Rotary 5k (19:41)

On Saturday I ran the Rotary 5k.  I ran it in 2015 after spending a night at the Air Force Ball.  Needless to say, I was out late and wasn’t “prepared” to run the race last year.  Last year, I ran a 20:12 which I was happy with.  This year my only goal was to beat that time.

When I arrived at the race on Saturday, it was windy and somewhat cold.  I warmed up, and my legs didn’t feel good or bad.  They felt sore from the RnR Philadelphia Half Marathon but other than that I felt fine.

The race started, and I immediately found myself as fourth overall and 1st woman.  I stayed there the entire race, and there was no one 20 seconds in front or behind me.  It makes for a very boring race recap, but that is how some races go.  Heck, I don’t even have any race photos.

The first mile was both windy and hilly.  There are a few minor hills, and we were running into the headwind.  They closed down the road, but we were running close to several cars.  My legs felt decent.  I was surprised to run the first mile in 6:16 which wasn’t as fast the Flying Fish 5k two weeks ago.

During the second mile, we went into a neighborhood.  The course is out and back, and I nearly got lost in the middle mile.  Luckily, a police officer directed me in the correct direction.  At the turnaround, I saw I was still fourth overall, and the three males in front were quite far ahead battling it out.  We turned the corner, and I began seeing other racers behind going in the opposite direction.  There were a lot of high schoolers, and it was motivating to see them out running (considering I couldn’t even run a mile in high school?).  I hit the second mile in 6:27.

During the third mile, I just focused on finishing.  There were a lot of hills and turns.  The course was well marked and even though I had no sight of any other racers, I was confident I was going in the right direction.  (To be honest, I couldn’t remember the course at all).

Finally, we wrapped around the high school and headed towards the finish line.  I crossed the third mile in 6:27 and the finish line in 19:40.

Thoughts:

I was happy with my results.  My time was 30 seconds faster than last year on the same course.  (Although this year I had not been out late the night before😉.  I don’t have any complaints.  Some race recaps are more boring than others, but that is what happens when you run the race so frequently.

Questions for you:

Have you ever raced alone?

Do you run the same races each year?

Rock n Roll Philadelphia (1:27.37)

Last year, Rock n Roll Philadelphia was several weeks later due to the Pope coming to town.  The weather was brisk and perfect, and I ran a solid 1:25.45.  The weather was perfect, so I knew this year wouldn’t be a course PR.  Plus coming off an injury and a half marathon two weeks, I didn’t expect to be close to that time. I was okay with that.

I was lucky to get a ride over with my boss.  Two days before the race I had no idea how I even would get to the race.  He wasn’t racing the half marathon but placed second overall at the 5k the day before.  After arriving at the start, I chatted with a few people and hung around.
I didn’t warm up for the race as it was hot enough.  During the drive over I realized I had forgotten my watch.  There wasn’t much I could do and honestly I had to suck up racing without a watch. I was irritated, but it was either race without a watch or miss the race.
As I lined up in my corral, I was overwhelmed with a bunch of familiar faces like my coworker Colleen and the famous running blogger, Michele.
The race went off and during the first mile, I felt extremely boxed in.  I felt like I was running slow because I couldn’t get around people (and people couldn’t get around me).  We were packed in like sardines.  When I hit the first mile in 6:38, I was shocked.  That was much faster than Virginia Beach, plus, I didn’t take into account I had crossed the start line 10 seconds later.
The second mile began to spread out.  The second and third mile, take you back towards the starting line.  I like this aspect of the race a lot because the spectators are there cheering you on, and it’s a full crowd.  It’s hard not to feel motivated!

We rounded the third mile and went down Spring Garden.  The section is about a mile out and back with an 180-degree turn.  As I ran the fourth mile, I saw the elites going the opposite direction.  It’s always humbling to see them glide by effortlessly.

