Birmingham MLK Drum Run 5k (18:40)

Last weekend I had the itch to race.  My husband and I discovered a 5k in Birmingham.  Since I just moved to Montgomery, I had no idea about the race community, area, terrain or anything else.  But a race is a race, right?

As long as there is a time, the course is fairly accurate, and there is just more than my husband and I running, I can’t complain.

We arrived in downtown Birmingham around 7 am and did a quick warm up.  I was coming off a tough training week and knew it wouldn’t be a PR.  My legs were stiff, but the plan was to give it what I had for the day.  My coach and I wanted a solid effort for where I was in training.

My husband and I made it to the start line where several high school marching bands were playing.  (It would sense with the race title “Drum Run”.)  The bands all sounded great and it was such a unique start.  I lined up and by the time I knew it we were off.

Birmingham mlk 5k
Photo from Just4Running.com

During the 200 meters, a lead pack quickly formed ahead which included two clearly fast elites,  my husband, another female, and a few others.  I found myself in the no mans chase pack of one.  It was evident the two elites were going to jog there way to a 16 something 5k which is what ultimately happened.  They looked effortless as they pulled away.

The first mile went over a few small rolling hills in the downtown and I crossed the first mile in 6:07.  Since my legs were heavy, plus the course wasn’t entirely flat, I was happy.

I could see the lead female in front.  I felt as though I was catching her. By the second mile, the lead pack was also strung out.  There were the two elites who were now out of sight, my husband and then a larger pack of 3 people including the woman.  I passed the larger pack around the halfway point.  The second mile had less hill but more turns. I ran the tangents well.  I crossed the second mile in 5:54 and felt better.  My legs were stiff, but I felt like they were loosening up.I was pleasantly surprised with a sub 6-minute mile.

I ran the final mile alone.  I could see my husband about a minute ahead and LOLed at the idea of catching him.  There were a few small rolling hills throughout the downtown.  Even when he isn’t training for 5ks (like now), he can still gut out a faster 5k.   I counted down the last mile… by every quarter of a mile.  I wasn’t fading, but I was ready to be done.  I crossed the third mile in 5:58 and gutted down to the finish line.

Birmingham mlk 5k

The final portion of the race was downhill, and I just powered to the end.  With the downhill, my final kick was 5:16.  If only all races had a nice downhill finish. Even though I cut the tangents well, the course was a little long, and I finished in 18:40.  I was fourth overall and the first woman.

Birmingham mlk 5k

Thoughts:

I am pleased with how the race went.  When you race often, you can’t expect a PR and each race has a goal.  My goal for the MLK 5k was to get a quick workout on my legs and to explore a new city.  Both of which I did.

Questions for you:

What how was your weekend?

Have you ever raced on tired legs?

Run for Jack 5k (18:30)

My husband and I wanted to run a race on New Years.  Typically when we are out of town, and there are plenty of races.  Surprisingly there weren’t a lot of New Years Races around Southern New Jersey, so we were forced to travel.  There were a few options within an hour (all with different start times), and we decided to go for a 10:30 am race start.  Honestly, I would have preferred an earlier start, but that wasn’t a choice but there were not any.

When we arrived to the Haverford area in PA, I quickly realized the race wasn’t going to be flat.  I had hoped for a solid race effort on a flat course but that wasn’t an option either.  Now that I’m racing less, I want those races to count (which is silly).  I had a workout so I already knew it wasn’t a PRing race.

The goal of the workout was 2x5k at 20:00 min with 3 mins rest in between.  I’ve done the workout before and I will say it’s one of the tougher ones. Since joining Mckirdy trained, I’ve been racing less, and several of my races have been workouts.  It’s been an adjustment, but I do get the best of both worlds.

I warmed up on the course with my husband.  We quickly went to the restroom and made it to the start line.  The race was already later than I liked and then it was delayed by 10 minutes.  I stayed positive even though I wasn’t a happy camper.

Finally, the race went off, and I found myself as third woman overall.  I stayed there the entire time.  At first, I thought I might be able to catch the first or second woman but then by .5 I knew that was not happening.  The first mile was flat with a long gradual downhill.  Of the three miles, the first was set up to be the fastest.  I passed a couple of kids and crossed the first mile in 6:16.  I felt stale and didn’t feel great.  Running a 6:16 mile wasn’t where I mentally wanted to be.

