I got to race!

2020 sure has been an interesting year. It slammed on the breaks causing us to slow WAY down. It opened my eyes to what has been missing in my life that brings me so much joy…human connection and racing. It forced us to sit in the uncomfortable for SO LONG, but you know that?! The uncomfortable is where growth happens, so if nothing else, we are growing A LOT this year! And in some areas, it’s about damn time!

Cliff Notes Version: Saturday I got to race for the first time since February. SO much is different, but I’m SO GRATEFUL for the opportunity to race safely! This was my first 1/2 marathon EVER that I ran the ENTIRE thing without taking one walking step. I kept reminding myself that #IGETTO do this and I have no idea when I’ll get to race again, so I was going to push myself even when it became uncomfortable, which it did.

The race directors at the Hillbilly Hike 1/2 marathon put on a very safe race with the following Covid guidelines in place:

  • each athlete had to fill out a Covid survey online 24 hours before racing
  • masks were required before and after (I wore mine for the first 4 miles and every time I went through an aid station or if I was by others while running)
  • athletes were spread 6 feet apart in the starting “corral” that extended for an eternity
  • 2 athletes started every 5 seconds to spread athletes out for social distancing
  • there was no medal distribution at the finish line (finisher medals were placed in a brown paper bag with a banana, cookie, and granola bar that athletes picked up off of a table)
  • spectators were not allowed to congregate at the start/finish area
  • this year the race route was changed from a point-to-point format (requiring buses to shuttle athletes to the start) to an out-and-back format
  • I carried my own water for this race so I didn’t have to interact with volunteers at the aid stations
  • Bonus safety measure…Mother Nature provided us with 20+ mph winds so there was very little risk of Covid droplets from others
The masked bandit is ready to race. Photo credit: the Iron Hippie

Longer Version: As I was preparing to start the race, my anxiety was REALLY high and the voices in my head were battling back-and-forth. “Should I really be racing?! We are outside, spread apart, and the race directors have put lots of Covid guidelines in place for the safety of everyone. Am I doing everything I can to be safe in the pandemic?! I am wearing my buff and I’m following the Covid guidelines. Maybe I should just not show up to the start line and go home. You are here and ready to race, so get your butt to the start line. Once you get started, you’ll be fine.”

As I approached the start line, I was told to wait until the clock read “8:04:30” to start. There was no gun going off, there was no countdown, there was no “ready, set, go”, there was nothing but me deciding to cross the start line and begin running.

It was a BEAUTIFUL morning with temps near 55*F at the start + sunny and VERY windy (20-30 mph winds with gusts up to 40 mph from the south). I kept my buff over my face for the first 4 miles as there were more athletes around than I was comfortable with (that is one thing that needs to be done differently in the future…have people line up according to the pace they plan to run instead of just randomly line up). Eventually we were spread out enough that I pulled my buff down and only put it back up when I went through an aid station or passed other athletes. With the strong winds, I felt fairly confident that if there were any Covid droplets in the air, they wouldn’t stick around for long.

Running strong! Photo credit: the Iron Hippie

As I ran, I was reminded that I “bring my own energy” and I could continue to let my anxiety dictate my race or I could enjoy and be GRATEFUL for the opportunity to race again! I hopped on the gratitude train and rode it to the end. I was grateful to be racing again. I was grateful for the beautiful weather. I was grateful to be racing again. I was grateful that the Iron Hippie had come to support me. I was grateful to be racing again. I was grateful to see the Iron Hippie and Jersey (our youngest girl) at a few different places cheering me on. I was grateful to be racing again. I was grateful to see other athletes I knew. I was grateful to be racing again.

So much gratitude! Photo credit: the Iron Hippie

Around mile 10 it got hard. My legs were screaming at me…maybe I had been pushing too hard (is there such a thing?!), maybe it was the lack of run training, maybe it was the 70+ mile bike ride two days ago, maybe it was my brain telling my legs they were more tired than they really were. At this point, I hadn’t taken any walk breaks and I committed to myself that I was going to run the rest of this race. This is also when the self talk game came on strong! “You are going to run every step of this race! This would be the first race that you’ve run every step. Push hard! Who knows when I will actually get to race again?! Stay strong! You can do this! Smile! You GET TO RACE!” This is also where I started to run a mile for different people in my life that inspire me.

This mile is for you! Photo credit: the Iron Hippie

As I got close to the finish line, the gratitude I had for racing was overwhelming…tears in my eyes, fatigue in my legs, happiness in my heart, fuel in my soul. All was right in the world…even if briefly. I had missed this! I had missed racing! While this wasn’t a PR race, it was everything I needed in this moment!

Happy heart! Photo credit: the Iron Hippie

A look at 2020

2020 is filling up fast and I’m super excited to toe the line at some new + repeat race events, experience some big training weekends with others, and have so much fun as I swim/bike/run + #celebrate EVERYTHING in 2020!

Here is what my 2020 schedule looks like so far:

  1. InCydeman Triathlon – January 19
  2. PBR 1/2 Marathon – February 1
  3. Coeur Camp in California – March 12-16
  4. Drake 1/2 Marathon – April 19
  5. Des Moines Women’s 1/2 Marathon – May 3
  6. Tri Clear Lake – May 30
  7. IRONMAN Des Moines 70.3 – June 21
  8. Madison Training Weekend – July 3-5
  9. Okoboji Triathlon – July 18
  10. IRONMAN Ohio 70.3 – July 26
  11. Okoboji Point to Point Swim – August 1
  12. IRONMAN Mont Tremblant – August 23
  13. Hillbilly Hike 1/2 Marathon – November 7

I have some BIG goals for some of these races, which I’ll share with you in another post (or multiple posts). Ultimately, I plan to #CELEBRATE the highs and lows, the peaks and valleys, the successes and challenges of my journey to each finish line + life! Throughout 2020, I will be focusing on having more fun, more joy, more action, more play, more dancing, more laughter and #CELEBRATE every part of each chapter that I write this year!

