A PR to end the running season

Winter Park Road race medal is stained glass.

This past Saturday I ran the Winter Park Road Race, the race sparks the end of the official running season. Our local running store Track Shack hosts a number of races throughout the year. Six of them are designated part of the running series. One can register for all six at the beginning of the season and become a fanatic. My husband and I have run all of the races before in previous years; but never all of them in the same year. This year we both decided to be fanatics. Not only did we commit our selves to all six races but we also signed up for the distance dare competition of two of the races. Basically those two races have both a shorter run and a longer run. A person doing the distance dare will do both the runs back to back.
So we continued to train year long for these races as well as a 15K, 10 miler, the half-marathon, and the relay race. We said no to social events and trips so we wouldn’t miss any in the series.
Now it has all come to an end and I came out with another PR.
That would make 3 PR’s for the entire year. I fell short of my half-marathon goal but I can say I had a banner year!!!

Last year’s Winter Park Road Race was an accomplishment because I was able to complete it with slacker training. I had hoped that this year’s would be cool because I obviously do better in cooler weather. I was not lucky that day. Orlando started it’s spring (and when I mean spring I mean summer-lite). It was humid and hot. The first two miles were hot and I was a sweaty mess but I pushed it anyway,

It wasn’t exactly a PR for me but pretty fast considering the temperatures. I probably pushed it too hard but I wanted to get back to the start line with time to cool down before my next six miles.
When I woke up in the morning I was tired and still sore from my crossfit bootcamp workouts earlier in the week. I didn’t properly stretch all week and I was not in the greatest state of mind (our dog has been really sick). I wasn’t really going for a PR; I just wanted to get the race over with.
So I started running the 6 miles. With luck it did cool down a bit. I was still really tired but I pushed on.

As suspected the last 2 miles were a mess. I took more walking breaks and I started to get the idea of defeat in my mind. Suddenly in the last mile or so something changed. I decided to just push it to the end. At the final stretch a girl was catching up to me and I made sure that didn’t happen.
I crossed the finish line and collected my medals and free wine glass (best local race booty).

I also picked up this guy for completing the distance dare.

We chatted with some friends a bit and then went home to care for our sick dog. The dog got worse over the weekend so I never bothered to check my finish time until Monday (she was in surgery).
I was very happy to discover that I did indeed get a PR.
I find it very interesting that as I turned 40 this year, I feel more and more like my body is aging and falling apart but at the same time I am able to accomplish so many more things.
I feel like I can set more ambitious goals for next year; or maybe even lose that extra weight I can’t seem to shed.
The sky’s the limit!!!

Another PR!!

I finally had another PR (personal record). This time it was for my 5K time. I have been so fixated on my half-marathon time that I have dismissed any improvements for 5Ks. This distance that should be the easiest for me to conquer but I still only make slow improvements.
The speed work I did to prepare for the Ragnar Relay in combination with the cold temperatures for the Running in the Pines race was a perfect formula for a PR.

My fastest 5k on record was the Valencia 5K in 2006 and that was a race that was in the pouring down rain. Many runners refused to show up. I ran fast to get out of the storm.
This time around it was legit. It was cold but it was a busy race. I ran my first mile at a pretty swift pace while passing many runners. Usually I run my first mile too fast. It always back fires on my later and I lose my steam.
Mile 2 I kept pushing on. I was maintaining my fast pace. In fact I was going faster. Should I slow down? My thoughts began to do the math “If I am this close to a PR I think to finish it”. I pushed through to the end. I found a bit of extra reserve energy to pass some runners in the last .25 mile. I sprinted across the finish.
It was hard to tell from the clock what my actual time was and my mapping tool is always incorrect. I confirmed with the race result printout that I did indeed do my personal best on this 5k.
So exciting.

I have one more race left in the series. The final race is a 10k plus 2 mile distance dare. I did the combo last year. I don’t remember my time but I do remember my focus was on finishing the 2 miler as quickly as possible to make it in time for the 10k start.
Perhaps a PR is in this works for this race too? We will see…..

Ragnar Relay from Miami to Key West 2015

I did it! Or WE did it! I completed my first relay race!

Last year I was invited to run the Ragnar to Key West. Carlos and I have recently befriended a group of active folks we see frequently while running, biking, kayaking, and watching soccer games. We learned that they had a team registered in the upcoming Ragnar Relay from Miami to Key West. My husband has been looking forward to doing one; in fact he was signed up for one a couple years ago but had to drop out due to an injury. They had a full team but he asked to be considered for the future. I didn’t show interest for the race because the thought of running a race where people depended on my time sounded like a recipe for disaster.
Luck would have it that two out-of-towners dropped out of the race and they had two openings. They asked Carlos and I if we would like to participate. I hesitated but after some encouragement and a plan to do some speed training I said yes.
I continued my training to prepare for my upcoming half-marathon. It was that race that I fell less than one minute short of a PR (ugggh). However I did get to meet most of my Ragnar team (of the ones I didn’t already know). Below is a picture of most of our group at that race.

