Polar Bear 5k (18:42)

My husband and I wanted to get out of town for the weekend. We have been to Atlanta before, and since it was only a 2.5-hour drive from Montgomery, we opted to drive out there. Along the way, we discovered a few 5ks and decided to run the Polar Bear 5k. When we arrived at the race on Saturday morning, we quickly realized how big the race was. Over 1000+ people were running. To be honest, I thought it was going to be a 200-300 person race but the more, the better.

After warming up on the course, I noticed it was a flatter Atlanta course. I’ve run a few races in Atlanta (One before blogging and the Haunted Hustle 5k), and this was definitely the flattest. Was it flat? No, but it was flat for Atlanta. I wasn’t concerned as I had a workout anyways.

I had a workout for the day, and the goal was to run 2X5k at 6:45 pace. That did not happen. I ran the race as the first 5k, and it was faster than my coach wanted.

The race started at 8:30 am, and it was congested. I nearly fell over a young child. It was impossible to start any closer to the front, but I wasn’t really concerned. During the first half mile, I ran in a huge pack. In fact, the entire race was a giant pack of people, and you ran almost elbow to elbow with others. Somewhere around .66, a woman shouted, “you’re almost halfway there, ” and I responded with, we aren’t even a third there. I crossed the first mile in 6:00 exactly.

During the second mile, I was able to get my bearings of how many men and women were ahead. I noticed there were a few women in front of me, but I was towards the front. I saw my husband in the chase pack, and I was happy he seemed to be doing ok. I passed a couple of women and by the time I knew it, I crossed mile 2 in 5:55.

The third mile was just focused on finishing. By the mile 3, I found myself as first woman overall and we were running near the walkers who were all cheering. We climbed a small hill followed by a downhill. I crossed the third mile in 5:58.

The last portion of the race made a huge U and finished in the parking lot. I lost a lot of momentum with the U finish, but I crossed in 18:42. My garmin said the course was a bit long but who knows.

Thoughts:

I’ve run several 18:30-18:45 5ks (including the 5k in Birmingham 2 weeks ago) in the last few months. In November, I raced the Medford Lakes turkey trot in 18:30. It was a flat, fast course on a beautiful day and I felt awesome. On Sunday, I raced the Polar Bear 5k in 18:42 on a more challenging course and I didn’t feel great. I know I’m making improvements but haven’t had a race where I’m tapered and it all clicked. That will have to wait as I’ll be tapering for a few half marathons in the Spring.

Questions for you:

What is the biggest race you’ve run?

How do you stay motivated during a plateau?

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How to Run with a Significant Other

As most people know, my husband and I met through running.  It’s a hobby we both share.  You read the full story here.  We both ran long before we knew each other.

He is a faster runner and there are very few periods that we run the same exact same pace, but it is enjoyable to share that time with him.  Running allows us to share uninterrupted time together.  During the day, it’s hard to find this uninterrupted moments.

Since coming to Alabama, we’ve been running a lot more together.  While it usually involves being out the door at 5:30am, it’s an hour we can spend together.

Many readers have asked: How do you run with your significant other?  Or Could you share some tips to make running with a partner more enjoyable?

So thinking out loud, I’m doing just that!

Keep in mind, running together is not always sunshine and butterflies.  I can remember a significant moment in our running relationship.  It was our first long run together.  I’m a very chatty runner and if you’ve run with me (or even raced), you know I’m yapping all the way.  My husband, however, is much quieter when he runs.  This took us a few runs to figure out.

We started off doing a 15 mile run in San Antonio, Texas.  All of a sudden he was running a few steps in front of me and silent.  I began getting irrationally upset.  Why were even running together?  It was just silence.  I continued to get more and more upset until finally I snapped and said:

“I’m tired of this dude running.  Men just run single file in a straight line and not talking.  Women don’t do that”.

I didn’t know his running habits, and he didn’t fully know mine.  Since then, we’ve had no more escalated running arguments, but my point is: it’s important to know any trainer partners habits.

So How do We Run Together?

The short answer: We both put on running shoes and move one foot in front of the other.

The long answer:

We run easier mileage together.  I’ll speed up my pace 10-15 seconds per mile, and he slows down a bit.  We agree to try and meet halfway.

We don’t do hard efforts together because our workout paces are not the same.  He is a faster runner and also has different goals.  (I like 5k-13.1 while he likes 5k-10k).

Occasionally he will do a tempo run with me, but that is the extent of workouts together.

Racing:

We both like going to races.  In my 2017 goals, I wrote how I planned to use a lot of races as workouts.  For us, going to races is quality time we spend together as well.  We like to sign up for races together.

The important part is we don’t race together.  We will warm up and cool down together, but when the clock goes off, we race to our own standards.  The majority of the time, we do not stay together.

Racing for you is important because if one person is faster, it will create problems to stay on the course together.  Part of being with a fellow runner is that you can’t expect to stay together or feel the same every race.  Does it stink to be dropped by your husband or a training partner during a race?  Of course, but that is the nature of the sport.  We support each other, good or bad race.

There are some important things to remember:

Ultimately someone might feel better on a particular day.  That’s okay, and there is no reason to feel upset by it.  With any running partner, it’s important to remember that running is for you.

Running and working out can be a great addition to any relationship, but your ability to run the same paces (or not) does define a relationship.

Meet in the middle.  Chances are you aren’t running the same pace or training for the same thing.  Don’t be selfish and meet halfway with paces and mileage.

Don’t Be a Sore Winner or Loser.  There is no point to “racing” your significant other because heck because neither of you is bumping each other out of overall awards.

Running with a signicant other can be a fun and pleasent experience.  I know my husband and I are extremely lucky we get to share that with each other.

Know each other’s habits.  It will make the run easier.

Finally, don’t force or guilt them into running with you. Don’t take anything personally, sometimes they don’t want to run.

Questions for you:

Do you workout with your significant other?

Have you ever run a race with someone?

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?