IMT Des Moines Half Marathon: Training Week #9

I can’t believe that I’m 3 weeks away from race day of the Des Moines Half Marathon. I still have one (really long) long run before it’s Taper Time. Now is a great time to reflect on what has been going really, REALLY right this training (consistency, for starters) and really, REALLY wrong (ugh, the weather). I had a great conversation tonight with my coach, and I definitely feel stronger as a runner. I also love the accountability and growth that a partnership with a coach has brought me.

One area that I haven’t quite figured out this training cycle is my nutrition — I am literally all over the place in terms of eating habits and what fuels me on runs; some days things seem to click, and other days I feel like complete crap. I ran my 10-mile race on my usual breakfast and felt amazing — but that definitely was not my same experience doing my 12-miler run this week (though, I did run later in the afternoon). It’s all part of the practice, though (not perfect, but better).

My workouts got flipped around a little bit this week, since I needed to take my rest day on Thursday — date night! — my runs felt really good midweek, but I was TIRED for my strength workout by Friday, pumped up again by Saturday morning (I was up SUPER early) and then all motivation was lost again by Sunday.


  • 2 easy runs
  • 1 long run
  • 1 tempo run
  • 1 (marathon) yoga session
  • 1 strength workout + 1 core workout

Rest Day and a good amount of foam rolling before bed.

5 miles at an easy pace + core workout

54:47, 10:57 average pace

Tempo run — 1 mile at slower-than-easy pace, then 3 miles at a 10k pace, followed by 1 mile at my easy pace. For my training this cycle, I’m learning all about finding my different effort levels — rather than running solely on pace. And this run was a lesson in finding some of those different gears. It was interesting to see how much effort I had left while I was running those 3 middle miles. I know that effort won’t always feel the same from day-to-day, but it aids in boosting my confidence when I get caught up in breathing heavy and sweating and feeling like I can’t maintain a pace… or feel like I’m doing to die.

Splits: 11:24 / 10:25 / 9:06 / 8:35 / 11:26

Rest day

Strength day – definitely felt weird to do strength on a Friday night, but I didn’t have any plans after work, so I just jumped right into it when I got home. I added jump rope as a warm-up to my regular strength workout a couple weeks ago to work on some flexibility, stability, and single-leg strength and balance. And I felt TIRED before the workout even started. It felt like I was doing the movements for the first time in weeks. This 30-something was in bed by 9pm ON A FRIDAY. #nowine


Something other than a treadmill pic. 😆

Woke up super early, so I could participate in the Namasday celebration at LifeTime in Des Moines: 108 sun salutations at sunrise, poolside, and in celebration of the fall equinox. It was a beautiful morning — they even had a ukulele player! — and the practice really helped me focus and find balance in a hectic week. For the first time ever, I found yoga to be meditative, and I did majority of the sets with my eyes closed.

Coming down from that peacefulness, I did my 30-minute easy run on the treadmill at LifeTime, ending with a few sets of strides. It was difficult to do my strides at the gym, as it was slow to increase speed; my treadmill at home is a lot more responsive.

32:40, 11:07 average pace

The 12-mile run that I did NOT want to do. I woke up at 7am with a splitting headache (which is still lingering today), and a run just wasn’t how I wanted to start my day. So I pushed it to do later, after I felt like I finished laundry and some housekeeping. I battled myself at every mile — trying to talk myself out of doing the entire run. But I did the entire run. I feel tired and sore – I guess exactly how I should feel having run a 25-mile week! (I don’t often feel sore, so I’m chalking this one up to doing yoga on Saturday).

Splits: 11:36 (1) / 11:38 (2) / 11:27 (3) / 11:19 (4) / 11:19 (5) / 11:27 (6) / 11:30 (7) / 11:43 (8) / 11:16 (9) / 11:34 (10) / 10:59 (11) / 9:39 (12)

There might be an epsom salt bath in my future. Like, now.

