Archive for the ‘5k’ Category

IMG_3484It’s Saturday. A slow coffee kind of day, starting with a movie on Netflix and afternoon-ing some miles in with both dogs. Despite just finishing up two weeks of vacation, recent life has felt fast. There was a trail 5k I wanted to do about an hour East, but my legs are still tired from last weekend, and frankly, a day of quiet is in order. Soul feeding quiet. Observing my friends’ FB feeds fill with results from a local pavement 7k/14k.

This is how I think of races now – pavement or trail first, then the rest of the details.

Somehow the year of being 40 turned me into a trail runner.

Since Run the Bluegrass, there were 2 shorter pavement races – Joseph House 5k (which was an EXCELLENT little race & I highly recommend doing again) and the Flying Pig 10k, where I stepped in to fill a bib for a friend at the last minute.  Beyond that, the Summer has been spent on a slew of trail races to good and hard result. I can’t say a day on trail is ever bad, just good or hard, or good AND hard. There was…

Forget the PR, Mohican 25k, which began April with a great big DNF. A heck of a way to kick off a season. A HARD, but fantastically beautiful course with long, steep hills that never seem to end. I learned there’s a thing you find out when you run trails and you’re slow, and that thing is what ALONE feels like in a whole new way. Lonely and ALONE are verrry different. In this race, I found my limit on being alone at mile 12 and I simply didn’t have another 5 miles in me. DNF.

A week later, the local Dirt Days Trail Series started. This is where Eric joined in the fun. After a Winter of mulling, a decade of repairing me after races, and some time spent watching the snow fall from the treadmill, he got his own bib for the Ault Park Switchback run – and every race thereafter. We did 5 of the Dirt Days races together – from a HORRIBLE, NASTY, (humbling), MUDDY MUDDY MUDDY 11-miler at East Fork that *still* makes me shudder, to a repeat of the Powder Keg 5k where I beat last year’s time by 9 minutes.

Somehow the year of my being 40 turned Eric into a trail runner.

Interspersed with DD, was the Topo Adventure Sports Summer Trail Series. A good, no-frills race setup. I like it. Also, these guys stay till the last runner comes in with a smile. I really like how they handle their show. Through these two series I learned that if the trail is wet, you step in the first mud puddle you see. Get it over with. Your feet are not going to stay dry, so find a way to be happy about it, and take the race that comes to you. Also, Body Glide on your feet is GOOD.

Finally, though the season still isn’t over, all of these efforts culminated in running The Rugged Red last weekend.The HARDEST terrain I’ve ever run. 1700 feet of elevation gain, some of climbing on all-4’s up round-edged sandstone. I came into the finish line to find my husband and a crew of my RWB peeps who’d waited over an hour for me to come in. People, that is some love right there! I still can’t believe I finished it – which was one of only two goals I had  – (1) finish and (2) beat the sweeper. I beat the sweeper with only 10 minutes to spare, but I did it. I’m not sure how. And that guy that kept trying to pass me again after mile 9-10, I kept him behind me. It might’ve been a full on goddamn sprint at the finish to make it happen, but it happened.

Somehow the year of being 40 upped my level of badassery just a little bit.

Recovery from all of these beatings came in the form of swimming and yoga (which I’m still teaching, but at a new place now). The training sessions at Caesar’s Creek last Summer taught me I was a pretty crappy swimmer. A new gym membership came in December and twice a week 6AM swims started in March with a friend training for her first half-Ironman. Swimming lessons followed to build the skill set, and while I’m working on strength and endurance, I’ve started to do decently in the pool. At some point I went from dreading the water to looking forward to a good swim.

Somehow the year of being 40 turned me into a swimmer.

My house is usually a mess because we’re too busy training. The dogs are usually stinky because four legs get muddier than two on trails. The number of pairs of running shoes in my house has almost doubled. Some of them aren’t even mine.

And I started giving my bike the side-eye about 2 weeks ago…when I turned 41.

“Holee crap, that was hard!”

This was my whole assessment of this race when I posted my finish on Facebook. Or at least, that was all I could mutter from the surrealism of race-recovery.

The Powder Keg 5k Trail Run was the next race up after Midsummer Night’s. It was on August 23rd, and ventured around the grounds of the Historic Kings Mansion in Deerfield Township. It’s also part of the Dirt Days series put on by the Running Spot each year. Having missed an opportunity to preview the course with some of my RWB friends, this was the first time I’d ever been there. Packet pick up was quick and easy. There was plenty of space to stretch and move, find my friends. The grounds were nice and I kept looking to the building and the barns thinking what a nice event space that would be, though it needs a little restoration in my opinion.

In 2 races, my opening observations are that (1) trail races are generally less expensive – MNT cost me $12, I think and this one was $10 w/o a tshirt and $20 with – and that (2) trail races are just way more mellow.  Starting times seem to have an ‘ish’ after them. We’ll start 9-ish. There’s a bit of courtesy extended based on how many people are still coming in to park and do packet pick up.  Distances have a “might be more” to them since you can’t measure exact finish distance on trails.  Powder Keg’s course description for distance included “Race is listed as a 5K. However, actual will probably be at least 3.5 miles.”  And mostly, which is part of the keeping the cost down I’m sure, they use gun time instead of chip timing. In a pavement race, that irritates the crud out of me, but for trails, the run really is more about how YOU FEEL about your run than what the clock says – at least for me. I’m digging it on the trails!

The run started a little bit cross-country before taking to a path that started off as asphalt, then that treacherous deep-rutted thing that asphalt does when water breaks it down, and then after that I think it turned to dirt. Compared with the narrow, single-file trail of MNT, this trail was nice and wide and winding. There were a few moments I’d pass on given the option – a right turn that drops about 4ft without much warning, a wide concrete pillar that makeshifts as a bridge except that it doesn’t have any railings, and that 12-14ft climb of a steep grass hill that is so steep you are literally climbing using hands as well as feet – but those are more due to my novice level in trail running than the obstacles themselves. Things just caught me by surprise a little, is all.

