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Air Force Half Marathon (1:31.12)

The Air Force Half Marathon this year was hot, very hot.  So hot, they drew a black flag and canceled the race around 11-11:30.  I’ve never partaken in a race that has happened, but with so many half marathons, I guess there is a first for everything.

First and foremost, the aid during the race was immaculate, and you couldn’t ask for better support. There were personnel almost every ¼ mile and aid stations every 1.5.  That was never the issue.  The issue was at race start it was already well above 70 and very humid. When I finished the race around 10 is, it was a feels like temp of 88. Last year, I ran a 1:27.28 in better weather but wasn’t in as good of shape.

I know I’m in better fitness than a 1:31, but you have to race for the day which includes how your body feels, the weather, and the course (Two weeks ago, I ran the Boothbay half in 1:29.50 on a much harder course).  To be honest, I never felt great, and the race turned into a longer workout/run.  That’s okay, and I am proud of this finish like any other race I’ve done.

My husband and I drove from NJ to central PA on Thursday (My in-laws live there).  We picked up my father in law and drove the last 6 hours to Dayton, Ohio. Driving that far the day before a race is not my favorite thing to do but with work schedules that’s how the cookie crumbles.  We got to the expo late, didn’t get to stay long, and booked it just before 6, so we wouldn’t get stuck on closed roads due to the 5k.  Everything about the night and morning felt rushed.

The following morning was just as chaotic, and there was an accident in front of the base. The roads were closed, and we made it with just under an hour to spare. Walking the 1.5 miles to the start was enough of a warmup, and I could already feel how hot it was.

The Race:

At the start, I chatted with a few various people.  The race went off at 8:30 and I just ran my own race.  The Air Force half is interesting because it consists of a lot of people who have never run a half marathon but have some sort of military/Air Force connection. I am always happy for them, but it also doesn’t have a corral system, so the first mile is often jam-packed with people who have taken the race out too fast.  Then they quickly realize they have another 12 miles to go.

I hit the mile in 6:59 and I knew immediately it would not be the race I wanted. I wasn’t upset and just ran for the day.

The next two miles went by without any real interest.  I chatted with a few people including a pilot from Illinois, a college ROTC kid running his first half, and retired military officer. It made time go by faster and by the time I knew it, I was at mile 3.

Between mile 3-4, I saw a few C-17s taking off at an adjacent runway. They were planes that had been moved due to the Hurricane Florance.  Not a planned race thing, but a lot were taking off throughout the race.  It made for fun, and interesting scenery. I passed one female in that time. I had no idea where I was in placing, and it didn’t really matter to me either.

Around mile 5, the race started to get hot. I take Gatorade, every time it’s offered in 10+ mile races. At the race, I took at least 2 gatorade cups and water at each stop. It definitely kept me hydrated.

Air force marathon dayton ohio

From 5-6, I just wanted to make it halfway. Around this point, the flags went from yellow to red which was indicated at an aid station. I knew it was getting worse and I was already completely sweating through my clothing.

We trucked along, and by the time I knew it, we were at mile 7.  I was talking to a guy going to UVA just bantering about random stuff.  If there is one thing I do, is talk. I always warn people and if someone doesn’t want to talk, I won’t keep doing it.

At the Air Force Half, mile 8, begins the harder portions of the course.  For the most part, the first 7 miles are relatively flat, with a few turns, and hills but nothing crazy.  Then mile 8 and beyond are rolling hills and running up overpasses.

Air force half marathon dayton ohio

I knew I was pushing myself, but I wasn’t pushing myself to the limit of when I PRed in February. I had plenty left in my tank for hills and for finishing strong, and I was going too.  Up the hills, down the hills, I went the same pace and still averaged about 7:00 minutes.

I passed another female who had passed me earlier, on the overpass at mile 8. The next two miles were spent trucking along alone, and focusing on mile 10. Mile 10 was when I planned to just go.

At mile 10, a hand crank passed me.  I caught a few people walking up the hills between 10-11.  I wasn’t as fatigued as if it was a hard race and I was just trucking along and running faster than the first miles. I ran mile 10 in 6:50 and even with the hills, I was pleased.  I guess the gatorades hit me late.

Air force half marathon dayton ohio

The next mile, I ran alone and just focused on people in front. I wanted to catch every person I could see because it gave me something to think about.  That was my goal to keep my brain engaged with the race. It hot and I needed something. I grabbed water and just trucked along. I high fived a little kid.  I was surprised that I ran the next mile in 6:42.

