Sunday, April 29, 2012


Before I get to our ladies' 2nd podium sweep this year (the first was at the Valentine's Day 5k), I have to note that I was on the news! I've been on the news before, but in the past it's been seconds after I cross the finish line and I have sweat stinging my eyes and my brain is totally fried so anything I say could be questionable (when I won my first marathon I told the news I drank a lot in college...?). This time I got to do a sit down interview in a studio with time to fix my hair and put on mascara and overall appear to be somewhat put together. It was a really fun opportunity and I'm stoked that Channel 7 wanted to talk to me! And I don't even sound stupid: (I'm just doing the half this year, in case that was misleading - leaving the full up to Nicole Chyr!! Course record!!!)

Okay. On to today's glory. Today was the nation's largest 5 mile race - the Cherry Creek Sneak! I, for whatever reason, was not looking forward to this, then got really nervous, then just wanted to go home. I felt tired and scared (?) and not into it. But got my head together for what I think was my best performance of the year. I started just a smidge too fast, thinking I might catch up to my f'ing ridiculously fast teammate Kara Lubieniecki... ha! Psych. I told myself to chill out and focus on a good time because a win was NOT happening today. I was afraid that my start would ruin things later, and maybe it did a little, but I kept it under control and stayed strong and steady the whole race. Another teammate who's super tough to beat, miss Kelsey Jones, passed me around mile 1.5 (and actually my first thought there was "i need to start working out more" 'cause she is FIT) but I let her go and focused on my own race. Staying fairly even, I ran with Dan Spale for a bit and then slowly worked my way to yet another teammate, Jeanne Cooper. She was staying really strong, too, but aparently she raced yesterday as well... She was a little worn and I was lucky :) I passed her around mile 4 and, for the very first time this year, kept a solid pace for the last mile. It was slightly uphill and I could feel the work I was putting in, but, again, felt like I was in control and stayed focused on the finish. Kara won, Kelsey was second, I was third, and Jeanne was 5th (nipped by the speedy Christie Foster in the end, nice work to both of them!). Roost swept the podium and grabbed four of the top five places! I'm not disappointed I didn't win, I'm really really happy with the way this race went. I haven't felt this strong all year and am really glad to see my mental game coming together.

On the men's side, our guy Keith Solverson was back to defend his win this year and just barely missed it. What a battle he and the winner had going - matching each other stride for stride up til the very last second! I know what it's like to not win a  race you really really want to so I hope he knows his performance was top notch and we're all still super proud of him! Tyler rounded out the top five, and looked mighty hot doing it (this course has a few turn-arounds, which, while painful, do allow for some good viewing opportunities)! Here are the results:

This race has become more competitive over the past few years and it's great to see our team keeping up with (and, um, passing) the competition!

Native Eyewear marketing maven Jax is finishing up her 365-day running mission (which is super impressive) and ran the 5k today - racing without a single day's rest this year!! My friend Charles Hillig won the 5k ("did you annihilate it?" "yes") and my former teammate and 2:43 marathoner/2nd American at Chicago won the 10 mileer. (Tristan Mitchell, who's on his way to a rockin' race at the Colfax Marathon, ran a great 10 miler, too, but I didn't check the complete results...)

More than anything, I really needed to have some validation that running a smart race is worth it. I tend to get nervous and want to fight for the win right off the bat. I have the Greenland Trail 25k next Saturday, which is on a challenging course. I really want a course record there and I know it's possible but now, I have a better idea of how to attack it. As in, don't try 5:30 for the first mile. If I can stay strong but conservative the first half, I'll have it in me to push the start of the second half (a lovely uphill stretch for 5 miles) and crush the last 3 miles (downhill!). I can't wait! Til next time...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Canyonlands Half, Platte Half, And Everything In Between

I had a long elaborate post in my head about my trip to Moab for what turned out to be the best 4 days EVER. But I'm a little lazy, waited a seriously long time to write it, and now have 8 million other things to say so... The Moab recap might be a bit abreviated.

