Showing posts with label 5k. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 5k. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Reading and Running (& more) in the OBX

Hello, reader/runner friends!  Yes, a long absence around here, but for good reason.  If you saw my Instagram post the other day, you know that the Well-Read Redhead family recently returned from a 10ish day long summer vacation.  Woohoo!  Add in the time required to recover from said vacation (because all vacations with children require substantial recovery periods), and wait a minute, when did August get here...?

Let me fill you in on the trip, especially the reading and running highlights!

(I'll warn you that this "brief" update post turned into a rather long vacation review, reading discussion, and race report, so...just read the highlights that interest you most, I guess?  BEAR WITH ME PEOPLE, I'M STILL IN VACATION MODE.)

Our first stop was at Sesame Place down in Langhorne, Pennsylvania.  We added Sesame on to the front of our summer vacation last year as well, because our kids are at PERFECT ages for it (2.5 and 5), and it's a fun way to kick off a big trip.  This year, we broke family records by staying at the park for NINE HOURS.  My kids are serious troopers for hanging in there that long!!  We had a great day, then hopped in the car and let the kids sleep while we drove to a hotel in Maryland.
The Happiest Place on Earth (for kids who have not yet been introduced to the actual Happiest Place on Earth)
The next day, I impressed myself by getting up at 6:30am to work out in the small, but well-equipped, hotel gym.  I had the place to myself, and ended up doing 30 minutes of cycling, plus a bunch of core/strength work with the free weights and BOSU.  I thought about trying a treadmill run, but one running step told me my right leg was still not okay (more on that later).  Boooo.  Still, this was good for spending 9 hours running around a theme park the day before!
Up in the gym just workin' on my fitness. Pretty sure someone famous said that.
After checking out, we headed to our final destination: the Outer Banks in North Carolina.  We vacationed here in 2012 as well, and fell in love with it.  A return trip was most certainly in order.  We shared a beach house with our 2 good friends and their 2 kids in Corolla, and had an absolutely AWESOME week.  We managed a beach trip (or 2 or 3) every day, as well as a side excursion to the aquarium on Roanoke Island.  It was fun, relaxing, exhausting, and rejuvenating all at the same time.  :)
More of this please.
Reading highlights...well, there aren't too many.  You do a beach trip with two young kids, and you don't end up with much reading time (see: Reading with a Toddler, an old guest post on the blog from 2013...very appropriate here! Sorry for all the broken pic links though. Too lazy to fix right now...).  I packed my book into my beach bag on day 1, and promptly removed it that evening, knowing that the oceanside reading of my 20's was just never gonna happen.  However, after the kids went to bed and during their afternoon downtime, I did often get some pages in on the deck.  My book of choice was Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter.  Full review to come, but WOWZA, this was an enthralling mystery, albeit an extremely, horrifically graphic one.
View while reading. Not sad about it.
Running highlights...again, not many, this time because of my injury!  (I still don't have a name for said injury, but I'm finally seeing an orthopedist tomorrow, so stay tuned.)  Other than my hotel biking/strength session, I also got in some sunrise yoga on our deck (AMAZING!!) and on a whim I decided to run a local 5K on the 27th.  I knew it would stir up my injury, but how could I resist a local race along the ocean?  I mean, just one little 5K, right...
My sunrise view during yoga on the deck. Seriously? Stop it.
The Brindley Beach Lighthouse 5K is run every Wednesday during the summer months in Corolla.  I was afraid that a race that is put on every single week would be kind of shoddily done (like, are they going to go all out for something they do over and over?), but holy moly--OBX Running Company has a pretty amazing thing going on!!  Every race employee I talked to was super friendly and helpful, the entire race was smoothly executed, all the little details were taken care was great.  Very nice finisher medals and race tshirts for all participants, plus an email later that day with your official race results, finisher video, and pictures.  Seriously awesome.  They also do a 5K every Thursday in Nags Head, so I highly recommend checking one out if you are ever vacationing down there!

