Category Archives: running

Team Devil Horns Takes on the Quad Cities: A race report

This past Sunday, some friends and I ran the Quad Cities Marathon Relay.  For those of you out-of-staters, the Quad Cities are: Moline and Rock Island, IL and Davenport and Bettendorf, Iowa.   (Oh, who am I kidding… I had to look that up. I’m from Illinois and I had no clue.)

A few highlights:

  • Packet pick up/pre-race went pretty smoothly. A nice local lady recommended the Blue Cat Brew Pub in Rock Island for dinner. The food was great, but the service was terrible. I was the only one brave enough to try the beer and it was just okay. I’d definitely go back and try some of their other selections some time.
  • The Quad Cities are a LOT nicer than I expected. I guess I didn’t know what to expect, but they had really cute shops, a quaint downtown area, etc. Definitely worth a visit.
  • Race day weather was *perfect*– it was a little chilly at the start and I got goose bumps when I was waiting at the relay exchange zone, but it was perfect for running. Sunny and about 67 or so.
  • The course was breathtakingly beautiful– It was a 5 person relay and 4 of us had scenic routes. There were 3 bridges and 4 towns. One of my teammates got to run on the Interstate bridge from IL to Iowa. Most of the routes ran along the river and it was just a picture-perfect fall day.
  • I’d never run a relay before, so I was a little apprehensive about getting from one leg to another and making sure we didn’t “miss” one another. Luckily, they had a well-organized shuttle system to transport runners from the start/finish line to their legs. My exchange zone happened to be 1 block away from our hotel. I could’ve walked there, but I wasn’t familiar enough with the area, so I rode the bus from the start/finish line and waited for about an hour.
  • My leg was the middle leg, so I wasn’t able to watch any of the other exchanges, but we didn’t get lost and no one had to run an extra leg because the next runner wasn’t there. Definite plus in my book.
  • The exchange zones themselves were well-run. There was a volunteer with a bullhorn yelling out bib numbers so you didn’t have to worry about missing the exchange. Each relay exchange was well-stocked with water and snacks, too.
  • Speaking of snacks—this race went above and beyond in the amenities department. In addition to the usual water/Gatorade/Gu, they had oranges, bananas, cold sponges and even Vaseline on the course. Which made for a *really* funny story when one of my teammates mistook the Vaseline for Gu.
  • As far as the actual running, it went pretty well. I haven’t really been training and the last two races I’ve entered have been disastrous (think: walking during a 5K). My leg was 5.6 miles and my *only* goal was to finish without walking… which I did.
  • The course I ran was scenic and uneventful for the most part. I ran from Rock Island (which isn’t an island) to Arsenal Island (which is). It’s also—according to Wikipedia the largest government-owned weapons manufacturing arsenal in the United States. (which explains the COUNTLESS volunteers in uniform—HEL-lo!!). The last mile and a half or so were along a scenic river path. I had studied the map prior to the race but forgot to pay attention to the mile markers, so when I got towards the end I was having a hard time calculating how much further I had to go.
  • I’ve never run on the second half of a marathon course before and I have to say—it’s different. The only people on the course were uber-fit marathoners and relay participants. So, for the most part I felt like I was running a training run. A training run with occasional snacks, a cold sponge and a gorgeous view of the river!
  • There was very little crowd support, at least during my leg. It didn’t really bother me because I only had 5.6 miles to go, but I think if I was running the half (or the full) I’d probably appreciate a little more crowd support.  But maybe my expectations were too high from my experience running the Illinois Half-Marathon in my hometown.  The volunteers were super nice as was almost everyone we met in the Quad Cities. Good folks, they are.
  • The race was definitely good for relay teams– there was a designated relay meet-up spot where we met our last teammate and we all ran in together. We each got medals and nice tech running shirts. No lame-o cotton t-shirts for this relay team.
  • After the race, we had our complimentary beers (Miller Light) and headed home. Everyone was raving about the course and the weather. Well, everyone except Bobbi who ran the last leg. It was a brutal out-and-back with no river view. She wasn’t impressed, but I can’t imagine how it must have felt for the marathoners to have to do that in the last miles of 26.2.
  •  I think the only *real* complaint we had about the race is that it is gun-timed and there are no splits for individual runners. I ran with my phone and my RunKeeper ap, so I know how fast I ran, but no one else does. And since our team started near the back, we don’t have accurate timing. Again, the scenery and “intimate” feel of the race definitely make up for this, but it sure would be nice to have more accurate timing
  • I’ve totally re-caught the running bug and wonder how much better I could’ve done had I actually *trained* properly for this race.  However, it taught me a valuable lesson:  It seems as though I’m more motivated by successes than failures.   I thought the last two botched races would be the “wake up” call I needed to get me running again.  Turns out, running *well* is what I needed to get going.  Running well, great friends, beautiful scenery, and a perfect day!