Among the other things on route were the stairs. OH MY GOD – THE STAIRS!  There is no running them. Steep, wooden and they feel like they’re going up the side of a mountain. Did I mention steep?  STEEP STEEP stairs. No passing. No running. Steep.

When the run was over I felt like I had been rode hard for sure! This 5k-ish course left me a little more exhausted than the 5-mile-ish MNT.

I also felt accomplished, hungry and ready for a nap.

Y’all, if MNT opened up the door for trail running in my lift, Powder Keg sealed the deal on a new love in my life. A trail runner is born.

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From our California coast trip. Seriously can’t think of a more relaxing vacation that we’ve taken together. I’m not usually fond of  pictures of myself, preferring the other side of the lens, but this one is just very…me.  Probably due to that guy reflected in my sunglasses. He inspires that smile.

I crossed a starting line this morning, friends.

To my recollection, I haven’t done a race since a fateful 10k in March that I should have stopped at 5k. My knee aching badly, I hobbled across the finish dead last with the bike dude picking up cones as I passed them. I wish I were joking, but I’m not. Talk about having your ego tarred, feathered and left for dead checked! I decided it wasn’t worth writing about at the time because I wasn’t in a good place with it. After that, I decided I wasn’t registering for a damn thing until I was certain my knee could hang with me for the distance. And I haven’t, watching the races go by on the calendar.

As the clock has kept ticking through prime running season, a friend of mine decided to run for the first time. Ever. And something clicked in her, in that funny way that running makes things click for people, and it said to her “if you stick with me, I’ll change your life”.  So right now, she’s trying to stick with it. Working the Couch-to-5k program, about 3 weeks in, and while I’d like to say I offered to run a 5k with her for the purely selfless reason of being a supportive friend, I’ll be honest in saying that  I offered to go along if she picked out a 5k for more selfish reasons – it inspires the hell out of me to see someone step out of their comfort zone like that.

To get into the struggle, squash the fear, and try.

My friend, she jumped into the struggle this morning.  There were intervals, and hard points, and surprises. We did some breathing and tapped into my running toolbox. The smaller details in between the start and finish are her story to write, not mine. But Peeps, my friend finished her first 5k this morning! With her husband and her son by her side.

And while she was getting through her first 5k, I was getting through my third pavement run this week with no knee pain.  It’s been a SLOW recovery to get this kneecap moving right again, but it finally seems to be working proper.

Bashful Ostrich 5k is a small race, probably about 150 participants. A thing that makes it perfect for a first 5k, by the way.  We lucked out with the weather having a chill in the air to start, as most of the course around the Scarlet Oaks college campus is without shade. One water stop, which today was enough. A hotter day, you’d need a second, which pains me to write since I usually don’t take water at all for a 5k anymore.  FLAT! If you are trying to PR and need a flat course to do it, this is FLLLLLLLAT! Making up for the lack of interesting things on the course, the volunteers were all VERY pleasant and helpful, and there was a hat in the swag bag. I really love baseball hats.

It’s a sweet race. That seems like an odd word to describe a race for me. Sweet. But Bashful Ostrich is sweet, and small, and has that little community feel to it – like if I went back to it next year, the same runners would be there and remember you.  It’s also sweet, in that with 150 participants, almost everyone makes top-10 in age groups. There are LOTs of door prizes. You end up with more loot than just your swag bag – I added a knit Winter beanie from Monumental Marathon & a luggage tag to my stash. I also bought a $5 messenger bag from the previous years’ swag stockpile that was up for sale. $5. For a messenger bag!  If they gave away bubblegum, it would be about the cutest 5k ever! I’d need to pet it on the head, call it Ted and give it treats.

In asking myself whether I would do the race again, the course would make me a little ‘meh’ about it, but the cute factor would probably get me to say ‘yes’. Also, there was a guy there dressed head to toe in a homemade Captain America outfit that he had put SERIOUS thought into. How can you not love that? Someone said he dressed as Batman last year. I may show up next year just to see what he’s wearing – it was a GOOD costume!

Up next:  Midsummer’s Night Trail Run, a 5-miler through the trails of Mt. Airy Forest this coming Tuesday.

Because once your knee stops hurting, one of the first things you should do is register for a 5-mile trail run. Jeez-Louise! I need my head checked!

Inaugural run.  When I see those two words attached to a run, mulling is required. A lifted-eyebrow look at who is putting on the race and what they plan to do with it. And then usually, unless there is something that really reaches out and grabs me, I decide against it. I’ve done inaugural runs before – and to put it kindly, in my experience, it’s better to wait until year 2 for a run. Let them work out the kinks in planning and set up on someone else’s run/body.

But then – when two different sets of completely unrelated people mention to you that they’re going to do it , there’s some buzz, a little incentive to showing up in the form of saying ‘hi’ to friends you don’t see often – your trainer is doing it – and it’s ONLY a 5k so it won’t last that long if it’s screwed up.  OH – and it’s for a REALLY GOOD CAUSE that is near and dear to my heart – supporting our country’s veterans in any ways needed.

You shut the mulling up and register.

This was the case with the DAV 5K, which I ran on Nov 9th.  I had never heard of that run, but in the space of two days I had a couple mention it over dinner and my trainer mentioned it at Sunday morning workout.  I checked out the website, started seeing it pop up on Twitter and got my registration done. I hadn’t set up anything formal to connect with the friends I was hoping to see, Eric elected to sleep in, and so I was going solo for the whole thing.

The day dawned chilly but beautiful weather-wise.  There was an early packet pickup, so I was able to leave for the run a little later (another run around the ballpark area of Downtown) and got there with about 10 mins to spare on stretching. Then we were off! 

Walkers and runners were heavily mixed in the lineup – so I started out with a lot of bobbing and weaving through the crowd. At run’s end, my Garmin had me at 3.22 – so another 0.12 miles of running sideways around people.  But I started off at a pretty good clip and while I wasn’t on my way to hitting the goal I wanted, I was on track to setting a pace PR – though I felt like I was moving a little slower than the numbers show.  There were soldiers in uniforms with full packs and flags running through the crowd – a thing which I found really inspiring. If they can run with 30-40 lbs of gear on their back, why the heck am I slowing down?! 

