10k’s are hard…but worth it!

There is such a major difference between running and racing. Like, I run marathons…but I race 5k’s and 10k’s.

Honestly? It’s almost easier running marathons. lol I just start easy and try to stay there. 🙂

5k’s aren’t so bad. It’s just going as fast as you possibly can for 3.1 miles. But 10k’s? They require a little strategy. Because I can’t just go as fast as I possibly can for 6.2 miles. I run outta steam around mile 4.5 if I try that.

This weekend I ran my second 10k within a month – the Narragansett Summer Running Festival 10k.

It’s a great little race that’s part of a whole weekend – 5k & 10k Saturday, 13.1 on Sunday and beer, music & food after all of them. The shorter races are on a college campus – so no traffic and some pretty scenery.

When I ran the BAA 10k at the end of June I went in with no expectations. I wasn’t trying to get a PR and so it was a delightful surprise when I did. But that actually put the pressure on for this weekend. What could I accomplish if I tried?

The weather was gorgeous at 6am. But the race? It didn’t start until 8:30. And it got a little warmer and sunnier. But I was dressed for the heat…and prepared. <<
d as I waited to start and watched the 5k finishers come through looking hot and tired, I started to psych myself out.

I decided I would just seed myself with the 9 minute milers, go out fast with them and then just see what happens.

The 10k was a double loop of the 5k course. Which I actually liked, because it meant I could strategize in the second half – knowing where the water stop was, where the sprinklers were, and when I could push or hold back.

We took off, and I almost felt like an elite just sliding into a pack, staying with this group of women and letting them set the pace. It felt fast, but not "struggle fast" and when my watch beeped mile 1 I dared a glance. 9:10. Perfect!!

We cruised along and I let them go, dropping back a little because I know my habit of speeding up too much in my second mile would hurt me later and I wanted to try not to. Plus, it was nice having a little more room to run.

Mile 2 came as a 9:02. Okay, a little faster but not hideously so.

Mile 3 was the pretty mile, but also the hilly and narrower mile. I got boxed in a couple times, but chose to not try to get around. Instead I used it as a chance to cruise for a few seconds and catch my breath. Mile 3 was slower than the first 2, a 9:19. But still where I needed to be for a PR.

We hit the split for the second half and cruised down a great hill. Than back onto the gravel and grass section. Which I am apparently faster on. I think it's because I focus more on my feet and the ground. Because mile 4? Back to a 9:08.

Here, with 2 miles left I started "runner math". Trying to calculate the pace I needed to PR and if I could slow down. Because I was hitting a wall. I started being more aware of the tangents and trying to run efficiently.

As I neared the next water stop, I made a choice to risk the few seconds to take water. I was afraid if I didn't, I might pay for it the final mile. It's like, spend that time now, or spend it later. Plus I was SO hot! Tho I reminded myself, it was way hotter on July 3rd and I managed to survive that 5k. This, was nowhere hear as bad.

I made eye contact with a volunteer, grabbed the water and walking, went drink, some over the head, drink, more over the head, and back to running. 🙂

I think those seconds were well spent, as I still managed a 9:15 mile 5.

Mile 6 was a game of, you can go easy if you need to, but also, if you can push, you can get an even better PR. lol I came across the footbridge over the pond, angled across the winding path and passed a few people.

Then a few more as I got to the final hill, which really wasn't that long or that steep. But when you've been running hard for almost 6 miles, it amplified it.

I saw the mile 6 sign and started to both smile, and dry heave. Lol It happens in races when I really push. (I have pics from the Disney half this year that are hilariously hideous!) And I spent the next .1 yelling at myself to "slow the hell down". I got it under control, saw the turn to the finish and sped up.

I went into that finish chute in a full on sprint. Heard the announcer call out my name and saw the hubs standing next to the finish line grinning.

I crossed, with arms open wide, as if I was breaking the tape. Because I had, broken my record. To me that's winning. I beat myself. 😁 By a full 40 seconds. My new best 10k? A 57:42.

I think this one might stand for a bit. (Or at least longer than the 3 weeks the last one did. Lol)

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BAA 10k – Unicorns and Legends

Sunday I ran the BAA 10k, the second leg of the Distance Medley. And it was…magical.

