Thursday, June 5, 2014

Run Like the Wind

I have read that the definition of an elite runner is a runner who believes he or she can win. Not come in second, or first in their age group, but first for the entire race. The first male or female to cross the finish line.

Last month, I was an elite runner.

Having not run a 5K race in awhile, I decided it was time to find a 5K to see if I could still run fast. I am training for a marathon so my running style has changed quite a bit. I am now trying for distance, not speed. This means I have to run slower. Which is harder than it sounds.

So I woke up early Saturday morning and headed to the race. It’s a course I’ve run several times, very flat out and back. It was a fundraiser for the local zoo. Good cause even though I don't like zoos. Too sad to see animals pacing in cages.

Approximately 100 runners showed up. I was happy about that. I like to see a good turnout for a race because it makes all the work that goes into organizing a race worth it, and it lets me know how good or bad I’m doing. It’s hard to judge how well I really did when only 20 people show.

My plan for this race was to just run and not look at my Garmin. When I glance down at my time, I am either freaked out by how fast or how slow I am going and alter my pace. For this race, I was just going to run like the wind.

I lined up just behind the front runners and off we went. There were a number of young guys in front of me who all took off at the speed of light. Then there were a few slower runners who I quickly passed. The next runner in my way was a guy dressed in blue who kind of ran like a pony. Clomp, clomp, clomp. He wasn’t a big guy, but he sounded like he weighed 500 pounds. I passed him because I found his running style annoying. That turned out to be a mistake because he tucked in behind me and started clomping faster. Determined to get away from the clomper, I ran faster. He couldn’t keep up and the clomping faded a little. Next thing I knew the front runners were coming back at me. I counted five, then two more, then two more. I made the turnaround and headed back to the finish line. I was in 10th place with just the clomper behind me. I kept on the lookout for the first female still coming up on the turnaround. Finally I saw her, a young, thin girl who looked like she could really run if she wanted to. She was probably three-tenths of a mile behind me. She could be waiting to make her move for the second half of the race.

I did a quick assessment of my body. Legs - good. Lungs - good. Heart - good. A young guy came up along side me and slowly passed me. I was now in 11th place and the next female was probably gaining on me. I kept running.

When I got to within a half mile of the finish, I heard the clomper gaining on me. Determined to not let him or anyone else pass me, I gave it all I had. I would either win or run out or energy. I was running to win.

My time across the finish line was 23:02. The clomper wasn’t far behind with a time of 23:12. First female, yes! The second female was several minutes behind me.

First place and new PR!
This race had medals for the winners. I like medals over cheap plastic trophies. I proudly accepted my medal and a $10 gift certificate.

After the race, the clomper found me and said “nice race.” We talked for a few minutes. He was an older guy wearing a Boston Marathon shirt. He had run the 2104 Boston Marathon and said it was his last. He was getting too old for marathons. I told him I would be running my first marathon in October. I asked him if he had any advice for me. “Don’t go out too fast. You can’t bank time in a Marathon.”

I defiantly won’t be trying any elite moves in my marathon training, but it’s nice to know I can run like the wind when it comes to a 5K.

23:02 was a new PR for me. Now I have to break 23:00 before the running season ends. It's good to have goals. 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

It's Been Awhile


I guess it has been awhile since I have written here. There’s only so much that can be written about running before it becomes boring and repetitive. Maybe the same can be said about running itself which is why I have chosen to run a marathon this year. It is in October and I am very excited about running it.

I will start with a quick summary of my 2014 running season.

In January, I ran the January Winter Freeze series which is a 10K race held every Saturday in January. The first race was canceled because it was insanely cold. This was a really cold winter. The race was canceled for the volunteers who have to stand in the cold and not for the runners. I ran three out of the four races. My best time was 50:48. That’s better than last year.


January Freeze 10K. I'm the one in fluorescent green.

Running the very cold
Cupid's Chase.
I kind of 5K’d myself out the last two years and decided I was only going to run a few 5Ks this year. I picked the Cupid’s Chase 5K in February because I really enjoyed it last year. I didn’t enjoy it as much this year. I did get a first place age group win and a medal. My time was 24:something. The temperature was 8 degrees and I had a hard time breathing. It was colder than any of the January Freeze races.

In March, I ran a little four-miler and won overall female for that race. It was a really windy race an there were spots where it felt like I was going backwards. My time was 30:something. 

5K in Arkansas. I'm the one in black.
In April, I was in southern Missouri for work and would be there over the weekend. I found a race in Arkansas to run. It was on a small campus of Arkansas University. There were only 50 people, but it was a fun little race. The actual distance was 3.3 miles and my time was 25:something. I came in fourth overall which I thought was pretty good. I guess I’m fast in Arkansas.

