Race Recap: 5K Turkey Trot 11/28/13

I was so close to skipping this run all together, but am so glad I did it.  The weather was brutal in Upstate NY (we’re talking snot freezing, numb toes, and hypothermia weather) and I was not liking the idea of subjecting myself to the elements.

However, my best friend texted me that morning to let me know she was on her way to get me.  There was no turning back–it was time to bundle up and run this thing as fast as I could.  The saving grace was that at the end of it all I would be rewarded with wine, turkey and a Thanksgiving feast.

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The first mile felt pretty good (aside from the cold) and I felt like I could push through this race with a sub 10 pace, but then mile 2 hit.  Mile 2 was horrible for so many reasons. My pace went from sub 10 to 11:43/mile.

1) I lost feeling in my fingers and my toes.

2) The roads were slick and icy.

3) It was uphill.

4) There were gusts of wind that burned me with windchill and nearly swept me off my feet.

I’d seriously never felt so cold in my life!  The wind was crazy and I couldn’t believe how strong the gusts were.  I never knew that I could be blown off my feet, but there were times I had to catch myself because the wind was THAT strong.

Mile 3 was SO much better.  The course switch to flatter lands and the trees helped block the wind.  The remainder of the course was also on a decline so I finished off mile 3 strong with a 9:16 pace.  I was so ready to finish and figured that the faster I went the sooner I’d be inside sipping hot cocoa and eating a cider donut.

The race, wasn’t too crazy and we were required to track our own times at the finish.  My finish time was 32:17 (runkeeper said 32:15 for 3.17 miles) and I think I placed 186 out of who knows how many. Screen shot 2013-12-03 at 10.50.06 AM

Once I finished I ran back to finish with friend–I didn’t want her to feel like I had completely abandoned her.  Overall, it was a fun race and one I might consider doing it every year that I am up for the holiday.

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Training Run: 20 miles!

Holy hell!  I ran 20 freaking miles this past Saturday!!

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The days leading up to this long run were nerve racking.  I was so afraid that I would not make it through, I wasn’t sure if I was adequately prepared.  My previous long run was two weeks prior and it was supposed to have been for 17 miles.

I never did the 17 miles though—I competed in the Empire State Half Marathon instead, but didn’t have energy left at the end to tack on the extra 4 miles.  I could only hope that the level of exertion I put forth was enough to cover the missed mileage.

Well, I guess it worked!  I was able to run the full 20 miles without a walking break.  There were many times that I wanted to stop and walk, but I kept reminding myself that runs with walk breaks are more stressful for me and that I wouldn’t have the same stamina.

The major difference for this long run was that it was much colder outside–I wasn’t facing 88 degree heat like I had for my 15 miler in October (seriously 88 degrees in October WTH!?).  I woke up at the crack of dawn stomached my first gel and was out the door by 5:30am.

It was dark and cold (in the 40’s), but I made sure to wear bright and warm clothing.  I also decided against the camel pack this time around–I wasn’t impressed with it during my last long run because it was quite cumbersome.  I wore my new large water bottle fuel belt (packed with 3 Clif Energy Gels) and it was sufficient enough to sustain me through the run.  I decided to take a gel every 5 miles and to take water as needed.

I definitely noticed a difference in performance soon after each shot and despite them being super thick and ridiculously sweet they were instrumental to my performance.  I def plan on purchasing more for my next long runs.

The hardest part of my run was mile 17, I really slowed at this point and felt that I needed a walk break.  It took every ounce of mental strength to keep pushing forward.  I needed to remind myself that I only had 3 miles left and that 3 miles was nothing.  If I gave up then it would have been ridiculous and I would have been mad at myself for getting so close.  I kept repeating the mantra “this is when the real workout starts..”

Soon enough I hit mile 18, then 19 and I used every last bit of energy to “sprint” through that last mile.  I was so excited to hear the 20 mile prompt and had such a great feeling of elation.  The downside was that I was spent, I didn’t want to move.  My feet ached and my legs felt like jelly and I was still a mile from home.  I walked it out for a quarter-mile and called my husband for a ride, but he was occupied with toddler bath time.  I was forced to either wait or walk–it was freezing out so I chose to walk it off.