I got to the race site near Currituck lighthouse early to register, then spent some time stretching, warming up, and exploring the area.  The race started a little after 8am, which in Corolla means HOT HOT HOT.  It was 81 degrees with 96% humidity, to be exact.  YEAH.  For an upstate New Yorker, that is literally trial by fire, because I can't remember the last time I ran in those conditions.  Between the heat and my leg, I decided to keep myself going no faster than 8:30 pace, and just push as comfortably as I could.

The race started, and a minute or so in, I looked at my watch to see 7:45 pace.  Nope nope nope.  I dialed it back and fell pretty comfortably into the 8:30 range.  I finished mile 1 at 8:35 and felt surprisingly good.  Mile 2, I encountered the one water station and decided to walk through it.  I knew I NEEDED the water, and the thought of choking down 1-2 mouthfuls while I ran was not appealing.  I still managed to complete the second mile in 8:55.

As expected, the heat was getting to me badly by the third mile, but I still finished it out at 9:03 pace, for a final result of 27:27, good enough for 2nd in my age group.  Not bad!!  Only about 1 minute off a PR in fact, and that's damn good for those conditions.  I attribute much of it to the fact that my legs were very (very very?) well rested from no running lately, and that I put zero pressure on myself, since I did this race at the last minute anyway.
Sweaty me + medal + Currituck Lighthouse
So glad I participated in this race--the whole experience was so fun, and it ended early enough that I still had enough time for a long, fun day with the family on the beach afterwards.  :)

(I did pay for it with my leg afterwards though.  OW OW OW.  Le sigh.  Damn injured leg.)

Anywho, after that 5K, all my other working out for the week went out the window.  I will admit that I had MORE than my fair share of wine last week, participated in a lot of late nights laughing with our friends and playing ridiculous rounds of Cards Against Humanity, and ate a lot of not-workout-friendly foods like Duck Donuts and cookies and ice cream sandwiches.
In case you've never met Duck Donuts. LET ME INTRODUCE YOU.
But hey--no regrets!  Honestly, I'm starting to feel like this injury was "meant to be", as cheesy as that sounds, because it would have been hella hard for me to continue marathon training last week and still have the fun, carefree vacation that I enjoyed.  Plus, it's saving me from heavy training in the hottest months, and I gotta tell ya, all you runners with the hot-weather-running Instagram photos are NOT making me miss it.  ;)

Does taking a running break suck?  OH YEAH.  Watch my face turn green with envy every time a runner goes past my house.  I find it mentally painful to open my newest edition of Runner's World right now.  If it's possible for a Garmin to rust, I'm sure mine is currently doing it.  But if I have to find the bright side, then I will, because I can't let a speed bump get me down.  (More on this in a later post...)

Oh man, are you loving my rambling today, or what???  I have lots of upcoming posts for you though, and I promise they will be better organized!  I owe you a Shoreline Half race recap, I have a bunch of mini-book-reviews to publish, and I have some deep thoughts about running to share in the wake of this injury.  STAY TUNED!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Well-Read Runner: Summerfest 5K recap (unexpected PR!)

Well, I'm still recovering from the (good) shock of yesterday's 5K race.  I did the Summerfest 5K at Mendon Ponds Park in Rochester.  There was also a 12K race at the same time, and I really wanted to do that one instead, but the kid's race (that Small Fry was doing) was set to start only 75 minutes after the 12K start, and I was afraid I wouldn't make it back in time!  So I planned for a leisurely 5K instead.

Mendon is well-known for hills, hills, and more hills.  Plus, the course is partially on trail, which I'd never raced on before.  That, paired with the hot and humid weather that was on the docket, made me adjust race expectations beforehand (lesson learned after that muggy 5K in July!).  No PR goal, or any time goal, really--I wanted to just enjoy the view (Mendon is also very beautiful) and see how I'd hold up on those hills.

We got to the park about 45 minutes before the start, which gave the kids time to play on the playground while I fueled/used the porta-potties.  :)  The 12K started at 9am, and at 9:05 we were off!  And right up a hill!

