Calico Racing’s Recycled 2012 Half Marathon, 10K, and 5K Race

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Earlier this year I decided I’d set myself the goal of running the Vegas PBS 5k on October 6, 2012.  When the FAAN Walk conflicted as it was that same morning, I decided to find another October 5k to try.  Mind you, this was all before my spontaneous decision to run the Terminal 3 5K in the middle of my Couch to 5K plan.  I finished One Hour Runner at the end of September so I probably should have signed up for the 10K race for October but I had no idea I’d be able to be at a 5K distance at that point, let alone a 10K one!  We surprise ourselves sometimes…

Calico Racing is a local outfit with founder Joyce Forier at the helm.  I’d heard from other runners that Ms. Forier puts on great races and they were right!  I saw her at the start and at the finish cheering folks on and being genuinely happy to be there.  Her volunteers were fantastic as well.  Even though the theme of the Recycled race was that the shirts and finisher medals offered in exchange for a discounted race entry fee would be recycled, I never felt like the race was an afterthought.  Plus, the chosen charity of Calico Racing benefits cats so how could it be anything but an awesome race?  My husband and I arrived early at the Railroad Pass Hotel and Casino and were directed to the parking lot near the registration table.  It was windy and cold on October 27, 2012 and we grabbed our packets, Calico Racing themed tech tees, and sat in the Subaru for a while to warm up before going into the casino to wait for the race to start.

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I hoped that things would warm up when the sun peeked over the mountains but the wind had other plans.  The half marathoners started first, then the 10K runners (pictured below getting ready to head out), and the 5K group (the largest contingent) went last.  Our loop was 1.55 miles out and back, though I had read in advance that there would be hills I don’t think I anticipated an uphill stretch right away.  The first incline began after the start line you see below, we turned left into an almost U-turn and were off!  My husband was very quickly a red blur in the distance but I am nowhere near as fast as he is so we had not planned to actually run the race alongside one another.

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When I ran Terminal 3’s 5K the majority of the crowd was ahead of me as I walked the first 5 minutes or so, but running from the get go was a different experience in crowd management for me.  I got into my pace for a little bit before weaving around walkers to find my own running spot on the course.  I ran the whole thing non-stop!  It was a goal of mine and I was really pleased about it.  Another goal was to beat my Terminal 3 5K time (43:53) and the hills made me nervous about accomplishing that.  A few weeks back a 12 minute mile was “pushing it” for me on a flat course but with my continued training I was shocked to realize that I was keeping an almost 11 minute mile pace the whole way out and back!

I saw my husband on the return loop when I was 15 minutes in so I knew he was going to get his goal of a sub-25 minute 5K – he achieved a 24:24 time to be 7th overall, I’m so proud of him!  I managed a time of 34:19 which was a huge improvement since June and you can tell by my smile in the official race pictures (1, 2, and 3 – I put my bib number on the back of my jacket because I worried about needing to unzip it during the race, the pig tails were just for fun) that I felt awesome heading for the final stretch.  I think downhill is the perfect way to finish a race, by the way, but my favorite moment was in the first mile when I reached the top of a hill and saw Las Vegas’ skyline stretching out in the distance, framed by the sandy colors of the mountains by the Lake Mead area.  Running somewhere so beautiful certainly gave me a boost.

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At the finish I loved seeing my husband waiting for me, he’d already had a snack and recovered considerably from his run.  I realized that my leg was shaking a bit when I was stopped for the removal of my timing chip from my shoe (thank you to the volunteer who stopped me, by the way, I would have forgotten to return it otherwise).  My “Recycled” medal was from Calico’s 2012 Once in a Blue Moon run and it had a recycled sticker on the back so I held that side up for my post-race photo.  My husband got the same medal so it helped when we came home and let the kids wear them.  E was all over the idea of wearing a medal but R was more interested in the banana I had brought from the finish line food.  There was a great selection of food and drink after the race but not much seemed vegan (though I think it all was vegetarian) so I opted for the banana.  Then it was time to head home, my mother in law was watching E and R (who both were awake when we left the house for some reason) and we had an event at the park to get to that morning.

