought some Copper River Salmon from Costco. Since visiting Cordova, AK two summers ago and meeting the fishermen/women who fish the Copper River Delta for fresh salmon, I’ve always wanted to buy some but the price deterred me. I finally decided that the cost ($10/pound) was worth the fact I knew I was getting fresh, high-quality salmon.

I made this salmon in my Instant Pot, and it turned out perfect! Not too dry, perfectly done, and the best partno bones because the pressure cooker cooked them at the high enough. A perfect summer meal paired with a spinach salad as well as a quinoa salad.

The other meal that turned out fantastic were the High-Altitude Bison Meatballs With Simple Marinara from my beloved Run Fast Eat Slow cookbook. I’m usually not a big meatball person, but these were so good! I will definitely be making this meal for my next race.

And if you missed it, I posted a recipe for my Healthy Mocha Protein Smoothie that I have been making in the afternoons when I’m craving something cold and refreshing.

Alaska

On Instagram, I had said I wanted to make it my goal this summer to take Cullen to a new place each week. So far we have succeeded! Our adventures have included a lot of new parks, new places to hike/walk, and one afternoon we had lunch with Craig at Lake Hood to watch the seaplanes take off and land.

Fashion

There is an awesome sale going on right now at Loft. I purchased these 3 items recently, and I love all of them. They are all additional 60% of the sale price. They are too good to pass up!

Sweater $16

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Dress $24

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Top $16 (in a different colorthis color is sold out)

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Beautycounter

I just got the Rejuvenating Radiance Serum in the mail over the weekend, and I am excited to start using it! I’ve heard a lot of people use this and rave about it, so I’m hoping it helps improve my complexion as well.

I will also be having a fun promo later this month so stay tuned if you like free samples!

Have a happy and safe 4th or July!

Healthy Mocha Protein Smoothie

I have been starting to keep track of my food in My Fitness Pal for the last couple of weeks since I’ve gone back to more serious training.

When I track my macro nutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats), I am always low in the protein category. I don’t normally eat a lot of meat (although I’ve eaten more now since tracking my food), so I sometimes resort to protein drinks.

The other afternoon I was craving my afternoon (decaf) iced coffee, but I also wanted something sweet and more filling than coffee.

So I thought: coffee + chocolate in an cold drink form sounds amazing! You can’t go wrong with a healthy mocha smoothie! I added a banana since bananas always taste good in a smoothie, and I threw my collagen peptides in there as well since I hadn’t had them for the day.

I surprised myself with how good this was! It was creamy, smooth, full of flavor, and you can’t beat the mocha taste! Make this now, you won’t regret it, and it is full of good things.

Ingredients

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 banana

1 cup ice

2 espresso shots (*see note)

2 scoops chocolate protein powder

2 scoops collagen peptides

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in the blender.
  2. Blend on high speed until combined and all ice chunks are gone.

*Note: I make a concentrated amount of coffee in my French press. I use 2 tablespoons of coffee grounds + 4 oz. of hot water and then let it steep for several minutes for one shot of coffee.

I used this Orgain Organic Chocolate from Costco, but you can also get it on Amazon through the link. It isn’t so great on its own, but in a smoothie or my protein balls it tastes much better!

Collagen is the new superfood. Everyone seems to be using it! I have been using the Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides for a couple of months now, and I want to rave about the product like everyone else and say it has done wonders for my skin, hair, and nails, but to be honest, it is hard to tell if it has helped in anyway. I think my hair might be growing faster, but it is hard to tell. I wonder if I stopped taking it, then I would notice whether or not it affected my hair, skin, or nails. I figure it can’t hurt though!

Question

Anyone tried the collagen peptides? Have you noticed any changes?

PR Coaching Athlete: Uran

I’m introducing one of my athletes today: Uran. We have been working together for several months now, and she will soon be running the Her Tern Half Marathon in July!

Uran been a very diligent athlete, and I look forward to her text after each run telling me how it went. Recently we’ve had a few break-through workouts, and I can’t help be excited for her! I’m also looking forward to see what she’ll be able to do at the half marathon!


Tell us a little about yourself: family, work, where you’ve lived, etc.

I’m originally from Atlanta, Georgia, but I lived between there and Costa Rica where my dad is from until I was five. We settled in Atlanta permanently after that, and I stayed there until I moved to Homer, Alaska three years ago. I work as a Controller (Accountant), and my partner Jimmy flies float planes. I am a stepmom to two awesome little boys Bryce (11) and Joe (3).

