Girls on the Run 5k Race Recap 11/24/19

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Girls on the Run (also known as GOTR) is an awesome nonprofit that helps train young girls to run a 5k, but more importantly, also helps them with their self esteem. The lovely Deborah @ Confessionsofamotherrunner runs one of these groups, by the way.

This was my third time running this 5k (not in consecutive years) and it’s always been kind to me. In fact, it’s my “real” 5k PR. I say real because technically I have one a few seconds faster, but I also know that course was short. Like at least a quarter mile short.

Love the color; not so much the 100% Cotton

Packet Pickup
Packet pickup was Friday night at our local Fleet Feet, from 4-7. The locals know how crazy busy that road gets on a Friday afternoon, but I knew it would make my life simpler not having to go back and forth to my car on Saturday.

I ran some errands in the vicinity and got there just a tad before 4, and they were enthusiastic, all set up, and ready to go. I had signed up on Wednesday, so they had to make me a packet, but it was quick and easy.

Not a lot of swag: some True Lemon drink samples and a lip balm. I actually used on of the True Lemon samples last week. The 100% cotton tee was a pretty teal color — of course I prefer a tech fabric, but sometimes in the winter I like to wear cotton tees under a sweater to keep warm.

The river is why I love this path

Getting There & Hanging Out
Since I had picked up my bib the night before and was going solo, I didn’t feel the need to get there super early: only an hour before, LOL. I parked in the Riverfront parking garage, which is free on weekends, and a short walk over a bridge to the race start.

We run in this area frequently, and it’s actually one of my favorite areas to run (but only in a group, as there have been several attacks there), so I knew where other free parking was, but I was unsure how far from the start the alternative parking lots were. Note to self: only a quarter of a mile.

I stayed in the car and meditated a bit. I had a really good feeling about this race. It was sunny, but still cold out. Eventually I got out and used a portapotty, walked around a bit (asking a stranger to take my photo), and then did my warmup.

I almost went back to the car to get my slightly heavier jacket, as my teeth were literally chattering as I walked over to the race start — but in the end, after I warmed up, I was fine.

Loving the Skirt Sports High Waist 7/8 Tights!

The weather & dressing
The weather was on the chilly side, but really, it was pretty darn nice. Partially sunny. Wind not too bad. 36F (which passes for warm this time of year here).

I chose Skirt Sports Wonder Wool Long Sleeve , Light-ish Jacket, and High Rise 7/8 Tight. (Skirt Sports Ambassador). I had light convertible gloves on as I walked around and did my warm up, but by the first half mile or so my hands were warm and I put them in my pockets. Newton Motion on the feet.

I might have been okay with a Watch Me Go Top instead of the Wonder Wool, but all in all, I was happy with this outfit.

I lined up close to the start to try & avoid too many girls (they can stop suddenly in front of you!)

My Race Plan
I put a little thought into how to handle this race. Yes, I wanted to run hard and chase that PR (this race being my 5k PR, after all, and flat, too!). I haven’t been training super hard, of course, and I slept horribly the night before.

I always knew it would be run in positive splits, and I was okay with that.

  • A Goal: PR
  • B Goal: How fast can I comfortably run that first mile and what could I hang onto after that?
  • C Goal: Run Naked
  • D Goal: Finish with a smile on my face feeling good

So how’d that work for me?

  1. Mile 1: 9:49. My Garmin Vivoactive 3 can be wonky on the first mile. If I just go by what it says, sometimes I’ve slowed down thinking I was running too fast — and I wasn’t. So I just wanted to go comfortably hard. I think that’s the fastest mile I’ve ever run in a race, so mission accomplished. Obviously I decided against the run naked goal.
  2. Mile 2: 10:13. I knew this mile would be slower. I don’t walk at all the first mile, so the second, when I take a short walk break to drink some water, is always slower.
  3. Mile 3: 10:31. I wish I could’ve held on to mile 2’s pace. Even just a tiny bit slower would have snagged me that PR.
  4. Last .10: 9:44. A sprint to the finish. Yes, indeed, finished with a smile and feeling good (well, feeling spent when I crossed the finish line but overall happy with the race after I caught my breath).

31:31 — Official Time
10:09 Average Pace
33 out of 159 (remember, lots of young girls!)
1 out of 6 F55-59

2016: 31:28, 10:08 Average Pace
2015: 31:37, 10:11 Average Pace

The official time is Gun Time (man, I hate when they do that). Net time was 31:27 (which would have been a 1 second PR, LOL!).

There was some ice on the course in several different spots, and I chose to slow to a walk over those spots. I’m quite sure I could have eeked out those few extra seconds for a PR had the course been ice-free, but you do what you do and if it’s not an actual PR, it’s not. No whining. I am very happy with this race.

Don’t get too excited about the fact that I was first in  my AG (whether you did 5 or 10 year AGs), because this isn’t a race that draws the speedsters. This race is about the girls, and a lot of people don’t enjoy dodging around them. Oddly enough, almost all my fastest 5ks have been ones that are geared to girls.

Was the race well run?
The race started exactly on time and miracle of miracles, my Garmin showed it was also exactly 3.10 miles. There was a warm up (geared to the girls) before the start. It’s a simple out and back on a narrow path, and yet there are plenty of course marshals to cheer the girls (and adults) on.

The swag and the after race refreshments were underwhelming, but at least there was something, and it’s a good cause.

Final Thoughts
Was it a PR, or wasn’t it? I guess it wasn’t. So tantalizingly close. Much like my recent 15k, I think it could have been without the icy spots, but there’s no prize for could-have-beens (or PRs, for that fact).

There might still be a couple of 5ks in the next few weeks. One is strictly a fun run. The other depends on weather, again. PR or not, I am so, so pleased with this race. I have been running roughly 11 years now. I don’t think my PR days are behind me, not yet, although you never know.

Are PRs important to me? Yes and no. Running is still about challenging myself, being the best version of me under the circumstances given to me on race day. Some day inevitably I will slow down and my PR days will be behind me. I’ll keep running, as long as I’m able to. Maybe I’ll race less. Maybe I’ll run less in general. As long as my body can run, though, I will run.

This race is for a good cause: using running to help young girls feel better about themselves. I wish I’d been exposed to something like this as a young girl, although chances are I would have hated it. I encourage you to see if there’s a chapter near you here.

There are definitely days I wish it hadn’t taken me until my mid 40s to find my inner athlete, although on the other hand, there are days I’m thankful that I started so late, because running may be good for our bodies, but it also is hard on them.

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Linking up with Zenaida Arroyo and Kim @ Kookyrunner

This week I am also joining up with Running on Happy, Suzlyfe, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs each week for the Coaches’ Corner linkup

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Night Out for You Harvest Hustle 5k Race Recap 10/26/19

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This was yet another new-to-me 5k, but we train at this park for the Freihofers Training Challenge — which is how I knew the race director lied when she said it’s a flat and fast race. In fact, if you just did Mowhawk Hudson here, you know that there’s a fairly steep hill in the beginning.

It’s a good cause (like Make a Wish for adults) and also quite close to where I live, so I decided to do it and then add miles afterwards.

Unisex long sleeve tech tee

Getting There & Hanging Out
I got there quite early, since I hadn’t registered — which was very easy, and they took credit cards, too. You get a unisex long sleeve tech short — I know a lot of people don’t get the long sleeves that often, but I have a ton of them now. I like to sleep in them, though, so it’s all good.