You enter the base of Wright Patterson at mile 12.  You can see the finish line in the distance and know you still have an entire mile to go. For some reason, I thought “so many women were on my tail”, and I sprinted like I had one race for the rest of my life.  (Probably because in 2017, I was outkicked in races 5-6 times…many for wins).  I passed no less than 5 men in the final mile, and they were probably like…WTF.

Air force half marathon dayton ohio

I ran the last mile in 6:36 and finished in 1:31.12. I was pleased with my time for the day. While yes, I know I’m in better shape than a 1:31 and I would have loved the opportunity to race that, it wasn’t the day and the day will come.

Air force half marathon dayton ohio

I like the Air Force half, not just because my husband is in the Air Force, but I do think it’s a good course and has a good support.  Now that the new refueler, the KC-46 (which replaces my husband’s plane, the KC-10…one day), is going to be the plane of next year…I feel like we have to go back to 2019. 😉

Questions for you:

What is the hottest race you’ve done?

What is one race you enjoy doing?

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Boothbay Harborfest Half Marathon (1:29.50)

Boothbay Harborfest Half Marathon (1:29.50)

The Boothbay Harborfest Half Marathon was the toughest half marathon I’ve run for a lot of reasons.  There was no major event that made it tough but a lot of small things.  Before I dive into a recap this is what made the race tough for me personally:

  • The Elevation profile. Yes, I’ve climbed mountains, but there was not a section of the race that was flat.  It was either steep or downhill. Boothbay harborfest half marathon
  • There were sections of trails that I wasn’t expecting. With a minute to go, the race director announced: “Not sure if this is the map, but there is some trail to the course.  Watch out for loose rock”.  I can handle trail, but I wasn’t expecting it, and it was probably some sort of cross country course we ran on.
  • There was no Gatorade and minimal water stops (some not even manned). I don’t take gels during a half, but I do take Gatorade at every stop. In the heat, I needed Gatorade.
  • The roads were not closed (in either direction), and around mile 7 I was clipped by a car. I didn’t get hurt, or even fall, but it knocked the wind out of my sails. We also had to go around vehicles.  The roads are 35-50 mph roads and should be closed. Sure it makes the race more expensive, but it was dangerous.  I will pay more, knowing that I’m safer.

That being said it sounds negative and I’m not.  It’s just factors that affected me.  I would probably do the race again if I were in the area. I’m both happy and proud of my time. 

 So where to start?  If you follow me on Instagram, then you know I pretty much live videoed most of it.  From finding the start to after the finish.

The race started at 8 am.  We walked from the school to the start which was maybe about a quarter of a mile.  It wasn’t chipped timed, and the race director made sure to let us know! I lined up and noticed several people who seemed like they would be fast.  They were.

During the first mile, I ran with a few people including another female.  There was one female out ahead, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to catch her.  Even though it was only the “first mile” she was booking.  Around .5, we turned and went towards East Boothbay.  I had gotten dinner in East Boothbay the night before and had actually mentioned, wow it’s hilly here.  We climbed, and it was a very steep climb.  My legs were not happy.  I ran a 6:58 and thought I would be ecstatic if that was my overall pace.

The next mile was me running alone on the trails.  It was nice because they were narrow and I had no interest in running fast surrounded by others, through trails with lots of loose rocks.

Despite being on the trail, I ran a 6:35 and 6:46 mile.  I think it was because those were probably the flattest miles we had during the entire race. There were by no means flat, but they were flatter.

Around mile 4, I realized how much fluid I was losing through sweat.  I rely on Gatorade or on course drinks during races.  If I had known there was zero fuel with electrolytes and minimal stops, I think I would have brought a gel.

We turned a corner and headed the way we came and over the pedestrian walkway bridge.  The same bridge I had taken a photo with my race bib the day before. They didn’t close the bridge, and we were caught weaving in and out of people just enjoying the harbor.  The second water stop came, but there were no trashcans. The woman just said to hold onto the cup until I found a trashcan.

Luckily there was a trashcan shortly up the road. After the bridge came a steep incline onto the streets of Boothbay.  The roads were not closed and not flat either.  I ran the next couple of miles in 6:44 and 6:46. I was pleasantly surprised because they weren’t easy miles and I was already overheating.

Mile 6-7 is where everything happened.  There was a massive climb that I started very heavy breathing. I knew my body was beginning to overheat and at that point, I nearly mentally gave up. I know people say that, but if we close to start, I would have just called it a day.  Luckily at the top, we had about a tenth of a mile of flat.  I caught my breath, and it was all I needed.  I ran mile 6 in 7:20 and one of my slowest half marathon miles in a while.

