Cross Country 5k (19:20)

The morning after running a mile track race, my husband convinced me to do a cross country style race.  He’s into the trail and cross country races, and I’m more into the road races.  It worked out well since with cross country terrain; you can’t compare yourself to anything. If you are running through a giant mud pit, you won’t run as fast as the road.  So I was easily able to throw my expectations right out of the window…

Cross Country Race running

We arrived at the start around 8 am and warmed up. Not surprisingly, I felt tight and sore after racing the evening before. I had no goals and wanted to run.  Something I haven’t been able to do much of since running last week…

Once the race started, I found myself as the third person overall.  I stayed there the entire time. The race was smaller because there were so many races that weekend. My husband and another male were further up front, and I lingered behind.  During the first mile, I felt tired.  The mud allowed me not to worry about pace, and I thought about how beneficial spikes would have been.  I hit the first mile in 6:15 and thought, oh geez if I can maintain this it would be a miracle!

During the second mile, we went into a wooded trail section.  The course was well marked in the woods, but there were a lot of roots. Knowing my track record with falling, I knew it was better to be safe versus sorry and focused on not falling.  Around the halfway point, we went out on extremely muddy and grassy field. It was like running through a swamp.  I preferred the less muddy trails.

I hit the halfway point in 9:45. I knew it was slower than most races I had run, but I didn’t care. It was a hard course; I was tired, and mentally I wasn’t upset.  I saw my husband fly by.  He had taken the lead.

Since the race was out and back in the woods, after the turnaround got crowded.  We headed back into the woods and while it wasn’t a single lane track, it was narrow.  It was great to see other runners working hard, however, at a few points some runners were running side by side, and there was no room for me to run the other direction.  I was pushed a couple of times into actual trees.

I ran the second mile in 6:49.  To give you perspective, that’s much slower than a half marathon paced mile for me.  You have to race the terrain you are given.

The third mile left the woods and did a loop around a large hill.  I had lost track of my husband but saw the second place male about a minute in front of me.  There wasn’t anything interesting during the third mile, and my focus was to finish.  I finished the 3rd mile in 6:11 and ran a 19:20.

When I got to the finish, I noticed my husband was not there.  I knew he had a great race, and I was concerned.  I went over to the car, and he told me a volunteer had directed him the wrong way, and he only ran about 2.5 miles.  It’s a shame because he was having a great race. He ended up running a tempo run and finishing his workout while I cooled down.

Thoughts:

I’m happy with my race after running the mile.  I am, however, jaded by the disorganization of the entire race.  While it’s typically the race participants responsibility to know the race course, being told to go a certain direction by a volunteer is unacceptable.  They should have had a lead cyclist.

It was fun to get out and run on terrain I don’t normally get too.  I’m happy with my effort during the race.  I got my fill of college style racing (a mile on the track and cross country).  Eventually, I’ll hit up the roads again.

Questions for you:

Have you ever run a cross country race?

Have you ever been directed the wrong way during a race?

Training: Track Miles, XC Races and 78 Miles

Last week, I did a lot of unique training that I don’t normally do.  I raced on the track, ran a cross country style race and even did my long run on the trail (side note: I don’t normally even do 2 hour long runs!).  Since I’m not actively training for anything now, I’m enjoying doing other things with no major focus.

Monday: Easy Run
Tuesday: Easy Run
Wednesday: 6.5 Tempo Run
Thursday: Rest
Friday: AM: 11 Mile Easy Run
PM: 1 Mile Race (5:40)
Saturday: Cross Country 5k (19:20)
Sunday: Trail Run 13.6 mile run
 Total:  78 miles

Thoughts:

My easy runs were just that, easy.  I don’t have any complaints, and they were all uneventful.

Workout Wednesday: 6.5-mile tempo run (6:42 pace)

On Tuesday I received ART, so I knew I would be sore.  My goal was to run the tempo faster than the week after Broad Street and I did.  While it’s not my fastest tempo, I’m pleased with how it went.

