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  • Writer's pictureMyranda

Coast Guard Semper Paratus Challenge 2023 Race Weekend

This was a crazy weekend so let's just dive into it! Thursday didn't go quite as I had planned. I wanted to have everything packed and in the truck so that I could sleep in a little on Friday, have breakfast, and not feel rushed. I spent a lot of time doing laundry on Thursday and trying to finalize my packing list. I don't know why it took me so long to make my list this year but I will not make that same mistake for next year (I'll get there at the end). I ended up only getting my race outfits figured out and staged and ready to pack. I did some yoga and then tried to get some sleep.

7am on Friday morning, my alarm went off and I was hating life! I wish I had been able to sleep a little more but I started packing immediately. Now my husband has been going through some crap at work (that is definitely a story I will tell when the time is right) and I wanted to leave at 10am but he didn't wake up until 10am and we left after 10:30am.

The weather was trash most of the day. Lots of rain and I was not feeling hopeful that it was going to stop for the 5K. I had been telling my husband for days that the plan would be to drive to the expo, pick up my stuff, and then head to the start line for my bib. The cut off time to pick up the 5K bibs was 1pm on Friday but I was told I could get my race shirt when I picked up my half marathon stuff. I had hoped to get there around 2pm so I could take a look around the expo this year. They had a rescue basket and a flags for a photo op and I wanted to take a picture of my daughter in the basket. I wanted someone to take a family photo in the area.

His friend asked us when we were planning to be at his house and my husband said sometime after 3pm. The 5K started at 4pm so I said I guess you'll just drop me off at the start line and come back to get me. I thought he acknowledged me but later found out he didn't. We made a quick bathroom break and I said something along the lines of, "It looks like it will clear up and not rain for the race today." He practically lost his mind like he had no idea that I was running the 5K. I told him that I had told him numerous times since I signed up in AUGUST that I was doing the challenge of the 5K and the Half. I told him he could drop me off at the start line after the expo, take the dog and our daughter to our friend's house and then come get me when the race is over.

Homie tried to drop me off at the expo and have me walk to the start line. That's a 2 mile walk! I looked at him like dude...I'm not walking 2 miles and then running 3.1 miles and then running a half marathon the next morning! He dropped me off and then it finally stopped raining for good! It was a little chilly and cloudy but it was good running weather!

My friend Rachel ran with me and even though we had to walk a few short times so I could take off my sweatshirt and transfer my bib to my t-shirt (because I was crazy and pinned it to my sweat shirt), I am very proud of my time! Oh and we also got a fly over before the race (turn the sound down because there was a tiny human next to us who was probably cold and mad that he was in the stroller and kept screaming).

My legs felt great post race. I was a little nervous how my legs would feel in the morning because I have never ran the day before a half...look at me saying "never" like this isn't my 3rd half EVER! Let's rephrase that. I have not done a run of any kind the day before a half. There are plenty of Vacation Races that I want to do the doubles and get 3 awesome medals so I used this to see how my running has changed. Eventually I want to do the Grand Quad which is the 5K and Half at Tetons and then the 5K and Half at Yellowstone on back to back weekends and you get 1 medal for each race (4 medals), 1 medal for the 5K and half at each location (so 2 more medals), 1 medal for both half (1 more medal) and then a final medal for completing all 4 races (that's 8 medals!). Given how I felt just a few days post race this year, I think I could be ready in the next year or so! Maybe I'll make that a goal for 2025...

My husband and his friend picked me up. I thought we were immediately going to get food but we didn't. They dropped me off and then went to pick up our food. I was getting a little irritated only because I had like 6 mini donuts and a banana all day...remember the day didn't go as planned! The way I had timed things out would have given us some give to stop for food, even if it was eating on the road, but it's whatever!

I was struggling to stay awake come 9pm. I think we crashed around 10:30pm but I didn't sleep well. I say "we" crashed but really Freya had me awake until 1am and my alarm went off at 5:30am to get ready. My saving grace was Rachel picked me up and got a little late start so I had a little extra time to get ready. We made it to the start line a little before 7am and thought we would get in line to use the bathroom and the line was so long we looked at each other and agreed that we would miss the start if we waited. The race announcer said we could start lining up and the line emptied out and we were able to go! We both managed to get in and out when the National Anthem started!

Super short video but look how gorgeous the day was! It was the warm side of 60 degrees when we started so I didn't have to worry about a throw away shirt! The race started promptly at 7:30am and Rachel and I stayed together for the first mile and then we separated. She kept going and I needed a walk break. I've trained to run 0.9 miles and walk 0.1 miles so that way I can fuel myself at miles 3, 6, 9, and 12. I did not document anything on this course. Here's the thing. I ran with a handheld water bottle that was strapped to my hand and my running belt that holds two 7oz water bottles. I didn't have my Camel Pak this year so grabbing my phone to take pictures was not the easiest thing to do so I didn't do it. I carried my 4 gels in the pocket of my handheld water bottle sleeve but I only ended up consuming two of them. The first was about 1 hour in and I was approaching mile 4 where I could toss the trash. The next one was about mile 9. I was on base for miles 6-8 and there was only 1 aid station around mile 7 and it was too close to the runway that I didn't want to risk the trash getting onto the runway.