If you’re looking for a small(ish) fall race, I highly recommend trying it out. We are definitely going back next year and some of us are thinking of running the half. They also have a 5K and a 1 mi fun run for the kids. I really can’t say enough good things about this race and the Quad Cities in general.

And, now for the pictures:

Me flashing the Devil Horns at the finish line. (I hope to use this one day as a "before" picture)

Erin, Bobbi, and I on our way to the finish

Team Devil Horns Finishes together

Celebratory post-race beer!

SWAG

Metal

Updates

Derby updates: Derby is pretty much consuming my life.

  • We drafted a 3rd team, the Damagin’ Dames and got 2 great new players on our team.
  • Our league is now a WFTDA Apprentice League.  This is a big deal for a 7-month old league.
  • We had our first intra-league scrimmage vs. the newbies from the Circle City Socialites We WON!   This is a super big deal for a bunch of people who had never really skated together and had zero idea what we were getting ourselves into.
  • I bruised (and then re-bruised) my tailbone at the scrimmage.  I also fell and bruised my hand pretty bad, but I’m okay. No serious injuries to report.  Just a blow to the ego.
  • We formed a  travel team.  I made the 20-skater roster. Our first practice was this past weekend and it was TOUGH, but fun. 
  • The first travel team bout is August 21 vs. The St. Chux Derby Chix (I’m in love with their logo).  Only 14 out of the 20 players will dress, but I’ll be there whether I skate or not. 
  • Our next home bout is August 27 at the Savoy Rec Center.  It’s my team (The ‘Paign) vs. the newly-formed Damagin’ Dames.  I’ll let you know when tickets go on sale.  I may or may not be skating.

Running updates:  not much to report, since I’m not really running these days.

  • I skipped a 5K last weekend due to my tailbone issues/lack of training.
  • I’m signed up for the Run 4 Raley August 7.  I should probably do some training so I don’t have a repeat of my last 5K debacle.

Life updates: you know, the stuff that *isn’t* running or derby

  • I was without a washing machine for a week and a half.   Mine broke and it took a while to get a new one.  We got a top loader w/o an agitator.  It makes weird noises, but at least I can wash my clothes.  Too bad the laundry *still* isn’t caught up.
  • Our Annual girls’ boat trip was a couple weekends ago. I took exactly one picture, which isn’t postable. 
  • Kim’s wedding was this past weekend.  She looked amazing.  It was a super fun time.  I have *slightly* more pictures of this event. I’m not my usual camera-happy self these days.
  • There’s a reason work is called “work.”   I’ll leave it at that.
  • I’m going to SoIL this weekend to visit my brother, sister-in-law, and niece.  It’s been waaayyy too long since I’ve seen them.
  • Maybe I’ll take a book. I think I’ve finished TWO books all year.  I’m sadly behind on my reading.

Blog updates

  • As you’ve probably noticed, I’m not blogging much these days.  I’d make a bunch of excuses, but the truth is– I don’t really enjoy it anymore.   I feel like there are plenty of other ways to track what I’m doing and the blog seems redundant.
  • However, I’ve referred to blog posts REGULARLY to remember what I’ve done.   So maybe I’ll continue posting “big” events.
  • Or maybe not.

