The Un-Race Report

I’m nervous before every single race. It doesn’t matter if I’m trying to PR or if I’m just running for fun with my family. I’m nervous every single time.

I’ve tried a lot of different things. Mantras. Meditation. Warming-up a lot. Warming-up a little. Nothing works. I’m crazy nervous waiting for that gun to go off.

I put a lot of pressure on myself for Chisholm Trail Half Marathon. I knew the weather would give me a good chance to PR. Of course, PRing in a half marathon for me means breaking 2 hours. And I knew I hadn’t trained right to break 2 hours. I had gotten the distance in. I was ready to run 13.1 miles…no problem. But I had skipped too many speed days. I had missed too much strength work. I wasn’t ready to run 13.1 miles FAST.

But I’m stubborn, so I gave it a try. I told Mr. Neon that I wasn’t going to worry about where he was. I wasn’t going to worry about the 2-hour pace group. I wasn’t going to wear a pacing band. I knew the pace I needed to run.

The gun went off, I pushed the nerves away, and I moved forward. I ticked the first mile off at a 9:09. Perfect. I kept my head down and just got to work. The sun was beating into our faces, and we could barely see ahead anyway. Mile two was a 9:09. Ok…maybe I can do this. Mile 3 has the biggest hill of the course. I didn’t let that get to me. I gave myself license to slow down a tad. 9:30. Not the end of the world, but not where it should be. I still had 10 miles to make up time.

Mile 4 was a 9:07. Back on track. I tried to pick up the pace, but my body revolted. And not in the normal ways…my stomach felt fine, my legs still had pep, my mind was still sharp. I just didn’t want to try and run nine more fast miles and come up short. I knew a sub-2 just wasn’t going to happen. I wasn’t ready. I couldn’t trust the training because I hadn’t done it.

I decided to just run and enjoy the course. I took a deep breath and turned my watch to clock mode. I didn’t know that I ran a 9:13, 9:16, 9:26, 9:50, and a 9:45. I do know that at mile 7 there’s a Krispy Kreme. And the hot sign was on. I laughed and imagined Mr. Neon stopping for a free donut. I wondered how far behind me he was. He had to pull out of half marathon training at the beginning of February with an Achilles injury. He was hoping to run with the 2:15 pace group and get a good long run done in the midst of gravel bike training for a 50 mile race series.

Imagine my surprise at mile 9 when a shadow pops out on my right side and says, “See! I told you we’d run right past my school.” I could have cried. There he was. My handsome bearded man. I pulled up to a walk for the first time all race. Mr. Neon just grinned at me and said, “I’ve been watching your butt for the last 9 miles.”

We ran walked the remaining 4 miles. My left IT band started giving me trouble, so I’d run a few minutes and walk a few minutes. We finished with a 10:16, 9:48, 10:13, 9:51.

At mile 12, I got choked up. I had those existential thoughts I always have at the end of races. Mom isn’t at the finish line. She’ll never be at the finish line again. Am I supposed to ever break 2 hours without her there? And then the completely random thought of “maybe I should run a marathon again?” It’s nice to slow down. Could I slow down for another 13.1 miles on top of this one? Mr. Neon knew what my brain was doing, so when we turned the last corner towards the finish line he hollered at me to stay on his hip. We finished the last half mile with a sub-9 min pace. I’m not sure what he was trying to get me to, but he got me to a 2:05:59. A time I was good with.

Exactly 5 minutes slower than my PR and exactly 6 minutes slower than I wanted to be.

Now I’m sitting here contemplating doing something crazy. Should I try again SOON? Based on my data, I’m peaking. I’ve run once since Sunday and those 3 easy miles didn’t feel ridiculous like they often do after a big race. My legs feel good. I’m ready to throw down some speed workouts. I had my IT band released right after the race, and it doesn’t hurt at all.

Stay tuned and…


I have no photos to share with you. Only words.

I didn’t break 2. 1:59 or Bust? I busted. 2:00:59. 60 tiny little seconds.

This was the calmest I have ever been before a race. Confidence was high. I was ready. We went through the motions of coffee and breakfast. We headed downtown and said hi to all our running family. Porta potty…done. Pre-race warm-up…done. 1/2 honey stinger waffle…done.

My friend, Jim, was in town running his 50th marathon. He’s an accomplished vocalist and is not only working on running a marathon in every state but singing the national anthem before a marathon in every state. His voice gave me chills and further confidence that I was going to break 2 with him here in town with us.