The weather was almost ideal. 60’s and overcast. More humid than I like, but well, we can’t have everything. 🙂

The hubs (acting as “coach” for the day) and I snagged a photo

We met up with my friend Cara pre-race and got our shirts, scoped out the distance medley participant “VIP tent” (thanks Infiniti for the portable charger with the unicorn on it!) and had fun checking out some of the costumes people chose to run in. (Lotta unicorns – lotta blue & yellow)

Then it was time to race.

Standing in the Corral I heard the announcer say it was a fast course and a good day for a PR, or a course PR. And I remember thinking “well, since it’s my first time on this course it’s definitely a course PR”.

This race is “Disney crowded” and I knew when I started that I’d spend some time jockeying for position and getting around people. My strava later labeled a chunk of the first mile on Comm Ave as “frogger”. Which cracked me up because it’s spot on.

I knew I wanted to hit a good pace early, one that I could fall into and stay at. I also knew that I was not going to look at my watch at all during the race, because I didn’t want to know. If I was slow, fine. If I was fast, sweet. And whatever it was and the end, was what it would be.

I don’t remember too much of what I saw on course, because there were a lot of construction areas and I was more concerned with watching the road in front of me.

But I do remember a few things:

  • The golden retrievers in the blue & yellow necklaces – awwww
  • Hearing the volunteer before mile 2 announce the lead male had come by the other way (well past mile 4 for him. Wow)
  • Seeing Cara on an out and back and waving.
  • Seeing the Boston Strong painted on the underside of the overpass and raising my arm to it. 💙💛
  • The car at mile 5 wth the 88.7 sticker. And thinking wow, that’s an odd distance to run. Oh wait…radio station. Lol
  • The cairn terrier shortly after. This was special. I was struggling at this point, and thinking about trying to slow down when I saw him. Head raised I sent a silent thank you to my angel Gus, and surged on.

I made it to mile 6 and started looking around more. The dogs, the people, the “go Kelly’s”. And I felt stronger. I made the turn to the finish and held my pace, just for a minute, before sprinting all out to cross.

Check out those “sprint arms” lol

I stopped my watch….saw the 58:22 and grinned. Mouthed “F-ck Yeah” and thought of how far I’ve come back this year.

I walked past Dave McGillivray and smiled. I got my medal, and then heard that Desi Linden was now high-fiving runners at the finish line.

And my first thought was “dammit, if I’d just been a minute slower”.

It wasn’t until later, when I got home and looked up my PR records, that I realized I’d not only gotten a course PR, but a real one.

I beat the 58:28 I set at my very first 10k in 2009. Finally, I can stop saying that my 1st remains my fastest. And also, it eased the sting of missing Desi. Cuz PR’s trump all. 😁

Plus I did still get to see her. After the race we were looking for a place for a good photo and wandered by the stage in time to hear Des and Meb speak. They are both so nice, and humble and amazing champions. And I was lucky enough to snag a photo of Des.

After the race we headed over to the Public Garden to meet other friends. And took some photos with the ducks.

I took a moment to pose my medal with one…the whole time thinking of my friend Lori. And the time we did the same with our blue & yellow Boston Strong scarves we were gifted in 2014. Some things just become forever a part of us. 💙💛🦄

And…I’ll leave you with this. There is nothing like a post race high, to lead you to climb aboard a duck. (If only there’d been a unicorn statue!)

Summer Fun

Who’s ready for summer?? Me!!!!

I’m ready for sunshine and Garmin tan lines and running in tank tops.

And I’m giving myself tons of opportunities to this summer.

Between now and the end of August I’ve got oh…2 10k’s, a 5k and a half-marathon. Plus two concerts and a wicked awesome vacation. 🙂

Races first…

  • BAA 10k – second leg of the distance medley and I’m ready for my next unicorn medal
  • Finish at the 50 5k – first time doing the 5 instead of the 10, but the hubs is running too (yay!). And I just love running out through the helmet onto the field.
  • Gansett Summer Run Festival 10k – one I’ve never done, but it looks SO fun. And my friend is running the 5k too. Plus I hear it’s a good after party.
  • Camp Chingachgook Challenge 1/2 – this was my first 10k ever. And I’m looking forward to trying the half – a gorgeous point to point race in the Adirondacks.