The second mile climbed up a hill and looped past the start.  I started to feel much looser and built some confidence.  I crossed the second mile in 6:03 and felt much better about the situation.  It was a harder mile and I ran faster.

The third mile went by like such a blur.  I was running alone and had a pack of males about 10 feet in front of me.  I just focused on them.  I wanted to catch up to them.  I knew the last 400 meters finished directly uphill and I kept cringing thinking about it.

You could see the clock at the top of the hill over a quarter of a mile away.  It felt like it wasn’t coming any closer.  I just climbed the hill and staring at the clock directly ahead.

I passed one male at the bottom of the hill, but he came back and outkicked me in the final few strides.  I crossed the finish in 18:30 exactly.

I jogged to my car and went back for my personal 5k.  To be honest, I felt better running the second 5k than I did the first.  I ran alone and away from the race course.  My splits were 6:25, 6:39, 6:29.  I finished up in 20:15 and felt pretty pleased with myself.

Thoughts:

I know I’m currently in 5k PRing shape but haven’t had the opportunity to race on a flat course and good day.  I’m extremely pleased with the workout as a whole.   

Questions for you:

What is a perfect race start time for you?

I like races that start between 7:30-8:30.

How was your New Years Day?

Dallas Half Marathon (1:23.44)

As most people know, for a while I contemplated running the Dallas full marathon.  After a twenty miler, I realized I had no interest in that and signed up for the half.  I lived west of San Antonio in 2014 and have driven through Dallas before.  My husband and I both like BMWs, and since this is BMWs first race in the US, it seemed like a fun December trip.

As time drew closer, my body began feeling like junk.  I was making intervals and workouts but not feeling great doing so.  It’s something I still don’t have an answer for.  After dropping the ball at the Philly half a few weeks prior, I had no idea how the race at Dallas would go.

Despite running a 1:24 at Runner’s World half in October, if I were faster than the 1:27 from Philly I would be pleased.  My father in law was running the full marathon and my husband, and I were running the half.  Whatever happened, it was still going to be a great short vacation.

We arrived the Friday before, and I felt sore and tired.  When doing a shakeout run the next day, I felt just as bad. The closer it got to the race,  the more I was disconnected.  Like Philly, I tried to psych myself up by posting too much on the internet.  It seemed to work.

We arrived at the starting line on Sunday around 7:15. It was drizzling rain and a little bit windy.  Overall, the weather was definitely better than the majority of races I’ve run this year (realistically that isn’t saying too much).  The first coral closed at 7:50 and I made my way to the start.

The half, full and relay all went off at the same time, so it was crowded.  I started several rows behind.  They introduced elites Meb, Ryan Hall and Deena.  I am disappointed none were at the finish line when I crossed though!  They were passing out medals, and I would be lying if I didn’t say that didn’t motivate to finish…

All of a sudden the race went off at 8:05 and it was crowded.  The race started uphill, and I still felt sore out of the gate.  I was running elbow to elbow with several people.  We made a few sharp turns and a young guy, and myself collided.  Neither of us fell, and we started chatting.  I crossed the first mile in 6:32 which I was extremely happy and surprised with.

I mentally told myself that I wouldn’t complain about a 1:25. During the second mile, I felt okay.  I didn’t feel good or bad.  I crossed the second mile in 6:20.  In halves, I give myself until the 5k to decide how my body will feel.  The third mile went without too much note, and I crossed in 6:21.  I hit the 5k in 19:57 which is always pleasing.  The 20-minute 5k barrier is a huge mental block for me.

The plan (per Coach Mckirdy) was to run the first half at a moderate pace but not too overdo it.  The course itself does have a few hills but the second half is significantly faster.  If I could make it past mile 8 and still feel good, I could crank then.

I saw my husband just up ahead at mile 4, and we ran both 4 and 5 together.  It wasn’t his day, but we ran a 6:14 and 6:12.

