Sweet ’16

What a year. 

I remember writing a recap for 2014 thinking there’s absolutely no way it could get any better. And while ’14 was unforgettable in its own special way, two thousand sixteen was pretty darn amazing.

Last year, 2015, was pretty difficult for me in terms of running. I don’t even think I wrote a recap for it, lol! I had my first DNF in Phoenix and trained hard for Chicago but had an abysmal race. I ended the year injured and frustrated.

But I was determined to make 2016 a good year and even though I started it still recovering from my stress fractures (and missing what would’ve been my first race of the year), I was ready to go at the end of January.

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Me in the middle holding a sign at RnR AZ–Had a blast cheering and spectating 🙂

He let me wear his medal <3

He let me wear his medal ❤

After cheering on my friends and husband at RnR Arizona, I slowly got back into the game and preparing myself for Phoenix Half–(I had dropped from the full).

My first race was FroYo 10k in February and I shocked the heck out of myself with a new PR–the first of many in the year ❤

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49:30

A week later, I ran the Nick’s Run Double Challenge–a 10k followed by a 5k. I ran the 10k with my friend Nadia and then raced the 5k finishing with an at the time, new PR!!

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23:55

And a week after that, I ran Phoenix Half Marathon and finished with a new PR there too!!! I swear, if February had had another weekend, I would’ve signed up for a marathon LOL #forreals

Ringing the PR bell :D

1:48:04

I took a much needed break and picked up swimming and biking again because it was this year in March that I completed my first ever triathlon!!! I seriously can’t believe that I did one–did I mention I was THE last one out of the pool?? Lol!!

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After Tri 4 The Cure, I rested for a long while taking it easy in April and then concentrating on trail running as we prepared for the Grand Canyon Rim 2 Rim 2 Rim which was in late May.

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June marked the beginning of pre-season marathon training and I did not race at all starting here until New York City in November. I ran ALL the miles though…

101 miles, 176, miles, 152 miles

101 miles, 176, miles, 152 miles

198 miles, 184 miles

198 miles, 184 miles

And then you guys know what happened in November 😀

3:58:40

3:58:40 ❤

I ran my hometown’s last Thanksgiving Turkey Trot 5k later that month and finished first female overall and with a new 5k PR!

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22:30

Finally, December was absolutely amazing as I was able to finish off the year with a new, incredible half marathon PR.

1:42:45

1:42:45

 

Just an absolutely insane year of running for me. It excites me to see what hard work brings and it really motivates me going in to the new year. I have a few goal ideas that I’ll share later, but right now I’m spending the last few days of twenty sixteen relishing the year’s accomplishments 🙂

–How was your running year? 

–After you reach a goal, do you automatically go to work on the next goal or relish in your glory for a while like I do? LOL

–This is likely my last post for 2016 and I just want to thank you all again for your support!! I hope you join me in my 2017 adventures ❤ HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

 

 

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Heroes in Recovery 6k–Last Race of 2016 and a Special One

Sunday marked the last race of what has been an incredible running year for me. It’s fitting that I ended with a race that meant something to me and that was for a special cause.

Heroes in Recovery has a simple mission: to eliminate the social stigma that keeps individuals with addiction and mental health issues from seeking help, to share stories of recovery for the purpose of encouragement and inspiration, and to create an engaged sober community that empowers people to get involved, give back, and live healthy, active lives. It takes a heroic effort to live clean and sober each day, and a Heroes 6K* celebrates that effort. The sixth kilometer separates a Heroes race from a typical 5K to symbolize the extra effort it takes to sustain recovery. The six kilometers also represent the six letters in the word HEROES.

If you’ve been a reader for a while, than you know that my brother is a big inspiration to me. I’ve shared his story before, and I’m so proud to say that he continues his life of sobriety to this day. And still runs!

What I haven’t shared, and I’m not completely ready to share a lot, is that my dad also battled with drug and alcohol abuse his and my entire life. What I do want to share is that the beginning of December marked SIX MONTHS of sobriety for him.

