Sunday, March 29, 2015

If it's a weekend day, it's a race day!

The past few weekends have been busy. It seems like I've been running in a race every weekend since the beginning of February. Well, it's because I have! I had Ragnar Relay, followed by Scrub Jay 10K, Gasparilla 15K and 5K (same day), Hug a Tree 5K/Take Stock in Children 10K(Sat/Sun), Spring Fest 12K, Sarasota Half Marathon, Life in the Son 10K and Smoothie King 5K this morning. 8 weekends of running races! I am tired! :)

I'm not up to writing a race recap for all those, but I will do a few highlights. I always like to look back on the race, when I run it again, to get an idea of how it went and how to improve.

Scrub Jay 10K (Saturday 2/14): This was the first time I've run the Scrub Jay race. It's a trail race. In Florida, that often means sand running and we did have some of that on this course. Aidan ran the 5K and had a decent time considering he never trains for these things. It wasn't speedy for me, but I finished. 56:51.

Finishing the Gasparilla 15K

Gasparilla (Saturday 2/21): One day of racing this year. 15K first. Pretty cold out this morning. lows in the mid 40s. I wore my new Newtons, which ended up causing a lot of calf pain during and after the race. I really pushed it this year and was very happy with my PR finish time of 1:17:25. We had just enough time after this race and before the 5K, to stiffen up. The 5K was a little slower this year for me than it was last year. Time: 26:21. Both races were good enough for top 10% finisher mugs!

Melissa, me and Gina after Take Stock in Children 10K

Hug A Tree 5K (Saturday 2/28): Wasn't planning on running this, but I was given a free entry a couple of days before the race. Race was a couple of loops around Payne park. Sidewalk, gravel and grass running. One of my least favorite courses. Small race. Placed 2nd in age group. Time: 25:02. Take Stock in Children 10K (Sunday 3/1): Felt pretty sluggish this morning. The humidity was very high. I ran 5 miles before the race. I wanted to get a long run in before the half marathon in a couple of weeks. Felt pretty yucky right from the start of the race. I tried to keep it the pace around 8:20, but after a couple of miles, that was not going to happen. Just did the best I could. Time: 57:05

Waiting for Spring Fest 12K to start

Spring Fest 12K (Saturday 3/7): A cold morning today, which was a nice change over the weekend before. I actually felt pretty good, even though I was starting to feel a little burned out. I might have skipped the race, if it wasn't part of the Manasota Track Club racing series. Ran ahead of Roxy and Gina until they caught me around mile 5. I had slowed down, so it was nice to see them and get the push they provided. Ended up pulling a little ahead during the last mile to finish strong. Time: 1:01:49

Having fun after the Sarasota Half Marathon

Sarasota Half Marathon (Sunday 3/15): A few days before this race, I discovered the temp was going to be hot and humid, so I adjusted my goals. I had wanted to try for a sub 1:50 finish time. Based on Gasparilla, I really thought I could get it. But, the conditions were not going to be good for a fast race. I really slow down in the humidity. I hung with the 1:50 pace group for the first 4.5 miles. They pulled ahead of me as we headed up the bridge for the second time. I thought I might be able to catch back up on the down hill, but I had slowed to much running up, I couldn't run fast enough to catch up and I figured it wasn't a good idea anyway. When you are drenched in sweat by mile 3, it is not going to be a fast race. Slowed down a lot in the last few miles, but managed to pull out another sub 2 hour half, which was my #2 goal. 4th fastest time out of 56 half marathons is pretty good! :) Time: 1:56:35

Life in the Son 10K (Saturday 3/21): Again, this is a race I would have skipped, if it wasn't in the MTC racing series. I wish I could have changed to the 5K, but only the 10K would count for the series. Within a mile, I knew this would not be my best effort. Didn't help that I started out super fast. About a quarter mile in, I looked at my watch to see I was running a 6:55 pace! A bit fast for these tired legs. I slowed down and just tried to keep it around an 8:30 pace or faster for the rest of the race. Legs felt like lead, but I got it done. I hung out for a couple of minutes, to see how I placed (5th in age group) before heading down the road to get to Aidan's baseball game which started at 9 am, an hour after race start. Time: 52:46