Humble Pie: Kracker Classic 5K Race Report

I ran the Kracker Klassic 5K this weekend in my hometown (there is no link–that’s how small this race is!).   I was actually kind of excited to run this one because the race used to run by my house as a child and we always had a water station set up in our front yard.    Since it was a hometown race, I knew the route would be boring, but I’d see a lot of people I knew there*. 

I think this is my 6th 5K, so I should be fairly used to them by now, right?   Uh… No.  I FAILed miserably.   There are all kinds of excuses for why this happened:  heat, humidity, strength training the day before,…. etc., etc. 

But the bottom line is this:  I haven’t really been running consistently for months.  I thought it would be no problem to do “just a 5K.”  The morning of the race, I wasn’t really feeling it.  And I hadn’t pre-registered so I seriously considered skipping it, but I was kinda hoping to validate my surprise PR from last month.   I figured if I could finish under 32:00 I’d have an “official” PR to report.  No dice.  

My time was 34:5x, barely under 35 and almost a full 3 mins slower than last time.   This is my 3rd worst 5K time ever.  I ran better hungover for crying out loud!   I even took walk breaks. . .   in a 5K!   I ran a half marathon, damn it, I should be able to eek out 3 measly miles.   But I didn’t. 

The running gods have served me a piece of humble pie and I’m eating it.  I ran this morning with a renewed sense of purpose. I will NOT let heat/humidity keep me from training anymore. I *must* improve my times.  Otherwise, all that hard work for the half seems all for nothing.  I don’t even feel like a “real” runner right now.   

——-

* I did see a lot of people I knew there, which ended up being more intimidating than I originally thought.  However, because it was a small hometown race, I actually knew a lot of the winners, which was super cool.

Foto Friday: Warrior Dash x2

I actually had a completely different post planned for today, but then I got an email that the professional pictures from Warrior Dash were up.   I was stoked that they were even able to read my bib # for some of these.   I haven’t *quite* finished looking through the “lost and found” pics to see if I can find myself diving into mud.   Rest assured that if I do, part 3 will be on the way!

Charging the Hills

Navigating a mud slide

Jumping over fire!

And again (This is my fave. I might have to purchase)

Apparently my dismount is less-than-graceful!

I am a Warrior!

This past weekend, I participated in the Warrior Dash Midwest, a 5K (ish) trail run with 12 obstacles thrown in for good measure.   I “ran” it with my friend NIkki, but–to be honest– we did a fair share of walking, so I consider it more of a fun run than a race.  Potatoes, pot-ah-toes.

The Warrior Dash is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced… and I had no clue what to expect.  I hadn’t really trained for it and was a little nervous about the obstacles. Our heat started at 10:30 and it was already SUPER hot and sunny.   But, my lord, it was SO MUCH FUN.    We jumped over cars, crawled through tunnels, scaled walls, climbed up cargo nets, jumped over fire, etc.

And then there was the mud!  There were a total of 3 mud obstacles, but–as always– they saved the best for last.  After the fire jump, you have to crawl under barbed wire in a HUGE mud pit.  As soon as I came up to the pit, I hear the crowd chanting “Dive. Dive. Dive.”   So I dove.   I got mud in my eyes… in my ears… in my nose… everywhere.  It was sooo much fun.

The after-party was the best part… lots of nice people gave us their free beer coupons and we had a great time conversing with other Warriors.   The bling was pretty nice, too:  A standard cotton tshirt, a cool medal, and–wait for it– a warrior helmet!!  Can’t get much better than that.

On to the pictures (many of which were “borrowed” from other people’s facebook pages…)

I was most intimidated by the cargo net

The hay bales were much easier than I expected. More like "hay steps"

The fire jump was FUN... much higher than anticipated

The Army crawl throuh mud was definitely the most fun!

Correction: The afterparty was the best part!

Beer!!

Costumes!

Mud!

New friends! (this lady was clean when she started. Then her kids hugged her. We wanted our picture taken with "the mom")

Bling!

There was mud everywhere…

On our shoes

On my legs (note the pieces of hay/straw stuck on them, too!)