I’m so incredibly happy you guys. For so long, I wished and prayed for this for my family. I know the battle will be tough for my dad, that he’ll go through rough patches, but I’m comforted knowing he’s in the best position he’s ever been to be successful this time.

*****************

The race didn’t start til 9 a.m. which was nice because whoa was it cold. I had a ton of friends who were also running and we all huddled together for body warmth. And took pictures of course 🙂

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It was a smallish race so I knew if I had a good day I could maybe snag an age group award. There was prize money for the overall winners and 2nd, 3rd, and 4th male and female, but I knew I had no chance for that.

My friend Ashely–who I ran with for a bit at the Scottsdale Half–and I settled in near the start to avoid the crowds. I wanted to be around the 7:30 mark for the first mile and then go from there.

Yeah, no. Mile one was 7:22. Close, but because I wanted to negative split it meant having to go faster than that and that was a little scary.

The course went through the Riparian Preserve and it was really pretty and scenic.

There were two out and back sections that went through the canal but the whole course was flat and fast.

So fast, that my second mile was 7:08.

It was then that an old familiar sensation crept in. PANIC. I felt myself start to freak out at having done that mile so fast. It was just like old times where I started yelling to myself, “Helly, you’ve blown it!! There’s no way you’ll be able to keep this up! You have more than a mile left! Are you crazy?? You’re for sure going to bonk now!!” I felt myself slow a little as I battled the thoughts in my brain. I felt fine, like I wasn’t going to be bonking anytime soon, but the thought that I was so close to a 6 scared the shit out of me.

Mile 3, 7:18. I was bummed I didn’t get the negative split I wanted but I knew it was because I had lost the mental battle.

I told myself to hurry up and finish as I had counted myself 9th female and my chances of age group placing were good. I ran the last .77 at a 7:12 pace–

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A top ten finish and second age group win made the race a success, but like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, the real winners are my brother and dad, who every day in their recovery show me that we can do hard things ❤

love you brother, love you dad

love you brother, love you dad

–Who are your running inspirations?

–How do you overcome mental battles while you run?

 

Scottsdale Half Marathon Race Recap (PR!!)

I gave it away in the post title–I GOT A PR!!! 1:42:45!!!

I went into this race hoping for a 1:45 (or under), my previous PR being 1:48:04. I know it’s cliche, but I really did not expect to have such a big improvement.

Leading up to this half, I had “prepared” by doing a few fast runs but I hadn’t done anything longer than 6 miles since NYC Marathon.

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My lone six miler averaging 8:00 minutes was from my 10k PR in February, lol!

On Friday, I had a few friends over for an early birthday celebration (it’s this Friday!) and I thought they were seriously trying to sabotage my PR hopes by bringing me so many yummy goodies…

Brownies are my faaaave!!

Brownies are my faaaave!!

Saturday was a busy day of breakfast with Santa in the morning and a kid’s birthday party in the afternoon.

<3

Sunday race morning, I met up with my run club around 6:15 at the tent they set up–we were registered as a team (more on that later). One of my friends was also going for 1:45 and we chatted for a bit.

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My team 🙂

Ashley and me

Ashley and me

I was there pretty early because I was taking advantage of race day packet pick-up. I love races that allow for that. Sometimes the packet-pick up places are inconvenient and picking up race day, for me, is definitely easier, especially if I can just drop off stuff in my car.

This race was a steal at $45 (early registration). Gender specific tee and beanie ftw!

This race was a steal at $45 (early registration). Gender specific tee and beanie ftw!

The Scottsdale Half Marathon & 5k is always in December and December here is absolutely beautiful, especially that day. Last year it was freezing (for us) and this year, we couldn’t have asked for more perfect weather. I’ll take a 50 degree morning any day and my shorts and short sleeve outfit was perfect.

The course is relatively flat with a few park hills near the end. It’s an easy course in that there’s not many twists and turns. You’re pretty much going north, south, east, or west for long stretches of time. It’s a race known for its PR potential, so it attracts a lot of fast runners. The winner of the half finished in 72 minutes.