Smoothie King 5K (Sunday 3/29) So, what's one more race. That's what I thought to myself when my boss told me she had a comp race entry for this race, if I wanted it. So what if I've already run races the past 7 weekends? Or, that I ran over 50 miles this past week, as part of the mileage challenge at Fit2Run? I went into this mornings race, not expecting to get in a fast race, but I was going to try for it anyway. The weather was perfect. Low 50s. We won't be having many more of these days before next fall. So, I went out fast. The course was out and back and flat. I pushed it hard the first mile, 7:40, but knew I would not be able to hold it. I eased up a bit during the last mile, so that I would have something in the tank for a strong finish. Pushed it hard when I got close the end. Not a PR, but one of my faster times. Good enough for 3rd in age group. Time 24:24.

Time to take a break! I've got Ragnar Trail Atlanta in 2 weeks, but I don't consider that to be a race. One month until my next 5K. :)

Friday, March 20, 2015

What it takes to create a Flat Jenna

A few race ready Flat Jenna's.

A few years ago, I saw a friend post a few photos of their race outfit, the night before the race. It was called a Flat person, as there was no body in the outfit. I thought it was a pretty cool idea. A great way to make sure you have all your gear ready to go for the next day and not have to worry about it in the early morning hours before the race. This was the start of a fun pre-race tradition: creating the Flat Jenna.

Most of the time, Flat Jenna is by herself. Sometimes, while at a race out of town, Flat Jenna will have company. Flat Carolyn or Flat Gina usually, but sometimes other Flats will join in. This may be just me, but I usually think about my race outfit in the days leading up to the race. Do I need a new skirt? Do I need a new top? Visor? Is what I want to wear clean? What shoes? The bigger the race, the more I think about it. For the Sarasota Half Marathon, I knew right away that I wanted to wear my Half Fanatics tank top. It was going to be a warm and humid day, so a tank top was a definite. Plus, this would be my last half marathon until the Fall, so I wanted to show off my Fanatic Pride. This would be half marathon #56! The skirt to wear with the tank top, took some thought. I admit, I have a Skirt addiction. Over 30 skirts, which include Gym Girl Ultra, Happy Girl, Lotta Breeze, Race Belt Skirts and Cover up skirts. I decided to wear my newest skirt, the 261 Switzer Skirt. In addition to the pockets on each under short, there is a small zip pocket in the back of the skirt. The black and grey color would go nicely with my bright blue and yellow tank top. I pulled out the blue compression socks, Newtons, race belt, visor, blue hair flower, Gu’s and race bib. I arranged them all on my bedroom floor with the Skirt and tank, to take the Flat Jenna photo. The final step is to post the photo to Facebook. I love to read through all the comments, most of which are wishing me good luck for the race. Love to have those positive vibes with me as I run a race.

So, that’s how I get my outfit ready for race day. Why not have a little fun with all your pre-race gear. Next time you are getting ready for a race, create your out Flat person!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Ragnar Relay Florida Keys

Team Ultra Pavement Divas.
6 runners, 196 miles from Miami to Key West
February 6-7, 2015

Quick recap of a fun, long weekend. Roxy, Carolyn, Gina and I loaded up the van Thursday morning and then headed to Miami. We picked up Sondra and Holly at the Miami airport, before going to the Ragnar start village. This is the first time I've checked in the day before. Made it so much less stressful to get it all done the day before. We then headed to our hotel to check in, then walked to a nearby restaurant for dinner. Early to bed. We had a 6:30 am start time.

Sondra, me, Holly, Carolyn, Roxy and Gina

It was still dark when we arrived at the start area. I waited near the start line with Holly, our first runner, while the others stood over by the area the runners would head past after the start. With a lot of cheering, the runners where off! We all met back at the van and got right on the road. Holly was running leg one and two. So we had a bit of time before we needed to meet her. We found a Starbucks on her route, so stopped there to get coffee and use the bathrooms. We waited on the sidewalk for a while, but didn't see her. We worried maybe we had missed her. So, we decided to go ahead and get to the exchange. Carolyn got ready, as she was the next runner. We didn't have long to wait, before Holly came running in, passing the slap bracelet to Carolyn. Carolyn ran two legs, then passed off to Sondra, who ran two legs. This took us to the first major exchange, where 12 person teams would hand off from van 1 to van two. This is were I started my first run. I got ready, did a little shopping at the Ragnar booth, then waited for Sondra to come in. We saw a few other Sarasota teams there, which was really fun. Finally, at just before 10 am, Sondra came in and it was my time to run!