How did you get into running?

I tried and failed to enjoy running for years in my 20s, but I really didn’t hit my stride (hahaha) until last summer. I started with just a walk/run app that finally moved into all running, but with just a year under my belt, I’m still just a beginner! <img src="https://s.w.org/images/core/emoji/2.3/72×72/1f642.png&quot; alt="

The Power of the Mind

It feels so good to be running pain-free, to be running during the summer (with no snow, ice, and freezing cold temps), and feeling like I am getting back into shape! I still have a long ways to go to get back to where I was last summer, but I am truly enjoying the process of this all!

Last week I hit 57 miles, with a long run of 17 miles that went really well. This week I’m on track to run 67 miles with one two-a-day and a 19-miler this weekend. Nichole has me working!!

This morning’s workout was an interval workout on the track. Track workouts still intimidate me. (They bring back memories of my high school daysnot bad, just lots of nerves.) I had no plans of ditching the workout, but I may have procrastinated a little more than usual before heading out the door. Good thing I have to be back by a certain time in order for Craig to go to workotherwise these runs would be pushed off even longer!

It was perfect running weather this morning with temps in the low-50s and cloudy. This would be my ideal conditions to run a marathon in if it were up to me. I ran to the high school track that’s close to our house, which I’m so thankful I don’t have to drive somewhere. Once I got to the track, I did some dynamic drills and striders before starting the workout of 6 x 800 meters.

Luckily I’ve run so many intervals, that my mind and body fall into the right pace from the get-go.

#1 2:58

The first one always feels so easy! I jog one lap for a recovery, and then start the second interval.

#2 2:58

Nichole said I should try to run these in 2:50, but I knew I wasn’t going to be close to that after the first two intervals. BUT it isn’t time to give up. I start the third one and keep pushing. I tell myself I’m halfway done after this next one.

#3 2:58

Maybe it is all my years of playing in the band that my internal metronome kicks inthe exact same time for the first four intervals.

#4 2:58

Now it is time to start playing mind games. My time usually drops a few seconds on the last interval because I know it’s the last one. So, I reason, what if I tell myself the second to the last one is the last one. Of course I know this is actually not true, but what if I simply say it in my head. I figure it is worth a shot, so I start the 5th interval.

#5 2:55

I glance down at my watch and surprise myself with the numbers on my watch. It actually worked! I paid for it though because my legs were really starting to feel it. But there’s always ‘just one more’ left in those legs and you find the willpower for the last one.

#6 2:56

And done! I leave the track and start a very slow jog back home.

It is amazing what limits the mind can put on your physical capability when using the wrong phrases or mantras. Too many times we let the negative thoughts creep in, and they limit what our body is actually capable of. Practice using positive words and phrases during your workouts, that way when it comes to race day, you don’t have to think about themthe positive thoughts will come naturally.

Some positive thoughts I’ve used during races:

  • I have worked harder than 95% of the other people out here.
  • It will be over before you know it.
  • This is way easier than childbirth. (At least anything will always be for me.)
  • Keep pushing.
  • Only X mile(s) to go or X minutes to go.

Anchorage Mayor’s 5K Race Recap

My exciting running-related news. . . .I’m back to working with my coach, Nichole!

I couldn’t be happier to have someone planning my workouts each day, having a purpose for these workouts, and a mastermind behind my plan.

Here’s more on why I love having a coach.

I had thought about running either the half marathon or the 5K for the Anchorage Mayor’s Marathon race series this past weekend. I had also considered not doing any of the races, but that’s what’s great about having a coach, this indecisive girl doesn’t have to decide, I just follow my coach’s orders. Nichole thought the 5K would fit well into the plan, so with less than a week until race day, I signed up for the Anchorage Mayor’s 5K.

I wasn’t quite as nervous come race morning as I can be. I wasn’t tapered for this race, and it wasn’t an ‘A’ race, but as always, I want to do well and try my best, so there was a little bit of anxiety.

After warming up for about 45 minutes, I was ready to go. Out of the gate, there were a couple of girls who started out a sub-6 minute pace, but I knew I didn’t have it in me to go out that fast, so I held back. The course starts by going down a pretty steep hill and then immediately back up another steep hill. Then it goes down another longer hill before flattening out for the next 1.5 miles. I used the downhill portions to try and gain some ground and occasionally checked my watch to see that I was staying at a good pace. (I was trying to hit a 6:15/6:20 pace.) I caught one of the girls in front of me before the half-way point turnaround and then passed the other one shortly after that. The last 0.75 mile or so has another steep uphill portion, followed by a steep downhill, and another hill that leads you into the chute. I’m convinced the race director did this on purpose. I actually feel worse for the marathons who have to run these hills at the end of their race.

