Sarajevo Half Marathon

Sarajevo Sberbank Half Marathon

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Race Recap

I have been MIA on TaraRunsTheWorld for the last month. I have told people that inquired I am tired, or bored, or various other excuses because explaining the real reasons seem a bit too long-winded. Here is the space to explain the real reasons. The real reason for a blogging cut back? Time is a limited resource and I found it consuming far too much of it to take photos, write about it, and share it around. I also found it made me focus too much on myself, which in balance is important, but I didn’t like the way it was making me feel when I have many other people, hobbies, and outlets to put my limited energy. Last but not least, it made me like running less. I haven’t felt like that. Ever. I found documenting all my thoughts about running sucked some of the joy out of it for me. I can’t have that.

With all that in mind, I figured I could do it more sparingly and still find the good—so many people wrote me to say they had started running after reading some of my posts. That makes me super stoked. The reflection process has also been a positive side-effect to my running.

Sooo, I’m baaack.

You know, a little bit.

 

My son practicing his picture-taking skills before the race.

I have done a few races since I last blogged, the Sarajevo Half Marathon being one that I had had on the docket for quite some time. I did this one last year, meaning I knew to expect a few hills and higher temps due to a later start than one would consider normal for a half marathon.

It was exciting to see so many people from our little expat community with laced-up running kicks. There were quite a few parents and a couple of other teachers running the half marathon. There were also lots of students running the 4 km with their parents– my son, daughter, and husband included. For me, it is a fairly rare occurrence to be among like-minded runner types. It was nice to not have to explain what I was doing getting ready to run 21 km. They knew.

I have put some work into getting some personal records in the recent past, so for this race, I just ran for enjoyment. I did put effort into it, but I had no plans of anything beyond running and having fun at the event. Which I did.

Europe has some seriously good runners. Many were at this race. I watched them in awe fly by me in their sponsored racing kits. Speaking of awesome runners, this was the day in history that Eliud Kipchoge broke the marathon’s world record at the Berlin Marathon at 2:01:39. Sort of made my half marathon time of 1:47 minutes feel pretty wimpy, but I know, I know, we only compete against ourselves. Even Kipchoge? 

Feeling strong at the finish.

There were thousands downtown Sarajevo–both to cheer on the runners and those that were participating in either the 4 km, the relay half marathon, or the half marathon. They closed down the streets, most of the town came out to watch and support the runners, and it was a really well-organized race going through the most beautiful parts of Sarajevo.

 

Lady H in her chariot while Little G and Mr. G rock the 4 km.

After, we laid around the park and drank our complimentary electrolyte beverages for a while until the kids got restless.

No race is complete without a beer…I mean, medal.

Then we moved on to the after party barbecue downtown at Kutcha . If you haven’t already, check it out. It has an artsy vibe, fantastic burgers, craft beer, green space to kick back, and good music. Lady H celebrated with her signature dance moves.

Dance it out, little one.

Happy running and stay rad, my friends!

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Fit for Life Half Marathon

Race Report: Fit for Life Half Marathon

Boise, Idaho

The day before the race, I fatted out big time. I usually go for a hike or something on my rest days, but considering I had just done a half marathon on Wednesday and had another on Saturday, I figured my body could use a lazy day.

My son and husband went to the garage on a secret mission–to make me a sign for the race the following day. I was reading my book when my son came in, all smiles and told me had a surprise that he couldn’t wait to show me–I had to come see it right then.

Check out my super sweet poster. He worked really hard on it. I am keeping this forever.

On the morning of race day, I woke up before the alarm so I had plenty of time to drink my coffee and read. It was nice to not feel rushed; relax a bit before the race. Lady H and B both woke up on their own, which means they were in pretty good spirits.

I had managed to go grocery shopping the day before, buying the much needed pre-race banana this time ’round. I try not to make the same mistake twice…too many times in a row, anyway. I suited up, compression socks and all. Grabbed a couple gels. My headphones. I was good to go.