Mile 6 began a few uphills, and I kept telling myself I just needed to make it to the halfway and then past mile 8. I hit the 10k at 39:37 and was proud of my negative split thus far.

I found both miles 7 and 8 to be the most challenging.  I noticed two women in front of me, but I had no idea if they were running the half, full or a relay.  I focused on passing them.  The crowds were huge, and I ended up high-fiving kids and even a professional player from the Mavericks.  I fed on the crowds and ran a 6:22 and 6:27.  The half and full finally divided and there were a few men who went the full route but no women.

By mile 9 I was running alone.  A relay went by me as if I was standing still.  I hit the 15k in 59:39.  I’ve run several 15ks in Upstate, New York but never had an official time under an hour so that time motivated me too.  Each mental time checkpoint went well, and I built confidence each time.

bmw dallas half marathon me running

I could see runners about 15 feet in front but had no idea where I was overall place wise. I hadn’t seen a lot of women up ahead, but I knew they were there.  I noticed a women dressed up only  20 seconds in front and I made it my goal to try to catch her.  I wasn’t feeling good by any means, but I needed something to pull me along to the finish,  I ran a 6:19 9th mile and a lonely 6:20 tenth.

Around mile 11, I caught the woman and she asked: “do you know where the relay exchange is?”  I said I had no idea but the last one I saw was two miles ago.  She panicked and peeled off.  I felt extremely bad because she had missed it and that is a lot of extra miles to run.

Around 11.55, I realized I had charged too early, and I paid the effects during the last mile and a half. Despite the miles being downhill, my stomach began cramping, and I didn’t have anymore leg speed. I was just focusing on the end, and it began a 13 minutes left…12…11..11:59…

The last 600 meters had signs that said 600 meters to go, then 400 then 200.  It’s a downhill finish, so at 600 you can see the massive finish line shoot.  I took my mind far off of racing.  I was thinking about everything but the race pain. I hurt but focused on the expensive BMWs lining the street.

As I approached the finish line, I felt the need to fist pump as I crossed.  They announced me as “fist pumping all the way from Jersey.”

bmw dallas half marathon me running

Don’t ask why I raised my hand.  An hour and a half of racing does strange things.  I had done it, I had my run my third fastest half at a race I wasn’t even sure I would be able to run faster than the Philly half.

I crossed in 1:23.44 and as fifth woman overall.  I had no idea of my place until I later looked up race results.

bmw dallas half marathon me running

Thoughts:

I’m extremely happy with the race.  I didn’t anticipate to be able to string a race this strong at the end of the year. As I’ve mentioned in several training logs, I’ve made intervals but haven’t great doing so.  When I raced my two faster half marathons (Carlsbad 1:22.57) and April Fools 2015 (1:23.23), I felt like I was on top of the world.  When I raced the Dallas half, I didn’t feel fantastic or fabulous.  I have no complaints.  I’ve continued to recover well during the last week and I’m looking forward to hopefully PRing in 2017.

Questions for you:

Have you ever been to Dallas?

When was the last time you surprised yourself?

Medford Lakes Turkey Trot 5k (18:30)

On Thanksgiving, I ran the Medford Lakes Turkey Trot.  I ran it last year and enjoyed the course.  Plus the race organizers are friendly, so I wanted to come back.  Until recently there wasn’t a “big” South Jersey Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot.

This year the Medford Lakes turkey trot had about 1000 people.  Medford is one of my favorite New Jersey towns, slightly woodsy and probably filled with plenty of wild turkeys…perfect for the day.

My husband and I arrived around 7:30 for the race at 8:30.  To my surprise, I achieved one of the greatest accomplishments in racing history.  Somehow in the 1000 person race, I was number 1.  This is a race number that will be on the fridge for a very long time.  Even though I was tired from the Philly half, it’s hard to be sad when you are race number 1.

medford lakes turkey trot
Image from Simply Photography

We warmed up, easily got to the bathroom and made it to the start line by 8:30.  Before we knew it, we were off.  I never saw my husband after the gun went off.  During the first quarter mile, I found myself as 10th women overall.  I thought, woah this year got competitive.  I said I would be happy under 19, but my dream goal was 18:35 (6 min pace).  Last year I ran a great race of 18:48.

