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Archive for the ‘Race Recap’ Category

Saturday morning I ran a 5k in my fastest time EVER! I beat my previous record by one second, but it’s a PR nonetheless and I’ll take it.

Due to severe flooding in our area, the course was switched up a bit. I was a little bummed when I first found out. It was on the same bike path, just a different section. The original course was on the really flat part of the path that I’ve run a million times. The new route had us going downhill on the way out and uphill at a slight grade on the way back. Not a huge deal, but I don’t like change and it just made me a little nervous. The race ended up being a really small field of about 20 people, mostly men. My insecurities crept up and I found myself just praying that I wouldn’t be last. I know that’s not what it’s about, but it’s still a huge hangup for me.

I started out a little too fast and quickly felt it in my breathing. I reined it in a little and settled into a pace that felt comfortable. I made myself find that point before I looked down at my Garmin. I was really glad when I found that my “happy pace” was still faster than what I normally run. I struggle with keeping a steady pace, but managed to stay pretty consistent for the first two miles, running splits of 9:33 and 9:58 respectively.

That’s when the hill kicked in. It’s more of a grade than a visible “Oh, here comes the hill.” I could still feel it, mostly in my calves where I was already a little sore from my New Rules of Lifting for Women workout on Friday. At one point they started to cramp a bit so I decided to walk a little. That hurt even worse so I picked back up to a jog and rode it out to the finish, obviously at a slower pace. The last 1/4 mile was by far the hardest. My body was done, but I was so close to a PR and I wanted it BAD! My legs felt like Jell-o, but I gunned it and gave it everything I had. I stopped the time on my watch as I hit the line and was a little scared to look down. When I did and saw that 30:59 I smiled and did a little internal happy dance.

A good friend from church is a pretty serious (and very fast) runner and had come out to do the race “just for fun.” He was cheering me on at the finish line which was pretty cool. Once I got some water, he asked me how my run had been. I was a little embarassed to admit that 30:59 was a PR for me. I mean, this is Mr. I-just-won-this-5k-and-I’ve-run-the-Boston-Marathon-twice. Instead of laughing, he was extremely supportive and almost as excited as I was about my accomplishment. While we waited for the awards ceremony, we had a great discussion about running being a personal sport. One person’s goal might be to run a 4 minute mile pace while another person’s can be just to complete a 5k. Both goals are equally as exciting to achieve for the invidivual that set them.

That talk really made me feel so positive about my running. I want to get my 5k under 30 minutes so badly. Some days it seems unachievable and other days it feels just plain silly that I’m actually shooting for a time most “real” runners would consider to be super slow. Having this discussion with someone I respect as a runner made me remember that I run, therefore I’m a real runner. I accomplish something amazing every time I get out there and put one foot in front of the other. My goals are my own. They don’t have anything to do with what anyone else is doing. It reminds me of one of my all-time favorite quote:

The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.

(Baz Luhrman, Wear Sunscreen)

In this case, the race really was with myself. I was the only female in the 20-29 year old division so I got a gold medal!

I’ve received participation medals before, but never as an award based on where I finished. It was pretty cool. I was the 2nd female to finish, but the overall places weren’t divided out by male/female so the boys swept those. The race organizers felt bad when they realized their mistake and said they’d mail them to the top 3 ladies, but we all said it was okay.

There was another first at this race, but it was bittersweet. Remember my not-so-supportive support person? I finished ahead of her and she was not happy. Not even one little bit. This has only happened one other time when she had to pee really, really bad and couldn’t put in any real effort. It didn’t seem to phase her then, but this time she was visibly upset. I congratulated her as she crossed the finish line, but she just rolled her eyes and went and stood off to the side by herself. I let her have her space. At first I felt a little guilty for having passed her, but then I realized how silly that was. My race had absolutely nothing to do with her.  By the time we got in our cars she was speaking to me again although it was still obviously bothering her. I refused to let her mood rain on my parade. I just remembered my quote and smiled all the way home.

🙂

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I was really excited to share this post with you because I had a great race! When I got home to upload my pics, every single one of them said it had an error and couldn’t be moved from my camera to the computer. WTH?!?! Lots of people from the race staff were taking pictures and said they’d be online, but they’re not up yet. I’ll try to add them later, but for now this will be a pictureless post.