Moab was... perfect. Absolutely perfect. I stayed with the coolest guys in the world, one of which made my 30th (I still am not comfortable saying that) birthday 4 days of awesomeness.

The race itself was a little rough. We woke up to howling winds, which usually isn't a good sign. The views on the drive up to the start line and along the course were wonderful...

 ...but not quite enough to distract me from the heat and strong winds. Any chance of a pr was squashed so my coach said to not fight the wind and focus on place instead of time. I started off with what I thought was a conservative pace but was maybe a bit agressive for the conditions. I felt like I had a second wind around the halfway point but that didn't stick around long and the wind and sun really started getting to me. I stopped looking at my Garmin pretty early on in the race because each time I did I was horrified but I was still fully and painfully aware of how much steam I was losing. I had been in the lead for nearly the entire race but in the last 3 miles started looking over my shoulder constantly - I was sure whoever was in second was creeping up on me. But it seemed like the conditions were wearing on everyone... The last 2 miles got pretty intense. We ran the first 11 miles through a canyon so while it was super windy, we were at least somewhat protected. But then the course went out of the canyon and met an even nastier headwind coupled with a nice little uphill stretch... Holy shit. There aren't really words to describe it, but I know we've all been there - that point in a race where you start hoping you get hit by a car so you don't have to keep running. I was so exhausted and SO relieved to see the finish line. My time was pretty pathetic and I felt embarassed by it, until I saw the pacer for the 1:30 group cross the finish at 1:36. That's right. The pacer finished 6 minutes slow! That made my 1:25 feel a tad better... Here's a little video from the race:

I was happy to have a win on my birthday but the best part was still to come. We bummed around town, went for a little evening hike (after accidentally taking my little Saab down a Jeep trail), checked out Moab Brewery, and along the way I realized that I was hanging out with a very attractive and very awesome guy: one Mr. Tyler Sewald

We stayed up til 5am (no joke) talking about everything but mostly my killer thumb wrestling skills and our mutual awesomeness. The next morning the other guys left early and Tyler stayed behind with me. We packed up our stuff and got ready for an adventure in Arches National Park (but not before I noticed part of my front spoiler fender thing was cracked and hanging off with a tumbleweed stuck in it from the little jaunt down the Jeep trail... don't worry, it popped right back into place).

Arches was absolutely EVERYTHING I hoped it would be. The weather was insane - unbelievably windy and freezing - so we didn't go nuts exploring but it was still amazing.

We took the scenic route out of the park and made our way to Fruita for the night. Odd little town but we had a cool run there in the morning through a dinosaur fossil site. Then we headed to Palisade (cutest small town in the entire world) for brunch and a wine tasting at Grande River Vineyards. Then on to Carbondale where we found a natural hot spring in the river outside of town... I don't want to give the location away but look for mile marker 55 - it was perfect!! Eventually the vacation had to end but I'm lucky enough to still get to hang out with Tyler on a regular basis ;)

Onward. I feel like my training has kicked in and my workouts have been much stronger lately. I had a really good 2 x 3 mile progressive tempo last Sunday with the HTS crowd. The guys were doing a 22 mile "light progression" run (which, trust me, is bananas fast) and I almost caught them twice... next time! Unfortunately I don't really feel like that has shown through in my races. I don't want to sound like I'm making excuses but every single race I've done this year has had craptastic conditions - windy or snowy or super hilly or freezing or something to that effect - and it's exhausting!

I was really ready for a strong race at the Platte River Half Marathon this past Sunday and it just didn't happen. First and foremost, I missed the start. I knew I was cutting it close but should've had enough time to get to the start line... But they started a minute or two early and that just killed me. I was pretty intent on winning and really worked to weave through the crowds and run hard to catch up to the first females. Big mistake. I wasted a ton of energy there and really ended up paying for it. I need to start trusting myself and my training and stay more relaxed at the beginning of a race so I can have stronger finishes... For some reason that's really hard for me. I caught up to my teammate Kim and we worked together to get in the lead but I knew she had me beat. (But we whooped a bunch of dudes- including one who, in the past, has said some rude things about me so... Sorry, bud, maybe next time! Here's us going after one of them, but not the rude one, this is just random guy...)

