Heroes to Hero 5k (18:41)

Last weekend I decided to run the Heroes to Hero 5k.  The race goes to a great cause, and I’ve always wanted to run.  Usually, it’s the same weekend as the Runners World Festival but this year, it worked out I was able to do both.

After a busy couple of days at work, I found myself exhausted.  I woke up Saturday morning extremely unmotivated.  It was spitting rain, and I was tired.  My husband was getting over whatever was going around so equally as unmotivated.  Together we were two excited to race peas in a pod.

We got to the race around 7:30 am.  The race started at 9 am, however, it was a point to point and the last bus left at 8:30.  I’ve never done a point to point bused 5k, so I wasn’t sure even how to warm up.  Ultimately, I ran 3 miles boarded the bus and got to the start.  I can’t say it was my favorite warm-up process, but I made it to the start successfully.  Usually, I like to warm up much closer to the beginning and not sit around for another half an hour.

After getting to the start, I talked to several people including our store owner and another staff member.  By the time I knew it, we were off.

During the first mile, my body felt stiff from waiting.  I didn’t feel bad, but I definitely did not feel good either. The ground was slick, and I just wanted to focus on feeling relaxed.  I went to the race to run as fast as I could for the day.  I wasn’t sure what that was, but I wanted to give it my full effort for the day.  I crossed the first mile in 6:05 which I was pleasantly surprised with.  Definitely one of my faster miles recently.

During the second mile, I continued to focus on progressing through the mile.  I could see the first place woman ahead, but I didn’t think I would be able to pass her.  Around the halfway point, my husband glided by me.  While he wasn’t “all out” racing, he was running harder than usual.  I hit the second mile in 6:04 and was even more pleased.  I couldn’t believe it.

During the third mile, I felt as if I was finally warming up.  I never felt bad. However, I felt relaxed.  Typically in 5ks, I feel like I’m holding on for dear life during the last mile, however, on Saturday I didn’t feel like that.  I wasn’t tired, but I also couldn’t move my legs any faster.

heroes to hero 5k

I ran a 6:01 last mile and finished in 18:41 and as second woman overall.  I was pleasantly surprised with my time.  My huge goal was to progress in the 5k, and I did just that.  I was 19 seconds faster than my previous fastest 5k a few weeks ago.

Progression:

8/20 Run the Runway 5k (20:54)
8/27 Philadelphia Airport 5k (19:45)
9/10 Flying Fish 5k (19:17)
9/23 Cherry Hill Book It 5k (18:59.8)
9/30 Dragon Run (19:06)
10/1
Run for Recovery (19:12)
10/14 Heroes to Hero 5k (18:41)

Question for you:
Do you like to point to point courses?
To be honest, I prefer somewhere I can start/finish near my car.

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Crawlin Crab Half (1:32.29)

If you look at the time 1:32.29, you might think: “Woah LOLZ, didn’t have a good race”.  But that is far from the truth, last weekend I had one of the most enjoyable races I’ve had in a long time.  One of my personal worsts, but one of my most fun.

So how did I even find myself back home in the Virginia Beach area?

I had completely other plans which changed several times.  My husband got called to go on a trip which canceled plans we had been looking forward too for a long time.  I had the entire weekend off for them, but that is what happens with military life.  Instead of moping around, I thought about various things I could do: fly to Chicago?  Spectate friends? Go through with our original plans without my husband?  Or go see my family, whom I haven’t seen in several months.  Plus, a bonus for that was the J&A Crawlin’ Crab half marathon was that weekend.  J&A races (including Shamrock) are some of my favorite.  I love the atmosphere, the race is always well put together, and despite unfortunate weather for many, I’ve never had a bad experience.  (I’ve run Shamrock 13.1 5X, Wicked 10k, Virginia is For Lovers 14k (no longer exists), Surf and Santa, Harbor Lights) but until last weekend I had never run Crawlin’ Crab.

So with that, I made up my mind that week and drove down.  Since I wasn’t planning to run the Crawlin’ Crab, I wasn’t tapered, in fact, I was at my highest mileage week since before my burnout.

I woke up Sunday morning and went outside.  Immediately, I realized just how hot and humid it was. I added four layers of hair gel, decided to wear as little clothing as possible, and together with dad we left.

