As most people know, I ran Rock n Roll VA Beach the weekend before last. It drastically affected my training week because I spent the majority of the week recovering from the race.
I spent most of the week recovering and doing easy runs, but I’m doing easy runs throughout the week anyways right now. There is no sense in doing another workout when I am racing pretty regularly. Hopefully, in a few weeks, I’ll feel comfortable enough to add a speed workout on top of racing too.
Easy 45 minutes
Core (15 mins)
Easy 60 minutes
ART release session
Easy 60 minutes
Easy 45 minutes
Flying Fish 6k (19:35)
Easy 90 minutes
There is never much to say about them. They are easy, boring and injury free. To be honest, the half marathon took a lot out of me. My calves are still tighter than normal. It’s to be expected because it was my longest run, race, and sustained effort in quite a while. In fact, I hadn’t raced a half since the April Fools half marathon in early April.
Flying Fish 5k (19:35):
For the last few months, I’ve been excited about the Flying Fish 5k. The race starts and is sponsored by the Flying Fish Brewery. My work put on a group run with Flying Fish about three weeks ago, and I had been excited to race the rest of the month.
However, during the last week, my legs were clearly very tight, and the weather became a big factor. I had already signed up for the sold-out race, so I decided to gut it out. I ended up surprising myself with my fastest 5k time post injury by 30 seconds. The race itself was well put together and a lot of fun. If you are NJ/Philadelphia local, I recommend it.
I plan to keep trucking along and to recover. I’m happy with how my recovery is going. As I said last week, I wouldn’t classify myself in the injured stage anymore. I would classify myself in the recovered but getting back into shape stage. This might be the hardest stage to be in because you want to make goals for the next training cycle but you have no idea how fast you will “get back into shape”.
I’ve run Rock N Roll VA Beach twice before (2013 and 2015 ). Despite being injured for most of the summer, I had high hopes I would be able to run in 2016 too.
Even if it meant forgoing my pride and running faster than a PR, I set earlier in the year.
Even if it meant my only goal was “to finish.”
As luck would have it, I hadn’t had any pain in my foot for several weeks. I decided to use RnR to test my fitness and foot at the half marathon distance. I was confident with my training that my foot would be fine, but I had no idea what kind of time I would run. That being said, if it hurt anyway, I would have stopped too.
So with that, I toed the line on Sunday. My PR allowed me to have an F bib, and I was F5. Never in my wildest dreams would I think I would end up as fifth female, and my only goal was to finish. Since I grew up in VA Beach and half of my friends still live there, I felt like the race was a reunion. I saw a lot of my close friends including well-known blogger Kris L (who ended up as second overall). As I told my dad, I never seemed to stop talking during the race. I high-fived little kids; I shouted to my friends spectating and talked to fellow racers.
The hurricane and high winds caused the race to have a few modifications such as fewer course structures like the mile markers, as well as the start and finish line overhead. They could have blown out to sea…but at least the race was on. The mile on the sand the day before was cancelled due to the hurricane and travel advisory.
I reminded myself everyone was dealing with the weather. Luck hasn’t been on my side for racing weather this year, so I’ve let that one go…It wasn’t as windy as the April Fools half and it wasn’t as rainy as the Shamrock or Broad Street so I called it a “good” weather day.
The race went off, and I decided to run on my own. I didn’t want to feel pressured by a pace group. (There was both a 1:25 and 1:32). My legs were stiff, but I felt pretty good. My friend, Greg, ran close by and said he was going to try and run below 1:30. As much as I wanted to stay with him, I wasn’t sure if that was in my realm of possibilities. We chatted for about two miles. We ran each at 6:42 and 6:48.
I had mixed feelings during the first mile. I’ve run three 5ks now, all around the 6:30 pace. 12 seconds per mile slower but four times the distance didn’t seem like my brightest idea…but I was running on how I felt for the day.
During the third mile, I began to realize this was much longer than the few 5ks I recently ran. As we ran through the third mile, the 5kers turned off. I hit the 5k in 21:27.
The next few miles went without much notice. There was the wind but it wasn’t unmanageable. I found myself running in a pack of men. At the time I had no idea what place I was in and honestly I didn’t care.
I was constantly reevaluating my foot. Nothing hurt and that was all right by me. Somewhere between mile 3-4, I waved to someone and bumped my watch into split mode. I had no idea how to fix it, so I ran the rest of the race relatively blind to pace and time. I could do simple math based on timing to figure out approximately where I was at. My mile markers beeped at the .3.