I rounded the 180 turn and didn’t take it well.  I’m bad at turns and tend to take them too wide, but I would rather do that than fall.  A couple of extra seconds is not worth falling.  I headed back the opposite direction.  As I was running, I saw several friends and coworkers running the opposite direction.  I had no idea the time or pace, but I hit mile 5 in 33:00 exactly (per the course clock).  I was surprisingly pleased.  I saw one of my good friends Anita and continued to Kelley Drive and around the river.

Rock n Roll Philadelphia

I’ve run the 8.4-mile loop around the Schuylkill a dozen times.  I know the loop well, and it’s a boring, unshaded loop around the Schukyill River.  Not that I care but starting that loop when you aren’t even halfway done is mind numbing.

I hit the 10k just under 41 minutes per clock time.  I was pleased.  The next few miles were just spent staying mentally engaged.  I knew if I lost focus, I would unknowingly slow down my pace.  It was hot and humid, and I sweat through my entire singlet.  I kept hoping the water stops would have Gatorade, but it was minimal.  In fact, there wasn’t much in the form of electrolytes for the entire race.  It was something I thought about during Virginia Beach as well.

I hit mile 10 in 1:05.30 and made it my goal to finish under 1:28.  I knew the last three miles would be tough.  There was no wind; it was heating up, and my clothing was soaken through. I kept reminding myself:

I set my 5k PR on this exact course, and I can race it well.

A man asked my goal, and I said 1:28 sounded reasonable.  He said that was his goal and asked if we could run together.  After a few exchanges, we realized we were at mile 11.

I saw a pack of 5 women in front as well as a man with a cast.  Honestly, I wanted to catch them all, and they kept me focused.  The last two miles is always tough because you can see Center City but it never seems to get any closer.

I hit mile 12, at just over 1:20 and I knew if I could maintain my pace I could break 1:28.  I saw the pack of 5 women, and I ran right by them.  If you know me, you know this hardly ever happens, and it’s a huge accomplishment.  In fact, it might be the only time I’ve outkicked anyone.

Typically I get passed in the final mile…like in Shamrock when I went from 7th place to 14th in the last half mile.

At the final stretch, another woman outkicked and passed me.  She kept me engaged up a minor uphill.  I crossed the finish line with a chip time of 1:27.37 and as 30th woman overall.  I was 10th in my age group.

Rock n Roll Philadelphia

I even got to cool down with Sarah D, who set a half marathon PR of 1:25 in the heat!

Rock n Roll Philadelphia

Thoughts:
I’m both pleased and surprised with my result.  To be honest, I was hoping to run between 1:28-1:32.  After not getting the best nights sleep as well as the weather.  I’m extremely happy with my time considering it was 2 minutes faster than two weeks ago, plus I was injury free.

rock n roll philadelphia

September in Philadelphia is unpredictable.  I thought it was extremely humid, but I’ve raced RnR Virginia Beach as well as the Remember the Alamo 13.2 which were both hotter and more humid.  It stinks because this course has potential to be extremely fast in the fall (like last year when 40+ athletes qualified for the Olympic Trials).

Questions for you:
What is the hottest you’ve run in?
Have you ever forgotten your watch or something important to a race? 

Saucony Zealot ISO 2 Review

A few weeks ago I decided to try the Saucony Zealot ISO 2.  The Saucony Zealot was one of my favorite shoes last year.

Saucony Zealot ISO 2 Shoe Review

The Saucony Zealot ISO 2 came out a couple of months ago but due to injury, I was cautious to try anything new.  My injury took over the blog for a while, but since this is a running blog, it affected my ability to train and try new shoes (not that running is everything).

So once I felt comfortable to experiment with new shoes, I decided to try the Zealot.  I was both curious and excited to see what the newest update had to offer.  At work, our Saucony rep told us it was going through significant changes, so I was also nervous.  It was only the second model, so the shoe doesn’t have anything consistent behind it.

Saucony is not paying to promote their shoes and remember what works for me, might not work for you.  See: why online running shoe reviews are (mostly) worthless.