Mr. Neon and I lined up close to the front with the 2-hour pace group. They told us that they would be running even splits. Sounded good to me. The gun went off and we took off. I tried not to look at my watch, but our pace felt really fast. And when I finally looked down, it was. We ticked the first mile off at an 8:56. Woah pony. It didn’t feel too fast, so I just relaxed into it. Mr. Neon and I carried small 8oz water bottles, so we could take our BASE salt with a sip of water and not worry about the first couple of aid stations. They were disposable, so we could toss them when they were done.

Mile 2 was an 8:53. Umm…ok. My breathing was good, my cadence was good, but I was still a little worried about this being too fast. Could I hold this for 11 more miles? We had to zigzag through some road construction. I made a conscious effort to stay to the inside of the course. I knew running the tangents would be important.

We hit the out and back on Grove and I looked across the median from friends. I waved, whooped, but not as loud as normal. I needed to conserve all the energy I had for the coming miles. We passed the 2:00 pacers when they stopped to walk the aid station. I felt better with them at my back. Mile 3 was another 8:56.

Mile 4 and 5 include the only real hill on the course. I could feel my pace slowing slightly, but I didn’t worry because I already had some seconds in the bag. Mile 4 ticked off at 9:03 and mile 5 at 9:12. I had switched my eat alarm from every 3.5 miles to every 30 minutes. I sucked down a Huma raspberry gel.

We entered the College Hill neighborhood. I was mentally ticking off the miles in my head. I was hardly looking at my Garmin at all, especially with the pacers behind me. I didn’t need to worry about chasing anyone. Just maintaining forward progress. My legs felt like they were in treadmill mode. It felt a bit out of body. I was moving faster than I ever had before. Was I going to blow up at some point? I felt fine, but the “what if?” doubts started to enter my brain. I pushed them away.

Mile 6 was a 9:02. We passed the Edgemoor Fire Station and crossed the 10K timing mat. I had officially PR’ed my 10K and surpassed the longest race pace run of my training. From here on out, I was in new territory. I was coming to the downhill part of the course and looking forward to the run back on 2nd street. The marathoners left us. Good luck, friends. Better you, than me.

I struggled to get half of a Honey Stinger waffle in me. I used the last of my water bottle to swallow it. My mouth felt dry, but the rest of me felt good. Mile 7 was a 9:12. I dropped my salt tube and had to run back to get it. Mr. Neon kept an even pace and I was able to catch back up to him without trouble. Mile 8 was a 9:18. I grabbed two cups at the water station. I took two big sips and then dumped the rest of it on my back and front.

Somewhere between mile 8 and 9, my brain lost the ability to do math. I thought for sure I was coming up on the mile 10 flag and would only have a 5K to go. I have still not looked at my Garmin much. I knew the pace group was still at my back. But it wasn’t the mile 10 flag. It was the mile 9 flag and I still had 4 more to go. Mile 9 was a 9:01.

The struggle started. The wind shifted and the sun came out. It wasn’t hot, but it wasn’t cool anymore. At the mile 10 aid station, I deviated from the plan. I walked. I took a whole cup of water and dumped it down my front, another whole cup and dumped it down my back, and drank as much of a third one as I could. I took two licks of salt and started moving. The 2:00 pacers were still behind me but not for long. Mile 10 was a 9:29. Mile 11 was a 9:14. Mr. Neon waved me ahead and told me to keep going. He was struggling.

The 2:00 pacers (Karlee and Jerry) came up behind me. I heard them yell “Go!” Karlee fell in beside me and asked how I was. I was ok, but I was slowing. She told me to relax my shoulders. I tried to keep up with her, but she had to go on. But I had a savior. Lacy Lacy Lacy was there. She stayed in front of me. I had my Aftershokz turned up too loud to hear everything she was telling me. She kept me moving. I had nothing left. I had run out of juice. I grunted at her, mumbled yep. I kept moving forward, but I knew the 1:59 was slipping away.

Mile 12 was a 9:25. I thought about my mom waiting for me at the finish line. This wasn’t chemo. Work harder. Her tumor was under my shoe. I had to finish this for her. I had to push through the lactic acid that was pulling me back. I turned onto the Seneca St bridge and knew the road of pain was ahead of it. The wind blew into my face. I welcomed it. It was cooling and the sun was hot.

Mile 13. 9:42. I didn’t even look at the beep. I could hear the finish line. Friends lined the way. They yelled my name, and I burst into tears. The Lewis St bridge always sucks. Up and over. I turned on what tiny little kick I had left. The announcer said Mr. Neon’s name and I was thankful he was still behind me. I hit my Garmin and looked down. 2:01:01. No.