Around mile 5, I started running with a guy named Brett who is training for his second marathon. We chatted for several miles, and they went by quickly. I also noticed two females about a quarter of a mile in front. I wanted to catch them but didn’t know how my endurance would hold up in the final miles…would it be another repeat of bombing Shamrock? That race is a memory I never want to remember.
We hit the halfway point in 44:46. At that point, my lofty goal was to break 1:30. I did know since the winds were coming from the north, it would be a strong headwind for the final two miles. I opted not to think very far ahead.
During mile 7, I faded. I found myself disconnected from the race and in the negative zone. Looking at my Garmin now; I ran about a 7 min mile.
As I saw I was reeling the two women in, I began to feel rejuvenated. I reminded the race was already halfway over, and I could do it. We went on the base, and the course went in a giant U. I could see the racers out ahead, and I could see the top women several minutes ahead.
I caught both women and as I left the base mentally preparing for the final four miles. I hit mile ten around 1:08:30 and thought, “I could still be on track to break 1:30.”
There is a mini out and back on the course, and we saw racers running between 2-3 hour marathons. They were cheering, and it was motivating for us. I tried to cheer for everyone I knew too.
A man came up behind me and said, he had wanted to catch my green CEPs for a while…I didn’t know what to say so I said, “they were like little beacons”. He ran by me, and I was the one chasing him for the remainder of the race.
Mile 11 always seems to be the hardest mile for me in a half. At mile 11, the race is almost over but then again, not really. We went over a small bridge, and it got to be windy. I put on my sunglasses to keep sand out of my eyes (and to hide the pain). The lack of speed work, training and endurance began catching me. My foot, however, felt fine.
We came down the bridge, clicked through mile 12 and by the time I knew it we were running the final mile on the boardwalk. The final mile was extremely windy and lonesome. Sand was whipping around. I had been unsure whether I wanted to wear my sunglasses but they proved to be helpful to keep sand out of my eyes.
I was running the straight away by myself with spectators around. Honestly, I was jealous. I wanted to stand around in a hoodie and with coffee too. Since it was too windy for the typical finishers line, you didn’t know when the finish was coming. You felt like it would never come. The only thing that signalled the race was over was a timing mat. When I finally saw the outline of a finishers mat, I decided to hammer out what I believe was the last quarter of a mile.
I saw the clock ticking into the 1:29s and I had no idea if I would be under 1:30. I don’t know why I was so concerned, but I gave it everything I had and crossed in 1:29.46. I finished triumphal. I was fifth female overall.
After crossing I felt extremely happy. I finished the race injury free, and exeeded any time goals I had for myself. I’m not in the fitness I was earlier in the year but I know with both time and effort, I’ll get back there eventually. I’m proud that I ran a smart race and able to run consistently as well.
It was great to see so many friends as well as family on course.
Last weekend, my husband and I were looking for a fun 5k to do. Then my in-laws came into town and wanted to find a race too. After a little research, we found the Sunrise Serenity 5k about 45 minutes away. We didn’t know anything about the location of the race and as you can imagine that came back to bite us in the butt.
The course was located deep inside Ridely State Park. To be honest, there were no other cars on the road, and we wondered if we were even going the correct direction. All we saw were miles of trails and an extremely hilly road. Once we made it to the start, we saw a few other people.
We signed up for the race course and warmed up. We didn’t know which direction the race ran, and we warmed up in the wrong direction. During our warm-up, we ran down a giant hill. After about a half mile down the hill, we turned around because we realized we would be climbing back. The first warm up mile was 11 minutes and had an elevation gain of 300 feet. It made me dread racing. The next mile was a little better, and I found myself a little more confident in the race. I told myself it would end up being a workout and not to worry about it.
The race started at 8:30. We got to the race start at 8:30 but they called everyone back to the DJ booth to do warm up stretches. After the delay, we were off at 8:45. Got to love small town 5ks…
After the start, I found myself as first woman overall and something like the 10th person. The first mile went downhill. Since I knew the course was out and back, all I could think about was running back uphill. I saw my husband way out in front, and I found myself running alone. I crossed the first mile in 6:29 and I knew I was in trouble. Running the first mile, which was net downhill, in a 6:29 meant I was probably going to ride the pain train home.