I used the real bathrooms three times before the race (yeah, I got there that early). Once for every glass of liquid I’d drunk before the race.

The finish line was being set up where registration was. The start line was down the hill, though, but no one actually seemed to know for sure (including the volunteers). Knowing where the race started, though, I knew that we’d be going uphill when it started. Good to know.

I didn’t know a soul at this race, but I chatted with a few women and got someone to take my photo.

Probably would have been fine without the vest but it didn’t really hinder me either

The weather & dressing
It was again a beautiful day with ideal weather. The park is pretty shady, though, and quite chilly even with the late race start (9:30 am).

I chose Skirt Sports Skirt Sports Wonder Wool Tee , Toasty Girl Vest, and Charmed Triple Pocket Leggings. I definitely got a bit too warm in the vest, and wish I’d worn the windbreaker I’d brought with me instead — but I don’t think that it effected my race. I might even have been fine with just the short sleeved wool top, but oh well.

Still some foliage hanging on

My Race Plan
I’ve been running pretty well; have had some really great runs lately. It had also been a very stressful week on the family front, and I’d spent Thursday going back and forth to my mom, rehab, back to my mom’s apartment, then home. I also knew the race wouldn’t be flat and fast. No plan, do my best.

So how’d that work for me?

  1. Mile 1: 10:23. Despite the big hill, and the small hill on wet grass to get to the bike path, somehow I had a strong first mile. Elevation gain: 79 ft, loss: 7 ft.
  2. Mile 2: 11:12. Mile two is actually flat. Why the big slow down? No idea. Maybe too fast the first mile? Elevation gain: 7 ft, loss: 20 feet. I must’ve been recovering from the first mile, that’s all I can figure — I should have done better this mile! Even just 30 seconds faster –which should have been doable — would have snagged me a PR. Oh well.
  3. Mile 3: 10:14. I guess I’d recovered by mile 3. There was a great downhill to the finish. Elevation gain: 13 ft, loss: 49 ft.
  4. Last .07: 9:30. Gotta love a downhill finish, although the race was just slightly short. Elevation loss: 16 ft.

32:32 — Official Time
10:29 Average Pace
24 out of 57
2 out of 8 F55-59

Yup, I placed second in my AG; of course there were no AG awards. The woman who was first in my AG was a good 5 minutes faster. It’s a tiny race and attracts more people supporting the cause than the speedsters.

I was stuck at about the same finish time for many years when it came to the half. Then I had the year of 4 half PRs. I’ve been stuck at the same finish time for 5ks for quite some time, while still managing to PR sometimes in longer distances. My 5k PR is from about 4 years ago, but I don’t run a lot of 5ks, I don’t train to run 5ks, and let’s face it — 5ks are hard!

While clearly marked, no one seemed quite sure if this was really the start line (it was)

Was the race well run?
Where to park, where to start — all was a bit confusing. I know the park fairly well so I did know where to park — the bonus being since the finish was in a different place than the start, I didn’t have to drive through runners to get out of the park.

Kicking back with old school chip timing

OTOH, volunteers were very enthusiastic. I was handed a bottle of water as soon as I crossed the finish line. It’s chip timed, although the old school chips on your sneakers.

A nice spread for a small race

The post race spread was actually quite nice:

  • Donuts, including cider and chocolate glazed — you know what I chose!
  • Bananas
  • Apple Cider
  • A women from Power Surge Protein Nut Butters (they are awesome, btw — so much so they’re a little dangerous) with a bunch of flavors to sample on pretzels.
Cookie Dough is my favorite
Tshirt from my radio station, 99.5: Fake News Real Music

The radio station I listen to was there and I snagged a free tshirt from them, as well. I’d like to see a course map on the Website. That would be super helpful!

Final Thoughts
Another really small, low key 5k at a park that is close to my house. Even though the elevation gain/loss doesn’t look bad on paper, it is a little challenging; not so much flat & fast the first mile. Most of all, though, it raises money for a good cause (and did I mention it’s close to my house?).

I would definitely recommend it and if the circumstances are right, I would run it again.

btuesdaytopics

Linking up with Zenaida Arroyo and Kim @ Kookyrunner

This week I am also joining up with Running on Happy, Suzlyfe, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs each week for the Coaches’ Corner linkup

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Lawson Lake Trail 5k Race Recap 10/14/19

I know, I know — I just ran a 10k a couple of days before this “race”. I use the term race loosely. Trail runs/races just tend to be fun runs for me. That’s the attitude I went into this with. A gorgeous weekend, a lake, trails, friends. What could go wrong?

This fire felt great while we waited to start!

Packet Pickup
We all picked up our bibs the day of the race with no issues. It’s basically a club run, although there are bibs and timing chips — but no tee (no problem!) and no swag. Unless you’re one of the overall winners, then you get a free entry to the trail race of your choice in 2020.

I picked up Darlene @ Myfirst5kon my way there, and we got there early, which was a good thing because the one parking lot open was tiny.

We ran around this area twice at the start and once towards the end

There are two races (which start together): a 5k and a 5 miler. This was only the second year the event has been offered.

Ok, so light capris are not so flattering (but they were comfortable)

The weather & dressing
Another beautiful day to run with low wind and temps in the 50s. I wore my Skirt Sports Blue Deco Watch Me Go Top (Skirt Sports Ambassador) and a Skirt Sports Pocketopia Capris with the Toasty Girl Vest. The Blue Deco top is very lightweight, and I knew a lot of the run would be in the woods, and hence shady and cool. I did get warm, but I’m also glad I kept the vest on.

Am I on the right path? Have I missed a turn?

My Race Plan
Again no race plan — run where I can, walk where it was steep or rocky or lots of roots. I didn’t think about the carpeting of leaves, and that certainly came into play.

So how’d that work for me?

  1. Mile 1: 12:12. Slight downs & ups while we looped around the parking lot with views of the lake — twice. The road here was unpaved with a smattering of gravel, but it wasn’t a true trail for most of the first mile so I was able to keep a decent pace.
  2. Mile 2: 18:23. The fun began in mile two. About halfway through the race I found myself basically alone. Darlene and Running Buddy J were walking, and were behind me for a while here, but I’d lost almost all the rest of the runners. The leaves were deep, there were many roots and rocks, and I wasn’t sure if I was going the right way . . . often. There was a lot of walking. A lot of walking. I’ve never “run” a trail so slowly, LOL!
  3. Mile 3: 15:50. They had told us that we would go up a “small uphill” right before the downhill finish. Small my a$$. Okay, maybe to some runners it would be small — it was pretty darn steep in my opinion and just cruel at the end!
  4. Last .06: 12:40. It was, at least, downhill to the finish, and I’ve never met a downhill I didn’t love.

46:53 — Official Time
15:06 Average Pace
4 out of 5 in F55-59
40 out of 47 Runners

They were gonna walk (well, they mostly did). The final downhill to the finish.

I get a giggle that the runners who finished before and after me are from the same town as me — and both are 20 years younger than me. My first trail 5k, which was in the summer, was about 4 minutes faster, and one I ran earlier this year was a whopping 10 minutes faster. Both of them were in the summer, so no carpet of leaves to contend with.

Why do race directors always put a hill right before the end?

Was the race well run?
The race was well marked, although there were long stretches without flags that seriously had me wondering if I’d taken a wrong turn. I told everyone I really counted it as a victory that I didn’t get lost. There were a few course marshals here and there, too, but I appreciate that that is very difficult on trail races.