The race started at 7:30 a.m. at the Hawks Memorial Stadium in Garden City, Idaho. The day was expected to be pretty hot, so I was bracing myself for that. It was a good atmosphere, as it always is at this baseball themed Fit for Life race. This is the third time I have done it. Each time has been a great, well-organized event. People are friendly and encouraging for the most part. You get the occasional hot-shot that thinks it makes them faster to be a rude hoser. Otherwise, it was great.

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When the race started, I was got a little worried because the first few kilometers felt rough. I was going at a 4:30 per kilometer pace. It felt harder than it should have. This happens to me sometimes and I am yet to really figure out why. There seems to not be much rhyme or reason to it. Within a few kilometers though, I found my stride and felt fine. I ran hard. I was the third/fourth woman for a lot of it, leapfrogging with one other woman.

At the 10.5 km turn around point, I spotted these guys cheering me on.

That was some good motivation. I am always so proud to see my crew. I sort of look at the other runners, like “Yeah, they are mine.”

Mr. G even ran a few seconds with me to give me a boost. It was pretty sweet.

After the turn around point, I finally succeeded in over-taking the woman I was leapfrogging with, but two other women passed me, putting me in 5th, where I remained the rest of the race. I am truly only racing against myself, so that didn’t phase me. I just kept an eye on my pace. I thought maybe I could PR on this one, but during the last 7 kilometers, I knew I wasn’t going to. My muscles still hadn’t recovered from the half marathon I had done two days ago. I did end up getting nearly the exact same time as Wednesday’s race…improved by 6 seconds, putting the Fit for Life race as my second best time.

Just as the elongated shadows started to shorten, I found these guys waiting for me before the final shoot onto home plate.

My heart.

Race Challenges:

-It was warm today, but it ended up not being quite as toasty as I expected. If I had been out there for even 10 more minutes, I think it would have wore on me. I made it just in time to take shelter by the beer tent.

-In the last kilometer, I developed a side ache, which I just ran through.

-I could have used a bit more water. I survived.

-My calf cramped slightly. Meh. I’m okay.

-I got tired. 

After the finish, I stood around chatting with a couple of the women that finished before me–super nice people. One woman had also been at the Firecracker Frolic two days ago. The other woman that finished a few seconds in front of me seemed semi-famous among the Boise runners. Everyone knew her. Pretty cool to see so many tough women finishing strong. Everyone was really positive and supportive–the running community tends to be. Runners be cool.

I finished in 1 hour, 44 minutes, 44 seconds.

I had two of those beers. They were hella good. Hop Valley brewhaha.
Watching runners come in on the baseball field with my beer and medal.
I received the second medal for 2nd place female in my category (5th place overall woman).

One cool and unusual thing I saw today was a lot of younger people out there racing. A 10-year-old even did the half! The second overall male was a teenager, as was the 3rd, 4th, and possibly even 5th place. It makes my heart happy to see kids getting involved in running. Maybe it is the teacher/parent in me, but I clapped extra loud for those kids. It also has me scheming to get B into a 10 k race soon.

Where did you race this weekend?! Tell me about it in the comments.

Happy running and stay rad!

Weekly Running Log Rundown

Hey, hey! I hope you are having a lovely summer weekend!

Here is my running log rundown for the week. Sunshine with a chance of sunshine this week.

Sunday: The in-laws were in town, I so tried to get out earlier than most of my summer runs have been. I don’t want to make them wait to long for me.

I am getting ready for a double half marathon this week and consequently wanted to go at a chiller pace and not go above 10 km. I call it micro-taper.

Some new socks I am trying out. What do you think?

Monday: I didn’t feel too well today. Headache and stomachache for the last day. Running seemed to help me feel better somewhat though. Doing a slight taper for that  half marathon coming up.

Tuesday: Rest day before tomorrow’s half marathon, so I went on a short 3.5 km hike with the family.