Friday Mile: 5:40

Long story short, I didn’t know I would run this until later in the day. If I did, I wouldn’t have run 11 miles that morning.  After running and then working, my coworker asked if I wanted to race a mile with her.  I thought: “why not”?  5:40 isn’t my fastest time but after my week of training, plus running earlier, I’m happy with that time.

road mile running

Cross Country 5k: 19:20

The next morning, I ran a 5k with my husband.  I was operating on minimal sleep. Once again, I had no time goal for the race.  I could feel the effect of the mile, and I was both sore and tired.  There was a section of the course that was an “out and back” on a giant muddy field.   It reminded me of collegiate cross country running. I could have worn spikes and been better off.

I attended a wedding in Frederick that evening.  I was exhausted from racing and lack of sleep as well as driving.  We stayed the night in Chambersburg and ran at Caledonia state park.  Even though it was pouring rain, I had a beautiful run.  Plus, I beat my Fitbit “steps” high score from the elevation change.  138 flights in a single run HAHA.

me running 1 trail

Next week I don’t have a lot of plans.  This month I’m taking my training week by week.  As the summer approaches, I’ll make some training goals, but right now I don’t have a lot.  I’m jumping into races most weekends and just running for the beauty of the sport. 

Running Related Posts from Last Week: 
Quick Strength Tips for Runners
Saucony Ride 9 Review

Questions for you:
Have you ever run a mile on the track?
What was your best workout last week?

Run the Vineyards 5k (20:30)

The day after running the Panther Prowl I decided to run an XC course. Last month I raced the Run the Vineyards Grapes and Peaches 10k.  The race was well put together and one of my favorite races so far this year.  I knew that eventually I would want to do another Run the Vineyards Race.  I haven’t been fond of doing long runs on Sundays lately, so I decided to do the Run the Vineyards 5k instead.

I arrived at the race around 8:20. It was further than anticipated, but I was able to sign up, warm up and then make it to the race start. At the starting line, I noticed a younger kid with a GoPro attached to his head. He looked pretty serious, and I assumed he would win (Spoiler: he did).

The race went off with no issue.  I immediately found myself as the second person overall. After .1, I stayed at that position the entire time. I could always see the GoPro kid in front of me, but I didn’t have the energy or speed to catch him. Immediately into the race, we made a hard turn into the Vineyard. It was grassy, muddy and wet. It was the typical cross country terrain. The first mile weaved in and out of Vineyards and through a wide open field. I found the open field to be the muddiest. We crossed over some soft sand, and my watch beeped a 6:20 first mile.  That was actually faster than I anticipated.

The second mile went through more of the field and passed over a road into another Vineyard. During the crossing I noticed there were wild turkeys ahead. Thankfully one of the volunteers began chasing them away because I was terrified. During the second mile, my legs started to feel the effect of the course. I haven’t run on trails or grass in a while, let alone mud or flooded terrain. I felt myself drastically slowing, but I wasn’t surprised. I ran the second mile in 6:36.

The third mile went back towards the start. It was an out and back course, so we ran by people running the opposite direction. I was slowly becoming more tired, and my legs were fatigued. I felt like I was running through quicksand! The third mile of any 5k is frequently boring and uneventful. I focused on finishing. We did a giant loop through 2 Vineyard trails and all of a sudden I could see the finish line. I ran the last mile in 6:56 and finished in 20:30.

Awkward photo of the day goes to me...
Awkward photo of the day goes to me…

Thoughts:

It’s impossible to compare cross country times to road race times. I had a great race, and I have missed running on open fields. I plan to look for several more cross country style races before Winter.  This time is closer to my previous road 5k times from earlier in the summer.  That shows a huge improvement because this course was much more difficult.

I had a great time and had no regrets.  I even won a bottle of wine. I enjoy the Run the Vineyards races, so I am hoping to do the last couple before next season. I recommend them to anyone in the NJ/PA area.

Questions for you:

What is your favorite type of wine?

Do you like cross country races?

Training: Cut Back Week

Looking back at my schedule I needed a recovery week.  It worked out well because honestly my body was exhausted from the RNR Half Marathon.  This week I have been eating a slice of humble pie because it takes far more time to recover from half marathons then 5ks. With the exception of todays raceI ran all of my runs easy.  To be honest I missed the track!  It’s funny how my interests and focus with running has changed.

Gone are the days where I slog easy for every run.   

This was essentially one of those easy weeks and I hated it!  An easier week was necessary because the half marathon broke my body down pretty hard.

I rested Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.  On Monday, Wednesday and Friday I ran easy.  I didn’t concern myself with time or pace.