We thought there were pies in here . . .

I personally didn’t need the medal at the end, although it’s a nice touch, as was the cider donuts. We’d all seen the boxes, but thought they were pies for AG awards (there were no AG awards, not that that mattered for me) — indeed they were cider donuts and plenty of them, although they were really cold so not terribly enticing to me. That half in the box is from me.

What I really wanted? Water! Again, I understand that everything had to be hauled up there. There was an empty gallon jug of water by the food. Had there been water somewhere else? I’d left the water bottle I brought with me in the car.

There were burgers, hot dogs, veggie burgers (two, which Running Buddy J and I snagged), and chips for post race food. Not terribly exciting. This was not a potluck — too bad, I think a potluck would have been much more fun!

Positives:

  1. Another pretty park.
  2. Chip timing.
  3. Free lunch post race.
  4. Running with friends.
  5. A medal — I don’t need it for a simple 5k, but I’m sure others enjoyed it.
  6. Perfect running weather.

Of course no race is perfect. The downsides:

  1. A challenging course, especially with the deep carpet of leaves.
  2. More flags on the course, please!
  3. More water post race, too, please!
  4. Small parking lot.

What I learned
I’m really not sure I’d do this race again. Maybe I was just in a mood? My friends enjoyed it. It wasn’t expensive. Perhaps if I hadn’t been as anxious about getting lost I would have enjoyed it more. Or if I’d been running with a friend. I spent almost the entire second half of the race pretty much alone — worried that I’d missed a turn somewhere, and would never be found as there was no cell phone service out there. Although maybe Darlene wold have wondered where her ride was.
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Linking up with Zenaida Arroyo and Kim @ Kookyrunner

This week I am also joining up with Running on Happy, Suzlyfe, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs each week for the Coaches’ Corner linkup

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Great Pumpkin 10k Race Recap 10/12/19

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Our group was slightly smaller than in past years, with Darlene @ Myfirst5kresting up for her 20 miler the next day (7 + a Half), and another running friend not able to make it. About evenly split between 5kers and 10kers.

Packet Pickup
We all picked up our packets the day of the race this year, with no issues. They changed the tee design (which we all like) just slightly, and we all still liked it. Warned that they are a men’s style, I got a small — it was still rather large on me but better large than small I say.

We got there early enough to park by the pavilion that the race is held at, so we were able to go back and forth to the car frequently. The real bathrooms are always a plus and oddly never super crowded.

Cool It Long Sleeve under the fleece (which I took off for the race); as you can see it was a bit cool before we started but warmed up quickly!

The weather & dressing
It was pretty much perfection this year, in the low to mid 50s, with almost no wind at all.

I wore my Skirt Sports Cool It Top (Skirt Sports Ambassador) and a Skirt Sports Pocketopia Capris. It was cold when we left, but I knew it would be warming up. I have to say I wish I’d worn a skirt instead of the capris, but I actually like not having to reach underneath my skirt to get at my water bottles, too.

The Cool It Long Sleeve actually works great in the Fall transitional weather — keeping you mostly covered can keep you warm before you start, but also still help you stay somewhat cool as you warm up during the race. Go figure.

Even the course marshals get into the holiday spirit. They warned us not to lose our heads.

My Race Plan
Nope, no race plan. No expectations, either. Running has been squeezed in when I can lately, and speed work has been pretty much non existent. I have run a few times at my mom’s, though, which is super hilly — as is the second portion of this 10k.

I was hoping to keep it under an 11 mm every mile, but I knew that between the stress the past six weeks and a few really restless nights recently that was a tall order and I also knew I’d be okay with whatever the race handed me — well, within reason, of course. I wouldn’t be happy with an injury!

So how’d that work for me?

  1. Mile 1: 10:19. A fast start (quite a bit faster than last year) but nothing that would come back to haunt me.
  2. Mile 2: 10:48. Relatively flat. So just switch mile one and two and I’m right on track. <== that’s what I wrote last year. Still true. Faster than last year.
  3. Mile 3: 10:19. A slow decline and again faster than last year.
  4. Mile 4: 10:50. A long decline and a long incline. Slower than last year but not by a lot. I learned from Firecracker 4 this summer that with steep hills like these I’m better off doing run/walk, so I did. Just by feel.
  5. Mile 5: 11:09. Mostly a long hill. A bit faster than last year. Darn, that 11 at the front! Like last year, I got to see Running Buddy J here & shouted some encouragement. Definitely a tough mile. I also passed another running friend here who is generally faster than me so I was pleased.
  6. Mile 6: 10:56. Mostly downhill. A bit slower than last year.
  7. Last .16: 10:51. And a sprint to the slightly uphill finish with my friends cheering me in. Again just a bit slower than last year. Usually I can sprint in the last little bit but that darn small uphill before the finish gets me every time.

1:06:06 — Official Time
10:39 Average Pace
9 out of 19 in F55-59
233 out of 299 Runners

Previous Years:
2018: 1:07:14 — Official Time, 10:50 Average Pace
2017: 1:08:39 — Official Time, 11:03 Average Pace

Yes, like last year, it was both a 10k PR and a course PR. I mostly met my goal; that one mile was just barely over an 11 mm so I say that’s splitting hairs. Extremely pleased with such a strong race on so little training (and sleep). I’ve lowered my 10k time since my first, eight years ago, but about 5ish minutes.

Seriously, though, where were those 10:19s in my recent 5k? Oh yeah, that one wasn’t mostly downhill, as the first half of this 10k is.

I really do think those few hilly runs at my mom’s were good training. Or maybe the HR training has also been helping? My easy runs are a lot slower than they have been, but for this race, I completely ignored my HR and turned off HR alerts, too.

Running Buddy J was pleased with her stemless wineglass for her AG 3rd place

Was the race well run?
The race is extremely well marked and there are plenty of course marshals. There are a lot of refreshments after, but there’s a long line (even though the 5k was long finished!). Although mostly the baked goods are just okay. Some year I’ll remember to photograph the spread. Running buddy J placed in her AG. I was very pleased with my PR.

People get into the holiday spirit with costumes (there’s also a kid’s race), and there’s a fire at the pavilion — in addition to those real bathrooms

Positives:

  1. Such a pretty park to run through, especially in the Fall.
  2. Real bathrooms.
  3. A well marked and well directed course.
  4. Nice long sleeved tech shirt.
  5. The entry includes a free raffle ticket — unfortunately I didn’t win anything (again!).
  6. Running with friends.
  7. A PR is always sweet.
  8. Perfect running weather.

Of course no race is perfect. The downsides:

  1. Challenging hills.
  2. The paths, for the most part, are quite narrow, although this time I never really got too frustrated and felt I found my own space for much of the race.

What I learned
Using intervals on steep hills will probably always be the way to go for me. I didn’t use intervals on those hills at my moms for my last run there, but I also ran significantly slower. More than 2 minutes per mile slower.

Those little walk breaks are to help prevent fatigue from setting in, and they work. I won’t say you won’t get tired, you still do. But the break will help you have enough energy to power up the hill when you are back to running.

If none of my friends end up doing the November 15k, it will be a hard decision. Do I really want to do it by myself? Assuming that I am here, that is always up in the air the last 6 weeks. Maybe. Just to see what I can do. Fall really is my favorite time of year to race!
btuesdaytopics

Linking up with Zenaida Arroyo and Kim @ Kookyrunner

This week I am also joining up with Running on Happy, Suzlyfe, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs each week for the Coaches’ Corner linkup

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The Crossings 5k Race Recap 9/29/19

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This was a new-to-me 5k, but this is the park I run at a lot, and train at with the Freihofers Challenge in the Spring. I used to walk the dogs there, too, but as my life has gotten busier, sadly, I rarely take them there.