In retrospect, I’m glad I was able to walk it off–I think it definitely helped get rid of any lactic acid build up.  My legs didn’t hurt that bad and I actually felt pretty great and much better than I would have expected.  What I didn’t anticipate was waking up the next morning to severe pain in my left ankle/foot.  It hurt to walk and it look rather swollen.  I was confused and frustrated.  I hadn’t rolled my ankle and it felt fine during my run.  What the heck was happening?

Doctor Google says that I have peroneal tendonitis.  I am all too familiar with overuse injuries and am 99.9% certain that this is what’s going on.  It fits all the criteria: no recollection of trauma, improper footwear (my sneakers were at 300 miles and lost most of the support–new ones hadn’t arrived yet), and increased mileage.

It’s been 5 days since my 20 miles and I still haven’t gone for a run.  I feel SO lazy!  However, I would rather give it some recovery time because I know that pushing myself would be the wrong answer.  Today, I can walk without a limp, but there is still a dull ache so I am not running.  I will aim to run on Saturday or maybe tomorrow, but for now RICE and cross-training with biking or rowing will have to do.

How I Came To Love Running

I’m not a runner.  I hate running.

That used to be my stance on the sport.  I detested running and pulled out every excuse to find ways around it when it was required for team sports.

I blamed bad knees (which I genuinely had) and exercise induced asthma.  When team runs were required, I was always the one huffing and puffing at the back of the pack and trying my best to keep up.  I could run one mile at a 9 minute pace, but after that I didn’t want to have anything to do with running.  I was ready to quit.  I was constantly suffering from patellar tendonitis and IT band syndrome.  Rather than run, I’d get my cardio in by erging or biking, but it wasn’t really enough to improve my athleticism.

I always figured running just wasn’t for me.  I had thick, heavy thighs and weak knees.  I would gasp and cough after every run.  What I didn’t realize was that I was never going at MY own pace and that was the number one reason I was suffering.

Running is a sport that you can’t rush until you and your body are ready.

Inevitably, you will be out of breath, panting, cramping and in pain if you try to go at a pace that is not your own.  I learned this when I began training for my first 5k in December of 2010.

I had signed up for the 5K because I needed another push to get me through my wedding weight loss goals.  I had noticed a few friends signing up for the short races and thought it might be something I could do.  I had been working out steadily for some time, but per usual was avoiding the treadmill like the plague.

In my efforts I came across the Couch to 5K program and began my own modified version of it.  Since I was already in fairly decent aerobic shape (through biking and erg work), I decided to push myself a little bit harder and go a little longer on the days that I felt I could.

I still remember the feeling of being able to go for 5 minutes, then 10, then 20, and so on.  It wasn’t until the week before the 5K that I was able to finish the full distance without a walk break, but I did it.  I was so confident and proud of myself.  I had never run anything further than the distance before and it was a huge accomplishment.  I finished my first race at around 34 minutes and made it the entire way through without stopping.  It was at that point that I realized I was capable of more than I gave myself credit for.

I had hoped to continue the trend and planned to keep at it, but I didn’t.  It wasn’t until this past year that I decided to hop back into it.  I started off with intervals of sprinting/walking, but I made the mistake of doing too much too soon.  I was already doing P90X and the plyo-X workout is tough on your body in itself and when you add running with 30 lbs of extra weight to it you set yourself up for injury.

I developed anterior shin splints and they were the worse. I had never in my life experienced this type of injury.  I knew part of it was because I was wearing the wrong sneakers for my overweight frame so I made the decision to invest in a new pair with added support. I also knew that over training was to blame so I slowed things down and took it easy.  The pain soon subsided and my mileage increased.

With every run I felt stronger and more confident in my abilities as a runner.  In June the experience drove me to sign up for my first marathon and I began training for it in July.  The first training runs were tough, but with every passing week I learned that most of my limitations were mental and that if I didn’t go too crazy I could go further distances without getting hurt.