WEEKLY MILES: 25 miles (!!!)

Race Recap: Capital Pursuit 10-Mile

The second of my back-to-back 10-mile weekends of this training plan included the Capital Pursuit race. This race is held annually, and is the right distance and timing leading up to the IMT Des Moines Half Marathon. No ifs, ands, buts about it: This race felt AWESOME for me. Though it also made the reality of a 2-hour time for this upcoming half seem pretty unrealistic (but so in reach!!!). I won’t focus my thoughts there quite yet.


Race day prep!

Registration and Cost: The Capital Pursuit was super inexpensive for a 10-mile race, AND I saved $5 being a Capital Striders member — $40 in advance, $45 day of race. I registered online through for a total $38.69 charge (which obviously included some fees). There was also a 5K run as part of the Pursuit.

Expo and Packet Pick-Up: No expo, but packet pick-up was the day before at Fitness Sports in the Swanson Depot in Clive, or you could pick up your bib on race day. Note: No bag check or transportation at this race.

Free Swag: A nice blue long-sleeve tech shirt with the Capital Pursuit logo.


Charity: A portion of the race proceeds assist Iowa Kidstrong, Inc. — promoting healthy, active lifestyles among children. There were about 40 See Us Run students and their running mentors racing the 10-Miler.

Start Line: Plenty of Kybos (that’s Iowan for port-o-potty) and a DJ to entertain the runners at the start. We lined up at the Locust & 15th Street intersection at Western Gateway Park, heading straight into the city.

Weather: Well… it was sunny and mid-50s when I woke up. But 90% humidity. So while it didn’t feel oppressively hot, I was sweating profusely throughout the race (in a tank and shorts in 50 degrees, wtf Iowa). I’m glad that I opted not to wear a hat, to be honest. Official race weather states: 60s and partly cloudy. -_-

Course: I guess the course changed this year (I have no reference, but a couple people said this to me), supposedly skipping one of the hills going towards the capital building. But this year’s route was a nice out-and-back, running into the city, then out into the neighborhoods near Drake University where it was so peaceful. I was impressed by the elevation changes running back into town on Ingersoll — though the skinny lane with regular traffic outside our set of orange cones made me nervous at times.. And then there was that nice “sweet spot” of a downhill at the end of the race. A few weird turns near the end of the course, but I enjoyed sprinting in on that straight-away down Locust towards the finish line.

Fans and Experience: A few fans along the course (though not many), and water/Gatorade stations with volunteers at about every 2 miles. I made a new running friend, naturally, and we ran together and chatted for nearly the entirety of the race — even getting him to sprint with me to the finish.


The boyfriend caught this great movement shot of me sprinting into the finish line — look at them legs!

Finish Line: I love, love, LOVE when the runners’ names are announced at the finish line. And we got medals! There was also a tent set up with a BUNCH of post-race snacks — the usual bananas, but an additional spread of bagels and orange slices and more.

After Party: There was an after party with, supposedly, a bunch of food and free drinks for participants at Exile Brewing… but it didn’t start until 10:30am. I walked down to the brewery and realized this when NOBODY was there. Kind of dumb, considering the start time of the race and anticipated finish times. Eh, great idea in theory, but I didn’t feel like waiting around another half hour.

Bonus: Chocolate milk at the finish line, YAY!

Random Bullshit: A TRAIN. Yep, a set of train tracks runs through downtown Des Moines and right on schedule during the first couple miles of the race. I heard its horn, and saw the light creeping around the corner — and I booked it over that set of tracks. I didn’t look back to see if anyone got caught up, but MAN… that’s not something you plan for AT ALL for race day.

The Great: Can’t beat a PR race! That’s two PR races in one month for me!!!
The Good: Putting a plan in place and getting in a GOOD training practice for race day.
The Bad: A MOVING TRAIN, YOU GUYS! Not ugly for me, but… holy crap.
The Ugly: (Men-folk, look away your sensitive eyes on this one) My freaking period started the night before the race (3 days early). It looks like I’ll be on my cycle for the half now, too, and that is NEVER fun to practice. >:-(


Chocolate Milk!