I had told my friend who did my practicum with me that I might do it, depending on how I felt (and the weather). The weather was forecast to be great, and I felt ok enough to get in that longish run on Friday, so it was on.

Getting There & Hanging Out
My friend drove, which was great, as I was heading out to my mom’s later in the day. We were there early, as I needed to register. We walked the business and collected lots of swag — quite a bit of it even useful.

We were able to use the real bathrooms in the nearby gym, and there was barely a line. The bonus was we also got someone to take our photo — it was really cold outside with the wind, but nice inside the gym.

I left my friend to go out and do a warmup, but we met again a we waited for the start at the start line, where I was oddly quite near the front.

The weather & dressing
It was a really beautiful day with almost ideal weather, although it was quite windy.

I chose Skirt Sports Supergirl Tank and Lioness Skirt. This was the first time I’d worn Lioness in a road race (I’ve worn it for a trail race), and it performed beautifully.

My Race Plan
I’ve got to say I was kind of secretly hoping for a PR, as that time trial earlier in the week went well. On the other hand, I was also kind of tired and beat up from several weeks of going back and forth between my mom, my dad’s rehab, and home.

So how’d that work for me?

  1. Mile 1: 10:31. The mile started out fast, according to my Garmin, so I kept trying to (successfully) slow down. I had wanted to run this mile just a smidge faster. I also basically watched every runner pass me. Slight exaggeration.
  2. Mile 2: 10:36. Sure, there was some slight inclines and declines this mile, but really no reason for slowing down. Despite the race being run on a very narrow path, for the most part I always felt that I had my own running space.
  3. Mile 3: 10:29. My original plan was to try to run 1.5 miles before a took a walk break. Yeah, no, that didn’t happen, I took a walk break to drink water each mile. I did however put some strides into this mile. Overall, though, obviously my pace was just consistent the whole race. Which wasn’t quite what I was going for.
  4. Mile 4: 8:45. At least I managed a sprint to the end. The woman in front of me was encouraging me to pick up the pace, but seriouly, I had given my all for this day.

32:18 — Official Time
10:24 Average Pace
159 out of 293
3 out of 6 F55-59

Not only did I place third in my AG, there were more than three runners in my AG. And yes, I got an actual medal! Sweet. That isn’t the first time I’ve placed in my age group, but it’s very, very rare and I have never, ever received anything for it until today.

Was the race well run?
Registration was easy, and even though I registered the day of the race, I still got a long sleeve tech shirt which was quite nice — and came in handy before the race to keep warm.

The race itself offered no swag other than the race tee, but there were a lot of businesses actually offering useful swag:

  • Bag clips (I always need these!)
  • Sunglasses
  • One of those race-type backpacks
  • A cooling tool
  • And more

My friend was very far BOTP, and there were still plenty of refreshments left for her. I was afraid parking might be difficult, but we got there early and it was easy. The course was extremely well marked and there was always plenty of course marshals to direct you (and cheer you on).

My only complaint is that they took off all the race information from the Website after online registration closed — so I had no idea when the race day registration would start.

Final Thoughts
This was a very nice, smaller, low key 5k at the park that is close to my house. Apparently the speedy older people don’t come out for it (or didn’t this day, there were also a lot of races to choose from this weekend). It’s a mostly flat course.

I would definitely recommend it and if the circumstances are right, I would run it again.

btuesdaytopics

Linking up with Zenaida Arroyo and Kim @ Kookyrunner

This week I am also joining up with Running on Happy, Suzlyfe, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs each week for the Coaches’ Corner linkup

coachescorner

Thatcher Park Trail Festival 10k Race Recap 8/25/19

My first trail race was a half marathon. Yes, chocolate was involved. Of course. My next trail race? A 5k. Kind of on a whim, the day after a long run, mostly because it was a beautiful day.

The next year I was getting close to my 18 mile road race, and I didn’t want to do a trail race so close to that race; there also was no longer a 5k option.

This year there are no big goal races on the horizon. Yet. The weather was beautiful again. Another friend would also be there. I signed up. I’ve been running trails here and there all summer with friends, but not really a lot — rarely more than once a week, and not every week.

Skirt Meetup

Getting There & Hanging Out
It’s a bit over 30 minutes to get to Thatcher Park so I arrived at 7:30, an hour before the race. I parked, grabbed my bag, thanked the weather Gods for the beautiful weather, and started walking over to packet pick up, just a short distance away. I chatted with a couple of runners doing the 50k (30 mile) option.

I quickly ran into someone I knew by the bathrooms, but she had just finished with them and I needed to use them. We chatted a bit before parting ways. I picked up my packet, which included my parking ticket (it’s $6 to park), and then had to walk back to the car to put the parking ticket in the car.

I left my bag in the pavilion, which is one of the things I love about this race, that you don’t have to continually go back and forth to your car if you have stuff you need with you before the race, although there is no official bag drop because it’s a pretty low key race, as trail races tend to be.

I ran into another friend, a fellow Skirt Sports Ambassador, but I was waiting on a third friend (another Skirt Sports Ambassador). We were just about to take our selfie when she finally appeared so we were able to get the three of us together.

I’d downloaded a mediation and something to listen to as I walked around before the race, knowing I’d be there early as usual, but I actually never had time.

I was glad to have company during the long stretches we didn’t see anyone . . . or a flag

The weather & dressing
There was a lot of hot, humid weather lately, but the morning started out a cool mid 50F temp, so I really waffled on what to wear. The park is also a higher elevation, so it’s always cool there.

I chose Skirt Sports Supergirl Tank and Lioness Skirt. I really debated about wearing the long sleeve Cool It Top, since that’s what I’ve been running trails in all summer. I needed the extra pockets in my Supergirl Tank for my water bottles, though.

I had never worn the Lioness Skirt for a race, or anything much over 4 miles. I’d never worn that particular Lioness Skirt, either. Turned out it was the perfect outfit for me, for this day, for this race.

Plenty of roots

My Race Plan
2 simple goals:

  • Finish
  • Don’t fall

So how’d that work for me?

  1. Mile 1: 12:15. Significantly faster than the first mile of the 5k two years ago, and basically the same route.
  2. Mile 2: 18:44. Significantly slower than the second mile of the 5k two years ago. My bad for not looking at the elevation chart. I thought it would be somewhat flat like the 5k. It was not. The largest hill in the 5k was 66 ft. This mile had a hill that was 154 ft — which I know doesn’t sound like much, but throw in lots of rocks, roots, and mud, and it was tough! I ran with one of my Skirt Sports Ambassdor friends here for a while, but eventually she took off. I decided right here to make it a fun run and I stopped to take a lot of photos.
  3. Mile 3: 16:07. I believe this is where my friend caught up with me; she’d started slightly behind me, but she was racing. Although she agreed to stop and take a photo at Hang Glide Cliff here. This was an out and back to Hang Glide Cliff, and it seemed to go on forever.
  4. Mile 4: 14:05. This was a relatively flat mile (only a 66 ft hill, LOL!), with some wider paths, but still plenty of mud, rocks, and roots. It wasn’t really a super muddy race, but there were plenty of mud pits to go around — or through, I’m guessing, if you’re really into trails. We mostly went around.
  5. Mile 5: 14:42. This mile had a fairly good net drop, and yet we slowed down. Not sure why. Probably because we were getting tired! We traded on and off being in front. There was also some very narrow single track here.
  6. Mile 6: 12:03. Headed back to the finish, mostly just grass, so I was able to pick up some speed. It might have been faster if I hadn’t kept going in the wrong direction towards the very end (luckily my friend kept correcting me).
  7. Last .33: 10:53. Sort of sprinting to the end.
Mostly dry trails, except for the multiple mud pits

1:31:37 — Official Time
14:45 Average Pace
76 out of 82

Yes, it tasted as good as it looked!