Lacy gave me a hug. She encouraged me to check my time. Maybe I had started far enough back, but I knew I hadn’t. I grabbed a bottle of water and a medal. I looked for my mom and the boys. They had run the 5K and were waiting somewhere. I saw my Daddy first. I walked over to them and cried, “I didn’t do it.” My mom hugged me and told me to stop it. She was proud of me. Tiny Boy offered me the sweetest little kiss.

I couldn’t find Mr. Neon. I finally found him, sitting in the shade. He was having vasovagal trouble. I switched into wife nurse mode and got him water and gatorade. Once he was feeling better, we got him some food and checked our times.

2:00:59. 60 seconds. 4.5 seconds per mile off. It’s hard to be disappointed when it’s still a 7 minute and 21 second PR, which is huge when you consider this was my 6th half marathon. My little boys surrounded me when I pushed saved on my Garmin. I PR’ed my 10K and my half marathon.

Next time, Prairie Fire. I’ll get you next time. And it won’t be a question of if I can break 2 hours, but instead, by how much.


Titan 10K 2017 Race Report

The Southside Scorcher was less than scorching this year.

I love this race, even though every year my goal has eluded me. 2014, I was a noob. Time: 1:01:24 (9:53). 2015, it was HOT. Time: 1:01:32 (9:55). 2016, I was coming back from injury. Time: 1:02:33 (10:04).

Excuses. Excuses.

My ONLY goal for this year was to break an hour. That’s it. I really took it easy after Tinman. I went from 8 hours of hard training per week to 4-5 hours of super easy workouts. And I had just run hard-ish at the Firecracker 4 mile only 5 days before.

The start feels super low key. Like a bunch of friends lining up to run 6 miles together. I told myself 9:40 pace or better. A nice round 9:30 sounded good.

The course is a great out and back winding a tad through a neighborhood and then running the OJ Watson park roads and a little double figure 8 on the South Broadway bridge before heading back. I love out and back race courses. You get to see your fast friends come at you and encourage your slow friends behind you.

Mile 1: 9:13
Ok…that’s good. I felt REALLY good. Stride was really smooth. Breathing was good. I had brought my small handheld water bottle with my beloved BASE salt. I took two hits of salt every mile like I did at Tinman. It wasn’t quite as hot, but it was humid and I was sweating.

Mile 2: 9:06
Really? I don’t feel like I’m running that fast.

Mile 3: 9:01
I saw a lot of 8s in the pace number every time I looked down at my Garmin. I was just running and feeling good. A PR didn’t even enter my mind.

Mile 4: 9:01
Same as mile 3. I took my lemonade Huma gel. More salt. Dumped water on my front and back at the water stations.

Mile 5: 9:04
I was staring at my overall time on my Garmin, and my brain clicked. Could I PR? I set my current 10K PR earlier this year at Easter Sun Run with a 57:24*, but I could not remember the pace! I didn’t think it was in the super low 9s. Then and there I decided to hold on as hard as I could to the 9:0x pace.

Mile 6: 9:14
Of course, as soon as PR thoughts enter my head, my breathing got harder and my legs got heavier. I start ticking off the minutes left. The last mile is tough because you have to run around the backside of the school in the sun and then across the parking lot to get to the stadium.

Last Sprint: 8:01
I tossed my water bottle at the entrance to the track. The race director was standing there and I hollered at her that I would come back for it. I had a PR to get! I crossed with a 57:01 (9:11 pace)!!

PR face. Oh that last sprint hurt. My legs were so done! I had done PiYo Buns two days before and had a major cause of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). The good news is this run pretty much cleared that lactic acid out and I felt good the rest of the weekend.

The PR glow. The president of my running club snapped this picture after giving me a few moments to recover! I facetimed Mr. Neon to tell him. Every year Titan 10K is my race that I get all to myself, since Mr. Neon races Waterfront the next day. I was over the moon on the facetime call! PRing my 10K in the middle of a July Kansas Summer! Nothing more confidence boosting than that!

Hopefully this means good things for my attempt at a big half marathon PR later this fall.

Stay neon!

*For some reason, I thought my 10K PR was 57:19 and set in 2016. I have no idea where I got that number. I don’t count PRs unless they happen in races, so it wouldn’t be a random training run time stuck in my head. I went back and looked at the official race results and checked my Garmin Connect history and couldn’t find where I got that number.