I skipped the first water stop as I’ve been trying NOT to stop for water in 5k’s. A solid quality run seemed like it was in the bag.

The second water stop was where I noticed something really interesting – because I did decide to grab a swig at this one since my legs were still feeling heavy. Ya know how when you finish your swig, you dump and then throw the cup – and there is some nice volunteer there to take care of that blatant littering for you – USUALLY? Well, I took my swig, I dumped the excess, I looked for the spot where people were throwing and…

Then I looked for the spot where people were throwing their cups again and…

NO ONE WAS THROWING. There were 2 garbage cans just past the water stop and EVERY SINGLE PERSON was handling their own trash. The volunteer with the cup rake was standing there with nothing to do and a look of disbelief on her face.  She’d expected a mess and didn’t seem to be getting one. Seriously folks – in 6 years of racing – I have NEVER been on a course where everyone fielded their own trash.  Some are cleaner than others, but there’s always trash. I don’t know what it looked like before I got there and I don’t know what it looked like after I passed by – but this was the cleanest water stop I have ever seen in my life! I would like to think it was out of respect for the cause for which we were all running. I probably should’ve expected that a run organized by military-minded people would be clean and efficient.

And then there were motorcycles.  Yes, motorcycles.

As part of the DAV 5k, there was a motorcycle rally that started just before the run. The motorcycles were going to ride the course, kind of like a biker parade of sorts since a lot of vets are riders and since one of the sponsors was Harley-Davidson. I missed the takeoff in favor of staying warm at home for a few extra minutes.

In the home stretch of the last ¾ to half-mile, there were the riders. The bikes were parked to line one side of the course and in front of them – I kid you not – were what had to be a couple hundred motorcycle riders in all their black leather and gear – standing as close to each other as they could in a line – with HUGE smiles and HIGH-FIVING runners as we all passed.  Spanning a distance of about a quarter mile.  You know I went and got my high-fives on from almost that entire line of leather! Oh – to have my camera for that – I wish, I wish. (But I don’t run with it.)

Unfortunately, I was so inspired by the high-fiving that I picked up speed as I went down the line and ended up winding myself. My Garmin says I was at a 7:48 pace (!!!) for that section of run. When you’re regularly a 10:30-ish – that’s not good. Ooops.  So I needed to walk to get my breath back and watched my pace PR disappear. You’d think the sprint would make up the time for the recovery, but a sprint goes by much faster than a recovery. Meh. So what. The high-fiving was too cool for me to care. I’m a sucker for a high-five.  The finish was nicely lined with cheering spectators – and after I finished, I doubled back to cheer people in – specifically 3 guys with packs, gear & flags who I knew were not far behind me – and ended up connecting with 2 friends I didn’t know were going to be there. BONUS!

Official finish time put me at around 10:40 pace – with the added in 0.12, Garmin has me at 2-seconds over my pace PR average. But as we all know – what’s on the Garmin ain’t what’s in the history books.

Again, everything around the finish area was immaculately clean and well-organized. There were nice tents and things of interest to vets set up. My friends and I grabbed a cup of coffee – they had big cups, not the tiny ones (THANK YOU!) and headed over towards one of the rendezvous points that they had for each of the different military branches – which was where I’d parked. As we were walking, there were still people finishing – including several significantly older vets who could barely walk without assistance but were doing the walk.  I started cheering for them, though in retrospect, I wish I’d crossed back over the line and walked in again with them.  They deserve that. Then homeward bound.

REALLY IMPRESSED WITH THIS RACE! If this was their first year, then you know it’s only going to keep getting better as far as participation and offerings. I will note that also for first year races – participation tends to be low in general – usually less than 500 participants (and that’s being generous) unless there is some wacky theme to draw people in. This race had more than 2,000 participants in it’s inaugural run.  It will definitely be on my to-do list next year!

Some things I would change – and it’s a really short list –

1. I would improve the sound system for announcements. I ALWAYS get a little patriotically misty-eye inspired at the singing of the Star-Spangled Banner, but I barely heard it before the run. I think – especially for a veteran oriented run, hearing this loud & proud was important. I was mortified to pick up on it being sung in the last 3-4 lines and realize (1) it was being sung, (2) I was missing it, and (3) I still had my hat on as did most around me because no one could hear it. 

2. I would separate out the run start and the walk start times. Getting out of the gate with all the walkers that seeded themselves up front was a little frustrating.  Even 5 minutes between the two would make a difference.

Thanks for a great run experience DAV 5k! See ya next year!

Some things – they just aren’t about the clock.

When I first registered for the ADA Step Out 5k, I was feeling really torn about it. It happened to be the same day as the Monumental 13.1 in Indianapolis – which was the focus race the running group had been training for all Summer. I was feeling wishy-washy about a 13.1, but after Hudy felt like I could get it done if I went that way. There were also a few other stops I was considering in Indy, including a meetup opportunity with the Run The Bluegrass peeps, and I could knock them all out with this one drive.

But then there was my friend Mark.  You see, ADA stands for American Diabetes Association. Mark lost his mom to complications of diabetes early in the Summer and was fundraising for the ADA 5k as a way to honor her. It was going to be a family affair – Mark is my Maine’s husband – so yeah, family to me. Go to Indy with the people I consider my running family, or walk with Mark and my friend-family.  Did I say I was torn? Let me restate that. TORN. I’m sure I sound a little like an asshole for even having that dilemma, but if you run regularly with a pack of people, there’s a loyalty there that’s hard to understand if you’re not a group runner. Also, I have a kind of skepticism for corporate charity fundraising mechanisms, but that’s a separate thing.

THEN, I reminded myself that I hadn’t touched my 5k PR from last year and was running out of good running weather to make that happen. SELFISH DECISION MADE. Do the 5k and put in a good faith effort towards a PR, support my friend, earn a good breakfast out.