My splits were okay but definitely not great.

Mile 1 6:21

Mile 2 6:28

Mile 0.89 6:01

My GPS distance: 2.89 miles

I know the course was short. I don’t think it was quite that short as my old Garmin watch always measures long. A couple of other people had closer to 2.95 miles, but that’s still pretty far off for 3.1 miles.

These are my official results. The short course makes my average time look really good, but I know I wasn’t running a 6:05 pace.

I am pretty bummed the course was short. It is what it is, but still kind of disappointing it would be off that much. Despite this, it was still a solid race effort, and it is fun to come away with a win.

We’ve got a few weeks of training before the Her Tern Half Marathon in July. It is my favorite race, and I am especially excited for this year’s race because my sister will be up here for it!! I think we’ll finally be able to run (and race) a race together. More often than not it seems like one of us is injured, but we’re both healthy so far!

Best Places to Run in Anchorage, AK

I am starting to get questions about running in Anchorage as people are starting to plan trips here during the summer, so I thought I’d write up a little blog post to highlight some awesome places to run in the Anchorage area.

Westchester Lagoon

If I have to pick just one spot to recommend to tourists, my first pick is always going to be Westchester Lagoon. Views of the mountains, ocean, wildlife, and the trail system takes you in three different directions.

  1. Tony Knowles Coastal Trail > heading towards Lyn Ary Park, Earthquake Park, Point Woronzof, and Kincaid Park

    This is the most-talked about trail in Anchorage! Fittingly because you can’t beat the views as the trail takes you along the ocean with mountains off in a distance that seem to go on forever.

  2. Tony Knowles Coastal Trail > heading towards downtown and the train depot

    From Westchester, the Coastal Trail goes one of two ways, so take your pick; you won’t be disappointed either way.

  3. Chester Creek Trail

    The third direction you can travel from Westchester Lagoon is along the Chester Creek trail, which takes you through the woods and along the creek. Not quite as much pedestrian traffic at the Coastal Trail, this is still a very popular trail and a great path to run under the tree cover if the suns too hot for you or you want to escape the rain.

View from Westchester Lagoon

Lake Hood

Lake Hood is the largest seaplane base in the world. The loop around the lake is about 4 miles, so it is perfect for a quick run while watching planes take off and land on the water. The road around the lake has a nice shoulder for running on, and the auto traffic is minimal as cars are driving more slowly anyway. There is also a great view of the Chugach mountains during part of the run if you get tired of looking at airplanes.

Sorry for the winter picture. This is also a good place to run in the winter because the roads are often cleared sooner.

Campbell Creek Trail

This is another paved trail system that starts in West Anchorage and eventually connects to the Chester Creek Trail System. A wooded running experience takes you by Taku Lake and along the Campbell Creek. I’ve seen everything from moose to beavers to swans on this trail.

Chugach State Park overlooking Anchorage

Best Trail Runs

I personally don’t do much trail running, but these are by far the most popular trail runs in the area. They offer a little bit for everyone: rolling hills, wide open spaces, beautiful scenery, and even Ia road runnerhave ventured onto these common trails.

Kincaid Park

Kincaid Park is comprised of 1500 acres and many, many miles of trails. Some of the trails are single-track for biking, while others are multi-use. These mostly-grassy, non-paved trails wind through the woods, up steep hills, and across highly-populated moose areas and with sightings of an occasional bear.

Powerline Pass

I’d say this is the most popular mountainous trail run there is: a wide gravel path that’s not too technical and wide open spaces (no trees) with incredible views, in the Chugach Mountains. You access it from the Flattop parking lot, which is also the most popular mountain to climb. (Too popular for some.) The trail goes back for many miles, so bring your water and some fuel.

Turnagain Arm Trail

This is a very easy drive just a few minutes outside of Anchorage. This trail is more technical with roots, rocks, and wildlife. Not for the faint at heart with some decent climbs but views worth every step.

**I won’t go into a lot of detail about each of the different trails to run because a quick Google search will pull up more information than you need.**

One of the many parks in Anchorage with trails through the woods.