Worcester Running Festival Half Marathon, 19 June 2016

What: Half marathon

Where: Worcester, Massachusetts

Course Map:

wrfcourse

Who: Just me, with moral support from Drew

Time: 02:42:50

Splits: (according to Simon)
Mile 1: 11:21
Mile 2: 12:33
Mile 3: 13:25
Mile 4: 11:57
Mile 5: 12:12
Mile 6: 12:22
Mile 7: 12:42
Mile 8: 12:45
Mile 9: 13:16
Mile 10: 13:14
Mile 11: 12:39
Mile 12: 11:25
Mile 13: 11:18
Mile 13.1: 1:59

To read a nitty-gritty race-specific recap, check out my review on BibRave!

To read about my pre-race (mis)adventures and neuroses, check out my last post.

Quick background: This was my second half marathon, and I didn’t train properly at all. My longest training run for it was a mere 5 miles, and the farthest I’d run in 2016 was a 10K. So it’s fair to say I was a little nervous going into this race!

I was grateful that I had splurged on a hotel room close to the start, because not only did it mean extra sleep before the 7am start, but it also meant I didn’t have to suffer the porta-potty SNAFU that happened before the race. Rumor had it the porta-potty delivery man got lost on the way to the race, and there were no porta-potties on-site until right before the race started. Oops! They opened up City Hall so the runners could use the bathrooms in there, but I heard there weren’t many stalls, so the line was ridiculous. It ended up delaying the race start by 10 minutes, as the race director wanted everyone to have a chance to use the loo if they needed.

At last everyone was gathered at the start, and after Beyonce sang the national anthem (recorded, unfortunately… would have been ridiculously awesome if she had been there!) we were under way.

IMG_20160619_070919608_HDR

Eventual winner leading the pack on the left.

It was forecast to be about 87* F (30.5 C) by 11am, so I was also grateful for the early start! It was in the low 60s at start time, and I was almost a little chilly in my minimalist kit. I wasn’t complaining!

IMG_20160619_071007030

As usual, being goofy after crossing the start.

In addition to my run club singlet, I was rocking my Under Armour shorts that are so light and cool that they feel like they’re not even there… only without the awkward naked feeling. I love them.

I was also trying out an EnduraCool multi-cool thingie (the wicked bright orange scarf thing around my neck), which one of my Shammie friends had been raving about in recent weeks. Knowing how terrible I am in the heat, I liked the idea of having a cool thing to put against the back of my neck to keep my temp down. It was a little awkward and floppy, and the part against my skin warmed up pretty quickly, but all it took was a quick adjustment and it was cool again. Plus, when kindly locals were handing out ice along the course, it was a perfect place to store it, and kept it from melting for way longer than I expected. That was pretty sweet.

IMG_20160619_071008366

Is that an excited smile, or a grimace-smile trying to mask my worry?

The first mile was through downtown and had a nice downhill section, and I was feeling pretty good. Mile 2 was also decent, and had some shady bits near Elm Park which were nice.

My plan going in to the race (or, at least the one I sort of came up with as I ran the first mile and realized I should have a plan) was to stop every mile to have a short walk break and a chew, and to take water at every water stop, along with another walk break. Also, I told myself it was totally okay to walk anytime I started feeling even a little bit fainty… having not trained, and knowing how hot and hilly this race would be, I knew I wouldn’t be gunning for a PR. My only goals were a) to finish, however long it took, and b) to stay conscious, even if it meant walking slowly for most of the race.

There were a good number of runners near me for the first 2.5 miles, and I was leapfrogging with several who were also run-walking. One of my worries going in was that I’d be the only run-walker and that I’d finish last, but that worry was completely unfounded. And anyway, there’s no shame in finishing last… I’ve done it before!

The feel of the race changed a bit between miles 2 and 3, when I hit The Hill. Worcester is known for its hills, and I knew going in that at least one of its famous hills would be part of the course. Thankfully the hill came early in the race… at first I was annoyed that I hit it so early, but then I tried to think about how much worse it would have been if The Hill had happened in Mile 12! Yeesh.

salisbury

Google Street View of the start of The Hill. Notice the lovely shade and an example of the giant houses that line the street!

