Brooks Trailhead 15K 2016 Race Recap.

Well hello there!  I had planned to do a whole post on fitness and running and how I felt about my training going into this past weekend’s 15K race last week, and then my week imploded.  My babysitter was off last week, and it’s humbling to realize just how little I was able to get done outside of the norm without some outside help.  So I apologize for the radio silence on my end!

And so I will quickly sum up my training before jumping into the race recap itself!  I’ve been training for this 15k for the past few months, and my plan this time around was to run three days a week as well as cross-train.  Even though I probably started officially training later than I should have, I feel good about being really consistent and motivated in my workouts.

I ran two weekday mornings a week, and every Saturday morning, and did almost every single run with my buddy Lacey.  It is so motivating to have a training partner and someone who is waiting for you at 6am!  Our runs were slow (almost all hovering around a 10:00 minute/mile average) and hard, but consistent.  One thing I’ve learned after running for many years is that it never gets easier!

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In addition, I feel like I’ve found my groove with cross-training and strength workouts.  I bumped my ClassPass membership back to the 5 class for $50/month option – I feel like I’m done hopping around to studios all over town and am consistently doing the ones I like best.  I’ve been rotating through pilates at Inspire, boot camp at Sync Fitness, and core cardio and sculpt classes at CorePower Yoga (I have a separate punch card for this).  It has been a nice mix!

Going into this weekend, my longest run was seven very ugly miles, so that was not exactly confidence-boosting.  For whatever reason, running has just felt HARD recently.  I feel heavy and sluggish, and even short 3-4 mile runs take a lot of mental push to get through.  I’ve also had a nagging hamstring that’s felt achy and sore after most of my runs, although nothing so severe that I felt like I needed to stop running.  So needless to say, I was a bit nervous going into Sunday morning.

I never sleep well the night before a race, and Saturday night was no exception.  The boys were both up and in and out of our room all night (whyyyyyy), and I felt paranoid about oversleeping and just tossed and turned a lot.  And of course, with little ones there are a lot of logistics to manage on race day to make sure everyone is where they are supposed to be.

Casey sets up for the Fremont Sunday Market (with our kombucha business) early on Sunday mornings, which meant we were in a bind with the kiddos.  My amazing friend Nicki volunteered to take them at the crack of dawn, so in addition to getting myself fueled, dressed, and organized for the race, I had both kids ready and out the door at 6:30am so I could drop them off and get myself to the start on time.  (Screenshot from my takeover of the Brooks Running Snapchat account on Sunday – so fun!)

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Once the kids had been dropped off, I headed to my friend Lacey’s house so we could carpool to the start.  This is my fourth (!) time doing this race, and this year they decided to reverse the direction of the course.  I wasn’t sure how I felt about that, but always exciting to try something different, right?

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Even though we all gathered in Gasworks Park as always, the start was actually a ways down Northlake, which I thought was odd.  They had everyone walk about five minutes down the road together, and I kept thinking the whole time that I’d much rather be running  that stretch of downhill, and then doing less out and back down the canal later in the course.  But nobody asked me.  :)

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Our plan – as it always has been – was to stick together as long as we could, but there were no expectations to wait for each other or try to keep up either.  And even though we talk through all our training runs, we went for headphones and playlists from the beginning.

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It was a perfect, cool 52 degrees outside with plenty of clouds blocking the sun.  I remember being so hot last year!  I felt anxious but excited.  I didn’t know if it would be ugly or not, but I knew I’d get through the nine miles one way or another. (Rocking my new Brooks Streaker Tank <—amazing!!)

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The new course direction was a breath of fresh air, but you could tell it was the first time logistically.  They didn’t have a big enough section of the road blocked off to traffic, which meant that runners were really packed in, and the first mile was super congested and slow.  I knew I’d likely be slow at the end of the race, so it felt frustrating to be forced to run slow at the beginning.  Looking back at the splits after the race, the first mile was our slowest of the whole race!

I run around Lake Union for a lot of my training long runs, so I expected the course to follow the same path I always take – the nice steady road that borders the lake (Eastlake).  Instead of the very gradual descent down the eastside of the lake that I expected, we wound back behind the street onto a gravel alley that was truly a roller-coaster of steep hills winding up and down.  I just kept looking at Lacey and mouthing, “WHY?”  I have no idea why they forced all of these hills for no reason – we went up and down and up and down and back again, until it leveled out at the bottom.

I was mostly annoyed by this because I knew that once we got to the bottom of the lake, it would be a steady incline from there, so that wonderful downhill start I’d looked forward to didn’t really happen.  Regardless, I kept my pace around 9:15-9:25 for each mile, and while it felt a bit faster than I probably should have been running, I still felt pretty strong.