There was a nice group of us who started together including a buddy of mine, Dallas, who I’d done a lot of my NYC Marathon training with. He’s a super fast runner but is currently marathon training himself so he wasn’t racing this particular race. My friend Ashley and I convinced him to be our pacer and he was more than happy to.

Miles 1-6

Our pace was right on as you can see:

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I felt great and my breathing was good. My friends know I’m not a chatterbox when I run so my silence wasn’t because I was struggling, I was just in the zone.

Feeling comfortable with the pace just below 8 minutes was awesome (mile 5 did irk me though, lol) and I hoped we could continue like that the rest of the way. My plan was to go to mile 10 at that pace and then push it for the final 5k.

Mile 7

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I took my lone Gu at this mile and we took a turn that would lead us to a super long straight stretch going south. It was here that I asked myself how I was feeling and if I could go faster. I knew that my plan was to wait until mile 10, but I also knew that this race wasn’t a “I will cry if I don’t PR” race and that I had nothing to lose by pushing myself a little harder than I was used to.

My husband always tells me that I’m faster than I think, and I thought about his words then and how much I wanted to show him that I could push hard.

So I went for it.

Miles 8-12

I didn’t say a word to Ashley, and Dallas could see I was increasing my pace so he followed suit staying ahead of me a bit to guide the way.

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Dallas was amazing, grabbing water for me at the stations and having it at hand so I wouldn’t lose my step. He always stayed just a bit in front so I was always at a distance of trying to “catch him” –which is how I prefer people to pace me.

I was passing so many people and that really helped me feel strong and confident. At this point, I had plugged myself in and allowed myself to enter the pain cave. I knew that I was almost done and that anything I felt would just be temporary.

It’s also in these miles that there were little, but still awful, steep hills and I just repeated, “Short, quick steps, Helly. Short, quick steps.”

There were runners that looked fit and strong and I couldn’t believe that I was passing them. I used to psych myself out when I would see runners who looked a certain way and tell myself I couldn’t hang with them.

Not this time.

Mile 13

We turned the corner for the last mile and I whispered to Dallas, “I want to die in this mile.”

“We’re almost done. You got this!” he said.

“No, I want to die. I want to go fast until I die!”

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Dallas and me

Dallas and me

I did really want to go as fast as I could. I wanted to see how fast I could run at that point and finish leaving nothing on the pavement. I tried my hardest to pick up my pace and when we reached a corner I saw the best thing I could’ve ever seen: my husband.

He had a huge smile because he knew I was on my way to killing my PR. He yelled words of encouragement and because he and the friend he was with knew I was approaching the last turn and finish line, yelled, “Turn and burn!!”

So I dug deep and ran….fast.

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final minute

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I wanted so badly to stay in the 1:42s that I gave zero fucks and ran like my life depended on it.

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nailed it!

And I finished absolutely elated!!! Absolutely, incredibly proud that I had decided to push myself, to allow myself to see what I could do if I just went for it.

The second medal is b/c I came in third for my group and as a team, we placed second :D

The second medal is b/c I came in third for my group and as a team, we placed second 😀

My husband, in previous half marathons, had gone from 1:48 to 1:42 in his half marathon time and I had told him earlier in the week how cool it would be if I could match his progression. I NEVER thought it would could actually happen. (Of course then he went from 1:42 to 1:36 and then on Sunday’s race finished 2nd in his Age Group with a 1:32–so now there’s no way I can continue this trend, lol!!!)

Me and my winner <3

Me and my winner ❤

It was such an amazing day. Honestly, I never, never thought I could run the way I’m running. That is the honest truth. I don’t really know how to explain beyond what I wrote here, what has happened or why I’m all of a sudden running paces I’ve never seen. Clearly, something in me has changed. I’m still processing it and figuring out what it means, but I’m definitely hoping that this newfound confidence doesn’t go away. I hope that I always give myself a shot, that I believe in myself enough to try hard things and that even if I “fail,” I continue to learn from each experience.

As always, thank you all so much for your encouragement. I love having this little space to document my growth and share it with you ❤

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