Red, White, and Blue Shoes 5k

Somebody pinch me. I think I’m still dreaming.

I started getting pre-race nerves yesterday at the end of the work day. I was going for a big goal and unlike in May I didn’t have a back up race in case I didn’t succeed.

Race morning came and with it a brand new Oiselle running top. (That’s a definite perk to running a race on your birthday. Thanks Mom!) I put it on and started getting nervous again, of course.

We got to Furman with plenty of time for me to get in my 20 minute warm up. The nerves were in full force then. I stuck close by and ended up doing most of the warm up on the track.

As usual, I had a few extra minutes to wait since the start was delayed 10 minutes, not due to weather thankfully. The weather was amazing! Plenty of time for a pre-race pic

Red, White, and Blue Shoes 5k

Then it was time to head over to the start line. Thanks to my new Garmin 220, I actually knew what time it was. (You’ll probably hear me rave about that watch a few more times in the future.)

I got as close to the start as I thought I could but really didn’t like how far back I was so with just two minutes to go, I edged over to the side and tried to get a little closer. Since I didn’t have to do too much weaving once the race started, I think that was a good decision.

Before I could think too much about it, we were off.

The only thought in my head in my head was 7:00. That was my goal. Keep the pace at 7 and throw on a sprint at the end if possible.

I loved the first downhill. That definitely helped. There were a lot of people around but it never got crowded. I did get whacked on the arm by some guy going past but that wasn’t for lack of space. I think he just had some alignment issues. ;)

As we headed down the mall I started seeing 7:20ish numbers on my Garmin. At first I thought that might be because all the trees and buildings were interfering with the satellite connection (and part of it may be) but I know I started to unconsciously slow down just a tad. I can’t tell you how many times I looked down at my Garmin throughout this whole race.

When I passed the first mile marker I noticed that my Garmin was off, distance-wise, starting from the first mile. (It ended up measuring 3.05.) That didn’t bother me though. If there’s a discrepancy, I’d rather have that kind. (as opposed to a 26.70 marathon) Just a little later I got my first split, 7:06. I told myself that I needed to pick up the pace and quickly.

I don’t remember much about the second mile except wondering how I was going to maintain this pace for another 2ish miles. I kept telling myself that I had just a mile and a half or just a mile and a quarter to go.

Mile 2 ended up being my best mile. I clocked 6:59. (My Garmin stayed consistently .05 behind the mile markers.)

Then came mile 3 and the only hills on the course.

When we turned onto the street with the bridge (I’m bad with street names) I remembered the first time I ran this race with my mom two years ago. I had just gotten through a weird back thing and was taking it easy and running with her. That hill nearly did her in.

With those “positive” thoughts in my head I knew that this hill would make or break my race. (Little did I know that there was another hill just before the finish waiting for me. I’ll get to that soon.) I put my head down, shortened my stride and started pumping my arms. I hadn’t come this far to fall apart in the last mile.

After cresting the hill I didn’t feel great but I knew that I was on the home stretch. My pace was much slower than I wanted to be and I felt like I was almost to that run-so-hard-you-puke point but not quite.

As we ran down the mall I tried desperately to pick up the pace. I think I managed a little improvement. When we got to the circle in front of the PAC circle I was so ready to turn and head towards the stadium. Whoops. We weren’t going in the gate I thought we were. Nope. We had a nice little incline before turning and running towards the other gate.

If I’d had any extra breath I might have said something like “you’ve got to be kidding me!” Instead I dug as deep as I could to get up that hill because I knew it was all downhill from there. Plus, I let myself look at the total time and knew that somehow, even with the first hill in mile three, I still had a chance at a sub 22. Mile three came in at 7:06 again. (Don’t know how that happened.)

Finally I rounded the curve and was in the stadium. I don’t know how football players run so fast on the turf. It’s definitely a different sensation.

I saw the 21 on the finish clock and took off. Somehow, I had done it. I had come in under 22 minutes. Then I crossed that line and stopped my Garmin. I didn’t even care that my finish line pick will be of me stopping my Garmin. I was not about to forget this time. :)

Final verdict?

PR baby! #happybirthdaytome

That’s right, almost 1 whole minute off my former 5k PR. Officially I clocked a 21:34, good enough for 5th place in my age group and 159th overall. There were some speedy 25-29 year old this year. Last year that would have been good enough for 3rd in the 25-29 age group.

I’m still in shock.

In fact, I didn’t even make it back to the finish after getting my finger pricked (post coming on the study next week, I promise!) to see Mom finish.

She smashed her PR…24:39! Absolutely amazing and good enough for 2nd in her age group!

One final thought on my new PR. When I mentioned the one minute PR to my cousin and how I got it, he hit the nail on the head. He said that that kind of PR shows that I didn’t know how to train before. I wholeheartedly agree. I am so thankful for my coach and can’t wait to see what lies ahead!