I got to the top and already felt some fatigue in my legs--oh boy.  But, as I promised myself I would, I didn't look at my Garmin and just forged ahead at a comfy-but-brisk pace.
Where's Waldo?  I'm wearing white and kind of in the middle/right. And yes, I got smoked by those little kids. SO FAST.
As hoped, the view was nice--we passed a horse farm along the way, and lots of rolling hills.  Every time I hit a hill I'd say "you got this!" out loud to myself, and that extra mojo gave me a good push.  As I passed the first water stop, a little boy (maybe 4 years old) was volunteering there with his parents, and when a bunch of us ran by without taking water, he exclaimed sadly, "Why don't they want any of my water?!?!?"  Poor kid!

We ran past this water stop again in the second mile, and by then I was thirsty (it was seriously hot), so I decided to not only get water, but also stop to walk and drink it.  I'm going easy on myself today, right?  I made sure to take my water from that same little boy, and got a chuckle when he yelled, "YESSSSSS!" as I walked off with the cup.  :)

The trail portion started right after this, and began with a bang as we went down a small hill...and the guy in front of me lost control and ran into a big plastic signboard in front of us!  I stopped to ask if he was okay, he assured me he was, and I was off again.  Ouch, dude.  Lesson learned, no barreling down the trail!  The rest of the trail portion was fun though: good shade, nice scenery.  Only bummer was it's hard to pass people on a single-track trail.  But again, I wasn't going all-out so I didn't mind much.

Out of the trail, we had a few more hills and then downhill to the finish.  So excited to see my husband and my boys cheering me on!  Then I got near the finish and saw the clock.  They had 2 clocks out: one for the 12Kers (who had started 5 minutes earlier) and one for the 5K.  They read 31 minutes and 26 minutes respectively.  What?  I thought FOR SURE the 31 minute clock must be mine.  There was no way I was heading for a PR?!
My finish line photos: always horrific form but with a really intense, photo-worthy look on my face.
WRONG.  PR achieved!  My final time was 26:24, a full 38 seconds faster than my PR from last year on a flatter, smoother, and MUCH cooler course.  (Plus...I walked through a water stop!  I stopped to check on a fallen runner!)  Insanity.  I later found out I was 2nd in my age group and 33rd overall (out of 217).

Holy impressed with myself, Batman.  There is surely something to be said for low-pressure racing.  Without that usual burst of adrenaline and nervousness that I get at the start of a highly-anticipated race, I feel like I paced myself much more smoothly and just trusted my body.  Plus, I'd just had a really rough week (for not-running-related reasons), and this race was such a mental boost.  Gave me a lot of confidence in myself, and showed that I've been better with my hill and speed training than I thought!

Afterward, I got to run with Small Fry in his second 1/4 mile kids race, which he loved!  That kid gets such a game face on when he's running.  Some serious speed is in his future.  ;)

As I write this, I have my feet up and am still basking in the good vibes of this race!  Now here's hoping I can channel that pre-race zen every time I get on a course.

When was the last time you (pleasantly) surprised yourself during a race?  Do you do every race all-out, or do you purposely race some easier than others?

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Well-Read Runner: Vino and the Beasts 5K recap!

This weekend's race was quite different from any other I've done before.  It was my first obstacle run!  I had no idea what to expect going in, but it was a great day and has definitely piqued my interest in doing more of them in the future.

Several months back, one of my fellow moms in our local MOMS Club chapter suggested that we form a team for the Vino and the Beasts 5K run.  The run takes place at Three Brothers Winery in the Finger Lakes (just over an hour from us), is advertised as fun and team-oriented, and there's wine.  (Did I mention the wine?  So much wine.)  It did not take much to convince 6 of us to sign on for the race.

I have been leery of obstacle/mud runs for a few reasons.  First and foremost are stories like this one, about mud runners who get vomity gross infections after ingesting mud from the runs. GAH.  I am such a germaphobe to begin with, that does not sound like a good time for me.  Second issue I have is with obstacles that seem potentially life-threatening.  Like that ice bath you have to jump into at Tough Mudder.  That's got to be bad for your heart, right??  And the electroshock thing?  Just no.

