And Now For Something Completely Different…

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Biking. I’m not a cyclist by any means, but this past Sunday, I went out and rode 32 miles for the Coast Guard Festival Tour in Grand Haven, Michigan. My father, who is crazy (and awesome) rode his third 100-miler in the past three weekends.

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It was decided kind of on a whim. My good friend (who no longer lives in Michigan) visited me on Friday night, and mentioned that she was riding this ride on Sunday. She and her mom were going to do the 60 mile ride. I was pretty sure I couldn’t do 60, and 100 was definitely out of the question.The furthest I have ever ridden before Sunday was 26 miles. I kind of figured that 6 more wasn’t going to kill me. Of course, that wasn’t taking in to account the 18 I had run the day before. It wasn’t easy, but darn if doing something different isn’t fun.

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The day started off really cloudy, foggy, and breezy, but luckily it didn’t rain, and by the end of the ride, it was bright and sunny! The route we took led us out of Grand Haven, past the state park, and down Lakeshore Drive. I’ve run this route many times, but the miles go by so much quicker on a bicycle. I remember looking down at my watch and realizing that I had rode 6 miles in about 25 minutes, a distance that would normally take me about an hour. After that, I listened to miles beep away. It hardly seemed fair that I could fly that quickly through so many miles. It was work, but it wasn’t going to kill me.

I ended up finishing in 2 hours and 10 minutes. An average of 14.7 miles per hour! I only wish I could run that fast.

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Look at that bright sun! Lucky we got done when we did. Because this is what it did about 10 minutes after I got home. Rain, hail, lightening, thunder.

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In any case, I thinkI will keep riding, mostly as cross training for running. Maybe some day I’ll even be as ambitious as my father and I will be able to ride 100.

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Races and races and races….

This is a post about races! Since I am so behind in my race updates, I am going to do a short blurb about each and hope that it’s going to be all good. So much has been happening life-wise lately that it’s hard to sit down and just write. It’s one of the things that I currently regret the most. I really am hoping to change that, even if it is just small updates weekly or bi-weekly. I think I just need to realize that not every post has to be long and drawn out. In fact, I am sure that most of you (if there is a you) would appreciate it if things weren’t terribly long and drawn out. You all have lives too, after all.
So, onward!

Firstly, there is Gazelle Girl. This took place on April 13 (yes, people, April, that’s how far back I am going). It was the first major race I ran this year, and really, I just ran it as a training run. It was a pretty warm day, compared to what we had been training in (read, anywhere from -2 to 10 degree temps). There was fear of rain early on, so of course, I grabbed the rain jacket. I ended up shedding that at around mile 4, carrying it, and then throwing it at Jeremy when I saw him and my father on the course.
I got to run with Virginia, who was pacing for the 9:30 pace group. It was a fun, pressure-free run. I did pick it up in the last 6 miles or so, and managed to make it a PR for the course. Last year I finished in 2 hours and 8 minutes, this year, it was 2 hours and 2 minutes, so I am pretty proud of that!

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Next, we move to Riverbank Run 25k, which took place on May 10. Again, this year the goal was to run as a training run. I wanted to PR for the course, but I also wanted to relax and have fun. Well, the relaxing didn’t happen as much. I ended up running in to Margo, a friend from my very first training season with Gazelle. We ran and chatted for a good portion of the race, and tried to keep ahead of the 9:30 pace group, a goal at which we didn’t entirely succeed (though their pacing was slightly off, as I came in at a 9:28 average pace and finished behind them).
This was the race where I discovered that my winter training had been pretty rough. It was a warmer day, and I know I could feel the fact that I had been pushing myself by the end. It was the race that kind of put a nail in the coffin of my 4 hour marathon dreams, at least for Bayshore. But I am getting ahead of myself.
It was a warm, warm day. Especially on the hills in the back half of the course, where there are no trees, and very little shade. Despite the fact that I didn’t race the entire course, I was still happy with my finish time, which was a full 8 minutes ahead of the time I finished last year.

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Bayshore Marathon is next! This took place on May 24. Oh what a day. Yes, I went out too fast. Yes, it was much warmer than what we’d been training in. No, I did not finish in under 4 hours. No, I did not PR. Yes, I am okay with all of these things.
I feel like with each marathon, I learn. This was only my second, and from it, I took away many new ideas and strategies on how to run the next. Firstly, no matter what you say, no matter how slowly you say you’re going to go out, don’t get caught up in the excitement and run race-pace right off the batt. Or at least maybe not so hard right out of the gate. I meant to go out at around a 9:30, and ended up below a 9. My mistake. Secondly, when you don’t know the course, and don’t know what to expect, don’t assume that what you’ve been told is entirely the truth; different people have different perspectives. What is considered flat to one person, may be hugely hilly to another. Fueling is another thing that I need to do further work on for this type of race, though I did learn and take away some good things from my first marathon, and they were applied here, I still have more to discover.
All of this being said, it was still a lovely race. It was a gorgeous day, the surrounding scenery was beautiful, and I really didn’t feel too badly afterward. And I got to eat Moomers ice cream and go wine tasting afterward. What more could a girl ask for?
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Finally, the most recent of the races run was Third Coast. Rain nor snow nor sleet nor ice could stop us…Okay, so maybe we didn’t encounter all of these things (thank goodness). But there was definitely rain, exhaustion from lack of sleep and some pretty extreme heat and humidity. Eleven of us set out on this 209 mile journey from Holland to Traverse City. It was most definitely an amazing route. I saw places in Michigan that I’d never been before, or never heard of. Plus it was an amazing group of friendly and entertaining people. I am not sure that words can describe this journey, so I think it’s going to be a lot of pictures instead. This was definitely the most fun I have ever had, and one of the most unique races I have ever done. And, we came in second overall, out of 14 teams! That is completely awesome and incredible to me! Here is a bit of team Kickin’ Asphalt’s journey from beginning to end:

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Well folks, if you’ve made it this far, I thank you. I think that is all for now. Until next time, friends!