Race Recap: Cove Lake 5k

When it comes to races, I am all about the bling.  I will gladly travel outside of my area code for a smaller race if it means some kind of special prize or perk.  Last year, my best friend Ashley and I did the Cove Lake 5k.  We knew it was a smaller race and every finisher got a medal.  This year we decided to do it once again for my June race.  The fact that they had watermelon as post race food last year may or may not have been a factor in our registration decision.

It was a bit of a drive to get up to the race, but traffic was good and I enjoyed catching up with Ashley since I have not seen her since my graduation.  After getting to the race, my race packet wasn’t there.  I was able to talk to the timing lady and race director to get things smoothed out and was able to still get a big and t-shirt.  We were there a little early so we took shelter behind a big mulch pile so I could get my “warm-up” in.  Before I run I like to do a lot of dynamic stretching that ends up making me look like an idiot but it works for me so there better be no side eyes from faster runners.  Ashley and I chatted about our goals for the race.  I really didn’t have any other than beating my time from my last 5k but her goal was to run the entire race.  Easy enough, huh?

the goods.

the goods.

We lined up and with a quick gun blast we were off.  The race starts on a slight downhill then makes a sharp turn for a gentle uphill climb.  We had to bob and weave a lot but we weren’t in a major hurry so I really didn’t mind.  After about a half mile the course went onto a paved path in the woods.  It was nice since it shaded us from the sun but the ground was quite slick and the air was muggy.  I was thankful this wasn’t a big race because it definitely could have been congested in this area.  Around the 1 mile mark I told Ashley that I was going to stop but that she had to go on.  She took off and I took a walk break (the first of many).  The course wasn’t hilly but it wasn’t flat either.  I tried to make up time by running faster on the downhill but I don’t think it did me much good.

After coming out of the woods we had to run around Cove Lake then make an ascent up a long hill.  Since the lake is so spread out, I was able to see Ashley way up in front of me so the goal was to catch back up with her.  I ended up using this time to take walk breaks but run fast when I did run.  Right before the hill I finally caught Ashley and I yelled “KEEP GOING”.  She had ran the entire race so far and was crushing her goal.  As soon as I yelled I took another walk break.  It was pretty discouraging having such slow split times and having to take so many walk breaks after working so hard on the track last week.  But I know that a race time isn’t a reflection of who I am and some days you just don’t have it.

We look awesome!

We look awesome!

The hill was brutal but I knew that once I hit the top of it then all I had was a left turn through a tunnel and a right turn to the finish.  I ran as soon as I saw the tunnel and passed a lady who was walking.  I gave her a gentle nudge on the back and said “You gotta run; we are almost there”.  She took off and the competitive side of me said OH HECK NO so I took off too.  We were neck and neck in a full sprint to the finish line and I think I barely beat her.  Ashley ended up finishing 15 seconds ahead of me and ran the entire race!!  So proud of her.  We got our medals and I just laid down flat in the grass.  Who knew a 5k could be so difficult.  After spending a good five minutes breathing we headed over to the pool area to get our share of watermelon.  I swear there isn’t anything that tastes better after a hot race than watermelon.  Hint hint to all race directors.

Got what I came for.

Got what I came for.

Our bibs had one of those smart phone scanners on them where you could see your results instantly.  I was so thankful for this because usually I stick around for the awards just to hear how fast the girls in my division ran it.  Thankfully the scanner was able to tell me my place, pace, and everything.  This saved a lot of time.  On the way home we stopped at Chick-fil-a for ice cream.  Because that is what summer is all about.

get in my belly.

get in my belly.

While I may not be pleased with my time, I am relatively pleased with my effort and SO PROUD of my best friend for not only doing this race but for running the entire time.  That is something to be proud of!!   I have my medal and that’s all I need.

Also…go congratulate my favorite running buddy Brittney who placed in her age group at her half marathon this weekend.  She did that on three hours of sleep and a two week long trip to Alaska.  What a beast!

Brooks, Bedazzled, Bras, and Batting

Wow, that sure is a lot of B words!  If you read yesterday’s post about me throwing away my last pair of used running shoes while misplacing my new pair then you should know that this girl needs some running shoes.  While I do love my beloved Asics, my favorite model has been discontinued.  Add that to the fact that the last time I was fitted was about three years ago then it probably means it was time for a new fitting anyway.  So, I went to the local Fleet Feet and got refitted for shoes and to my surprise they put me in a pair of Brooks.  Lots of people I know run in Brooks but I was so set in my way with Asics that I had never even put them on my radar. Hallelujah they are God’s gift to my feet.  Took them for a test spin at the track this morning and was able to comfortably run 2 400s.  Actually, the first 400 was at 2:08, making it faster than my fastest 400 last week.  I finished my second 400 in 2:01, barely shy of having a 1 in front of it.  Maybe it is the shoes, just saying.  But they fit like a glove and are so cushiony and soft and supportive.  I cannot wait to break them in.

new kicks.

new kicks.