On my face

In my ear

on my camera

and my bag

We finally got hosed off by one of these...

but only managed to get *kinda* clean (and a LOT sun burnt for me)

In the end, I finished in about 46 minutes.  I’m not at all concerned about the time, though. It was SO.MUCH.FUN.  We’re already thinking of what we’re going to do next year!

How to PR a 5K

3-5 months prior

1 month prior

  • Casually mention race to your boyfriend.  Suggest that you run the 10K relay as a twosome.   Subtly infer that you will beat him.

2 weeks prior

  • Run your first half marathon.  Live to tell (and write) about it.
  • Decide that the twosome is a dumb idea.  Tell boyfriend it won’t work out for scheduling reasons.
  • Have boyfriend convince you to re-consider.  Confirm with him that he’s serious. 
  • Sign up both the bf and  yourself for the race.  Realize there’s no turning back.
  • Convince some friends to sign up.

The week before

  • Run exactly twice.   For no more than 3 miles.  Call it “speedwork” even though you’re going at an 11:30 pace.

The day before

  • Remind your friends to hydrate. 
  • Drink lots of coffee.
  • Fail to hydrate yourself.

The night before

  • Go out for happy hour.  Have approximately 5 beers.  Fail to eat dinner.
  • Get greasy drive through burger, fries, and mozerella sticks approximately 10:30 p.m.
  • Go to another bar and have 2 more beers.
  • Wait up for the boyfriend to get home.
  • Go to bed around 2:30 a.m.
  • Toss and turn all night.

The day of the race

  • Get up at 8 a.m. with a MAXIMUM of 3 straight hours of sleep.
  • Attempt to hydrate.  Take some Tylenol.  Let the dog out.  Will the room to stop spinning.
  • Fail to find armband for the iPhone.  Decide this run doesn’t need to be documented.
  • Get the bf up at 8:30.  Calmly mention the race starts at 9:00.
  • Drive to race site.  Listen to boyfriend complain about agreeing to sign up.
  • Arrive at 8:45.  Find friends.  Give boyfriend keys.  Make way to starting line.

During race

  • Start the first quarter mile or so with super-speedy friend.  The one who just had a baby and still runs WAY faster than you. Begin to eat her dust as she pulls out ahead.
  • Realize that although the course is a boring loop you’ve run three times before, it’s not so bad.
  • Pass Mile one.  Get time.  10:12.  Not bad.
  • Pass the halfway point.  Hear people yell your name.  Realize it’s not the boyfriend. Momentarily worry that he has actually fallen asleep on the ground somewhere.
  • Pass Mile two.  Get time.  21:00.  Not bad at all.  Feel PR coming.
  • Decide that if you push it you can get in under 30:00
  • Feel a teeny bit pukey.  Decide that 30 is maybe pushing it a bit.
  • Near the hill at the end.  Realize you’re almost there.  See your super-speedy friend who has already finished.
  • Receive encouragement from a lady in a sports bra and biker shorts as you charge up the hill at the end.
  • Pass off your baton (aka tongue depressor) to the boyfriend.   Ask for your time.
  • Feel vaguely like puking.  But hold it in.
  • Do not receive a time.   Ask for it again.
  • Hear some random person say 32.  
  • Realize that this is almost a 3 minute PR.  Continue to hold back puking.

Post-race

  • Grab some water and wait for your friends who are running the open 5K to finish.
  • Remember (too late) that they finish at a different spot.
  • Meet up with friends to wait for the boyfriend to finish.
  • Curse the fact that you didn’t look at your watch at the beginning.  Nor did you have your phone/RunKeeper.
  • Get in trouble for ogling a good-looking roofer.
  • Respond “no” when someone asks if that’s the boyfriend coming towards the finish line.
  • Realize that you do not recognize your own boyfriend when he’s running.
  • Cheer boyfriend on as he crosses the finish line.  Offer water and cookie that are respectfully declined.
  • Ask boyfriend what the final time was. 
  • Do the math in your head.
  • Lament the fact that said boyfriend, who is not a runner, and hasn’t trained ONE MINUTE for this race has beaten you. 
  • Listen as boyfriend describes excruciating pain he’s in and states that he’s never doing anything like it again.
  • Go to derby practice and revel in the fact that he will be unable to walk the next day.