My finisher medal.
My next race was the Binghamton Bridge Run Half Marathon which was last weekend. Last year, this was my big race for the year and I trained like crazy for it. This year, due to a lot of cold and snowy weather, I didn’t train as much and felt very unprepared for it. It was supposed to rain the day of the race, but it didn’t. Instead, the wind blew like crazy. This was a hard race. I have been battling hamstring injuries and at mile nine, the right hamstring started to hurt. At mile ten, the left hamstring and foot started to hurt. By mile 11, I really wanted to quit running, but that would have been really stupid with only a few miles to go. At mile 12, adrenaline kicked in and I was able to finish the race quiet strong. My time was 1:51:14. I wanted to beat my time of 1:53:03 from last year and I did. So I was quite happy and the ham string pain was quickly forgotten. My legs were a little sore the day after, but I was fine the next day. I guess I am in better shape than I think.


At the finish line of the Binghamton Bridge Run Half Marathon.
So now marathon training begins. I know I can run a half, but I have to start running smarter if I want to go 26.2 miles without dying at the end. I need to hydrate better, and run slower. I ran a nice steady pace for the first seven miles in the half, but then I started slowing down with each mile after that. Of course, running into the wind didn’t help.

It’s beautiful outside today and I’m going to try to go for a nice, leisurely ten-mile run. I need to find that perfect cruising speed where nothing hurts and I can just run forever.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Accomplishments for 2013

According to MapMyRun.com. I ran 917.8 miles in 2013. Work and injuries got in the way of a lot of good running days this year.

The following is a list of my races for 2013. I don’t plan on running nearly this many races in 2014. For 2014, I need to somehow increase my mileage. I have signed up for a half marathon in May and a full marathon in October. I’m not too worried about the half because I ran it last year, but a full marathon is a new level of training for me. 26.2 miles, crazy!

5K
Cupid’s Chase – 28:08 (Snowy!) (1st place AG)
Run for Your Heart – 24:30
Robert’s Run – 24:35
Walk, Wag, Run – 24:05
Parlor City23:27 (1st place AG)
Kelly LaBrre – 23:51
Invictus – 24:02 (Master’s win)
Women’s Distance – 24:00
Super Hero – 24:56
Chris Thater – 24:02 (1st place AG)
Bell of Hope – 25:21 (Hard course)
Saint James – 24:47
Santa Run – 23:55 (1st place AG)

10K
January Freeze 1 – 58:09
January Freeze 2 – 55:53
January Freeze 3 – 56:33
January Freeze 4 – 57:46
Montrose Independence Day – 53:37 (Hard course)
Octoberfast – 51:50 (2nd place AG)

15K
Chenango Forks - 1:28:53 (Very hilly course, ran with an IT band injury)

20K
Vestal XX – 1:50:26 (Hard course!)

HM
Binghamton Bridge – 1:53:06

Other
Saint Patrick 4-miler – 33:49

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Winter

Winter is here and has been here for a few weeks and is showing no signs of leaving. I try not to let the cold weather interfere with my running, but it's hard to get out there when it's windy and only 20 degrees.

I ran the annual Santa Run 5K on Sunday. There were over 700 runners. That's a lot for this area. The start of the race was chaos. Lots of people in the front who should have been in the back. I got boxed in at least five times before the crowd started to thin out. I have run this course many times and know where my slow points are. In any race I run, there are parts where I kind of doze off and just run without paying any attention to my time. Then I wake up and start racing again. When I downloaded my Garmin, I was happy to see that I ran my usual slow parts well, but unhappy to see that I dozed off in a different section. My finish time was 23:55 which is excellent despite the dozing. I placed 106 out of 760 and received a first place age group win.

I have one more race this Saturday which is also a holiday-themed race. The forecast is for snow. I have raced on snow before, but it's tricky. This will be my last race for the year. Having run in road races for two years now, I think I have 5Kd myself out. I enjoy the racing part, but I am really bored with the 5K distance. I prefer longer races - 10K, 15K, half marathons. Unfortunately, most races around here are 5Ks.

 For 2014, I am going to focus on distance running. The longest I have ever been on my feet is 2:20 and that was months ago. Sunday is long runday for most runners. When spring comes, and the danger of slipping on ice or getting hit by a snowplow are gone, I'm going to start running some serious distances.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Summer race recap

I can’t believe I haven’t posted anything since July 15th. I write for a living and sometimes this ruins the desire to write for fun.