We got there around 7 am, and I found good friend Kris.  Kris asked if I wanted to warm up and I didn’t have the heart to tell her: In the 35 half marathons I’ve done…I’ve warmed up for 2.  Plus, when legendary Kris asks you to warm up, you say…ok.  I didn’t have any goals for the race but to use it as long run and get rid of my tan lines.

Crawlin Crab half marathon hampton

We caught up a bit and headed to the race start. At the start of 8 am, the temperature was 75 degrees and 95% humidity.  I had already sweat through my clothes, but you can’t do much at that point.

The race started, and I saw a large pack form ahead of me including Kris.  I gathered it was somewhere between 1:20-1:25 finish time and didn’t think twice about trying to push about holding myself there.  I needed to run my own race.

The first few miles were relatively boring.  I ran each mile just a bit slower than the previous: 6:44, 6:48, 6:50.  I thought my body might be able to work itself into feeling better.  Not just because it was hot, but I also didn’t feel overly good either.  My legs felt zapped of energy. I had already disconnected from time and was just running my own race.  My primary and most important goal was to cross the start and finish line healthy.  Adding a 5k into a week isn’t as big of a deal as a half marathon.

Crawlin Crab half marathon hampton

By mile 4, I was just hot. I was running alone.  I contemplated dropping out, but I didn’t want to do that.  Nothing hurt, I was just tired and hot.  The thought of running 9.1 (yes that .1 haunted me), was overwhelming.  Never the less, I started thinking about the race in smaller chunks.  I told myself: Think about making it to the halfway point.  By the time I knew it, I was approaching the halfway point.  I saw the relay exchange and my friend Jess was getting ready.  She said good job.

I grabbed both water and Gatorade at every stop during the race.  Even with the heat, there were plenty of stops, and the volunteers were lively about it.

Around mile 7 we ran along the water.  To be honest, I was hoping we would get a tailwind.  I had contemplated the options: headwind would cool you off, but tailwind would push you forward.  Ultimately, it was a headwind, and my miles crept up at 7:19 and 7:21.  I’ve run hot marathon miles faster, but I wasn’t sad or upset.  No one controls the weather, and you have to run the mile you’re in.

All of a sudden I heard a familiar DJ on the course and it was Jon L.  Jon was actually my wedding DJ, as well as a fast local runner, and friend.  We exchanged a few words and continued on.

After getting off the water, I saw the race director, Jerry on the golf cart patrolling the race and cheering for runners.  He said: glad to see you back in VA, and it really put a smile on my face.

Around mile 10, my good friend Andrew caught up and blew by me like I was standing still.  It was nice to have someone to chat too for a second because I had been running most of the race alone.

Crawlin Crab half marathon hampton

For the last three miles, I focused on finishing.  I was counting down the seconds because it was hot, humid, and only getting hotter.  I divided into running 2X1.5 miles.  My first goal was to make it to 11.5.  During mile 11, there were crab joke posters which kept my mind occupied.  I’m always up for puns and kept myself occupied with that.

Finally, I saw mile 12.  One more mile.  I can do that.  I can run up the overpass and bring myself home to the shoot.  Suddenly, as if I hadn’t raced, I found myself with a surge of energy, and I just charged.  Then around 12.2, I realized…woah too early Hollie, simmer down, just make it to the end.

The last mile went by quickly and all of a sudden, I saw the giant finisher shoot.  I stared longingly at it.  As I approached the finishers shoot, and final strides I saw several friends and made it a point to wave to every single one.

Crawlin Crab half marathon hampton

I crossed the finish line in 1:32.29 and as fourth female and 9th person overall.  One of my slowest races but I finished healthy, and in that weather, you can’t think about PRing.  (Not that that was ever the plan, considering the week before I thought I would run another local NJ 5k).  Kris won, and was also the 2nd place finisher overall!

I did a short cooldown with Andrew and then cheered for runners.

Crawlin Crab half marathon hampton

I’m happy with the race and my effort.  The weather was not conclusive for anyone to have a fast race, and I had not planned to run.  I enjoyed the Crawlin Crab a lot and on a good weather day, I see it as a fast course.  The course was rather flat, with only a few hills (which is running over the freeway).

Questions for you:

Have you ever raced in the heat?

Have you ever signed up for a long race (13.1+) within the week?