That, my friends, is a sure-fire way to break your 5K PR.  It’s *technically* my 3rd PR in 6 weeks (the other two were default PRs since they were new distances), but I don’t have official results since only the relay is timed.   I’m 100% confident I could’ve broken 30 if I hadn’t been hungover, sleep deprived, and just a teeny bit bored.

13.1 @ 31: Illinois Half Marathon Race Report

Wow… I’ve read so many race reports and now that it’s time to write one of my own, I’m not sure where to start.   First things first, I guess:  I ran the 2nd Annual Illinois Half Marathon on Saturday.  I finished in 2:40:27. Not my goal time.  Not even my expected finish time.  But, truth be told:  I’m not upset.   It was soooooooooooooooooooooo much fun!

The shirt:

I had the idea of putting “Half Virgin” on my shirt for a while .   When I got involved with roller derby, I knew I wanted to represent the team somehow.  Thus the “all derby girl” was born.   I went to Kim’s the night before and she helped me fashion my shirt out of iron-on letters and transfer paper. I think it turned out pretty well!

Half Virgin. You know, cuz it's my first time!

It was great having people yell "GO Derby Girl" at me.

Pre-race

Race day weather was less-than-ideal.  Most people were worried about the possibility of rain and wind.  Honestly, I would’ve rather had rain than the 92%-94% humidity we had at the start of the race.  At least it was overcast and the sun wasn’t beating down on us the whole time.

I was pretty nervous.  Pre-race anxiety hit me hard on Thursday and Friday.  But, for some reason, on race day I was calm. About a week before the race, I decided to run with Angela.  She and I were at about the same pace and we thought it would be good to have a buddy.  I attribute my lack of nerves to her being there.  Thanks, Ang.

Start to Mile 4

I was up early and got down to the finish line about 6:30. The 5K started at 7:00 and I wanted to cheer on Kim and Lindsey who decided to run the 5K at the last minute.  After they took off on their race, Angela and I took the requisite trip to the porta-potties and lined up behind the 2:30:00 or less sign.  We had both decided that 2:30 was about our goal pace.  And I told  bunches of people that’s where I expected to finish, even though my super-secret goal was to come in around 2:20.  After the prayer, National Anthem, etc. we were off. It took about 7 mins to cross the start line.  I started my RunKeeper app on my phone, but didn’t think to look at my watch.  D’oh.

I was having so much I didn’t even bother to turn on my music.  I was taking in the sights and just generally enjoying myself.   The excitement at the start was palpable.  Since we were back with the “slower” people, I didn’t really have to do much zig-zagging for position– a HUGE improvement over the 5K last year where I felt like I spent the whole first mile jockeying for position.  No walkers to contend with here.

I was talking to people around me and trying to find people I knew in the crowd.  When we turned on to Green St I said to Angela: “This is going to be fun!”  It was, but it was less crowded than I remembered. I spotted a few people I knew, though… so that was fun.  I skipped the first couple of water stops.   Somewhere around Mile 2, I lost Angela.  She stopped for water, and told me to go on.   It was great to have her there, but I’m happy we decided to run our own races.

Mile 4 goes right by my house and I was so happy when I saw my mom and boyfriend standing on the corner… with my dog!  They snapped a few pics and I was on my way!

flashing the devil horns at Mile 4

Me and my running buddies headed towards Stone Creek

Miles 4-8

The next few miles flew by. I was having such a good time… chatting with runners, looking for people I knew, cheering on the fans (more on this later).  It was like running through my hometown with a few thousand of my closest friends.  I really didn’t even “feel” it.  Yeah, it was muggy.  And when the sun finally came out, it was HOT.  But a little sweat never hurt anyone!  I took some Gatorade at the water station and just kept on trucking.   I saw my mom again right before we went into Meadowbrook Park at Mile 8.   She snapped a couple more photos and I introduced her to my new “friends.”  I made lots of new friends that day!

Waving to my mom at Mile 8. Hot, but still feeling good.