Race goals? Have fun. Run fast. Smile a lot 🙂

Concerts? I’m seeing Gov’t Mule and the Foo Fighters. First time for both and equally excited for both.

Vacation? Epic – Zion & Bryce National parks and Vegas, baby. Looking forward to hiking and running and relaxing. And warmth and sunshine and amazing scenery. (Don’t worry – I’m sure I’ll write a “vacation recap” blog. lol)

How about you all? Running anything good? Going anywhere Epic? Whatever you’ve got planned…I’m sure you’ll do great and have fun.

Something’s gotta give

When life gets in the way, something has to give…

My marathon fell smack dab in the middle of my two busiest weeks of work in I don’t remember how long. Which means taper and racing and recovery all fell at oh, a really bad time.

Trying to fit life into your life isn’t always easy. And sometimes, something has to give. In my case…it was my blog.

For two weeks I’ve just been too exhausted to be creative. So my apologies to all of you.

I mean on one hand, it was nice that taper week coincided with 10 hour work days because I didn’t stress over not being able to get in runs. Lol But it also led to less relaxing than I wanted.

And last week, due to post-marathon brain and continued work crazies, I just didn’t have the brain power to write my race recap from Vermont City. I’ve tried to start it a few times…but it’s just not coming together.

This week, I’m finally getting my groove back and the creative juices are flowing once more.

I will try to get my recap done. But if I don’t – I’ll just say this…

The Vermont City marathon was freaking awesome. It was the most fun I’ve had in a non-Disney marathon. And I would run it again in a heartbeat. Amazing crowd support, gorgeous views and just a great upbeat vibe. I ran to all with a smile on my face and a spring in my step – even during the hard final miles.

I’m resetting now. Work is calming down. And I’m back relaxing, running, training and blogging.

Hope you’re all also finding how to fit life into your life. And that whatever has had to give, comes back to you as well.

Be Present

Two simple little words that made a huge difference on Sunday.

Sunday was my last long run before the Vermont City marathon – a planned 22 miles. And I headed out early feeling calm and ready.

But, sometimes things don’t go quite as we plan and we end up needing a mantra to get us through. And sometimes that mantra finds us.

All was well until mile 10 when I stopped to pull my gel out of my pocket. And seeing a group of cyclists headed towards me ( knowing it could get dangerous if a car joined the mix on this narrow road), I opted to eat my gel there and wait for them to pass.

As soon as I started running again, everything felt tired and heavy. And the mind games started – you know…question everything.

I told myself it would get better. I told myself, just make it to 11 and see how you feel.

But I am an overthinker. In both life and running. I’m always planning ahead and then stressing over things that are like 2 months (or 5 miles) out.

I tried to calm myself with my usual “clear your head” “let it go” “just stop” kinda stuff. And I got to 11, then 13. And then, the my mind bounced around again.

I was thinking ahead to the next gel, and how far can I make it before I have to walk. And just generally worrying myself.

Then two words popped into my head. Be Present.

Just pay attention to where you are. Be in the mile you’re in. The rest will happen as it happens.

Stop and smell the lilacs. Bark back at the dogs. Watch the birds fly by.

Just be…

And I got to mile 16. And reminded myself again. And then to 18. At 18 I decided I was going to walk 1/4 mile so I could eat my chews. But after 1/10 of a mile I realized I didn’t need to walk and started running again.

To mile 19.25. Where again I was going to walk a 1/4 mile, but was fine with 1/10.

And I hit mile 20 feeling good. And ran all of mile 21, to actually a little past it. I took one last walk break of about .15. And then ran strong to finish at 22.02.

Looking at my watch I smiled. Because I realized that I if I can do this again in Burlington, I could walk the last four miles and still finish under 5 hours. Something even a month ago I wasn’t sure I could do.

I’m ready to taper. I’m feeling really good about the work I’ve put in. And I know, when I tow the start line in 11 days, I just need to remember to Be Present. 🙂

Providence 13.1 – the recap

Gotta say…there is nothing like running a course you haven’t done in a few years to make you realize how far you’ve come as a runner.

