Race Recap: 5K Chili Challenge, Ithaca NY 11/2/14

It was another bitter and brutally cold day for this year’s 5K Chili Challenge (last year’s weather was just as bad).  It took a lot of effort for me to make it out of bed and brave the elements, but I sucked it up and made it happen.
463633_846711335362788_1076732083611111049_oI had been fighting an upper respiratory infection during the week and my lungs had been feeling tight so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had only been able to put in 4 miles that week and missed out on my 17 mile run so I figured this would be something that would at the least help me maintain some level of fitness.

Another motivator to get me out was that my two biggest fans came along to support me!  Craig and Connor braved the cold with me until the race started , but they later took refuge in the car while I ran.

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It was cold!  The wind was tough, but I dressed for the part.  I really loved the course for this 5K because it was a change of pace from mundane road races.  Trail running has become a new love of mine!  I often prefer it over other options and love that it provides a different level of challenge.

 

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In the first half of the race (the uphill portion) I was sure to take it easy.  This is where knowing the course really helped!  I was glad to reach the turn around point because I knew I could pick up the pace and improve my time during the slight downhill.  I even managed to pass a few groups of people!  This is something that never happens for me!

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I am a comfortable middle of the pack runner and usually end up on my own during the race, but it was nice to knowingly pass people and keep them at my tail.  I paced my fast mile in mile two and kept a strong and steady pace for mile three.

Like a perfect midpack runner, I finished off in 32:59 and placed 112/224 beating last year’s time by a hair.

 

 

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Race Recap: Trick or Trot 5K-Cortland, NY 10/26/14

This past Sunday I had the painful joy of partaking in Cortland’s Trick or Trot 5K.  I say painful because my body was not too happy with me that day and it had every right to protest.

Why was I in so much pain?!

Oh, ya know, because I switched my training run around just so I could participate in said 5K.  I crammed in 15 glorious miles the day prior (16 if you count the extra mile I had walked to get home) and my body was feeling it.

Regardless of my lactic-acid drenched thighs, I was able to do the best with what I had and fared better than expected.

Even more exciting than my ability to move the day after such a long run was the fact that my little guy, Connor was able to participate in his first “race”!

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This event is definitely a must-attend for any parent!  Not only did they provide daycare during the race, but the little tykes were able to participate in their very own 100 yard dash.

Connor is still a tad young to understand the concept of when to run (though he does it on command any other day) so when the horn went off he just stood there.  I leaped in and trotted by his side until he got the idea.  He was VERY eager to catch that little shark ahead of him and finished his loop with a little help from mommy.

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Then it was mommy’s turn.  I didn’t quite know what to expect or how hard I would be able to push myself, but I managed to bring some life in my tired limbs.  I was tailed the entire race by a woman in a bright neon green shirt and I could tell that she was pacing me and trying to keep up so seeing her in my peripheral was just enough to keep me going when every inch of my legs burned.

A pair of flamingoes and superheroes just ahead were also there to keep my motivated.  I so badly wanted to pass them.  I did finally manage to pass them, but superhero batman had to pass me in the final seconds of the race and I finally felt like that infamous bird flipping runner.  All in all I was rather pleased considering I had physically exhausted myself the day before and still managed to place respectably 54/142 overall and 9/22 in my division.

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It wasn’t my best rest, but it was fun and I am eager to give it another go next year.  I’m even thinking that if I work on my training it could be a potential placement race in the future (unless it gets bigger and draws Ithaca crows–why are they so damned fast?!).

Have you participated in any Halloween themed races this month?

Race Recap: Twilight 5K-Ithaca, NY 6/11/14

A week and a half ago, I completed my first Twilight 5K in Ithaca.  It’s one of those summer races I have been meaning to do for a while now (hello cheap entry fee) and I finally bit the bullet and signed up.  I was feeling pretty good going into the race and was really hoping for a PR.  In some ways I did PR, because my time was shorter than my fastest racing 5K, but the distance was shorter that my last PR 5K (3.17 miles).

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In retrospect, I think I could have come close to hitting my PR goal if I hadn’t been so fixated on getting Runkeeper to work in my first quarter mile of the race.  It was an easy flat course and along a path I’ve run on many a time during my marathon training.  One thing I realized is that I really need to learn how to not place myself at the head of the pack!  I know I am not a fast runner so why do I put myself through the frustration of being passed by a million people?!  I hate the feeling of being passed.  It’s especially frustrating when said passers try to be encouraging.  I mean c’mon, we all know what you’re rely thinking.

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source:  http://theoatmeal.com/

Perhaps if I started in the back or middle of the pack I could for once gain the pleasure of passing someone by.  Alas, maybe someday I will learn!  Or maybe someday I will be a faster runner and it won’t bother me so much.

Overall, I think I did fairly well.  My pace was only 12secs off of my PR pace so it wasn’t like I completely flopped.  I look forward to more summer races and hope to work up my speed as I learn more about HR training and incorporating speed work.

Building Speed and Happy Belated National Running Day!

