Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Independence Mile July 2, 2016

A local coaching group, Running Lane, puts on a fun event at the UAH campus in Huntsville.  This year it was on Saturday, July 2nd starting at 6 p.m.  It's only $8 to enter (but no shirt or prizes).  They also advertised that they would be giving away over $1000 in door prizes and would have a free BBQ dinner after/during the races (there are different heats based on age, elite runners, etc.).  It worked great to sign up our 2 older kids since their heat started first.  That way we could watch them run and then eat a free dinner!

As we got ready to go, we grabbed our 2-year-old Ivy's "running shoes" (a little purple pair of Nikes) and told her we were going to a race.  She's used to coming and has never asked to run before, but she has begun to know what running is.  We have a book, Swing!, that asks, "Have you ever run a relay race?" and each time we read that part, Ivy gets off our laps and runs a little while we cheer for her.  Plus, she's come to lots of races.  So she knows what "running a race" means.  As we headed to the UAH campus, she kept saying, "I wun wace, Momma?" over and over.  So Rick and I finally looked at each other, shrugged, and said, "Why not?"  When we got there, we paid another $8 and entered her!  

For fun, we looked at the Alabama State Age Records that a volunteer had pulled up on his phone.  Ivy just turned 2 a week and a half ago.  Well, the 1-year-old female record holder was named Ivy too!  And her time was 23:38.  The 2-year-old record was 14 minutes though!  Whoa--no chance Ivy would beat that!  Our big kids were bummed since their age group records were so fast.  We told them just have fun.

Below is the picture from the 0-19 age group start.  Tiny race!  I am actually holding Ivy here.  Since we didn't want her to get tired out before the race even started, I carried her over to the Start Line.  

Pictures taken by Gregg Gelmis of We Run Huntsville.

My son and older daughter took off once the race started!  Gregg got some good pictures of them as they rounded the first corner.

Ivy was officially in last place just as soon as we started, and she stayed in last place.  But you wouldn't know it from the smile on her face as we passed the crowd!  She loved being cheered for!  Rick and I are running beside her.

Ivy gave up running after .2 mile.  She walked, sat, and walked some more.  Every so often, she would run a little.  I'm glad Gregg got pictures of my big kids finishing since we missed it.  

My daughter loves to sprint at the end of races.  She was behind several children, but then she passed them all.  She has a great ability to dig deep at the end of races.

And here is our little baby as she crosses the Finish Line!

Her time of 22:46 would have gotten her that state age record IF she was still one!  That is a good time for such little legs, and we were all so proud of her!  Her grandparents came, and you can see her grandma right behind her in the picture below, cheering her on!

We had a great time staying to chat with friends, eating some good food, and then hearing the door prize drawings.  Both of our big kids won a $25 gift card (one to Chipotle and one to Fleet Feet).  I recommend this race to all families--such a good value and a fun time!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Cookie Dash and Chick-fil-A 5K: Two Good Family 5Ks

These happened awhile ago, but I still want to get them posted on here!  Both races were fun for our whole family and were very family-friendly.

Cookie Dash 5K
April 16, 2016

Pre-Race and Race
 On April 16, 2016, my big kids and I ran the Cookie Dash 5K.  I feel so bad because I led them on a short warm up, but we got back too late and the race was about to start!  We had to rush into place without even catching our breaths.  It was not ideal.  

During the race, I pushed myself to stay with teammate Linda who was ahead of me most of the race.  In the last mile, she began walking so I took the lead and finished first female.  My time was 20:31.  Results here

Pictures from We Run Huntsville Facebook page

Age Graded Results
With over 500 finishers, this is a big race for our area.  It's also a little unusual since it publishes the top 25 people in an age-graded results listing.  I'm not even exactly sure what it is, except that I know by looking at the names on the list that it's a good list of competitors.  Also, out of the 25 people on the list, only 6 are female.  I made the list (#15), but my little girl did too (#23)!  I am guessing since I am a little older and she is a little younger, that this means our times are good given our ages!  My time was 20:31, but my age-graded time was 20:10 (73%).  Her time was 26:27, and her age-graded time was 21:02 (71%).  Again, not really sure what it means, but it still felt a little like an honor!
See here

I wore the baby after the race since she kept asking me to "Hold you!"

This race is well-known for the TONS of cookies people bake for post-race snacks.  We loved going through the line to get some of them!

It never fails that someone will joke: "Did you run the whole race with her on your back?" whenever I wear the baby after a race.  Kind of like how they always say, "She has the best seat in the house!" whenever they see me running with her in the jogging stroller.  I'm just happy that she comes along so well.  Such a happy tag-along baby!  And she is happiest when she can suck her thumb and play with my hair while I carry her in the back carrier.  She loves it!