I also got a deep tissue massage on Tuesday which really seemed to help my legs.  It was extremely painful because my calves were so tight but it was exactly what I needed.  By Friday I felt a lot better.

On Saturday I worked a local high school race “The Cherokee Challenge”.  Over 3500 kids competed and it was a lot of fun to see some of the kids I help and talk too “in their running zone”.  It was exhausting just watching.

On Sunday (today) I did decide to run the “Run the Vineyards” 10k. The course itself went through both Peach and Grape orchards. It was absolutely beautiful and was similar to a cross country or trail race. There were a few pavement areas but it was mostly around the Vineyards and grass. It was a nice change of terrain. I haven’t raced on cross country or trails since the Run for the Hill of it 5 Mile race.  I ran a 40:55 and placed second female overall!  Honestly that would have been a fast race for me if it was all road but it was almost all cross country.  It definitely motivated me and I’ll have a recap soon.

I don’t have a lot to report since recovery miles are boring. They were easy and uneventful. The weather was hot and humid so I was glad to take my recovery week this week as well.

Next week:

I’ll be hopefully getting back into routine and getting a track workout in. I miss track!

Questions for you:

How long do you take to recover from half marathons?

When I race them more frequently I recover faster…imagine that!

What is your favorite type of run to do (track, tempo, LSD (long slow distance)?

For me it used to be LSD but I think it might be the track right now!

Lake Effect Series: Binge Eating

When Hollie reached out to me to write an article I immediately had to write something up.  Though I have been a few years removed from my “demons” they will always be there.  I’ll give you a little bit of background about me though.

I am a 26 year old runner.  I’m 5’5 and 118 pounds.   I’m now married and am holding down a full time job.  I guess that is all you really need to know for the story.

It all began in college.  I was a runner and had the dream of running at NCAA nationals.  Though I was a D3 runner, my zone was pretty tough competition and on a cross country course you had to be running 5:50 miles.  I was at the cusp of this and running 5:55 miles on difficult courses.  I had been doing everything my coach wanted me to do.  I had logged miles, perfected my speed work and my body felt as it should (it was sore on cue and I had fresh legs on cue). I was never underweight and at that time I weighed 125 pounds.

125 pounds is not underweight for my stature and I had very little muscle.  I was a typical cross country girl.  I was built like a rail or a middle school aged boy.  I had a little bit of insulation but not too much.  Since I was doing everything else my coach asked and not breaking through my plateau I started to diet.  Not in a very restricting way but in a way to come down to the lowest possible weight for my height. (112 pounds).  I would still be in the “healthy” category.  I didn’t want to drop weight too quickly because I feared I would lack energy for running.  I just wanted this weight at the regional competition and then I would go back up.  I didn’t care about weight to look good or because I had poor body image, I wanted a lower weight to be faster.  Of course I did this all behind my coaches back.  I don’t know if he would have agreed but I didn’t want to rupture our relationship.

———-

For the first few weeks it went according to plan.  After about a month I was 118 and I felt stronger than ever.  I also was getting faster and everything felt easier.  Then in the second month I started to take everything for granted.  I thought losing weight was easy and I was starting to miss eating more junk food.  It wasn’t that I ever ate a lot of junk food to begin with but mentally I felt like I was missing out.   I wanted more food and I began to crave everything I wasn’t eating.

One day I was at the grocery store picking up a few things and I thought the fresh baked cookies looked really good.  I bought two of them and headed home.  I ate them both on the way home in the car.  It wasn’t a big deal at all.  I was treating myself for such a great workout, treating myself because I hadn’t for a while.  Just treating myself.  I hadn’t avoided treats at all and treated myself a few times throughout my month of “dieting”.

But when I got home I immediately felt guilty.  I felt like my world had come crashing down and I began crying hysterically.  Everything had gone wrong and I wasn’t going to make it to nationals because of these cookies.  My day was ruined.  What happened next doesn’t even make sense to the outside eye but I went back to the grocery store.  I bought a dozen cookies and a cookie cake.  Roughly 3000 calories and I devoured it all in the car.  I couldn’t stop myself and it was like I was addicted and someone was forcing me to eat this food.

I didn’t vomit or puke it up.  I never suffered from bulimia.  I suffered from binge eating disorder. 