Fit:

The Saucony Zealot ISO 2 still uses the ISO and sock-like upper fit which I like.  It fits similar to the first model. However, it is much smaller.  In the Saucony Zealot ISO, I wore a size 9.5.  However, when I put the 9.5 in the ISO 2, I immediately thought it was both too tight and too narrow.  Sizing is never a big issue, and I went with the size 10.  When comparing, it appears the Zealot 2 has a much more narrow toe box.  After getting a more appropriate size 10, I liked the fit, and it felt much better on my foot.

Ride:

The previous Zealot was firmer and lower to the ground.  I liked to use the shoe for “faster” paced runs.  The Zealot ISO 2 includes the Saucony Everrun material which makes it feel less like the Kinvara and more like the Triumph.  For me, that is a good thing since the Triumph is one of my all-time favorite running shoes.  There is much more cushion and more “shoe” to the Saucony Zealot ISO 2.  If you like more of a shoe, then you’ll like the update.

Saucony Zealot ISO 2 Shoe Review

Conclusion: 

Even though the shoe is drastically different, I like the update.  I was in need of either a new pair of Saucony Triumphs or something comparable to replace them in my shoe rotation.  I think the Saucony Zealot ISO 2 fits that and I’ll continue to use them.  They are significantly more shoe and cushion than the debut edition but for me, that is not a bad thing.

Pros:

  • Light weight but cushioned
  • Same price

Cons:

  • Update is drastically different and more cushioned
  • Fit is more narrow

Saucony Zealot ISO 2 Shoe Review

Similar models: Saucony Kinvara, Saucony Triumph ISO 2, Saucony Ride

My personal shoe rotation: Saucony Zealot ISO 2, Hoka Clifton 3 and Brooks Launch 3

Questions for you:

What is your all time favorite running shoe?
Do you get nervous for shoe updates? 

Training: Little Things and RnR Philly (1:27.37)

Last week was a great training week for me.  While I did log higher mileage, I also spent time doing little things such as PT, recovering and resting.  Each being important to keeping me healthy.

Monday: Easy run with Meghan Deep Tissue Massage
Tuesday: OFF PT/ART appointment
Wednesday: Easy Run
Thursday: Easy Run PT/ART appointment
Friday: OFF
Saturday: Easy run with my friend Katie
Sunday: RnR Philly (1:27.37)+3 mile cool down

Thoughts:

Where to begin? I’m beginning to put in the mileage again.  While I’m not doing workouts, I’m running about 50-60 miles per week and racing once.  That’s a huge progression, and I can now say I’m 100% injury free.  I’ve raced two halves and had a 16-mile day with no issues.  Do I feel in shape?  No, but my bones don’t hurt.

I’m proud to continue getting my PT/ART, and it has made all the difference.  While it is expensive, I do believe going to Dr. Kemenosh and his team is helping me stay healthy as I increase my mileage.  My foot hasn’t hurt but then again, neither has anything else.

Rock N Roll Philadelphia: 1:27.37

rock n roll philadelphia

I’ll have a longer recap sometime this week, but I’m pleasantly surprised with how the race went.  I told myself I would be very happy with anything faster than RnR Virginia Beach.

The weather forecasted a hot, humid day.  Honestly, it’s one of the better days I’ve raced this year so while the weather was tough, but not unbearable.  I forgot my watch at home and just ran by how I felt.  I don’t let the watch tell me to speed up/slow down anyways, but I do like to know my pace.  I never felt “good” during the race, but I never felt awful either.  The short recap is, I was pretty consistent, and I was proud of how I ran.

rock n roll philadelphia

I’m looking forward to getting into shorter races for the next month.  My next half marathon is potentially the Runners World Half.  While it’s a much tougher course, I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do on in cooler weather and with another month of training under my belt.  For now, I’ll continue to race 5ks.

Questions for you:
Do you race well in the heat?
What was your best workout last week?

How to Find the Perfect Pair of Running Shoes

 How to Find Perfect Running Shoes

One of the most important decisions you can make as a runner is choosing the right pair of running shoes.