Splits: 9:19 — WHOOOPS, started a bit too fast here! Blame it on the train 😉 (1) / 10:07 (2) / 10:35 (3) / 10:55 (4) / 10:50 (5) / 10:48 (6) / 10:45 (7) / 10:24 (8) / 9:45 (9) / 9:21 (10) — Check out the second half of that race! 💯

1:43:16 (no chip time)
#279 overall
45th in my age group

Weekly Therapy: Be YOU tiful

the week:
This week went by WAY too quickly and my nerves kind of got the better of me. I had many intentions that fell flat to feeling overwhelmed, and I’ll be using my evening to reset (and using some overtime to catch up with work tomorrow). We’re back up into the 80s again for temperatures (alongside its best friend 90% Humidity), so looks like summer is sticking around to make the rest of my long runs sticky and miserable.

Summer: please see the door, I would like to wear my scarves and coats and boots, kthxbai. And I’m kind of tired of the treadmill.

I’m doing 108 sun salutations at LifeTime tomorrow morning, followed by my second short run of the week, working some overtime, and then resting for a LONG, LONELY 12-miler on Sunday.

Among all THAT, I’ll be watching MOAR ROLLER DERBY — Team United from Des Moines is playing in this weekend’s WFTDA playoff tournament in Madison.

seven things, seven days:
1. We checked out Luminarium Arboria this week in downtown Des Moines…
2. And then had dinner at the ABSOLUTELY ADORABLE restaurant: Magnolia Wine Kitchen. The food was excellent, too, with many gluten-free options!
3. What it feels like to be the last generation to remember life before the Internet. Oh, I remember!
4. How do you feel about getting older? Ehhhhh, not so good. {via Pacific Standard}
5. Why people quit their Fitbits — interestingly, no responses mentioned about the equipment constantly breaking requiring three separate replacements. But then again, nobody asked me.
6. I KNEW IT — The 5-second rule debunked (spoiler alert: don’t eat it!) {via NYT}
7. You take the good, you take the bad… And here’s why you ABSOLUTELY must do things you’re really bad at. {via INC}

IMT Des Moines Half Marathon: Training Week #8!

WHEW, what a week! There was a lot of tough work, but my spirits are super high. There are several small places where I can see opportunities to improve — and totally achievable, at that! — that it’s given me the gumption to keep working at this Big Goal. I even had a PR on my 10-mile race this week, which is always an enjoyable element in fueling motivation.

But here we go: Less than a month to race day!


  • Two easy runs
  • One speed workout (SPRINTS!)
  • One long run — coinciding with RACE DAY!
  • One core + one strength workout

Week in the life of half marathon training!

Rest day, and my biweekly call with my coach. I really needed a confidence boost, after too much negative self-talk. Receiving feedback and mental tips is one of the many amazing reasons to have a coach. She really helps me reign in and release this future-focused, all-or-nothing thinking. My old carry-over mantra from derby — “I can do anything for two minutes!” — has been revised to “I can do this right now.”

Jump rope x 100 + strength workout (this workout always kicks my butt!)

On the backside of my housing development, there’s a nice stretch of sidewalk to do some speedy sprints (is that redundant?). This week’s workout was HARD! But, fun hard. There were a couple walkers on the opposite side of the street trying to figure out my crazy, which just made me laugh more at myself.

That said, I found myself pooping out 40 seconds into every interval. My warm-up was 10 minutes (9:25 pace), followed by 1:1 sprints/recovery jog (spoiler alert: couldn’t even jog!) x 10. That madness ended with another 10-min cool down run (12:23 pace, whomp).

Zero energy to do my core workout after that, so I bumped it to after my Thursday easy run.