Was the race well run?
If you’re into trail running, this is an awesome little festival. There are four distances:

  • 10k
  • Half Marathon
  • Marathon
  • 50k
The lovely Hang Glide Cliff. Yes, Hang Gliders take off from here though I haven’t seen it!

The first time I ran the 5k I also volunteered after — there’s a really nice spread at the aid stations. They ask you when you register what your projected finish time is. This was my first trail 10k (although not my first trail race), so I took a guess and was almost right — considering I wasn’t expecting so many hills, I guess I guessed well.

I don’t know why they want to know your estimated finish time. Since there are people running anywhere from 10k to 50k, the 10k runners can take their time if they want to. One woman did, indeed, walk it — slowly, but she is older than me and coming back from battling Lyme disease. My hat’s off to her! She always volunteers at races, too.

All the races start together. The first half marathoner finished just shortly after my friend and I finished the 10k . . . The trails are extremely well marked — there are some long distances where you won’t see any flags, but seriously, I didn’t go wrong until the very end (apparently I did something similar at the 5k, too).

You used to get socks; this year we got a picnic blanket that folds up into its own little case. Personally I prefer the socks, because they’re useful (although not really as running socks, but I often wear them in the fall when walking the dogs).

There’s a really nice spread afterwards, too. I stayed this year, since I had some friends to hang out with. All sorts of different sandwiches (including vegetarian and vegan options). Chips, fruit, bread, peanut butter (some of that also available for pre-race fueling). This year there was a cake from Bountiful Bread, one of the sponsors, and it was worth every calorific bite — even if I only ran 10k!

I debated about those sunglasses. I didn’t need them much, but was glad I had them in the end.

Final Thoughts
I wouldn’t run this race in bad weather, but I’ve been blessed with great weather the two times I have run it. I wasn’t that inspired by the 5k course, but I have to say that even though the 10k was much tougher, it was also much more scenic. It’s a pretty park and there were runners who came from my home town, over an hour away — it’s worth it, I promise you!

There are more trail races here around Halloween — I’ve always wanted to do one of them, but the weather is almost always bad. I’m a fair weather trail runner (except for my trail half, which was in WA state and drizzling and cool for most of the race). Maybe 2019 will be the year for the Squirrely Six!

btuesdaytopics

Linking up with Zenaida Arroyo and Kim @ Kookyrunner

This week I am also joining up with Running on Happy, Suzlyfe, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs each week for the Coaches’ Corner linkup

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Firecracker 4 Race Recap 7/4/19

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Firecracker 4 is a part shady, part really sunny, somewhat hilly four miles on the fourth of July. It’s almost always really hot, with a late start of 9 am, and this year was no exception.

Our group was small but mighty

Getting There & Hanging Out
Our group was much smaller this year. I think I a few of us are so over this hot race, but some of us diehards decided to brave it (or were talked into it by their friends). I talked my Running Buddy D, who I don’t see as much these days, into an early start (she was driving). We were rewarded with a good parking space, making it easy to go back & forth several times.

Team & AG Awards

Thankfully the city center, where packet pickup is, is air conditioned. And real bathrooms. We got our bibs & tshirts (although somehow I didn’t get a goodie bag; there was nothing exciting in it anyway so no big deal).

New sculpture on the streets of Saratoga (new to me, anyway)

Running Buddy D was very disappointed that they wouldn’t allow you to exchange tshirts until 8:40, as hers was just too tight. She managed to sweet talk a volunteer into doing it for her earlier. She wanted to wear it in the race, but I reminded her nothing new on race day.

Raising the flag and a nice band entertained us as we waited

We met up with the other two from our group, hung out a bit, then we headed back to the car to pick up our water and my cooling towel, all of which I had on ice (literally). We met back up with our friends in the corrals. We had used the real bathroom a couple of times already.

Worked as well as anything would on a hot day!

The weather & dressing
Skirt Sports for the win. I went with the Racecation Tank  and Cool It Skirt; Newton Distance on the feet.

Runners always deck themselves out patriotically

My Race Plan
I had actually ended up reading the race recap from last year (which I usually try to avoid), so I formed a plan — I wanted to hang at about a 10:45 pace, but I knew the heat was gonna be a big factor. Overall I wanted to get an average pace under 11 mm.

So how’d that work for me?

  1. Mile 1: 10:33. Despite being a little frustrated by being bottled in the first part of this mile, this was significantly faster than last year. Would I regret it later?
  2. Mile 2: 10:37. This mile was really slow last year. No idea why. Again, much faster this year (and for the most part much more space to run)..
  3. Mile 3: 10:43. slowing down a bit, no doubt because of the speedy first 2 miles. There’s a few rolling hills in this mile, but there’s also a fair amount of shade. Still faster than last year and very consistent.
  4. Mile 4: 11:55. This last mile is always tough. There’s no shade. It’s mostly uphill. Last year I slowed down this mile, but was still very strong. I was also just a few weeks out from a downhill half, so lots of training on these legs. This year? I was almost a full minute slower than last year. Let’s just say while the thermometer wasn’t quite as hot as last year, it was close, and I think a lot more humid. I walked a lot. And I’m okay with that.

43:55 — Official Time
10:59 Average Pace
50 out of 101 in 55-59 division
1824 our of 2628

Previous years:
2018: 44:02
2017: 44:17
2016: 47:10
2015: 44:11
2014: 47:48

I just squeaked through with a 7 second course PR and met my goal of a average pace below 11 mm (again, just!). I know that I could have done much better if I hadn’t walked so much the last mile, but I met my goals and I didn’t faint, so I’m good with that.

Waiting for the kid race to start

Was the race well run?
This race is so much fun — if you’re ever in Saratoga, NY on the fourth you should check it out. There’s a ton of spectator support and the locals are out in force with hoses — much appreciated — even on a hot fourth like this one!

The AG awards are cool (not that I’m ever going to see one), the space with AC to hang out in and real bathrooms is a blessing. There’s water available both before and after the race, and some fruit and granola bars afterward. A couple of local food vendors had samples afterwards, too. New this year was food available for purchase post race, as well as a free beer, but Running Buddy D & I skipped that.

The late start is a pain, as is parking. Unless you know Saratoga well, the parking situation can be nerve wracking.
btuesdaytopics

Linking up with Zenaida Arroyo and Kim @ Kookyrunner

This week I am also joining up with Running on Happy, Suzlyfe, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs each week for the Coaches’ Corner linkup

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Dodge the Deer 5k Race Recap 6/23/19

I have only run three trail races. My first was a half marathon — go big or go home, right? Dodge the Deer, a very family-oriented day  out at a local park with our local running group, Albany Running Exchange, includes a couple of kiddy races and a trail 5k and has been on my radar a long time.