I was already tired from hauling the first mile and when the wind picked up halfway through the race, I felt like I was struggling to maintain a moderate pace. The miles were actually going by pretty fast but by mile 10 or so the wind got pretty strong and I started falling behind. Kim started pulling away and I was able to catch up to my teammate Travis and stick with him for a minute. I kept telling myself "She's RIGHT THERE! Just a few feet! Push a little harder!" but after every tiny surge I attempted, I fell back again. Then came everyone's favorite, the 8th Ave Viaduct Bridge - the worst possible thing that can happen to you during a race. As far as I'm concerned, it's the biggest hill in the world. Kim was still in sight but I couldn't quite catch her and as we made our way up the hill she got further and further away. She is seriously one tough cookie. My winning streak came to an end but Kim totally deserves that win - she ran smart and worked hard! And second place isn't too shabby. It would've been nice to have a pr at least, but I was really just happy to be done!

So, this is a pretty good summary of how I felt -

Ha! That was a rough one but I'm ready for another! Even on days where I feel like hell, I love racing more than anything. Altogether, Runner's Roost had a really strong showing with the ladies grabbing 3 of the top 5 spots, Logan coming in 4th overall (just ahead of Tyler who wasn't even racing - he's a stud!), and our women's relay team of Stella, Kelsey and Anna kicking ass with a course record and 2nd relay team overall! Here are the results: And here's RunColo's write up:

Oh. And here's Justin Mock's latest project (I was lucky enough to get a rap for my winning streak but knew I had something else coming my way when it ended... Let this serve as a warning - Justin has firecrackers and too much time on his hands and that's a dangerous combo!): It's a little harsh but I told Justin I'd let it go if he did a beer mile. He declined/wussed out, citing that he didn't want me to have a chance to beat TWO RunColo folks (That's right - one of the said dudes Kim and I beat was no other than Simon Escorcia. Now you know I love you guys but... ) Okay. Enough of that.

Next up is the Cherry Creek Sneak - the nation's biggest 5 miler! I had a really fun time there last year and am really excited to race it again!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Wooo! Tempo Tuesday!

It's been a while since I really felt strong during a run. The races I've done have resulted in kind of unimpressive times and my workouts have, for the most part, been struggles. I haven't been feeling particularly motivated lately and have had an overall feeling of blah-ness.

I think there are a few reasons for my missing spark, the biggest thing being that I'm just tired. I didn't take a big break after Vegas and I've been racing a lot and have a ton of everyday things going on. It's wearing on me a little. In the past I've been able to just get over things like that because I've always been so excited about running. I'm still totally in love with it, but needed something to get out of my little rut.

That something just happened. I had a little workout to do this morning that went way better than expected. It didn't look hard at all, but ,with the way I've been feeling, I wasn't too confident. All I had to do was a 2 mile warmup, 5 mile tempo between 6:45 and 6:30, then a 1 mile cooldown. I did a 3 mile warmup instead and when it came time to pick up the pace, I barely noticed the difference! I felt so relaxed and strong the whole time. Instead of 6:45 to 6:30, I went 6:40, 6:25, 6:20, 6:20, 6:10 with the last quarter mile at 5:50 and then did a nice long cool down. And it went by quickly, no big deal. Nice! Again, nothing super hard, but, mentally, I really needed that!

I'm certain that the success of this was in part due to having a partner for this workout. My new teammate Marshall (who you may know from Channel 7 News - fancy!!) ran with me and WOW did that help! There are studies that show running (and I would guess working out, in general) with others helps block pain receptors in your brain. I know I've mentioned it before, but I think previously I only took that into consideration for long runs... I've done the majority of my workouts on my own and greatly appreciate the company! The best part about that is it made for a successful workout, which got some of my confidence back, and, in turn, is helping me feel excited for my next workout. Wooo! Holler at that domino effect.