Treadmill Thursday: 4.20 miles, 45:34

Splits: 10:36 / 10:56 / 11:12 / 10:49

Ended with Wednesday’s core workout. 😉


Treadmill Life (you need a good book!)

REST Day (and Date Night). We went to members’ preview opening of the Vivian Maier exhibit at the Arts Center, followed by dinner at Eatery A.

Back on my treadmill (the humidity is back, you guys) for an easy, SLOW 3-miler.

Splits: 12:09 / 11:56 / 11:41

RACE DAY! And It. Was. AWESOME. Despite the humidity (OMG SERIOUSLY, WHERE IS FALL?!) making a comfortable 55 degrees feel 20 degrees warmer, I felt great for this 10-mile run.

I really focused on my coach’s prescribed “easy 7-mile run” mentality, which seemed to help! And I felt like I had the right amount of energy to increase my pace for the latter part of the race.

You know what was weird about this run? How good I felt on zero fuel. No GU or gluten-free figgies (though I had them both on me); no Gatorade on the course. I even packed a salt tab, too, JUST IN CASE. When I lined up for the start, that’s when I realized that I forgot to eat my pre-race GU. I just shrugged it off, thinking “I have two!” in case things went bad (read: I got SUPER hungry). I had my usual race morning breakfast (egg sandwich, holla!). And I only sipped water at the fuel stops (this race had stations at about every 2 miles). Totally, completely perplexing.

10 miles, 10:16 pace overall.

Anyways, I’ll have a race recap up soon!

WEEKLY MILEAGE: 21.2 miles
TOTAL TRAINING MILES: 131.76 total miles!

Product Review: AMPLA FLY Running Shoes

Disclaimer: I received a pair of AMPLAsport AmplaFLY shoes to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review, find and write race reviews!

I’m willing to try anything to gain some speed in my training. Working on getting to a 2-hour half marathon goal is TOUGH (and slow, whomp) — but I’m adding in the speed workouts every week and figured a pair of speedy shoes could probably help. As part of the BibRave Pro ambassador program, I got the opportunity to find out about an awesome brand – AMPLAsport — who designed a speed shoe called the AMPLA FLY.


These are going to be fun!

First impression: LOVE THE COLOR (duh)! I’ve never seen a split sole shoe (besides those tiny ballet flats that you roll up and keep in your purse when you’re partying). They’re really light (hello, carbon fiber foot plate!), despite looking a little bulky (perhaps because of the split sole?).

Watch more first impressions:

Fit: Size 9.5 (side note: am I the only one whose running shoes are WILDLY larger than regular shoes? I am nearly consistently across brands a 9.5 in running shoes, and almost always in a size 8 regular shoe.) Toe box room is excellent. I found them comfortable and the fit comparable to my “everyday” running shoes. I tied them using my usual heel-lock lacing, as most shoes with a roomy toe box tend to have heel slippage for me.

First try-on: Comfortable yet weird; obviously, this is a WAY different shoe. They feel like you want to bounce around in them. I definitely felt intentionally forward propelled — but not in a way that feels unnatural or off-balance — and I felt like my stance changed quite a bit. They actually reminded me a lot of what it felt like standing in my short-forward-mounted roller skates (although, without all of the squatting).


I’ve been trying this “science shoe” out for the the last month on some of my speed-focused runs, and while it hasn’t made an immediate impact on my time goals, it has really helped me focus on my running stride (I’m one of those infamous heel strikers). They worked well for my training days where I could break them in a bit by doing a mile or two and note the differences between the AMPLA FLY and my other running shoes. I certainly would have liked to get some more mileage on them, but… THE COMMITMENT TO CHANGE IS HARD! I’m impressed so far as to how they aid in pushing forward in my sprint work. The most impactful run was when I decided to change into when I noticed my running form breaking down when I was feeling tired. I noticed immediately the chain-reaction effect of being more upright, thereby relaxing my tensed muscles all the way up to my shoulders.