Historically it’s been in April, which historically is not-so-great weather in these parts. I am a fair weather trail runner, even if my trail half was cool, rainy, and muddy (you can read about it here).

However, Sunday was a gorgeous day. There is also a cookout/potluck following the race. I tried to convince a few friends to go, but didn’t have any luck. Other friends that might have gone were out of town. So I headed out by myself — the first time in a long time that I went to a race without knowing that someone I knew would also be there.

I would have gotten the race socks (from past years) if they had had my size; you could choose one thing from any of these — I like that!

Packet Pickup
If I’d registered before it closed online, I could have saved $5, oh well. I registered day of, which meant getting there really early — like an hour and a half before the race. The race is in a nice park, though, and it was a beautiful day. Getting there so early meant I got parking close to the activities and could go back and forth multiple times.

I was surprised I could pay with a credit card; I’d expected to have to pay cash. I was also surprised that despite day-of registration, I was still able to pick out one piece of swag from the variety they had (mostly from old races). I wanted to get the race socks, but they were only L & XL — so I got ARE socks (the running group that puts this race on) instead.

The Famous Dodge the Deer — even being very BOTP I was able to outrun him

I went back & forth to the real bathrooms a bunch of times (because I was there so early and so well hydrated). I also sat in the shade on a picnic bench listening to “Marathon Woman”, our running group’s next book club (I use that term loosely) pick.

I chatted with a couple with their dog there, a woman who had driven in 2 hours from MA to run this race — she’s the one I asked to take my photo before the race — and someone I recognized from our Wed night group runs.

It wasn’t super technical, but there were still plenty of roots out there! And shade, thankfully.

My Race Plan
Have fun. Stay uninjured. That’s all she wrote. Happy to say I met my goals. Despite the fact that my Garmin and the official race results tallied almost perfectly, the mile splits were way off. Yes, your results included your mile splits — a nice touch. So I’m reporting them with O for Official time and G for my Garmin time.

So how’d that work for me?

  1. Mile 1: 11:40 O/11:16 G. Very weird. There’s no mat to cross, but there is a Start sign and a line on the path. Did I start my watch too early? Too late? Just weird. The first mile felt pretty good.
  2. Mile 2: 11:06 O/11:33 G. I was definitely surprised by my time the first mile. I’m usually pretty darn slow on trails. Despite the nice shady paths, I was already feeling tired!
  3. Mile 3: 12:45 O/12:13 G. I am still running without walk breaks, except for a short one at the end of each mile to drink water (which I definitely needed with the 10 am start). I thought to myself “don’t walk in the middle of this mile” but I think you can guess what happened.
  4. Last .14: 9:49 G. I was, quite literally, neck and neck with this older woman coming into the finish chute. Which helped me to push faster. She was 72, it turned out, and I didn’t want her beating me! We crossed at the same exact time.

36:26 — Official Time (36:25 Garmin)
11:44 — Average Pace (11:37 Garmin)
4 out of 7? in my AG
196 out of 236 runners

I’ve run one trail half (which was considerably slower and also much more difficult), and one other trail 5k a couple of years ago. And that one was 42:25. 6 minutes slower!

I don’t really remember if the course at my first trail 5k was that much tougher, but I don’t think it was. It was even a cooler day, I remember that distinctly! I had run a long run (maybe 9 miles?) the day before. I had no idea what that finish time was going into this race, so a much faster finish time was a pleasant surprise.

I wasn’t at all surprised to find myself so far to the BOTP, but was pleasantly surprised to find myself in the middle of the pack for my age group. I think there was about 3 minutes between me and the woman who placed third, so even without that extra walk break the last mile I don’t think I would have placed. No problem, I was extremely surprised to see I came in fourth — when I saw that I actually wondered if there were only four women in my AG, LOL!

Actually, the person who won my AG had a 23:46 time — there are some speedy older trail runners out there!

Even with my Cool It Skirt and towel, and the shade, it was a hot race!

The weather & dressing
A late 10 am start and temps already hovering around 70, it was a hot one even with all the shade. Good practice for my Fourth of July race, which will most likely have similar conditions (but start a little earlier).

There just has to be a story behind this costume, although I never got it. Apparently he is the Race Director’s father.

I wore my Cool It Skirt and Racecation Tank from Skirt Sports. I also wore my cooling scarf, which this time I dosed more thoroughly with water beforehand (last race I didn’t really get it wet enough).

Despite the claims of a very non-technical trail, I  wore my Saucony Peregrines and I’m glad I did. I am willing to bet you that my finish time would have been slower had I worn my regular running shoes.

Was the race well run?
This is such a great family-friendly event. Low key as most trail races are. Races for the kids. I had fun cheering them on as I was sitting on the picnic table before my race! Some of the kids were seriously speedy, too, but they were all so cute.

I had never been to this park but had no trouble finding the race. There was no one directing parking, but it seemed to work out okay. There are real bathrooms (which I always love). Registration was easy, I was happy I could use a credit card, results were posted quickly, there was a nice spread afterwards — and a cookout I didn’t stay for.

The one bone I have to pick is with the description of the trails:

The Dodge the Deer 5K (and Kids Races) are on the safest and most enjoyable trails around. It’s basically an unpaved road with easy footing and no hills. If you think of rocks, roots, and other gnarly things when you think of trail running – you’re thinking of places that aren’t Schodack Island State Park. 🙂

Okay, I guess they weren’t that technical because normally my trail running pace is a lot slower. Still, there were plenty of roots and while it wasn’t super hilly, it definitely wasn’t completely flat either — I guess it was flat as trail races go. I wasn’t the only person who thought this.

One last bone: I don’t really think there’s anything they can do about this, but several people were complaining that there were no water stops. Where would you have put them? I always carry water with me, and I’d even remembered to freeze half the night before so I had cool water the whole race. It might be nice to mention on the Website that there will be no water available during the race, though.

Would I run this race again? If the weather is nice, I absolutely would.

btuesdaytopics

Linking up with Zenaida Arroyo and Kim @ Kookyrunner

This week I am also joining up with Running on Happy, Suzlyfe, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs each week for the Coaches’ Corner linkup

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Delmar Dash Race Recap 4/7/19

I’m not sure what it is about the Delmar Dash that always brings snow with it. The date seems to be always changing — it used to be in March, and I know some of my slower times were due to snow and ice on the road. Thankfully there was no snow on the ground this year, but there was snow and sleet on Friday night.

The upside is it’s a flat and fast 5 miles. This year I noticed that there were quite a few nice/slight downhills in the race.

Packet Pickup
Packet Pickup is in the gym of the school the race finishes at. It’s always easy. The race shirt was again short sleeved and ran large but I prefer larger to too small. It’s was also a nice burgundy color this year.

There are massages before the race, as well as after, although getting both seemed a bit greedy to me so I just stuck with my dynamic warmup. No warmup mile; I knew a 5 mile race would be challenging enough considering my lack of training.

I didn’t bump into Darlene @ Myfirst5k until just before the race.

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“Sprinting” to the finish (photo courtesy of Darlene & yes, I knew she was taking my photo)

My Race Plan
There was no goal, other than to finish feeling decent. I knew it would not feel easy. Heck, most weeks in the last month I barely ran 5 miles total!

So how’d that work for me?