Tempo and Firecracker 4mile Race Report

2 mile tempo to start the day. I adjusted my HR zones because they didn’t transfer properly when I upgraded to my Garmin 735xt. My tempos were done at 8:57 pace and my HR didn’t leave zone 2. So maybe I need to increase my paces? I didn’t feel like I was struggling at all, so maybe I do need to push it a bit more. I haven’t done genuine speed work in so long. I’m having to remember how to do it and what a hard effort feels like. Come on, muscle memory!

Ok…enough about today’s run. Let’s talk about our run from two weeks ago. How was the 4th of July two weeks ago?!

Our running club has an annual 4th of July run called the Firecracker 4 mile. This year was the 36th annual. We ran it back in 2014 and got someone to watch the boys. We skipped the last two years because of marathon/triathlon training and wanting to sleep in on my day off. But this year, the boys are finally seasoned enough to run 4 miles. Firecracker 4mile will now be a family tradition!

This is a fast race. Lots of speed demons show up. I had no true goals other than to stay around a 9:30 pace. Everyone took off super fast. I kept myself reeled in and focused on my Garmin. There were lots of photographers out on the course. This picture was taken about about the half mile mark. It was a beautiful morning for a run, especially in Kansas in July, so the smile is genuine. It felt good to smile. I could feel my body relax. I decided to keep the smile going and see how I felt.

Mile 1: 9:05. 9:30? Nah. Let’s try for 9 flat!

Mr. Neon’s goal was to just keep up with TinyBoy. Can we talk about those legs? He trims the hair for triathlon in the summer. I think it makes his quads look awesome!

Oh…you know. Just running a 7:30 and 8:15 pace and grinning from ear to ear.

I kept the cadence surging and picked up the pace a tiny bit down the back half of the course, after we popped out from the high school parking lot. I passed quite a few people on the hilly parts of James St. Derby is notoriously hilly, but these streets are where I do 90% of my outdoor runs, so it was home turf. Hills…what hills?

Mile 2: 8:57
Mile 3: 8:54

At this point, the course dumps us into the park. It’s always a struggle to have to run past the finish line. I had a distraction looking for my boys who were well ahead of me. Two other runners who I’m sure recognize my family asked me where my boys were. In front of me, of course! I’m the sweeper!

Mile 4: 8:49. Perfect negative splits. I didn’t have much of a kick left at the finish line. And have I told you lately how much I love my Oiselle Roga shorts? I need to do a whole post on them. My running wardrobe has really changed in the last year.

Overall time: 36:11 (9:03 pace). Course was a touch long (as expected), so those sub-9s didn’t come through on the results page. But it felt good knowing I could do it!

I challenged Runner Boy to break 30 minutes. He ran a 29:56! (7:29 pace) He not only took first in his age group but beat all the 11-14 year olds too!

Mr. Neon kept up with Tiny Boy and ran a 33:31 (8:23 pace). And his legs never looked better. Swoon!

Tiny Boy ran a 33:50 (8:28 pace) and took second in his and Runner Boy’s age group.

All in all, it was a very good morning for all four of us. We celebrated with donuts! I can’t wait for next 4th of July and next year’s Firecracker 4 mile with my three boys.

Stay neon!

Tinman Long Course Race Report

Mr. Neon picked me up from work Friday afternoon, and we ate a picnic lunch in our laps on our way up to Topeka. Dave’s Killer Bread makes bagels now! YES! We drove straight to the lake, picked up our packets, drove the bike course, and hit up the grocery store for breakfast supplies. The bike course looked like fun. Lots of rolling hills…not very much flat.

We slept in my in-laws fifth-wheel trailer. Tiny Boy was smushed into a recliner. Runner Boy was on a camping mat under the fold out couch bed. Mr. Neon was on the couch bed. And I was on my beloved camping mat at the foot of the bed. I slept pretty well, with the exception of one wake-up due to the over night storm. The wind was rocking the camper!

Breakfast: Two slices Dave’s Killer Bread. The yellow label because Topeka Dillons was out of the green label. One tub of Natural Jif To Go. COFFEE.

One hour before the swim, I choked down an Untapped Coffee Waffle. If you haven’t tried them…you should. So yummy with a kick of caffeine. I don’t usually eat anything outside of breakfast before a race, but the more I read about race nutrition, the more I realized I was probably lacking in glycogen at the starting line. It’s hard to play catch-up with race nutrition once you are out of the swim.

The race was a bit disorganized. I felt for them. They had a lot stacked against them. They had to add the 70 distance, cancel the 100 distance due to lack of participation and heat advisory, and deal with the storm the night before.