Miles 8-10

This is where I started to “feel it.”  I wouldn’t say it fell apart here, but the heat, humidity, and sun were definitely taking their toll on me.  Plus, it was a fairly boring and un-spectated part of the course (curiously enough, I LOVE running through the park during training runs, but it was boring for me on race day.  hmmm..)  I turned on my iPod at about 8.5 in an attempt to fend off the boredom.  It was about this time that I started thinking about walking.  There were plenty of people who had taken walk breaks already.  And my original plans called for walk breaks at Mile 6 and 10, but I hadn’t taken one yet.    By the time we hit the aid station at Mile 10, I was spent.  Not so much tired, but DONE.  I knew it was just 3 miles and I tried telling myself that I could run a 5K, but it wasn’t working.

Miles 10-12

These were the roughest miles for me.  I took more walk breaks than I’d like to admit, but my walk was faster than many of the runners around me, so I was okay.  It was also when I started to realize that I wasn’t going to make my 2:30 goal.  I wasn’t 100% sure what time I crossed the start line, but I could see it slipping away.  At this point, all I could think about was finishing.  I would walk-run-shuffle-walk-run-shuffle as much as I could.   At Mile 11, I saw my friend Kim.  She was waiting for me with a sign and jumped in and ran with me for a few blocks– it was awesome!!

Miles 12-13.1

At the 12 mile mark, I knew the end was in sight. I was bound and determined to run the last mile, although–honestly– I think I would’ve been faster with a few walk breaks.  The race ends on the 50 yard line of Memorial Stadium (where the Fighting Illini play).  Last year in the 5K, we had to run all the way AROUND the field before going to the finish.  Luckily, that wasn’t the case in this year’s  half or full.  As soon as I saw the tunnel to enter the stadium, I knew I was home free.  I dug deep and SPRINTED to the finish.   I DID IT!!!

I'm a half-marathoner!!

Post-race

I was in a bit of a daze immediately after the race.   My friend Nikki (who qualified for Boston last year and ran it this year) met me at the finish line and some of my other friends watched me finish from the stands.  My mom was there, too, and snapped a few photos.   I stuck around for a bit and watched Angela finish as well as my friend Erin finish the relay.  It was so fun for me to stand there in the finishing “chute” and yell encouragement at the runners.   Running a race like this really makes you appreciate the spectators and volunteers.

Kim & I post race-- she helped make my shirt, made me a sign, met me at Mile 11, came to the finish AND ran her first 5K that day. Goooo Keem!

Kim, Erin, and I post-race. We're already thinking about doing a relay in September!

After Erin finished and everyone dispersed, I grabbed some food and walked to my car.  Parking/driving was really easy for me, but I heard others had a hard time getting around.   I took a bath and we went out for a late lunch (apparently you can eat 2 lunches when you’ve just run a half marathon!).  I had HORRIBLE stomach pains all day.  I’ve never had any GI issues while running before, so I thought I was immune to them.  Guess not.  I’m blaming the Gatorade, cuz it was the only “foreign” thing I’d had that day.

I was a little sore the next day, but nothing major. I even went to skate practice, which–in retrospect– was a bad idea.  My quads are killing me today (Monday– 2 days later).  I also think I’m going to lose a toenail.  HARD CORE!

The swag: short sleeve tech tee, medal and cinch bag!

Some miscellaneous thoughts:

