Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Chris Thater Memorial 5k Race ~ 2015

I ran this race for the first time last year. It was a fast course through the neighborhoods of Binghamton, NY. This year they changed the course.  I liked this one much better.  This race brings people from all over for the bicycle races and the 5k.  Here is a brief description of these very competitive events:

 The race attracts over 1,000 participants from local athletes to world-class competitors with crowds of up to 5,000 spectators. The Chris Thater Memorial consists of the Pro, Elite and Novice cycling events, and a 5K Run through the Westside of Binghamton. The Chris Thater Memorial also features  demonstrations and other youth sports and special events.

Before I race I look at the times of my AG from the year before.  My goal was to try to run a sub25 minute 5k, however I knew that wouldn't be enough to place in this race.  Last year the top women in my AG were all 23 minutes and under (the woman who placed 1st ran it in 19:21!!!).  Like I said, this is a very competitive race in our area.  

I was so close in my last 5k, 25:13. Since this is my last racing 5k of the year (for right now anyway) I really wanted to break into the Sub25 category. JJ gave me a really tough track workout this past week that helped me get physically and mentally ready for this race.  She scheduled me for 1000m repeats at race pace.  I was able to stay at or below race pace for almost all of them.  I really didn't like her while I was doing them but afterwards I felt great. I think they helped prepare me for this 5k more than anything else!

The rest of the week was pretty calm for me.  My first 5k this season, I was freaking out because I wanted to run a specific pace and I shattered my expectations, plus I had NO idea how to race a 5k.  My 2nd 5k, I was freaking out because I was afraid the 1st was a fluke! This race was different for me.

I won't say I knew I had it, I know that anything can happen race day to make or break the race, but to date, it was my most confident race. I felt ready. Even My Musician noticed how I didn't obsess with nervous energy for days before.  My biggest concern was my splits.  I historically (even in last year's races) go out way too fast, choke in the 2nd mile and try to make it up in the 3rd mile. I had to nail my pace for every mile in this race.

I woke up feeling great.  I had a great visit with the "Throne", I know, TMI but any runner knows the significance and value of such a visit. I was playing my Sub30-uber-secret-women's-group-playlist, while making my pre-race smoothie and all my major motivation songs came on to get me further pumped up. We got downtown early. One more bathroom break, at least first thing in the morning the porta potties aren't totally terrifying and off I go for my warmup.

I know I said it before but I used to think those that ran around before a race were crazy using up their energy. This summer I've learned the value of a great warm up. I ran a 2 mile gentle warm up over the bridges and through the city of Binghamton. I love to run along the River Walk and hear the water rushing over the rocks. It's so peaceful and calming.  I needed that.  The warmup helped to calm any last nerves I had.  15 minutes before the race. Perfect timing.  OH, another run to the porta potties.  Dang coffee makes me go a million times, that and nerves!!

Again I placed myself close to the front. Unfortunately, my sense of belonging up there is still suffering because I didn't get close enough.  I missed placing 3rd in Overall Masters (they do all placements by gun time, not net time) by 2 seconds!!

Oh crap, I forgot to do my leg swings. As the girl starts to sing the Anthem I whip out a couple of leg swings. There, that will have to do too late now to worry about it.

At the start line

And we're off! 
The gun goes off and we get moving into race pace really quick.

Mile 1: I look down after about a .10 and I'm doing a 6:46. Crap. MUST slow down.  By the time I hit .5 mile and was on Leroy Street I was holding the pace I was suppose to be at.

I used to think a lot when I'd run a race. No longer. My main thoughts are I hope I don't die but during this mile I had a pretty cool moment.  We're all running along, there's no chit chat happening at this pace and all I could hear was all the different foot falls. It was such a neat sound to run to. The moment didn't last long, mile 1 was coming to an end.

Mile 2: As I passed the timing clock I was thrilled to see I was right on pace! I knew this mile was my make or break mile. For some reason I slow way down here. I just couldn't afford to do that.  I worked hard to keep my pace where it should be.

My Musician reminded me before the race to try to run the tangents so I run as little of the 3.1 miles as I could.  Mile 1.2  we turned onto Beethoven St, I hugged that curve so tight I was afraid I'd trip on the curb.  Dang, I don't remember this incline looking so steep! It slowed me down to a 8:38 pace and then right back to a 7 something once I got up on level ground.