Against my better judgment, I tried to run The Hill. Slowly, but still. Maybe it was all the hills I ended up accidentally scaling during my training runs, but it didn’t feel too bad, at least for a while. I made it maybe halfway or 2/3 of the way up before I needed to walk the rest, and that was enough to put me in front of all the runners I’d been leapfrogging. I ended up being on my own for a few miles starting at this point, which was a weird sensation. Especially when I’d come upon a turn without obvious course markers and had to cross my fingers that I was going the right way.

Luckily The Hill was shady and populated with giant, gorgeous houses that I could look at and distract myself with. And, when I got to the top, there was a small group of people with cowbells cheering me on, offering high-fives, and shouting “You’ve beaten the hill! That’s the worst part of the race!” That was awesome!

The next mile consisted of winding my way downhill through quiet, shaded neighborhoods. I liked the downhills, but it was a bit boring and lonely for that stretch. That is, until I took a walk break and a guy came out of nowhere to pass me, yelling “Pretty far from the pond, eh?” and pointing at my singlet. I was silent with confusion for a second or two, then he yelled “You’ve been pacing me this whole race so far! Keep it up!” and took off. Turns out he was the only other runner from my city in the race, and – as I found out later when I caught up with him – he does most of his running at my favorite pond path. Small world!

The next mile was pretty uneventful, except for the sparkliest water stop I’ve ever seen. There were tables on both sides of the street (this part was out-and-back, so the lead runners were starting to pass me going the other way) that were decorated with shiny streamers, and people were ringing cowbells and cheering. One lady had a giant bucket full of ice, and I took some to tuck into my EnduraCool, where they melted slowly and kept me cool for a few miles. One of the neighbors had his sprinkler going for us, too. I loved these people.

At the end of this street, just before Mile 6, we turned onto Mill Street for my least favorite stretch of the race. We ran right on Mill St. for a while, then turned around and ran the other way for a long time, then turned around and ran back. For nearly four miles we were on an endless, nearly shadeless, stretch of road that had nothing to look at along it. Well, at one point there was a pond with a little beach, but that was it. It was all woods, fields, and abandoned-looking buildings, with a few houses in the middle bit. It was bleak. Some of my slowest miles happened along this stretch, and I walked a lot. It was also open to traffic, and cars were coming awfully close to our narrow little coned-off running section. I didn’t love it.

millst

A particularly bleak stretch of Mill St., courtesy of Google Street View.

The only bright spots along this stretch were 1) the aid station that had Honey Stinger gels, and 2) my pond-runner buddy. I caught up to him early on during this stretch, when he was walking. He grinned and said “welcome back!” and we chatted for a bit as I took a welcome walk break with him. Turns out we had both missed the race last year and had taken the deferment, but then neither of us had trained beforehand, him due to injury and me due to, well, me being me. We ended up leapfrogging each other a few more times, each time shouting encouragement to each other. That definitely helped me get through the Mill St. stretch!

My chews ran out at Mile 9, and I stopped at Mile 10 to take the gel I picked up at the aid station. I’d never had a gel before – chews have always been my fuel of choice – and wow. (I know, I know… never do anything new on race day.) I should have taken it near a water stop because I almost choked on its sweetness and it made my mouth so sticky. But, it also gave me a serious kick start; once I started running again after taking it, my legs didn’t feel as tired and my energy levels definitely went up. It was like a miracle gel. Cheers, Honey Stinger!

The rest of the race from there was a repeat of earlier bits of the race, so I had an idea of the terrain and knew how many more water stops there’d be. Other than those water stops, I ran (and somehow negative-split) the last 5K. I think I just really wanted to be done running at that point!

As I got to the last .1, I kicked it as hard as I could without wanting to faint. I turned the last corner and spotted Drew, making sure to make another goofy face at him:

WP_20160619_09_52_17_Pro

Plenty of porta-potties by this point!

I have a memory of smiling big at the photographer at the finish line, but my picture says otherwise:

wrffinish1

Sigh. I made this pic small because it’s much too terrible to look at larger.