Lasting impressions: That said, these aren’t really meant for me for long-and-slow easy runs; to be honest, I didn’t find them the most comfortable when doing my cool downs or walks home after my workouts. I MUST also note: these are NOT meant for trails — do not take these on gravel or other types of rough terrain, as the side-to-side stability is not there. So, these have a very distinct purpose and will fit into a shoe collection as a great 2nd pair (or 3rd or 4th, if you’re like me and legit have a shoe for every sport and occasion).

Most of my running friends know that I am not a fan of change when it comes to my athletic gear — once I find something that I like and FITS, I stick with it and buy up all the new-old back stock all over the Internet. In July, I finally broke my pattern by purchasing a new shoe model (AND a new brand!). It’s helped me step out of my own way in trying new, better things. This was exactly what I was hoping to experience with the AMPLA FLY.

How it works: The AMPLA FLY encourages the efficient use of force — by way of a full-length carbon fiber plate guiding your foot-strike, and maximizing big toe push-off. The AMPLA FLY is more than being about speed — it’s about giving you the right FORM to make your running better.


Side note: I’ve had to do a lot of treadmill runs this cycle because of the humidity (UGH!), and admittedly, I was terrified to wear these on the treadmill.

About AMPLA: Founded by a sports scientist and athletic industry innovators committed to engineering footwear that amplifies athletic ability (SCIENCE!). Harvard-trained Dr. Marcus Elliott has tested and trained elite athletes through his P3 Sports Science Institute in Santa Barbara, California — and has utilized advanced technologies to capture more than 30,000 hours of athlete data over the last eight years. This knowledge, combined with experience in the athletic footwear industry, is an opportunity to create breakthrough one-of-a-kind products. The AMPLA FLY is AMPLAsport’s first product.


Test Run: The AMPLA FLY in Red!

Check out AMPLAsport online to learn more:
Web | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

This Tuesday, September 20 at 8pm CST: Join AMPLAsport and BibRave for #BibChat on on twitter. It’s a great chance to ask AMPLA your questions about the shoe AND hear more from the BibRave Pros who have been training on them for the last month! (Also, I hear there will be giveaways!)

Weekly Therapy: “You didn’t quit; you learned.”

I’ve been completely inspired by podcasts these last few weeks. Today’s title quote comes from Episode 7 of the BibRave Podcast — an incredible interview with Race Director of THE Boston Marathon, Dave McGillivray.

the week:
I’ve felt very harried and scattered all week, despite getting plenty of good sleep and not changing anything in my schedule. My to-do list feels a mile long, and I’m really anxious at getting a lot done this weekend. I don’t know… it’s like nesting or something but without the pregnancy. Maybe because of the changing seasons?

Tonight is the members’ preview of the Vivian Maier photography exhibit at the Des Moines Art Center. YOU MUST ATTEND THIS EXHIBIT! It’s open through January 22. We’re also having dinner at Eatery A for the first time. So, I guess we’re having a date night.

The Capital Pursuit 10-Miler is Sunday — I’ve got my race plan and I’m ready to tackle it! #positivethoughts

seven things, seven days:
1. Today is National Run at Work Day — kinda bummed that I found out about it too late to plan something. I participated last year and had a blast!
2. I’m so proud of LifeTime in taking steps to implement a social media policy, restricting use of photos in locker rooms, saunas, and other private areas — and adding: No member may capture another member’s likeness without their consent. YES.
3. That time I went to BibChat and wasn’t wearing pants. 😂 😅 🙈
4. Are you recovering properly? {via Appetite for Health}
5. How do you feel about getting older? Well… it’s complicated. {via Pacific Standard}
6. The appeal of Botox — the savior of Resting Bitch Face {via Pacific Standard}
7. Couldn’t miss this article all week — Hint: it’s about SUGAR (Ugh!) {via NYT}

IMT Des Moines Half Marathon: Training Week #7

I had another week that I cut out my second easy run. While I at least fit in a short circuit workout, the weekend was just too busy. All things considered, I only took one rest day from being active — AND I did something new! — so I am still happy with this training week. My chat with my coach this week really helped me think a little bit about my mental game and my ability to push a little harder. It’s there, but I can’t let self-doubt win.