Ever since I completed my first full marathon back in January I’ve been struggling with building my speed.  As of late, it seemed that no matter how hard I tried I could barely break an 11:00 minute pace for my 5K distances.  If I could get sub 11 minutes for my 3-4 mile runs, it was a good day.

I’m not a fast runner (hello, I’m a Slow Mo Mother Runner!), but back in November before my mileage was crazy high, I ran my best 5k at a 10:10 pace.  I also ran a 10k with a sub 11:00 pace.  Both of these have been tough paces to obtain again.  That was until this past weekend!  I finally hit a 10:10 pace again!

10346366_721909884527565_5399344539351721673_nI was thrilled with my run!  I wasn’t expecting much when I stepped out the door that morning.  In fact, my run started off crappy because Pandora wasn’t working and I ended up running without any music.  I was worried that it might slow me down, but there was something nice about a trail run without the distraction of rhythmic beats in my ears.

I listened to my breathing, watched my HR, and went with the flow.  Mile 2 was a bit trying, but once I turned around at 1.7 miles I knew I was over halfway finished and I knew I had room to push myself because I was nowhere near my max HR.  So I kept an eye on my Polar FT40 and told myself I would build my HR at 1/4 mile increments.  It worked!  I build my speed back up and finished off strong.  It was a pretty awesome feeling to hit that mark again.

For the month of May, post relay race, I had been working on building my speed.  I incorporated hills, fartleks, and built my mileage for a couple of runs.  I’ve also listened to my HR and have been working on what points during a run to really push myself.  Ideally, I’ve found that staying at 160 for the first half of my run and then building things up and pushing hard towards the latter half works best.  I do max out around 185-190 and can’t really push myself for too long at that HR, but I find it’s my sprint rate and it works for that last short final push.

I even went out yesterday on National Running Day and put in a decent 5K with a 10:37 split.  I’m still trying to master the negative split because mine still look like uneven pyramids. I am getting stronger and can feel myself getting faster.

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These next couple of months I am reading up and playing around with a few things to see where it takes me.  One other thing that I have been trying to master is my stride.  I’m so used to a heavy legged short stride and would really love to get away from that for my shorter runs.  Based on my current research it seems that a lot of small changes can mean a world of difference with pace. My goal before the end of the summer is to get  sub 10:00 min pace for a 5K distance.  I would love to see a 9:00 too!

What are your pace goals?  What are you doing to get faster?  How are you building your speed?

Race Recap: Tough Turtle 5K Obstacle Race 4/19/14

Pre-race, I made sure to doll myself up because I have this problem with race photos.

I seriously almost always look like I am taking a crap or pushing out a giant baby elephant.

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Pre-race selfies

It’s not a joke, I am dead serious! You don’t believe me? Of all the race photos to be found, this by far must be the worse, but it’s also fairly representative of what I look like when I race.

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Courtesy of the Ithaca Journal

My horrible grimace is the least of the most appalling things in this photo. It’s overly unflattering and I’m okay with that.  You should try looking glamorous and svelte while sliding down a steep hill coated with animal lube (YUP….ANIMAL LUBE).

Anyhow, enough about photos, the race was a blast!  It was my first obstacle race and despite my still recovering from the week-long bout of whatever the hell I was fighting, it went pretty well. Mary and I ended up pairing off within the first 20 seconds of the start.  Someone didn’t quite get the meaning of “team run”, so I sprinted ahead to catch up with her so she wouldn’t have to brave it alone.  I may or may not have held her back some, but she was kind enough to slow her pace to do it together.

We blasted through the first bunch of obstacles until we hit the tractor tire flip.  That thing was freaking heavy!  At this point we were both happy to have the support of a team member.  It really took a lot more out of us than expected.

The rest of the course proved to be a little easier, but a surprising struggle was the progressive balance beams.  Trying to walk on narrow balance beams while getting hosed with water was not an easy task!

Up next we climbed the hill to the slip and slide of doom (I think it was called the Compost Cascade).  This is where I got pretty banged up and mud in places I may never be able to get to.  At this point my cold was starting to get to me a bit, but I kept on pushing.  We finished off the race with just a few more obstacles including carrying a log, dodging zombies,  climbing a net wall, climbing a hay bale, and lastly throwing a tire onto a pole.

We finished in style, mud on our face and in a reasonable time of 38:30.

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We then waited for Craig and Dani to catch up to us (they weren’t too far behind us).   We watched them finish their last obstacles and then joined them to run the last stretch so we could at the least finish together as a team.1492223_854738451206202_481913266110309039_o(1)It was such a fun experience and I’m eager to do it again!  I have a voucher for a Spartan race so that will probably be my next challenge.

10246783_10100462165927709_5018156578620390483_n    The race was fairly easy, the tough part was getting our mud soaked clothes cleaned.  It seriously took me 3 tub rinses to get the majority of the mud and compost out.

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All in all, I’d do it again!  I def enjoy these races and my only worry would be getting injured, but if you’re smart and not too competitive it’s not too bad.

