Friday, April 19, 2013

Clarksburg 5K Race Recap

Before I go into any details about my (what now seems inconsequential) 5K, I want to take a moment to recognize the city of Boston and everyone affected by the bombings that occurred at the marathon on Monday. It was a senseless act that left many people broken and grieving. Word quickly spread about a campaign to wear race shirts on Tuesday and to "Run for Boston". I did just that, sporting my shirt from the Zooma Half Marathon at the track that night. After we finished our workout I ran one final lap on my own for Boston. I am so proud to be a part of this awesome community of runners. It may be an individual sport, but we are all in it together supporting one another. #RunnersUnite

On a lighter note, I ran a 5K this past Saturday that my whole family participated in. I ran this last year and finished with a better than expected time of 31:41. At that time I was training for my first half marathon for that June and my training had just begun in March. This year, having already run a half marathon in March and being stronger, fitter, and 10 pounds lighter, I was going for a PR. I really wanted a sub-30 5K.

I didn't sleep well the night before and had some cramping in my right quad. Not good. But I kept positive, telling myself that I could do this.

First up was the kids run. It was a good distraction! All week Jack was really excited at the thought of "racing" and getting a medal. When the time came to line up and he was all of a sudden surrounded by people, he wasn't too sure anymore. I really wanted him to run without my help. In past kids runs I've held his hand and trotted along with him. He's actually a fast runner and I was hoping he would do this one on his own. He really wanted to hold my hand and I just kept reassuring him that I would be right next to him the entire time. Daddy was waiting at the finish and that helped.

Waiting to start:

Lined up:


All done and sporting his medal!

He ended up doing very well. He ran the 100 yards without any help and he even smiled while doing it! I think he was very proud of himself as was I!

Next came the 5K. Sidney actually ran pushing Jack in the Bob. Last summer he ran 2 5K's (also pushing the stroller) but he hasn't run any distance since. Rather than just standing around waiting for me, he decided to run it. And he got a t-shirt and water bottle out of it. :)

I knew I'd be starting out semi-fast and he needed to stay in the back with the stroller. So I kissed them goodbye and made my way closer to the starting line. When the race started it took some time to get through the crowd and the first mile was my slowest.

I kept a good pace, definitely faster than I would ever attempt on a longer run. It wasn't easy but I kept telling myself it's only 3 miles. I've done mile repeats at the track. I can do this. I thought those 3 miles were going to creep along very slowly but before I knew it I hit mile 2. And then there was mile 3 just ahead.

There were 2 big hills and I was worried because almost the last quarter mile is almost all up hill. I couldn't sprint like I normally would at a finish until the last 10 seconds when the road leveled out. Going up that last hill I though, "Did I push myself enough in the first 2 miles? Did I give it all I had?" Despite wanting to finish in under 30 minutes, I told myself I'd be happy if I finished in under 31 with a time of 30-something. Actually I'd be happy just beating last year's time. I didn't want to be disappointed if I ended up not achieving my ultimate goal. But I really wanted that sub-30 and I knew I could do it.

When I got close enough to see the finish and the clock, it read 28 something. I couldn't believe I was so close! I sprinted across the finish and it read 29-something. I stopped my phone, which I hadn't checked at all, and it read 29:11. I had started recording the run before I actually crossed the starting line because I didn't want to be fumbling with my phone on the course. And then of course it took me a few seconds to dig it out and stop it. All I knew was that I had done it! I was so overwhelmed that I almost started crying right there! I had pushed myself harder than I ever had before and it paid off!

And you know what my official race time is? 28:38!! Under 29!! Woohoo!

I hung around the finish area waiting for Sidney and Jack. I had no idea when to expect them. After a couple minutes I saw the yellow stroller and cheered them on.

 I love Jack's little face poking out!

Sidney finished in 35:18 which is so awesome! He ran the whole way and didn't stop once. He immediately sat down, looking worn out and in need of fluids, but he says he actually wants to run more!

