A Tale of Two 5K’s

This month so far I’ve run two 5k’s which were as different as night and day…and not just literally. Lol

April 7th was the Newport Night Run, held at sunset on a gorgeous (from what I could see) ocean loop in Newport, RI.

April 14th was the B.A.A. 5k, held in the morning at Boston Common, on a great loop that goes right on, left on, and across the famed marathon finish line.

Both were different field sizes (900 versus 9,000), and totally different experiences, both both equally amazing. 🙂

For Newport, I had my favorite training partner by my side. We were decked out in full neon, reflective strips and a headlamp, as suggested by the race director.

And just before dark, we joined the glow at the start line and headed off.  There was a great starting downhill, which unfortunately my wonky leg didn’t love.  But I hung in there and tried not to think about it.  We went through a lovely narrow section lit by luminaries where we noticed a HUGE osprey nest high atop a pole.  We wove around, up and over hills, past some enormous houses and cool stone walls.  The mile marker signs were crazy lights you could see from a ways back, and checking out the cool reflective patterns on some people’s backs when my headlamp hit them was fun.

The race was crowded.  There were definitely spots it was hard to run your pace, and it was WAY hillier than I expected, but we had so much fun chatting and pointing out cool stuff to each other.  And when we finally crested the last hill and saw the downhill to the finish, we ran it out strong.  It was a little slower than i’d hoped – but considering how much my leg hated the downhill sections, how crowded it was, and how it was hard to see where you were stepping sometimes, i’ll take it.  🙂 A 31:07 finish.

But while I said i was fine with it, I sorta feel like I let the hubs down.  He’s fast for a beginner and I know we ran slower than capable off.  I had wanted him to get a sub-30 finish for his second 5k of the year (Disney was the first and we purposely ran that sucker slow), but I know he’ll nail that at his third in Providence next month.

So with the BAA 5k looming, I really wanted to nail that one.  I spent the week between resting more, stretching more and trying to stay zen.  I had a great freak out, and then, just let go, knowing it would be what it was.

Reasons I knew this would go better?  It was morning (my fave run time), a little warmer (high 40’s) and flatter. Plus this time I taped my leg.  🙂

And as we headed up into Boston to meet my friend, and the sun rose above the horizon I broke out into the Circle of Life (LOL!) because it just seemed the thing to do when your friends are also Disney runners (Hakuna Matata Cara).

The hubs didn’t run this one, but was serving as team coach & equipment manager, saving me from having to deal with what was apparently a zoo at bag check.  We met up with the princess posse and hung out, snagging some prerace photos and getting ready.

And a little before 8, headed to the corral, which was SO far back from the start it felt extremely Disney.  In fact, by the time we approached the start, we were just in time to watch the elite men finish.  COOL!  Then…it was our turn.

I went out solid with the crowd, dodging and weaving to get room to run.  I surged up Comm Ave feeling pretty good and when the mile marker hit, I chose to not look at my watch.  I was just gonna run my best and not worry about my time.  I had told my friend Cara that anywhere between 28 & 32 would make me happy, and I meant it.

When we hit the turnaround at Charlesgate I smiled, knowing I was now on the marathon course.  After running it three years in a row, I knew it well.

When we hit the underpass at Mass Ave, I had a brief moment where I remembered 2013, and how that was where my race ended at mile 25.67.  So close, and so far. But I got past myself, I high-fived a guy on the corner of Hereford as I made that infamous right, and scurried up the hill thinking “this is way easier when I haven’t already run 26 miles”.

I turned that left onto Boylston and shouted “Best Left Turn in Town” and raced towards the finish line to fly across and keep going as there was still 3/4 of a mile left.  I started watching the crowds, in case there were any familiar faces.  And cracked up at the blue t-rex alongside the public garden.

Then there was the left turn onto Charles towards the finish line, which seemed SO far away.  I didn’t want to kick until I knew I could sustain it, but when the young girl started to pull alongside I thought “oh honey no” and kicked.  Flew across the finish and to a dead stop (oh no, folks, I gotta keep going, or this won’t be pretty……this is not the place for selfies!).