My goal for the week: Stay in the moment.


  • One strength workout
  • One circuit workout
  • One easy run
  • One speed workout
  • One long run
  • And one fun hour of trail-skating!
mel iowa blogger trail skating des moines

Skating the trails!

My scheduled rest day in my training plan, but I went down to Gray’s Lake and skated the trail to downtown. A nice 5-ish mile loop on a very sweaty day! Having not been on my skates in six months, it felt really good. Though I forgot how much I had to carry with me when I skate alone!

My weekly strength workout.

Pick-ups scheduled, and I was in that headspace where I wanted to flip my speed and easy days. But once I got my 10-minute warm-up done, I wanted to do the speed work. Because I didn’t have my watch set up for that, I forgot to hit the lap button on each interval AND they weren’t exactly on the minute mark – but I got it done!

And then when filling in my training plan spreadsheet, I realized that I forgot to do my core workout. Whoops!

All said and done, I completed just shy of 4 miles (3.93) in 43:00 minutes.

Four miles easy run on the treadmill at 10:23 pace

Splits: 10:04 / 10:18 / 10:29 / 10:41

Attended the Go Blog Social networking and happy hour events, as part of the fun conference weekend here in Des Moines. I’ll have a blog post up about the event this week! It was a very fun rest day. 😉

Krave Fitness Gym, a fitness center in West Des Moines and one of the partners of the Go Blog Social conference, held a workout in the morning before breakfast. It was circuit-based, with a focus on body strength workouts and core. I was really happy – as a fitness blogger and active person – to have the organizers schedule a workout as part of the conference.

I spent all day at the conference, and then went to my first Iowa-Iowa State party. I had another easy run on the calendar for Saturday, but just couldn’t fit it in.

mel iowa blogger runner treadmill long run

A girl and her treadmill — 10 miles done!

On Sundays, we do long runs!

Because I had exhausted all of my mental energy from socializing for two days straight and I was experiencing some digestive distress in the morning, I kept this one on the treadmill (sad cakes, as it was BEAUTIFUL weather). I was moving SLOOOOOWWWWW for an “easy” pace. My splits were pretty consistently in the 11:15-11:25 range (with one outlier at 11:45, woof).

The first of my back-to-back 10-miler weekends is complete, and I look forward to this weekend’s Capital Pursuit 10-miler Race!

WEEKLY MILES: 17.9 miles
TOTAL TRAINING MILES: 110.56 miles — I hit the century mark!

Weekly Therapy: What makes something amazing is the possibility that it could destroy you.

I heard this quote on a podcast this week… HOLY SHIT.

the week:
The biggest news of the week — I got the job! The offer officially came over this week and was announced to our department. The congratulations notes from various coworkers really meant so much, and I’m incredibly happy to have been placed on such an amazing team.

Tonight is the kick-off party to Go Blog Social conference here in Des Moines. I decided to make a little staycation out of it, and booked myself a one night-stay at Hotel Renovo.

Then after the conference ends on Saturday, I will be attending my first Iowa-Iowa State party (wearing neither of those colors). Somehow I’ll muster enough energy to run 10 miles on Sunday.

seven things, seven days:
1. Do you watch Mistresses? What. The. Fuck.
2. There’s a thing called chuckwagon racing in Iowa — and now I have to see this IRL.
3. Des Moines had an earthquake. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (missed it)
4. WFTDA roller derby playoffs are in progress! Check in on Columbia D1 games here.
5. Learning to Love My Anxiety {via Pacific Standard}
7. How to be perfectly unhappy. {courtesy of The Oatmeal — love forever}

IMT Des Moines Half Marathon: Training Week #6

Woahhhhhh, we’re half way there… halfway through half marathon training. The humidity finally broke this week, and I’m feeling recharged. I still have a LOT of work to do in order to meet my goal for the half, but I’m slowly (POOR WORD CHOICE, MEL!) meeting some of my paces.

iowa running blogger summer humidity

Running in my new xx2i sunglasses that I won during #BibChat a couple weeks ago!