Only had 5k’s  on the schedule after the Orlando Half so it was important that I still kept up with my long runs. December was tough but I felt like I got back on track in January with the exception of my last long run being terrible (I had to walk almost 1/3 of it).
In addition to my long runs, I added 2-3 sessions of speedwork. I typically skip this part of my training because I don’t like it. This time around people are counting on me to make some time improvement. So I pushed through and did the work.

In no time at all it seemed like it was time for the race. Thursday morning most of us met up in Orlando with our rented vans to head down to Miami to meet the rest of the team and rest for the night.

We were sure to tag our van early on with Orlando City Magnets (Go Lions!).

While in Miami we checked into our hotel and headed to a Cuban dinner.

We all fit in one van!

Cuban meal

After the team meal it was time to prepare our gear and get some sleep. Van 1 has an early start.

Early start time

Van 1 has to check in to get all the info and show proof of safety gear of all 6 participants.

Modeling the required reflective vest
Angelique keeping warm for her run.

And the race begins at 5:15 am.

Start line

After runner 1 starts we rush off to first find coffee and then to meet up with our runner at the first exchange.

It is a beautiful sunrise in Miami as we meet runner one by one until my turn as runner 6.

Carlos ready for his first run

While waiting we have time to decorate our van properly. The run happens to coincide with Carlos’s birthday so we decorate the van to celebrate. You will also notice random magnets. Teams have them made and tag the other vehicles. Sounds like a fun idea for the future.

 Soon it was time for my run. It was an less than exciting run through Miami. The most interesting part about it was running on the wrong side of the road because I decided to follow a runner ahead of me instead of following my instincts (and the signs). Luckily I got a call from Carlos to tell me to cross the street. My pace was much better than I expected, even considering that I lost over a minute waiting for a cross walk signal that never came. Miami stinks. It was this first run that I discovered that my speed work had paid off. I finished ahead of schedule.

 Carlos was surprised by van 2 carrying his big head. Matt made a big head of Carlos for his birthday and van 2 stayed up late assembling his big head. Thanks van 2!

It was time for me to mark off leg 1 on the van and put my kills. I only had 2-3 kills. I am slow so I am not expecting many.

Our van had a long break so we decided to get a nice big breakfast before we took some time to relax. I settled for some yummy salmon and cream cheese on a bagel. One of my favorites!

We headed to exchange 12 to wait for van 2 to finish. It was a cool spot. We got to rest in the sun and watch cars go real fast around the track. They had nice bathrooms so it gave me a good opportunity to change and cleanup before sitting in the van for hours before my next run. I also took advantage of the free biofreeze on my sore ankle.

Miami Homestead Speedway

Van 1 poses for a group photo.

We got slimed.

We start again. Leg 2 is where most of the group is doing their longest runs. We get to watch the sun start setting over canals. We drive down access roads along side of the runners. None of my runs are in this stretch but it seems challenging. Lots of dust from the vans and at one point there is an offensive stench from rotting squash.

And it gets dark and it is time for my run. I don’t have any pics from the run since it is very dark. My head lamp is essential. The course is mostly flat so the only reason why it might be considered very hard is because it is very dark, there are scary noises in the bushes, and you could be by yourself for much of the run. I was by myself for at least a mile and a half before someone passed me. It was kind of creepy and dark. I started off at a good long run pace but then I slowed considerably. I was tired and finding it hard to be motivated to push through this run.

When I arrived at the exchange it was dark and everyone was glowing. I wasn’t sure if I was hallucinating. Turned out there was a bunch of black lights. Cool look but I was too delirious to enjoy it. My team rushed me off to our motel we had booked for a nap and showers since they were all tired waiting for me. We showered and got a nice 4 hour nap before we got an early call from van 2 that their last runner had started. It was time to take off again.

Somewhere in this stretch we attempted to get coffee and pee at a Dunkin Donuts. They were overwhelmed. I waited in a 30 minute line for the bathroom and others waited for 45 minutes for coffee. It prompted the decree below. “No fancy coffee” at Ragnar. Get your standard coffee and go! Your fancy skinny mocha latte is holding everyone up!