Then between mile 7-8, a car mirror clipped my arm.  The roads weren’t closed, but I also wasn’t running in the middle of the road.  The road itself was going somewhere between 30-40 mph. Between the two miles, it was enough to knock the wind out of my sails. I didn’t fall or even stop, but mentally I was like: WTF am I even doing here.

Once I reached mile 8, I knew the race was over halfway done. That always mentally makes me feel better. I focused on making it to mile 10. The next two miles went by without anything significant.  There were rolling hills, weaving in out and cars, and hoping I was going the right way.  For being a small race and running about 7 miles alone, it was well marked, and I never found myself wondering: am I going the right way?

I reached mile 10 around 1:08 and told myself, okay Hollie, you might be able to break 1:30 if you work it.  I didn’t really know what kind of hills the next 5k would bring.

I grabbed water from an unmanned tabled and just trucked along. I ran mile 10 in 6:55 and began counting down the miles.  My body was tired.  I could feel the effects of the heat and lack of anything with substance.  I told myself I had 20 minutes left in me.

Mile 11 seemed to go by without any incident either and all of a sudden I found myself at mile 12.  I thought about racing the RnR VA Beach where you turn the corner at mile 12 and can see the finish line for nearly a mile. You are running in the humidity staring at the finish line. I pictured myself doing that.  I was a little dazed because when I actually paid attention to the race I was in, I realized we were climbing the longest hill of the entire race. Who designed that!?

After that, we turned onto a gravel trail and headed towards the finish line. By 12.75, I was just focused on me and finishing. I knew the finish line was on the wide open field and I began mentally preparing myself to watch my footing.  I would jog it in if it meant not hurting myself.

My husband was on the field cheering, and I finished up.  I probably had more left to “sprint it in” but it wasn’t worth it to me, and I focused on my footing in the field.

I saw the clock ticking away and my official time was 1:29.50.  I didn’t stop my watch until a few seconds later.

Thoughts:

In all, I’m happy with my race and my effort.  It was a tough day on a tough course, and I couldn’t be more pleased.  As I mentioned, I have typically run RnR Va Beach at the end of the summer anywhere between 1:28-1:31 and I strongly believe my effort on this course was a little quicker than that range.

tim and i

Questions for you:

What is your favorite half marathon?

How did you celebrate Labor Day Weekend? 

Underarmour Killington 25k (3:20)

Underarmour Killington 25k (3:20)

The Underarmour Killington 25k was the hardest race I’ve ever run.  Yes, I’ve run a couple of marathons and yes I ran the Copper Mountain 25k last month at 9000 feet elevation, but Killington was harder.  For me anyway.  It was also the longest time running on my feet.  I’ve hiked longer, but never run that long.

Even though there were challenging portions, I enjoyed the heck out of it. When I finished the Killington race, I wasn’t 100% sure I would run it again, but after a few days, I do believe I would go back.  My reasoning for thinking about not rerunning it is straightforward: there are a lot of very steep downhills, and I do think it’s easy to injure yourself.  That being said I enjoyed it and thought the race was fun.

The drive from NJ to Vermont was uneventful, but it did take a lot longer than I anticipated.  I got there shortly before the race packet pickup ended the night before. You could pick up packets the same day, but I wasn’t sure how the morning before would play out. I wanted to be ready the night before.

The morning of the race, I ended up driving about 15 minutes down the road to get coffee because nowhere was open beforehand.  Last month at Copper, one of the places opened early which was nice.  It ate up some time, but I was up before my alarm anyway.

I got to the race start around 7 am, chatted with Allie, and by the time I knew it we were off. underarmour killington 25k

I was wrapping my mind around actually racing and the challenge it would be.  I didn’t have pressure to race hard, PR, and time was pretty much irrelevant because unless you run the course, it’s hard to fully explain every twist, knee-deep mud puddle, and 40% decline.

I was just at the race for me. I have a whole separate post about my lack of racing this summer, but I actually think it’s been good for me.

The race started, and the first mile was downhill.  I started way in the back because people kept passing me.  I don’t run downhills well at all, and I was being passed left and right.  Around mile 1.5, we started a serious climb.

The roles reversed, and I was passing people as if they were standing still.  I’m sure people just thought I started late but I was cruising by people (cruising being somewhere around 12 min miles).  I hit mile 2 around 12 minutes and was happy.

underarmour killington 25k

The next few miles climbed, and climbed, and also climbed.  It was very rocky like the Appalachians.  It was also extremely steep, and the inclines were anywhere between 20-40%.  After going for 40% for probably half a mile, 20% incline felt like a cakewalk.