They organized us into waves and explained the courses. I had a bit of a panic when I realized how far the 1000m course was. It looked so long compared to 40 laps of the pool. Not to mention that it was open water and there were no walls and you couldn’t see the bottom.

Mr. Neon was three waves ahead of me. Once he got in the water, my lifeline was gone. I tried to take deep breaths as my wave moved into the on deck position. Before I knew it, they were giving us the countdown. I barely had time to put my goggles on before the horn went off.

My goggles were brand new. My previous pair had started to leak during my last two swims. I got a larger pair that I had never worn before. They came while we were gone to NYC. Oops. Nothing new on race day…broken rule.

I doggy-paddled / breaststroke’d the first 200. I knew it would be a struggle to get myself calmed down, and I didn’t want to swallow a gallon of lake water. Once I got myself calmed down, my stroke settled in. I was able to relax. I told myself, “It’s just water. Put your face in it and swim.” And it worked! Before I knew it, I was heading toward shore. New goggles were perfect. No fogging up and no leaking.

SWIM 1000yd 27:43 (2:47)
Note: Course was between 150-200m long.

Transition was almost a quarter mile run up a hill. We had to run around transition and enter through the backside. I almost missed which row my bike was in. I quickly dried off my feet, shoved my socks and shoes on, and grabbed my helmet. First race with my new Rudy Boost helmet with the visor! No fighting with sunglasses.

T1 3:43

Wee! Bike! I decided to use my road bike. I’ve actually decided to sell my tri bike and get aero bars for my road bike. I love my Trek Madone 4.5. She’s the reason I felt in love with cycling, so I need to stick with her. Maintenance on one bike will be easier to deal with as well.

The first 5 miles were hilly and windy. I only averaged 13.5mph on that stretch, but the rest picked up. We had to deal with headwind, crosswind, and lots of hills. But it was fun! I was able to drink several times on the bike, which has been an issue in the past. I did really well once I learned that I needed to leave my right hand on the bike. I balanced better using my left hand to grab my bottle. I ate a whole package of GU chews on the bike. I averaged 18.5mph for the last 4 mile stretch! That was a blast!

BIKE 1:15:28 (15.1mph)

I racked my bike, cursing Mr. Neon because he racked Beast backwards and I had to squeeze Sexy in. I grabbed my race belt, my visor and sunglasses, and took one last big swig of BASE RocketFuel.

T2 1:07

They had a water station right out of transition. I took a cup and immediately took three hits from my BASE salt tube. The forecast was HOT with a heat index of 90 by 9am. I knew I’d need salt. I made a decision then and there to take two licks of salt instead of one every mile.

I tried to do math and figure out when I would run into Mr. Neon, but then I realized I needed to know his run pace. My first mile split was a 9:43 and I was hoping I could keep it up. But then the little hills started. Two of them were so steep that I was forced to walk. My legs would just not run up them.

I found Mr. Neon right after the sprint turn around. He stopped and hugged me. I LOVED that. I honestly don’t really remember if he said anything to me. I complained about my left ankle hurting and my hamstrings were achy. I think my ankle was hurting from the chip, because once I took it off, the pain went away. And it hasn’t hurt since.

I walked a bit. I ran a lot. I shuffled to keep myself moving forward. I ate a Huma lemonaid gel at mile 3.5. It was YUMMY. At every aid station, I grabbed a cup of water, took two big sips, and dumped the rest on my head, back, and chest.

Mile 2: 10:34
Mile 3: 10:28
Mile 4: 10:24
Mile 5: 11:12 (It started to get hot!)
Mile 6: 10:35

I was actually able to pick it up in the last mile and sprinted the stretch. First time I’ve been able to do that in a triathlon in a LONG time. BASE salt for the win!

RUN 1:04:18 (10:23)

I finished strong and felt great! Mr. Neon met me at the finish line and took my medal challenge coin from the volunteer because he wanted to give it to me! I love my guy! He’s the reason I made the decision to do a long course and having him there waiting for me at the finish line was the cherry on top.

Overall time 2:52:16

My main goal was to finish feeling good and under 3 hours. Boom…goal achieved! I think getting my nutrition right really helped. I only had minimal soreness in my back and shoulders in the days following. My legs never really felt sore. I took four BASE Recovery Activators immediately after we finished. I’m so glad I remembered to put them in my transition bag this time.

I will definitely do another OLY distance again. And I’m really looking forward to training harder for any future sprint races. As far as anything longer than that…we’ll see.

Stay neon!