Here’s a recap of my summer races:

  • August 4th – Kelly LaBarre 5K, time: 23:51. This was a rather large race (467 runners) on a narrow course. Plus there was a hot air balloon festival going on at the same time. This was my first time running this race. I thought I should have done a little better, but I was still happy with my time.
  • August 10th – Invictus 5K, time: 24:02 for a Master’s win ($20 gift certificate)! I really like this race. It’s small, I think there were 150 runners total, but the race director is great and there is a lot of positive energy in this race. I also like the course. This was my second time running this race and my first Master's win.
  • August 15th – Women’s Distance 5K, time: 24:00. This is girls only race held in Otsiningo Park. It is very competitive. I have run this course so many times that I am starting to really dislike it. The park is nice, but the trail along the river is narrow and it is an out and back race which means there are runners going in both directions. I placed 38 out of 209 which is very good, but I felt myself losing interest in the race by mile two.
  • August 25th – Chris Thater 5K, time: 24:02. I love this race. The Chris Thater 5K is part of a weekend-long bike race event that attracts elite runners from all over (big prize money). I wanted to do really well in this race, but have been plagued with a muscle pull since early August. A weird adductor tightness on the left inner thigh which causes pain across the groin region. I didn’t feel it very much during the race, but I was very sore the next day. I started the race off well, but felt myself slowing down around mile two. I had some energy for the finish, but wasn’t real happy with my time. The great part about this race is a large spectator crowd and an announcer at the finish line. After the race I hung around for the awards. My time was slow for this race so I didn’t think I’d won anything. When it was time for my age group, third place went to one of my running friends. Then it hit me. I’d beat her. Was I going to get second? Nope, I wound up with first place. A $50 gift certificate. Not bad for a not-so-great run.

August was a busy month for races which caused a lot of stress on the muscle pull. Just when it was starting to get better, I’d run a race and re-injure it again. My plan was to take it easy for September.

I injured the muscle running the hills around my house. Because I am a slow uphill runner, I tried to make up the time by running very fast downhill. Downhill is what caused the injury. I now know I can’t go flying down hills with tired muscles. Apparently my form falls all apart when I run downhill. I need to work on this.

For the first week of September, I did a few very slow runs. This was really all the injured muscle would allow. The smart thing would have been to not run at all, but that wasn’t going to happen. I also bought a bike in August and started riding the bike up and down the hills. Pedaling uses entirely different muscles and didn’t seem to aggravate the adductor at all. So at least I was still getting in some exercise.

There was a race on September 15 that I thought I would be ready for. It was a themed superhero race where everyone dresses up as a comic book superhero. I like theme races. As the race date got closer, I started pushing myself a little more. Because I’d been running slow, running fast was now hard. I was nowhere near my usual run pace of 8:35. I was hoping I could draw off the energy of other runners at the race. Sometimes that works for me. 

The morning of the race I woke up with a pain in my knee. I think it was from a hill I’d biked up a few days before. I was determined to pedal all the way to the top. I’d been walking the steepest part. I’d felt something give in my knee just as I reached the top of the hill, but it wasn’t all that painful so I didn’t think too much about it. Or maybe I’d just slept funny on my knee. Not sure, but the knee was very sore as I pulled on my superhero tights and found my Captain America T-shirt. It was a cold morning, 49 degrees, so I wore a long-sleeve shirt as well.

By race time, the knee felt a little better. I was enjoying all the dressed up runners. Some people really get into this race. I took my spot just behind the front runners and suddenly we were off and running.

For mile one I was fine. My usually fast pace of around 7:15. There is a spot on this course where I always lose steam. I was determined not to do that today and I didn’t. My pace dropped to around 7:35, but that was OK. At the start of mile three, I started to feel some tightness in my left leg. This time in the hamstring area. I was also starting to feel tired. At the point in the race where I usually give it all I have left, I discovered that I had very little left. I crossed the finish line with a time of 24:54. Not at all what I was hoping for. Oh well, it was still a fun race. This was a fundraiser race with no age group awards that I was aware of. I left before the costume awards were given. There was nothing spectacular about my costume.

The next day my knee and hamstring area hurt a lot. I took a few days off and then went back to my slow motion running. I’m starting to wonder if I will ever be able to run fast again. At age 48, I’m only going to be able to run so fast, but it’s fun to win an AG award every now and then.

There is a 5K race on the 29th and I have yet to decide if I should run it or not. Everything is feeling better, but only if I don't push it too hard. I'm not liking this injury stuff at all.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Amazing new PR

Saturday I ran in a local 5K race. My goal was 23:58. I wanted to break 24 minutes so bad. Well guess what? I did it!