We hit the first mile in 5:56.  It was a little bit faster than I anticipated and I wondered, would I regress and positive split? I was fourth women at that point and was running with a pack of males.

During the second mile, I kept waiting for my husband to pass me.  I knew he was in much better fitness, so it was troubling he hadn’t run past me.

I began running closely to the third place women.  My legs didn’t feel bad, but I could feel the Philly half in my legs too.  I felt as if I was working hard but still had gas left in the tank. I hoped I would be able to hold under 6:15 for the last two miles and told myself I would be happy with that.  I crossed mile 2 in 6:02 and found myself as second women overall.

I could see the first place women about 15 seconds in front.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to catch her but it gave me something to focus on.  As we winded through the woods, I found myself running alone.  Someone chanted: way to go number 1.  I wasn’t first but it was motivating.  I became more confident and I was able to crank another 6-minute mile.  We made the last turn and I crossed the third mile in 6:00 exactly.

The last .1, I just focused on the end and crossed in 18:30 by the chip time.  At the very last second, I saw my husband, and I realized he was over and done.  He ran a 17:15 which is his fastest since joining the Air Force 5 years ago.  He had been in the lead pack the entire time which is why I never saw him.  Honestly, I’m more excited for him than me.

tim-and-i-turkey-trot

Thoughts:
I’m happy with my race, especially after Philly.  It’s my fastest 5k post injury, so I can’t complain about that.  In fact looking back it’s one of my fastest 5ks in 2016.  The only two 5ks I’ve run faster have both been PRs (at the time).
The Resolution Run (18:22) in a prom dress
My Current PR: The Flower Show 5k (18:13)

Questions for you:
Did you run a Turkey Trot?
How was your Thanksgiving?

Philadelphia Half Marathon (1:27.44)

Sometimes, we don’t have it.  Sometimes even with tapering, we don’t mentally have the race we hoped.  That’s exactly what happened to me last Saturday. While the Philadelphia half is not the most enjoyable race to blog about, you can’t have good races without bad ones.

To be honest, I’m also not surprised.  Throughout the week I didn’t feel good or mentally ready for the race.  My mind and heart weren’t into it.  But I paid $130 for the race, and I wasn’t injured.  I hoped by posting on my social media I was running that maybe I would motivate myself.  Yet, race day morning came, and I was anything but that.

I got to the race at 6:30.  While going through the security, they confiscated my Gatorade.  I’ve run 30+half marathons and hundreds of races, and I’ve never had my Gatorade confiscated.  So I was left without any fluids before the start.  They had water near the start, but I didn’t water, I wanted Gatorade.  I did drink some water, but the line was long.

So when I lined up at the start I was thirsty. I met up with my friend Paul and we started (and ended) the race together.  The race went off and out we went.  While I had a seeded bib, I started in the first corral.  There was no need for me to be in the elite corral…I wasn’t going to fool anyone. I had qualified to be there, but I preferred to run around people my pace, not be left alone.

During the first mile, I knew I was in for a rough race.  My calves were tight, and I looked down only to realize I had run half mile.  We hit the first mile in 6:40. I felt defeated.  Mentally I knew I was not in a good spot.  I told Paul not to feel obligated to stay with me (not that I would expect anyone to ever sacrifice their race).

Mile 2 gave me a lot of hope.  I got caught in a crowd, and I ran a 5:58.  During the second mile.  I didn’t feel any better, but I thought, oh maybe I will surprise myself…That feeling was short lived.

I ran mile 3-4 and began to notice my watch was clicking miles later and later past the mile markers.  I started to notice the mile markers were off.  I ran each mile at 6:19, 6:24.

My goal by mile 5 was to evaluate how I felt at halfway.  By then I knew I was not going to PR.  I got to the halfway point around 42:30.  I thought I  could maybe even split to a 1:25.

I thought wrong.

We climbed a small hill during mile 6, and I ran a 6:55.  I thought: “that hill really wasn’t too bad.”

Even though I felt awful, I was proud I climbed the hill well and passed several runners.