However, Vino and the Beasts sounded low-key enough that no one would be dying from electroshock, and I could hopefully keep all the mud out of my mouth.  :)

The race started at 11am, but our heat wasn't until 12:20, so we rolled into the winery just after 11.  There was a decent crowd, but parking was easy and because there were so many heats (over 15 of them, and only a few teams in each) there was almost no line for registration, bag check, or porta-potties.  I was a little annoyed at the extra charges ($5 for parking is one thing but $5 for bag check??  Seriously??), but overall everything was organized and easy to navigate.
Pre-race by Cayuga Lake and still so fresh and so clean, clean!
Our 6-woman team (me, Amanda, Erin, Emily, Jessica, and Aimee...a better list of popular girl names from the 1980's there never was) had a range of fitness levels: a few regular runners of varying speeds, a few who did a lot of interval/body pump/etc training, a few who didn't train and were just planning to wing it.  :)  We all agreed that we would stay together though.  No soldier left behind!

Right before our start time, we were offered a shot of wine: YAY.  Great way to start the race!  Our heat started and off we ran.  We did about a half mile before the first obstacle showed up, the Walk of Shame: basically two upside-down V-shaped boards that we had to walk up and then down.  Not to tough.  That was the theme for most of the obstacles, as we found most of them to be a laid-back break from the run rather than a tough challenge to overcome.  Appropriate for a wine-themed run, I'd say!

Two more obstacles followed shortly (some hay bales covered in a tarp that we had to crawl through, and a rope web to climb), then a water stop, and then came the longest period of straight running.  Much of it was on wooded trail, which was beautiful, but a large section of it was also through a corn field, in full, mid-day sun.  The heat was pretty killer.  To keep all of us together, we alternated walking and running throughout this section.  We were all excited for the second water stop, which offered both water AND wine!

It was fun to experience the race with friends who are not all runners.  Emily is a soccer player, and while she's in great shape, she gets insanely bored with just running.  So partway through the race, she started weaving back and forth on the course, pretending she had a soccer ball to dribble, just to keep herself entertained.  Ha!  Jessica powered through by pretending all the obstacles were on American Ninja Warrior ("I'm taking on Mount Midoriyama!!  Where's the Warped Wall??" lol).  Do what you gotta do!  I was just enjoying the fact that I was running a 5K without a time goal!  I don't usually sign up for a race unless I plan to run it full-out, so it was fun to kick back this day.

Then we had more obstacles: several hay bales to jump/climb, followed by the two water obstacles.  The first was the Mash-Up, basically 12-18 inches of water with a net draped over it that we had to elbow-crawl our way through.  (Cue me trying to keep muddy water out of my mouth...haha.)  Soon after was the Beast Bath, a 15-foot deep mud/water pit that we had to swim across.  It wasn't a terribly huge obstacle, but this was hard!  I soon realized that swimming in soaked sneakers is tough stuff...haha.  But, we all made it across, and it felt pretty awesome to be soaking wet at this point in the race.

More running, and more obstacles (some wooden boards we had to hop over/crawl under, Mt. Vino (a giant wooden wall we scaled with a rope), a tangle of elastic bungees to crawl through, and a potato-sack jump) before finally, the finish!  The 6 of us linked arms and cheered through the finish line (53:43 final time).  We all made it, no one was crying/collapsing, a success all around.  :)
Done!  Not muddy, but very wet.  (And yes, I did wear my Forerunner 10 and it did great even in the water obstacles!)
By the end, I definitely saw the appeal of obstacle runs (especially low-key ones like this) as races to tackle with a group of friends.  This 5K wouldn't have been half as fun if I did it alone, or with a time goal, etc.  A course like this lends itself to joking and camaraderie, while still providing a good physical challenge along the way.
Team Moms With Muscles is ready for the vino
After the race, we all got changed (in the porta-potties...they really need to provide changing rooms, this was more challenging than the obstacles!!) and then picked up our finish-line wine glasses and tasting passports.  This allowed us to do free tastings at the three local wineries (Stony Lonesome, Bagg Dare, and Passion Feet) and one brewery (War Horse) on the grounds.  We grabbed a quick lunch from the local food trucks, then headed to our tastings.  While I didn't love every drink I tried, they sure did go to my head fast (running 3 miles in 85+ degrees and not hydrating enough will do that to you)!
Me so happy about wine.  Mmmmm wine.
Tasting time was a blast, but I think we were all ready for some R+R by the end.  Time to head home.