I hitchhiked for the what I believe is the first time in my life at one of the exchanges. The port-a- potties were very far down this road. I jogged there but a nice van of non-murderers took me back.

We are in the final stretch for van 1. Jessica gets to compete a beautiful run across the 7 mile bridge not at all soiled by the sight of runner’s poops along the bridge (those runners don’t know how to time their poops like our team!). The day gets warmer and it is time for my last run. It is warmer than I like but I am pumped up for the end. I have a virtual exchange (the runner is on the other side of the road and I start with the bracelet.

My last run. Begins with 1/2 mile of a scenic trail

My last run starts on a lovely trail with a nice view of some mangroves. It is only lasts about 1/2 a mile before I am back on an eventual run along the road with traffic. I make the mistake of running on the grass and gravel instead of on the pavement. It sucks too much energy from me so I move to the side of the road and hope the cars don’t swipe me by accident.

I finally get to the one mile sign and want to take my only selfie opportunity for the run. I can’t get it right. It takes me many tries and many seconds. I give up and keep running.

Finally van 1 is done. Even with the selfie delay my pace comes in faster than I expected. The speed workouts really do work!
I mark off my box for our final run and we are off for some grub and and cold beverage while we wait for the rest of the team to finish.

Hogshead fish sandwich
I am feeling adventurous so I eat some greasy fried food post-run.

Last runner has started so we head to the finish so the entire team can cross the finish line together with our hulk mode shirts.

Right around the corner is the finish and we are done!

We cross the finish line and get our bling.

We think they are cheaply made of old metal pieces with lettering until we discover another team putting them together like a puzzle.

Jessica and I posing for the pee color chart. It is always important to make sure you are properly hydrated.

We get our finish line beer and head into our condos to get ready for dinner. We meet up for some food and make an appearance and the post race party at Ricks. The crowd was thick and music a little loud for our liking but we found some couches and made our own little party.

Hogs Breath

The next morning we met down at the southernmost point for a team picture in our Orlando City gear.

My bloody mary wanted to make sure she had a picture too.

We decided upon the most popular place in town for brunch. For our 3 hour wait we found this relaxing bar across the street. I got to relax in a hammock for a while.

Luckily we weren’t starving. We had plenty of chickens to entertain us.

We finally got our seats and ordered some food and more drinks.

LBLT Benedict (Lobster Bacon Benedict)

Some of the team had to take off early and some of us stayed an extra day or two to extend the fun. The team was great and our team captain was amazing. She was able to keep us all organized and kept her cool the entire time. It was a memorable experience. I will not hesitate to say yes if I am asked back.
Happy running!!!

*Some of the photos are borrowed from my teammates.

So Close

So I finished my 4th half-marathon this past weekend. Another race in the books.

This post is meant to be a recap of the race. Because I like to end on a good note I will start with the bad.
I didn’t meet my time goal. I am slightly upset about it, especially because I was so close to making it. But I didn’t prepare to beat my time goal. I skipped many weekday runs. I ate crappy food and drank many alcoholic beverage in the weeks up to the race. I celebrated my 40th birthday. I burned the candle at both ends. I am not sure what I was expecting from this race. I really need to be happy that I finished at all and I did come close to my time goal considering how much a slacker I have been.

It was warm. I knew this was a possibility. I was a spectator last year and elite runners found the heat challenging (not my husband of course- he is superman). This year was better than last year but too warm for me to really push it. Additionally when the sun starts beating down on me I am toast.

I ended up getting a massive migraine/stress headache afterwards. It is my fault. I know what to do to prevent it but I got caught up in the moment. I absolutely cannot have a celebratory coffee, beer or sweet post race (at least until hours later after I am fully hydrated). This race I drank too beers immediately after the race after only drinking one bottled water. Boy did I pay for it later. Constant puking and headaches until at least 9:00 PM that evening. I finally felt like a human again.

I stopped for potty miles 7-8. Didn’t have to go extremely bad but thought it was good to go and get it over with in case it got worse later. I probably shouldn’t have stopped. I lost about a minute there. Not as bad as the time I lost in my first half marathon but I still did not beat my finish time for that first race. See breakdown for mile 8 below for the additional “bump” for the potty break.

I also had problems between miles 9-10. There were hills, my legs were tired, and I had trouble breathing. Looking at the above kind of lets me know why. I really pushed mile 9 so of course mile ten would struggle. I really need to work on pacing.

Below is where I stand with my distance races. I still claim my last 10 mile race to be my fastest ever but I still want to conquer the whole finish a half-marathon in under 3 hour hurdle. I hear people at the race start state non-nonchalantly how they will easily do a 2:30 finish time. I know that is so out of reach for me right now. One time I will finish in under 3 though. I just know it!