Run for Recovery (19:12)

A few weeks ago, I heard of the Run for Recovery which benefited a local drug treatment center.  As many readers know, my parked car was recently rear-ended by someone who was passed out at the wheel under the influence of opioids. Even before that incident, drug addiction has been an issue close to home.

After running the Dragon Run the day before, I had no time goals for the race.  I wanted to support something that meant so much to me.  To be honest, I would walk the race before not doing it.  If anything, it would serve as a good workout.  I’ve run many miles around the Cooper River Park, so I knew the area well.

I got to the race around 8 am.  It was scheduled to start around 9 but ended up starting closer to 9:15.

They made several announcements and a speech at the beginning which ultimately brought a few tears to my eyes.  Drug addiction can happen to anyone, no matter the family situation, age, or gender.  They asked everyone who had lost someone to addiction to stand at the front with the organization for a moment of silence, and that is when my tears began flowing. After that, we walked to the starting line.

Races at Cooper River involve about a half mile walk to the starting line.  I talked with a few people during the walk, and before we knew it, the race was off.  Immediately, I found myself in fourth place overall, which is where I stayed the entire time.

Since I raced the day before, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  When I am in shape, I typically feel good the second day of racing, but I am not in peak shape right now.  The first mile goes over a small bridge and heads toward the opposite side of the river.

Since it’s a well-known park, there are plenty of people walking and running who aren’t racing.  There was a bit of weaving involved, but I shocked myself and hit the first mile in 6:02.  (Which was faster than every mile I ran the day before).

I have run one other race at Cooper River in which I call my ultimate regression run.  I ran something like 6:0X, 6:30 and then 7:00.  I thought surely that would happen here, but I attempted to hold on for dear life.

The next two miles went on without much excitement.  I ran a 6:03 followed by a 6:13. It was a beautiful day and ideal conditions, but I still shocked myself.  I wasn’t sure what I was expecting to run but it wasn’t faster miles than the day before.

For the entire race, I ran alone and chased the three guys in front of me (chase being relative as they were a couple of minutes ahead).  I weaved around people using the park for their Sunday morning runs.  I high-fived a little kid who was walking around the lake with his mom.  For me, it felt more like a workout that I was supporting a cause. I was at a race, but with everyone not racing around, as well as the race being more meaningful, it didn’t feel like it.

When I hit the third mile and saw it was longer than .1 to the finish, I wasn’t disappointed.  I knew I would have been under 19 on a perfectly accurate course, but I’ll save that for another day.  I have a love/hate with racing at Cooper River.

You can see me around 19 minutes finishing. 

I like it because it’s easy to park and normally cheap.  I don’t because the course is notoriously long and unlike this weekend, it can get extremely crowded on the trail.

I’m happy I was able to combine two things I’m passionate about: public health and running.  Very few races can do both, with the last being the Lake Effect Half Marathon.

me run for recovery cooper river

I feel happy with my progress so far in 5ks.  My next major goal is to consistently be under 19 minutes, which I hope is by the end of October or November.

Progression:

8/20 Run the Runway 5k (20:54)
8/27 Philadelphia Airport 5k (19:45)
9/10 Flying Fish 5k (19:17)
9/23 Cherry Hill Book It 5k (18:59.8)
9/30 Dragon Run (19:06)
10/1 Run for Recovery (19:12)

Questions for you:
What is a cause that means a lot to you?
Is there a local park that holds a lot of races near you? 

 

Dragon Run (19:06)

One of my favorite races of the fall is the Dragon Run in Swedesboro, NJ.  It’s put on by a local high school, and the money goes to a great cause.  Last year, I had a great race and was the first I was under 19 for the fall.  This year I did not break 19 but my legs were fatigued, and it was windy.  I had an enjoyable time though.

dragon run kingsway swedesboro nj finish me running

I got to the race, warmed up and by the time I knew it we were off.  It’s a big race, with a lot of high schoolers.  This means the start is crowded.  I was not bullying my way to the start with local high schoolers, so I found a good spot.  Once we were off, the first mile was packed, and I found myself running with local soccer players and a couple of cross country kids.  One kid was determined not to let a female beat him (because he told me that).  We crossed the first mile in 6:11.  To be honest, I was disappointed, but at the same time, my legs didn’t feel fresh at all.