The first time I tackled the Providence 1/2 marathon was May 2, 2010.   It was my very first half-marathon and i’d only been racing for two years.  I trained hard and felt prepared going in, but there are just enough challenging spots that I still remember exactly where I struggled (Pittman St).  I finished the race in 2:06:33 and felt like i’d won.

I’d go on to run it again in 2011 (even faster) and 2012 (with my aunt, as her first marathon) before taking a few years off the race.  When I came back to the course in 2015, it was for the marathon, and a PR! I ran the marathon again in 2016, and then took last year off of Providence.

This year, when I signed up for the half it was going to be as a time trial for the Vermont City Marathon.  But fate and a sort of injury had other ideas.  So when I toed the line Sunday, I had a main goal of just enjoying the race.   To not run easy, but not run hard. And to just see what I had.  I was FAIRLY sure I could hit sub 2:15 no problem, hoped I could go sub 2:10 and dream goal – to try to match 2010.

The weather was great – high 50’s, light breeze.  A little humid, but the rain held off, so no complaints.  And when I found a spot in the corral and chatted with some other runners (who I think i’ve now convinced to run Boston next year. LOL) I felt comfortable and worry-free.  The race would be what it was.  The time at the end didn’t really matter.  It would be neither my best, nor my worst so why care.

We took off and I noticed the 2:15 pacer in front of me (I don’t think he seeded himself quite right) and had to remind myself, its mile 1, don’t try to pass him, just don’t lose him.  And over the course of that mile I crept up to and past him.  Phew….

I fell into a comfortable stride.  I barked back at the little blonde terrier barking at the runners from a corner.  I high-fived a couple adorable kids.  And I listened to the conversations around me.  And I tried to not look at my watch.

When we finally made it to Blackstone Boulevard, and hit mile 4 I peeked at my watch and smiled.  It was sub-10 and it felt good. I admired the stunning homes along the route, I waved to spectators and after we turned the corner and past my favorite bakery I thought of my friends. I had joked with one that I hoped it wouldn’t be open when I went past. Knowing i’d stopped for a sangria during the Disney marathon she replied Don’t You Dare.  LOL No worries Amanda…I was in a groove.  And almost tripped over Mrs Potato Head’s eyes (a couple other runners had dressed in costume and one lost an accessory).

For the next couple miles I had some great conversations with other runners (about gatorade flavors and rear ends and how this one woman had just finished Boston a couple weeks ago and was totally taking it easy today (she and I passed each other a few times).  I ran FUN.  I reminded myself to not push my pace.

I legit said “Why are you running?  Because races are fun.  And if you aren’t having fun, you’re not doing it right”

I passed the spectator blaring the Rocky theme song, I smiled and waved at more children.  And at mile 9, looked at my watch again.  Still sub 10-pace.  Woohoo! That would be the last time I looked at my watch.

The next four miles I remembered as the toughest terrain wise.  A steep downhill, a long downhill and a couple of longer uphills.  The downhill scared me more.  My wonky hamstring had been doing okay this race (tho I noticed after my downhill miles were the slower ones) but going back down Gano Street had me nervous.

I wide-stepped the wicked steep downhill, cruised along the water and remembered that this stretch had been the ‘graveyard’ stretch for me my first year.  I was tired at mile 10 and just hanging in there.  This year, I was still running happy and free.

I hit the turn away from the water and began the long winding climb.  As I tucked in and shimmied up I passed a few people and smiled.  I think that was the point where I realized how much stronger i’d gotten over the years.  Hills don’t scare me.  I climb like a mountain goat and never get passed going up one.

So when I finally reached my arch-nemesis Pittman Street, I kinda smiled.  And not just because the November Project cheer station was such a great boost.  But because this year, no fear.  I chugged up the hill to the top steady and strong.

Left onto Gano, and down the hill…as I neared the mile 11 marker, I heard noise and looked over to realize the marathon winner was coming by. WOW.   The runners I was with started to attempt math to figure out pace.  We realized at that point, 24 miles in, he’d been running about 2 hours and 20 minutes.  Ummm….whoa.  That guy was on pace for a 2:30 marathon, with no one even close behind him.  SO impressive.

I ran through India Point Park and looked at the water, smiled and ran on to the mile 12 marker. And thought to myself, home stretch, we got this.