I hit mile 5 around an hour.  I thought perhaps finishing 3 hours again would be doable, but the course kept getting more and more challenging.  So as the race progressed, it became clear I would only reach 3 hours if we ran on the roads.

The next few miles went between extreme uphill and extreme downhill.  It was either 20+% grade in one direction.  A few parts went off course and weren’t groomed.  You were just physically climbing up a mountain in knee-high grass.  I traded sports with a woman named Nancy and we got to chatting for a while (she ultimately left me in the dust the final downhill mile).

Underarmour killington 25k

Between 6-7 miles, we hit a peak with gorgeous views below.  All I could think about after reaching the peak was that eventually we would go down and there would be more downhill.  I took a second to admire the views and the top of the gondola.

Around 15k, I stopped at an aid station and went for skittles.  At Copper, I decided I wanted Red Bull, but at Killington, skittles appealed to me.  They were fine, and I had no stomach issues.

underarmour killington 25k

I took my second gel at mile 10.  I had gone back and forth between one gel per hour, but instead of taking it at 2 hours I decided to eat skittles and take the gel about 10 minutes later.

The next 5 miles were grueling, and I wanted nothing more to be done.  I like running, but the race was challenging me both mentally and physically.  I had no plans to quit, but I was exhausted.  The woman I was running with, Nancy, and I concluded we had about one more hour of running.

The next mile went up the side of a mountain.  It wasn’t an actual trail, but we just went up the side.  We climbed for a while longer, and around mile 11 we went downhill for a bit.  As we went downhill many people popped out of nowhere and passed me.  They gained minutes on me because I took the downhill nice and easy.

One male went charging the downhill and fell face first into a giant mud pit.  It was kind of comical because he was okay.  I just repeated to myself: make it out of here healthy Hollie.  Take it easy, no one cares about your time.  It was true, and I logged miles between 15-18 minutes.

The downhill wasn’t a smooth, rolling downhill.  It was going downhill on rocky terrain at anywhere between 20-40% incline.  My quads were screaming.

Then around mile 12-14ish, we went back uphill.  All I could think was, why are we going uphill…we should almost be done.  What is going on?  I had no bearings of the where we were in relevance to the finish line.

Finally, a pack of three dudes caught me.  They had gotten lost somewhere on the course so they sailed right by.  I looked down and 15 feet in front of me, the course as flat.

Was it flat forever?  Were we almost done?  One more mile of flat?  I started to really charge.  My quads were screaming, and I felt like I was at PRing pace.  I looked down to realize I was at 12-minute pace.  I laughed and just repeated one more mile.

All of a sudden, I could see the finish line.  It was coming so soon.  I was yearning for it.  I felt like I was in slow motion.  Someone yelled go Hollie, and I crossed.  I was done.  That was it.  I felt like I had accomplished the world.

underarmour killington 25k

I had a great time.  The course challenged me in ways running has never challenged me.  It was as mentally challenging to keep going as physically.

underarmour killington elevation chart

I like the trails, and I would do the race again.  For the fall, I plan to stick to the roads and chase some road PRs.

Questions for you:

What is the hardest race you’ve done?

Are you a better uphill or downhill runner? 

Running Isn’t Everything

Running Isn’t Everything

This week, my “on this day app” showed me seven years ago, I had my official diagnosis of a tibia stress fracture.  It was my first real running injury.  The diagnosis came a month after the actual break.  I think the original diagnosis (with a clean X-Ray) was tendinitis.

Stress fractures rarely show up on X-Rays.  In fact, I’ve never had a stress fracture that did show up within the first weeks of the break..  I tell people that X-rays are the gateway to MRI’s.

I know exactly how I caused what caused my tibia to break and it was by running my runs to fast all of the time.  I ran between 7-7:10 pace every day.  You can read about my running history in my running about page, so I’ll spare you all of those details.

In summary, at the time my PRS were much slower. I was always tired, and my training was dumb.  I was a new runner (I had been running off and on for about a year), so I didn’t know the importance of easy runs.

Most runners go through the phase of running in cheap shoes, running all their runs to fast, and then get injured.

On that day 7 years ago, I sat in the doctor’s office, crying my eyes out as they read the results.  My dad was sitting there, probably rolling his eyes.

He looked me square in my 21-year-old face and said: “Hollie, it’s just running, get ahold of yourself.”

I’ll never forget that statement because at the end of the day it is…just running.  Races, events, and running will always be there.  I don’t regret the injury, and I don’t regret any of my injuries because they have all taught me something.

