Monday, June 29, 2015

Air Force Half Marathon MAJCOM Challenge Team

Air Force Half Marathon, Air Force MAJCOM Challenge, Idaho Air National Guard Runner, 124 Fighter Wing

Today begins a new 12-week training program (which is really just a repeat of the last one I did) but in prep for a new race—the Air Force Half Marathon in September! This is the first time I will have traveled to run competitively, so I'm excited at the prospect of trying something new.

There was a big Air Force-wide email that went out earlier this year calling for applications for the MAJCOM Challenge, which is a competition between the different branches of the Air Force where a team of full and half marathon runners is created to try to get the lowest combined time. There are four full marathoners (3 men and 1 woman) and six half marathoners (4 men and 2 women) per team.

I submitted an application for the Air National Guard Half Marathon Team, and out of over 90 nation-wide applicants, I was chosen! We had to submit a time from a recent race within the last year (I used the results from the Volition America Half Marathon—of which my time is now faster, too!) and the teams were chosen based on the fastest times. I feel incredibly honored that my time was one of the select few to be picked. It's my goal to represent the Air National Guard and the State of Idaho to the best of my ability!

While I recently completed the Hal Higdon Intermediate Half Marathon Training Program in preparation for the Famous Idaho Potato Half Marathon, this time I'll be switching to Hal's Advanced Half Marathon Training Program, combined with Kayla Itsines' Bikini Body Guide 2.0 for a running and strength power-training program.

I'm following the same schedule as I posted about here, by following Hal's Tuesday, Thursday & Sunday run days and Kayla's Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday strength days. I find that it's very difficult for me to run the recommended six-days per week as Hal's program calls for, and that I get too tired and too burnt out by running that much. Using a combo of both programs keeps me fast on the run days and keeps my strength up by incorporating a weight-lifting and bodyweight training program.

Anyway—that's my current fitness & running update! I'm so excited and honored to go run my heart out for the Air Force, the Air National Guard, and as a representative for the State of Idaho in September. What a fun event that will be to be a part of. There is no greater joy for me right now than to run for my health & for our country, and all with these legs God has given me to do it!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Sawtooth Relay 2015

Sawtooth Relay, Galena Summit, Relay Race Idaho, Idaho Runners

This past weekend, I joined the ladies of "Hit the Ground Runnin'" as we relayed 62-miles across the Idaho mountains at the Sawtooth Relay. Oh man, we had a good time. The weather was perfect, we had a great start time of 5:45 am, the teams around us were a blast-and-a-half, and it was just an overall kick-in-the-pants good time. I had last ran Sawtooth in 2013 (I missed last year due to being away at Basic Training) and was excited to be back for another year.

We all met on Friday afternoon and loaded up the "Beast" (a.k.a. our rental van) before trekking up the mountain. We arrived at the cabin in Stanley around 7:00 pm and enjoyed a dinner of chicken, pasta and kale salad—a perfect pre-race carb-loading meal. While we were lucky to get a good start time of 5:45 am (teams start as early as 1:00 am), we still wanted to call it an early night and turned in around 10:00 pm.

The alarms began going off the next morning at 4:00 am and we were loading up the van and heading to the start line by 5:00. My mom started our team off with the first leg and each of our runners did awesome. We stopped and cheered them on every couple miles and enjoyed the camaraderie with the other teams—especially "Stay Classic" and "Team Spirit's" mariachi band!

I ticked away the racers, legs and hours until I was up to run the 6th leg—the dreaded Galena Summit. When I had last run Sawtooth, I had legs 2 and 8 and jokingly said, "I'll take Galena next time!" ... Little did I know they'd take me up on the offer! Since I hadn't trained hills at all due to training super-hard for my most recent half marathon, I was a little nervous about tackling the uphill leg, but it ended up being OK! The first mile of my 5.35-mile leg was a little too fast, and I slowed down a little between miles 2-3. However, as soon as I turned the corner of the Galena Summit overlook and could see the huge mountain I had just climbed, the feeling was so empowering and I was able to pick up speed for my last couple miles. I ended up averaging about 8:22/mile, which is not my normal race pace, but gosh dangit it was all uphill and I was excited about that time!

The heat set in as my mom headed down the mountain and everyone began picking up the pace to bring us to the home stretch. We started dancing more, cheered on everyone passed, and had such a blast. I ran the last 2.64-mile leg into the finish line chute, coming in with a pace of 6:10/mile, and we all crossed together with a final time of 9 hours, 25 minutes and 54 seconds. WE HAD DONE IT!

We celebrated with the after-party feast and basked in the sun—stoked that it was over. After lots of story-telling and laughs, it was the end to a perfect day. And yes, it was only like 8:30 pm, but after being up for that long and running through the hot sun, all you need is a shower and it's lights out after that for us. We're such troopers, I tell you what.