Checked my watch, got my medal, hugged a friend I randomly bumped into (we’ve managed to run into each other at three or four different races now) and went to find the hubs.  Because I was ready to celebrate….  I pulled a 29:30.  YAY

Now granted, I am so far from my PR paces it sucks, but to at least be back under 30 makes me happy. And the leg continues to get better every week.

What was also cause for celebration?  My friend Cara got a PR!!!!!!!  So exciting.  I just love seeing my friends achieve greatness. 😁

So yeah, these two races were completely different experiences for me, but I loved both and would run both again.  We run different races for different reasons.  Newport was a birthday celebration for me, and quality time with the hubs.  Boston was because its the 5th anniversary of my only race DNF and a chance to earn another unicorn medal.  I had something to prove out there…and I did.

Another thing both races had in common?  Cheers!

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Keeps Getting Better

I am oh…. thisclose to being back to normal.  I can almost taste it.

I was running SO much better this week that I felt almost silly for spending close to 8 weeks wondering if this is my new normal.  If i’d ever be my self again.  The non-injury is finally down to one little tiny spot that still makes my knee twinge if I overstride, but we can deal.  We have KT tape.  And its magical…

Of course this progress comes just in time…as we’re a mere THREE DAYS to the season opener of Spring Racing. Yay!

First…how did the weekend go?  Well, the hubs and I drove over to another part of town on Saturday for a 3-ish miler…and its going to definitely be one of our favorite run loops. Swans, waterfalls and just enough rolling hills to keep it interesting – and by mile 3 we had a great pace going (his fastest mile to date). IMG_7544.jpg

Sunday was my long run.  This marathon training cycle has been weird for me.  We’ve had just enough weekend plans that i’m only getting in a long run every other weekend.  But i’m trying to find that life-run balance and not freak out over missed 12-milers. Sometimes family and friends are more important.  I just plan around to get in the ‘big runs’.   So Sunday was a 16 miler – and I really wanted to run as much of it as possible, since 2 weeks ago i’d only run 10 of my 14.

I made it a full 13.1 before my legs were all WHAT?  And not only that – but I did it without needing to stretch every couple miles.  YAY. (I know – I feel silly being excited, but still.  I AM!)  But this was more my legs having lost some endurance than that anything was bothering me.

I ran / walked the final 2.9 for an even sweet 16.  And then did the runner math…which leads me to believe that if I had to run Vermont City next weekend, I could pull off a 5:30 finish.  And hopefully with another 53 days to go, I can pull off a sub-5.  A far cry from a PR…but I’m really earning this one, whatever it turns out to be. The ones you have to fight harder for, usually mean more.

Anyhoo…. like I said, its almost Racing Season and i’m so happy.  I haven’t done a race since the Dopey Challenge and what a long three months it been.  I’m so ready to put on a bib and get back out there.

I’ve got four races on the schedule between now and June 1st and i’m looking forward to all of them:

  • Newport Night Run – April 7th
  • BAA 5k (part 1 of the distance medley) – April 14th
  • Providence half-marathon – May 6th
  • Vermont City marathon – May 27th

I’ve got different goals for each but fully expect to have a blast at them all.  First up:NNR

The hubs is joining me for the Newport Night Run this weekend and i’m SO excited to race with him again.  Even tho i’m making him race in the dark for the second time this year (lol) he’s a good sport about it.  Newport encourages neon and reflective – and we fully intend to look like the 80’s threw up.  😀

If you’re running it too – come say hi, i’ll be the one in ALL the neon and a pink sparkle skirt.

Post-It Challenge

There is power in post-its.  A few simple words, written on one, can make you do things.

It can encourage, it can remind, it can keep you from eating crap.  LOL

See this week, my friend Amanda decided that she needed to break the post-year of Disney races carb cycle (you know, where you aren’t logging long runs, but your stomach hasn’t figured that out yet).  And she needed a post-it to do it.  So she wrote herself a note.

Another friend and I decided, sure, why not, and did the same:IMG_7524

Simple enough.  I also vowed to drink ALL the water (my water bottle holds 32 oz – I filled it twice).

But there needed to be a punishment for disobeying the post-it.  And, when one of my friend strayed (its okay – cake IS pretty darn hard to resist), it was decided that push-ups would be the punishment.  That slice of cake called for 20 of them.