This is where the wheels tried to fall off.  I got going too fast (about a 7 min mile). I couldn't get air in. It felt like my chest was compressed. I tried to take deep breathes, that didn't help. I was getting dizzy, my arms were tingly and I felt on the verge of hyperventilating. This has happened before but it was closer to the end of a race and once on hill repeats.  I looked at my watch. I was 20 seconds ahead where I should be in this mile. I actually contemplated walking for 20 seconds!! Then my brain kicked in and I just slowed my run to an 8 minute pace.

I was just starting to catch my breath and who do I see?? JJ!!!  Seeing her was such a boost for me! I had slowed down a bit too much but was able to get right back into my pace. I mean, really, when your coach is watching you race, you have to be putting forward your best!

Picture of me running that JJ captured out on the course. 
So glad this mile is just about over. I turned right onto Court Street. Again, another curb hugging turn, right into blaring sun.  Crap. Most of mile 2 is run on a beautiful tree lined, shady road. That's over now, nothing but sun the rest of the way.

Mile 3:  When I hit the mark for mile 3 right at 16 minutes, I wanted to do a little dance of excitement but I knew I'd best just keep moving.  A good chunk of this mile is a slight uphill. I didn't feel it during this race. I know it slowed me a bit but I felt really strong during mile 3, instead of being convinced I was dying and would never run again.  I actually felt like I could push it but was afraid to  because of my breathing.

Then a real downhill across the bridge, left hand turn onto Water St. This was the first time I switched  the screen on my Garmin from my pace screen to the mileage.  I was shocked and excited to see it was 2.8 miles! Yes, it was almost over!!

2.9 Dear God, thank you for the shade of this building. I wondered for a second if I could just hang out in shade a bit....

Right hand turn onto Henry Street and another small incline. I passed some guys on this incline. That felt really good to zip by them. Right hand turn onto State Street.  Where is the mile 3 marker??? Why can't I see the finish line yet?  Ok, calm down, it's right up there. And there's a white spray painted line marking mile 3!! Only .10 left to go. I pick it up to a sprint pace at this point.  I still can't see the clock, I have no idea what my time is.  Finally I can see it's 24:35.  I'm pushing about a 7 min pace and can't breath. I don't care, I'll breathe when I'm done. I cross the finish line and YES!! Sub25! I did it!!

Official gun time 24:48. Net time 24:45!! 
Not only did I meet my goal, I had the added bonus of placing in my AG! I didn't see that one happening!! AND not only did I place in my AG but I placed 1st in my AG. A lot of hard work and a lot of prayer has gotten me here!  It's humbling to be running in the footsteps of the women I've looked up to. It's also very exciting!

Shortly after finishing. 

On top of all the excitement of the day, I still had my long run miles to get in. I was supposed to run 2 cool down miles but I didn't exactly follow my coaches instructions. After we left the race, I had My Musician drop me off about 5 miles from home.  I needed to run 10 miles for the day so I still had 5 miles to go.

I can never do negative splits on my runs but was running them today. I decided not to turn towards the hill to home and stayed on the flat road and just had hubs pick me up when I was done.  These miles were just melting away. I was happy running.  I couldn't help but think about the emotional pain that drove me back to running last year. I remember thinking on one of my runs that I was afriad of letting go of the pain because I was afraid I'd stop running. In the last 4 months, I let go of that pain. I'm no longer running from pain.

I'm running to push myself, to see where my limits are, to compete locally, to have quiet time with My Musician and to just again enjoy running.

As I'm running mile 5 at 9:12 pace, I'm tired and sore but grinning ear to ear because it's been a good day.

I realized I was finally free to run just for the joy of running.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Recovery Week In Review

Ah, the blessed recovery week.  I couldn't wait to have a week of lower mileage, less strength training and sleeping in at least an hour or so.  By the end of the week I was tearing my hair out wanting more challenge!!

My 16 mile long run on last Saturday left me feeling pretty defeated. It didn't go at all like I had hoped but at least I finished all the miles. My Musician met me at the end of mile 12 with ice water and took my CamelBak from me. I just wanted to crawl into the car and go home with him but I finished the last 3 miles. Him and Tink started walking down our road to meet me as I was doing my cool down walk up our hill.  I need their smiles to wrap my first cycle of marathon training.