See some of the photos of the race below!

Sawtooth Relay, Relay Race Idaho, Idaho Runners
The team, minus one, decorating the van before heading up the mountain.
Sawtooth Relay, Relay Race Idaho, Idaho Runners
Our signature "Hit the Ground Runnin'" team pose.
Sawtooth Relay, Relay Race Idaho, Idaho Runners
Checking in at 5:15 am and getting ready to begin. My mom was all done up in her neon for her first leg start.
Sawtooth Relay, Galena Summit, Relay Race Idaho, Idaho Runners
Prepping for the hand-off! Here comes Jess!
Sawtooth Relay, Galena Summit, Relay Race Idaho, Idaho Runners
And I'm off! Heading up the mountain and jammin' out to my electronic dance music.
Sawtooth Relay, Galena Summit, Relay Race Idaho, Idaho Runners
Cruising up Galena Summit. I felt strong! My chant this race was, "One Foot! One Foot!", which was the shortened version of "one foot in front of the other" in order to keep me going... though after all was said and done, I'd definitely run that leg again—it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be and the teams around us were so supportive, cheering me on the whole way!
Sawtooth Relay, Galena Summit, Galena Summit Scenic Overlook, Relay Race Idaho, Idaho Runners
Cresting the top and passing the Galena Summit scenic overlook. This was where I started to pick up the pace!
Sawtooth Relay, Relay Race Idaho, Idaho Runners
Handing off to my mom. She had the downhill 7th leg. Everyone thinks the summit is the hard leg—I disagree! My mom took one for the team by doing this leg.
Sawtooth Relay, Relay Race Idaho, Idaho Runners
Cheering on my mom and she took off—she averaged 7:35/miles going down the hill. What a rockstar!
Sawtooth Relay, Relay Race Idaho, Idaho Runners
Coming down the finish line chute. We were there!
Sawtooth Relay, Relay Race Idaho, Idaho Runners
Team Hit the Ground Runnin'... I love my team!
Sawtooth Relay, Relay Race Idaho, Idaho Runners
Sitting proudly next to our "kills" before breakfast the next morning. We passed 57 teams during our race!

Sawtooth this year was an absolute blast. It's so fun going up to the mountains for a weekend with the ladies and joining so many people who love to run! We always come home with the best stories and memories that last a lifetime. If you ever have a chance to gather a team together and run this race, don't miss it! See you next time, Sawtooth!

Monday, June 8, 2015

AF PT Test 2015

Air Force PT Test, PT Test, 1.5 mile run test, Air National Guard PT Test, Air Force Physical Fitness Test, 124 Fighter Wing
One of these is not like the others...

It's hard to believe it's been an entire year since I graduated BMT. On the anniversary of my graduation date, I took my first annual Physical Fitness Test and—since this blog seems to be all about fitness lately—I thought I'd share a quick post with my results.

AT BMT, my 1.5-mile run time was 8:47, and I completed 54 push-ups and 68 sit-ups in the minute allotted to us. This year, I lowered my time by 10-seconds, finishing in 8:37, and was able to achieve 50 push-ups and 64 sit-ups.

Air Force PT Test, PT Test, 1.5 mile run test, Air National Guard PT Test, Air Force Physical Fitness Test

So what does that all mean? It means I passed—hooray! I've been so focused on decreasing my half marathon mile pace with my speed training workouts that I haven't been paying too much attention to getting in my daily push-ups and sit-ups like I did at BMT. When you're at BMT, doing push-ups and sit-ups on a daily basis, in fact—MULTIPLE times per day—is a given. At home, it's a little different. Plus, I've been working hard at increasing total-body strength and fitness, so as long as my numbers are still in that passing PT test range, I'm super happy.

People often ask how I train for my runs & PT test, and my suggestion is to find a training program online (a free one if you can!) and make a plan of attack. For instance, you could pick a 5K training plan, which will totally set you up for a successful 1.5-mile time, and begin training however many weeks out the plan specifies. My suggestion is to make a plan and, here's the most important part—STICK WITH IT! If you're interested in checking out my current personal running and strength training program, you can read it here.

One year down... only 19 more to go!

Follow my fitness journey here: Instagram @auniesauce │ Fitness Instagram @auniefit │ Garmin Connect

Monday, June 1, 2015

Famous Idaho Potato Half Marathon 2015

Famous Idaho Potato Half Marathon, Matching Race Outfits, Famous Idaho Potato Marathon, Idaho Running

This past Saturday, May 30, I raced in my second competitive half marathon—the Famous Idaho Potato Half Marathon. My mom also ran, and this event marked our 9th race together. The last time we did the Famous Idaho Potato was in 2013 and we finished in 1:58, so we were excited to have another go at the course!