Next race? San Francisco Second Half Marathon!!

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San Francisco Second Half Marathon Week 9 Training Recap

The heat and humidity got the better of me this week, mentally. It’s a mental battle for me and I didn’t put up a good fight. There’s always next week.

Monday easy run
It took a while to get going on this run, much longer than I wanted. I’m not sure why. It was just one of those runs. I did enjoy the fast finish though.

Tuesday stationary bike + NTC abs, morning; mile at Furman all comers meet
This was a good ride. I didn’t push as hard the past few times but still liked it.
I think I may finally be able to complete the easiest ab workout on the app without modification.
The mile was amazing. I had no idea that I could run this fast.

Wednesday easy run with some hard effort intervals at end
The awful humidity (you know it’s going to be bad when you can feel it just by opening the garage door) plus Tuesday’s hard effort combined for a really sluggish effort. I was able to negative split the three hard effort intervals I had at the end.

Thursday long run
I had to do my long run Thursday since I participated in some testing on Saturday. My legs definitely felt the four days in a row of work including the hard mile effort. Add in 71 degrees plus 75% humidity and my pace was much slower than I normally want. Towards the end though I tried to get a little bit more and finished fairly strong. I will enjoy cross-training tomorrow for sure.

Friday stationary bike
This was a good ride. The AC’s not great at the gym (I like to say that it’s because they try to match the weather outside but only when it’s hot. ;) so I worked up a sweat. I can’t wait until the week after next when I get to ride at the beach.

Saturday VO2 max + lactate threshold testing, cool down
This run took shape in two parts. The first part consisted of VO2 max + lactate threshold testing. (Hopefully I’ll be writing a post on this to come later in the week.) The second part was a “cool down” run. The only problem was that I started this around 12:30 pm. (The testing wasn’t scheduled until 11am.) The only part of this run that was a “cool down” was the pace. I also had to deal with a random Garmin shut off that ended up prompting me to get a 220. (I’ve already been playing with it and geeking out a bit.)
This wasn’t the greatest run and it felt a little odd to not do a long run but I got it done. Training’s getting real now!

Sunday rest
I really enjoyed the day off. I didn’t give week 9 a full effort (except for the mile) so I’m ready to dive back in for week 10.

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Racing the Mile

Tuesday I had the opportunity to race the mile at the GTC sponsored Furman All-Comers track meet. I hadn’t attended previously because of my work schedule but I made it work this time because it’s part of some testing that I get to be part of. (More on that to come soon, hopefully.)

I dashed out of work right at 6:30 and made it to Furman only a few minutes before my heart. Obviously, I had very little time for a warm up.

After talking briefly with Matt (who clocked a 5:10 by the way) I made my goal 6:45. I had no idea whether that was reasonable for me or not. Turns out that I underestimated myself again.

I wish I had hit the lap button so I could have splits for each lap around the track. I’ll remember that next time. (Yes, there is definitely going to be a next time. I just don’t know the date.)

As usual, I took off way too fast. I knew that without looking at my Garmin simply because I wasn’t that far behind Matt. I told myself to slow down or I would burn out. That first lap nearly did me in. I couldn’t fathom how I would get through three more.

The second lap started with more of the same, too fast pace. I tried to slow down but not so much that I would miss my goal time. That time of measured speed decrease is difficult to manage when all the blood is rushing away from your brain.

By the time the third lap started I was in a world of hurt. I think the only part of me that wanted to keep going was my stubborn competitive nature. I tried to ease up just a bit and felt a little better but not much.

Just after I started the fourth and final lap. I heard the announcer say that the winner had almost finished. That could have been discouraging but given that he finished in 4:30, it wasn’t that bad.

When I was on the back stretch, the first female finished. I don’t remember her time because all I could think about was making it to that line. I put on a bit of a sprint but it probably wasn’t much faster that I had been going.

Final verdict?

That happened. #sub630mile #booyah

Yeah, I still haven’t been able to pick my jaw off the ground. Matt’s response? Looks like we’ll need to step up your training. (Phrasing is approximate. I don’t think the blood had returned to my head yet when he made the comment.)

I am absolutely thrilled with this result and have the crazy dream of a 5:59 dancing in my head now.

(P.S. It took me 4 times as long to write this post as it did to run that mile.)

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San Francisco 2nd Half Marathon Week 8

Another fun week of training. This is definitely one of my favorite training cycles so far.

Monday recovery run
I expected my legs to feel at least a little bit trashed after Saturday’s PR effort. (They certainly did after the 5k a few weeks ago.) I was pleasantly surprised. After the first mile or so I actually felt fabulous. and couldn’t help getting a little faster with each mile. That’s right. I negative split this run. Who does that? I love the fact that for the first time in my running career I’m getting faster in the summer despite the humidity.