I am excited for my next Calico race in January (a 10K!) and finally registered for the one after that: the Red Rock Half Marathon in March 2013.  My goal for the 10K is to run the whole way and finish smiling.  I think I can finish it in around 75 minutes but it is supposed to be hilly and it will be my first 10K race so I want to just do my best.  In January it will have been a year since I started on my journey as an adult-onset runner which is exciting.  I know you don’t have to race to run but I think the Recycled 5K boosted my spirits after the rough time I’ve been having just with life in general so I like having another race to look forward to when I need to stay motivated to train and exercise.

One Hour Runner Review and What I’m Doing Next

I finished Couch to 5k at the end of July 2012 and followed up with a 10 week training plan called “One Hour Runner” (see my previous post for more details about why I chose One Hour Runner over Bridge to 10k).  Half an hour of running had seemed daunting at the start of Couch to 5k and starting 10k training was just as daunting.  How could I run an entire hour without walking?

The other issue with looking ahead and thinking about that hour run was that it was still really hot here in Vegas despite being 4 or so in the morning when I’d head out.  Many mornings the night air never cooled below 90 degrees before it started ticking up again for the new day.  The mental game for me with running seems to occur at the start of my runs.  I have read that for some people it is the getting out the door that is the trick but I viewed that as a practical matter.  Long nights with little children make you no stranger to early wake up calls, after all.  The first five to ten minutes for me are usually the hardest.  That is when I have the whole distance ahead of me and I am not feeling my best.  Then the minutes start to tick by and with each one that I’ve put behind me the run is more manageable.  After 15 minutes into a 30 minute run, for example, I just think to myself, “I just have another set of 15 minutes left and I just showed myself I can do it.”

The moon and I had some nice times together on my runs, with the right music and the sky to look at I can see now why people are able to run longer distances.  It doesn’t get boring and sometimes you get zoned out enough that it breezes by.  I don’t mean to make it seem like this is something I count the minutes to the end of, I think there’s that right mix of feeling challenged but also hoping you have enough energy to finish strong with each mile you get under your belt.

The temptation hit near the end of the program, I think I had 3 or 4 weeks left in the training plan, to push myself to longer times than I was required to.  At the end of week 7 or 8 I ran 1 hour 15 minutes and 15 seconds to accomplish my first ever 10K distance.  It felt empowering to figure out I was capable of so many miles.  Knowing I could do an hour helped me not stress about the rest of the program.  The temptation hit again the next week when I wondered if another 15 minutes (90 straight minutes of running) could carry me even further.  I was able to do over 7 miles that day!

For the final “graduation” run I actually only did another 10K but the big thing was knowing I had decided what training I was going to tackle next: a half marathon.  Now, I wanted to try for one in December of 2013 but my husband was looking into sprint triathlon training and wanted to get a half marathon in during March of 2013.  One day before our wedding anniversary at same area where we got engaged, to boot.  I wasn’t going to miss out on that one even though we’ll probably be running at our own respective paces.

So I have about 23 weeks to train for my first half marathon.  I have a 5K this month, I had planned in January that my goal 5K would be in October so it is funny that I am way beyond that distance 10 months later.  I also have a 10K race in January 2013 even though I hit that distance sooner than I thought as well.  So why not a half?  Besides, so many inspiring people I know run them all the time.  I can do this…right?

My goal is to complete the 13.1 distance with little to no walking.  All my upcoming races are pretty hilly so I will be trying to get better at handling runs uphill which is a weakness for me.  My husband has been out on some of my runs at the same time which is great, especially since I haven’t been feeling too great about running in our neighborhood this past week.

The above shot I took while running and played with some Instagram filters a little bit.  I like how it just looks like a random texture.  All these photos are ones I’ve shared along the way as I worked to complete the training program.  I can’t compare it to Bridge to 10K because I didn’t go that route but the 10 week gradual increase worked out great for me.