It’s important to spend both time and money to pick out the best shoes for you.  Without proper running shoes, you won’t be running for very long.  While you can choose a shoe off of the shelf, it’s important to get properly fitted by an expert.

How to find the perfect running shoe

Thinking out loud, proper running shoes are going to prevent many injuries such as shin splints and plantar fasciitis.  They are going help you run faster and further because aches will be the last thing you’re thinking about.

So how do you find the best running shoes?

First, it’s important to realize there is no “best-running shoe.”  Each running shoe is designed for a different foot type.  What works for me, might not work for you or your friend.  Reading internet shoe reviews isn’t going to help you find a shoe that will help you.  Every foot is different, including your left and right.

Second, go to a running specialty store. Employees at running speciality stores go through training to figure out which shoes work for which feet.  They can tell you within a matter of minutes which shoe will work for you.  A process that can take you hours will be cut into minutes.  Employees at running stores also have a wealth of knowledge about the sport of running including local events and races.  They are runners themselves and will know local races or even doctors or podiatrists.

You should plan to spend time in the store because the employee will ask you several questions, take a look at your feet, gait and running form.  Don’t get to the store 5 minutes before closing time and expect to have time to be fitted.

So what should you expect?

First, the employee will ask you several questions such as:

  • What are you using the shoes for?
  • Every day walking? Training? Racing? Gym classes?  There is no right or “good” answer!
  • Do you have any aches or pains? Do you have blisters or black toenails? Do you have shin splints or knee pain? Pain in your hips or back? Let the employee know everything and anything…but please don’t show me an open wound.
  • What kind running are you doing?
  • How often you run?
  • Where do you run? What kind of surface are you running on? Grass? Sidewalk? The treadmill?
  • Are you training for race or event

Those are just a few questions you might encounter about your personal activity.

Then the employee will look at the shape of your feet as well as the arch.  It’s extremely common for someone to have two different sized feet.  They will look to see if you pronate,supinate or have a neutral gait.  Determining your foot type is the most important part of finding the right running shoes.

Next, the employee will measure your foot. Keep in mind, your foot size changes and grows.  After having children, most women gain a half size.  Even if you’ve been the same size for years, your foot might have gotten longer or wider.

Another thing to keep in mind is running shoes should be 1/2 to a full size bigger than your casual shoe size.  There are very few exceptions to this rule.  When you workout, your feet swell.  If you are losing toenails, chances are your shoes are too small.  Blisters also form at the top of your feet because of improper sizing.  As someone who works in a speciality store, about 75% of athletes who come in are wearing the wrong size shoe.

After the employee is done proding you with questions, they’ll bring a few options that are best fits for you.  They’ll have you try them on and run around in them.   From there you will decide how you like the shoe.  Do you prefer a soft shoe? Firm? Light weight or heavier? Only you can decide what feels right.

Make sure you are ready to run.  Standing awkwardly in the shoe for one second isn’t going to decide whether you like the shoe or not.  You should run in each pair of shoes.  Trust the employee they have chosen appropriate shoes for you.  The employee’s job isn’t too bring out the wrong shoes.

After making your final decision make sure to test your shoes at home too.  If you develop pain, they may not be the right shoes. Most specialty stores have a policy to allow you to exchange the shoes even if you have run in them.  For instance, the store I work at allows you to exchange shoes for up to two weeks.  If they don’t work out, we want to know and for you to find something that does!

Since I work in a speciality running store, I do believe getting fit for a pair of shoes is one of the best things you can do for yourself as a runner.  There is no right or wrong answer for the best pair of running shoes, but there is a right or wrong answer for the best pair for you.

Other Posts You Might be Interested In:
There is No Perfect Running Shoe
There Difference Between Runners and Non-Runners
Why Running Shoe Reviews are (Mostly) Worthless
Why You Should Rotate Running Shoes

Questions for you:
What are your current pair of running shoes?
Have you ever been fit for a pair of running shoes?

RnR VA Beach (1:29.46)

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.

 Roll Virginia Beach results
Before the race. We ended up all making the top 5

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.