Now for the good.

Below is the course we took trough many downtown Orlando neighborhoods. I got to explore parts that I never normally travel through. Downtown Orlando has some nice neighborhoods.

Before I got all sick for the rest of the day I did enjoy two free beers and fellowship with other runners after the race. I also got to meet and hang out with my Ragnar team at the race (minus 1). The Ragnar is an overnight relay race. There are two vans that split the team and each person gets 3 running legs that they need to complete. After each leg the race is switched off to another runner to continue on while the van takes you the next switch off location. There is some time to shower and sleep the way the race is laid out but most of your time will basically be in the van waiting for your next turn. It is supposed to be a ton of fun. We are racing down to the keys. I can’t wait to go down there and party with the team afterward.

Finally I finished 4th half marathon. That distance itself is an accomplishment for me considering how out of shape I am in. Also today I feel good. My body feels more balanced. I feel more willing to eat healthier and finally I have more ENERGY.

What is next?

Since I have the relay coming soon I will continue to work on endurance. My longest leg is about 8 miles so I will keep my longest runs to perhaps 11 miles (in cause I have to pick up a longer leg last minute). I also need to work on speed this time around. I have been hesitant to do this relay race in the past because I am so slow. Fortunately these team members are very encouraging and don’t seem to mind as much that I am slow. I am the slowest on the team but I really need to speed up a bit to make sure I do my part to help us to finish in time. Weekly speed workouts are essential now.

I am back to regular barre classes now. I am activating my 6 week all you can visit special for a new barre workout place and I want to take full advantage of it. Barre will help me with my strength and stretching (that I have been slacking lately).  The goal is to go 2-3 times a week on top of my running goals. Sounds like I need to put together a workout plan! See you in February for an update.

What it is like to get a PR

For the first time I got to feel what it is like to get a PR (personal record) for a run. Race season is once more and I have been actively training for a number of races. The Disney Tower of Terror 10 miler is just one long run in a series of runs I will do this race season. Since I started distance runs in 2012, I have always striven to beat my time. Unfortunately I never quite could beat my time of my first half marathon. This past weekend I was able to finally beat all my pace records for distance running.

It started off that the weather gods were in my favor. We were expecting a cold front for the evening so the race would be slightly cooler than normal.

We had to arrive around 8:00 PM for the 10:00 PM race. I was chipper and eager to start my run then. Unfortunately I had to wait until 10:00 PM for the corrals to start their race. I posed below with my running buddies who have accompanied me at all my distance Disney races. They are much faster than me but always provide moral support.

The run began for me approximately 10:20 PM since I was in a slower corral. It was a relatively uneventful run. I ran at my normal 5K pace for the first half of the race. That could of backfired and almost did since miles 6-8 proved a bit challenging for me. However I pushed through and finished strong.
The reward at the end was this interactive tower of terror medal (The elevator goes up and down).

Post race I was pretty beat since I pushed myself throughout. I almost puked up a banana that I ate too quickly. Later at home I finally figured out that is was my best time of all my distance races.
I had to compare it to both half-marathons and 15ks since I had no 10 milers in the past.

After our rest period we decided to take advantage of the rides that were open. Our first try at tower of terror had an hour wait. We decided to ride the Toy Story ride first (which had a 20 minute wait) and later returned to walk right on the Tower of Terror. It was so much fun to see my tower of terror medal float in the air as we fell.

See the tower of terror in the distance.

Since we got lucky we decided to try to ride the Aerosmith Rock n Rollercoaster. There was no wait for that one as well. We all got backstage passes from the band.

See the band in the recording studio.

The night was successful but had to come to an end. We drove home and got to bed around 4:30 am. Since I fed the cats before bed they let me sleep in. I woke at 11 am tired and famished. I demanded food and we went to local restaurant for brunch. I decided I deserved a big bloody mary.

I also ordered chicken and waffles – something I never crave but did that day. I deserved it just this once!!!

So there is my story of my PR. Will it end here? Probably not. I have another half-marathon in December that I need to PR. Plus I have a Ragnar team in February that is counting on me speeding up. Wish me luck!!!!

Why I continue to run

Recently I read one of those articles – with the before and after picture of a person telling me how running is bad and weight training is good.
Yes, I know the advantages of weight training. Weight training is good. Building more muscle burns more calories. Weight training allows you to “shape” your body better.
And last year my doctor told me to stop running. Said I didn’t have the body type for it; said I should do other activities instead.
Friends and acquaintances tell me how running is not fun, and I often agree with them.
I have so many runs where I just want to give up.
I still have problems with weight loss even when running.