With cooler weather I just felt better all around but I am glad to know I got through the entire summer, start to finish, getting out there and running at least three mornings a week.  I haven’t been cross training but I’ve been continuing to count calories and am about 20 pounds down now!  I was a size 14 when I started and now I am a size 8 pant and even that is getting loose on me.  My initial goal was to lose 30 before I turned 30 in February 2013 and I’m on track to do that and then some.  I believe my new weight loss goal will be 40 pounds total but I’ll see how I feel at each stage.

My husband and I were able to run in San Diego while on vacation and the cool air was lovely even though the humidity was something I could have done without.  During our stay the San Diego Triathlon went by our hotel which was very neat and I believe sparked my husband’s idea to do the Las Vegas Triathlon next September.  We also had some treadmill time which was new to me – I discovered that my pace is way over what it should be – you’re supposed to run at a conversational pace heart-rate wise and I have been pushing too hard when I run.  I need to work on a more measured pace but luckily with more running my pace has improved anyway.  12 minute miles used to be much more of a struggle and now 11 minute miles feel the way 12 minute miles once did.

With Couch to 5K included I have run for 19 weeks straight and before that I was running off and on without a training plan since the end of January 2012.  Time passes so strangely – it feels fast when I just rattle off that I started in January but it took a lot of work to get where I am right now.  At the same time I wonder what other goals I can set and look back on.  55 days ago (I am 155 days into tracking everything I eat on My Fitness Pal) I committed to not eating potato chips at all.  I couldn’t be trusted to weigh them accurately.  Other chips I was fine with but not potato chips.  Here I am and I am still going strong.  I want to make more resolutions to be healthier, I am so pleased with just feeling better about life when I am active.  I don’t feel like I was just dealt this hand where I am the out of shape one, I can make my own destiny (to a point, of course).

The other thing that has struck me is that I need to run for those that can’t.  I think about people I care about a lot when I run, I also compose blog posts in my head which is odd considering how September only had one post here but I promise I think about how I am processing life in general and how communicating that may be of use to someone, somewhere.

I considered two main plans for half marathon training, one by Jeff Galloway and one by Hal Higdon.  Miriam over at Sometimes I Veg is a hardcore half marathoner and told me the Galloway method includes walking which is fine but I have been sticking with running goals all this time so her suggestion was to check out Hal Higdon’s plans.  I have noticed that all training plans have gradual increases of weekly mileage so with about double the time to train (Higdon’s plan is 12 weeks) I have a lot of flexibility.  Which is good considering it has gotten cooler and it is tricky some days to get out the door, run, and come back in time so that my husband (who is watching the kids) can go to work.  We’d like to run together more too since the neighborhood feels less safe and it is darker in the mornings.  At any rate, the big plan right now is to do two “short” runs per week of increasing amounts – from each being 3 miles to 4, to 5, etc. as shown in the Higdon plan and then also increase the longest weekly run as well.  Higdon’s book (amazon affiliate link) is one we’ve gotten from the library and though it is about a longer distance, his writing is engaging and has helped focus some of my plans for approaching distance running. I would love to know I am capable of 13.1 before the race out at Red Rock and also do a training run on the actual terrain.  There’s the 5K and the 10K to look forward to as well.

I think what I’ll do is keep track of my runs as I have been all along and check in on the blog at the point of each of the upcoming races leading up to the half marathon.  I’ll have to explore fueling and hydration options as well as phone carrying ideas as my mileage increases.  I also need to get properly fitted for running shoes as my pronation in my neutral shoes is putting stress on my ankles.  I don’t want to get injured, that is for certain.  The other cool thing is that the half marathon is just a week or so after my 30th birthday so I am already excited about what the next few months holds.  I have been seeing an increase in my caseload at work and working on our new firm website so that is taking time and attention but really there’s nothing like going into a court hearing after having run in the morning.  I feel confident and ready to take on the world.  Whether or not that is actually the case, I don’t know, but feeling good is part of the battle, I’m sure.