Rick and I stayed to volunteer when the race was over.  We handed out medals.  

The race photographer captured a sweet moment when I got to place a medal around my daughter's neck for her first 5K age group award (and her first time to run a 5K!). 

Chick-fil-A Decatur 5K Race 
April 30, 2016

As usual, it seems to me that whatever Chick-fil-A does, they just do it well.  Free food events, mother-son and father-daughter date night events, etc.  They seem to give away so much free food!  Well, this race is no exception.  It's part of a series of races in our area.  We live in Huntsville, AL, so Decatur is about a 30 minute drive, but this race was well-worth it!  It had a "family-fun zone" at the start/finish area, including a place to play games and earn free food cards!  Also on hand were free chicken biscuits and even more food for post-race snacks.  A photographer was taking pictures too (credit goes to them for the two pictures below).

My big kids and I ran the race while Rick watched the baby.  He is still recovering from a back injury and isn't in racing condition just yet.  

I knew that I really wanted to do well in this race because of the prizes!  I had heard that the winner got "free chicken for a year" (52 free meal coupons).  As a SAHM, I look for opportunities like this to help make eating out affordable.  Well, when I saw Justyna (in yellow second from left in the picture below), I knew first place was not happening.  So I aimed for second ("free chicken for 1/2 year").  

My time was 21:04, second place.  Since this race was smaller and the course was a little tricky, I headed back out to make sure my kids had found their way.  After cheering them both in, we headed for post-race chicken and a family cool-down (Rick jogged with the baby in the stroller).  

I loved getting the prize of coupon cards which filled a chicken nugget box!  These cards have been such a nice way to be able to eat out at Chick-fil-A over the last few months.  The manila envelopes pictured in the stack below hold the kids' prizes (both won an age group award).  The cards on top of those were prizes from the games the kids played in the family fun zone.  Chick-fil-A was so generous at this race!  Results here

Stay tuned for the baby's first race: One mile at 2 years old!

Monday, March 28, 2016

McKay Hollow Madness 25K March 26, 2016

Saturday, March 26, 2016

I headed up to the mountain with a neighbor and friend, Lisa, at 5:30 a.m.  We arrived around 6 and found a close parking spot.  The race starts at 7, so we stayed in the car and chatted for awhile.  It was in the 40s, so once we got out we headed to the pavilion to stand by the fireplace!

Pictures by Gregg Gelmis, We Run Huntsville
I had low expectations for me in this race for a few reasons:

No Trails
First, I hadn't been on the mountain since Mountain Mist 50K 2 months ago.  That's right, no trail runs to train for this race!

Low Mileage
When MM finished, I was ready to take a step back from running to focus on my overall health and nutrition.  I started doing the 21 Day Fix Extreme workout videos and began eating better too.  I took a couple of weeks completely off of running and then gradually added in miles until I was doing 30 miles a week.  I did a 10 mile long run on roads 3 weeks ago and then a 12 mile long run last week.  That was it for my long run training for this race.  My shorter runs have been mostly pushing a jogging stroller with a 1.5 year old, so I think they were good training runs, but my overall weekly mileage wasn't great.

Good Prizes=More Competition
I  "sized up" the competition before the race started and noticed 3 girls who looked like pretty serious competition.  One had beaten me in MM and 2 others I didn't know.  The race director had posted on Facebook that the first place male and female winner would get $350 in prizes.  I was thinking that probably attracted some competition and noticed it to be true from the looks of things at the start of the race. 

What did I have going for me?

Past Results
I've won this race a few times in the past.  It's a course that seems to suit me.

Strong Core, Arms, and Legs
Surely the 2 months of 21 Day Fix videos had to be doing something to make me stronger!  I would test that out today.

Not Nursing
I had a 9 month old last year and was exclusively nursing.  I've just weaned my 21 month old, so I felt like I could push myself to "beat" the me from last year.

A Desire to Improve From Last Year
Last year, I finished 2nd and was passed in the last climb up Death Trail.  This year, I wasn't going to let that happen.

The Race
This race is broken up into 3 segments separated by 2 Aid Stations.  This is important for me to note because I am horrible at finding my way along the trails.  The race director gave us clear and specific instructions to look for different colored flags for each segment of the race: RED at the start until the 25K runners separated from the 12K runners right after Aid Station 1, ORANGE after that, and finally YELLOW after Aid Station 2.  As long as you kept the correctly colored flag to your right, you were doing fine.  This was something that I had to be highly aware of, especially in the last few miles when I was alone.  It's silly that someone like me can be so clueless on these trails, but it's the truth.  