Running has become a routine that I now crave.  On my rest days I miss it and wish I didn’t need the break.  Training for this marathon has taught me so much about what I am capable of.  The biggest surprise is that I’ve learned that I am capable of so much more than I can imagine.

Never would I have thought I could complete a 10k, or a half marathon, or a 20 mile run, but I did it.  I’ve learned that I am a runner.  I just needed to find MY pace.  It may be slow now, but I will keep working towards PRs and getting faster.

I love running because it reminds me that my biggest obstacle is my own mind.

Race Recap: 5K Chili Challenge 11/3/13

It was a cold and blustery morning for the 5K Chill Challenge at Taughannock Falls State Park.  Despite the snow and sleet falling from the skies, I stayed fairly warm throughout the race.  I don’t know if it was the promise of hot chili at the end, but the cold didn’t bother me as much as I anticipated.

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I went to the race solo, leaving my biggest cheerleaders at home was hard, but it was too cold to keep my guys waiting for me to double the course.  Yes, I said double the course!

The day prior I had attempted to put in my 6 mile training run, but 1 mile in (with my son in the jogging stroller) it began to downpour.  I ended up cutting the run short and waited long enough for the rain to slow before I booked it back home.  That night I made the last-minute decision to sign up for the race and figured I could easily tack on the extra 3 miles.

nearing the finish
nearing the finish

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Because I was planning on doubling the course I was careful to pace myself at my 6 mile pace and did a reasonable job at doing so.  The course was mostly flat, but there were a few inclines at the 3/4 mile mark.  My splits were fairly reasonable and actually better than they had been for my last 6 mile run. Screen shot 2013-11-05 at 10.44.30 AM

Mile 4 was tough, but I pushed through and picked it up as I came back down.  It was fun to double back on the course and see the remaining runners/walkers on their way in.  It really reminded me of how far I’ve come and that it doesn’t matter how slow you are going.  If you’re trying and doing, you are accomplishing something and that’s all that matters.

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Race Recap: Empire State Half Marathon 10/20/13

I DID IT!! I finished my first official half marathon in 2:34:42 (The Empire State Marathon) and I could not be more proud of myself.

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This little “runner” who could barely run a 5K in February of 2010 finished her first half!

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The race took place in Syracuse, NY and the course ran through a familiar path, the Onondaga Lake Park, home to my first (and only) 5K race.  As I pressed through the park passing mile 3 I had such a sense of euphoria and accomplishment.  Just 3 years prior I ran this same path full of jitters and a similar eagerness, but with no sense that I would be capable of conquering any distance greater than that.  And yet there I was, I was in it with 10 miles left to go and I felt great.

I was pacing ahead of my normal training pace and was carefully monitoring my HR to settle at 160-165 BPM.  Based on my prior training runs I knew that I could comfortably maintain this HR for this distance and was letting my body set the pace.  The first 2 miles of the race were slightly uphill, but the majority of the course was flat and very similar to what I had been training on.

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At the halfway point, my body began to feel the stresses of racing and my HR hovered between 170-175 BPM.  I tried to slow down a bit to get back down to the 160’s, but found that it REALLY brought my pace down so I change my plan and aimed to keep my HR as close to 170 BPM for the remaining distance.  I was able to speed things up a bit towards the end, but when I hit mile 12 my feet began to ache.  I could feel it with each step and was looking forward to finishing the race so I used the cheers from the crowd and every ounce of adrenaline I had to push myself through that last mile.

Soon enough, the stadium was in sight and I could see the finish line.  I was greeted by my biggest fans, my husband and son and they cheered me on in that last stretch.  I sprinted to the end and crossed the finish line with dead legs and a pounding heart.  I DID IT!  I ran a solid 13.1 miles at my fastest time yet.

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I still get excited thinking about what I had accomplished and what I still have to accomplish.  The full marathon still intimidates me a bit, but I am miles from where I was and I have faith that I can make my way through it.