  • Although I thought the race was really well organized,  the lack of water stops in the “middle miles” was  a bit of a concern.  By the time we hit the aid station after Meadowbrook, *everyone* needed it.   It felt like there were too many stops early on and not enough later in the race.
  • The crowd support was good and I enjoyed seeing people I knew on the course.  More often than not, though, I was yelling *their* names, not the other way around. I guess that’s what happens when you see thousands of people run by you.  I saw so many people I knew though, so it was cool.
  • In the same vein, I found myself cheering on the spectators, not vise versa.  I think by the time us slowpokes came by, they were bored of clapping. But I found that a quick “woo-hoo” would pep up the crowd a bit.  Which, in turn, pepped up the runners.
  • If you’re wondering how often I did this… apparently enough for one runner to ask me if I was a former cheerleader!  Hey, anything to keep myself going!
  • I also really enjoyed reading all the race signs and t-shirts.   There was a group of ladies who had “I’ll finish… eventually” on the backs of their shirts.  And another group had “friends don’t let friends run alone” which I thought was cute.
  • During the hellish Meadowbrook section, there was a trio of women who *had* to be sisters… and they were bickering the whole time.  It was both funny and annoying.  That was right before I put in my headphones!
  • I really felt GOOD during this race and I had so much FUN. I didn’t expect it to be fun. I expected the feeling of accomplishment at the end, but I wasn’t prepared for the actual JOY of running.  Nice surprise.
  • It’s probably because of how great I felt that I wasn’t more concerned about time.   My 10K time was 2 mins slower than the 10K I ran a couple of weeks ago.  And I was really disappointed then.   I know I could’ve broken 2:30, but I guess the old adage is true:  The first one really is just about finishing.
  • As much fun as I had, I really think some longer runs in training would’ve helped.  Not so much for “confidence” as I previously thought… but just to get me prepared. I don’t think I actually hit a wall, per se, but I think a couple of 11 or 12 milers under my belt would’ve helped in those last miles.
  • Everyone says that the crowd motivates you and helps you go farther than you’ve been in the past.  I think that’s true.  Unfortunately for me, the crowd “moving” me really only helps in the very beginning and the VERY end.
  • Although I had some pre-race jitters, I felt really relaxed for the whole run. I think that’s why I had so much fun.
  • Lastly (yes, this is a book)… I can’t express how much everyone’s support meant to me.  From calls and texts to comments on facebook and this blog, it’s been amazing. I heart runners and I heart running and I’m still on a bit of a race high.

Are you ready??

As the Illinois Marathon (and half-marathon…which I’m running)quickly approaches, I’ve been getting the same question over and over:  Are you ready??

Truth is:  I’m not.   Although I’ve been training since mid-January (I’ll have to look up the exact date), I don’t feel ready.  

I’d like to tell myself to “trust in my training,”  but I don’t feel like I’ve had the most successful training cycle– I missed a couple long runs, shortened some of my mid-week runs and haven’t really felt on for a while now.   Many of my long runs start off strong and then peter out near the end.    Even some of the shorter ones have been less-than-stellar. 

I’ve been running 3 or so times a week and getting plenty of cross-training via derby, but I just don’t feel ready.   Although I still enjoy running, I enjoy derby more and have been focusing a lot of my time on that the last few weeks (more on derby later, I promise!)

By now, I had hoped to be up to the full 13 miles, but I’m not.  I did “10” last weekend.  I put 10 in quotes because it was technically just 9.58… and I took a 2-min walk break at mile 6 and slowed down for some stop lights.  This is analagous to the advice they give about slowing down/walking through water stops, but I think I’d be much more confident if I had a full 10 mi of RUNNING under my belt.   

I’d hoped that by running a 10K a couple weeks ago, it would decrease my race anxiety… but I think it only made it worse.  There’s NO REASON for me to take walk breaks in a 6 mi run, yet I did.   I hope I don’t give up that early in the half.    I’d like to finish in a respectable time (right now, “respectable” is looking like 2:30:00… sad, I know!), but I dont’ want to get so hung up on time that I psyche myself out.

I don’t want to waste all of these weeks of training by burning out in the end, so I’m hoping for a few solid runs this week and I’m going to try 13 on Sunday– even if I have to take some scheduled walk breaks. 

So much of running is mental and I know if I let the “what if’s” into my head, I’ll be DOA.  But with my recent setbacks, it’s hard to keep them at bay.   I’m hoping I’ll get a little push from the race day adrenaline… and so far the forecast seems doable.  But my nerves are definitely cranked up to 11 for this one. 

I MUST do this…  Wish me luck!  

(Just don’t tell me that I’ll do “fine.”  I’ve heard that so many times and it’s about to make me pull my hair out!)

First 10K– an automatic PR!

I ran the Safe Kids 10K on Saturday.  I finished in 1:10:45, which is an 11:24 min/mile pace.  I’m not especially happy with my performance (see below), but I’m glad I did it.