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By mile five my hamstring was achy and I fantasized about turning off at the 10K split, although I knew I wouldn’t actually do it.  Somewhere right around then, we got to a GU station, and I stopped to walk and eat while Lacey kept on running.  I knew I wouldn’t catch up with her again at that point!  For some reason I can’t eat and run – I feel like I’m choking!  I kept on running and continued to replay Beyoncé and JT when I needed some extra pep in my step.

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I run the lake a lot, so I was super familiar with where we were running.  I typically hate the out and back down the canal, and while I didn’t mind running the lake in the reverse direction, I was not pumped to have the out and back at the end now instead of the beginning.  My hamstring was on FIRE, and I felt like I was grimacing with every step.  I watched the 10K runners head back toward the finish as I peeled off in the other direction to head out on the canal.

From there I kept a decent running pace, but I also walked and stretched a bit.  My leg was really sore.  Of course in hindsight I wish I’d pushed it a bit more there at the end, but at the time I felt like I gave it all I had.  As I came up onto the Fremont Bridge, a familiar black truck drove by and I saw Casey and the boys cruise past toward the finish area – talk about motivating!

I held on for the final mile, and just as I came around the corner toward the park I saw two little boys jumping up and down, and their amazing daddy who had rushed to the farmers market, set up our booth, rushed back to pick up the boys at our friend’s house, and made it to the park in time.

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As I got toward the kids they both ran toward me and I reached for their hands.  Every painful step before that felt so worth it in that moment.  I asked them if they wanted to run with me, and Cullen shied back but Graham didn’t hesitate for a minute.  He grabbed my hand and kicked it into gear.

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Obviously he’s only two years old, but I am not kidding you when I say that this kid was running ALL OUT.  I was shocked by how hard and how fast his little legs were moving.  I was on cloud nine.

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He charged through the finish line by my side, and my heart just spilled over with pride and love.  This is what it’s all about.  I can’t wait to see our finisher photo!

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My official chip time was 1:31:56, about a minute and a half slower than last year – which is crazy because I felt a lot slower and less prepared this year.  This makes me think perhaps I’m in better running shape than I had realized going into it!

I found Lacey who had finished just in front of me, and gave her a huge hug and high five for an amazing race of her own.  I hadn’t even planned to sign up for the race this year, and I fully blamed credited her for getting me to that starting line.

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Obviously I’m still on my runner’s high, but I can’t say enough about how much her friendship means to me.  She was the very first person I met in Seattle five long years ago.  We’ve seen each other through extreme lows and amazing highs, and we’ve formed such an amazing bond through many very early morning miles.  Here’s hoping for many more!

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My sweet kiddos were so proud of me and were very excited about my race medal.  Cullen was convinced I had won the race!  The last five years of running have been a big rollercoaster through having kids, recovering, and being pregnant – and I feel so lucky to always have these smiling faces waiting for me whenever I eventually cross the finish line.

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The kids were all geared up and ready for the real event of the morning – the 1K Kids Dash!  This was Cullen’s third time doing a kids’ race, but Graham’s first!  I wasn’t sure how it was going to go, so Lacey and I both ran with them since I expected they would not want to stick together (or run alone).

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Cullen is the most competitive kid on earth, and he was hell-bent on beating Graham (which was going to happen anyway!).  He literally spent half the race turned around making sure he was ahead of us.  Any tips for managing the highly competitive child??  He and Lacey took off as soon as the starting sign was lifted.  On a hilarious note, he asked me later in the day – “Mom, do you and Lacey hold hands when you run like Lacey and I do?”  Kids are amazing.

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Graham and I trotted along, but I think he might have worn himself out running with me the first time (and I know I had!).

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We made our way around the loop in the park while volunteers and spectators cheered and the kids all beamed with pride.  I look at Cullen and I can’t believe what a little kid he has become.  He is so amazing, and my heart just swells with pride when I see him working hard and being brave.

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Charging through the finish to earn a medal of his own!

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And Graham and I were close behind.  My legs were so tired at this point!

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Proud little runners showing off their bling.  Such a great family morning, and so many wonderful memories made.

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Crazy to think that just two years ago, this is what our post-race picture looked like.

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And now here I am in the very same spot (and same pants!) with two big kids who are running races of their own.

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This was the only race on my calendar so far, as I wasn’t sure how I was feeling about distance running this year.  I had planned to see how the 15k went and then maybe focus on getting faster through some shorter races this summer.

Although now I’m sitting here Monday morning with my finger hovering on the “register” button for the Rock N Roll Seattle Half Marathon here in just a few weeks.  I haven’t fully committed yet, but I’m leaning toward just going for it.  It would be my fourth time running it, and I feel sad thinking about missing out on a race that I love (but also hate).  I need to decide really soon either way!

Such a fun race weekend, and I’m looking forward to seeing what other races and runs this summer might bring.  Happy Monday!