I was handed a bottle of water and a medal immediately after crossing the finish (yessss!), wandered off to some shade, and tried to stretch. My legs were so wobbly. Drew found me, and together we waited for my race buddy to cross the finish so we could cheer for him. Then I wobbled off to find a snack – there was plenty of pizza (at 10am, ugh) and a handful of bananas left, so I grabbed a banana before attempting stretching again. I also posed for a hometown pride photo:

IMG_20160619_095813987

Wormtown represent!

…then wobbled off back to the hotel for ice cold water, a protein shake, and a much-needed shower. I had finished! And, somehow, despite the heat, the hills, and the lack of training, my finishing time was only 5 minutes slower than my other half, which was run on a cool day in October on a flat course. Not too shabby!! However, despite pulling off a surprisingly decent race, I think next time I’ll make sure I train. And… maybe no more summer halfs. I think one was good enough.

Advertisements

Worcester Firefighters Memorial 6K, 12 June 2016

What: 6K (~3.73 miles) road race

Where: Worcester, Massachusetts (course map)

Who: Just me, with moral support from Drew and my dad

Benefited: Worcester Firefighters Scholarship Fund, Community Harvest Project, Genesis Club, American Society for Suicide Prevention, and NEADS

Time: 38:14 Personal record!

2016 was my third year in a row running this race, and I PR’d by 5:30 (last year’s result, also a course PR, was 43:44)! To read my recaps from years past, see 2015 and 2014.

IMG_6854

Pre-race

Drew and I arrived at the park about an hour before the start, and there was already a great crowd. Music was blasting, kids were playing with the little firehose demonstration thingie, and the atmosphere was great as always.

Registration was pretty straightforward, but a little hard to find. Each year I’ve run this race the registration table has been in a different spot, and each year I go to where it was the year before, only to be a little confused. This year’s location took a bit more hunting than last year’s, but once I found it I had my bib and shirt within 3 minutes.

The porta-potties had also changed location this year, and the lines were much longer than last year’s (the field this year felt significantly bigger than the last 2 years’, but it was only about 200-250 people bigger). Thankfully the lines moved relatively fast, and I was able to get in and out and still have 10-15 minutes left to warm up before the start.

IMG_6852

Warmed up and ready to run!

The race

Unlike the previous 2 years, when I lined up near the very back of the pack, this time I tried to find a spot a bit further up; last year I remember being frustrated at how many walkers I had to dodge in the first quarter-mile, and hoped that moving up a bit would help avoid that.

All the runners moved aside to let the WFD Pipe and Drum band through, which has been one of my favorite parts of this race. I love bagpipes, and love all the ceremony in honor of the Worcester 6 and other fallen firefighters.

Last year I complained a bit about how all the runners were made to stand in the sun on the hot asphalt while the race director and others spoke for upwards of 15 minutes. There was quite a bit of talking this year too, but it didn’t seem quite as long… maybe because last year it was in the 90s and this year was only in the 70s? I also feel like I wouldn’t mind all the talking so much if I could hear it at all! Even closer to the start line I heard nothing that was said, which is a shame because this was the race director’s last year in charge and I’m sure lovely things were said. Oh well.

After the national anthem – which I could hear! – the horns on the fire trucks parked at the start blasted the beginning of the race and we were off!

IMG_6861

Motorcycles leading the way

IMG_6865

Here I come, doing an awkward wave thing

I didn’t have to do quite as much dodging as last year, but the road definitely felt more congested, which made any dodging I had to do a little trickier than in the past. One unsettling thing that happened in the first half-mile – where the road is only blocked one-way and the other half is open to traffic – was when an ambulance was trying to go the other way, but was stymied because of all the backed-up race traffic. It felt wrong to have a firefighters race interfere with first responders, but what can you do at that point? I squished as far over to the right as I could and the ambulance eventually got through, and I hope it got to where it needed to go in time!

The first mile ticked by pretty quickly, though I wouldn’t have known because I’d forgotten to take Simon off the manual lap setting and so he didn’t beep at the mile marks. D’oh! I happened to glance down around 1.2 and saw my time was roughly 9:26. What?? No wonder the first mile went by quickly… I was flying! I guess that’s what can happen when I start further up the pack than usual.