As usual, I ran a very fast half mile. I lined up right behind the front runners and followed them until the excitement subsided a little and I had to force myself to slow down. The course was fairly flat with just two small hills and then downhill to the finish. I ran it last year and finished with a time of 28:40. That was last year.

At the one mile mark, I was still moving along pretty good, but runners were passing me by. It seemed like a lot. I let them go and just kept running. At a mile and a half, a familiar runner pulled up beside me. “Kathy” is a good two minutes better than me in most races so I decided I would keep pace with her for as long as I could. She glanced over at me several times with a rather confused or perhaps annoyed look on her face. “Why is this girl still with me?”

At two and a half miles she started to inch ahead. My legs were feeling a little tired so I let her go. I needed energy for the finish and still had a ways to go. Bye-bye Kathy. Thanks for the ride.

As I neared the bridge that would take me to the finish line, the clock read 23:06. Yes! That tiny bit of energy I had saved for the end kicked in and I flew across the bridge and down the slight hill to the finish line. So did some big strapping dude behind me. Another few steps and he would have beat me, but it was too late. The race was over. My time: 23:27.

Green shirt, blue shorts, heading to the finish line. 23:24 on the clock with just a few steps to go.
On Sunday, the results were posted and guess who was number one for the 40-49 age group? Me! And guess who won women’s masters? Not me, but Kathy, with a time of 23:00. I was only 27 seconds behind her. A slow race for Kathy, but an excellent race for me. Overall, I finished 61 out of 332 runners

As thrilled as I am with this time, it’s going to be a hard one to beat in my next 5K which is in a few weeks. I always try to do just a little bit better in every race. Can I do better than this?

A year ago I was running in the 28s with visions of 26 or less way in the future. But in my next few races, I hit 26.

Can I really run a number that starts with 22? Seems absolutely impossible at the moment, but I’m going to try. And hopefully Kathy will be having a better day so I can ride her coattail just a little bit faster.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Interesting 4th of July 10K

Up the hill to the finish line.
For the 4th of July, I ran a rather tough 10K race. The course description was “moderately difficult”. Having survived the “very difficult” Vestal 20K, I wasn’t that concerned.

The raced started off fine, then quickly  went downhill, literally. I’m terrible at downhill and lost time negotiating a very steep downhill plunge. Many people went flying by me. I guess downhill is something I need to practice, because if I had kept my current pace, I would have been flying too, probably on my face.

The next mile was mostly uphill. No trouble there except that I did slow down a little. Then the race took a turn onto a dirt road. It was well packed so that was no problem as long as I kept my eyes on the road and avoided rocks. Running shoes tend to be very thin-soled.

Then the coursed took a turn onto a bridal trail. Bridal as in horse. This trail was tricky. It was narrow, very rocky, and in places, very wet and muddy. It has been raining for weeks and there were some large muddy puddles on the trail. I followed the runners in front of me and made my way around all the obstacles. I turned my ankle when I stepped wrong to avoid a root, but recovered and kept on going.

After two miles of this madness, the trail dumped back onto a road. The race was part of a day of festivities and the road was packed with traffic. The speed limit was 20, but there was hardly any room on the shoulder of the road. This made passing other runners kind of impossible. When there was a driveway for a gas station, I managed to pass one runner. That was the only break I needed because the next runner was a good 30 seconds ahead of me and I never got any closer.

A half mile from the finish line, I was directed to cross the road when I could. Yeah, right! Seeing a small break in traffic, I sprinted to the other side and risked my life running with the flow of traffic.

The finish line was uphill, of course, and after I made the final turn off the terrible road full of cars, I was ready to end this race and gave it everything I had to cross the finish line.

My time for the 6.28 mile crazy race was 53:37. Not bad really considering the “moderately difficult" course.

Another medal to add to the collection!
After the race I hung around to see some of the vendors and wait for the awards ceremony. I estimated there were around 150 runners in the race and I had no idea how many were in front of me. Turns out, not many. I was second for my age group (40 to 49) and received a second place medal.

My overall place was 38 out of 119.

I guess it was an interesting race. I ran it because it’s one I’ve never run before. I could have done without the mud and big rocks, but the trail part was kind of fun. I guess.