Saturday brought a beautiful morning and I was feeling really good about the race. We couldn’t have asked for nicer weather. It was a bit muggy, but not too hot, not too cold and there was a gentle breeze. It was warmer than I had anticipated so I had to rethink my race-day attire kind of at the last minute. Goodbye running skirt with built-in pants and wicking t-shirt. Hello running shorts and tank top.

I’ve run, walked and cycled the bike path where the race was held. When I got to the start/finish line, my first thought was “Oh crap.” We were starting much further down on the trail than I’d expected which meant we’d run to the end and back. No big deal, except this was the hilly part of the bike path. Really, really hilly. No joke hills. I felt a little defeated because I’m not very good at running hills to begin with and I haven’t done much of it at all lately. Oh well. Minor inconvenience, but nothing was going to break my spirit.

When the gun fired, I started off easy and found my groove. I’m really bad about starting off too fast, but I felt like I did a better job of controlling myself this time. As tempting as it was, I tried hard not to look down at my Garmin until I’d reached the 1/2 mile point. I wanted to listen to my body in order to find the pace where I was comfortable instead of letting the display determine that. When I looked down, I was surprised. Turns out my comfortable spot was at a faster pace than I normally run. Instead of psyching myself out and telling myself that I needed to slow down, I just went with it.

At the first hill, I started to get a little nervous. It’s down then up, so I used my momentum and just kept my feet moving. Before I knew it I was at the top. That wasn’t so bad! Conquering that one early in the race boosted my confidence and pushed me to tackle the other, more steep hills a little ways down the trail. Once I got through the hills, I felt on top of the world. Yes, I’d have to run back up the hills I’d run down on the way out, but I was ready for them!

As I neared the turn around, I noticed my 5k buddy looking a little gimpy. When she saw me, she pulled up a little and I caught up to her quickly. Turns out she wasn’t injured, but she had to pee really, really bad. Unfortunately, there were no restroom facilities along the course and no spot in the woods to squat that wasn’t visibile to everyone on the path. We stayed together for a little ways and she said we’d tackle the hills together, but she needed to slow to walk after a short distance and told me to go ahead. She was near tears in pain and I encouraged her to pull off and go across the street to the gas station about half way back to the start/finish line. (Turns out she didn’t. Her pride and ultra-competitiveness wouldn’t let her.) I felt pretty bad for leaving her behind, but I knew she’d do the same thing in my situation and I knew I wouldn’t be upset with her if she did.

My self-doubt kicked in when I reached the hilly part of the course. However, my playlist was jammin’, my body felt great and I just kept pounding the pavement. I felt so good, in fact, that I thought my pace had slowed. This is when the Garmin served as great motivation. One look at my wrist confirmed that I was still keeping up my steady, fast-for-me pace. Hello, adrenaline! I kicked it into high gear as I crested the last hill and realized I was in the home stretch. I gave it everything I had for that last .25 of a mile and it paid off!

My official time on the clock was 31:59, but my watch (which I started as I crossed the line) said 31:32. In my world, this is AMAZING! I was (and still am) on top of the world!

To put it in perspective:

All-Time PR – 31:00

Post-Baby PR – 33:06

Last 5k (4/16/11) – 33:40

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 Last April, I ran my first post-baby 5k. My goal was 36 minutes and I finished in 36:24. I was a little disappointed, but still very proud to be back in the running saddle. It also gave me a benchmark, a time from which to improve.

This year I was giddy when registration opened for the 2011 installment of this race and mailed my form back the day I got it.  I didn’t get to prepare quite as much as I’d hoped. It was either too cold, too rainy or both to take the stroller out and it’s hard to get a real workout in on the treadmill when you’re also trying to chase a toddler around the gym. 🙂 Still, I was excited to run the same course and see what my time was compared to the previous year.

Our weight-loss group at church decided to do it as a group, most people walking while my sister-in-law and I ran the course. It was so much fun to have an active social event! Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and felt a certain sense of accomplishment in completing the 5k. For most of them, it was their first.