Tuesday easy run + stationary bike + NTC ab workout
This was an average run, nothing bad but nothing extraordinary.
Once again, I loved the ride. I had to push it a little at the end to get to 5.5 but loved it.
I “wimped” out and chose the “easy” abs workout again. Maybe when I can complete it without any modifications at all I’ll move on to a tougher one.

Wednesday “track” intervals
Since I still don’t have access to the track (this week hopefully!) I ended up running these intervals on the treadmill. It took me forever to decide whether I was going to run inside and try to hit the exact distance in the prescribed time or run outside and run the intervals by effort not exact distance. I debated up until making the turn to head into the gym. I cannot wait to get back to the track next week (and hope that everybody follows the rules so Greenville County doesn’t make the school cut off access.)
These intervals were hard! When I figured out that I needed to hold a 6:40ish pace for these intervals I was a bit intimidated. That’s what I need though. I’ve got a second attempt at a sub 22 5k in 2.5 weeks and a sub 1:40 half marathon attempt three weeks after that!

Thursday easy/recovery run
I definitely felt Wednesday’s intervals when I first started this run. It took a couple miles (aka until just over halfway) to warm up. After I did though, I felt great. I even indulged in a slightly faster pace which I probably shouldn’t have. It was so much fun though.

Friday stationary bike
This ride was great. It went by quickly. I didn’t think I was pushing but ended up with the longest distance (in this amount of time) that I’ve logged in a while, if not ever. This pretty much cemented my plan to rent a bike while I’m at the beach. I can’t wait to get out there and explore!

Saturday long run
When I started this run (many hours before I was able to write about it) I was not feeling it. I felt sluggish and not into the run. I just wanted to get it done. It took a while but I finally got into the run. By the time I got to the last twenty minutes and the fast finish I didn’t want to stop. The idea of ultramarathons is really appealing right now.

Sunday rest
It’s always nice when my schedule helps me make sure that a rest day is actually a rest day. ;)

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Shoes and Twinges

(This was supposed to publish last week. Whoops.)

The most important piece of equipment for a runner is the shoe. I find it funny how quickly I forget that.

I have this tendency to look right past the obvious “are your shoes too old?” question when trying to self-diagnose a twinge or odd ache.

A couple weeks ago I had one of those twinges, an out of the blue tightening around my left knee. Of course, my first instinct was to panic but thankfully that didn’t last too long. I launched right into foam rolling and stretching, skipping right over checking the mileage on my shoes.

The twinge receded but never truly went away. I knew it was there and couldn’t figure out what it was, what had caused it and what would make it go away.

Then I got my next paycheck. I had already been planning on purchasing a new pair of shoes with it, knowing that I’d need at least one (probably two) more pairs during this training cycle.

Before I headed over to Greenville Running Company (best running store in town and no, they didn’t pay me to say that) I checked my running log. Oops, I had 325 miles on these shoes, not 2xx like I thought. I usually like to get closer to 400 miles but On CloudRacers are pretty close to racing flats.

When the next week of training started I wore the new pair for my speed work session so I could break them in before Sunrise. The next day I went back to the old pair for a few more miles. Almost instantly I could feel a difference. I felt “creaky” and more importantly, I could feel a slight twinge over my left knee.

Lesson learned. There’s a reason that shoe mileage/fit is usually the first probable cause for aches and twinges.

Since I still love the CloudRacers, I may look into getting a more substantial shoe for regular runs since I have higher mileage on the horizon. Having good shoes is important and I don’t want to jeopardize my training wih potential injury because I’m too much of a cheapskate b

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San Francisco Second Half Marathon Week 7 Training Recap

I’m absolutely loving this training cycle. For the first time since I started running almost (only!) four years ago, I feel like I’m actually training for something.

Each workout has a specifically designed purpose. With the exception of the easy/recovery runs, these workouts are tough. They challenge me each time I set out. For so long I’ve backed away from that challenge. The description on a piece of paper intimidated me. Now? Those workouts still intimidate me a bit but I head out ready to tackle the challenge. After all, I am paying for this. :)

I’m also seeing results. Hard work pays off.

Monday intervals
I miss the track. I say that after having never used it until 6 weeks ago. When I started this run (outside), I debated heading inside to the treadmill so I could take out the hill factor. (My regular route has very few flat sections that last beyond a hundred meters.) That’s what I ended up doing. I know that that makes the intervals a little easier but I don’t plan on making it a habit. I also realized that when I thought I was doing “speedwork” in previous cycles, I really wasn’t.

