Saturday, December 17, 2011

The 15th Annual 5K Jingle Bell 5k Run/Walk for Arthritis

It's not often that I run an evening race. It always hard to figure out the best way to be ready before the race starts. I went to the gym for a short workout in the early afternoon after I got off work. I rode the stationary bike for 10 minutes and then did weights and core work for 30 minutes. I decided to eat a little something that would get me through the race, but not be to filling. I got an order of fries and a side salad at the nearby Wendy's. :) I then went to do a little Christmas shopping before heading over to the Starbucks near the start of the race. I got there just before 5pm, I ordered a Venti peppermint mocha and hung out until my friend Dawn showed up. Race start was 7 pm. Once Dawn showed up, with her daughter, we hung out for a while, then decided to walk around outside and check the vendors that had set up booths. Before we knew it, we had about 15 minutes until the start. We hit the porta potties then went to find a good spot to start the race. The street was packed! Over 2500 people had registered. We managed to get a spot that wasn't very far back from the front/ start line.

Soon we were off! I felt good. My IT band and knee didn't feel tight at all, which it often does in the morning. I didn't have my Garmin on or my music with me, so I just went at a pace that felt good. I hadn't planned on pushing it at all. It's a "fun run" so there was not going to be any official timing. About a half a mile down the road, I heard a guy next to me tell his friend that we were running an 8:40 pace. That worked for me. Not as fast as I would have fun it in October, but my body isn't in as great as shape as then. I past the first water stop because I figured it would be better to get water when we passed it on the way back, it was an out and back course. But, on the way back, just before mile 2, all the volunteers were facing the runners heading out and when I stopped to ask for water, they all ignored me. I grabbed a cup of water, but all of the cups were empty. :( So, I just decided to keep going.

During the last mile, I was starting to feel thirsty and really hot. It was a very humid night. But, I pushed through it because my legs were feeling good and it looked like I was going to have a good finish time according to my watch. About a half a mile before the finish, the walkers who were walking the 1 mile distance merged with the runners. I was dodging people and little kids left and right. I think it's great that people bring there kids to these events, but they should not let a little 2 year old walk back and forth in front of people running! I was almost tripped twice!

Finally I get to about mile 3. The finish line is straight ahead. I just have to run through the intersection and then the finish line is a little ways down the road. All of a sudden the light turns red and we are forced to stop and wait!! I have never been held back at a red light before! I guess because it was a "fun run" they thought it was OK to do this, but it really sucked! Everyone was complaining. I stopped my watch. I was about to have a great finish time, it wasn't fair that I had to stop! Lots of poeple caught up to me at the light and ended up passing me when we were allowed to start running again. I finished strong through and was very happy with my time of 25:37! I wish this had been a timed race (with no stopping) because that's a PR!

Not sure I will do this race again. I know the money is going to a great cause, but the hassle of dealing with all those people is just not worth it.

Monday, December 12, 2011

10th Annual Holiday HalfathonMadeira Beach, FL 12/11/11

I ran this race for the first time back in 2002. It was the first year for the race. I remember it being a little challenging because of the 2 hills (bridges). It was also a memorable race for me, because it was to be my last half marathon for a few years. I found out two weeks later that I was pregnant with my son. This year was the 10th anniversary for the race, so even though I wasn’t able to run very far without pain, I wanted to go out there and do this race.

My plan was to walk the first two miles, then start a run/walk of quarter miles each. I had tried this method for 8 miles earlier in the week and it worked well. No ITB pain at all.
I arrived in Madeira Beach about an hour before the walkers start time (runners started a half hour later). I picked up my chip and then hung out for a while with a couple of my running club friends. Soon enough it was time to line up for the start. There was actually a pretty decent crowd of walkers. I was worried there would only be a few of us. I got to stand at the very front of the starting mat, my first and last time probably! The race director gave us some instructions, including the fact that we should stay on the sidewalk until the runners caught up to us. The roads were technically closed until then. The National Anthem was sung for us and then we were off!

Right away I was being passed by many walkers and people who were slowly running. I didn’t like that at all! But I stayed with the walking, like a good girl. I actually was keeping up a pretty good pace, less than 15 min miles, which is a fast pace for me. By mile one, I couldn’t take it anymore and decided to just run one quarter of a mile to try to put some space between me and some of the other walkers. I picked up the pace to an 8 min mile for the quarter of a mile. It felt awesome to zoom past a bunch of people! Plus, I had a little extra space on the tight sidewalk. By mile 2, I was really happy to start my run/walks. I kept up a pretty good pace, sub 9 min miles, for a few miles during the running portions. This allowed me to gradually get past a lot of the walkers and slower runners who had started off with me. By mile 4, I started looking over my shoulder every once in a while because I expected the fast runners to catch up to me at any moment.

Miles 1 through 5: 14:06/ 12:37/ 11:24/ 11:03/ 10:55

The next few miles went by with no problems. I felt great. No aches and pains. I had plenty of energy and despite the warm day, I felt perfectly fine. Just after mile 6, we looped around a park and then entered the Pinellas Trail. We would be on this until just before mile 12. As I left the park area, I saw the lead runners off to my left, making their way toward the park. The lead runners caught up to me by mile 7.5. It was pretty cool running with the faster runners for the next few miles. They sure make running look effortless and easy!
My running pace started to slow down a bit during the second half of the race, but I was still pretty happy with my pace. I stopped a couple of times to stretch out my hamstrings, which felt a little tight.
Miles 6 through 9: 11:44/ 11:45/ 11:39/ 12:15

By the time we got to the last water stop, just before mile 12, I was starting to feel my knee stiffen up. It wasn’t painful yet, but I knew if I pushed much more, it would become painful. So, I walked a little more during this last mile. Normally I would be beating myself up because I was slowing down and walking more, but for this day, it was part of the plan to finish injury free and ready for Ragnar in a few weeks. I enjoyed the view of the lake and watched out for the guys playing disk golf. I managed to finish the last .1 with a run and run it in strong.

Miles 10 through 13: 11:49/ 12:10/ 12:13/ 13:21

Finish: 2:38
I'm pretty happy with my finish time considering I only ran about 5.5 miles of the race! I got my awesome finishers medal before heading over to get water and a banana and my bag. I found the medical guys to get an ice pack from them, then sat on the grass and stretched a little and iced my knee. I didn't stick around to long because I wanted to get on the bus and back to my car as soon as I could. No waiting for the bus, which was awesome!