Race Recap: 2014 New Year’s Day 5k

Happy 2014!  Yesterday I did my first race of the year!  This was my fourth year doing this race and it could not have gone better.  For years this race was held at a location close to University of Tennessee and was known for being blazing fast.  Seriously.  One year a guy ran it in under 15 minutes.  Due to growing race size and logistical issues it was moved across town this year to a new course.  I was a little nervous since I had never ran in this new area but I knew it was mostly flat so I put all worries aside.

Several members of the Biggest Winner team did this race and for a few of them it was their very first!  Let me just say there is no better feeling than seeing the elation on someone’s face as they cross the timing mat and finish line for the very first time.  I think all runners should have that same joy at every finish line.  I’m so proud of the team for not only finishing but beating their time goals, too!

It was very cold yesterday morning.  In the 20s which is more than frigid in my opinion.  The line to get bibs and shirts was very long which was sort of surprising because usually KTC races have really smooth packet pickup.  It wasn’t a big deal at all and standing in the cold got me acclimated to the cold.  After taking my shirt back to the car I stood in an even longer line for bathrooms.  Since the race began at a restaurant, it was very nice to have indoor plumbing.  With about three minutes to spare I said hi to Missy Kane while she snapped my photo and I hopped in the starting chute.  photo 3 (5)

I lined up with a member of last year’s team and a guy from this year’s team.  We decided to start together but if any of us wanted to speed up or slow down then we would.  Within a matter of seconds the gun was shot and off we were!  I didn’t focus on my watch very much except to occasionally see where I was distance wise.  I mistakenly thought the course was an out and back when in reality it was a loop so we got to the first turnaround less than a mile in which sort of threw me for a loop (pun intended).  I hit the first mile with a 10 in front of my pace.

It is important for me to note that I really had no time goals for this race.  The only “goal” I had was to beat my time from the Jingle Bell 5k a couple weeks ago so the whole pacing thing really wasn’t an issue.  I did decide to take walk breaks which I did not do in my last 5k but I really didn’t worry about it because I was just out there to enjoy a good run.

Before I knew it we were passing the finish line going out on the second portion of our loop.  I caught up with one of this year’s team members and ran with him for a little bit.  He was holding strong so I just tried to stay with him.  I continued to take walk breaks but only had them for about 15-30 seconds just to cruise up hills or catch my breath.  I could tell that the last portion of the race was going to be a slight downhill so I mentally convinced myself to push hard until I could glide down the hill.

worst form ever.  need to work on that.

worst form ever. need to work on that.

Something that really helped me run during this part was knowing my blog friend Paige was out there somewhere.  I was so focused on trying to spot her from across the median that I sort of forgot that I was even running.  Nothing like a good distraction to keep my legs running.  P.S. I never actually saw her but her husband finished 4th overall.  And we finished about 15 seconds apart so we could have basically been together the entire time.

Once I hit the downhill I pushed it a little harder since I knew that I was about a half mile from the finish.  After that point I did not look at my watch anymore so I really didn’t know where I was time-wise but it didn’t matter to me.  I was running strong and I was feeling good. When I rounded the corner to the finish line I saw my fellow BW coach Bryan and I saw a 31 on the clock.  Holy cow I had better push it.  While I did not full blown sprint to the finish line I did finish strong and didn’t collapse at finish line.  That is always a success.

After finishing we waited around for the entire team to finish before heading up to get in line for food.  While in line I saw my new friend Dawn (we met via blogging and Instagram).  We took a photo together and chatted for a bit.  She ended up in the top 100 females which earned her a coveted race wine glass.    photo 2 (5)

I wasn’t very hungry so I just sipped on some orange juice and talked with Bryan and Jack.  Lots of big goals being put on the table for 2014 according to those two.  It is going to be a good year and we all started it off in a good way.  Here are my final results for this race:

Chip time: 31:47
Clock time: 32:01
Age place: 9/26
Athena place: 6/37

I am soooo happy to have broken into the 31 time bracket.  My last race was 33:03 so this was definitely an improvement and gives me lots of confidence for breaking 30 minutes in the 5k this year.  My clock time is a little pesky since I can think of many instances where I could have shaved 2 seconds off but I’m not worried about it.  Good race and good times.  Another race down and many more to go.  Happy 2014 to all my lovely virtual friends!

How did you ring in the new year?   Any big race goals for this year?

Race Recap: Jingle Bell Run for Arthritis 5k

At the beginning of the year I set a goal to run a race each month.  I stayed true to this goal all year but had some trouble finding a race in December that worked into my schedule.  The Jingle Bell for Arthritis 5k popped up and it looked perfect since it started in Market Square (great location) AND my best running pal was doing it also.