I have never had as low self esteem as the morning after and feeling bloated and asking myself what did I do?  I weighed myself and weighed 126.  Did I gain 8 pounds in one night?  Impossible.  My workout that day suffered and I couldn’t even hold a 6:30 pace on the track (which is huge considering I was able to normally hold 5:30 pace for 400 repeats).  Within a few days my weight and body went back to normal and I stopped weighing myself daily.  I was back at 118.

That must have been a trigger of “oh you can do this and stay at that weight”.  I ended up binging 2000-5000 calories several more times during the season.  I couldn’t force myself to throw up.  So I sat in empty parking lots cramming as much food into my stomach until I couldn’t anymore.  Once I felt sick I went to bed.  It gave me the same similar high that running did.

I decided not to weigh myself the rest of the season.  I felt my self esteem going downhill quickly.  I felt lethargic half the time at practice.  I couldn’t tell anyone.  I wasn’t weighing myself because I was always bloated from binging. I figured if I did what I did my very first binging session and ate well the week before regionals I would be fine.

I would make it nationals and feel great. 

I don’t know what oblivious world I was living in though.  I began weighing myself during the week up to Regionals.  My first weigh in I was 138.  138?!  I had never weighed that much in my life.  I figured it was water weight and bloat.  The day of regionals I weighed 133.  That doesn’t seem like a lot but I had gained 14 pounds in a month and not realized it.  I had simply thought it was water weight.

Regionals came and I ran a 5:58 paced race.  I missed nationals by roughly 25 places (in a 300 person field).  I ran a slower pace than the very first race of the season.  This was an extremely flat and fast course on a perfect day.  If it had been the first races conditions I would have ran closer to 6:10.

After that race and several cries I realized I was not in control of my life.  I decided I was never going to binge again but that was short lived.  I binge ate off and on for 2 years until I was 25. I told no one.  I lived alone.  I was in a viscous cycle of binging and then dieting. I cycled weights from 120-140.

I wish I could tell you about a magical moment I had to stop.  The moment came when one day I decided I was done with this aspect of my life.  I wanted to get my life into control.  I had said that multiple times but for some reason this was the time.  So at age 25 and one month I stopped.  I haven’t binged since and I never want to again.

After a few years of poor runs and even poorer self esteem resulting, I’m finally able to run and enjoy myself.  I’m finally getting the personal bests that I sabotaged myself from the last few years.  I am the person I want to be.  Though I was never officially diagnosed with a problem, it’s obvious that I had disordered eating that led to a 3 year eating disorder.

Where am I now?

I am currently training for 5ks to redeem myself from my college days.  Not a day goes by I don’t regret buying those cookies and opening up that door.  A door that I could not overcome until I grew and became more confident in myself.  Though I regret it, I know it helped me grow.  I am a happy, successful person and can say that I have truly never been happier.  I am glad I made the promise and followed through of never binging again.

I often think about eating cookies and cake but right now I fear that one cookie by myself will lead me down this path.  Instead I go out to eat and get dessert with friends.  When the meal is done, we leave.  I haven’t been triggered since although I haven’t put myself into situations that I feel I might be triggered.

I hope no runner or person every struggles through this.  Thank you for reading my story.  Thank you Hollie for putting this series together and running for this cause.  Every small amount of money raised counts and is used, just as every small amount of awareness is taken by someone and used.  So thank you and have a Happy Holidays.

From the Ground Up

Three and a half years ago I had a meeting with my cross country coach.  It was my first season as a runner and my first time running more the 20 or 30 miles weekly.  It was early September of 2010 and I was enjoying running more then ever.  (At least I thought…my love for running continuously grows).

Little did I know how much that meeting would change and sculpt my running mentality.  It’s a running mentality that I still hold near and dear to my training.  My coach at the time told me to run everyday, don’t worry about pace or distance just run.  Discover something new about yourself and your training each day…Maybe you don’t like a certain running path, certain shoe, are you an arm swinger, can you solve your life issues during a simple run.  Just run.  Run 30 hours in 30 days.  That averaged to one hour a day of easy running or 2 hours one day and off another day…I didn’t know that this was typical of a base building period.  This is what people do before speed workouts.  This is why people fall in love with running.

Either way I did just that and ran 30 hours in 30 days.  Since I wasn’t worrying about distance or pace (and it was long before I owned a GPS watch) I didn’t get injured but I grew as a person and a runner.  It really began my lifelong passion of enjoying running.