This is my 21st birthday when the reality was I had a broken tibia.  The doctor told me it was “tendinitis” so didn’t boot it for a while longer.  My youngest brother seems thrilled to celebrate my birthday. 

In 2011, my tibial stress fracture taught me not to train like a moron.

In 2014, my second metatarsal fracture taught me I can’t outrun injury.  Nipping things in the bud is essential.  If I rested a week, I wouldn’t have sat out 2+ months.  You will never outrun a stress reaction, and they turn into a fracture.

In 2016, my ankle fracture taught me I have a lot more hobbies than running.  I like to run, and I blog about running but I like a lot of other things including hiking and just being active.  I mean one of my first “real” hiking adventures and I was doing yoga.  JK…yoga is not my thing.

That being said, of course, there were hard times and tears shed but running isn’t everything.

I’ve had multiple doctors visits to make sure my body is healthy, and it is.  I have the right amount of calcium, vitamin D, and I get my period every month.  My injuries have been either overuse or form.  I stress my metatarsals with how I run, so I need to be overly cautious in changing shoes as well as running too much.  It took me a long time to realize that but better late than never.

So that leads me to where the post is actually going.

I don’t rely a lot on paces and for the most part train for time versus pace.  I’ll never be a runner who cares about an 8:30 mile versus 8:33.

rabbit running me

I’m not a data nerd and don’t even log into my Garmin app very often. Strava doesn’t interest me for many reasons including safety, but I also don’t care enough for the data portion.  I don’t need head pats and likes to get me out of the door.  I do it because I like it.

It’s another reason I don’t see the point to log pace and lose sleep over an of an easy run.

(Since my tibia break, I’ve never had the issue of going to fast for recovery and easy). I want to know that data for races or workouts, but I just listen to my body on easy run or recovery runs.

To tell you the type of runner and person I am, this morning I finished a run with my friend Alexis and she asked: what does your watch read?  I said 9.95 and she asked if I wanted to get to 10…I just shrugged and said it didn’t matter.  One of my most significant personal accomplishments for my anxiety is not to sweat the small things.  Will I remember next week I ran 9.95 versus 10.01…no.

I’m not lazy, and I do work hard.  I don’t feel like I have to prove that to anyone because I know it for myself.  If you cut corners in your training, you are only hurting yourself.  I’m not hurting “X the Instagrammer” because I’m lying about workouts, runs, or races…I’m just hurting me.

Originally, this was written in more of a diary format and I wasn’t going to post it.  Sometimes it’s just cathartic to get information out there.

Then I was told, and I also realized, I have been lazy with my training logs because I don’t really know who reads them.  I don’t care if I get 10 comments or none but if no one ever comments, how on earth would I even know someone is reading? So I figured people weren’t reading my blog anymore.  That is totally fine and I never expect anyone to read anything I write.  In fact, I’ll tell personal friends stories and they’ll say: oh I read that on your blog.  I never think anyone reads anything. It’s fun when people do, and the commentary is fun but I don’t expect it.  Bloggers aren’t celebrities and having the most followers is like having monopoly money…when you log off the computer…no one cares.

So where am I with Running Now?

This summer I have been running easy and doing workouts when I can.

I am a high mileage runner and I thrive on high mileage and racing all of the time but I absolutely can’t do that year round.  I’ll injure myself or burn myself out. I’ve learned that lesson too many times. This summer I put the brakes on and while I’m running 45-60 minutes and longer runs a couple of days a week I’m not hitting double digits every day.  I will do that again, hopefully in the fall, but I won’t that mistake of doing that year round and hurting myself.  Sure it’s boring because I’m not racing every weekend, and I could put more effort into my training logs.

That being said, I am in shape but I’m not in peak shape, and your body can’t be year round.  If you asked me to race a half marathon right now, I think I could run somewhere around 1:30 but my PR is 1:22.  To get to 1:22, I do have to up training and mileage.  I have to run hard, fine-tune fitness, and train for a goal.

Phoenix Half marathon feb me running

Right now I’m running the Under Armour 25k trail race in Killington, this weekend.  A completely different goal than a PRing half marathon or having any road goal.  My goal is literally to finish healthy.  I do plan to train for a goal (road) race in the fall, but the other component is I’m often at the mercy of my husband’s schedule.  We have a few more things to sort out, but I do plan to train for a fall goal race.   Once I have a decision and bib for a race, the blogging world will be the first to know (well maybe my parents).

This is one of my longest posts about life, running, and everything in between so thank you for staying with me if you did.  I never really anticipated posting it but the timing just seemed right. 