Positive:  I finished.  My pace was comparable to my training runs.
Negative: I should have finished faster.  I lost my confidence and took too many walk breaks (really any walk break in a 10K is too many for me.  I’ve run 6 mi without stopping numerous times).

Positive:  I was surprised to see two of the Derby Girls out on the course.  One was running the 10K and I tried to keep her in my sight as long as possible.   The other one *smoked* by me in the 5K! 
Negative:  The course itself was BORING– a 4 lap loop around a local park. I’ve run it as a 5K and it wasn’t so bad, but by the 3rd lap, I was sick of seeing the same sights.  

Positive:  I *smashed* my previous 5K record by over 2 mins
Negative:  I started out too fast and paid for it in the end (see above re: walk breaks)

Positive:  I got much-needed race experience before the half-marathon (<3 weeks away…yikes!)
Negative:  The race was really small and I never really “ran my own race.” Instead, I tried too hard to keep up with other runners (I did not want to come in last!)

Positive:  This race made me realize how much I need a “race plan” for the half.
Negative:  I’m not really sure what that plan should be.   All through my training, I’ve been thinking I’d just run as far as I can before stopping.  I’m now thinking maybe I should schedule in some walk breaks so they’re not so defeating if I take them at the end.  When/where should I take them?  I’m thinking maybe miles 6 and 10?  

A few other random gripes:

  • I forgot my watch and my RunKeeper app crapped out on me again.  IF I continue running after the half, I may need to upgrade or invest in a Garmin.  But I don’t know how much more running I’m going to do.
  • At the end of the 2nd lap, another runner comes up behind me and says: “You can do it… We’re almost done” to which I replied: “No, honey, I’ve got two more laps to go.”   She said: “Oh, 10K?  Good for you. I’m impressed.”     Not really sure what that means as I was starting to struggle by that point.   Thanks for the motivation, lady!
  • After my 3rd lap, I was really struggling.  The clock read 51:xx:xx.   One of the volunteers tried to point me towards the finishing chute.  Once again I had to say: “Sorry, I’m not done yet.”    Ugh.  Talk about motivation-killer!

Thank Goodness

First things first– I got my 9 miler in this weekend. Yay!  Thanks for all your words of encouragement.  

I was a bit nervous about the run, but I did a few things that I think helped get me out of the funk:

  • I set out to run for time, not distance.  I didn’t even look at the map before I left.  I just put on my watch and said I wasn’t stopping for two hours.
  • I ran a different route including parts of the half-marathon race route that I’d never run before.
  • I switched directions. (I usually run in a counter-clockwise loop from my house. This time I went clockwise)
  • I made a new “long run” playlist for my iPod.
  • I slowed down… WAY down.  Someone commented that I should just jog or shuffle when I get tired.  My run = jog and my jog = shuffle.  I was slow, but I knew I could get the miles in.
  • I ran in the morning, which I usually prefer, but haven’t been able to do lately.

It was one of the best runs I’ve ever had.   The weather was perfect (for me)– a little cool at the beginning, overcast and breezy, but not windy.  The first hour literally flew by– I was running through unfamiliar territory and just soaking in my surroundings. I was smiling as other runners passed by, completely taking in the experience.  

At about mile 7, I was certain that I could run 10.  I was even composing the “double-digit” status update in my head.  At about Mile 8, I was back in my neighborhood and I knew how much further I’d have to run.  This kinda set me back, but I wasn’t stopping until I was I was 100% certain I’d run 9 miles. 

I ran for almost 2 hours and then stopped about a mile from home to cool down.   When I stopped to check my RunKeeper app for my phone I was muy disappointed–  it didn’t work :( I have no data from the run and I ran through some “unchartable” areas, so I don’t  have completely accurate data on my run.   My best guess is 9.1 miles (which I think is conservative) in 1:51.   I missed my goal of running for 2 hours, but I made my mileage for the week and I feel great about it. 

I also passed a rabbit statue in the park and a dead bunny on the side of the road, which I thought was uber-appropriate for an Easter  run!