Rest Day — foam rolling routine before bed (and no, I still haven’t developed into a nightly habit).

Strength Day! I focused on being really intentional with the workout, rather than rushing to complete it. I felt good and it was almost meditative (and I got to catch up on Bachelor in Paradise). I also worked on rolling my feet and calves before bed, since this is where I’ve been feeling some soreness lately.

Took to the treadmill after work for my Easy Run — which seems like the first in a long while of getting negative splits. Each mile felt better than the last, and this is exactly the kind of confidence that I’ve been trying to build with these easy run days.

44:14, 4.02 miles
Splits: 11:17 / 11:06 / 10:54 / 10:45

iowa running blogger trail sidewalks end

Where the sidewalk ends… the hills begin.

This was one of those days where I needed to push myself out the door to run something. My plan called for 45 minutes, but I was going to try for at least 30 minutes. My leg foot, left shin and left knee all felt ugly tight and sore for the start (and loosened up after the first mile). I went in a new direction outside and kept hitting trail sidewalks that went nowhere. But, SURPRISE: I started getting into my run — eventually going right past my house and completed another 15 minutes around my development. Total highlight of this run (besides Doing the Work!): That dang humidity is GONE. Finally.

45:36, 4.41 miles
Splits: 10:05 / 10:18 / 10:13 / 10:39

Rest Day – hung out a bit with some neighbors after work, and then turned into bed early for Saturday’s early morning race.

Five-mile race — read my recap of the Madrid Milers Labor Day Run!

iowa running blogger chocolate milk race day

A successful race calls for TWO chocolate milks!

Sooooo, taking this whole non-labor Labor Day stuff to heart, I took an extra rest day. I was considerably lazy for most of the day, but I’m not guilty of it one bit. I’m planning on trail skating today, which replaces my early week rest day on the training plan — I haven’t had my skates on for almost 6 months, though. This should be fun.

Looking ahead: trying not to freak out about the two weekends of 10-milers in a row (10-mile long run scheduled this weekend, and a 10-mile race next weekend). I’ve been here before; I can do this! This current cut-back week was much-needed for recharging my mental space, and I feel like it fulfilled its purpose of re-motivating me, while also allowing for some actual physical rest.

WEEKLY MILES: 14.1 miles


Real talk: The month that I ran my marathon last year, I ran a total of 73.89 miles, which included the marathon itself AND my 20-miler training run (which, HOW?!). August of 2015, I ran a total of 60.66 miles while training for a full marathon (there were a couple weeks where I only ran once a week!). My commitment to my training mileage has increased exponentially from over a year ago. But I’m still a little dumbfounded over how little training I did to run a full!

Race Recap: Madrid Milers Labor Day Run

You know you’re at a small town race when… the parking directions tell you to turn left at the only stoplight in town. And Madrid is a small town race (pronounced MAAA-drid, unlike the city in Spain, if you’re not from Iowa). This was the 38th annual Madrid Milers Labor Day Run.

Madrid Iowa runners labor day race blogger

Flat Mel — no bib before race day!

There were three race distances as part of the Labor Day festival: 2 mile, 5 mile and a 15 mile (!!!). Next year, I definitely want to go do the 15-mile race, as you get to run over the High Trestle Bridge. I thought the 5-milers got to do that too (same with another woman that I talked to at the end of the race), and realized on race morning that it was the High Trestle Trail.