I knew the course well and figured breaking 19 wouldn’t be in the cards.  I stayed along the two kids who helped keep me stay focused and not zoned out.  The second mile went around a 180 turn and over a few rolling hills.  I’ve had great training lately, but it means I’m not entering local 5ks “fresh.”  When you race as frequently as I do, you know that, and you ask yourself: are you going to taper for every race.  No, and use them as workouts.  The next mile went with little note, and we ran a 6:10.

During the last mile, I was tired, but the pack of guys I was running with started pushing so I did too.  We were two miles in so I was just holding on for dear life.  My friend that didn’t want a female to outkick him surged and I couldn’t keep up with that but kept pushing as much as I could. The third mile was a lot windier than the first two.  Around 2.75, we were joined by the walkers towards the finishers shoot.  You can see the finish from about .25 away and I always think the race will be short, but it never is. I ran the last mile in 6:03 and crossed in 19:06.

dragon run kingsway swedesboro nj finish me running

I was happy with my time, and while it wasn’t my fastest, I was happy with my effort level.  Last year I won, and this year I was second but enjoyed myself.  The overall winners won cupcakes from a bakery which I always enjoy.

Here I was telling the facility: I’ve been waiting for this cupcake since last year.

dragon run kingsway swedesboro nj me cupcake

This ends my progression of getting faster each 5k but this time would come.  It has to end somewhere!

dragon run kingsway swedesboro nj me cupcake

8/20 Run the Runway 5k (20:54)
8/27 Philadelphia Airport 5k (19:45)
9/10 Flying Fish 5k (19:17)
9/23 Cherry Hill Book It 5k (18:59.8)
9/30 Dragon Run (19:06)
10/1 Run for Recovery (19:12)

Questions for you:
Do you have a favorite race award? 
Would you rather run a small race or big race?

Cherry Hill Book It 5k (18:59.8)

Last weekend, where there were several local 5ks I contemplated doing. With my work schedule, the Cherry Hill Library Book It 5k seemed to be the best choice.  Plus, I use the Cherry Hill library, so it made even better.  The night before, one of my friends posted a photo of the bib which was just numbers (no ads, no anything, just big bold numbers) and that sealed the deal.

I got to the race around 7:30, warmed up and by the time I knew it, it was time to start.  The race began in an open field, similar to a cross-country race.  I wasn’t quite expecting that.  At the end of the field, I noticed there were a bunch of geese.

cherry hill book it 5kAnyone that knows me knows I’m petrified of geese, so I wasn’t excited for that.  Secretly, I hoped the young kids would scare them away beforehand.

cherry hill book it 5k

We were off.  As we approached the end of the field, the faster runners cleared them away, and I was left with a nice clear path onto the cement.  I would add at least a tenth of a mile with no shame to avoid geese.

By the first half of a mile, I found myself in fourth overall.  My body didn’t feel great (why would, I just raced a half marathon the week before).  I hit the first mile in 6:17 and found myself as the third person, about 15 seconds behind two young kids.

It felt as though I was slowly catching them, but it’s always hard to tell when you’re running.  The course went through a series of turns, bends, and forks, but the policeman cyclist kept us going in the right direction. During the second mile, I passed both and began leading the race.  That’s always a good feeling.  I hit the second mile in 6:07. cherry hill book it 5k

The third mile was a blur.  I was running by myself, just trying to power to the finish line.  I could feel some acid from the previous week, and I didn’t feel the greatest.  I just wanted to get the race done, and it felt like it wasn’t getting any closer.  We headed back towards the library and finished back onto the geeseless, open field (I’m not complaining).  I crossed as the first place person in 18:59.8.

cherry hill book it 5k

A nice .2 buffer right under 19.  As someone who has lost a couple of swim races by .1 (including a mile), those .2 seconds felt spectacular.

So now my progression is:
8/20 Run the Runway 5k (20:54)
8/27 Philadelphia Airport 5k (19:45)
9/10 Flying Fish 5k (19:17)
9/23 Cherry Hill Book It 5k (18:59.8)

I know, of course, soon I will break the streak of continuing to progress smoothly in the 5k as nothing is linear but for today I’m happy with my progress as I continue to build back fitness.

Questions for you:
Are there any animals you’re terrified of?
For me, it’s both geese and turkeys.
Do you work on weekends?