So now I feel awesome. Pretty amazing what a little 10 miler can do!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Snowman Stampede!

I'm so tired and my legs hurt and I can barely move but it was worth it - win number 5 at the RRCA state 10 mile championship, also known as the Snowman Stampede.

Honestly, race morning I was just NOT feelilng it. I was very unmotivated to race any distance, much less 10 miles which is quite a bit longer than the 5k's I've been doing! After my warm up and a few strides I felt a little more ready to go, but not much. The good part about that was it helped me stay conservative in the first half. The plan was 6:10 for the first 5, 6:00 for the next 4, and then push as hard as I could for the last mile. What actually happened was 6:10 for the first 5, then 6:15 and dwindling the entire last half. I knew about all the rollers on the course, but forgot that on the way out to the turnaround there was a net downhill. So on the way back? Net uphill. And I felt it! I got over my disinterest in racing and found some sort of motivation but couldn't do much with it.

Maybe it was racing on cement, maybe I just wasn't prepared for the distance, maybe it was the net uphill plus slight headwind, maybe I was just flat out exhausted from the previous races... Whatever it was, I hurt all over. I'm kind of bad about staying in the game mentally when I get tired and last year I totally gave up around mile 7 (I had also started way too fast that year... as per usual). This time around I really tried to focus and push. I got down to around 6:30 at some points but got back to 6:15. For a second or two I thought about backing off but I looked over my shoulder and thought I saw the second place girl on my tail and realized how much I wanted to win. I was gagging (and threw up a tiny bit - so so so gross!) but by the time we got to 9.5 or so I knew I had it and finished up on some super muddy hills - which was by far the coolest part of the race! (this is around mile 7? maybe? right before I got pukey...)

(and here's the start, with the men's winner Ewen North - in the red - leading right off the bat)

I thought my time was kind of crappy. 62:43. I wanted to be under 61, thinking that last year I ran 61:23. But. That was false. 61:23 was from a different race later on in the year when I was in way better shape. In actuality, I ran something like 63 and some change and it turns out my time this year was a course record! Such a relief! I really needed to hear that, since my time was a full 2:00 slower than I wanted.

Maybe I'm weird, but I had to cry a little on the way home. I felt like I really struggled on the course and was just completely relieved and thankful that I pulled off another win. I'm really not sure how I'm doing this... But it's making me tired!! I'm looking forward to a break from racing for the next two weeks. I'm completely in love with running races but I'm very quickly realizing that love and my desire to win gets kinda dull if I do it TOO much.

Runnin' O' The Green is next. This one terrifies me. It's so hilly! Really glad that I'll be at least a tad more rested for it and hoping for a nice strong race.

Results from the race are here: Check out how big this race has become over the past 6 years!! Also check out Tera Moody's event record - this used to be on a way more challenging course and her time from it is just nuts.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Race Reports And The Utrata Rap

Getting a little behind on my race reports here...

I don't feel like I've been running particularly well, but, I've been able to pull off 4 wins in a row! I'm (of course) excited about that but trying to stay cautious and practical about each race, keeping in mind that the bigger picture right now is the Canyonlands Half Marathon, and then the Boulder Boulder.

The first win was the RRCA state 5 mile Championship at Frosty's Frozen Five & Ten Miler. After that came the Yeti Chase 10k. Luckily, I did this one last year and was well aware of how hilly it was... Ooof! I love how course descriptions say "rolling" and make it sound all pleasant, when in reality it's pretty gag-inducing. But, despite the hills and cold and slight wind, it was a great race! I was - suprisingly, as this is not my M.O. - able to stay nice and relaxed and keep my pace under control in the first 2 miles, so I dealt with the hills much better this time around. I fell apart a bit in the last quarter mile and could NOT get my legs to turn over any faster, but still managed a time 1:40 better than last year. The course was pretty challenging but the event staff made it so worth it - I learned afterward that only half of their volunteers showed up but I never would've guessed - everyone was still super nice and helpful and never missed a beat. And, of course, there was a yeti. Everyone loves a yeti!