IMG_6867

I don’t have any mid-race pictures, but check out my form in this one! Who am I and where are my flingy shins??

I took a brief walk break at that point – though not as hot as years past, the sun was hot and radiating up off the asphalt and I was feeling quite warm. I started running when I spotted the firehouse where the firefighters always have a hose out to spray down the runners, and ran through the glorious spray and yelled a thank you.

I don’t remember how often I took walk breaks… I know I took a few more, and I know I slowed down pretty significantly after that first speedy mile, but the rest of the race sort of blurs together. Some highlights:

  • The same firefighter who is always road guarding the same spot, who always tells the runners how awesome we are and thanking us and handing out high-fives… and high-fiving him each time I passed him.
  • The glorious, cool tunnel and people whooping and being echoey in it, and cheering for the eventual winner who flew past us under there.
  • The awesome football team and their coach who were manning the water table, and who looked slightly overwhelmed by all of us but who did a fantastic job!
  • The lines of older folks dressed in their Sunday best who were trying to cross the street as we can barreling down the road at them, and the lady behind me who muttered a “are they serious right now?” as some of them stepped out into the road and the rest followed, making a kind of obstacle course for us.
  • Getting to the point last year where I had to stop and eat some chews, only to realize I was so close to the finish line that I could actually see it… and knowing not to stop because I was closer than I felt to the end.
  • Being passed by sprinters as I chugged up the hill to the finish, fighting the head-wind coming at me and trying to blow my hat off, and being disheartened that I didn’t have anything left in the tank to do my usual sprint to the finish and chase them down. It was all I could do to not puke, and the pics Drew got of me show a big grimace:
IMG_6871

Grimacing and… it looks a little like I’m doing comedy tip-toeing

finishline2

I look pretty unhappy in the official pic too, but so does everyone except the lady celebrating up front

Post-race

Crossing the finish line was wonderful, and I was met with a medal and a full-size bottle of water within steps of crossing the mat. Glorious indeed!

IMG_20160612_123046732

Love. This. Thing.

I made a bee-line for the giant misting fan and stepped into the spray before finding Drew and my Dad and sitting/stretching in the shade. Last year we enjoyed the post-race party and free ice cream, but this year we opted out, which I’m a little sad about. My dad was fresh off an overnight shift and Drew was hungry and a little cranky… and were already almost at our cars, whereas the party was quite a ways in the other direction. So we opted to go out for lunch instead. It was nice, but part of the awesomeness of this race is the block-party atmosphere, and I missed that. Ah well, there’s always next year! And the next, and the next, and the next… 🙂

Nuun Year Dash, 7 February 2016

What: Virtual 5K race

Where: on the treadmill

Who: me and David Bowie*, running virtually with other Nuun fans around the country
*David Bowie did not actually run with me… obviously

Benefited: Challenged Athletes Foundation

Time: 40:42

Note: This post is a bit rambly. TL;DR? I ran a virtual race and you can see my fancy results page here. Scroll to the bottom of this post for my more substantive thoughts!

——

Last summer, Nuun hosted a virtual running/cycling race for its Nuunbassadors and sponsored athletes. Always a sucker for bling, I jumped at the chance to take part and ran my race around the Ballona Wetlands in Los Angeles (you can read my recap here):

photo(16)A few months back, I got an email from Nuun that they were hosting another virtual race, but this time it would be open to all runners and walkers, regardless of Nuun affiliation. Once again, distracted by the opportunity to get another shiny medal (and another sweet t-shirt… the one for Run Ride Hydrate (seen in the photo above) is one of my faves – so soft and fits perfectly!), I signed up immediately.

At the time I signed up, back in November, I was still in the midst of recovering from injury, and thought a virtual 5K would be a nice way to start the year – a gentle return to racing and something to look forward to. I didn’t know at the time that I would have already made a victorious return to racing, or that the 5K would clash with my training schedule… oops.