Tuesday recovery run + stationary bike + NTC abs
My legs definitely felt Monday’s speedwork. It took a little while to get warmed up but after I did I felt pretty good.
After the run I got on the bike, a reverse brick of sorts. I felt great on the bike and wanted to go longer but I still had ab work to do.
By the time I got to strength training I was wiped. I chose the easiest ab workout but it still kicked my butt.

Wednesday recovery/easy run
My legs did not feel fresh at all on this run. It took a couple miles to get warmed up. Even after that, this run never felt easy but I don’t mind. Actually, it did get a little easier when I started daydreaming about winning a 5k that takes place at my alma mater in November. Hmm…

Thursday easy run with some short intervals at end
My legs weren’t as fresh at the start of this run as I would have liked but after a little while I felt pretty good. I did the math wrong on the turn around point so this run was a little bit longer than it was supposed to be. At the end I added three intervals (no specific pace, just hard) felt great and confident about the 8k

Friday stationary bike (easy)
This was a nice easy ride. I think I should read articles about the 2014 Boston Marathon every month or so to get my motivation going. It’s like a shot of adrenaline.

Saturday Sunrise Run 8k
These are the best kind of races. They hurt like crazy while you’re running but you finish in a time you never thought possible. (Hopefully I’ll be able to do it again in three weeks at the Red, White and Blue Shoes 5k. I want that sub 22!)

Sunday rest
These days are always enjoyed, especially the bit about sleeping in past 6:30.

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Sunrise 8k Race Recap

The upside to running the same race as your super speedy coach is that he finishes with plenty of time to come back and pace you in to the finish.

The downside to running the same race as your super speedy coach is that he finishes with plenty of time to come back and pace you in to the finish.

Seriously, my heart felt like it was about to explode during the last quarter mile.

I’m getting ahead of myself.

A friend let Mom and I stay at her house last night so that we wouldn’t have to get up an hour before the crack of dawn to get out to Simpsonville. 5am over 4am any day.

The weather, while not perfect, was much cooler than normal South Carolina June weather. Every degree helps.

We got to the start with a half hour to spare, plenty of time to get in my 2 mile warm up.

Once back at the start location I tried to get as close to the front as I dared. It’s a packed race though so I wasn’t able to eliminate all crowding issues.

Right at sunrise (6:16) we were off. The plan was 7:20 early miles and, if possible, negative splits. That would bring me in sub 37, a PR by over 4 minutes. I knew a PR was almost guaranteed so I wanted to pick a challenging but achievable goal. I think I might be getting better at estimating my capabilities.

The first half mile was pretty crowded. Thankfully, the crowd thinned quickly. At first I thought I need to pull over and tie my shoe. I’m not sure what it was but thankfully the shoe stayed tied and I didn’t have to stop.

I felt really good through the first few miles and hit the target pace almost exactly. (I clocked a 7:22 and 7:25 for the first two miles and then 7:10 for the third, most definitely my best mile.)

Then came the mile 4 rollers. I coasted up the first with ease and felt great. While I never felt that great on the rest, they definitely didn’t take as much out of me as the gradual second half incline of my last 5k. When I started to slow I kept telling myself that this race would help bring me closer to that BQ. My pace definitely slowed that mile (7:32) but I hoped to have enough left in the tank for a fast finish.

The first part of the last mile wasn’t much different than mile 4. I kept hoping for a flat section. My legs felt the pace by that point.

Finally, we emerged onto East Curtis Street and I could see First Baptist. We had a little under a half mile to go but I knew the finish was close and tried to step up the pace.

Then, a little over a quarter mile from the finish, I saw Matt running towards me. I knew he was coming to pace me into the finish but a part of me wanted him to keep running. Sure enough, he was there to pace me into the finish. This wasn’t an “I’m going to run at your pace and say a few motivational things” kind of pacing. This was a “you’re almost done so you should sprint” sort of pacing.

My legs and lungs felt like they were on fire as we came flying around the final two turns. (flying for me at least). The finish was cruel. We had to pass the old finish line (at least, the finish line of two years ago when I ran the race). The final bit also had a little incline as well. I so wanted to ease up, just a little, but didn’t thanks to Matt. Now that’s what a running coach is for!

I crossed the finish line in 36:26, only 15 seconds short of a 5 minute PR. For an 8k that’s a difference of almost a minute per mile. Hard work definitely pays off.

The icing on the cake came a few minutes later when I watched Mom finish in 41:33, only a minute slower than 5th place Grand Masters Female and good enough for an age group win by 4 minutes! (She’s been running for just two years!)

Sunrise 8k

Look at that stride!

Sunrise 8k

Finish line photo

Sunrise 8k

Award winners!
(I managed to snag 2nd in my age group.)

This was an awesome way to start off a Saturday morning and a great way to get me pumped up to keep up the training and go for those goals.

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