Brittney and I really did jinx ourselves by talking about hopes of no rain so much.  Sure enough race day held true to the forecast and it was in the 30’s and the sky was relentlessly pouring rain.  I’ll be honest and say that if Brittney and Cameron weren’t doing this race then I would have just went back to bed and not even have shown up.  On the way to the race we saw my Momma and a few other Biggest Winner team members out on Neyland Drive getting in their miles for the morning training run.  We honked like crazy and TJ slowed the car down enough for me to obnoxiously yell out the window.

We met in a parking garage after picking up our race packets and tried to keep warm until we had to go to the start.  The race shirts this year were awesome!  Luckily there was a huge cover that we attempted to huddle under to stay out of the rain for as long as possible.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My Momma ended up making an appearance and wishing us luck before we set off.  We lined up at the start line and the rain literally seemed to come down even harder.  At this point we were just content and ready to be running.  I looked at my Garmin and saw it had shut off and frantically tried to get it back on before the gun went off.  It finally completely loaded satellites just in time for us to cross the starting mats.  Good timing, Garmin.   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

None of us had really talked race strategy or even said we were going to stay together.  Cameron took off in front of us (with his hands in his pockets) and Brittney and I sort of stayed together.  Luckily they closed the entire road so there was lots of room for runners to go which eliminated a lot of bobbing and weaving.  I didn’t look down at my Garmin very much and tried not to worry about our pace since my main goal was to try to run the whole time even though I never actually spoke of it.  There were obviously tons of huge puddles and some places forced us up onto the sidewalk because the entire road was flooded.  That was fun.  I told Brittney a little while into the run that the rain was actually helpful because it was a distraction from the cold and it gave me something to focus on.  She slightly agreed.

Brittney put it right when she said it was gently rolling.  There weren’t any steep hills but there were a few slight grades that sucked going up but was nice to be able to go a little faster on the way down.  At one point I had told Brittney I was going to take a walk break and she said she would stay with me but I encouraged her to go on since I didn’t want to ruin her race.  My internal plan was to walk a little past the turn around but we ran through it and didn’t stop.  There was a lot of mental dialogue going on with me convincing myself not to stop.  I heard my Garmin beep at each mile but I never looked down because I didn’t want the mental knowledge of knowing how fast or slow I was going.

Once we got back into the downtown area I think we all picked it up a little bit since our third mile was our fastest.  I did glance at my watch and see I would come close to a  PR for the year but at that point I was just proud of running three miles with no walk breaks. That is a big deal for me.  We rounded the corner and we were all in stride headed to the finish line like sweet little ducks in a row.  It was great to all finish together.  Not to mention my handsome fella was there standing in the rain to capture it for us.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The results show us all in order of finishing.  Cameron and I have the exact same time and Brittney’s chip time was one second faster!  Brittney and I finished 14th and 15th out of 37 women in the 19-29 age group.  Top half, woot woot!!  My official time was 33:03 which was a year PR for me since my fastest race of 2013 was 33:05 at Fireball 5k.  Hey, I’ll take it.

After the race we changed our clothes which were literally dripping.  We had planned to eat at Tupelo Honey Cafe but decided to save some money and the hour wait and drive over to Texas Roadhouse for rolls and a nice steak.  Let me just say it was the perfect meal after a race.  I’m so glad that Brittney and her husband did this race and that we got to finish the year together.  I’m also thankful for my sweet boyfriend who stood outside the entire time with no umbrella just to take pictures for us.  What a trooper.    jingle tj

Although I didn’t even come close to hitting any of my time goals for 2013, I still met my goal of one race each month and I enjoyed that.  2013 wasn’t really *my* year for running but that doesn’t mean I can’t be proud of what I did accomplish.  I’m already making my racing schedule for 2014 and hoping to step out of my comfort zone and shoot for big things that are also reasonable.

Getting in the groove

It is no secret that I’ve struggled over the past couple of months.  I stopped running, I stopped exercising, and I gave into a heavy addiction of food.  But, as most of y’all know, I’ve been working hard to take baby steps to progress.  And I’ve been doing good.  In the past, I wanted to change everything at once.  Go all out, go hard or go home.  But through intensive therapy sessions, we have slowly focused on making minor changes and getting used to them and then adding in other changes and repeating the process.  Self improvement takes lots of time and learning to do things slowly and not get burnt out has been a tough pill to swallow.