Fast forward to this past weekend: race weekend. My training plan dictated a “long” run of 2 miles – this being the first week of said plan, which is nice and gentle – and yet here I was facing a 5K race. It definitely seemed doable, but after my plethora of injuries of late I was hesitant to over-do it and send myself down another spiral of injury and resting sadness. However, I had already paid for the race, I already had the swag in hand, and not doing it seemed like a waste. So I decided to run the full 5K, but very, very gently.

...but not quite this gentle (source)

…but not quite this gentle (source)

Sunday – long run day – arrived, and I got amped for my virtual race. I donned my spiffy new Nuun shirt, hydrated properly (#nuunlove!), picked out a good playlist on the ‘pod, and shuffled off to the gym. Despite the relatively warm temps (low 40s), the sidewalks were still a slushy, icy mess from Friday’s snowstorm and I didn’t want to take any risks.

Being Super Bowl Sunday, the gym was gloriously not crowded, and I had a choice of treadmills. Huzzah! I fired up the belt and walked for 5 minutes to warm up, flipping through the channels on the treadmill TV for something I wouldn’t mind staring at. Usually I end up watching a basketball game I don’t care about, or HGTV, but the stars aligned this day and gave me the gift of a David Bowie documentary on VH1. (Although, except for the part when they explained how “Heroes” was made, I listened to my iPod instead of the documentary, since I wanted to run to music and not talking.)

Once I was warmed up, I restarted the treadmill and hit the belt running. Slowly(ish). I kept the speed set to between a 12-13-minute pace in the name of taking it easy, but holy mackerel – running a 13-minute pace on a treadmill feels just as intense as running a 9- to 10-minute pace outside! To me, anyway. I felt like I was putting in nearly the same effort as I did in recent races where I finished around 32-33 minutes, and yet this run took about 8 minutes longer. Treadmills are weird.

Anyway, as I was running and trying to figure out how I could drink water without stopping, but also without dribbling down myself or tripping/flying off the machine, I got a brilliant idea – to stick with my training plan, I’d run straight for 2 miles, then slow the belt down for a walk-and-water break, and then determine how I felt about going the remaining mile and change. That way, I’d still technically be keeping myself on the plan, while also giving myself a way to hydrate safely and (in theory) without embarrassment.

IMG_6038

2 miles with the Thin White Duke in 25:33

I hit 2 miles in just over 25 minutes, which was a little self-esteem boost since the day before I had gone 1.8 miles in the same amount of time. It’s the little things! I slowed the belt down and walked for a bit, downing some water and enjoying the breeze from the little treadmill fan, and made a mental systems check. I felt good! I felt like I could keep going, so after about a tenth of a mile I sped up again to run the last mile of the 5K.

IMG_6040

3.12 miles in 40:42

Dude. Treadmills make me feel so slow. I seriously felt like I had just put in the same effort as I did in the Dockweiler 5K where I PR’d, and yet this time around I was going so much slower. I tried not to focus on that too much though; there were a few spots during the run where I noticed how strong I was feeling, or how I’d hear a song that matched my cadence perfectly and made me feel like I was unstoppable. It felt awesome.

Plus, I had already seen a bunch of Nuun Year Dash results online, and it wasn’t like I was going to win any speed prizes, so I opted to just bask in those few moments of strength and awesomeness. I walked some more to cool down, stretched, and drove home feeling awesome. And thirsty:

Bling bling!

Bling bling!

So, after that rambly tale of my treadmill adventure, what about the race itself?

Pros:
-I love the swag. Super soft, nice-fitting t-shirts are awesome, and bling is always fun.
-I like running for charity, and the ones Nuun has chosen for their virtual races have been ones I feel good supporting.
-It’s really cool following the other runners’ exploits on social media. My facebook feed was teeming with fun photos from all over the country, and I loved getting to see the diversity of places as well as the runners/walkers themselves.

Cons:
-As much as I loved following the races of my fellow runners, the social media aspect turned into a bit of a deluge. However, this could have been easily remedied if I had chosen to unfollow the event on facebook; it was much more manageable on instagram and twitter. I felt like a bit of a spoil-sport unfollowing the event though, so I just ended up ignoring my phone put up with all the alerts.
-If you want to be eligible for prizes, you have to submit a link to your time on the results reporting page – so a link to Garmin connect, MapMyRun, Nike+, etc. If you’re like me and you ran on a treadmill, but don’t have the fancy accelerometer foot pod things to track your distance on the ‘mill, then you have no way of proving your activity. Like I said earlier, I didn’t run fast enough to be anywhere near a prize category, but it was still a bummer to be unable to submit “legit” results.