Throughout my three years of running that is what I have done.  My daily runs have no exact rhyme or reason.  I don’t plan to do an exact mileage.  If I do 10.567 versus 10.5 who cares…and it even goes the same way about mileage.  I have a goal range every week I would like to hit but nothing that makes or breaks me.  I just enjoy running and racing serves as the only time I truly care about pace and time.

So how does this relate to my normal Sunday training post?

In the last week I have truly wanted to get back into running but I have lost sight of this mentality.  I’m already finding myself gunho on improving my shorter distance times and gunho about becoming a better athlete.   It led me to pull a muscle in my knee a week ago.

When I decided to run last Sunday in the state park near my house it was 23 degrees.  Long story short my muscles never warmed up and the next morning I woke up with a throbbing knee.  I thought I had either pulled, strained or torn the muscle.  Since I assume all worst possible scenarios I assumed it was a tear.  Then with ice, rest and salt baths…it just went away two days later.  It has felt fine since but it has made me realize that I need to ease back into running and not stress about pace or time.

For the next month I am going to do something I haven’t done since of just enjoying my runs and letting my mind wonder.  I’m going to consistently start logging miles and start to rebuild that base.  Running is such a freeing and liberating journey and I would like to get back to that worry free journey.

Questions for you:

Do you like base building?

Are you currently being coached? 

Haunted Hustle XC 5k (19:15)

This race was exactly what I thought it would be.  After two months of not doing low 6 minute paced runs or races (my last was the 8k that I broke my arm) and also driving 1200 miles, I was not expecting a PR.  What I was expecting was a nice shock to my body and that is exactly what I got.  I had toyed with the idea of doing a half marathon instead on Sunday, but decided that was a terrible idea since my body might not recover before the marathon.  Plus, I wanted to start getting some faster miles in as my body goes into taper mode.  It was actually difficult to know there was a half marathon in the area and I wasn’t doing it.

So the race itself:

I was happy to stay with a good friend of mine Laura and we got to the race in enough time to warm up together, grab our race numbers and get ready to go.  It was a “low key” Atlanta race which meant there were only 200 or so people.  Not my definition of low key but I was happy for lots of people.  It was roughly 100 old people and 100 high schoolers.  Look us oldies out of high school go.

Laura and I prerace
Laura and I prerace

The first mile started in an open field and we funneled down onto the course.  I felt like I was really moving and didn’t feel as stiff as I thought I would.  I realized rather quickly that I was pretty far in the back of the pack.  I was discouraged but just mentally told myself, this is how you run and it will be like this in New York City.  (5:57)

The second mile I started to pass people and felt a little but more motivated.  My arm warmers had fallen over my watch so had no idea what my pace was.  I just went with how I was feeling (which really isn’t anything different, I just couldn’t stare at my watch). I passed roughly 5 females during mile 2, the only time I passed females (6:09).

The third mile, I felt exactly the same.  I just kept plugging away at the miles.  I passed a few males and I didn’t feel like I was dying.  I don’t remember anything significant about this mile just that I was running…when I plugged it into my computer I realized I ran another 6:09 mile.  So it was consistent.

I saw the finish line and just powered through.  I had seen three other females the entire race but had no speed or power to catch them.  When I saw the clock hit over 19 minutes I was honestly a little bit upset.  It was a reality check that I hadn’t been doing speed work.  I finished the race in 19:15.

Thoughts of the race:

I am happy with the time after driving and no speed work but at the same time it’s hard to look at times above 19 minutes after 2 races this summer being in the 18s.  I’m also disappointed with a fourth place finish but you cannot control who comes to races and these girls were faster.  I fully enjoyed the race and cross country races are my absolute favorite (I just wish there were more!).  I honestly felt like I could have kept a pretty similar pace for a couple more miles but I couldn’t run faster for 3.  To sum it up, it’s nice to get some faster miles on my legs.  I’m happy but not ecstatic with the time and I had a great time in Atlanta.

Questions for you:

  1. 1.       What is your favorite type of race? Road, cross country, trail, trail?
  2. 2.       Is it cold near you?  I just went from 80 degrees for the last 6 months to 40 degrees.  It was a shock to my body to say the least.