Has anyone ever lifted weights at the gym and noticed that sometimes the dumbbell and barbell hurt your hands?  I must be a wimp because my hands always end up hurting.  So, to combat that, I found a pair of weight lifting gloves someone gifted to me some time ago.  They are totally bling blingy and draw attention but they help my hands to not hurt and still remain an accessory.  What do you think?  No eye rolling allowed.   bedazz

Today was a huge milestone for me at the gym.  The thing is, it didn’t happen inside the gym, it happened inside the locker room.  I’ve always been one of those girls who changes in the bathroom stall and wouldn’t dare change out in the open.  Well, this morning I changed openly in the locker room without taking refuge in a small stall. There were maybe like 3 other girls in there so it probably wasn’t as big of a deal as it would have been had there been a dozen girls, but it was a big step.  I may not be 100 percent confident with what I see in the mirror, but I’m no longer ashamed.  In fact, today while lifting weights in my “private room”, I took off my tank top because it got too heavy and worked out with my sports bra, compression shorts, and Norts.  My goal for the end of summer is to actually run outside looking like this and not give a care what anybody has to say about it or how people look at me.   I have on high compression shorts in this photo.  My stomach is nowhere near that flat.  noshirt

And finally, batting.  This past weekend my handsome boyfriend and I went on a cheap date to the dollar movie.  We saw Oz which I totally loved.  Across the street there is a big fun center that has batting cages so we headed over to hit some balls.  I played ball when I was younger and it was good to see that I haven’t lost my touch.  Also, maybe it is a fat airplane arm, but my arm looks muscular.  Maybe not.  I think it does.   batting

What running shoes do you run in?  Do you wear weight lifting gloves?  Ever ran in just shorts and a sports bra?  What is your idea of a fun and cheap date?

Race Recap: Be a Factor 5k

Knoxville has a huge racing community.  Most local 5ks usually have upwards of at least 500 people per race.  It is so great to know that so many people are dedicated enough to wake up on a Saturday and pay to run some miles to better themselves.  But sometimes, a smaller race can be good, too.  My goal for the year is to run one race per month.  I had already had a May race picked out but a few days ago I found out that the race fell on a Saturday that I would be at the beach.  The search was on for a great 5k to fill my Saturday.  The greater Knoxville area had at least four races going on this past Saturday so it was tough to narrow it down.  I stalked last year’s results for the Be a Factor 5k and decided that since it was a very small race, I might as well run it and try to maybe get an age group placement.

Race morning came early and I woke up feeling energized, but very untrained.  I have never fully trained for any race, but I’ve spent the last two weeks working my way back into running and still get excited if I am able to run more than three minutes without a walk break.  A 5k was a big feat for Saturday.  Nonetheless, I still managed to get ready and be out the door on time.  It started to rain on the way to the race and I began to get nervous.  Rain running just ain’t my thing.  We arrived at the race site and from the amount of cars, you would have thought it was cancelled.  Nope, just a super small race and only ended up having 103 runners.

The race benefited a local little boy who had hemophilia and the race was very community oriented.  It started on a track at the high school and went out and around town.  After leaving the track, we headed onto a road and up a hill.  The hill wasn’t steep, but it was definitely long.  I was able to run the first .75 miles without stopping which made me so proud.  I was trying to look around and get a feel for who all was close to my age and tried to gauge if I would have to “pick off” anyone to have a chance at placing in my age group.  After the first mile, I took another walk break and just tried to not freeze to death.  From there, it was off and on running and walking, but I managed to run harder than I thought I would be able to.  There were several slight grades out on the course, but not really any serious hills.  There were two huge downhills that I just let loose on and tried to make up for lost time by flying down them.  Probably a dumb move, but I was able to pass a few people and didn’t feel any tightness in my legs.

start and finish on the track

start and finish on the track

Around the 2.5 mile mark, I came upon a young kid who was walking and I decided to take one more walk break.  He said “man, we are making AWESOME time, aren’t we??”.  Bless his heart.  I told him yes we were and he went into a funny story about how he took a Zumba class the previous night.  Such a sweet kid.  I decided to leave him and continue running and after that point, I did not stop.  I knew we had to make a final lap around the track to finish so I was looking forward to being able to get a glimpse of the finish line.  I’ve never done a race where we got to run around a track so it was pretty cool and made me feel like an Olympian.  I didn’t go all out at the finish line or even sprint but I definitely finished strong.  Another great thing about small races is the crowd support.  The announcer made it a point to yell out every person’s name and number and encourage the crowd to cheer.  The finish line was really exhilarating.

almost there!

almost there!