Two finals stand between me and my college graduation and I’m finally in a place where I am confident and feel good.   Sure, I do look in the mirror sometimes and am not completely satisfied with the way my body looks, but I keep my head tall and am proud of where I’m at.  Since school is winding down and I have time to breathe, I’ve been focused on finding my groove again.  I made mention in an earlier post that I am looking to back off the half distance and focus more on 5ks.  But starting over is no fun.  I’ve spent a lot of time outside this week working on getting my legs and heart stronger.

Monday I did a three mile walk with running intervals mixed in.  I recorded the time that I actually spent running and unbelievably was able to hit 22 minutes of running.  Mind you, it was not a consecutive 22 minutes and 6 minutes was the longest I ran without stopping but 22 minutes is a start. After running I went to the gym and spent about 20 minutes doing dumbbell and bar bell exercises.  When I got home, Momma came outside and we did a few tire drills.  We took turns flipping the tire across the yard and then got a sledgehammer and beat that tire hard.  Needless to say I was sore the next morning.  Tuesday was the same thing: a 3 mile walk with bouts of running.  I was only able to run for 15 minutes on Tuesday but was still stoked.  When Momma got off work that day we went for another 3 mile walk.   tire

Wednesday was a fairly busy day for me but I was able to go on an evening walk of three miles.  Can you tell that I love walking three miles?  Thursday morning, I met Momma after my final for yet another three mile walk.  It was ridiculously muggy outside but at least it wasn’t terribly hot.  After our walk, I had to make a cake for a local bake sale and ended up licking the spoon and bowl.  I ended up feeling guilty about this so I hit the greenway for one more three mile walk to sort of offset the dang cake batter and I sure did feel better.   hey i ran

Tomorrow I have a 5k.  I haven’t signed up yet because there are two I have my eye on and can’t quite decide which one to actually do.  It won’t be a PR by any means, but I’m hoping to at least set a PR since I’ve been “back”.  My goal is to walk down my time from New Year’s Day (37:24) and consistently get faster each race I do.  By December I would like to be back in PR shape.  I had only been consistently training for four months when I took my 5k time from 39:53 to 28:36.  We’ll see if I can at least get a 35:48 which would beat my time from January’s Race Against Racism.  If I don’t hit it, I won’t be mad.  I’m just getting back into adding running into my walking.  This stuff takes time, don’t it?

Hope everyone has a good weekend and thanks for being so kind as I work to find my groove!

Race Recap: Race Against Racism 5k

To celebrate the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, my friend Brittney and I decided to do a local race to raise awareness to combat racism.  I’ve done this race before and love how low key it is.  The day started off on the wrong foot when Brittney called to say she was at the race site but that no one was there.  There is no greater panic that goes through you when you think you may have missed a race or looked at a date or time wrong.  But we drove around for a bit and realized we had just gone to the wrong location.  Whew, no worries.

Packet pick up was a breeze.  I decided to register on the day of the event in case something was to come up and I would be out 15 bucks.  Only downside was no race shirt.  Such a bummer.  We ran into a few people we know from our community and chatted and just relaxed until the race start.  There was also some snow left on the ground, so we took turns writing white messages.  I was loving the laid back feel to what we were about to do.

Snow what?

Snow what?

Before race day, I had stopped walking/running due to some knee and shin pain.  I didn’t want to cause an injury so I just let my body rest from my exercise streak and took time to let it work itself out.  My shins were slightly hurting on race day, but nothing to be incredibly worried about.  We lined up towards the back and decided that we would each run our own pace and not be concerned with staying together.  Running with someone is great, but I’m just as much of a fan as running my own race.  There were no pre-race announcements, no national anthem, and no gun shot.  People just started running.  Weird, but at least there were no jitters.

We were off and up the hill that we started on.  Brittney and I ran together for maybe half a mile then I let her go on and do her thing.  I would definitely classify this course as hilly and the hills brought me to a walk more often than not.  I tried to keep a consistent running effort and took walk breaks when I needed to.  The entire time after Brittney left me I could see her in the distance so maintaining contact on a point to point course helped me run more than I walked.  On almost every corner there were mobs (like groups of 30) people standing with signs and noisemakers and were doing anything they could to get us motivated.  Some folks made arches for us to run through with their hands, others offered high fives.  Greatest crowd support I’ve ever witnessed at a race, let alone a 5k.

As I began the third mile, I just decided to put my best foot forward and make it up the last big hill.  It was brutal and long.  But once I got to the top, my Garmin clocked me at about 2.5 miles so I made the goal of running the rest of the way to the finish line.  And that I did.  Although my finish time isn’t anywhere near my current PR, I knocked about 1:30 off my 5k time from NYD and that was on a flat and fast course.  Overall I was happy with the effort of the day.  We could have been lying in bed like everyone else who had the holiday off.  takeone