Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Well-Read Runner: Hearts of Iron 5K recap!

Week 2 of training for the Mystic Half Marathon is complete!  Here's a recap of how the week went...

Total distance: 12.34 (not as much because I skipped a long run in favor of a 5K, see below!)

I won't give a day-by-day breakdown (I had 2 treadmill runs that were so-so, and two strength training days that were the same...I'll be honest, strength training is not my jam), but I will mention my Wednesday tempo run.  This was my first time doing a tempo run aaaaaand...I was not very good at it!  I did the run outside...10 minutes at an easy pace, then started trying to slowly work up to 10K pace (as Hal Higdon suggested).  I was really bad at the slow pace increase.  I went from 9:45 easy pace to 8:00 in about 3 minutes...what??  8:00 isn't even my 10K pace (too fast).  Then I tried to dial it back and ended up going too slow.  I was all over the place.

Finally, I stopped looking at my watch and just ran REALLY FREAKIN' FAST until I hit 25 minutes, because I wanted to make sure I got some kind of speed work in.  Finished with a 5 minute cool down.  I know that's not the best way to do speed, but I tried.  I obviously need more practice on these tempo runs!  In the end, the run felt good (and HARD), but I know I didn't do it properly.  Ah well, next time.

Anyway, let's talk about the Hearts of Iron 5K!

I am excited to add 2 real races into my half marathon training (I am also doing a 10K in early May) because I didn't do this when I trained last year, and I think it would have helped with day-of nutrition, equipment prep, etc.  At the very least, I need to practice dialing down my race nerves, because they KILLED me at the half marathon last year.

I chose the Hearts of Iron race for two reasons.  One, it gives money to a good cause (cancer research/treatment centers), and two, I looked at last year's results and realized that this race is so small that if I ran my 5K PR time, I could WIN MY AGE GROUP.  You have NO idea how excited this made me--I have never won anything race-related, ever!  And knowing that this was a possibility made me realize that my race-day nerves were bound to be ON FIRE, so what better race to use as practice for lowering my anxiety?

(I did, soon after registering, read that from the 1.5 mile to 2.5 mile marks of the race there is one long, continuous hill...which was mildly terrifying.  But whatever.  It's just a hill, right?......)

The race was in Rushville, NY, just south of Canandaigua in the Finger Lakes region.  This was about an hour from me, so I got up at 6:30 and had my usual race day breakfast (2 slices of peanut butter toast and a banana).  My husband and kiddos were still sleeping, so in typical Well-Read Runner fashion, I had my breakfast with a side of Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum:

Outfit for the day: Nike Pro tights, a thin Nike long-sleeve shirt, my C9 Champion running hoodie, Smartwool socks, and my usual Nike Lunar Eclipse 4 shoes.  I brought my running gloves and winter hat (both C9) as well, wasn't sure if I would need them, but I definitely did.

(The longer you follow this blog, the more you will realize that my running wardrobe is NOT extensive...haha.)

I drank a bunch of water, tried to get rid of the usual anxious race-day knot in my stomach, and left a little after 7:30.

I arrived at Marcus Whitman High School (site of the race) around 8:45.  I was not super psyched about race conditions at that point...32 degrees, cloudy, and some snow/slush still on the roads.  However, it warmed up just enough that the snow/slush was gone by the 10am start time.  Cold I can do!  Slush would have been less fun.

I ate a Nutri Grain bar, did some stretching, had some Cheez-Its (I know, I didn't really do nutrition that well) about a half hour beforehand, and then did some laps around the parking lot to get warmed up.  Most of the crowd was made up of the local girls and boys cross country little buggers, those ones!  But a local Crossfit group also showed up, as well as some other random runners like myself.  Only about 90 total, the smallest race I've ever done.  I did love it though, because it's the first race I've been in where I didn't have to push people out of the way at the start!

As I was milling about, all I kept hearing about was that mile-long hill halfway through the race.  "OMG, are you ready for the hill??"  "That hill killed me last year."  "Ugh, I totally didn't train enough for the hill."  Oh boy.  I saw a guy wearing a shirt that said, "It's just a hill, GET OVER IT" and I decided to make that my mantra for the day.

Race began at 10am sharp, into an immediate downhill...woohoo!  I knew that The Hill was coming, and I told myself not to squander this downhill while I had it.  At one point I looked at my Garmin and saw 6:55 as my current pace...WOWWW.  Haha.  I finished the first mile in 7:45, the fastest I've recorded on my Nike+ since I downloaded that app (1 year ago).

I wish I could have snapped some pics of the scenery, because it was nice out there.  Lots of rolling hills and farmland.  A great backdrop for a small race.