Favorite running songs of late include:

Sia – She Wolf (amazon affiliate link)

The Script – Hall of Fame (amazon affiliate link)

Passion Pit – Take a Walk (amazon affiliate link)

Of Monsters and Men – Little Talks (amazon affiliate link)

Karmin – Hello (amazon affiliate link)

Demi Lovato – Give Your Heart a Break (amazon affiliate link)

Calvin Harris – We’ll Be Coming Back (amazon affiliate link)

In fact, “Little Talks” is on my playlist multiple times – I have fallen in love with the lyrics.  Here’s a link to the music video but maybe listen just to the music first since the video might be distracting at first.  The song has a male and female vocalist and the female vocalist sings “There’s an old voice in my head / that’s holding me back,” to which the male vocalist responds, “Well tell her that I miss our little talks.”  I really like the idea of treating that voice of “can’t” as if it is just something to talk yourself out of.  I realize this may not be the intent of the writers but in this moment of time it had that particular meaning for me.  My runs are turning into little talks with myself to prove that I can be stronger than I thought possible.  I’d especially like for my children and husband to be proud of me.  Here’s to reaching 13.1 (and beyond)!

Terminal 3 Fun Run, 5k, 10k to Benefit At-Risk Children in Clark County

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This is a picture of me after completing a 5k race.  Can you believe it?  I ran my first ever race at McCarran Airport on June 2nd (The Terminal 3 Fun Run, 5k, 10k to benefit at-risk children in Clark County).  I have been doing the Couch to 5k plan on and off since January but really started in earnest three weeks ago.  I couldn’t pass the opportunity to check out the new airport terminal (for international travel) with my husband so we signed up even though we know it wasn’t going to be ideal weather wise.  I loved the spirit of everyone there, I wasn’t sure if I was going to feel foolish alternating lots of walking with jogging but people encouraged each other at all levels.

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We got to see some of the inside of Terminal 3 before the race.  Shiny!  There’s a great article about the new Terminal from the Las Vegas Review-Journal that points out that the roadways would never be for pedestrian traffic after it officially opened which I thought was pretty cool as well.  One thing that surprised me about the race was that I had no idea there would be so much free food and water, the fruit was especially nice from a food allergy perspective though there were tons of bagels and they even served lettuce wraps at the end which wouldn’t be ideal if you were watching for ingredients.  I met a member of a running group I’m a part of on Facebook and she said the best thing was that there were real bathrooms for people to use before the race instead of portable ones.  I’d never considered details like that.

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Before the race they had ” free warm-up Zumba” – I loved the lively music and the jaunty hats on the instructors but it was way more activity than I would have been capable of.  I know people are really into it, though, it was my first time seeing what it involved.  Other fun things we saw: a guy dressed as a pilot (white shirt, blue hat), a barefoot man running while wearing a kilt, and people running the 10k with inflatable airplanes on their heads.  All shapes, sizes, ages, abilities were out there and the volunteers cheered everyone on and gave water out at three points on the 5k course which was much appreciated because of the heat.

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This is the map of each mile on the course, there was a lot of uphill, more than I am used to in my training around our neighborhood.  I should have nixed my Couch to 5k requirements and just walked up the hills because I managed to always hit an uphill when it was time for a run in the cycle I was on (90 seconds walk, 90 seconds run, 3 minutes walk, 3 minutes run, repeat).  I felt much better after the 20 minute mark when I could ditch the plan and do my own thing.  My husband ran ahead at the end, I loved seeing him booking it towards the finish line.  I also loved that we did this together.

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I liked the little welcome sign here, the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign is a fun theme I never get tired of.  Thank you to all the volunteers and employees that put on a great event.  I know I have nothing to compare it to (yet) but we were glad to be a part of it!

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This is actually a shot from the start line (also the finish line), I liked the lens flare over the parking garage.  They weren’t going to let people leave from the garage until the last runner finished the course so we parked over at the administration building (it involved a bit more walking but we wanted to get home to Grandma and the kids) but as we walked back we saw the roads were open again so we needn’t have worried.

The finish read 46 minutes exactly as I finished but I wonder what my chip time will be because my phone tracker said I came under 45 minutes (my goal time) which would make sense considering we were so far back from the start.  I know it isn’t the best time ever but I did it and it was a great new experience!  I have never been active or fit and I feel like this is my year to get there and stay there, if not for me then for my little family.

(Edited to add…here’s my official time!  43:53!)