The next race was the Super Bowl 5k. Two years in a row this race was in the middle of a snow storm, but this year the snow was over and the inner loop of Washington Park (every runner's saving grace for winter workouts) was fairly clear. Fairly, but not entirely. Icy patches were scattered throughout the race and it was kind of terrifying - I fall plenty without the aid of anything slippery on the ground - and as a result times were on the slow end. I had a pretty solid cap on the win (1:30, I think) which is a damn good thing because I had zero intention of throwing caution to the wind and throwing down on the ice. No. Thank you. My favorite part about this one was that a bunch of my teammates were at the park doing a workout and were cheering throughout the race - AW! Runners Roost love! I also kind of like that only 2 men got in front of me...

The last race was the Valentine's Day 5k... Another couple of loops at Wash Park! I had the idea in my head that the weather would be nice and warm for this one. It was not. It was 22. I've raced in tights a few times and it's just not comfortable so I braved it in the shorty shorts (not bun huggers yet but if you're interested... again (but with 3 layers on top!) and payed for it every inch of the way. The air hurt to breath and it felt like the blood was frozen in my legs but I (and everyone else) survived. It was my slowest 5k in a while but... Eh. I blame the cold. (this pic, with my teammate Todd Straka, 2nd overall finisher, cheering,  is from the lovely Amanda Hodges from Colorado Runner Magazine... here's a link to her article

Best part? Runners Roost ladies - with Leslie Hoffman and Janet Rooney - swept it! Love that!

The last win prompted something amazing and hilarious and touching and slightly disturbing. This guy, Mr. Serious Runner Face Justin Mock:

This guy shared a bit of his inner G and wrote a little rap song about my winning streak. Honestly, it's not exactly Tupac back from the dead, but, it's pretty impressive. I was really curious as to who actually performed the rap... Turns out it's the aforementioned G and his buddy Simon - this guy (he wants YOU!):

 I know, they don't really strike me as rap stars either, but, technology can do wonders these days! So here it is, the Heather Utrata rap song: Pretty damn awesome if you ask me.

Justin has "something special for when the winning streak ends" which, to me, sounds like some serious motivation to keep it going! Next up is the last in the Winter Distance Series, the Snowman Stampede. The 10 miler is another RRCA state championship. I raced this last year and had kind of a rough time on the course. But the good news is, I'm more familiar with the course now and have a better plan of attack. Whether or not I can actually follow that plan? Well, we'll see in a few days!

In other news, I got called a slut after my workout on Tuesday. Ha ha what?? Really? I was heading to my car after my cool down and a high school girl from South just went "Uuuugh, slut". Um... Okay. I didn't respond because really what do you say to that? And, I mean, interval workouts are pretty whorish.

In other non running news, my photo a day for 2012 idea is actually pretty hard! I didnt' think it would be at all but there are some days I really struggle to find something interesting to photograph... I suppose it's teaching me to look more closely and appreciate everyday things. Or something. But overall I'm just being lame and taking pics of my cat and t-shirts that I like:

Although, I do really like that one...

Friday, January 27, 2012

Up And Running!

The first race of the year always makes me nervous. It may as well be my first race ever... But I got it done and snagged my first W(and CR - ) of 2012! Sweet!

Of course (of course!) it wasn't what I wanted time-wise, but I'm trying not to dwell on that. I have more aggressive goals for this year but I'm really trying to take little steps and appreciate all the little things that help along the way. The race felt better than I expected because I've been having some really cruddy low energy issues and that didn't seem to be a problem. I had a really hard time knowing what my pace was as I forgot my Garmin and am a really really really horrible judge of speed. I felt like I was going around 5:40 the last half of the race but had very obviously slowed since my finishing time was a slightly lackluster 30:19. I know I hear a ton of people talk about racing sans watch but I can't seem to get a handle on that! It's really hard for me to gauge my effort level toward the end of a race so a slower pace can easily feel faster than my always too fast start... Gonna try to remember all my gadgets next time!