Race Recap: 5K Turkey Trot 11/28/13

I was so close to skipping this run all together, but am so glad I did it.  The weather was brutal in Upstate NY (we’re talking snot freezing, numb toes, and hypothermia weather) and I was not liking the idea of subjecting myself to the elements.

However, my best friend texted me that morning to let me know she was on her way to get me.  There was no turning back–it was time to bundle up and run this thing as fast as I could.  The saving grace was that at the end of it all I would be rewarded with wine, turkey and a Thanksgiving feast.

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The first mile felt pretty good (aside from the cold) and I felt like I could push through this race with a sub 10 pace, but then mile 2 hit.  Mile 2 was horrible for so many reasons. My pace went from sub 10 to 11:43/mile.

1) I lost feeling in my fingers and my toes.

2) The roads were slick and icy.

3) It was uphill.

4) There were gusts of wind that burned me with windchill and nearly swept me off my feet.

I’d seriously never felt so cold in my life!  The wind was crazy and I couldn’t believe how strong the gusts were.  I never knew that I could be blown off my feet, but there were times I had to catch myself because the wind was THAT strong.

Mile 3 was SO much better.  The course switch to flatter lands and the trees helped block the wind.  The remainder of the course was also on a decline so I finished off mile 3 strong with a 9:16 pace.  I was so ready to finish and figured that the faster I went the sooner I’d be inside sipping hot cocoa and eating a cider donut.

The race, wasn’t too crazy and we were required to track our own times at the finish.  My finish time was 32:17 (runkeeper said 32:15 for 3.17 miles) and I think I placed 186 out of who knows how many. Screen shot 2013-12-03 at 10.50.06 AM

Once I finished I ran back to finish with friend–I didn’t want her to feel like I had completely abandoned her.  Overall, it was a fun race and one I might consider doing it every year that I am up for the holiday.

How I Came To Love Running

I’m not a runner.  I hate running.

That used to be my stance on the sport.  I detested running and pulled out every excuse to find ways around it when it was required for team sports.

I blamed bad knees (which I genuinely had) and exercise induced asthma.  When team runs were required, I was always the one huffing and puffing at the back of the pack and trying my best to keep up.  I could run one mile at a 9 minute pace, but after that I didn’t want to have anything to do with running.  I was ready to quit.  I was constantly suffering from patellar tendonitis and IT band syndrome.  Rather than run, I’d get my cardio in by erging or biking, but it wasn’t really enough to improve my athleticism.

I always figured running just wasn’t for me.  I had thick, heavy thighs and weak knees.  I would gasp and cough after every run.  What I didn’t realize was that I was never going at MY own pace and that was the number one reason I was suffering.

Running is a sport that you can’t rush until you and your body are ready.

Inevitably, you will be out of breath, panting, cramping and in pain if you try to go at a pace that is not your own.  I learned this when I began training for my first 5k in December of 2010.

I had signed up for the 5K because I needed another push to get me through my wedding weight loss goals.  I had noticed a few friends signing up for the short races and thought it might be something I could do.  I had been working out steadily for some time, but per usual was avoiding the treadmill like the plague.

In my efforts I came across the Couch to 5K program and began my own modified version of it.  Since I was already in fairly decent aerobic shape (through biking and erg work), I decided to push myself a little bit harder and go a little longer on the days that I felt I could.

I still remember the feeling of being able to go for 5 minutes, then 10, then 20, and so on.  It wasn’t until the week before the 5K that I was able to finish the full distance without a walk break, but I did it.  I was so confident and proud of myself.  I had never run anything further than the distance before and it was a huge accomplishment.  I finished my first race at around 34 minutes and made it the entire way through without stopping.  It was at that point that I realized I was capable of more than I gave myself credit for.

I had hoped to continue the trend and planned to keep at it, but I didn’t.  It wasn’t until this past year that I decided to hop back into it.  I started off with intervals of sprinting/walking, but I made the mistake of doing too much too soon.  I was already doing P90X and the plyo-X workout is tough on your body in itself and when you add running with 30 lbs of extra weight to it you set yourself up for injury.

I developed anterior shin splints and they were the worse. I had never in my life experienced this type of injury.  I knew part of it was because I was wearing the wrong sneakers for my overweight frame so I made the decision to invest in a new pair with added support. I also knew that over training was to blame so I slowed things down and took it easy.  The pain soon subsided and my mileage increased.

With every run I felt stronger and more confident in my abilities as a runner.  In June the experience drove me to sign up for my first marathon and I began training for it in July.  The first training runs were tough, but with every passing week I learned that most of my limitations were mental and that if I didn’t go too crazy I could go further distances without getting hurt.

Running has become a routine that I now crave.  On my rest days I miss it and wish I didn’t need the break.  Training for this marathon has taught me so much about what I am capable of.  The biggest surprise is that I’ve learned that I am capable of so much more than I can imagine.

Never would I have thought I could complete a 10k, or a half marathon, or a 20 mile run, but I did it.  I’ve learned that I am a runner.  I just needed to find MY pace.  It may be slow now, but I will keep working towards PRs and getting faster.

I love running because it reminds me that my biggest obstacle is my own mind.