I love the Clarksburg 5K. It's very family-friendly with a very reasonable entry fee, awesome swag, and a great post-race party complete with raffles, moon bounces, vendor booths, etc. Jack left with a free soccer shirt just for being so cute and kicking a soccer ball like a pro, and I ended up winning a huge beach bag filled with tons of awesome stuff for summer. Sunscreen, bug spray, towel, and toys galore. I'm already looking forward to running next year!

The next family friendly 5K that we'll be doing isn't until the end of August, but hopefully we'll be able to find one along the way. I love having the whole family involved!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Cherry Blossom Ten Miler Race Recap

This past Sunday I ran the 10-miler in what I expected to be ideal race conditions. The cherry blossoms were expected to peak sometime between Saturday and Monday with a predicted high of 70 on race day. I knew it was going to be a beautiful run!

Saturday night I checked the hour by hour weather forecast and it was only going to be in the 40's in the morning. No biggie; it would warm up. Saturday had turned out to be beautiful and I knew Sunday would as well. But I hadn't anticipated the wind.

I ended up wearing my running tights, a short sleeve shirt, and my yellow Brooks pullover. I didn't want to be too hot and figured I could tie my pullover around my waist if needed. It never became necessary. 

When I was getting ready I was feeling very good and realized I looked pretty good too. I knew I would soon have hat head so I snapped a picture for proof that my hair isn't always in a ponytail! ;)

We got a late start but still made it with time to spare. I was worried, but luckily it had been for nothing. I kissed my family goodbye and went straight to my corral. I didn't want to waste any time going to the bathroom one last time. I think there were 6 corrals and it moved a lot quicker than the Rock 'n' Roll had. I ended up starting about 20 minutes after the gun went off.

 The race started and finished at the Washington Monument

As expected, it took me a couple miles to warm up and get into it. I also started out faster than I should have but I did so because I really wanted a PR. I wanted to finish the race knowing I had given it all I had. I didn't look at my phone once and the mile marker clocks didn't mean a whole lot to me so I focused on how I was feeling. Did I have more in me? Could I push a little harder?

I had forgotten just how beautiful of a course this really is. The scenery is wonderful and there aren't many hills. There were very few cherry blossom trees in bloom which was a let down and the wind was ferocious. When I got to Hains Point along the Potomac River I was running into the wind and it would not let up. This was around mile 6 and it went on for about 2 1/2 miles. It was difficult. But then I turned a corner and the wind let up and all was well.

After you hit the mile 9 marker, there are signs saying "1200 left to go", "800 left to go", and "400 left to go". These helped so much! It took the guesswork out of it and I was able to gradually kick it up until I knew I only had a quarter mile left. I weaved in and out of runners as it was still pretty tight and just focused on my pace and my race. I gave it all I had for a great finish.

Despite the crazy wind and the lack of cherry blossoms, the sun was out and it was a beautiful race. And I got my PR. I finished in 1:53:32, taking 5 minutes off my previous time! I was overjoyed!

It didn't come without it's consequences though. I was super sore the rest of the day and the next. I was also ravenous for 2 days! When we got home I ate a well deserved burrito bowl and took Jack upstairs for a nap. Surprisingly, he hadn't fallen asleep either at the race or on the metro ride home. He ended up taking a 3 hour nap and I slept for 2. I never take naps but I needed it that day! After an equally necessary shower, I put my compression socks on to help my legs recover. My knees are still slightly sore, but I ran an easy 4 miles last night and all in all I feel pretty good. 

 I forgot to get a picture after the race but I got one on the metro! Better than nothing, right?

Sunday night, reading books with Jack and wearing my awesome compression socks!

I'm running a 5K this Saturday and I'm really hoping to PR again. Can I go 3 for 3? I'm not sure what my body will allow me to do, but I'm ready to find out. And I'm so glad I won't be running a long distance run this weekend! I need a little break before I get back to it next weekend and then I've got a half on the 28th. After that? I'll be taking a week off from speed and long runs to enjoy some easy runs. And then I'll figure out what races are in my future. :)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon Race Recap

This is long overdue!! As I always say better late than never, right? I keep telling myself that I'm going to be better at posting and I want to post on a weekly basis. I really want to develop this blog into something more than just a training log. Until I can figure out how to add hours into the day, you'll have to take what you can. :)

Now let's get on to the important stuff. In case some of you don't make it all the way to the end of this blog, I'm going to get it out now. I got a new PR!! I beat my previous half time by 5 minutes! I finished in 2:37:31 with an average pace of 12:01. That is so great!