Wednesday: Race day! Firecracker Frolic half marathon. 1 hour, 44 minutes. Pretty happy with my time. It wasn’t exactly flat. A few hills that made it hard to try for a PR. Nice, small event. 2nd female, 3rd overall.

Thursday: Recovery run day. My legs felt fine after the race, but I could tell I needed to take it a bit easy. Nice to get out on the trails. Hill work was a good change of pace!

Friday: Rest day before tomorrow’s half marathon. Did a lot of fattin’ out.

My son made me an amazing poster for my race tomorrow.

Saturday: Race day!

This was the first race I ever did six years ago and the third time I have done this half. It is an excellent race course–flat, pretty, well-attended. Pretty stoked to get 2nd place in my category–fifth female overall. Cheers!

4th of July Firecracker Frolic Half Marathon

Race Report: Firecracker Frolic Half Marathon

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Post-Race Festivities

Melba, Idaho

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Melba. Population 550. Old West…with TACOS and American Flags.

I was stoked when I saw this race come around on my Facebook suggested events. It was set up pretty last minute–about a month before race day on July 4th. I think because of that, it had very few people sign up. I suspected it would be a small event because about two weeks before the race, the participants received an email saying they moved the location from downtown Boise, to the tiny town of Melba (I had to look up where Melba was), combining with the Olde Tyme fun runs that they have done for years on the 4th. I didn’t realize just how few racers had signed up until about half an hour before the race started and I asked a fellow runner picking up his race packet. He said the race director told him about 20. Turns out it was 22, to be exact.

Melba is about an hour drive from Boise, so I rallied my kids at 4:30 am by scooping them out of bed, still in their jams, my husband putting them in their car seats. They always view these early morning wake ups as adventures, so they were pretty excited. Fingers crossed that attitude doesn’t change in the foreseeable future. They also knew there was going to be a fun 4th of July parade after the race, so they were willing to comply.

We got there at 5:30 for the race packet pick up. It was at the Tower Theater, a tiny little old theater on a quintessential small town main street. Melba looks like a town out of an Old West-style movie. It even had people riding horses and tumbleweeds to make it legit Old West–not staged, I kid you not.

As I processed the size of the race, I was also grateful for the cooler morning. It isn’t usually lower degrees on the Forth of July, but because of the early start, Melba delivered perfect running temperatures. At the 6 am start time, we had a simple countdown from three to start us off. 

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I started off in second place, following a pretty fast guy in the lead. I held second for most of it, with a lady that trailed right behind me a majority of the time.

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Stars and Stripes

I was still feeling pretty strong and holding second place. I was starting to feel it at 18 kilometers, and the lady that was behind me overtook me. She was super sweet, offering me encouragement and telling me to stay with her.

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I couldn’t complain about the view. The race offered wide-open sights of the sunrise over the mountains. It was truly gorgeous.

I had failed to eat anything before the race and only had two gels with me, which is what I usually carry with me for a half, but without having my banana breakfast, I felt the loss in calories. The race did have a roaming aid station, which worked pretty well. She drove her van to three different locations, providing water, Gatorade, and oranges. She drove to the person in the lead and waited until the last runner had passed through her aid station before moving on. I know they were short on volunteers because of the later festivities in the town, so this was pretty clever.

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At the finish. I was tired, but had regained most of my strength by the end.

After the last aid station, where I grabbed some Gatorade, I felt much better, regaining a lot of my strength. I finished right behind the lady that had passed me. I also finished third overall and second female (you know, out of 22). My only complaint about the race was that the results were all screwed up. They also said they would hand deliver our medals to our houses, and I have not heard word on that yet. I guess things like that are to be expected in a race that was new this year and wasn’t maybe as planned out as it could be in the future. They did a good job with getting us our packets, the course, pictures, the roaming aid station, and of course, I dug the location because of the parade that was to follow. I would do this race again…if I get my medal, that is.