The pack separated, and I found myself running alone. I spotted my husband at the turnaround, and he was second overall. I was excited for him to have such a good race. Being the serious person I am, I winked at him and said you’ve got this. After the turnaround, we began climbing the hill we just ran down. To be honest, I felt better running uphill. I crossed the second mile in 6:33 and was pleasantly surprised. I hadn’t fallen off as much as I anticipated.
Like many 5ks I’ve run, the final mile was just spent focused on the finish. I was approaching two racers, and I wanted to pass them. The first, a middle-aged male, I caught while weaving around runners going the opposite direction. For the rest of the race, I ran nearly side by side by a 10ish year old who ultimately outkicked me. Running with someone was nice. I ran the final mile in 6:31 which I was shocked and pleased with.
I crossed the finish line in 20:14 and as first female overall. With the course terrain, my fitness level, and the heat I was very pleased. Actually, I was more shocked than anything.
As I mentioned in my training log, I am happy with how my running is progressing. I do believe if I raced on a flat course I’m in 19:30 shape. I have no complaints, and I’m feeling extremely motivated and excited to run healthy again.
Questions for you:
What is the hilliest race you’ve done?
Do you generally check race courses and elevation charts before signing up?
On Saturday, I ran the Healthy Kids 5k. Last year, I ran a 20:13 and placed fourth female overall. I had a great time last year and enjoyed the race. My plans changed drastically last weekend, so I found myself with an open weekend and decided to go back and do it again.
I got to the race around 7:30 and it was hot. Like most 5ks, I like to sign up race day. The temperature read 85 degrees, and I wondered why I was running. I signed up and warmed up. When the race started at 8:30 it was 91 degrees.
As with many local 5ks, I found myself boxed in behind young children. They were weaving in and out, and I nearly tripped over one young female. As the racers spread out, I found myself as the 6th person. I hit the first mile in 6:20. It was 5 seconds faster than last week in hotter conditions. My legs felt tired, and I felt overheated. In summary, I didn’t feel good.
During the second mile, I grabbed water and poured it in myself. The wind was blowing off the riverfront, and I felt the wind against my sweat. It was a combination of sweltering air and a slight breeze. It felt good. I ran the second mile in 6:32. I was running alone, but it was fine.
I just wanted the last mile to be over. I was alone, and local 5ks don’t have a lot of spectators. I just focused on the end. I caught one male and rounded a turn. The third mile went into a nature persevere and a nice view of Wilmington. There was a slight incline but nothing drastic. I hit the third mile in 6:24. I was pleasantly surprised because I felt awful.
I crossed the finish line in 20:01. I thought I had broke 20, but the results said 20:01. I should have started in front of the kids I suppose. Oh well, it’s just a number and a few seconds don’t mean much. I did, however, win opera tickets, so that was unique. Last year I ran a 20:13 send was the fourth woman. This year I ran a 20:01 and was the first female…you never can predict who will show up.
The race is 20 seconds faster than last week and on a hotter day, so it’s hard to complain about that.
I’m happy with my race and the improvement since last week. I have no complaints, and I think in cooler weather I would probably be around 19:30. I’m continuing to just rich on the bigger picture and finishing races injury free. I’m not happy or sad about the race, I’m indifferent. I finished injury free and that is all that matters right now.
Questions for you: Have you ever been to the opera? What’s the hottest race you’ve run?
On Saturday I ran my first race post injury. It was no PR, and it was incredibly hot and humid, but it was my first race back in 10 weeks. As I type this out two days later, I feel the same amount of residual pain as if I’m running normally. I’m still dealing with minor aches but I’ve been carefully monitoring my foot and so far so good.
To the race recap:
I didn’t have plans to run the race until a few day before. I knew the race existed, but I wasn’t sure I was ready to race. If I woke up and didn’t feel good, I wouldn’t run. I made the executive decision on Friday that I would probably run. When I woke up on Saturday morning, I was a bundle of nerves. I hadn’t raced in over ten weeks and had no idea how the race would go. I figured if anything hurt, I would just stop. It was only a big deal if I made it a big deal. With that, I headed to Wissahickon park with just my husband and good friend J, knowing my Saturday morning plans. Race day was extremely hot and humid. I warmed up three miles and sweat through my clothing.