I got through day one NO problem….Day 2, was a little harder.  The new post-it read “great job yesterday, keep going”  I should have been more specific.  LOL

I did okay all day long at work (Tho I verified my peanut butter was allowed.  It was.).  And driving home, when I was about to have some mike & ikes I paused, tried to figure out how many push ups it would be and decided it wasn’t worth it.

However, I really wanted a glass of wine last nite (I caught someone’s cold and my throat is killing me) and was going to have one, pushups or no.

After a lively discussion of ‘wine is fruit, its fine’ to ‘pushups per carb’ to ‘proportionate share based on the cake’s punishment”, I decided 10 was enough.  Tho apparently a second glass was going to cost me 20 more.  I only had the one glass.  And did the 10 pushups.

Today is day 3 – and i’m thinking today’s post-it will say “Be Strong.  Be Good.  Eat Healthy”   This is actually kind of fun…  any of you ever tried it?

In other news…the non-injury just keeps getting better!  While visiting family this weekend the hubs and I got in a really fun 5k run around Lake George – its so nice there in the off season.  🙂IMG_7515

Which is great – because Spring racing season is just around the corner.  First one will be the Newport Night Run on April 7th.

And we got this….because we are Post-it Strong!

Moments of Brilliance

That’s how I described my long run this weekend to a friend who asked.

It wasn’t great.  It still isn’t ME.  But it had moments of brilliance.  And that’s progress.

At this point, i’m just happy for progress.  I’ve been stretching like its my job, only running 3 days a week, doing strength work in the affected areas and still hoping that “faith trust and pixie dust” can add an extra edge.

Because, while as we face our FOURTH freaking nor’easter of the month, I know that racing season is rapidly approaching and i’m still kinda freaking out about the Vermont City marathon.  After this weekend’s run tho, i’m feeling a lot better about it.

Because see….something finally went right.  Around mile 4.

The first 3 miles were the usual – my hamstring feels wonky when I land, my hips aren’t doing what they should – but I knew i just had to work through it.

Just after I hit mile 4, everything opened up and I was running like normal.  I don’t know how and I didn’t even notice until I started down a hill and was like WHOA, nothing’s shaking.  I’m not questioning every foot placement. I’m running without thinking about running.

SWEET!

I ended up running to mile 10 – which actually is 2 miles further than the last long run – before the first walk break.  I did have to stop and stretch every couple of miles, because things started to tighten back up.  But that’s better than walking.

I did a total of 14.5 miles.  At 13.17 I stopped my watch because 1), it was 3/17 and its ‘cute’ and 2) because I didn’t want longer walk breaks to screw up my recorded overall mileage pace.  LOL

I still have a long ways to go in the next 70ish days, and I know that Vermont is going to be a slow marathon, but according to runner math, if all I can run is what I did this weekend and then walk the final 12, I can still finish under the time limit.

When I was running I had a mantra going – Every Step is Progress.  I kept repeating it to keep my spirits up.  Because its hard when you can’t run like yourself.  When your slower pace feels as hard as your faster one used to.  But attitude plays a HUGE part in running.

And while i’m calling this a non-injury (and as god is my witness I will never do standing dead lifts again) it’s still a road to recovery.  I’m still coming back from something (albeit something stupid) and I have to be proud of the fight.

Good Fortune

Don’t you just love when something really cool happens on a run?

Sunday I had 13 miles on the schedule, and since Saturday’s insane wind (and fear of closed roads from fallen trees) kept me from getting in a short run with my training partner, I decided to split it up and get the best of both worlds.

A 3.25 mile loop with the hubs, and then 10 on my own.

The “not an injury” is still clinging to life, although it’s definitely improving. So the “warmup” miles were a little slower than I liked. But, any run where you get to chat and laugh with someone is a good run. 🙂 And the hubs is becoming such a great runner – I’m so proud and looking forward to having a joint race calendar this year.

For my 10 miles alone, I opted to run into the center of my town because a) sidewalks b) its flat and c) I wanted to kind of “assess the damage” from the storm.