AND THEN, I talked to Mark some more as he started showing up to my yoga classes – turns out, Mark wasn’t just fundraising & walking – he was planning to RUN this as his very first 5K. And he’d been training for realz! Started hitting the gym, cleaned up his diet, gave up alcohol until after the race – HE WAS COMMITTED! If the man was gonna honor his momma – he was going to do it right! No half-ass effort.  Just looking at the changes he was making on his way to race day, I was really awed. I have pretty awesome friends – but once in awhile – I get knocked on my ass amazed at just how truly incredible they are. This was one of those times. Mark awe-smacked me! He worked so hard on this thing that he even had to raise his fundraising limit because he passed it with time to spare & felt like he could raise more. How could I have ever considered NOT being there to support his effort?

The day dawned bright and sunny, but also chilly with more than a bit of wind. Our happy little group of 10-12 was huddled in the breezeway at GABP waiting for things to get started. This group included my Eric, who I had registered as a runner so that he could start with us (the walk start was a 10-min delay). I knew he would at least run a few parts of it – because he’s my husband and I know him. Man says he’ll walk it, but if everyone else is running it – he’s going to do at least some running. Also, he walks faster than most of us run. I’ve actually gotten shin splints trying to keep up with him. (Seriously honey – SLOW DOWN – your wife is short! Love ya!)

The race got underway and we all started out loosely together – staying close to Mark for about the first half-mile. Then we began to spread out. I realized pretty quickly that my legs just weren’t in PR mood and decided that I would be helpful by doing what I call “playing carrot”. Sometimes when I am running, if I’m struggling, I pick a person a distance in front of me to be the carrot – I promise myself that I am going to keep them in sight as if they are a carrot being held in front of my nose. I may not be able to pass him/her, but I will do my damnedest to keep them right where they are in front of me.  I know other runners that do this too. So I pulled out about a block ahead, where the group could still see my back and tried to match their pace from there – figuring if Mark could see my back only a short distance ahead, it would help him stay running.  Though – he had Maine by his side the whole time, as well as Maine’s dad and my Eric. Mark was running with a personal posse of coaches!

We hit the first of two significant hills just after the 2 mile mark. I climbed it to do my own hillwork, then doubled back. The group was coming around to the base of it just as I was coming back down to cheer and run the crest of it again. After that – it was last mile! The struggle was becoming real as Mark said aloud that things were getting hard and his calf was beginning to cramp – he’d done the distance in training runs before and knew he could do it – but as we all know, races are different, harder somehow. Maine was still coaching him like a champ – staying right alongside him –  and I started reminding him to breathe yoga class style – get the oxygen down into that calf! Recheck form. Relax shoulders.

Finally we rounded the last corner, which was onto the field at the ballpark  (Mark & Maine are huge Reds fans too) and as we crossed third base, heading for home and the finish line just in front of the dugout – MARK TOOK OFF! GO MARK! – sprinting his very first finish! With Maine & Eric on his heels and me coming in behind to watch them all cross.

Mark had run all of his very first 5k!! How cool is that?! And equally cool – my husband surprising the shit out of me by running almost all of his first 5k!! Eric had taken to doing some Galloways – having heard me talk about them enough to know what they were – letting himself walk when he needed to and counting off the 60 seconds rest before running to catch back up. He’d kept up with us the entire run! Seriously – how could I even have considered being anywhere else? This was freakin’ AMAZING to be a part of!

And also friends, looks like Mark is one of my running peeps now too. 🙂  (Eric = still not convinced. yet. muahahaha)

For details on the race itself – I have to say – not sure I would do this one again.  Pros:

  • The route was nice and water stops were okay.
  • A big pro of it was that they had a pretty good post-race spread of food – sandwiches from Honey Baked Ham & soup from Zoup!
  • The kids got to play on the batting field Kids Zone at the park.
  • They had volunteers with giant foam fingers giving high-fives to everyone as they walked off the field after crossing the finish line. I REALLY LIKED THAT!

But the rest of it was kind of a pain in the butt. Cons:

  • After you registered, you got this packet in the mail. I saw it and was thinking – great! They mailed us bibs! – NOPE. It was a fundraising envelope and your event waiver. Which you had to bring with you to get your bib at the event. Thus giving the volunteers the opportunity to side-eye the empty-envelope non-fundraising shmucks. Since I don’t mind contributing – and did so ONLINE above and beyond my registration – this irked me. I do too many runs a year to solicit for them beyond my own donations. Then, when you got to packet pickup at the event, it turned out that you didn’t really need the empty envelope. Just carrying it around for no good reason.
  • I found out LATER that there was a packet pick-up opportunity earlier in the week that I would have happily gone too instead. Except that finding this detail on the website was like trying to ferret out a cheat code for Tombraider. Eric & I had to leave the house by 8:30 for a 10AM race which is 8 minutes from our house to be sure we had time to do packet pickup. Usually I would not leave the house until 9:30 for a 10AM race at GABP.
  • There were too many pre-race ceremonies – like 30 minutes worth. To me, this is a sign of non-runners organizing a run event. You just don’t leave runners standing around out in the November cold pre-race for long periods. Runners dress differently to run than they do to stand around for 30 minutes and not everyone has a person to leave jackets & warm gear with who is not running. Other than a 2-minute announcement and the Star-Spangled Banner, ceremonies are a post-run thing.  I was chilled to the bone before the run ever started and never quite shook it off. Everyone else appeared to have frozen tuchuses too and watching the kids get cold from standing around made my heart hurt.
  • Post-race water. FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS FLUID. When Mark got done with his sprint finish – and Eric too – they needed water. Like NOW. We all know how that feels. Except that there was none. To get water, you had to go up out of the field area and to the Smokehouse pavilion – which is about another .2 miles including the stairs. I’ve seen water put in some funky places before – but this was the furthest from the finish that I have ever seen water. A volunteer told me that GABP wouldn’t let them put the water any closer – to which I called fraud. I’ve done several runs at GABP and not had it be this far away before. “Well, that was during the season…” she said when I responded the same. “Well, we just didn’t have that many runners, this is more a walker event…” she said. I don’t care. You have runners – you have water close to the finish line. It’s an unwritten rule. Seriously, this makes me want to flick someone on the forehead. You should never have a situation where an exhausted runner has to go search out water. Also, I had to walk by 3 different vendors giving out water bottles (empty water bottles) while looking for actual water – that’s just mean.
  • Finally – results. Not that I actually cared b/c like I said – PR got thrown out the window. But – I couldn’t find results anywhere on the race page – not even a link. On a google search, I found a link that showed everyone’s name but no times – and there was supposed to be chip timing. FINALLY and much later  – I find a link on the race FB page for results. Sorry people who aren’t on FB – no results for you. Again with the cryptic website crap. People, runners want to know when, where, where to pick up a packet and where to get results. That information should be up front and easy to find on a run website. Nothing more frustrating – especially when you’ve had an awesome race – than not being able to find the official results or having them delayed a ridiculously long time.