So why do I continue to run?

1. Exercise is better than no exercise

Running may not be the best form of exercise but it still burns calories. When I start doing my long runs I burn many calories and do start to see weight loss.
1.5 hours jogging is better than 1.5 hours on the couch in front of boob tube.
If I can’t be motivated to do anything but run isn’t it better that I run?

2. Still haven’t gotten a big injury. 

Many runners complain about injuries. I carry an extra 20+ pounds when I run and besides sore bunions I have never really had an injury that has put me out for a considerable amount of time.

3. Goal setting

 Running helps me with goal setting. When I get a race on the schedule my life just flows better. I have scheduled workouts that I accomplish. I am better able to manage my time because I am forced to. During running season I find myself accomplishing much more in my professional life.

4. There is a high

 I starting running about 9 years ago and it took me a while to finally get a runners high. I only get it once in a while but when it comes it is nice. You feel like you are on top of the world.

5. Camaraderie

Running can be a social activity. I have made friends through running and strengthened existing friendships by realizing we have a common hobby. I don’t usually run races with friends but I enjoy meeting them before and after races. I like talking about our running experiences.

5. Some races are fun

Races can be like huge parties but the admission is just completing a run first. Disney puts on some great after parties at the theme parks. Many races now have free beer afterwards. I really enjoy the races that have musical acts playing along the course.

6. Competition

I am so slow but even I get to pass up people in races. Sometimes you just want to be better at something than someone else. There is always someone to beat or to try to beat. (It just blows when the 70 year-old passes me up!!!)

7. I have more energy

During running season I get less tired. I can hang out longer without getting tired. My volleyball skills improve. I am in a better mood.

8. Because I want to.

This reason should supersede all other reasons. Isn’t it really about what I want to do and not about others?
As long as this activity still makes me happy I keep running……

Crossing the running threshold

This past week I believe I have crossed a threshold as a runner. Up until this point every race had been a challenge, including most of the 5ks. Every race I have entered required a good amount of training preparation.  My last big race was the wine and dine in November. I trained pretty hard for that and was still disappointed that I didn’t beat my time. However for the first time I was able to enjoy food and alcoholic beverages post race without getting a massive headache.
Since that race my training has been sporadic. Some weeks I had no runs at all; others only 1-2 times a week. I even had a long break of no running while we were traveling through India. I needed motivation, I needed a race on the schedule.
One distance race that I like to do was coming up soon. I haven’t trained seriously for it but I really wanted to sign up. I decided one cool Florida morning the week before that if I could complete 6 miles (run/walk) that I would sign up for the Winter Park Road Race Distance Dare (10K plus 2 miles). I went about on my run and even finished it with a sprint at the end to beat someone running on the trail with a heavy backpack (I always feel bad when old people or people with heavy packs pass me). Because I completed this long run, I decided to sign up and I did.
Race week I did one short training run, played volleyball, and rode my bike one day. I didn’t want to overdo it pre-race but I also wanted to keep up my fitness level.
Race day I felt ok. I sort of regretted signing up since my training was so sparse. I started the 2 mile race. Pushed myself hard so I could complete in time for the next race to start.
Race 1 was done so I immediately traveled up to the start line again. I ran into my friends who were getting ready to start the 10k. They were smart enough to only sign up for one race for the day.
The race started and I tried jogging with some of my friends for a bit but I let them go since I could never maintain their pace.
Later in the first mile another two friends caught up to me. I chatted with them a bit but then they decided to hold back a bit so I carried on by myself. The first 5K was good. I felt mostly ok during the 3 miles. It was after the 5K mark that I started to lose my wind and did much more walking breaks.
This was another race where I had to pee the entire race but luckily I ran into a row of porta potties near a lake around mile 4.5. After a quick bathroom break I was on to the finish.
I finished and picked up my two metals. I attempted to fully hydrate afterwards. I thought I was hydrated and decided to try a free post race beer (New Belgium Brewing!!!) – that proved to be a big mistake since I had terrible tension headache/migraine the rest of the day. I should have learned my lesson by now – I am not one of those people who gets to partake in alcohol post race.
The part of the story I wanted to note is how I have crossed a threshold as a runner. My body now has muscle memory. I can complete (albeit slowly) distance races with very little training now. I never thought I would get to this point. I now have hope that I can speed up some day. With time and training I will eventually see improvement; I just need to put in the work.

Pre-race salmon

Two medals

Really nice wine glass as gift