Training: Cranking Along and Another Trail Race

Training: Cranking Along and Another Trail Race

Another week of summer down. It’s hard to believe we are now entering “late August” and the fall looms right around the corner.  Anyway, last week was similar to the previous few.  I rested, I ran, and running was once again not a priority.  That being said, I had two of my best workouts of the summer.  Even though I haven’t been my racing, my fitness is coming back.

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Easy 60 minutes
Wednesday: 12X400s
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Easy 60 minutes
Saturday: Easy 60 minutes
Sunday: 17 miles

Thoughts:

The humidity has wiped me out!  Yes, it’s summer so it’s hot but I’ve found myself wanting more rest days than usual.

Wednesday: 12X400s (average 5:58 pace) with 400 recovery

I have been trying to do workouts more over the last few months.  Some weeks, it works out and some it does not, but I am trying to be as consistent as both my body and schedule allow.  I pleasantly surprised myself and had a great workout.  I felt strong the entire time, and it’s by far my fastest workout since early Spring.

Sunday: 17 miles Progression

I’ve been enjoying runs that start off easier and I slowly pick it up.  The first half was around 8-8:15 pace and I slowly worked down with my last mile at 6:42.  I felt good the entire time.  I haven’t run 17 miles in almost 2 years (I’ve run a total of 17 miles but not 17 miles).

Thoughts:

Next Week I’m going up to Killington, Vermont to run the Underarmour 25k.  It’s part of the race series that I ran Colorado last month.  Even though the elevation is much lower, I’ve heard this is the hardest and most steep, technical of the races, so my goal is to finish.

I’m looking forward to skipping town for the weekend (although it looks like I might do that for a few weekends coming up).

This summer has been great and I’ve given myself the freedom to do whatever I’ve wanted.

Rest for no other reason than I don’t want to run?

Run a trail race?

Workout when I feel like it?

I am looking forward to the busyness and routine that the fall brings but the Summer has been one to remember.

Posts from the Week:

Why you Need to Be Fitted for Running Shoes
Hoka Clifton 5 Shoe Review
Walk a Mile and it Down Pours

Questions for you:
Have you ever done a trail race?
Are you training for anything?

What to Do When You’re Just Not Motivated…

What to Do When You’re Just Not Motivated…

Yesterday on Instagram, I asked what people were interested in on blogging.  I’m not a coach, I’m not a nutritionist, and I’m not a professional or expert.  I’m just a person who likes to run and also blog.

One of the questions I received was “what to do when you don’t feel like running”. As runners, we’ve all been through a time that we “just didn’t feel like running.”  Last April and May, I was burned out.  Between life and not wanting to run, it took me nearly 4 months to be consistently back to training again.  This year, there was a time in early April, I felt the same way.  Instead of pushing through and probably hurting myself, I took a few days off.

What to Do When You're Just Not Motivated...

The world did not end.  Running was there when I was ready.

For most of us, running is not a full-time job or profession and it’s okay to take time off.

After a big race, I don’t always find myself “wanting to run.”  If the race didn’t go well, I might be less motivated.  Even if the race did go well, I might be less motivated because a new goal race is “so far off.”  Throughout the years, I find recovery from any big race is essential.

There is No Shame in Recovery, in Fact, it’s Important:

I can’t stress this enough.  If you attempt to jump back into mileage and workouts after a big race, you’ll get hurt.  I’ve been there before and suffered the consequences.  After Copper Mountain, I bee-bopped around, ran with family and just enjoyed my week.  If I run, yay! If I didn’t…who care.  For instance, with an overnight flight delay in Denver, I wasn’t going to run in NJ at 2:30 pm in July…so I didn’t. It wasn’t worth it to wake up at 3:30 am and run and it wasn’t worth it to me run in 100 degrees. Recovery was the best that day and it became another rest day.

Recovery Includes Mental Recovery:

When you mentally invest so much in a race, it’s important to realize, after that race you need some mental downtime.  Let your brain and mental health recover too!  As someone who took many college classes in mental health, it’s so important to ask yourself: is what I’m doing making me mentally healthy?  The rest time allows you to reset and recharge for the next race.

Set a New Goal:

If your next goal race is months away, find smaller goals or races.  Personally, I prefer racing frequently because it gives me “something to look forward too.” I prefer big, competitive races, for a goal race but I like smaller local races. I can decide race day if I want to run and have something to look forward too.  If you find yourself not motivated to run, look for some smaller races that you can do!