I didn’t really have a goal for the race, but it was important to me to finish faster than any of my other three 5ks I’ve ran this year.  In order to do that, I would have had to run a 35:49.  Not even remotely close to a PR, but still faster than I was earlier this year.  I ended up clocking in at 34:10.  It was a great feeling to knock over 1:30 off my previous time and I’m confident that next month’s race will be even faster.  Walking down that time to get to where I used to be.   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The post-race refreshments included some amazing homemade cupcakes.  Of course I had to have one, but it was a little sweet so I only ended up eating about a fourth of it.  We took shelter under the football stadium and waited for the results to be called.  When my division was announced I held my breath.  I knew my time wasn’t amazing or anything but it was a small race so I still hoped to walk away with something.  The third place got called and it wasn’t me so I figured I had blew my chance.  But just when I had lost hope, they called my name for first place.  I let a slight squeal and ran up to get my flashy medal.  It is pretty sad that I ran a 34:10 and still placed first but I am so so soooo excited that I placed top of my age group.  First time that has ever happened with there actually being someone else in my age category.  Pretty exciting day for me.

umbrella and a medal make for a happy runner.

umbrella and a medal make for a happy runner.

Overall I’m glad I picked this race and proud that I stuck it out in the rain and was able to knock 1:30 off my last time.  It makes me excited to run some more this week and work harder on getting fast(er).  Happy day after Cinco de Mayo!!

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: Women’s Half Marathon Nashville

If a half marathon wants to get my attention it needs only one thing…the color pink.  Kidding, but kinda not.  I did this race two years ago as my second half ever, and this past Saturday brought my half marathon tally up to 10.  I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work the expo in an effort to promote the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon.  However I have a major commitment phobia and could not quite bite the bullet of registering for the race until the week before.  I knew that I would more than likely be walking it and enjoying the crowd and socializing but I just wasn’t sure if I could mentally do it alone.

Fast forward to three days before the race when our marathon director emails me and asks me to find a friend.  Yes, please.  I frantically called my Big Sis and begged her to join me so she could do her first half and so that I would have a partner in crime.  Thankfully she said yes and Thursday evening we hit the road headed for Nashville.  But not after going to Wal Mart and stocking up on some yummy peanut butter goodness.  

We were so lucky to get to stay at the host hotel so everything was in the same place. We spent Friday at the expo talking to so many lovely women and having fun with some of the other vendors.  Vanessa and a few of her friends stopped by the booth for a quick chat so it was great to see a friendly face.  Vanessa went on to break 2 hours…great job!  I wore my classy overalls to represent Knoxville the best way I knew how. The boys from the booth across from us decided that there just wasn’t enough pink on me and crowned me with a feather boa.  

After a hard day’s work we walked a few blocks to Puckett’s Grocery and Restaurant for some delish pre race BBQ and live music.  

Thanks to a time difference from Nashville and Knoxville we were able to gain an hour of sleep even after going to bed fairly early.  I slept like a baby and was on my feet easy when my alarm went off.  We spent way too much time worrying how we looked and before we knew it, we were off and headed to the start line.  I had been emailing and texting blog friend Jordan in the weeks leading up to the race and we were able to meet up with her before the gun went off.  Sweetest gal ever AND she had a major PR.  Loved meeting her.  She also introduced me to another blogger, Lisa and we had a group picture.  Please excuse me being a tower.  

We knew we were going to be walking the whole time so we needed to line up way in the back.  The corrals were all gated off so instead of fighting our way through the crowd, we just let the gun go off and waited for our corral to pass us before hopping in.  I didn’t bring my Garmin so I knew we wouldn’t have an accurate reading on where we were pace or time wise the entire way but I was okay with that.  Sometimes it is good to enjoy the moment.  We started picking ‘goal people’ to pick off.  The main objective was to just keep walking.

We hit mile 3 at a really good time and we were both feeling good.  Yvonne mentioned that we could shuffle the downhills to make up a little bit of time and that is exactly what we did.  Shuffle shuffle scoot scoot.  We stopped for a bathroom break around mile 5 and waited in line while our goal people passed us.  After that we power walked our butts off to make up time and catch up.  Then around mile 8, Yvonne had to use the bathroom again.  We were in a neighborhood at this point and the sweetest young ladies actually let Yvonne go inside their house and use the bathroom.  The other girls offered me mimosas while I was waiting.  Southern hospitality at the absolute finest.  We picked it back up and boot scoot boogied all the way until mile 10.  Our original goal had been to simply walk it in under 3:30.  As time went on, we set new goals. After mile 11 I knew that we had a big chance of breaking 3:15 and this was motivation to walk even faster and shuffle more downhills.

We made it down one final hill and I could see the 13 mile marker with the time clock above it.  Holy moley we were about to break 3:10.  This was major.  We had one last tiny walk then we shuffled through the finish line with time to spare.  Final official time (for both of us) was 3:07:08.  Not bad for Yvonne’s first half and for some major power walking skills.  

After finishing and flat out sitting down on the ground with pretzels and Powerade it was hard to believe we were done.  It was so much fun and I kept telling Yvonne that if it wasn’t for her then I could not and would not have pushed myself that hard.  Just goes to show that having a friend to keep you accountable and push you as much as you push them goes a long way.  No pun intended.  We listened to some music for a bit before heading back to the room and showering and packing up to head home.  It was a great trip and I’m so thankful that I got to finish half marathon number 10 while Yvonne finished her very first. And I’m totally okay with our time too especially since we were women walkers.