My biggest supporters 

My week started with a pretty rough workout but it was to prepare me for the goal race I had this weekend.

Monday was a track workout of 7x1000m repeats at race pace. While I was doing it, I hated it but after I realized how much confidence it gave me as I was getting ready for my 5k. (More on that in my race review). I thought the humidity was going to kill me though. I'm used to running in this but at one point I looked across the track from behind the goal post and I couldn't see the other goal post.

My Musician ran some of my warmup with me. He comes to record my splits and to encourage me through my track workouts.
I love running with My Musician

Our Tink, hopefully being inspired by us! 

Tuesday was strength training and easy run.  I ran that one with My Musician. It was hot, humid and painful for me. I wanted to stop after the first 1/2 mile. I'm glad he was with me to keep me going. I was still really tired and sore from my workout the day before! 

Wednesday was my hilly run. Not hill repeats but a hilly route. Since our daughter was at my moms house, My Musician ran with me that morning. 

I'm only smiling because I've not run the hills yet. 

What I affectionally call "Running the boob"

Conversation as we are running side by side down towards the first hill.  This hill has a 9%-14% incline as you run up it (according to MapMyRun)

Me: Remember as we hit this first hill, that I've been running and training on it for awhile now.
My Musician: ok
Me: Don't push yourself too hard going up it.
My Musician: ok
Me: Don't feel like you have to keep up with me. I can zip up this pretty quick now.
My Musician: I've not been able to run up the whole thing yet
Me: It took me forever before I could run up the whole thing at a pace under 14
Me: I'll wait at the top if I get too far ahead of you

About thirty seconds later, my husband who was slightly behind me, went zipping past me.  All I saw, as I ate some humble pie, was the dust he was kicking up as he was kicking the hills ass.

AND....HE'S GONE!!!! 
 He didn't run all the miles of this run with me but he picked me up in a couple of places because this run had a lot of back tracking, and then we ran back home together.  I really love having him as a running buddy!

Thursday was a grumpy day for me. I had family over for lunch, which was fun. The other fun part of the day was when my second pair of Bikila EVO's came. I'm rotating between two pair so I have a broken in pair for my marathon.

But then I "crashed" in the afternoon. I was tired, I had a headache and I didn't feel like doing anything. I tried to nap but couldn't get to sleep.

By the time My Musician got home, we ate and I parked it on the couch. I hadn't done my workout yet or my miles.  I was getting grumpier by the minute because it started raining. I knew I should do the work, I just didn't feel like it.  Shortly after dark, My Musician says, "Come on, lets go run." WHAT?? I knew there was no way I was going to let him go run alone in the dark but man, I was ticked he was pushing me out the door just by getting ready to go by himself.

It actually turned out to be a great run for me physically and mentally. And we had a lot of fun running in the rain.  The first quarter mile after the park was the best all week. Stupid frogs where jumping all over in rain. We were trying not to kick them in the dark or step on them. I had some jumping and hitting my shins as we ran by. I was glad we had headlamps on because it would have been really gross, especially in my Vibrams, to step on one!!  I'm surprised we didn't hurt ourselves, jumping around frogs and laughing our fool heads off in the nighttime summer rain!

Saturday was just a couple easy shake out miles before my big 5k on Sunday.  I'm dying to do a race review but that will have to wait till later in the week, after I talk about my race with my coach.

All in all it was a good recovery week.  Today is actually a rest day and it's back to the hard work tomorrow.  Some runs give me a lot of confidence as I head towards my marathon and some just totally shake that confidence, like my 16 mile last weekend.  I'm learning slowly how to cope with the crappy runs, learn any lessons I need to and move on to the next run.  I'm loving this process of becoming a physically and mentally stronger runner!

Friday, August 14, 2015

In the Double Digits (and Week, Well Two Weeks, in Review)

My big race this fall will be the Philadelphia Marathon in November. The countdown is now in the double digits, 99 days left.  Sounds like a lot but I know how fast November will get here.

Between now and then though, I have 6 other races, 2-5k's, a 3.8 trail run, a 10k and 2 half marathons.   My coach calls them "B" races.  There are two races with specific goals but they are still "B" races.  They aren't my goal race of the season. Philly is the big one for me.