BTW...super cool to run on the runway! The downside is that we were dealing with 30+ mph winds so I had to hold my hat. The plus side is that on the runway it was a tail wind. I rounded the corner at 7.5 miles and started to head out towards the gate and was like 14 minutes ahead of schedule. I'm not sure how that happened but I remember looking like 4 times at my index card thinking there was no way. I was on time for mile 6 and 7 so how did I gain so much time? I would share a picture of that note card but it looks like I tossed it...oops! Anyway, that lead time was quickly taken away because that 30+ mph wind was now a headwind and I just could not hold on to that lead. I actually got nervous that I was going to lose my walk time. I forgot to mention but what I started doing around mile 2 was running to the mile and then however much time I had left for that mile I would walk...meaning I finished mile 2 at 26 minutes and my goal was to finish before 28 minutes so I walked about 2 minutes. Depending on how fast I walked, I was getting about 0.15 - 0.2 miles of walking before I would run again and I was consistently finishing with about 1.5-2 minutes each mile. Oh and that notecard had the times for each mile as to keep me running no slower than a 14 minute mile.

Around mile 11 I hit a wall. Not literally. It was the mile that just dragged on! I would have bet money that I had been running for almost a mile and looked at my watch and was at 11.32 miles. I was trying not to cry so I could maintain my breathing! I did pretty good until about 12.5 miles in. My husband and daughter crossed the course! She said, "Yeah Mommy! You're doing great!" and I said, "Thank you baby! I'm almost done! I'll see you at the finish." After I passed them I almost lost it but quickly rained it back in telling myself You only have a half mile left! You got this! You can do hard things! I kept going!

I saw them just before the finish line and she was cheering for me and I called out for her that I did it! The race announcer called me Mom/Momma/Mommy and then called my name. I almost ugly cried as I got my medal and was handed my challenge coin. Almost. All of a sudden I had a camera in my face and being told to make sure she could see my number. I had 2 goals for this race. To maintain a 13:30 minute mile pace and to beat last year's time. Ultimately beating last year's time was the biggest goal which I did. I beat my time by 3 minutes and 51 seconds!

2022 official chip time: 3h 7m 18s (avg pace 14:18)

2023 official chip time: 3h 3m 27s (avg pace 13:51)

Okay so here are some pictures!

Here are the medals and the challenge coin!

The boat on the 5K medal is stationary but it moves on the Half and Full medals! The back of the medals have the distance and location (Elizabeth City, NC) and the website. The challenge coin has 5K and 13.1 (because the 5K and 26.2 is gold instead of silver...and yes...mine is silver it's just the lighting and the yellow on it that makes it look gold but you can see the 13.1 on the top right of the paddle).

Let's check out the totals for this round of race training. These are just running miles and time. The totals do not include walking miles or time for cross training. The totals DO include the 5K race and the Half!


TOTAL TIME: 37h 44m 59s WHAT DID I LEARN THIS TRAINING ROUND: I hit a wall about at some point between weeks 8 to 10 in all three of my trainings. One of the big reasons for this, I think, is because I'm kind of a casual runner. By that I mean that I could run anywhere from maybe 1.5-5 miles depending on how many Peloton classes I took but this wasn't a regular thing. I wasn't running every week so when my body goes from maybe 5-10 miles a month to 10 miles in a week, my body goes into shock.

I'm definitely doing the challenge again next year. I will plan better for my food intake on the day of the 5K if we are driving down on Friday. Outside of that, I think I did really well for the race day prep. I had enough food and drink post race. Next year I need to rethink my breakfast option because the bagel and cream cheese was too much and I need a bigger ice pack for my cooler or have that be the only thing my husband brings with him. I am actually considering getting hotel room and seeing if my cousin wants to go with me and then if my husband can't take Friday off, I can take my daughter with me and my cousin can watch her while I run. If that is the case, I may end up driving down Thursday afternoon and then hanging out Friday and Saturday and driving home Sunday so I don't have to sit in the car for 4 hours the day I ran 13 miles!

WHAT'S THE PLAN FOR THE FUTURE: I am signed up for the Air Force 10K and will sign up for the Space Force T-Minus 10 Miler (registration opens on my birthday). I can't remember if I mentioned that I signed up for the Sea, Air, and Space Challenge or not but upon completion of the Air Force run and the Space Force run, I will get a separate medal for completing any distance of the Coast Guard Marathon races and the Air Force Marathon races and the Space Force race. This can be done in person or virtually so while I would love to run on location for the Air Force race in Ohio and the Space Force race in Florida, I don't have to! Here's the thing though. I am not going to train for another race this year. Like I said a couple paragraphs above, I was a casual, not consistent, runner prior to all my race trainings. I want to work on that this year. In addition to wanting to lose weight (kinda spent a good portion of the last 2 years training for races and being in maintenance mode), I want to work on that consistency. I want to run 2-4 times a week (or more depending on when my treadmill get's fixed). I want to do Saturday morning runs outside once the weather is warmer in the morning. I want to get consistent with strength training and stretching and I am loving the mobility classes I've been taking. I feel like becoming more consistent between now and December, I'll enter into training in a better place than I was this time around.

I am planning to join the Run To The Finish Online Running Group in the coming months so I can ask questions and learn when and how to start adding in long runs to start building up my mileage before training starts in December. I feel like this will help me a lot with injury prevention and hitting that training wall. I'm also interested in getting "80/20 Running" by Matt Fitzgerald to work on lowering my heart rate but we'll see. I'm just ready to get back into running!

I don't quite know what I'll be adding to this part of the website when I'm between trainings but I'm also excited to see where this goes!


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