Evaluating the calorie situation, I should have had my 100 calorie banana in the morning (but, duh, I know) and I should have had my second gel one kilometer earlier, before I felt tired. It was hard to get back my speed after that.

At the end of the day, I only race against myself, and thinking about it from that angle, I did get my second best half marathon time. I was happy with that.

Finishing time:

1 hour, 44 minutes

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Red, white, and blue festivities

With the combination of the Olde Tyme fun run, it felt pretty festive afterward. Lots of families out and about with some good after race food. We set up our blankets and sat for a bit, snacking on some of the foods. It was still pretty chilly though, so we grabbed our change of clothes and found the nearest diner with hot coffee and American-style breakfast.

Check out that cool Idaho rock statue.

We killed time until 10:30, which was the start of the parade. It was the first parade our kids had seen, as that is not a thing that happens overseas…at least not the places we have lived abroad.

Lady H loving the painting of the tiny horse.
Cups for storing their candy loot.
So. Many. Tractors.
‘Merica, baby.
I loved all the old cars.
This was my favorite thing allll day.

We stayed and watched the parade until past noon. Sun-soaked and post candy saturated crash, the kids both passed out on the car ride back.

While Lady H napped at home, B and I made chocolate chip cookies with coconut oil. Running makes me hungry and we have to fit as much Americana as possible into the 4th of July. It is the only holiday we get to celebrate in the United States.
Nana and Grandpa Mike came by for some mild fireworks in the front yard.
Lady H was noooot having it.
The Mr. G hustle.
Smoke magic.
Some were too loud for B too.

The day flowed from race, to parade, to cookies, to fireworks well. We were all so tired at the end of the day though, everyone went to bed two hours earlier than usual. It was awesome.

Happy 4th. Happy running. Stay rad, my friends.

Upcoming Races

I always like to have a line-up of races on the docket to look forward to. Spring to fall are prime race seasons, so there are a lot to choose from–it was hard to decide!

Idaho, USA 🇺🇸

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Hiking in the mountains of Idaho

Update: I accidentally signed up for two more races in Boise.

July 4th, Firecracker Frolic Half Marathon. It’s the first edition of this race and I wanted to get in on it.

August 4th, 10k Run for Your Life. I have been looking for a 10k race, as I want to try something different–it isn’t my usual race distance.

 

 

  1. July, Fit for Life Half Marathon (Idaho, USA)

This was the first race I ever did back in 2012. It was a few months after having my son and I remember being so nervous to do it; really unsure if I was capable of running a half.FitForLife.jpg

It is at a perfect time of year for us, as we have the summers off. Consequently, this will be my third time racing it.

  2. July, Idaho Falls Full Marathon (Idaho, USA)

I signed up for this one because although I have done a few marathons, only my first two were flat. The last race I did without big elevation gains were a few years ago in the Thailand heat. Between more years of experience running and not being in such a hot and humid environment, I would like to shoot for a PR. We’ll see…IdahoFalls.png

It is a ‘Christmas in July’ theme, so that should be fun. I will need to brush off my red and green compression socks and maybe find some candy canes instead of gels. I don’t know. I don’t Christmas well.

Bosnia and Herzegovina 🇧🇦

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Running the hills of Sarajevo

   3. September, Sarajevo Half Marathon (Bosnia and  Herzegovina)

This is a great event. I did it last year. Well-organized, fun, and really close to my house, so it is an easy one to get to.

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 4. September, Skakavac 32km (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

This is a tough race. I also did this one last year and it was nuts. I got lost (I will actually blog about this in the future) during a full-on blizzard. They moved it up a couple of weeks into September instead of October this year for weather reasons, I assume. It is in an absolutely gorgeous area–the mountains of Sarajevo and Vogosca. The after party skakavac-3-300x160.pnglooked really fun, but I was too out of it last year to fully enjoy it. Here’s to hoping this year I can enjoy the band, food, and drinks after the race a bit more.