Air Force Half Marathon (1:27.28)

A half marathon takes longer mentally to process than a 5k race recap.  So here we are almost a week after my first half marathon since April.  In case you don’t feel like reading, I had a good experience with the Air Force Half Marathon.

It was probably one of my best half marathons in the last year, despite not being my fastest, not that I was expecting a PR or anything close.  This particular recap has a lot more reflection, and a short recap too.

In the last year I’ve run several half marathons:

Rnr Philadelphia (1:27.37)
Runners World Half (1:24.17) probably my best race performance albeit not my fastest
Beat 539 Half (1:25:28)
Philadelphia Half (1:27.44)
Dallas Half (1:23.44)

Mercedes half (1:27.01)
Shamrock Half (1:26.49)
April Fools Half (1:26.17)

Half marathons are my bread and butter.  Unfortunately, the last year never showed the hard work I put into running. Last winter, I was in 1:21-1:22 shape, but I never raced like I was.  As I got slower throughout the spring, it ultimately led to my hiatus (which I needed both mentally and physically).

When my husband was selected to run the Air Force Marathon for his command (Air Mobility Command) several months ago, it was in the back of my mind that maybe I would run the half.  The summer flew by, and I found myself having done little running. Finally, in August, I had more time and decided I would start easing into running. In order to make it to the start of the Air Force half healthy, I forwent running one of my favorite halves: RnR Va Beach a few weeks prior (2 half marathons in doable when I’m training appropriately…but that fitness is not there right now).

We left the Thursday before. We stopped at my inlaws house in central PA and headed to Dayton, Ohio that Friday.  Looking back, we should have left earlier and been in Dayton that Friday.  As we got to Wright Patterson, there was traffic, and we nearly missed picking up packets and my husband’s uniform.  When I say we were one of the last people to pick things up, it was close. We also ended up walking about 2 miles between 7-8:30pm.

Nothing about that is ideal for a morning race, but my only goal was to support my husband and enjoy 13.1 miles.  Whatever happened to me, happened to me.

The morning was uneventful, and we made it to the start by 6:30 (for his 7:30…my 8:30 start). He went to the special Air Force tent, did whatever he does to warm up, and my mother in law and myself headed to the start to spectate.

Not without running over to the start and taking a selfie with him.  (There were no corrals, and everything for this massive race is self-seeded, so I didn’t impact anyone’s race).

The marathoners went off, I relaxed for an hour, and per usual randomly chatted with people.  I felt no need to warm up considering it was my longest run by 3 miles since April.

Before I knew it, it was my turn to head to the start!  I went to the start, and we were off.  I had no goal but to finish, and let my body do what it wanted to do.  Typically I’ve run my first half back from a break or injury between 1:30-1:33 so that’s what I expected.

The first mile was packed and a blur.  I saw several females in front and plenty of males.  I hit in a 6:44 and was both surprised and pumped.

Then next few miles, I grabbed Gatorade, and it felt hot.  I started running with several men who were also competing in the MAJCOM challenge.  One thing I can count on with the Air Force, is they are usually as chatty as I am.  We were all just talking for 3 miles about everything from life, to work, to moving.  Our miles ranged in pace from 6:29-6:40 and clicked off quickly.  We passed 2 women and several other men too.  I was feeling strong and confident, but I also knew this wasn’t a 5k and I had a long way to go.  I was unpredictable after mile 10.

We hit the halfway point in exactly 43 minutes.  The course had zero (and I mean zero) shade, and it was already above 70 degrees and humid.  I was glad I wore a hat and sunglasses.  My legs weren’t feeling bad or fatigued, but the heat was starting to affect me.Air force half marathon dayton ohio me running

Around mile 9, we climbed an overpass, and I wasn’t expecting any climbs or any hills at all.  I hadn’t done research but mentally had assumed all Air Force races must take place on flat runways and flat bases.  That thought process didn’t really have any basis and was in fact, foolish.

The last four miles of the Air Force half is harder part of the course.  I looked ahead at the hill and saw one female, and just tunnel focused on passing her and staring at the top.  I did both, caught my breath, and continued.  That was my slowest mile, in 6:46.