The race went off right at 8:30. The first mile was exhausting and honestly it was the hardest mile I’ve run in a while. My legs were tired; it was hot, and I was mentally frustrated. Why do I feel so bad? Why is it so hot? Why are all of these people so darn fast? WTF am I even doing here? I questioned everything in the first minute of the race. I ran with a pack, and we hit the first mile in 6:30. I was pleasantly surprised, but I knew I couldn’t hold that pace. I didn’t feel that fast but I was heating up quickly.
During the second mile, our pack began to spread out. I was running alone and as third women overall. I had no goals for placing and my dream goal was to run under 35:00 (7 min pace). My primary goal was to finish injury free and stay smart. Honestly, that will be my main goal for a while. I ran a 6:45 mile.
The course was out and back. I hit the turnaround, grabbed water and went back the opposite direction. My clothing was drenched, it was scorching, and it was hilly. I was in a dark spot and miserable. I finished mile 3 at exactly a 7 min pace. I reevaluated my ankle which felt okay, and I continued. My mental game was weak, and I felt like I had given up.
I ran the fourth and fifth miles by myself. To be honest, I struggled through those too. Mentally I was exhausted, physically exhausted and over it. I haven’t raced a race that hot in a long time. Possibly since the RNR Half Marathon. A woman blew by me around mile 4. She was running fast, and I knew there was no way I could stay with her. Another ego blow but I brushed it off. I ran both miles in 6:52. When I crossed the finish line, I felt exhausted and tired. I didn’t feel incredible, and I didn’t have a “Runners High,” I just felt tired.
I did a short cool down and went to my car. I had no idea until I looked at my blog post last year but I ran this year 30 seconds faster this year. I do believe it was hotter than last year. Past that, I don’t have any complaints, and I’m looking forward to getting out there again.
The most important part was my ankle didn’t hurt during the race. The race itself was both physically and mentally challenging and I was exhausted. Not every race can be wonderful or a PR, in fact I don’t expect them too be.
Questions for you: What’s the hottest race you’ve ever done? Do you like trail races or road races?
As someone who races a lot, I’ve figured out what I personally like and don’t in a race. Of course, I understand, races are never geared towards one racer, but certain qualities will lead to more runners coming back.
Similarly, some qualities will make me never sign up for your race or even recommend it.
First and foremost, it takes a long time to prepare a road race. It takes much longer than the actual length of the run, and most directors have blood, sweat and probably tears in their races. With the new boom of “fun” and “themed” races and regular timed races have declined. However, just thinking, there are a few key components that separate the good from the not so good races.
I’m neither elite nor a celebrity so in reality, who really cares about what I like in a race right?
So enough about that…What makes a road race good?
Enough Parking and Bathrooms
Races should have plenty of bathrooms. If the hosting facility does not have enough bathrooms, porta-potties should be rented. The last thing racers should be worried about is the bathroom or the parking situation.
Like any runner, I like unusual things. I have close to 50 plain t-shirts. I donate 90% of them. If your race provides anything other than a plain t-shirt, I’m already excited. Even if it’s a long sleeve shirt or a neat graphic, I’m more likely to wear the shirt. Bonus points if it’s a hoodie or jacket. Many races can get away with charging more for a hoodie or jacket.
Good Course Marking:
I’ve run several races that I’ve wondered if I’m running the correct way. I’ve also run races that I’ve been directed the wrong way by a course marshal. Last month my husband was led the wrong way at a race. Yes, I realize at the end of the day, it’s the runner’s responsibility to know the race course. However, the race marshals/volunteers should be aware.
Age Group Awards:
In this day and age, it’s important to give some age group award or recognition. The pure joy of a racer who receives an age group award is usually contagious. Runners remember when there is no award ceremony.
Post Race Food and Drinks:
Believe it or not, I ran a race last summer where the end temperature was over 80 degrees, and there was absolutely no water or drinks for the runners. Luckily I had brought my own Nalgene, but that was dangerous. Even just a few bananas, Gatorade, and snacks go a long way.
USATF Certified: While this typically applies to longer distances and those looking to qualify for Boston, having a recognized approved course often makes the difference of whether I chose the race or a different one.
Lead Cyclists for Both Men and Woman: If there is a lead cyclist for the overall male, I do think there should be a lead cyclist for the overall female. The same goes for “breaking the tape”. I’ve run races that the lead male has had three cyclists the female has none. Do I think it’s fair? Not really…
This isn’t an “end all” list, and it’s tailored towards aspects I prefer in a race.
Questions for you: What makes a quality Road Race in your opinion? What is a dream race for you?
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…
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.
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?