I came back and ran the next mile in 6:24.  I thought: “Eh it was the hill that slowed me down”.  This is still a great pace for me.

We began to see the elites coming back, and they looked like they were in pain.  I kept wondering: what exactly is back there?  Is it hilly?  Then came the hill.  I had mistaken the course to go elsewhere, and I realized just how hard the course was.  Because the hill was on an angle, you were running up sideways.  I couldn’t get a good rhythm, and my quads were burning.  It was one of the hardest “half marathon moments,” I’ve had.  The hill ate me up and spit me back up.  When we finally made it out of that section, I ran a 7:17 mile. I felt crushed and defeated.  I haven’t run a 7:17 mile in a half marathon in a very long time.

For the rest of the race, I focused on getting to the end.  I put my sunglasses over my eyes and just zoned out.  I wanted the race to be over.  For no reason, I wanted to stop.  However, I couldn’t do that…I wasn’t injured, and I needed blog content…(kidding).  The next three miles went by without much excitement, and I ran 6:36, 6:46 and 6:41.

The final two miles I ran alone. There was no one within 15 seconds of me.  Somehow I found a pocket of abandonment in a huge race. There was nothing of note.  I saw my husband around 12.5, and it motivated me.  I ran a 6:32 and 6:46 final mile.

I crossed the finish in 1:27.44.   I was 25th women overall and quite far off on any goal time I considered weeks before

Typically I don’t care much about GPS, but I ran a 13.3 race (which was actually much shorter than many people).  I don’t believe the course was accurate and for a big city race that is unacceptable.

I ran 2 miles alone during the race, and there was never a point I wasn’t running tangents. I was lucky I ran as short as possible even though I still ended .2 long.

Thoughts:

I haven’t had a “bad” race in awhile.  After my ankle injury, I’ve been building and running well.  In all honesty, this was one of the worst races I’ve had in the last two years. It “bad” because the course was hard but because  I wasn’t mentally into it and my body didn’t physically feel good.

Bad races do come with the sport.  

Am I disappointed because I do know I’m in much better shape?  Of course but there are plenty of other races to come.  I finished injury free which is the most important part of running.

There are plenty of races in the sea of running. I smiled post race and had a great day afterward. Philadelphia half marathon

So far my short runs recovering from Philly have felt more enjoyable and pleasant than the half so that is motivating. 🙂

Question for you: Have you ever felt mentally unexcited for an event or race?

Haddonfield Road Race 2X5k (20:48, 19:20)

Last weekend I ran a local 5k near my house.  The race day started before the race.  On my schedule, I had a workout of 2x5k.  I could have done the workout by myself at home but what’s the fun in that?  I knew a lot of friends running the race, plus my husband wanted to run…so why not?

The day before, we went flying.  The plane ride was extremely turbulent, and I ended up getting sick and puking midflight.  Luckily, I puked directly into a Nalgene and didn’t make a mess.  Apparently running hard the day after getting sick is not optimal.  When I woke up on Saturday morning, my throat hurt and I didn’t feel right.

I told myself several times; I had a hard few weeks of running plus getting sick is not optimal before a race.  It was time to check my pride and ego right at the front door.  To be honest, that’s always hard to do but I’m coming to terms with not every race can be my fastest.

My workout for the day was:
Warmup: 3 miles
2x5k
Cooldown: 3 miles

During my warmup, I knew I didn’t feel good.  I knew it would be a race with a surprise or magical PR.

After my warmup, I went into my personal 5k.  It’s hard to run a workout by yourself, especially knowing you’re going to race in an hour.  I ran my first mile in 6:45 and immediately felt defeated.  My goal was to be in the low 6:20s, but I knew my body was not going to cooperate.  The area was hilly, and I felt like junk.  I ran the second mile in 6:42 and the last mile in 6:31.  I finished, and immediately felt defeated.  I finished the first 5k in 20:48 and made it my goal to finish the second under 21:00.

So moving on to the actual race:
I lined up next to my husband and a few local friends.  All of a sudden we were off.  I found myself as fifth woman overall.  I knew one of the women was extremely fast so catching her would not be an option.  I checked my ego at the start line and raced in the moment. (which was not a great moment). During the first mile, we climbed a steep hill.  I focused on just climbing, and I crossed the first mile in 6:08. I was surprisingly happy.