Since it was an out-and-back course, one of the other ladies in our group had the chance to snap photos as we passed the on the way back. That’s me, sporting my new running skirt and shoes for their 5k debut. Loving them

I finished in 33:40. My goal was to best my post-baby PR of 33:06, set at the Turkey Trot I ran back in November. Just missed it! Honestly, I know exactly why.  There were a few times I know I could have pushed harder, but didn’t. At the turn-around, I slowed to a walk to fix my hair that was driving me nuts. I dilly-dallied, took my time and didn’t get back to running as quickly as I should have. I also let my Garmin control me a little too much. When I looked down and saw a time that was faster than I usually run, I’d tell myself “there’s no way I can maintain this” and slow down a little, even if I was feeling good at that pace. I need to learn to use it as a tool rather than to get preoccupied with the display and psyche myself out.

While I was a bit disappointed, knowing I didn’t push myself the way I should have makes me even more motivated for future races. That’s a good thing because this week I signed up for 3 more races on May 14th, 21st and June 18th. Bring ’em on!

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Last weekend, I did my very first trail run, the Muddy Leprechaun 4-miler. It. was. AWESOME! I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day. It was a touch on the cold side and a bit windy, but I’ll take that over rain or heat any day.

The day was special for another reason. It was my husband’s first race! He’s not a runner and didn’t do any training beforehand to train, but I told him I’d go at his pace and I was fine with walking, as long as we were doing it together. We jogged a little at the beginning, but then mostly walked the rest of the first 2-mile loop. It was so nice to get outside and be active, all with the one I love!

At the checkpoint, W peeled off and I was on my own. A lot of the walkers were only doing one lap so I was a ways back from the last of the runners. The devil on my shoulder was saying “Just stop now. You’re going to be last and you don’t want to make everyone wait for you.” Thankfully, the angel on my other shoulder must be a runner because she was screaming “C’mon! You know you want to really run that trail!”

So I did.

1/4 of a mile or so was on the bike path, into the wind. The turnoff to the actual trail was at the treeline waaaay off in the distance. See it? Kind of? It felt like it took an eternity to get there.

A right turn, a gravel path that ran along the tree line and then into the woods!

 

I thought it would get harder once I was on the dirt, but it actually felt a lot easier. I’m pretty sure that had a lot to do with being protected from the wind. I did have to watch my footing. There were lots and lots of tree roots and some spots were really muddy.

I loved the sound my feet made when I was running across the bridges.

Coming out of the woods, the trail went back to a mix of sand and gravel. Sort of. With all the rain we’d had the week prior to the race, it felt more like wet cement. Still, the sky was beautiful and the natural surroundings were pretty amazing.

After the stretch in the last picture, it was down a hill, around a corner and just a quick jaunt to the finish line. Guess who ran into a FENCE instead of into the finishing chute? That’d be me! It was a wire fence that only came up about waist high. They had flags tied to it that looked exactly like the flags tied on either side of the finishing chute and spaced about the same. I knew to run between the flags. Obviously I just misjudged which ones. By the time I realized what it was, I’d already run smack into it. Not my most shining race moment. Embarassed doesn’t even begin to cover it. Also not the greatest picture of me ever taken, but I just ran 4 miles in cold and pretty vicious winds. I’m allowed to be a bit scary looking. Oh, and you know you love the stylish Garmin-on-the-outside-of-my-shirt look, don’t you? Sometimes you do what you gotta do…and sometimes it’s just not pretty. 🙂

Overall, I loved trail running. Pounding it out in the mud and through the woods made me feel tough. There was something so freeing about it.

And the swag was pretty sweet…shamrock socks and a pilsner glass!

I had no idea what to expect as far as time went since this was my first trail run. I finished my second 2-mile lap in 24:07 with split times of 11:22 and 12:45. Not bad considering I usually pace between 11:00 and 11:30 on flat, paved courses. And I stopped quickly a few times to take the pictures. All for the love of blogging, I’m willing to sacrifice a little off my time. 😉 

Have you done any trail running? If so, what do you think? If not, is it something you’d like to try?

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