Run 1: My first of 5 legs, was 5.4 miles long. Thankfully, the weather was perfect. 68 degrees with low humidity. I took it easy, often being passed by other runners, but my plan was to conserve energy, since I had so many miles to run. Every time someone passed me, I would have to tell myself that the runner wasn't running an ultra, I was! This run was pretty uneventful. Not much to see, as we were running down busy Miami streets. I had to stop at a few lights, one of them had me stopped for about a minute and a half. But, I finished my run in 52:02, which I am happy with. Pace: 9:38; Splits - 9:15, 9:28, 9:29, 9:28, 10:29, 3:50.

Gina ran one leg next, then Roxy and then we were back to Holly. While Holly ran, she had a long run, we stopped at a Publix to get food and ice. I made a big mistake here. While the others got sandwiches and salads, I didn't get anything! Big mistake, that I would feel later during my midnight run. We rushed to get to the next exchange before Holly, but unfortunaltly, she got there before us. We dropped of Carolyn, then pulled over and waited for Holly to jump in. Sondra ran after Carolyn, finishing at the Homestead Speedway, were she passed off to me at 3:40 pm.

Sondra hands off the slap bracelet to me.

Run 2: This was my second time running this leg, which is 8.8 miles long. Last year, I left the speedway closer to sunset. This year, I was so happy to be leaving much earlier, since it takes you through a rough section of Homestead and then down a dirt road, that is completely dark once the sun goes down. This year. I got to run down the dirt road while it was still light. So happy! I took it easy again, knowing I needed to save something for my midnight 10 miler. Even though it was late afternoon, the temperature was still wonderful. Low 70s. The one more mile sign was on the road next to the Everglades Detention center. Other runners said they heard prisoners yelling at them, but I didn't really notice anything. Didn't see anyone in the yard, either. The last quarter mile or so was on the grassy shoulder of the road. So happy to see Gina up ahead, passed of the bracelet to her. Time: 1:29:50; pace - 10:17; splits - 9:43, 9:52, 9:51, 9:58, 11:31, 10:00, 10:41, 10:21, 7:47

Dirt road section. Lots of discarded furniture.

About to hand off to Gina.

Gina ran the first tough section of the dirt road that is part of the water management's property. This is part of the everglades and will take us straight to Highway 1. She hands off to Roxy, just before sunset. Roxy has the toughest part, since her run is around 8 miles, all on this rocky road. Roxy ends up running faster than we thought she would. After finally finding a parking spot, we start to walk to the exchange, when we get a text that she is there already. I rush up to meet her, while Carolyn goes back to get the van and meet us at the exchange. She finds Holly, passes off the bracelet, then we pile into the van. Even though we are very close to Key Largo, we have to drive North, to Florida City, to turn around as there is a barrier between the north and south bound lanes. When we leave the exchange, we are on the north bound side. We stop at a gas station for snacks and a bathroom break, before heading back south, to Key Largo. We get to the next exchange in plenty of time, getting to hang out and cheer on other runners. There is a brief rain, but thankfully it moves past, before Holly comes in and passes off to Carolyn. Holly was lucky, never getting hit by the rain. Carolyn's run is long, so we stop at the Starbucks in Key Largo for some coffee. It's going to be a long night! Sondra is next again, and has a rather long run. I get really nervous about my run, but try not to freak out. We hang out at the high school, the location of the next exhange. Lots of people are sleeping here or taking advantage of the showers. Roxy waits with me at the exhange point. Sondra takes a bit longer than she thought, but eventually, just after midnight, I set off on my third, and longest, run.