 Roll Virginia Beach results

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.

 Roll Virginia Beach results

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.

 Roll Virginia Beach results

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.

 Roll Virginia Beach results

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.

Roll Virginia Beach results

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.

 Roll Virginia Beach results

It was great to see so many friends as well as family on course.

Questions for you:

Have you ever run a Rock n’ Race?  

Have you ever had a race cancelled? 

A Timeline of Injury

Since I’ve been injured, it’s a good time to reflect on injuries and talk about things that have helped me personally through this particular injury.  It’s much easier to talk about injuries when you are actually injured versus reflecting upon it when you are completely healthy.

I’m not a doctor, expert or coach, but I do have personal experience in being injured.  (What great personal experience that is…).  Thinking out loud, It’s important to remember, every injury heals at a different rate and every person recovers differently.

So in summary, what works or has happened to me, might not for you.  But if you’re anything like me, you enjoy reading about other people and what has worked (or not) for them.

A Timeline of Injury

So here is a timeline of my injury:

Early to Mid May:

I began to feel burnt out with running.  I wasn’t injured, and I ran several races including Broad Street, the Newport 10k, and the Track Mile.  Both Broad Street and the Newport 10k went well and I ran Personal Bests, but I felt eh after the mile.  I didn’t feel good, but I didn’t feel bad.  I didn’t feel injured either (which is important).  I began to read signs that I felt burnt out and decided to take some time off.

In late May I got a bad case of food poisoning.  It forced me to take five days off no questions asked.  When I went out for a short run on day six something in my ankle felt off and weird.  It wasn’t sharp, but it was a dull ache.  I thought I had rolled my ankle, but I just decided to rest and take a 2-week break.

During that period my foot progressed and felt worse.  Finally, I decided to go to the doctor and get an MRI.  Since I have a special form of insurance, I was able to book someone in network (Who I wanted to see) without primary care approval.

Early June: MRI and Diagnosis

My MRI concluded I had fractured my ankle. I was ordered into a boot for a week.  I was allowed to spin and swim but nothing weight bearing.  So for a week, I did just that.  I was still burnt out from running, so the rest didn’t bother me.

Mid June:

Mid June hit me pretty hard.  There was a half marathon I wanted to do, The Odyssey half, that I had to skip.  I wasn’t in pain, but I knew it would be idiotic to run knowing I had a broken bone.  I could have probably run through it but who knows what sort of bones I might have shattered…running on a broken bone is dumb. Plus I probably wouldn’t limp but I wouldn’t feel great either.  I spent most of June in a funk.  I didn’t feel good and I mentally struggled with not being able to run.

Late June:

I was ordered for four weeks of rest and by the time I knew it, the end of June was here, and I was allowed to attempt a run.  (Run being .25 miles).  I ran, and it felt like a typical first run back: awkward and awful. I didn’t expect a magical run but I had hoped to feel a little bit better.

July:

I spent July slowly building my base.  Slowly being key.  I ran every other day and only ran a few miles at the most.  By the end of July, I worked up to my first race back: The Run for the Hill of It.  Luckily it was scorching that day and took all of the pressure off of me. I didn’t feel in shape racing but I was injury free.

August:

August was both the best and worst month for me.  How?  I logged a lot of miles, and I felt as if I *finally* got over my injury.

So how could it be bad?

I raced frequently enough that I wanted more, and wanted to be where I was previously.  Before my injury, I was running 2 minutes faster in 5ks.  My half marathon pace was faster than the 5k pace I was struggling to keep.  Running a 20 minute 5k just felt like I was starting over.

September:

Here I am just over 100 days since my initial injury.  I feel like I’m recovered.  I hate declaring that because you never know what could happen but I do feel as if my injury is in the past.  Am I in shape?  No, but I am injury free which is the first important step.

100 days ago and I was injured but who knows where I’ll be in 100 days?

100 days isn’t a long time in the grand scheme of things.  I know my fitness will come back.

Questions for you:

What was your last injury?

Where do you see yourself in 100 days? (December time frame)