When the race began, I fell into 2nd place behind a girl from TN with a black Fleet Feet singlet on.  In our first ascent after about a mile, I began walking and was passed by a girl (pink arm sleeves), putting me into 3rd place.  I was trying not to push too hard in the beginning of the race in order to save for the end.  I love this race, but it's a challenge to pace it properly.  We headed into Stone Cuts, a favorite spot for me as we weaved in and out of the stone boulders.  The weather was perfect for singlets and shorts (low 50s).  The grass was just starting to green, and little purple flowers dotted the ground.  It was so pretty and refreshing to see signs of spring.  

I was happy to see my friend, Julia, was was volunteering at Aid Station 1 but disappointed that there wasn't any Gu available (a fellow FF team member joked "but we have Slim Jims.  That's almost the same thing!").  I love the part right after this aid station where we "fall down the mountain."  We pass the spot where I got engaged, and we get to run down the end of the Mountain Mist course (but we run up it during MM).  It feels so freeing to just run and let gravity just pull you down!

I can't remember exactly when I passed the FF out-of-town girl, but I passed her reluctantly (I find it easier to chase than to be chased).  And a little while after that, the now-first place girl (pink arm sleeves) was just stopped on the side of the trail, so I passed her.  This part begins a gradual climb as we approach Aid Station 2.  I ran with a guy from near Birmingham whose conversation was a nice distraction.  The ditch that was washed out was very hard to navigate (something I could have improved in training on the trails).  When we approached the aid station, the guy I was with told me not to linger.  As we started back out on the course (I was relieved to have found a vanilla Gu!), he joked that he would trip the girls we saw as we doubled-back on the course for a small portion.  Sure enough, we soon saw the girl with the pink arm bands.  She wasn't but a few minutes behind us.  I would have to go.

The guy I was running with passed me, and I was left alone as I ran miles 10-13.  This made me incredibly nervous that I would get off-course.  Each time I saw a flag in front of me, I was so happy for the confirmation that I was going the right way!  Finally, I caught up to him and a couple of other guys and passed them.

I am beginning the climb at the end of the race in the picture below.  I probably have 20 more minutes of climbing before the finish.

I'd be lying if I said this part was easy, but it's so weird because I really enjoyed it!  Except for blisters on the sides of my feet and a black toenail rubbing on my right foot, I was feeling good.  It's incredible when you put work towards something and see progress.  I was feeling the benefits of the workouts I had been doing.  They made me strong.  I was also so weary though, and I knew I still needed to GO.  So I started telling myself that very thing.  GO.  DIG.  FASTER.  Except I wasn't saying it in my head, I was saying it out loud.  I came up behind a guy who looked at me like I was crazy, but I didn't care.  I passed him and kept talking to myself.

I had gotten passed last year on this climb.  I told myself, "Don't let what happened last year happen again."  And I kept pushing.  A spectator said, "You're almost there" and I started to recognize the finish.  I knew I could hold first place if I kept pushing!

Seeing the finish area and knowing I had done it felt incredible!  It is such a joy to feel so spent.  I know I had given it my all.  It's hard to describe it, but I love this feeling.  I heard cheering and people calling my name as I ran up the rocks to the finish.

 I finished in 2:43 and was immediately congratulated by the race director, Cary Long.  He gave me a bag full of prizes.

I am most thankful for the coupon for new trail shoes (my current pair is too small but it's hard to justify spending money for shoes you only wear 3 times a year).  The Garmin watch they gave me is so nice too, but it will take some learning to know how it works!

Below is something I hesitate to publish, but here goes.  On the left is a picture from 4 months ago on my training run for MM.  The right is me today.  I don't know exactly how it happened, but I gradually got more and more out-of-shape over the last year.  I knew running could not fix it when my marathon last fall went terribly and I felt so awful after every single run I did.  So I focused on my health and let running take the backseat for awhile.  Today I proved that was a good decision.  I shaved 15 minutes off of my last year's time and finished feeling strong.

McKay 25k ReParticipant Name: Katie aehlmannRace Name: 2016 McKay Hollow Madness 25K Race Date: 3/26/2016 7:00:00 AM Distance: 25000 meters (15.625 miles) Finish Time: 2:43:00.266 Overall Place: 19 out of 189 Overall Female Place: 1 Female Place: 1 Runner Place: 20 Madison Residence Place: 4 Pace per Mile: 10:26 Average Speed: 5.752 miles per hour Pace per Kilometer: 6:31 Average Speed: 9.202 kilometers per hour

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Mountain Mist 50K Sunday, January 24, 2016

I had three things stacked up against me leading up to this race:

Injury-In the 2 weeks leading up to Mountain Mist, I had only run maybe 3 times.  My right IT band was sore, and I had played it cautiously and stuck to the elliptical machine.  Because of this, I'd had only one training run on the trails.  