Sondra slaps on the bracelet.
Run 3 - 10.06 miles through Tavernier: As seen in the splits below, this was pretty rough almost from the start. My first two miles where slower than I had been running. By the end of the second mile, I started to feel dizzy and I knew it was from lack of food. I ate a Gu, and walked while I waited for the energy from it to kick in. After a while, I started a slow run again. At some point, I saw Gina on the other side of the road, asking if I needed anything. I told her I didn't, but that my pace was going to be a lot slower than I predicted. A little later, I saw some Sarasota friends, that were on another team. They cheered me on as I ran by. We had just crossed the road and had to run in a dirt and gravel section next to the road, since there wasn't a sidewalk. Thankfully, this was a short section. I also had a short hill/bridge to cross over. The night life at the local bars was hopping. I passed a few drunk people out walking. They looked at me like I was crazy. Yeah, I am a little. :)  I was so happy to see the one more mile sign! Stopped for a quick photo, before finishing up and handing off to Gina. Time - 1:56:45; Pace - 11:36; Splits - 10:07, 10:23, 11:54, 11:11, 11:40, 10:53, 12:13, 11:45, 11:56, 14:31, :08

While Gina was running, I ate a little something, drank water and stretched out on one of the longer seats. While Roxy was running, I tried to sleep, but she was having a rough run too, and kept sending me text message updates. I wanted her to know we were thinking of her and keeping track, so I replied to her the 3 times she sent me a text. Still, the hour long light nap seemed to help. By the time Carolyn was out running, we decided to stop for breakfast at the same place Gina and I had gone to the year before. Roxy slept in the car, while the rest of us had a great breakfast. Just what I needed. The food and coffee helped a lot. By the time it was my turn to run again, I felt so much better.

Running next to the old Bahia Honda Bridge. Wish we had been
running agains traffic, so I could have seen the bridge better.

Run 4 - 4.74 miles, starting at 9:32 am finishing on Big Pine Key. The sun was up, but thankfully, the temps were still on the coolish side. The wind was pushing from the north, So, I had a nice push at my back for the entire run! I was feeling pretty good, stopped once to take a photo of my favorite bridge at Bahia Honda State park, before finishing off my run. Instead of passing off to Gina, I passed off to Holly, who was taking on this longer run. Roxy was going to run it, but her foot was really hurting. She wanted to skip her next run, but try to finish off our journey with her last run, which would take us to the finish. Time - 45:31; Pace - 9:36; Splits - 9:18, 9:28, 9:38, 10:16, 6:49.

Run 5 - 4.73 miles run in the Lower Keys, starting at 1:44 pm. My last run! We had to drive to the next stop fast, to get to it before Gina got there. She had taken over Sondra's last run, so she would be passing the slap bracelet to me. She had just over 2 miles and traffic was backed up. We were sitting in the van, in traffic, when we saw her run by us. Thankfully, she didn't have to wait very long. I jumped out of the van, running up to meet her, and then setting off. I didn't even have time to turn on my Garmin! But, I got a signal right way, so only lost a minute or so. The wind was still pushing me along, which I was really happy about. I did manage to pass a couple of people, which was cool. This was my one and only double leg, so when I finished this leg. I had to stop and wait for the police officers to let a group of us cross the road, and then continue my run. That sucked! I got there, but then he made us wait for the 3 runners that were way behind us. Meanwhile, the other two guys that were standing with me, got to watch their runners do a virtual exchange and then take off. Oh, well. Lost a minute or so. I really enjoyed my last leg. Tried to give it all that I had left in the tank. Finished with a nice strong push, to hand off the bracelet to Gina. Time - 44:31; Pace - 9:24; Splits - 9:40, 9:25, 9:18, 9:26, 6:41

Keeping cool with our ICEpodz while drinking
our Whatt-ahh. The BEST water!

We drove down to the next exchange, were I was able to change into dry/clean clothing, then watched Roxy take off. We were on our way to the finish area. Not long after we found a parking spot, we got a text from Roxy saying she was a mile away! We all jumped out of the van and fast walked it over to the meeting area. We would all run in together. Once we saw Roxy, she pulled on her team tank top, then we all ran in to the finish together. What an amazing time!

So, would I run an Ultra Ragnar again? YES! It was fun. For the most part, I liked running more and I know now that I need to eat, as well as keep hydrated. I need to catch a nap, whenever I can. I probably won't run this Ragnar again, this was my third time, but I would love to run another one as an ultra team. I'm really looking forward to Ragnar Atlanta Trail run in April.

Sporting our Gold first place medals!