  1. Mile 1: 10:26. Actually faster than last year. I don’t regret it; I knew I’d be running out of steam later in the race. I started near the beginning, as it’s gun time, and I knew most of the runners would be passing me, which they did. Chasing runners helps me to run faster, and in this case I think that was fine.
  2. Mile 2: 10:59. Not too shabby with a walk break around mile 1.5 for water.
  3. Mile 3: 10:48. So the first 5k went pretty well and then . . .
  4. Mile 4: 11:33. . . . Every year I slow down this mile, but I took two walk breaks for water, so that I wouldn’t have to walk my last mile (and I didn’t). However, this is exactly where I lost a potential PR. Oh well, I never really expected one anyway.
  5. Mile 5: 11:03. The longest I’ve run in the last month was 3 miles. No joke. Most runs were maybe 1.5 or 2 miles. At least it was faster than mile 4! The sun had also come out, and yes, I was just a little overdressed; always so hard to figure out those transitional runs between seasons.
  6. Last .04: 10:04. Usually I can sprint way faster than this to the finish. Definitely a lack of endurance due to a lack of training.

55:16 — Official Time
11:04 Average Pace
(my Garmin shows 10:58 for average pace due to the slightly long course)

Previous Years:
2018: 54:36
2016: 55:17
2015: 56:09
2014: 57:37
2011: 57:12

I actually feel I did much better than I had a right to — I knew I was way undertrained going into this race, but I also knew I could do it. My one concern was whether or not it would set me back in my recovery from the lingering whatever I’ve got; I probably feel about 90% right now.

I chose to run the race except with three walk breaks to drink some water — I am a thirsty runner, even though I was very well hydrated pre-race. I was roughly 30 seconds off of my PR. kind of wish I’d pushed just a little harder those last 2 miles after I saw that! I mostly ran by feel. So still having a speedy race (for me) was the cherry on top.

Now would I have chased down that PR using run/walk? We’ll never know. Run/walk intervals have helped me enormously, and I’m not saying I won’t revert back to them at some point. The point of using them from the start, rather than starting when you’re tired, is that they actually will help delay the onset of fatigue. They work great for fueling and taking photos, too.

So what’s up next for me? Dunno!

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Now there’s a look. I would regret the vest by mile 3 . . .

The weather & dressing
This was probably the best weather I have ever had for this race, and I’ve run it six times. Mid 40s. Little wind. Partly cloudy to start, although the sun did peak out around mile 3.

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My “Big Dream” for this race was to finish feeling decent

I went with my Pocketopia Capris, Wonder Wool Long Sleeve top, and Toasty Vest from Skirt Sports. I eventually regretted the vest — I unzipped it almost all the way, but I felt too warm. I know it would have taken me a couple of miles to warm up in just the Wonder Wool Long Sleeve but you finish right in front of the school where you store your stuff so it would have been fine (I just would have been majorly cold at the beginning of the race). I don’t really think it made a difference to my time.

I  wore my blister running shoes from Savannah (read about that race here), as they will now be known. No blister. Not shocking, it was just 5 miles and really nice weather. The shoes are probably coming to the end of their life.

Was the race well run?
Always well run, and this year was no difference. Parking fills up early, so get there early unless you want to hunt for parking. The free massages are always a nice touch. The course is well marked, and there’s ample support on the course. The AG awards were cranberry colored pint glasses — I would’ve loved one, but this races brings out speedy runners: I would have to shave 20 minutes off my finish time — no exaggeration! — to earn one. Never gonna happen!

btuesdaytopics

Linking up with Zenaida Arroyo and Kim @ Kookyrunner

 This week I am also joining up with Running on Happy, Suzlyfe, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs each week for the Coaches’ Corner linkup

coachescorner

Best Damn Race Savannah Half Marathon Race Recap 2/16/19

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I have been looking at half marathons in Savannah forever, it seems. But I’m picky; just ask Mr. Judy. Many of the halfs there are in April — too hot and humid (and maybe rainy)!  Of course sometimes you can catch a break, but no. Just no.

Then Best Damn Races announced they would be doing their first race in Savannah — in February. Two days after my birthday. Sold. Remember, I also ran the inaugural BDR NOLA race (read about that here).

Packet Pickup & Expo
Pickup at Forsyth Park was super easy. I did have to show my license, which I find oddly enough is rare. The goody bag actually had a few goodies in it:

  • Pint Glass. They’d announced this recently so I knew that — love me a pint glass (good for smoothies).
  • A candy from Savannah Candy Kitchen along with a discount for the store.
  • A double package of biscoff cookies. Why? No idea — as far as I can tell there’s no connection to Savannah or GA. I’ve been playing around with shortbread as part of my fuel this training cycle — well, now I have plenty of Biscoff. Except no races. Maybe I should freeze them?

I didn’t even look at the expo, so I don’t know what they had. In NOLA there wasn’t a whole lot. The only downside is that Forsyth Park was a mile and a half from our hotel. Add to that the fact that I wanted to stop at City Market (outdoor shopping area) for some pizza, but had the wrong address, and also met up briefly with another Skirt Sports ambassador . . . let’s just say there was more walking the day before the race than I’d planned on.

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Lots of Skirt Sports hanging out before the start

The weather & dressing
Our first few days in Savannah were downright chilly. Cloudy, mornings in the 30s/40s. Dry. Yup, perfect racing weather. I did my last two training runs and I really wished I’d brought capris with me! I actually began to think I’d brought the wrong outfit for the race. Alas, the weather warmed up on race day. A lot.

Race morning actually seemed pretty good: cloudy, dry, but almost 60. It didn’t feel that humid . . . at the beginning. We were all saying the weather was perfect. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I wore my Skirt Sports Wonder Girl Tank (Skirt Sports Ambassador) and Cool It Skirt  — yes, the exact same outfit I wore in almost all of my halfs last year. The Wonder Girl Tank has the cleavage alley pocket, and after dropping my little tube of Saltstick Chews once, I put it in there — which worked great. I have a tendency to forget to take them, but this made it much easier; since they’re in their own little tube, there was no problem with sweat getting at them.

I went back and forth a lot about whether or not to wear compression socks, but in the end decided against it and am very glad that I did. It heated up quickly (although thankfully stayed cloudy the whole race). It spit rain just a tiny bit here and there, but there was never any real rain (which would have felt nice).

Then there was the whole shoegate fiasco (read about that here). I don’t think that was what caused the blood blister — my guess is it was the brand spanking new pair of Balegas I wore? I have the exact same pair, but new ones were just so clean. They looked so pretty and matched my outfit beautifully. Could they have really caused a blister? I guess we’ll never know.

And what didn’t I wear? My cool it towel! I brought it (just as I brought it to my Ocean City half). I decided not to wear it in both races, and in both races, that was a mistake (especially in OCNJ). Hopefully this time I will learn from my mistakes!

My Race Plan
I didn’t bother to ask Rachel @ Runningonhappy for a race plan — still! Training had been rather odd. I was so slow in the beginning, still feeling niggles, I basically chalked this up for a fun run. Then the niggles got better and my paces got better, and my secret goal was to prove to myself I could do better than 2:30, maybe even PR — without a downhill.

So how’d that work for me?