Weather-Friday had early rain, followed by 1-2 inches of snow, and then freezing temps.  We were all worried that the roads leading up to the mountain would close and force the race to be cancelled.  All day I was glued to my phone, checking for messages about the race.  They said there would be a decision by Friday night and that it would come from the Huntsville Police Department.  In all the previous 21 years, this race had never been cancelled.  I was so jumpy and out-of-sorts all day as I waited.  Finally, an announcement of a 24 hour postponement came!  I couldn't believe they were able to pull that off!

Going it alone-Though I wanted it to be my husband Rick's 10th year too, he was injured and wouldn't be running.  I decided to enjoy my experience as much as I could, but it was bittersweet to prepare for this race without him.  

I was determined to make this race happen in spite of everything above!

I headed up to the mountain at around 6:15 a.m., taking Governor's instead of our usual Bankhead route (still closed due to ice).  We were warned that the park would be icy, and they were right.  I nervously drove 5 mph into the park and quickly found a parking spot, relieved that I hadn't wrecked Rick's car!

The race begins at 7:30, and we were able to stay warm in the Lodge until just before start time.  It was around 15 degrees at the start and would warm to 40.

Photo from We Run Huntsville Gregg Gelmis

The Race
As the race began, I could not believe how icy the roads were and how it forced us to run so slowly!  I watched people try to run on the ice and fall like dominoes.  The rest of us gingerly stepped to the shoulder and ran nearly single file on the safer snow. 

Once we entered the trails it got a little better but not much.  I felt like I was constantly looking out for ice.  It made it so hard to relax.  With a time of 1:06, I made it into the Aid Station 1.  This was much slower than I'd expected.  

As I approached Powerline, I enjoyed talking with a guy from Atlanta running his 9th Mist and a friend, Ashley.  Powerline was actually not muddy today since the mud was frozen.  

My favorite part of the first half of the race was seeing the beautiful woods.  It was just magical to see the snow all over the ground and branches.  There were icicles hanging from every rock.  I was just in awe of how beautiful it was.  I was so glad to be running!   

I ran the Stone Cuts section of the race with teammate Linda.  You actually pick your way through some huge boulders, kind of like going through a small cave.  I love this section!  We enjoyed knocking down a few of the icicles and hearing them smash on the rocks.

Right before Aid Station 3, I realized I'd overdressed.  Tights?  Not needed today.  Long sleeves either.  Nor gloves, nor hat.  I had tossed my sunglasses and ear warmer headband at the last aid station, and I tossed my gloves and hat at this one (though I never could find them back at the Lodge where they were supposed to be waiting when we finished--bummer).  I was doing some back and forth with the 5th place girl (Anya), and she passed me here.  My time was 3:10.  This is Mile 16.9, but it is considered the halfway point since the back half is harder and more technical than the first.  I knew my time would be well over 6 hours today.  

I ran most of the back half alone, lost in my thoughts and focused on not falling (which I only did once and it was only to my knees).  I took Advil at Aid Station 3 and never felt bothered by any pains, though I did notice a big blister on my big right toe.  I also never felt too tired (was fueling with Mello Yellos, Gu, and Clif Bloks).  Even on Waterline (huge climb near Mile 24), I felt okay.  The mud started after Aid Station 5 as we descended into McKay Hollow.  It was so slick that I could not run down as I usually do.  By this point, I was telling myself, "You've done it!"

I ran to the finish and saw my husband and kids cheering for me!  My baby was on top of Rick's shoulders.  My son was shouting about looking at his snowman which I could not do!  I was still so focused on the ground and on not slipping.

I finished 5th OAF (2nd local) and improved my rank as the race went on, so I am happy.  Our race director, Dink, posted that the these were the worst conditions he had seen in all 22 years of the race.  I picked an epic year to reach 10 finishes!

Katie Maehlmann
Bib 303 Overall place 69
O'Shan Point rank 83 Time 1:06:08
Fearn rank 74 Time 3:10:11
Final Rank 69 Final time 6:25:18

I received this message about the 10 time finishers: 

Congratulations to our newest TEN TIME FINISHERS (in order of their tenth finish):

Katie Maehlmann
Tim Lee
Enid Gonzalez
James Duncan
Blake Thompson
Bruce Tanksley
Madison Magargee
Welcome Class of 2016!

I was the only female to reach 10 finishes today.  What a journey!  A look back over the last 10 finishes will be posted soon.