Switch it Up:

This is good advice for burn out or just staying mentally motivated.  A few ways to switch up your running:

  • A new distance
  • New routes or surfaces (trails, go on the roads, heck even zone out to the treadmill if you desire)
  • Run with Friends
  • Run Your “route” backward. Yes, that makes for a whole new run.

Reward Yourself:

Whether that is a physical or mental reward, give yourself something to look forward too.  Someone I personally know puts a dollar in a jar every run they do.  They end up buying new running shoes or gear with the money, which I think is fun!  You don’t have to reward yourself with anything expensive or food related but if it’s something you look forward too, then it counts.

When all else doesn’t work out, don’t be afraid to take time off.  We all need running breaks both for mental and physical health.  These days, social media has made it easy to compare yourself to everyone else out there.  It feels like “everyone else is running” and running well when that isn’t the truth.  We all go through the highs and lows of running and it’s important to remember why you did it (for you).

Questions for you:

How do you stay motivated to run?

Do you take time off after a goal race?

Copper Mountain 25k (2:58)

Copper Mountain 25k (2:58)

This is going to be one of my lengthiest race recaps, so don’t say I didn’t warn you!  Before running the UnderArmour Running Series at Copper Mountain, I had no idea what to expect.

While I have run one trail race in NJ, it didn’t have the same climb and elevation changes that races out west do.  I had not run a trail race out west, and I had never raced at anything above 7000 feet of elevation.  I went into the race with zero expectations but finishing.  I could have finished in 2 hours or 4:29 minutes and felt good about it.  In short, I exceeded all expectations for the race including my time and experience.

Due to the length of the recap, I’ve broken it up a little bit.

Before the Race:

Before the race, I fueled as if I was running a marathon.  I knew I would be running for several hours with extreme climbs, so I knew I needed to get as much fuel as possible.  There were several food places available at Copper Mountain, my favorite being the Ten Mile Tavern.

The 25k started at 7:30 am.  Around 7 am, I realized I couldn’t get my Nathan Hydration Pack open.  I had opened it back home to make myself familiar with it.  After basically attacking Sarah to help me, I went over the Fleetfeet Rochester guys, and they were able to open.  Since the pack had gone from 0 elevation to 9000 quickly, the vacuum seal was shut entirely.  After that situation was thankfully fixed (in writing it sounds like I’m calmer than I was), I was ready to go.

Even though there were 5 aid stations, I opted to bring my own water.  I was 100% happy that I did, and if I raced again, I would choose the exact same one.

The Race:

After chatting with Jill at the start, we were off.  I started towards the back, and in hindsight, I could have probably started a few rows up.  The first mile was my slowest because we were so boxed in. I felt like I could move faster than I was but the number of people made it difficult. I logged a 15:10 first mile and I was happy with it.  I was winded, but also I knew it was faster than the pace I needed to make the cutoff.

under armour copper mountain race me running

The next mile was a long incline.  It wasn’t steep, but it was narrow and singletrack.  I kept plugging along with nothing of note except the crowds had begun to spread out.  I was still with a relatively large group of people which kept me motivated.  I wasn’t in it alone.

Around mile 2, began one of the hardest inclines I’ve run.  Not the hardest, because that comes later on.  The switchbacks were steep, and I could see rows and rows of people higher than me climbing.  It made me mentally question, what am I doing?  I have all of that to go.  What kept me together was the people around me.  I was neither the first nor the last.  I was a solid midpack person.  Seeing others going through the same thing made me feel more motivated.  I didn’t feel like I was climbing a mountain alone.

We climbed, and every time I felt I needed water, I sipped some from my pack.  I was thankful for the hydration pack, and if I run the race again, I’ll use the same one.  I ended up drinking all of my water in the pack.  My calves were tired, and for a few brief moments, I thought about walking.  I didn’t, but it crossed my mind.

under armour copper mountain race me running

Around mile 4, I took my first gel.  It was just under an hour, and I planned to take a gel every hour.  I don’t have a flavor preference, and honestly, my stomach can handle any flavor/brand the tasteless being my least favorite…but it will go down).

The switchbacks were done, and we began climbing a fire road.  People spread out, and I had my own space.  It flattened for a brief moment, and people flew by me like I was standing still. With my running college nickname, Mac truck Hollie, I went the same speed.  (Mac truck because I go one speed uphill, downhill, and on flat surfaces).  I knew the climb was not over.

We climbed for a while and then I saw a sign that said: “stay to the left”.  Suddenly, I saw racers coming down the opposite side.  Many had the 50k bib, but a few had 25k too.  They were a few miles in front and had already reached the peak.