My next race is a 5K on July 13th. It’s a flat
course I know well and my goal is to set a PR. I want to see 23:something on the clock when I cross the finish line. I don’t care if it’s 23:59, just as long as it starts with 23.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Hello St. Louis

I really liked this race - hills and all.
A lot catching up to do since my last race. 
I ran the Vestal XX (20K) on June 15th. It was one hilly race, but I did awesome. I was hoping for anything under two hours and finished very strong with a time of 1:50:26. Only a few hills were tough.  The first six miles were the hardest, then it was mostly downhill for the remaining six and a half. No problem at all. I passed a lot of people after mile seven.
Then Monday I boarded a plane for St. Louis, MO for work.  I was hoping to find a 5K race to run on the weekend (today), but really didn’t see anything. I’ve been running in the neighborhood around the hotel in the evenings.  It’s nice out here. Neighborhoods have a speed limit of 20 which is great for runners. The farthest I’ve gone is four miles because shortly after I arrived, a heat wave moved in and it has been over 90 degrees every day.  I have to be at work by 7:30 which leaves no time for a morning run. There are treadmills in the fitness center, but it's summer and I don't want to run inside unless I really have to. A little heat never killed anyone.  Well, maybe that's not true, but I've been keeping my runs to a half hour and try not to go too fast.
Today I am going to be a tourist and have planned a trip to the Arch and the zoo and maybe check out some running stores in the city because I like running stores. I don’t need any running clothes or accessories, but it’s fun to look.
I’m in St. Louis until Thursday and then I get to fly back home.
I really don’t like traveling. I hate flying, rental cars, suitcases, hotels, but I am trying to make the best of it. My rental car is a 2013 Dodge Charger and I was scared to death of it at first, but now I rather like it. That pushbutton start feature is very cool.
Well, got my old running shoes on and I’m off to see the arch. This will probably be my only day for sightseeing (have to work tomorrow) so I’m going to see as much as I can.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Real runner?

The Humane Society 5K race was great. I set a new PR of 24:05. I’ve run this course many times and it’s fairly flat except for two small hills at the very end. I thought I slowed down on the hills, but apparently I did not. I got caught behind some slower runners at the start, but I passed a lot of fast runners (all guys) toward the finish. A time of 23:something is in reach. Wow.

I managed to beat this 15-year-old at the finish line by one second!
Sunday I decided to do a very grueling 12 mile run. I live in the hills now and no matter where I run, there are hills. If I run west, I have some moderate hills. If I run east, I have some monstrous hills. Well, I ran east. And it was hard. I did pretty good for the first six miles. That’s because there was more downhill than uphill. The return trip was the opposite, of course. More uphill than downhill. One of those hills went on for 2.75 miles and qualified as a hillclimb of 3 on MapMyRun. By mile nine, I was exhausted. Halfway up this one hill, I decided to walk and drink the last of my sports drink. I walked for about 30 seconds to give my legs a break, then started running again. My pace on the steep hills was terrible - 12s and 13s. I probably could have walked it faster. At mile 11 it was all downhill and I found some energy to get back to a reasonable 8:30. What a run. My total time was 1:58:55 with an average pace of 9:54.

My reason for running this hilly course was to see if I have any business running the infamous Vestal XX next Saturday. I have waffled back and forth on this race. It is a 20K race and is the toughest race in the area. The first half is mostly uphill and the second half is mostly downhill.

I graduated from Vestal high school and back then, this was a race for “real runners”. It still is. There are no walkers or casual 5K runners in this race. Am I a real runner?

After yesterday’s practice hill run, I compared my course to the Vestal XX course. Guess what? My course was much harder. The Vestal XX doesn’t have a single hillclimb rating and the last half is much easier than the first half. My last half was almost twice as hard as my first half. The Vestal XX is a half mile longer than what I ran, but I should still be able to complete it in under two hours.

The preregistration deadline is June 12th. If I put my application in the mail today, I should be good to go.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Back in the country!

Yesterday was national run day. I managed to get in a 4.2 mile run before the rain started.

I have a new hilly running course to tackle. For the last seven years, I’ve been living in a small apartment in the “city” and sometimes going home to the country on weekends. Well, no more of that city stuff. I’m back in the country to stay. I’m working from a home office now and there’s really no reason for me ever to go to the city again, except to buy food and run in races.

It’s hilly, but I like it. Very little traffic, deer, owls, rabbits, and beautiful views that go on forever. And no, or very little garbage, or people to contend with. No sidewalks, but I can run down the middle of the road if I time it right.

I’ve been wondering how I’d do on the hills and the answer is pretty good. My “end of the road and back” route takes me up a small hill, then up a gradual hill for two miles, then I turn around and run up one steep hill, then downhill all the way until I get near my house and have one last hill to tackle. So far my pace has been around 8:40. I’m happy with that. I have yet to run any big hills, but I’m planning a long run for Sunday and there’s no way I can avoid them.

Tomorrow I have a 5K race. Two small hills at the end. I’ve run the course several times and hope to break 26 minutes. I also hope not to run in the rain. The remains of hurricane Andrea are headed this way. At least it’s summer!