At the 10 mile point, I told myself: the half marathons are your bread and butter.  All that’s left is the 5k butter.  The 5k I haven’t run in the months.  The 5k I’m known in my best fitness to hammer and pass people.  I wasn’t going to let it break me, and I felt too good.  I hit the 10 mile in 1:07 and told myself a 1:27 is in your wheelhouse today.

Despite not researching the next three miles were hilly, I was determination to get there.  You enter back onto to Wright Patterson Base around mile 12.  They begin the finishers shoot at mile 12.  Mile 12. I told myself I wouldn’t even care if the course was short.  I knew it wouldn’t be, but my legs would be cool with less running. Air force half marathon dayton ohio me running

Being in a mile long finishers shoot is soul crushing.  You are alone, spectators around, and you’re struggling. Maybe you aren’t struggling so you look strong, but I was as I should be.  One woman outkicked me in the last half mile.  Too bad, she won our age group and was the fourth female.  I didn’t have the kick to catch her.

I crossed the finish in 1:27.28 and fifth female overall.  It far exceeded the expectation I had for the race. Not my fastest half but not my slowest either, but definitely one of my most fun.  The heat affected the half marathons but definitely affected the full marathoners much more.  My husband ran a 3:15 and my father in law squeezed into BQ in a 3:58.

Apparently, I decided to nap and close my eyes right there…

I would love to run the Air Force Half again when I’m in better fitness because I do believe it’s a course I would excel at.  I have a feeling we will probably be back, but T might be competing for a different MAJCOM command.

I’ve recovered moderately well from the half, and for the next five weeks, I’ll focus on 5ks, followed by the Runners World Half.

Questions for you:
Do you typically talk during races?
I’m a talker during halves and fulls…not 5ks

Flying Fish 5k (19:17)

Last weekend I ran my third 5k since returning to the running scene.  I’ve run the Flying Fish 5k before and enjoyed the race.  Last year was extremely hot, and I ended up winning the race in 19:35. I was coming back from an injury and pleased.  Since I have less running under my belt; I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Since running the 19:47 at the Philadelphia Airport two weeks ago (in ideal weather), I was realistically hoping to be around that time.  Recently, I have put in more miles and run through hilly regions such as Chambersburg, Tennessee and North Carolina.  At the start line, I didn’t feel bad but nowhere near feeling fresh either.

I also knew a couple of faster females would be there.  It is hard going to race you’ve won, knowing you won’t, but I’m happy to have a deep field of incredible women to run with.  Many of whom are good friends.

My good friends, Danielle and Amelia came down and stayed at the LOLZ hotel to run the Flying Fish as well.  Amelia had a 20 miler that day.  Spoiler: she ran 18 miles before the race, ran Flying Fish, and PRed.

danielle amelia and i

I warmed up and got the start at 9:55. I chatted with a few friends including the women who won, Erin and women who got fourth overall Grace.  With that introduction of characters (minus my husband who ran the race as a marathon tune-up), we were off.

During the first mile, I felt better than expected.  However, I took it out faster than what I’m currently capable of and ran a first mile 5:55.  As I crossed the first mile and looked down, all I could think was: Oh $hit.  Not in a good way and not in the way I’ll hold that pace.

During the second mile, I found my groove and held on.  I hoped I wouldn’t regress into a 20+ min 5k, but I also knew I deserved it for running the first mile that fast if I did.  (To compare my fastest mile before that was 6:07).  I hit the second mile in 6:23 and I didn’t feel great but also not terrible.  There was a small hill that I forgot about, but I was happy with that.

The third mile of any 5k is usually a blur.  In a 5k, I like it that way, and I just wanted the race to be over.  At the end of the race, the Flying Fish has a half mile long straight finish.  I could see Erin about a minute ahead, followed by another female I recognized, then me.  I just focused on the finish which did not feel as if it was coming closer.

I hit the third mile in 6:12 and finished as the third female in 19:17.  It was 20 seconds faster than last year as well as my previous 5k so I can’t complain too much.

me running flying fish 5k

Progression:
8/20 Run the Runway 20:54 1st F
8/26 Philadelphia Airport 19:47 1st F
9/6 Flying Fish 19:17 3rd F

Questions for you:
Do you run the same races each year?
What is your favorite race time start?
Since it’s at a brewery, this one starts at 10 am, but I typically do better with 8 am starts.