And about 3 miles in, it got eerie. All the business were closed. None of them had power back yet. Seeing the buildings dark and the parking lots empty was kind of “post apocalyptic” and I wanted to check over my shoulder for zombies. Lol

But I continued on to the spot in the middle of town where the sidewalk ends. And when I turned around and looked down…I saw this!

I’m not a girl to leave a fortune cookie unopened…. so I had to. And look what I found inside!

Of course, “I’ve got a dream” from Tangled instantly popped into my head.

And I spent the next few miles singing “I’ve got a dream, I’ve got a dream…I just want to make it to mile 13.”

And of course I did make it. And somehow, with a few stops to stretch, I managed to run it all. Yay!

Major progress from last week. (Even if we still have some rehab work to do.)

I guessed I picked the right spot to turn around… you never know where you’ll find motivation (and some luck) on a run. 🙂

Everything but the kitchen sink

When you’ve been weirdly “injured” for a few weeks, and you realize it’s oh, around 90 days until your next marathon, you kinda start to freak out.

You check the race time limit to see if you have a chance even if your training is less than ideal.

You panic, you have a bit of a meltdown, and then you go zen. And you decide to throw everything but the kitchen sink at whatever the hell is wrong with your legs.

So over the past week I’ve done yoga, I’ve stretched, I’ve foam rolled, I’ve done hip exercises, I’ve foam rolled again. Yesterday I even got on the stationary bike.

And today…I actually had my best run in 3 weeks.

It wasn’t “normal” but it was progress. I called it at 3.5 because I knew they legs were starting to get wonky and I needed a happy run more than a longer one.

So it looks like all this rehab work is working. Yay!!!!

So I’m gonna keep doing what I’m doing. Rolling and resting and running smart. That way when the bigger miles kick in I’m ready for them.

I’m realizing that my chances of a marathon PR are extremely unlikely now. But that’s okay. The goal for this one now is just to survive the training and get my legs back.

We can do this.

PS… I think it’s a hip/glute issue.

PPS…the race time limit is 6 hours. No problem. 🙂

Hot mess express

This winter has not been kind.   Between weather issues, the flu and a complete and total lack of motivation, I haven’t been logging that many miles, or even that great of quality lately.  And its hard to write a running blog when you’re…not running.  

I almost didn’t even post this, because it sounds whiney.  And that’s not who I am.  But I realized not posting is lying… and you have to be honest.  Running isn’t all sunshine and roses.  Its hard, and letting other people know when you’re struggling too is just as important as the ‘good stuff’.

So here goes….  here’s how I earned my first class ticket aboard the hot mess express?

You see…since I’m kind of in a “distance off season” I thought it would be a good time to start back into strength training.   Which I hadn’t done in oh, three months.

I thought I took it easy – I was using half the weight that I had been back in September.  But apparently, my hamstrings were not a fan.  Nor was my back.

The next day – O U C H.  Like can’t bend, can’t move, kinda laughing at myself over how just a dozen deadlifts (among other stuff) could have caused this.

So I rolled and stretched and got a massage and took it easy with my runs (ie more walking days, less running days).  And still…. Several days later…. HOLY CRUDBALLS MY HAMSTRINGS ARE TIGHT.

Plus, I was forced onto a treadmill for a week straight because…ice. And cold.  And dark in the mornings with a crazy week at work that didn’t let me run midday.

Well, apparently tight hamstrings and too many days on a treadmill are a bad combo, because it started to affect my gait.  And I started landing too hard (and flatly) on my left ankle.

And you know where I’m going with this….  It got hurty.

I noticed it at first at night, or when I pointed my toes.  Then it was ‘dang it I stepped down off the curb wrong’ and now…its KT Tape City. And watching my form.

Yes, I googled it. And yes I think I know what’s wrong.  And no, I’m not saying.  Its not BAD…its just well, I didn’t mind going away on a girls weekend for a few days and not running.  LOL

I ran Monday.  The hamstrings are still not quite 100%, and the left ankle is still, cautious, but I’ll be fine.  And I think i’ll run today – it is going to be near 50 degrees today and the river she calls me.

I’m just trying to figure out how in the world a hamstring led to an ankle injury…And planning to stick with upper body strength training for a while.  Or maybe just run….