First obstacle run = complete!  While I'm not sure I'm ready for a Tough Mudder just yet (the electroshocks, y'all, let me just reiterate that), I would definitely do another 5K mud run with friends any time.  Awesome experience all around.

Have you done any obstacle runs?  Did you race them with a time goal, or use them as a fun way to run with friends?

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Well-Read Runner: The PR That Wasn't

I'm a week late here, but I ran the Shoreline 5K in Hamlin, NY last Saturday (the 18th), and it's about time for a recap!

You may remember that my goal for this race was to beat my 5K PR.  This has been a goal of mine ever since the 10K I did in May, because my Garmin showed that the first 5K of that race was better than my 5K PR time! I knew I had enough training under my belt to smash it.  Shoreline was described as a "fast and flat" course, so I signed up and got ready for race day.  I did some speed work in the weeks leading up to it (intervals, race pace runs, etc) and felt more than ready on race-day-eve.  Plan: run a sub-26 5K (my current PR was 27:02).

Day of the race, I got up early and did my usual bagel-and-banana routine.  Weather was calling for 70's and overcast in the morning, which sounded good to me; however, what I REALLY should have looked at was the humidity, which was hovering around 88% and climbing (eventually reached 94% by race time).  It wasn't until I got out of my car after the 45 minute drive to Hamlin (which is right on Lake Ontario) that I realized how thick the air was going to be.

At this point, I probably should have adjusted my plans a bit, right?  With humidity that high?  But, I didn't.  I was jammin' out to my favorite tunes, getting pumped up, and I was ready to DO THIS THANG, humid or not.

As race time approached, I stretched, had a Honey Stinger waffle, used the bathroom, etc.  Our original start time was supposed to be 8:15, with the Shoreline half marathon starting at 8:00, but they moved our start to 8:30 after some last-minute course changes caused a bit of chaos.  This was kind of nice, because the half marathoners cleared out of the bathrooms/refreshment area by 7:50, giving the 5K'ers ample time to get ready.  The 5K was a much smaller crowd than the enormously-attended half, so I got comfortable at the start line and was ready to roll.
Race map from my Garmin
Before we knew it, BOOM, we were off!  I pushed hard right out of the gate, catching glimpses of 7:45 pace on my Garmin.  My target pace was around 8:15, but I figured if I was comfortable going faster in the beginning, I would roll with it.  At the half-mile mark, we were running down the state park entrance road, and my husband and kiddos were driving in from the other direction.  They rolled down the windows and gave me some enthusiastic cheers, which was an awesome boost!

I hit the 1 mile mark with a 7:54 split.  While that felt great to see, I started to get an inkling that I was in trouble.  I was sweating like I had just gone through a downpour.  (Is there any grosser feeling than trying to wipe the sweat off your sweaty face, only to realize that your hand is equally sweaty, thus just adding hand sweat on top of the face sweat?  Really.)  I figured I could still PR, but maybe just not by as much as I had originally planned.
During mile 1.  Not the most attractive, but looking kind of bad ass, let's be honest.
That was a nice thought, for a while.  But by the time I hit the 2 mile marker, I knew party time was over.  8:37 split, over target pace, and the thought of chugging through one more mile of this humidity was awful.  I felt like I was breathing underwater.  Not long after that marker, we turned onto the path that goes along the lake, which provided some breeze--but not nearly enough to make it bearable.

The last mile was a trudge, and I could tell that I was not alone.  A guy I had chatted with at the start, who said his target pace was over a minute faster than mine, was running right next to me and visibly hurtin'.  No one was looking pretty in this race, that's for sure!

I pushed myself to keep on, but it was a struggle.  Just before the finish, the hubs and my boys were there yelling, "GO MOM!  GOOOOO MOM!!" which was pretty fantastic and brought many laughs from the surrounding crowd.  It was also the only thing to put a smile on my face in that last mile!  Third mile split was a lousy 9:14, final time 27:18.  Over PR by 16 seconds.