I ran my first competitive half in March, the Volition America Half Marathon, and finished in 1:33:09, beating my prior PR of 1:48 in '09 by 15-minutes. Since that race, where I was following the Hal Higdon Novice Training Program as I have for the past several years, I switched over to a combination of the Hal Higdon Intermediate & Advanced Half Marathon Training Programs, which are intended for more competitive and experienced runners. I thought it would be worth a shot!

Going in to the race, my only goal was to beat my time in March, where I had averaged splits of 7:08/mile. My colleague at work challenged me to finish in 1:27, and I knew that would require splits of 6:38/mile. I told him, "There's no way I'm taking 30-seconds off per mile, you're crazy dude!" So I just started out as fast as I could and just ran to run. I ended up feeling really good and ran my first few miles faster than I had expected. Once I set a pace, it's usually hard for me to break it, so when I was settled in just under a 6:30-per-mile pace by mile 4, I decided to take up my colleague's challenge!

I normally listen to my iPod on race day, but accidentally forgot it, so I ran intuitively—listening to my body, feet and breathing the whole time. I feel like it really helped me keep my pace, since I wasn't changing strides to match song beats, and while it was a little lonely and quiet in spots, I really enjoyed my time without it. In fact, I ended up creating a little chant, as I do every race, and repeated it over and over. Every four steps it was, "I feel go-od! I feel go-od! I FEEL GOOOO-OOOOOD!" Of course I was pretty much yelling it to myself by the end because I was so very tired and my foot was killing me due to an insanely huge blood blister, but I kept up my little mantra and pushed through!

In the end, I came across the line, smiling from ear to ear, at 1:26:09—a new PR by exactly 7-minutes! I ran straight into my husbands arms and couldn't have been happier! My splits averaged 6:35/mile, over 30-seconds faster per mile than my splits from my last race. My fastest mile was a 6:10 (mile 13) and my slowest was a 7:01 (mile 10—which was also my slowest mile in my last half!). However, I'm not sure about miles 2-3 and 9-10 because I missed timing my splits due to not seeing the mile markers, which were drawn on the ground in sand—so if you didn't look carefully you could easily run past them. Bummer!

I ended up finishing 15th overall (of 1,236), 3rd overall female (of 778), and 2nd in my age group (25-29, though wasn't awarded this due to being an "overall" finisher). This was my first long-distance race where I've been an overall winner (I've won 5K awards before) so it was thrilling to go up and accept my plaque and—get this—a BAG OF POTATOES! It was a fitting trophy, after all, it was the Famous Idaho POTATO Half Marathon.

My mom also did very well! She won her age group and finished in 1:53:01. It was so awesome to finish my run and then jog back to find her so we could finish together. I'm so proud of her... she's my rockstar mom & total running inspiration!

See a couple of fun photos from our post-race celebration below!

Famous Idaho Potato Half Marathon, Famous Idaho Potato Marathon, Idaho Running
Crossing the line at 1:26:09, a new PR!
Famous Idaho Potato Half Marathon Famous Idaho Potato Marathon, Idaho Running
So excited about how the race went! This is apparently my post-race signature photo.
Famous Idaho Potato Half Marathon, Matching Race Outfits, Famous Idaho Potato Marathon, Idaho Running
Immediately after my mom came across—we were so happy to be finished!
Famous Idaho Potato Half Marathon, Famous Idaho Potato Marathon, Idaho Running
Joining the other two winners on the podium! 1st place ran 1:22:35 (6:19/mile splits) and 2nd finished in 1:25:12 (6:31/mile splits)—I totally cheered the 2nd place girl on as she passed me at mile 11. She was rockin' her pace! Aren't the potatoes hilarious?
Famous Idaho Potato Half Marathon, Matching Race Outfits, Famous Idaho Potato Marathon, Idaho Running
We love running together in our matching outfits! Mom & Daughter races rule!

Through the whole race, all that kept me going was a constant countdown for "how long until I got to see my sweetie." Every mile marker and every time I looked down at my watch (especially toward the end), I was just ticking the seconds away until he got to see me finish. It made a huge difference and really pushed me toward a strong kick at the end!

After my last half marathon, I knew I wanted to amp up my training and really push myself, saying, "I think with a dedicated training plan I could significantly improve this time [of 1:33:09]! We'll see what the future holds for half marathon races." I think it's safe to say that the training plan made all the difference! To finish in 1:26;09, take off 7-minutes and over 30-seconds a mile in just two months sounds too good to be true. I'm continuing to train (following this running & strength plan), and can't wait to see what happens with my time in the next few races I have this year, which I'll also be running with my mom! I don't have any big goals in mind—just to stay healthy and injury free!

Can't wait to show you where these feet take me to next.

Follow my fitness journey here: Instagram @auniesauce │ Fitness Instagram @auniefit │ Garmin Connect