Now for the nitty gritty. I was up about 10 minutes before my alarm was scheduled to go off (before 5am!) and I tried to just relax a bit and not let the nerves take over.  I had to wake up my 3 year old, which was actually the worst part of it! He did really well though and we made it to the metro by 6, which was my goal.

On the metro. I think they'd both rather be in bed! Haha!

  We got to the start of the race with time to spare and I left Sidney and Jack to search for my corral. I was supposed to be in corral 31! I got down there and waited in line for the port-a-potty. The start of the race began but they were letting the corrals go every minute or two, so I knew I'd be fine. I actually thought they'd be more strict with the corrals but after going to the bathroom, I moved closer to the start line and I ended up going out with corral 20-something. There were huge masses of people and it was crazy!

Starting line- this is the only race picture I got! Sadly, no picture of me at the finish with my medal. Next time!

The first 3 miles were a bit slow and I figured it would take about that long for the crowd to thin out. Well it never really did. I was weaving around people even in mile 8! It was a bit annoying but I was focused on enjoying the race. I purposefully left my headphones at home because I wanted to hear the bands along the course. I wanted to have as much fun as possible!

I cheered, did some fist pumps, and hi-fived anyone with their hand out. I saw a group of people on the left all cheering and giving out hi-fives during the second half. I was on the right hand side of the road but I sped up and maneuvered my way over to them and gave them all hi-fives. I even hi-fived a DC cop! When you're running alone you've got to do whatever you can to keep your mind off the miles and the time, especially when you don't have headphones.

Some of the women I run with on Tuesdays ran the course 2 weeks prior to the race. I ran with 1 woman the week before the race and she told me to watch out for a steady incline between miles 5 and 7. Make it past that and the rest is good. For the first 5 miles I told myself to conserve energy and wait until I made it through the hills. My plan was to wait until I hit mile 8 before kicking it up a bit more. I'm so glad she made it seem like the hill would go on for 2 miles! There were 2 very big hills with long, steady inclines, but it wasn't as bad as I had expected and I got through them without too much of a problem. Must be all those squats I've been doing. ;)

The first 10 miles were actually a breeze. Did I really just say that? Between mile markers 10 and 11 I started to get a mental block and feel a bit sluggish. The hardest mile is the second to last as it seems to go on forever. That's how I felt in my other halfs and I was starting to feel the same way at this one. I knew once I hit mile 12 I would be fine, because I would just concentrate on finishing strong. But once I got to mile 11 it hit me. The feeling that this mile would never end. I dug deep and tried to push away the mental blocks. It worked and I felt such relief when I saw the number 12!

As always, I sprinted to the finish not having any clue about my time. I didn't look at my phone even once throughout the race because I didn't want to psych myself out. My goal was to just beat my previous time and I really really wanted to be in the 2:30's. I obviously did it and I couldn't be more proud of myself!

What really surprised me is that my 10-mile time was 2:02:17, which means I ran the last 5K in 35 minutes. Not bad when you've just ran 10 miles! My 10-mile PR is 1:58:30 and I was only 4 minutes off that. I'm running that same 10-mile course this Sunday and I'm ready to crush that PR!

I'm so amazed at what I can do and the changes I've made. Just from January until now I've lost 6 pounds and shaved 5 minutes off my half marathon time! I'm eating healthy, exercising regularly, and I feel incredible. I have 3 races in April and I can't wait to see what else I can do! You never know what you're capable of until you try.

I have to thank my family, especially Sidney for waking up super early and having to wait around for 3 hours with a restless 3 year old just to support me. It helps knowing my family is at the finish waiting for me. Thanks, I love you guys! :)