I have another race tomorrow - super hilly 10k going after the elusive Bear Creek State Park Yeti - that I hope to do well in. I think it would be fun to see if I can start a little winning streak and see how far it goes... Ha! Well, we'll see I suppose.

There are a lot of things I'm excited about this year and some of them are coming up fairly fast. The first big thing will be my team's change in sponsorship. We have been with Saucony since I've been on the team and I think everyone knows how much I LOVE love love my Saucony shoes... It was a really great company to work with, but I'm looking forward to working with Nike in 2012! It's been quite some time since I've had a pair of those shoes so I got a fresh pair of their kicks to try before putting in my shoe order (which is due ASAP so I better get my rear in gear!). So far, well, they're not Kinvaras but... Let's face it, the Lunar Racer is pretty sexy:

Also! In what boils down to a matter of weeks, I will be going to one of the most awe-inspiring places in the country for my birthday and the Canyonlands Half Marathon! Yes!

Even better? A few weeks after that? Black Keys concert! Spring will rock! Can't wait to hear this song!

And I can't stop thinking about summer - tons of racing and hiking to do! My goal is to get in 8 more 14ers, one 13er (James Peak), and go back to Durango and Ouray for a bit and do some exploring. Hiking in the winter can be fun and beautiful...

...but I'm kind of a baby in extreme cold and... that's it. I'm a baby in the cold.

There are a lot of fun things coming up but there's also a ton of work to do so I better get busy...

Friday, December 30, 2011

End of the Year!

I don't even know where to start. I've had so much on my mind lately that I almost can't think at all.

I suppose I shoud start by noting that while 2011 had a lot of challenges for me, it was by no means a let down. There were some rough spots and a few things that really hurt, but overall I accomplished some long-standing goals, and more importantly got to spend time with some truly amazing people. Running has added so  much to my life, but the people I've met because of it are really what keep me going. I owe everyone I  know a huge thank you.

There are, indeed, a few things I wish would have turned out slightly different. But that's life. More specifically, that's my life. I've often been frustrated with the way my life has played out. I'm almost 30, I don't have my dream job, I have absolutely no idea what my dream job even is, I haven't accomplished all my goals, I don't own a perfect little house and have a perfect husband and 2.5 perfect (except for that weirdo half-child) kids, etc, etc. But what if I did? Is that really how life is supposed to go? I used to think so but now I think that all just sounds generic an boring. Over the past year, while celebrating all the high points and trying to find a way through the lows, I've come to realize that I'm incredibly lucky my life has gone this way. I'm lucky to have had all of the opportunities and freedoms I've had, to have met the people I have, and to actually realize that (I think you can have everything in the entire world but if you don't realize that, it's all worthless).

Moving forward! I usually make some sort of new year's resolution... And I usually break it within a few hours. So this time I'm going to try to do something more attainable. I'm going to try to eat a salad everyday. It's not a huge deal. It's just a salad. But all those little veggies have all sorts of wonderful good healthy things for you and your body. Not that complicated. It goes along with a goal I set a few weeks ago to just take better care of myself. Just little things like drinking enough water and getting enough sleep and so on. Nothing huge. No crazy detox diets. Just a few little changes.

I, of course, also have some running goals. A few weeks back, after my little trip to Las Vegas, I wasn't feeling very motivated to do more with running, but I knew that would change and it definitely has. I have a fall marathon and a time goal picked out but that's for much much later. Right now my big goal races are the Canyonlands Half in March (countdown to dirty thrity, 79 days), the Boulder Boulder 10k in May, and the Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half in August. GTIS is a big one. I just found out that it's part of the Colorado Race Series this year which means it's gonna be much more competitive than last year... When I read that everything else in my brain just disappeared. This race, for whatever reason, is such a big freakin' deal to me! I love it! Within minutes of getting this news, I started planning and plotting and have a good time goal set. Aggressive, but good.

I absolutely can't wait til my goal races, but definitely look forward to all of the adventures leading up to them.