Croatia 🇭🇷

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Croatian coast

   5. October, Dalmatia Ultra Trail, 53 km (Croatia)

Croatia is one of my favorite countries and this race follows the Dalmatian Coastline, so what wouldn’t be to love? It also lands over our school holiday, so I could enjoy it more without feeling too rushed to get back.

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The trail for the 53km Dalmatia Ultra

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6. November, Mandarine Half Marathon (Croatia)

23316673_273164346538840_2142668723357438451_n.jpgWe will be making this one into a mini-holiday as it is over a regular weekend. Luckily, it isn’t too far of a drive—four hours or so. It is in a little town we have yet to explore, so this will be our chance to see a new area. It looks like a fairly low-key race, which I love. I am not a huge fan of overpopulated races. I am looking forward to this one!

What are you signed up for? Share in the comments!

Mostar Half Marathon PR

My mom and her husband were visiting us in Bosnia and Herzegovina for our spring break. They had been hanging out and touring Sarajevo for a week prior to our holiday while we worked. Then to kick off spring break, we took off to Mostar, a town in the Herzegovina region of Bosnia and Herzegovina, famous for Stari Most (Old Bridge) over the Neretva River. It was built in the 16th century by the Ottomans. In 1993, the bridge was destroyed in the war, but has been completely rebuilt. They recovered many of the original stones from the river to reconstruct it. It is probably the most recognizable structure in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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Stari Most

Reasons to Visit Mostar

Somehow, Mostar still manages to be off most people’s travel radar. If you have the chance, you should work your way over to it. It is so worth it.

Here are some highlights about the small town:

  1. Apparently people have been bridge diving since 1664. In recent history, Red Bull now puts on a festival where people continue this tradition.

2. Pose on the bridge for some pretty sweet pictures.

Beautiful Islamic architecture

 

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3. They also have incredible street art and metal art work for sale. I sadly did not get any pictures of the street art. Guess I will have to go back!

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We also did not see the famous Kravice Waterfalls, and I am sucker for waterfalls, so we really will be making a trip back soon.

After all that touring around the town, I got to see another, more rural perspective on foot the next day.

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Half Marathon Day

I was a nervous wreck before the race. I knew I wanted a PR, but I wasn’t sure I was capable of it. I also didn’t voice this to anyone for fear I would somehow jinx it. Whenever I am going into new territory, I get nervous. It is okay though. I am not scared of being scared. It means you care, and when you care, the outcome is better.

I did all the things you are supposed to do. I trained. I ran far. I ran faster in my training. I did hill repeats. I ate better. I slept more. I even tapered, albeit a small amount because one doesn’t need to cut back too much for a half. Usually I don’t at all, but tried it out for this race. It really isn’t that complicated when it comes to knowing what one should do to improve their running. If you want to improve your speed, run faster during training. If you want to improve your endurance, run farther. Running is a simple and resourceful sport, direct in the fact that it is about putting one foot in front of the other, effective in its purpose, and a deeply innate part of being human.

The thing that I think helped me the most though, was that I just pretended to be someone that could make a sub 1:45 half marathon. I just told myself if I can’t be the person that gets that time, just pretend to. It worked. I ran a 1:43. Fake it ’til you make it.

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I know on the grand scale of amazing runners out there, running a 1:43 isn’t anything special, but it was to me. I had been stuck at 1:47 as my personal best prior to this race, but most halfs had been 1:52-1:55. Granted, those were all in Thailand, so really hot and humid conditions, which hurt most people’s race times.

I had slept well the night before. I carb loaded correctly. The weather was perfect–mid-50s, clear skies. The course was mostly flat and lots of beautiful scenery. I had my mom, her husband, my kids, and my husband all there to support me. Really, it was a perfect combination of conditions to do a PR.

Between good conditions and self-delusion, I did it.

I truly have a runners’ mind though–now I want a 1:40. 😆