I planned this race with my coach during a much-needed cut-back week. My coach created a race plan for me, which started with a one mile warm-up (wut?!). Yeah, I have never run immediately BEFORE a race, but I had to trust the process (and I ended up feeling great while I was running, so…):

I was supposed to start nice and controlled; naturally, the race started downhill and I took off not realizing that I was pacing with some (apparently) 8-minute 15-milers. Uh, NOPE. I regained control just in time for the first uphill. I paced with two local guys soon after and stayed with them for most of the race — until I really picked up pace at the 4-mile mark. This strategy actually worked out well for me to keep my pace controlled. I did start out too fast, but ended up laughing and talking with these two guys and they kept me just about where I wanted to be.

Registration and Cost: $25 (+ fees) through, with race day registration available as well.

Packet Pick-Up and Free Swag: Bib pickup at Madrid Elementary School the morning of the race opened up an hour before start time. I misread their event details that there would be chip time, but there was a bib and electronic timer at the finish. All race entries came with a free t-shirt. No finishers medals for this race.

Start Line: Ha, we started with a whistle — the 5-milers lined up with the 15-milers, and the 2-milers started in the opposite direction on the other side of the street.

Weather: OMG THE BEST. I did my warm-up in long sleeves because of the chill in the air, and it was a perfect high-50s come race time. FALL, GUYS!

Course: We started at the elementary school (down the street from that only traffic light in town) and the course contained various terrains and experiences: part road, part trail, part county gravel (mud) road, part neighborhood; and finished in downtown Madrid — the CUTEST late 1800s, small town kind of downtown. I loved it! I’m thankful to have connected with a couple locals who have completed the race before because, honestly, I think I would have got lost at a few points. There were colored arrows denoting each race course and a few volunteers sprinkled around, but at some turns I would have had no idea on on my own. It’s always good advice to print a copy of the course map when doing one of these small races, and I’ll definitely do that for next time.

Experience: Everything that you love about small races — generally, really friendly runners and volunteers (seriously, the two guys I ran with were born and raised in Madrid and knew every single person we ran by).

Madrid Iowa finish line milers race labor day

Finish Line chute!

Finish Line: There was a mini chute and an electronic sign for finish times (with a woman reading the times out loud as you crossed). There were bananas and water available, which you had to cross back over the finish to get to. But, small race, so just look both ways before crossing!

Running it in, I was actually really confused where the finish chute was, as it just looked like a bunch of people clustered around, and I almost turned down another street until I asked the group “where’s the finish?!” HA. I was in fastest sprint mode and I’m sure it sounded like I was yelling.

After Party: I stuck around for the results and award ceremony for the 5-milers, which started about 20 minutes after I finished. When I saw 3rd place announced for my age group, and it was the chick who I passed at the 4.5 mark, I got so excited knowing that I would take home a medal. That’s rare to do when you’re at the tail end of a 30-39 age group bracket, but such a confidence booster, despite knowing it was a small race and runner pool.

Madrid Iowa chocolate milk anderson erickson iowa blogger

Our Des Moines local brand: Anderson Erickson chocolate milk available at the finish line!


Random Awesome: There was a guy running the 5 who has completed the race in the same shoes for 34 years (!!!). It was really cool to see him finish, and he took home one of his own age group awards.

madrid milers labor day old shoes guy race

Seriously, these shoes have some stories! I love this so much!

The Great: I placed 2nd in my age group AND got a PR!
The Good: The weather!
The Bad: Can’t find race results posted online. Whomp, whomp.
The Ugly: I always get so anxious about the lack of race details and communication before a race. I had to only assume that I picked my bib up the morning of the race with the same-day registration peeps. Again, always something to remember when doing small races, if you’re someone who is super Type A!

Madrid Iowa runners labor day blog

SILVER! I love that the race is marked on the back of the keychain — what a clever idea!

A new PR: 47:24 (ish; didn’t catch the final split seconds, though it’s about a 1:30 faster than my previous PR!)
AND 2nd in my 30-39 age group (holy shit!)