So overall – really glad to be there for my friend, and I do appreciate the cause – diabetes research needs LOTS more funding – but not thrilled with any organization that throws a race and then puts the racers second.

Put the racers first and the money will come.

I mentioned 2 weeks ago that I had signed on to do a 5k as part of trying to get me focused on my running goals.  This was that one.  It’s hard to write about – not because the run went horribly or anything – but because I’m feeling kind of ‘meh’ about it. I needed to give myself a couple of days to decide whether to write about it at all and if so, how I wanted to write about it. Ugh.  But writing race recaps is one of those things I do, so…

Going into this race, I knew VERY LITTLE about it. I found it on a racing calendar website and everything I could extract from it I got from a flyer. It was through Glendale – which is a very pretty area of town – packet pickup was outside my regular running store – there would be an after-party at a nearby golf course – and I knew who would be timing/organizing it.

In the interest of full disclosure – I have done several races now with the company in charge of organizing/timing the race. Color me VERY unimpressed.  I could itemize issues I have seen/experienced, but in the interest of not being sued, I’ll keep them to myself.  So yeah,  I’m at the point with them that just seeing that company listed as the organizer makes me second-guess whether I want to do the run.  I have a bias here, and it’s not a good one. So you should probably take this recap with a grain of salt.

I decided to do this one because the time worked, there was an after-party, and looking at 2012 results – Maine & I both had a chance at age-group top 3 if we ran well. Maine would have a good shot at winning her age-group if she ran the way she has been lately. Of course, that depends on current registrations too, but it was something to look at. I’m a data girl. Registered.

Here’s what I know:

The registration was $30, which $25-30 is average around here these days for a 5k. When we got there, this fee included a string bag & a tiny tube of an SPF that it is unlikely I will use because I’m picky about sunscreens.  That is very little swag compared to most of the $30-5k’s around here.

There was very little accessible off-street parking and even less that wouldn’t get trapped in by the race. We ended up parking about half-a-mile away even getting there reasonably early.

There was a tiny race-map on the flyer copied from a Map-My-Run shot, but no link to it. To get the elevation profile, I had to recreate the map from the tiny little picture in my own Map-My-Run account. I don’t understand why they couldn’t link that on the website or make a bigger picture available w/an elevation profile. If they did, I couldn’t locate it easily.

The route itself was a good route. A couple decent hills. It looped back on itself in a wild figure-8 so they were able to be efficient using one water stop that you passed twice – without making you go over duplicate territory. I respect efficiency, so I liked that a lot. I do feel the water stop was under-manned with only 2 guys there – while other areas seemed to have more than enough volunteers wandering without task. But all in all, I was excited about the route. Also, I didn’t stop for water – I don’t for 5ks anymore unless I’m overheating.

Most of the volunteers along the course were not cheering. Some were. But most were not. This energy permeated a lot of the event for me. I’m sure they were very enthusiastic about this event the first 2 times they put it on, but the energy for this time was a bit lackluster.  As I was struggling with my race a bit, this lackluster energy was not helpful.

For my own race, when I finished I told Eric that this run just felt a lot harder than it should have for the prep work I did & the course. I never got into a zone with it and felt a lot of pressure in my chest/abs for a good bit of it. When I got into the final stretch, I had very little kick to give.  I’m attributing this to the fact that I came down with a sore throat Sunday evening – I was probably already getting sick on Saturday night. That being said, I shaved 26 seconds off of the 5k I did 3 weeks before. No PR, but closer. Also…

I ALWAYS make it a habit of starting my Garmin before I cross the first mat and stopping it after I cross the last mat. My Garmin isn’t a fancy version, so I have no problems with satellite delays. It acts as a stopwatch & interval timer for me.  Results are usually (this race being the one that makes me say usually, rather than always) over whatever the actual chip time is because I’m conscientious about making sure it’s always a little over. The last time I ran with this race company, my Garmin was dead-on the chip time they gave me.  Okay. This time, my Garmin was 7 seconds under the chip time they gave me. My Garmin gave me a better time.  Not sure how I feel about that.

There was a girl I was playing leap-frog with by 7-10 ft distances throughout most of the race. At the last significant hill (probably .5 miles from finish), she was in front of me by 10-ft. I decided her ass looked smug.

Yes, an ass can look smug.

Whether she meant it to look smug or not, I don’t know, but it was mocking me that she had passed me yet again. She had a mocking, smug, passing ass. I’m sure she’s a very nice person when you take in more than just her ass.

Hills being my thing, I put some energy into passing her and decided from that point forward that she was NOT passing me again. She didn’t. I kept up the passing effort through to the finish and on the last 10-15 ft to the finish, I checked over both of my shoulders to be sure that she wasn’t going to sprint past me and she was not in my sight anywhere near me.  Her chip time has her 2-seconds behind me. At 2-seconds behind me, I would’ve seen her.  She wasn’t there. Not sure what that means either.