I'm in week 4 of marathon training. I'm tired.  This week I have been sneaking in some extra sleep, here and there, which is helping. The last couple weeks I've been stressed, not eating right and not getting enough sleep. One of the women in my Sub 30 group posted something about overtraining that made me really evaluate the whole picture. This week I decided to not try to do it all. My house is trashed (my Musician is great at helping out a lot of the time), clean laundry is piled up in baskets, my to-do list is longer than I'd like now but I'm working on finding balance so I can fulfill all my responsibilities.  Looking forward to my recovery week!

The last couple weeks have been really different for me.  First, I started working with JJ.  She's great, I feel like she sees my vision and is working with me to accomplish it, yet keep me injury free.  Second, I also have been running from home again.  Since June, I've been consistently driving off our hill to the flat main road for my runs. As I was sucking wind up a hill the other day, I was trying to figure out what the difference was, why I changed where I was running. Then it hit me. My Musician has been really involved in my training.  He gets up, waits at the top of our driveway for me at the end of my run, he's been helping me with my strength training, comes to the track with me before work and he's making sure I'm out of bed, even when I sit on the edge of it, in tears because I'm tired (I hate getting up, a couple sips of coffee and I'm good!). His help has been immensely needed and appreciated.

The other day we ran together for the first time in 5 years.  It was really nice to run with him.  I challenged him to run faster and he helped me to slow down and run my warmup at a steady easier pace.  I really enjoyed running with him. He's got got great speed when he picks it up for very short bursts but I can see with time, if he desires, he'll by-pass my speed.

Here's a bit of a plug for him.  He's started a blog for his music and running. Head over here to check it out!!!  

I've not had any record setting training runs but they've been very hilly, humid and foggy.  The temps this year have been chilly. It's typically mid 50's when I run with around 93-96% humidity.

I love coming back down the hill and seeing this. The Susquehanna River runs through this valley. 

My long run last weekend was 14 miles. It was the longest I've run since my marathon in 2010. It felt great to complete that run. It was a gorgeous morning and I was able to run into the near by city and run the 5k course for next weekends race.  That 5k is one of my two big goal races this fall.   

One of the bridges on my long run last weekend.  

This week had a couple challenges for me. The fog was bad a couple days. I almost uncovered the treadmill (did you know they make great winter coat holders??). I run on back roads that don't have too much traffic that early in the morning, so I decided to brave it. Even though I was reflective, I'll be using my headlamp for now on when it's foggy.  Seems you can't be reflective when people can't bother to turn on their headlights!

The thick fog on our hill this week. 

This is what I woke to on Tuesday. 
 Tuesday was a strength training day. I woke to a downpour.  I still got up but decided not to run.  If I was just running then I would gone out, got soaked and dealt with it.  But strength training has a 3 mile warm up, then the workout and a mile cooldown.  I just wasn't up to getting soaked and then trying to workout. By the time my Musician came home, I was miserable grumpy. I was tired and didn't want to workout but that was what I really needed.

This is the night we ran together. It was wonderful and by the time we were done, I was in a great mood.  Still wasn't happy about having to strength train. I hate that part. Always have. I didn't like it when I worked with my personal trainer and I still don't enjoy it but I also know it's a necessary part of my running progress. I was the one that failed gym class in both high school and college because of always skipping it.  There are some exercises I enjoy doing, like squats and some I dread, like planks!

Planks suck. That's all I have to say about them. 
Since I started running consistently again last year, this hill has been my Eleanor (if you're a fan of Gone in 60 Seconds, you'll understand the reference), although after this week, I'd say it's no longer my Eleanor!  I have only once been able to successfully run (I probably could have walked it faster than I actually ran it) this hill and I'm pretty sure I died that day!  This week I ran that stupid hill and I was able to run it strong and at a decent, consistent pace. I was thrilled when I hit the top. It's the one thing I LOVE about hills, looking back and seeing what I just conquered!

Next week, I'll be mentally concentrating more on my 5k than anything else.  I don't have any more local 5k's scheduled. My next one is at Runner's World in October.  I'm still on the fence if I'm running it with my Musician or if I'm running it for a PR.  My heart wants to run it with him but the competitive part of me, the part that wants to see how far I can progress this year, wants to run it for a PR.  My heart is probably going to win, it always does!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Just Another 5k

Not sure I'll ever really say that, Just Another 5k.  They terrify me. Especially now.