While I was, of course, disappointed in my time at first, I didn't remain disappointed for very long.  I quickly realized that it had been foolish to think I would run amazingly well in humidity that high.  I had never really had to adjust my goals for that type of weather situation, but lesson is now learned for sure!  Physically, I still feel like a PR is in my near future, but it will have to be on a drier day.  (I was also very glad to not be one of the half marathoners this day--a LOT of people were getting pulled off course for medical attention during that race.  Scary stuff.)

Given that, to be only 16 seconds above PR, and 9th out of 42 in my age group, is still pretty darn good in that weather!

To add to this positive swing, an hour after my race, Small Fry got to participate in his first 1/4 mile kid's race!  I ran it with him (at his request), and he had such an awesome time.  They didn't time the race, but he ran his little heart out.

When he got a medal after crossing the finish, he started yelling, "I WON!  I WON!!"  Cutest thing ever.  He got some serious bling-bling too!  Heavier than both of my half marathon medals.  Dang.

He is signed up for another 1/4 mile race in September (I am doing the corresponding 5K again), and he is VERY excited.  Perhaps another runner in the family?  We shall see...

And so, the 5K PR dreams will wait for another day.  In the meantime, I've learned yet another lesson in running via this race--as I seem to do from all races!

What lessons did you learn from your last race?

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Well-Read Runner: New Plans!

Hello, runner/reader friends!  After taking over a month off from this feature after the Mystic Half, I'm back with a little update on my running activities of late.

After taking a much-needed break, I've been back in the saddle, just running for fun.  I have a love-hate relationship with non-training runs.  I love them, because it's nice to just go out, ignore the Garmin, not worry about pace or distance, take in the scenery.  Sometimes when I'm in training, I'm so focused on whether I'm hitting race pace, or what direction I need to go in order to add that extra mile to my run, that I can't just enjoy the act of running.  So, running-for-fun has been rather excellent in that regard.

However, when I don't have a training goal, I get lazy.  It's hard to motivate myself to get up for early morning runs (the best time of day for me to fit them in).  It's hard to push myself to do more than 2-3 miles at a time, if I know I don't have to.  I don't want to lose the speed I've gained in race training, but it's hard to run speedy when you know you can just take it easy!

And so, new goals are now in place.  They are:

1. Set a 5K PR before year's end.
I don't think this is a particularly hard goal, seeing as how last week, after a REALLY REALLY bad day, I went for a run and beat my 5K race PR (27:02) by OVER A MINUTE.

What??  I signed up for the Shoreline 5K in Hamlin, NY later this month, which is rumored to be fast and flat.  Time to crush my sub-27:00 goal!  I'm also registered for Vino and the Beasts obstacle run 5K next month (basically an excuse for my friends and I to drink wine while running?), as well as the Summerfest 5K in Mendon on Labor Day weekend, but that one is partially on trails (which I've never raced before), so I'm doing it without PR goals in mind.

2. Run at least 1 race that is longer than 5K before the end of the year.
This will likely be the Monster Scramble 10K in Rochester in October--one of my close friends was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis last year, and the race raises money for the National MS Society.  I plan to fundraise like heck and run my heart out!!

3. Sign up for the 2016 Four Seasons Challenge.
Here's why I'm not going very long in distance for the rest of 2015--because 2016 is gonna be killer!  I am dying to sign up for the Four Season Challenge, which requires you to run the 4 Rochester half marathons in one calendar year: Winter Warrior (January), Flower City (April), Shoreline (July), and Rochester (September).  In addition to making me into a certified bad-ass, completing the challenge also means you get a gigantic, bling-bling medal at the end (in addition to the ones you get at the end of each race).  I feel juuuuust a little crazy for doing this, but I am really stoked about it.  I believe registration will be opening around my birthday, so I already hinted to my husband that this would be a great gift.  ;)

So that's where I'm at.  Even though I'm fairly confident in my ability to get a PR at Shoreline in a few weeks, I'll be working on some speed work before then...and pushing myself to get up for those 5am runs more often!!

Now that we're at mid-year, how are your fitness goals going?

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)?
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