When I crossed the finish line, I was handed a water bottle that had been sitting on a table in the sun. I reached into a nearby cooler – all the water bottles were on top of the ice, not in it. Reaching to the lowest point, my water was barely colder than warm. There were bananas.

At the last race we did with this organizer, the awards were given at the after-party. So, we moved our little band over to the after-party to see if Maine had taken her age group. They never announced the winners there. I guess they did it back at the race a mile away – no one told us how that was going to work.  However, they did announce the winners of the golf classic that had combined their after-party with this one.

There were no free drink or food tickets with the registration. Beers were $5 for 12oz, or $20 for an ‘unlimited’ wrist band.  Silent auction – got outbid on a Reds basket. 2 bands  –  both of which were pretty good.  A food truck with burgers & such that was affordably priced. All told, I think we put out another $40-45 at the after-party, which totals that up to a $70-75 night.  That seems a bit pricey for a 5k to me – I think at least 1 beer ticket should’ve been included with registration. Other races in the area do a $30-40 registration and include 2-4 drink tickets at the party.

Highlight of my night was getting to play soccer & catch with Maine’s little boy for a good part of the night.  Also, there was a volunteer from Boston that was a complete hoot to talk to at the silent auction area. She was an absolute riot! And any night out with my husband is a good night. Got a video of a giant dancing hand (see previous post).

Without a few changes, such as a swagged-up registration & greater clarity around the festivities, pretty sure I wouldn’t do this one again even if the route is pretty.  It was just a little too pricey for the experience and if the volunteers aren’t even into it…gotta wonder why they don’t find another fundraising activity that excites them more.  The point is to raise money for a cause (melanoma), not to put on a race, but if you’re going to put on a race to raise money – make it worth doing. Swag it up. Attract attention and the following will grow to raise the hell out of those funds.

Upcoming weekend is yoga teacher training, so no races then. I have a free entry to a race on the 25th if I want it, and considering another race for the morning of the 27th.

I think it was just this past Monday that I thought to myself:

Self, you’ve haven’t run all week. You’ve got some doldrums going on. Sign up for something and snap your ass out of it!

At the very least, I thought that it would get me up and running to shake my legs out in the interest of making a passable effort.  Ummm…yeah.

So here’s the crybaby list that preceeded this run:

  • Lexington was hard!
  • I’m recovering from Lexington.
  • My back is pretty stiff from bootcamp.
  • WHOA! My back is REALLY STIFF from bootcamp.
  • I did all that yoga when my back was bothering me. Wasn’t a good idea.
  • I can’t go to the gym, the dog needs me.
  • Seriously, the dog needs me.

Sidebar: The dog is fine, by the way. Some stitches in his eye and the headcone of shame until the stitches dissolve. Pills & eyedrops. Yay dog! Way to handle that sedation!

What it all boils down to is that I’ve been feeling LAZZZZZZZZ-EEEE!! about the gym thing this past week. So I just haven’t gone.

Also, there is nothing on that crybaby list that warrants having had too much wine last night. So there’s that too… I went into this run kinda dehydrated, with a wine hangover, not having run for two solid weeks and not having worked out at all for a whole week.  Oh…and it’s kind of a challenging course – a few of those long, slopey hills I suck at.

So, I think, without taking those things into account, I’m really proud of how this run went. Taking those things into account, this run went FREAKIN’ PHENOMENAL. Not a PR – though I think I beat last year’s time by more than a minute. Still waiting on the official results (more than 7 hours after the last 10k-er finished, insert stinky-side-eye at the RD here, here, and here).

I talked myself up all the hills slow & steady. Only 1 walk break at the water stop for about 15 seconds. I kept my positive thinking in gear. While Maine took off and schooled us both, Nash stayed with me for almost the first 2 miles – she was having a pretty rough morning too – so us toughing out our hangovers together was helpful in keeping up the motivation. Then when I was on my own – and hitting a particularly hard spot embarrassingly at around mile 2.5-2.6, I thought about this post from runthisamazingday – and I told myself – you’ve got to go to your well…you’ve got to make it deeper. My god – you’re almost done, just GET THERE! It’s only a 5k!

And then there was the last bend, and the finish line – and it was over. First 5k of the season in the books!

Then there was calf-cramping and a kinda surreal feeling for a little bit, but that was okay because I could have water and bananas then beer and breakfast, then a nap a little later.

As I told Eric, afterward, my body felt like I’d run either really hard or really far, and neither of those things are true. So feeling as bad as I did after was a little confusing.  I’m chalking that up to a lesson from the crybaby list – step away from the wine the night before a run.

BUT – I did keep my mental shit together through the whole thing. That’s growth, people. Not a bad place to start the season.

 

Interweb, once again I have been duped.

I am sitting here staring at some pulled pork titled “carnitas” and lovely yellow corn. The corn is supposed to be chili-lime flavored. In actuality it has no flavor at all. Lunch cafeteria. *sigh* Somehow they manage to take all the yum out of food. It used to be pretty decent, but they keep reformatting it under the guise of making it healthier.  And I guess they’re successful in that the only thing that is ever adequate anymore is the salad bar. Once in awhile though, I get sucked in by the specter of Mexican yumminess only to fall prey to a mirage. Ugh. Back to the salads…

So – SPOILER: I PR’D THIS SUCKER BY 55 SECONDS!!

Shouldn’t have, but I did.

I came in with 8 seconds to spare on the overall time goal I set back in January & with 3 seconds of breathing space on my pace goal for 2012. Somehow, I pulled out a miracle on this race – because it did NOT feel like PR material while I was actually running it. 

The course was relatively flat – only @50 ft in elevation change for the whole thing – most of which is subtle down before the race ends in two short ramps back up. Some people were a little miffed about the uphill end – but that didn’t really bother me – at least not so much as the 2-3 steps (going down) that were inserted in between the two ending ramps. It’s weird to run uphill, up, up, up – STAIRS! – DOWN! (but only for a split sec) – then up, up, up again. The stairs were weird. My quads did not like that & went a little gooey in response.

