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: Seneca7-77.7 Mile Relay Race 4/27/14

We did it!  Our team finished off a long day of racing without dying.  This was my first long distance relay race and I’m happy to say that it went over pretty well.

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The days leading up to the race I was getting a bit nervous.  My run times were slacking due to my missed week and bronchitis recovery and I was seriously worried that I would not make it through at least one of my runs (after all, I had committed to this race while still hacking up a lung).

Post-marathon (in January), I haven’t booked nearly as many miles.  This came in part due to the craptastic weather combined with back to back sicknesses that took  me out of commission for weeks at a time.  In the 3 months post-marathon, I missed a cumulative of 3 weeks of running and hadn’t put in a run over 4.5 miles since.

This race was my get back to it race.  With 3 legs featuring steady and rolling hills I was ready for a wake up call.

My First leg wasn’t nearly as bad as I had expected and the flat portions of the run provided me enough recovery to climb the slight hills.  The nice drop off at the end also allowed for a strong finish and left me feeling determined for my next legs.

Leg#5:  3.88 miles,  42:47, 11:01 pace (was actually 10:55-10:57, but didn’t stop my clock on time)

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My next leg wasn’t as thrilling.  The thought of rolling hills seemed fairly appealing, but the climbs were back in my face just as quickly as my drops and my HR never dropped below 176 bpm.  For me that is way higher than I am comfortable holding for long distances.  I usually prefer to stay in the 165 bpm range to avoid burnout.  Despite my struggle, I was able to end strong with relief that my longest run was over with.

Leg#12: 5.19 miles, 58:55, 11:21 pace

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 Then came my last leg.  The leg that I thought would be my little slice of heaven….yeah, it wasn’t.  This piece was by far the hardest.  I was already starting to feel tight from my prior runs and being crammed in a car all day and a steady climb was the last thing I wanted to see.

This leg actually didn’t bother me in the first mile.  Mile one was flat and easy.  It wasn’t until mile two that my legs started burning.  I kept seeing the peak of a hill and figured it would level out or go downhill.  I was wrong.  It just kept climbing and the last half mile was by far the worst!  I so badly contemplated stopping and walking.

Leg #19: 2.61 miles, 30:00, 11:29 pace

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My legs hurt, my heart rate was through the roof and it felt like every stride was propelling me nowhere.  People kept passing me with their words of encouragement and all I wanted to say was “fuck you” (yeah, I’m that kind of runner who gets pissed by the sympathetic compliments).  I can’t help it, I get in the zone and don’t necessarily want that pat on the back.  For me when I’m already struggling it can feel like a condescending slap in the face.  I’m sure I’m not alone in this, but it does make me feel like an asshole.

Despite my irate attitude, I finished off as strong as I could and ended my final leg with heart pounding satisfaction.

Our last two runners ran their final legs and our team ended up finishing at 7:42pm, which put us at a 9:47 pace for the day.  We crossed the finish together and received our corresponding finishers medals along with a hot bowl of chili and cornbread.

I really enjoyed this adventure and would love to be part of a race like this again.  It was definitely a new experience and it taught me that training on hills needs to happen more often.  I can see how it will work to my benefit even though I despise them.

Have you ever competed in a long distance relay?  What races are you training for?

 

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.

Because I’m Just A Little Crazy: Seneca7

Call me a mad woman, because I just got roped into something crazy! My friend Cassy was on the hunt to replace a runner for the Seneca7 race she’s participating in on the 27th. What’s the Seneca7 you ask?  Well, it’s a 77.7 mile race around Senenca Lake, the running is split between 7 runners responsible for 3 legs each.

I’m runner #5 responsible for these 3 crazy legs!  I’m a wee bit nervous for this endeavor, but it’s going to be fun!

The first leg is 3.8 miles with a steady climb.  This is where the nerves come into play. I am not the best with hills.  To be accurate, my hitting a hill during a run is much like watching a child try to go uphill on a slip and slide.  It just doesn’t end well.

Screen shot 2014-04-17 at 3.53.03 PMLeg 2 seems a bit more promising.  Seeing the term “rolling” in the description  gives me a little bit of hope.  The scary part is the 5.2 mile distance that it’s paired with.  During my marathon training, 5.2 miles seemed like a small number, a short run if you will.  As of recently though, pretty much since I crossed the finish of my first  marathon, I haven’t run anything over 4.5 miles.  Part of this was due to the bitter cold and part of it was due to my constant state of unwell.

Screen shot 2014-04-17 at 3.53.24 PMAnd lastly, my final leg, a short 2.6 miles sounds like a slice of heaven.  I’ll hold on tighter to the descriptor of “gentle” over “uphill”  as my little piece of sunshine.

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Despite my nerves and dislike for hills, I am excited. This will be my first big running race post-marathon.  It’s definitely something that will gear me up for the bigger races that I have planned for this year and next.

Running With Your Heart

Let me tell you a little (well not so little) secret about how I pace myself during my longer runs.

I listen to my heart.

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Marathon training taught me a valuable lesson on how listening to your body plays an important role on your overall health and performance.

As a competitive athlete, I was always trained to go at a “balls to the walls”, all out, heart pounding intensity.  For me this doesn’t mesh well with long distance running.  I learned this on my first 15 mile run.

I was running much slower than my normal pace due to the crazy October heat (yeah it was 86 and humid in October last fall) and still felt like I was dying.  For the life of me I couldn’t figure out what was going on.  That wasn’t until I looked down at my HR monitor and it read 195!  I was at my max HR and moving so slow (15 min mile + slow), it didn’t make sense.  I was only 6 miles in and I was ready to cry out of frustration.  I ended up switching to run/walk intervals for the remainder of the run.  I wasn’t happy about it, but I wanted and needed to get my HR back down under 170 BPM to save myself from overheating. 
It was the first time that I really listened to my heart and learned the importance of doing so.  Had I kept pushing myself to reach a certain pace, I could have found myself collapsing due to heat stroke.  I know HR training isn’t for everyone, but for me it really does help. It tells me when I need to slow down (something that can be a struggle for me) and lets me know when I have more energy to speed up.

I know, it’s not a perfect science.  Our bodies can act differently under varied circumstances and small things (lack of sleep, caffeine, weather) can account for an increased HR during training.  Regardless, for me I feel like it’s a useful tool and I think I will work on putting more focus into it over the next couple of months.

I found this useful chart (based on my Max HR and resting HR) and do find that it correlates  with how I perform on my longer runs.  If you’re interested in learning what ranges work for you hop on over to Running For Fitness to create your own guide.

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I’m really excited to see how my running will change once I reincorporate HR training into my routine.  I am eager to see what my sprints look like and look forward to reaching new running goals as the weather warms up.

How do you train?  Do you listen to your body (or heart) and let it guide you?  Do you push yourself to meet a certain pace?  Do you shoot for distance or time?

Interested in learning more about heart rate training?  Visit Competitor for, “Running 101:  Training With A Heart Rate Monitor”, or “Get In The Zone: The Pros Of Heart-Rate Training For Runners”

Get In The Zone: The Pros Of Heart-Rate Training For Runners
Read more at http://running.competitor.com/2014/02/training/get-in-the-zone_66832#P5xFMLz0pCOcGrZf.9
Get In The Zone: The Pros Of Heart-Rate Training For Runners
Read more at http://running.competitor.com/2014/02/training/get-in-the-zone_66832#P5xFMLz0pCOcGrZf.99