Three weeks ago I ran my fastest 5k ever.

Going into Sunday's Kelly LaBare 5k, I kept thinking:

What if the last one was a fluke?
What if I can't run that fast again?

This one messed with me for days. I'm not yet confident in my ability to race. I had two goals going into this race. One was a more realistic one to me, to shave at least 30 seconds off my PR and the other was to go sub 25.  ** edited a mistype. mean sub25 5k, NOT a sub24 5k!! 

This is the third time I've run this race. I ran it in 2009, my very first race ever, then I ran it with my husband in 2010.  Some time since I ran it last, they changed the course a bit but it's still in Otsiningo Park.

2010 ~ 2015

This race is part of the Spiedie Fest weekend, with concerts, balloon launches, spiedie cook off and the 5k race.  This year we attended the concert on Friday night, Joan Jett, and Saturday, Colbie Caillat and Rachel Platten.  I spoke in another post about how Rachel Platten's song, Fight Song, is such an inspiration to me and it was really awesome hearing her sing it live.

Joan Jett concert
Fight Song!! 
We come to see the balloons every year
me and my love at Joan Jett

I'm participating in a scavenger hunt and a clown was of the items.
This was a hard picture to pose for! I'm truly terrified of clowns.

So back to the 5k!  I was so nervous beforehand. I spoke with JJ the day before and we went over the warm up and cool down for the race. I felt a bit better having touched base with her. Even after my warmup I was still filled with way too much nervous energy. I couldn't stop moving.

Me by the start line, about 5 minutes before the race. 

At the start line, I again had the feeling of being an imposter.  I know this race has a very competitive field and I was questioning where I placed myself in the starting group. I thought about taking a few steps back. Dang, the announcer is talking and the race is about to start.

I started out way too fast, as usual. One of these days I'll learn to slow down. I was running 7:30 for about the first half. I kept trying to slow down and was able to get into a groove for the rest of mile one. I ran mile one in 7:55. Slightly too fast.

Mile two threw me because we were down to single lane. It's an out and back and the leading men were on their way back.  This part of the path is narrower and broken up (thankfully they'll be repaving and widening it). Not using it as an excuse because it didn't slow down those in front of me but I always worry about turning my weak ankle. So with being single lane, I was paying more attention to my footfalls that I wanted to be. I ran mile two in 8:20. Way too slow. I knew that would cost me my sub 25 goal.

Mile three, I was determined to make up what I could.  About 2.8 into the race I could no longer breathe. I mean: I. Could. Not. Breathe. I didn't have any moments until then where I wanted to stop. I could see the finish line across the pond. I knew it was right there. I didn't care. I was done. I was going to stop. When I was a smoker, I suffered from pretty bad asthma. My lungs would shut down so bad that my arms and hands would go numb and I could barely open my hands up to grasp my inhaler.  I was so close to feeling that way.  I couldn't get any air in, my arms were tingling. Somehow I was able to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Around the top curve of the pond and then I could see the finish line up ahead. I saw the clock. I knew I wasn't going to break 24 minutes. A part of me stopped right then. I wanted to sit and cry but I kept pushing. As I crossed the finish line, there was my Musician and Tinkerbell. I was thrilled to see them. Then I saw JJ. That was really fun to have her at the finish line too.  I ran mile 3 in 8:09 (with an extra 42 seconds thrown in for the .10 of a mile). Too slow.

As I kept running, much slower, trying to catch my breath I realized there was not one thing I could be upset about. I didn't know what my final time was yet but I knew it was faster than my last 5k. Another PR!! I was thrilled to find out my final time was 25:13 ~ 45 seconds faster than my last race.

Tink congratulating me on my race. She's so cute and such a patient supporter.

A month ago I got a new tattoo. It's one I've wanted for awhile. It's a quote from T.S. Elliot. It really speaks to me and especially where I am in my running right now.  I look at the times of women in my age group and I can't help but wonder if I can reach those times. I have no idea how fast I'll be able to run but I'm enjoying pushing my limits in the 5k.

The love of my life and biggest supporter.
(Nothing screams romance like porta-potties in the background!!)

Brief Update

Here's a little preview of what's finally coming together, a brief training update, a little chat on our upcoming weekend of 4 rac...