  • Mile 1:  10:45. It was a crowded start, but also a small race, so I’d moved up between the 2:30 and 2:20 pacers, which probably accounts for the speedy for me pace. Did I start out too fast? Maybe, but I don’t really think I did.
  • Mile 2:  11:12. Narrow streets, very crowded.
  • Mile 3:  11:05. Flat. It took a few miles to find my own space to run.
  • Mile 4:  11:04. Flat.
  • Mile 5:  10:50. Flat.
  • Mile 6:  11:18. I remember we ran under an overpass here, so there was a dip in the road — don’t ask me why I slowed down. Futzing with fuel, no doubt.
  • Mile 7:  11:09. This was a nice — but very narrow — paved running path around Hull Park. There was one girl who was just ahead of me for most of the race, also a run/walker, and she seemed to feel that she could just walk whenever she wanted to without caring what was going on behind her — she would walk on the narrow path instead of getting over onto the sidewalk next to it. Yes, she pissed me off.
  • Mile 8:  11:48. We ran down pass Hull Park, then turned around and ran around the other side of it. Again, not sure why this was a slow mile.
  • Mile 9:  11:34. Flat.
  • Mile 10: 11:58. It was, thankfully, a cloudy day. But by now the temps were getting warm for someone who’d been dealing with polar vortexes a lot. Also a toe on my left foot had begun to hurt — I suspected a blister, even though I am not prone to them and I’d applied anti chafe stuff generously to my feet (and other chafe prone areas — it turned out to be a blood blister and there was no chafing elsewhere).
  • Mile 11: 12:09. Flat.
  • Mile 12: 12:07. Mostly flat, the beginnings of a slight incline that would carry over into the next mile.
  • Mile 13: 12:13. This course is pancake flat, but there is just a very slight incline in this mile. Normally I am ready to be done here and pull out a fast mile. Nope. Now, a word about that 2:30 pacer. In the beginning of the race she was definitely running faster than a 2:30 half — in fact, one girl said she was on track for a 2:15 race and she was running around me. The pacer was actually using run/walk intervals. At some point, though, later in the race, she ended up behind me, which obviously made me think I was going to achieve my goal. She did pass me in this last mile and crossed the finish line pretty much right at 2:30.
  • Last .12: 8:34. I did manage to sprint it to the finish line.

2:30:33 — Official Time
11:30 Average Pace
16 out of 30 in F55-59
216 our of 374 Female Runners
408 out of 599 Runners

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Notice the 2:30 pacer . . . behind me — if only I could’ve kept up this pace later!

So no, I didn’t meet my goal. I’d worked hard to get comfortable being uncomfortable with slightly overdressing my treadmill runs and some outside runs during this training cycle (although it’s hard when it’s super cold!); this worked well for me in NOLA and I guess it did help here, but I still don’t know if I can do better than a 2:30ish half without a downhill.

OTOH, I never had time to acclimate. It was raw and much colder for my other two runs in Savannah: 50 and 39! This half started at 61. While the blister hurt, it wasn’t that bad and I don’t think it effected my race (after the race is a different story!). My half in NOLA was much hotter, much more humid, and there was sun towards the end — yes, it was a little bit slower, but the runs I’d done to acclimate were also in line with what I actually got dealt with on race day.

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The energy was obviously there — the mental power, not so much

Should I have started out slower? I think the short answer is yes, but OTOH, until the second half, my pace was very consistent. I do think that it was the warm day with no chance to acclimate that got to me. That plus the stress of losing Gizmo shortly before the race and probably walking around too much the day before the race — I have to say while I was excited at the start as I always am, my legs felt dead from the start.

Oddly enough I had a rather similar race in Cape Cod — but no blisters — under vastly different weather circumstances! I am only a little disappointed. No real injuries, a decent time for me especially considering the change in weather, and another state added.

Will I be stuck in this finish time area until another breakthrough — or have I peaked? Only time will tell. There are many more states to add!

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That hydration vest is so important to me — and makes me look like my boobs are at my waist, too! Function over form.

Was the race well run?
Best Damn Race puts on great races. If you sign up early enough they are not expensive. Volunteers are enthusiastic. Courses are well marked — in fact the course is the only place they lost points for me — I think it was one of the most boring half courses I’ve ever run. Which is sad, because Savannah is a really lovely city. Luckily we were able to see it on our own.

I use a hydration vest, so I never stopped at an aid station, but as far as I could tell they seemed well stocked (I hope they were for those further back than me). There was still lots of food when I finished — again, hopefully there was for the runners finishing after me. But Dunkin Donuts had run out of chocolate donut holes. 😦

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In my post race daze I kept trying to get the top off of the mini brownies. It was just a sheet of plastic I could easily lift. At least they were worth it!

There was still a nice spread:

  • Donut holes
  • Pizza (there was a small wait, but I am not that hungry immediately following a half and didn’t want pizza at 10:30 in the morning anyway)
  • Candy — there were still mini Snickers! Score!
  • Bananas (they did look rather green, though)
  • Mini brownie bites that were so fudgy and delicious!
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Hurts so good. Yes, it was actually in the 60s. No, it didn’t feel like it after I stopped running.

There’s beer, too, of course, but I don’t drink and although I had my wrist band to give away, I just totally forgot about it. There are also free massages, and they take their time with you, which obviously meant a wait, but it was well worth it. It was more of a sports massage — in fact, my calves were actually killing me afterwards because she used deep pressure — yes, I had some black and blue marks, but I bruise easily. I did think about telling her to ease up on the pressure, but I figured I probably needed it and they did feel a lot better the next day (as did my blister, thankfully).

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The meetups make the race so much more fun!

Positives:

  1. Best Damn Races are so well organized
  2. A goody bag with actual goodies!
  3. A pint glass
  4. A cloudy day — I’m pretty sure my time would have suffered a lot more if it had been sunny
  5. Free photos (up quickly)
  6. Free massages
  7. Meeting up with some Skirt Sisters
  8. Meeting up with Karen @ Runningfifty
  9. Plenty of food at the finish line

Of course no race is perfect. The downsides:

  1. Much warmer than the rest of our stay in Savannah
  2. The course — it really did not showcase Savannah at all
  3. My first blister in a race
  4. This is not a huge negative, but BDR NOLA used a drawstring bag for the goody bag & I use it all the time; I was looking forward to a new one but this goody bag was a canvas shopping bag

What I learned
Nothing new on race day. Nothing new on race day. I’m usually pretty good about this, and the one other time I did it (BDR NOLA, oddly enough), it worked out just fine. I’ll never really know why I got the blister, and it may have nothing to do with the new socks, but were they worth it? Probably not.

Double check addresses. I had the wrong address for one of the places I wanted to stop at on the way to packet pickup — I spent far too much time on my feet looking in the wrong place. Totally my bad.

These aren’t things I learned, but rather things I knew and this trip just hammered it home for me:

  • I totally prefer to put my vacation before the race. Almost every runner I know is the other way around. You never know how you’re going to feel after a race. If you end up injured (it can happen!), then the rest of your vacation is going to suck. Sure, you can also injure yourself before the race, and that would totally suck, too, but at least you’d still have a vacation.
  • Leave yourself a little wiggle room to get there. We left in one heck of a snowstorm — we really weren’t sure we’d make it out of here (thank goodness we did). We left on a Tuesday and the race was Saturday. If we’d left on Wednesday, as we’d originally planned, I’m not sure we would have made it. We would still have had enough time to get there before the race even so (although our vacation would have suffered). This also gives you time to acclimate to different weather. It was just unfortunate for me that race day weather was quite different from the days leading up to it.
  • The Cool It Towel helps. Worse comes to worse, you can stash it in a pocket. Wear the damn thing if it’s hot!

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Linking up with Zenaida Arroyo and Kim @ Kookyrunner

This week I am also joining up with Running on Happy, Suzlyfe, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs each week for the Coaches’ Corner linkup

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