The chapters at the end of 2020 have some gaps in it that I know will fill in, but it’s anyone’s guess as to what I’ll fill them in with. We’ll see what I can find to add to the months of September, October, November, and December as the year progresses.

Cheers to a fun 2020!! What does 2020 have in store for you?!

Slip slidin’ away at the Hillbilly Hike 1/2 Marathon

Saturday morning I ran the Hillbilly Hike 1/2 Marathon. Going into this race, I wasn’t sure if I was going to race it, or run with my friend. I decided to let my legs tell me how to run on race morning.

The 1/2 marathon is a point to point race. The race provides you with the option to take the shuttle bus (aka school bus) from the finish line to the start line. Thankfully the Iron Hippie said he would drive us to the start since he wasn’t racing. It was nice to be in the warm car right up until the race start since the wind chill temps were right at 20*F. We exited the car right before the national anthem, lined up at the start, and waited for the start (which was someone yelling “GO!” without any means of projecting their voice).

Ready to run this 1/2 marathon! Photo credit: my fave
Robin and I are ready to do this thang!! Photo credit: Robin (selfie)

I had decided that my intention for this race was going to be gratitude…after all, this was the first of November and there is SO much to be thankful for! The first mile was on the roads in Indianola and wasn’t bad, but once we got on the paved trail that goes from Indianola to Carlisle we quickly noticed that the footing wasn’t good. Cue Paul Simon “Slip Slidin’ Away”…

So grateful that my fave brought our girls out to cheer us on at the Hillbilly Hike 1/2 marathon! Sorry Basil, no dogs allowed at this race. Photo credit: my fave

The trail was completely frost covered with patches of ice (thank you Mother Nature for the rain on Friday that froze over night). I was feeling good and my legs were ready to GO, so I decided to see what they had in them and kept my fingers crossed that I wouldn’t fall on the slick running surfaces.

Running with Robin just past mile 1 as we entered the trail! You can see the frost on the pavement. Photo credit: my fave

Shortly after mile 2, I decided to start running on the shoulder of the trail (which had turned into an uneven rocky surface) because I noticed I was really changing my gait on the slick trail surface. I figured the uneven rocky shoulder would be better for traction. And it was, buuuutttttt it definitely drained the energy tank and now my gait had changed for a completely different reason. I decided to pop back up on the trail when I could (if I noticed short sections where it appeared to have less frost on the trail).

Just past mile 6…you can still see the frost on the pavement. Photo credit: my fave

For the next 9 miles, I was like a rabbit hopping on and off the trail depending on the surface. It was frustrating, but I kept my intention in mind and reminded myself that I GET TO DO THIS!! There are so many things to be grateful for! I’m grateful the sun is shining. I’m grateful that my fave and the girls are cheering me on. I GET TO DO THIS! I’m grateful Basil isn’t running with me to reduce my risk of falling. I’m grateful that I haven’t fallen. I GET TO DO THIS! I’m grateful for the volunteers out here (freezing) handing out water to us. I’m grateful for the small patches of frost-free surfaces. I GET TO DO THIS! I’m grateful for less wind than I thought there was supposed to be. I’m grateful that my body is strong. I GET TO DO THIS!

SO SLICK, but still smilin’! Photo credit: Kathy Shupe King
Focusing on the beautiful fall foliage and not the slick surfaces. Photo credit: Kathy Shupe King
That sun needs to rise a bit higher to melt this frost. Look at those fall colors! Beautiful! Photo credit: Kathy Shupe King

The surfaces were REALLY slick between miles 6.8 and 8.2 where we had an out and back section (in the pictures above). When we went around the turn around cone, I literally came to a stop to avoid falling. It was SO SLICK!! They had volunteers at this location telling people it was slick and taking pics…I wonder how many people went *slip slidin’ away* around this cone?!

Approaching the cone to turn around with black ice and frosty surfaces. Photo credit: David Pullara

By mile 11, the sun had gotten high enough that most of frost had melted and the surfaces were much better for running. The only slick spots now were in the shadows. By this point, I had spent most of my energy battling those slick surfaces and uneven shoulders in the first 11 miles of the race, so this is where the mental focus was most necessary. I reminded myself to hold on and give it all I had left in the tank.

I’m so grateful for a strong body + mind so I can do what I love! Photo credit: Terry Kruse

As I approached the finish line, I gave one last shout out of gratitude to my strong body + mind for allowing me to do what I love!

I was very happy with my paces throughout this run as the pavement was frost + ice covered for the first 11 miles, which made running with my normal gait impossible. I ran on the uneven shoulder for the majority of the first 10 miles, which also did a number on my pacing for the later miles.
Another Hillbilly Hike 1/2 marathon is in the books! Photo credit: my fave
So grateful this girl loves to do running adventures with me! Photo credit: my fave
These two were SO happy to see me when I was done running!! Basil was hoping I’d take her for a few extra miles. Sorry girl…not today. Photo credit: my fave
What a goofy, but fun medal!!

I’ll definitely be back to do this race again! It is super F-L-A-T! I’m hoping next year we won’t be *slip slidin’ away* and we’ll have perfect fall running conditions!