What did bother me about the course the most was the scenery & the fact that NO ONE was cheering. Crowd support = ZERO. First, while there are a lot of pretty downtown running options, they started us with the first mile & a half going through an unused underground bus tunnel. Yes, you heard me. If this were a halloween run, Okay. But it wasn’t. It was just running through an underground bus tunnel – a cold, gray, concrete place that brought derelicts and dead bodies to mind. That right there is probably why I brought my pace up. The we turned the block out of the tunnel and started through an industrial area that smelled of asphalt for about half-a-mile. Then we got back into the prettier part of town for the last mile.

Not your prettiest course. In fact, it was so boring that my left foot started to fall asleep in mile 2. While running. But again, at least it was flat.

I hadn’t fueled right at all – the race started at 5:30. About 1pm I had a piece of peanut-butter toast when I realized all I’d had so far that day was coffee. Around four-ish, I had most of a can of Chef Boyardee Lasagna (DO NOT JUDGE ME!) with a half-grin at myself knowing that I would probably be tasting it again later. Had to get something in my stomach though. Oh – and when we left the house to go, I chugged half-a-glass of water when I realized I’d also had NO water all day. Serious laziness & bad planning on my part. *head-meet-palm*

So needless to say – with all of that non-fueling & bus-terminally-ness going on – I shouldn’t have PR’d this. And my run did NOT feel like I did – honestly felt like I was running snail pace the whole time – slogging through water or something. I saw my friend Red at the start and the only focal point I kept coming back to was that I did not want her to pass me. Never hit a place where I felt good, though I did find a steady form for most of it & talked myself through the rough patches where I just wanted to walk. I ended up with a stitch in my side for the last 1/2 mile but was going to be damned before I quit at that point.

Then I rounded the last corner – about 30 ft from the finish – and the announcer told me I was moving way faster than I thought. Had I been able to breathe well at that moment, I probably would’ve smiled. 

I’m proud as hell of the PR & of the mental work I did on the course, but I can’t help but wonder how I would’ve done if I’d actually prepped for the race the way I should have. Hmmmm…

Well, I met my goal – once – so I know it’s possible. Now to do it again. (I never really consider a time goal met until I’ve hit it three times. Anyone else like that?)

No races on the horizon officially right now – but I need a 6-miler this weekend and there are 10k’s near me on both days – so maybe…

 

First, some min0r details from the race website:

Run course, bad EKG reading or both?

This is not a course you plan to PR on. NO ONE PR’s THIS COURSE.  Not only does the course feel exactly like it looks – what the description fails to mention is the worst transitions from downhill to uphill occur at <90-degree angles. So you end up coming to almost a stop to turn a corner before you begin into an uphill. The Reggae Run 5k has the reputation for being the worst 5k course in the area. Fortunately, the party afterward is so AWESOME M’ON! that it makes all the pain worthwhile.  Frankly – if there weren’t a lot of beer at the finish – no one would run up that last hill. These people know how to bait & trap runners.

Also fortunately, they only time the first 50 men & women across the finish line. No chip timing for this run – probably because there isn’t much of a point because NO ONE PR’s THIS COURSE. That being said…

This was one of those runs where I could feel all the cross-training I’ve been doing pay off.

I felt REALLY GOOD about how this run went!!

I can’t even say specifically what made it good, but just that it was good. I stayed in control of my pacing & my effort through the whole thing. I was proud of it – which is saying something. I am very good at beating myself up about unfavorable outcomes – so to get to feel proud of a race was a nice treat and was promptly celebrated with much beer, dancing & reggae music. Also, I’d made good training decisions in Friday’s bootcamp – opting to skip the 325 lunges & squats I was supposed to do in favor of keeping my quads & hamstrings in good shape for the hills.

Nash & I ran most of it together – somehow we seemed to find a mutually happy pace and chill out together with it. Chit-chatting along the way. Knowing there was no chip time – I didn’t bother to bring my Garmin either- so no clock pressure from myself either. We stayed together until the water stop at the half-way point, where I took a short break to drink and she ended up about 30 feet in front of me. I had dry mouth at the starting line, so I was ready for aqua. I gave her a thumbs up to go on ahead when she looked back to see where I was – then I gave her a big smile when I caught up to her on the uphill, when we again stayed together for awhile.  It was nice to catch up to her and know that she didn’t expect that  I hadn’t killed myself doing it – no sprinting – just a steady push to make it happen. Again, control. I had control. The talking had stopped though, since we were both huffity-puffing our way up, up, up. 

Finally, I did let her go in the last push when I took a single interval to give my core a break – it was starting to feel shaky.  This was on the last big hill and I didn’t want to upset myself too much – I had a party to go to after! It would just be wrong to have my stomach too upset to have a beer when I got finished, right?!

I picked it up again when I caught sight of our guys cheering us on – can’t disappoint the fans! – and kept it going all the way through to the finish line where I saw the clock time giving me over a 2 MINUTE PR for this course!! (not an overall PR – just a PR on this course) WOW!!!  I don’t know exactly how much of a PR it was because it’s all by gun time, but I do know generally that I’d never finished it under 38 min before and when I pulled up to the chute – someone’s big head was in my way of seeing the clock, so I kept seeing 3?:32, 3?:33, 3?:34… until they finally moved enough that I could see the clock said 35:38 and said to myself  “Self – it would be really nice if you could get this done in under 36.” So I made that happen at 35:50. Which I know sounds absolutely abysmal for a 5k – but trust me – NO ONE PR’s THIS COURSE. It’s not a great time, but it’s not shabby either. Nash ended up being about 3 minutes over what her finish would usually be in a 5k too, so it’s all relative on this one. I’ll happily take my 2+ minute course PR thankyouverymuch.

What was even better than the PR itself, was feeling that good about the way I ran it. I ran it smart, with good control & monitoring of my effort. Good decision making. No crashing.

How lovely it is when that happens.

Now on to the next one: Cyclones Power Play 5k this upcoming Saturday!

 

Well, 32 is now in the crosshairs. I broke a 33-minute 5k – FINALLY.