Mile 6 and 7 were rough.  You were climbing and watching racers ease down the downhill faster and with less effort. I knew they had already put in the work to get there. I just kept plugging along and staring out over the mountains.  It was beautiful, and I could see for miles.

Finally, after a couple of 12-minute miles, I reached the top.  The energy at the top was unreal.  People cheering, Taylor Swift playing, and a table of cookies, gels, Gus, Powerade, and Red Bull.  I grabbed another GU and Red Bull.  I took in the view for a second and just stared out while drinking my red bull.

under armour copper mountain race me running

I had never had Red Bull while running but I decided since half of everything I was doing was new anyway to just go with it (new shoes, new hydration pack, new elevation, new race terrain…).

Downhill Until it’s Uphill:

Then I began the long stretch downhill.  I’m not a great downhill runner.  In fact, downhill is a very weak point on mine.  I am clumsy and injury prone while running downhill, so I take my time. Many people passed me downhill which was fine.  I didn’t care.

The next few miles were all downhill.  In my mind I thought, is this it?  Are we done climbing?  The hardest is done.  I was logging around 10 min miles and cruising. For the next few miles, I ran alone and enjoyed it.  Just me, running downhill, on an open fire road. I found some secluded woods and quickly used the restroom.

For the next few miles, we kept going down and mentally I had checked out of climbing anything else.  Which is unfortunate because around 10 miles we crossed paths with racers who were climbing.  It was a mix of bibs and I asked someone climbing if we were going that way.  He said yes, and it wasn’t the only climb.

All of a sudden, a racer going another way said: Whoa, are you Tim’s wife?  I said yes, and it turns out one of his college skiing teammates was running the race too.  We caught up after the race which was neat…you never know who you’ll see on the mountain.  Seeing someone, I knew gave me a second wind.

under armour copper mountain race me running

Once we reached the bottom, ready to go up, I knew I was about get served a piece of humble pie.  We dipped to a point and with a water stop.  I grabbed Powerade and began on the first incline.  The include lasted about half a mile, but it was grueling.  My calves were screaming at me, but I was passing people.  I thought to myself, I must really be stronger in the uphills.  I climbed, and my run became more of a cross between a short stride and hike.  I was still moving about the same pace, but I think I could contend for race walking.

We reached the top, circled around and went right back down.  The same racers I passed, passed me.  Someone called out, yeah Jersey.  I asked where he was from and he said Denver…so I said yeah, Denver (clever I know).

After the downhill, we went right back to the uphill which honestly didn’t seem as bad as the earlier uphill.  Maybe I was more mentally prepared, but I powered up and passed the same people who passed me going downhill.  I knew we had to go downhill for a few more miles so I knew they would all drop me later (which to no surprise, they did).

Technical Downhill is Hard:

Around mile 12, we started the technical downhill.  Out of everything, it was my absolute least favorite part. Not because I thought it was a bad course design, but because both downhill and technical trails are my weakness.  Together, at the end of the race was grueling.

I had to pay attention to every place my feet landed for the next 2 miles and it made me slower, less efficient, and worried.  I didn’t want to roll an ankle or fall.  I didn’t care though, my goal was to finish not to run fast and hurt myself because I wasn’t paying attention.

I was extremely fortunate there was no one really around me for almost a mile. I was able to take my time without getting into other racers way.

Around mile 14, a man came barreling through and almost ran into me.  We ended up climbing up a short incline to the fire road and going down.  He quickly ran by me on the wide open road.  From there, I knew I had about a mile and a half.  Just 1.5 miles to go.  I told myself, half of a 5k and a downhill 5k at that.  My quads had started cramping, and my IT band was singing me a sweet hate song.  I wasn’t injured, but 7+ miles of downhill made it tighten up.

The final mile headed into more single track downhill, and we popped out.  I looked down, and I could see the village.  I could see the finish line. OMG, I’m doing it.  I kept staring at this surreal finish line.  Then I crossed, and it was done.

under armour copper mountain race me running

Post Race:

I grabbed a couple of bananas, chatted with people, and then went up to my hotel room for a while.  I felt proud and accomplished.  I enjoyed my first big trail race and it could not have gone better.  Under Armour did a great job and I liked the course a lot. Looking forward, I’m not married to trail running, I just like to run.  I am thinking I’ll do the Under Amour Killington Race as well.  I’ve heard while the elevation is lower, it’s much more technical.  Like anything in my life, I can’t plan too much until closer but I would like to do it if my schedule allows!

Questions for you:

What is the hardest race you’ve ever done?

Have you ever done a trail race?

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