Then, as expected: The Hill.  As soon as I saw that thing, I thought, "This is NOT a PR course."  Not for anybody.  It was relentless.
The Hill.
I just kept thinking of that guy's shirt though.  "It's just a hill, GET OVER IT."  So I did.  I ran up it until I thought I was going to puke, and then I did stop and walk for about 30 seconds.  Started running again, stopped again for another 15 seconds.  Then ran the rest of the way to the top.  This was a good test for me, because when I stopped for walk breaks in my half last year, I really beat myself down for it for the rest of the race.  But this time, I kept telling myself I was pushing as hard as I could.  I kept the breaks as short as I could, and then kept running.  I passed a lot of people on that hill!!  So I made sure not to let the walk breaks bring me down.  I finished the second mile mid-hill at a 10:00 pace.

After an eternity, I made it to the top of the hill.  The last 3/4 of a mile were fairly easy, some small rises and dips.  I pushed hard for the last .1 and crossed in 27:50.
Immediately post-race and lookin' haggard!
Considering that 1) my PR is 27:02 and 2) I had to walk twice during this race, I'd say 27:50 is excellent!!  I was very happy with my time, and really felt like I pushed myself as hard as I could.

Aftewards, I waited for the results to post.  I looked down the list to see if I placed.  They didn't have age group placement listed next to the times (just age group) so I had to go down the list and count how many were in the female 30-39 group finishing before me.  I counted 3, so I thought I was in 4th place.  So close!  Before I left, I decided to double check...and turns out, I was actually 3rd!  (One of the 30-39 that I thought was in my group was actually a guy...his name was Jody so that's why I had mistakenly placed him in the female group.)

So yes: I took 3rd in my age group!  WOOHOO!!!  This is a BIG BIG deal for me.  I know it was a small race, but I have never come anywhere close to age group placement, ever.  I mean, up until 8 years ago, I hated running with a FIERY passion.  And now I placed 3rd in my age group.  I was ECSTATIC.

I stuck around for awards (got my sa-weeeet certificate) and promptly put myself on Facebook/Instagram blast, as you do.

Overall, this 5K was a huge win for me all the way around.  I did really well controlling my race nerves, I kept myself mentally focused even during the toughest parts, and I got a huge confidence boost from my age-group placement.  Let's hope my half marathon race day can be this great!

How was your running week, friends?  Anyone else race this weekend?  Have you ever placed in your age group before (or if you're an old pro who places all the time, when was your first time)?


  1. 3rd place is great, CONGRATS!!!!!

  2. Oh it is so fun to place in the small races like that! Big confidence boost! Congrats, hill and all!

    1. Thank you! Yes, exactly the confidence boost that I needed right now! :)

  3. Yes! That's awesome! Driving an hour for a small 5K with a huge hill to get a placed in your age group is quite an accomplishment!! Nice job. Congratulations!!! I'm excited for you.

    1. Thank you! Yes, normally I don't drive so far for 5Ks, but I really needed one for training, and they're kind of slim pickins around here in the winter/spring. (Vs the summer when I can choose from 20 5Ks in a given weekend...haha.)

  4. Congrats on the AG award! Awesome job to be so close to a PR on a course like that. I giggle a bit about the cross country kids...they are smokin fast. My 13 year old is in that crowd, although he's built more for distances like 800 and 1500m so he's not as fast at 5K (still way faster than me). Good weekend!

    1. Um yeah, they are CRAZY fast! The kid that won finished in 16:50! I almost died when I heard that.

  5. Oh, my gosh, Kelly! CONGRATULATIONS! I'm so happy to hear that you had such a great race experience this weekend; I truly believe that the more you do, the better it is for you, mentally, on your BIG race day. In addition, I think that pre-race nutrition is whatever works for you; don't knock Cheez-Its and Nutri-Grain bars, girl; they obviously worked to power you up that hill! It's so nice to get a confidence booster like this during training, don't you think? I'm so glad you decided to take this on and that the race turned out so well for you; plus, unexpected age group awards are the BEST! Thanks so much for linking up with the blog today and I hope you are having a great day on your post-race high!

    1. Thanks!! And thank you for the pick me up re: nutrition. I think I read so many blogs with runners who seem FANTASTIC about their nutrition (seriously, how many sweet potatoes and avocados can one person eat?), and I try hard but don't always stick to the good stuff. But yes, the Cheez Its definitely worked out this time, haha!

  6. That course looks tough. Big congratulations on the age group placement. It gets addictive!!! You'll want another and another...

    1. Thank you!! Yes, I have to admit, it makes me want to keep working on speed and look for more of these small races where I actually have a chance to place...haha!

  7. Love this post, and the pictures! Wow! That's fantastic! Congratulations!

  8. Wow, good for you! So impressive! I just read that same section of Hausfrau today :)

    1. Thanks Katie! Hope you're liking Hausfrau :)

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