Which, I know to most of you, a 33-minute 5k is ridiculously slow. But to me, it’s a  WHOPPING BIG DEAL!

Not only am I proud of getting under 33 minutes, but I’m proud of how I coached myself through the run. Good decisions were made on things that I’ve only recently gotten under control in training runs, but have failed miserably at bringing to races. People, I DID GOOD!!!

The Downtown Dash starts off with a bit of flat – about 3/4 of a mile of it – then takes you up part of the hill route for the Flying Pig. A long semi-steep climb of about 1/3 of a mile which levels off for a few seconds near the turn-around, then brings you back downhill and into town across a small swell of an overpass.  Not too easy, not too hard. Room to make up ground if you play it smart.

I went into it not feeling too great – had woken up with a bad headache and stomach that was all clenched tight. Skipped my 5:30 bootcamp, but had all day to try and come up with some remedies.  Was excited to be meeting Nash & Maine there – all of us bringing our men in tow to cheer us on. There would be beer after. ‘nuf said.

BUT – I also went into it with one of the best runs I’ve ever had fresh under my treads. I’d gone out with the running group on Wednesday on legs that were completely thrashed from bootcamp, and coached myself through a decently challenging run. Not only did I keep it moving, but I pushed myself and didn’t let myself slack. It wasn’t my fastest run or furthest run by far, but for self-talk and coaching, my head was IN that run more than I think I’ve ever been in a run before. So that was on my mind as I prepped for the Dash – what were the things I was saying to myself?  How did I feel? When things got hard – what magic trick did I do to keep my feet moving? I had FOCUS on Wednesday. I wanted that level of focus again on the Dash. And I got it!

I told myself from the beginning that I wasn’t going to worry about time. Not feeling great – I just wanted a solid run, but more importantly, I needed to take care of myself since I wasn’t sure what the stomach upset was about.  Since Nash & Maine are WAY faster than me (Nash is a consistently sub-30 chick.) I let them go at the start. When I felt myself picking up the pace prematurely due to the crowd movement, I stole a line from Frayed Laces – reminding myself to ‘stay within myself’, run my own race – the crowd will pass. And pass they did. And pass some more. I gotta admit – I started feeling a little defeated, like CRAP! This entire crowd is going to pass me!. And my brain said ‘so what, just keep moving your feet sweatheart.’

The uphill climb started to take a bit out of me, so I let myself interval 3:1 interval it to the top. That amounted to 2 walk breaks.  As I was climbing, the lead runners were coming down – a moment I always love in a run as I will LOSE. MY. SHIT. cheering for the lead packs. I always figure the lead man knows he’s first b/c of the pace car or bike, but first female might not be sure – so I always yell ‘FIRST FEMALE!’ at the top of my lungs when I see her. I saw Nash  coming down not to far behind the leads, but didn’t see Maine until I was approaching the turn around. She was only about a block in front of me!! And we were heading into the downhill!

But I still had half the race to finish too. Hmmm – the temptation to sprint to catch up with her needed to be resisted because there was no way I could hold it through to the end.  So I told myself to just try and keep her in my sight. If I finished a block behind Maine, that was still going to be a really good run for me.  The last time we all ran together, I was a full 1:30 behind her – so 30-to-45 seconds behind would still signify some decent work on my part.

When we got to the bottom of the hill and began into the swell of the overpass, I’d dropped the distance to half-a-block. I was gaining gradually and still picking up speed. When we hit the end of the overpass, I was about 10 feet behind her with about .4 miles to go. I was pushing myself and I could feel it – thinking ‘holy crap! I’m gonna finish right on her heels!‘. Then, maybe we could run it in together – wouldn’t that be cool? And then I pulled up alongside her and said ‘hey!’. And then she said ‘hey!’ and smiled.

And then she sped up a little.

And then I sped up a little more. I could feel that I had the tiger by the tail – the only question: could I hold on? Maine was not the tiger – this run was the tiger. Could I stay this strong all the way to the finish – especially if I tried to beat Maine in? Now, I normally do sprint the finish – much as other runners have told me that’s shitty. If I’ve got anything left in the tank, I do it anyway under the motto of ‘you don’t leave anything on the field’.  But that’s normally about a .1 mile dash. Could I hold it for .4? Because to beat Maine in – I was going to have to hold on for awhile. But when she sped up, I knew I had to go for it. This was the closest opportunity I’d ever had to beat her or Nash in – and I couldn’t let it pass.

I hit the accelerator ever though my tank was empty. Then I fought for that bitch .4 sprint –

finishing 20 SECONDS AHEAD of Maine!!!

I feel a little guilty about working so hard to beat my friend. But only a little. I’ve been at the back of that pack for too damn long! When you’ve pushed yourself to hit the goal, you have to let yourself be happy about it.  Maine was a good sport about it, but she did seem a little disappointed. Now – I know she can beat me. She knows she can beat me. But she didn’t beat me that night.  She did say that she was working her own goal of trying to keep a steady pace throughout the run – so maybe she let me go once I sped up – but any which way, I still crossed first and I had no way to know whether she was sprinting behind me or not.  What I do know is that I did what any other athlete would do when they just beat their good friend across a finish line for the first time –

I went and laid down on the concrete and tried not to throw up.

Maine took a spot right next to me – and both of sat there for a good 3 minutes to catch our breath and drink some water before we joined up with our crew having successfully not vomited.

It was a well-organized run. I liked the Friday night part of it – so it made a quick & easy date night with Eric. He got to have a beer with the guys while the girls ran – and I got to have a beer already waiting on me when I was done.  There was a band. There was festivities. There was a bike there that had a blender attached to it and you could spin to make your own smoothie – the Mr. got me a t-shirt doing that.

I shaved 46 seconds off my 5k PR. I broke the 33-minute threshold. My goal of hitting a 10:20 pace before the end of the year – a goal which felt very far away through most of the hot June & July runs – doesn’t seem as unreachable anymore. I logged a victory in the Nash-Maine-likeablegirl running trio.  And I didn’t vomit. I think that’s a win.