During the second mile, I passed two women and found myself as the third lady overall.  I was running side by side by side with the second women who I eventually passed.  For the rest of the race, I ran alone.  The next person in front of me was my husband, and he was over a minute ahead.  It was a lonely race.  It was like I was doing a workout alone. I crossed the second mile in 6:18.  It was much faster than anticipated.

The third mile climbed a large and surprising hill.  I thought we had gotten the hill done in the first mile, but boy was I mistaken. Even though the race is a few short miles from my house, I had no idea the hill was back there.  I was in second place, but the third place women was not too far behind.  I was feeling sick, and my stomach hurt from the day before.  I was struggling to control my breathing.  I just focused on charging the downhill and getting to the finish line.

I crossed the third mile in 6:12 and finished in 19:20. I was shocked I finished 90 seconds faster than my first 5k, but I also needed that confidence booster as well.  After the first 5k and not feeling great, I was feeling demotivated.  I was happy with the workout as well as the second 5k.

I’m still recovering from that flight.  I don’t typically get motion sickness but we never expected it to be that turbulent.  I’m just glad we didn’t fly before a goal race!

Question for you:
Have you ever done a workout during a race?
Do you get motion sickness? 

Run the Bridge 10k (38:58)

I’ve volunteered at the Bridge Run for two years now at the water stop.  This year I was the token employee that got to run the race.

Last week, I had a big training week, so I knew the race was going to be riding the pain train.  Since you’re running up the Ben Franklin Bridge and it can be windy, it’s not a “fast” course.  Since this is a race my work sponsors, I knew a lot of people running.  It wasn’t a local 5k and had about 4000 runners.

It’s hard to run a race you aren’t tapered, but with the amount of racing I do, not every race can be.  To be honest, while warming up, I felt like $hit. I was in such a bad spot mentally; I wasn’t sure I would even race.  I’m sure my husband wanted to drop me during the warmup since all I did was whine. 😉

I ran up to the start and saw several of my friends and coworkers at the base of the Ben Franklin Bridge.  Starting at the base of the bridge was surreal. The bridge was closed, and we stood right near the toll booths. I had flashbacks to New York City Marathon.  Before we knew it, the race was off.  I found myself running with friend Michele.  We were going back and fourth climbing the bridge.  Very early into the race, my legs felt exhausted.  I looked down expecting to be at mile 1…only to find out I was .5 in and not even at the top.  We crossed the first mile in 6:30.

We came down from the top and turned around on the Philadelphia side. The downhill felt nice, but it was windy. I crossed the 1.55 in 9:50.  As we turned around and headed back, we saw runners going in the opposite direction.  I saw a bunch of my friends and it was motivating.  I hit mile 2 in 6:09.

The third mile finished climbing the Ben Franklin and went downhill.  It was a beautiful view staring back into New Jersey.  I was running in a pack of 4 women, and we hit 3 miles in 18:50.

As I came down and back in New Jersey, I felt different muscles.  I no longer felt as if I was running uphill or downhill…just running flat.  The pack was pulling me through, and I ran a 5:53 mile.  There were no hills and no wind.  If only all of the miles were like that.

The next mile focused on getting to the mile 5.  I knew my coworkers and friends were at mile 5 doing the water stop.  It kept me motivated and focused.  Around mile 5, I saw them.  My good friend, Julie, captured this video of me high fiving her.  I hit mile 5 in 6:13 and focused on the final mile.

The last mile had a couple of small uphills.  My quads were toast.  Then the final mile had a headwind.  I crossed the sixth mile in 6:26 and was happy.  The last .2 headed onto Campbell’s field.  Michele cranked out an impressive kick and finished directly in front of me, winning for female masters.  My boss announced my name as I crossed in 38:58.

Thoughts:

I am happy with my effort.  I’ve always wanted to run the Bridge Run. Even though I wasn’t tapered or having the best morning, I’m glad I ran.  I highly recommend anyone local should run!

Questions for you:

Have ever trained through a race?

How do you mentally prepare yourself for a race?