I didn’t try to go faster, well expect for when I saw that final photographer and went full stride for a good pic (LOL), I just ended up doing so.  I remembered how hard that final mile had felt in 2010.  And even in 2015 when I ran the marathon.  And thought about how easy it felt in comparison this year.  (It would turn out to be my fastest mile of the race – a 9:16.)

When I saw the mile 26 marker and knew there was only .2 left I just focused on finishing.  Turned the corner to the finish chute and scanned the crowd a bit (knowing the hubs was probably there somewhere) and then just stared at the finish line.

Opened my stride and went for it.  I flew across the finish with my arms raised.  Stopped my watch, but didn’t look, got my medal and a water and then walked a few feet.

Now…I looked down, read the 2:06:50 and started to shake. And started to cry.  I couldn’t believe it.  My training wasn’t what I wanted.  My hamstring wasn’t what I wanted. I haven’t run that fast that far in a freaking YEAR.  And yet somehow, the legs remembered.

I thought of my friend who I had just asked the day before if she wanted to pace me again next year for a new marathon PR.  And I mouthed “Eff Yeah!”

I headed for the hubs, feeling SO dang proud of myself.  But I was about to be even prouder of him.

For while I was off kicking asphalt, so was he.  My amazing husband, who has only been running for about 6 months and only run two 5k’s prior (both with me), took 3rd in his age group with an amazing 25:32 finish.  Wow babe.  You rock!

Once again…Providence proved it its my BFF course.  And apparently, the hubs’ also.

Love the run you’re in

Sometimes, the run you get is exactly the run you need.

Even if you maybe kinda had the mother of all meltdowns before heading out the door.  LOL  Does anyone else do that?  Get SO worked up before going for a long run?  I mean, its not like my self-worth is based on how fast or how far I go on a Sunday.  And yet, sometimes it feels like it is. So I get buried under this imaginary pressure.

Especially as its now 25 days to Vermont City.  And this training cycle has been less than ideal.  Stuff going on every other weekend, challenging weather and well, this darn hamstring thing that just will not go away.   Although in retrospect, its continually improving.  It just doesn’t always seem like it.

So yeah, facing the idea of 20 miles in the rain Sunday morning in addition to all that other stuff….I kinda freaked.  (Sorry babe!) And then went all suck it up buttercup and went.  And was greatly rewarded.

The goal was to start slow, and stay slow and see just how much of it I could do.  The 18 miles two weeks before, was a lot less running than i’d have liked.  So I had to tell myself, it doesn’t matter how slow this run is…if it helps you run them all.

I didn’t look at my watch…I felt it beep the miles, but I refused to be ruled by a number.  I saw a hawk sitting by a pond.  I saw a gorgeous fox run across the road.  I got a text of encouragement from the hubs (Thanks babe!).  I spent a lot of time telling myself to Get Out Of My Head and just run.  It got damp and it rained and my fingers became useless.  I found an aquatic creature out ‘swimming’ too.

I remembered Shalane saying at some point during the marathon it felt like she wasn’t even wearing shorts, and I knew EXACTLY what she meant.  LOL

When I hit mile 14 somehow miraculously still running, I aimed for 15.  When I hit 15 I tried for 16…  At 17, and still running (albeit likely slower) it started to become a mission.  And at mile 18, still running, I started to smile.  Cuz now it was game on and there was NO way I wasn’t finishing these miles running.

When my watched beeped the magical sound of mile 20 complete….I wanted to shout it from the rooftops.  Instead I texted my running friend (who was out running her long run in a matching outfit (twinsies, yay!)) and said “I ran the whole f@$%ng 20”.  I then slowly and gingerly ambled into the house (I finished .05 from my door – convenient!) and said “Guess what I just did!”

At that moment, it was the Best Run Ever.

I was tired.  I was sore.  And I was so incredibly happy.  Its not where I used to be…but it doesn’t matter. Because it was exactly what I needed that day.

A side note… today is also 5 years from the day I broke my hip in a running “accident”. Two weeks after my 3rd marathon (Boston 2013).  Spending four months on crutches and rebuilding almost from scratch for my 4th (Disney – January 2014) was a challenge.  Yet now here I am training for my 14th.  Its all about perspective.  Belief you can overcome anything…and that you can’t keep a good runner down.