So, to sum up? Nuun – and FitFam, the virtual running organization who took care of the race logistics – puts on a fun virtual race, probably the best I’ve done. (To read recaps of my other virtual races, you can go here, here, here, or here.) Compared to the others, Nuun’s races definitely have had more of a sense of community, which is impressive given that it’s a virtual event. The others I did were basically just an excuse to get a medal… there wasn’t really any connection with other participants.

All that said, I think I’m going to hang up my virtual racing shoes, at least for now. The first three I did were honestly just a way to get more running bling, but I’ve come to feel that bling earned virtually just doesn’t feel as awesome as bling earned in person. Maybe it’s because the medal tends to arrive in the mail before the run even takes place? Whatever the reason – and not to knock virtual races at all – I think I’ve reached a place in my running where I don’t need the bling incentive to make me go out and run; I’m finally doing okay getting out there on my own, and prefer to share my races with other people (IRL, not virtually). Race day atmosphere is something you really can’t replicate virtually! I mean, never say never, but… I think I’ve officially hit the “been there, done that, got the t-shirts, next!” phase with virtual races.

What are your thoughts on virtual races – yay, nay, or eh?

On Actually Completing a Challenge

Readers, I did it! I actually finished a challenge! Please excuse me while I do a brief victory dance:

Where was I? Ah yes. This accomplishment feels particularly sweet because I generally have such a hard time following through with goals and challenges and such (see my last post… as well as many of my others), and this time I actually did it! I saw it out to completion and achieved official MiniYeti status!!

I first mentioned my MiniYeti challenge back at the start of December. My gym has these fantastic pieces of equipment called Expresso Bikes, which feature tv screens and allow you to basically play video games while you ride. It’s awesome.

I had noticed a few challenges pop up in my email after I signed up for an Expresso account, but never paid them much attention… partly because I didn’t feel like I was going to the gym enough to complete one, and partly because, well, I know myself and know I don’t do well with these challenge things.

This time was different. I was recovering from a dodgy metatarsal, had the OK from my ortho to ride bikes, and was actually going to the gym regularly enough where I felt like I could do it. Plus, there were different levels of the Yeti challenge, and the MiniYeti (completing 6 hilly courses) seemed doable.

MiniYeti courses complete!

MiniYeti courses complete!

I cruised through the first 4 courses relatively well, and was all cocky and “Oh, I only have 2 more to do before the end of December. This was easy peasy!” And then Drew and I went to California for over a week, and then suddenly it was December 30 and those two courses were still sitting there, minus check marks. Well, crap.

I had New Year’s Eve off from work, and decided I’d get to the gym no matter what to finish my challenge. I was like a woman possessed… I did not want to fail at yet another fitness challenge! Drew and I had to do some fancy juggling of our car, but he dropped me off and I made a bee-line to the bikes, which were thankfully unoccupied.

At this point, as I did a warm-up lap of the virtual track, I started to get a bit intimidated. The two courses left were both over 5 miles, and I hadn’t ridden much more than 5 miles at a time on the bike, like, ever. I had my trusty bottle of Nuun and a packet of Honey Stinger chews in case I started to feel fainty, and dove in to Billy Goat Falls. Holy hills, Batman! At one point I was going up a 47% grade… even having recently conquered real-live hills didn’t prepare me for this particular ride on the struggle bus.

Simon Pegg = me, basically (source)

Simon Pegg = me, basically (source)

When I finally crossed the finish line after having slowly climbed up a snowy, virtual mountain, I was questioning my sanity a bit. Was my excessively elevated heart rate and sweaty, huge, red face (that was attracting double-takes from almost everyone who walked by my bike) worth completing a silly little challenge?

Yes. Yes, it was.

After a few swigs from my Nuun bottle, I selected the next course and jumped right in. And you know what? I kicked arse. Maybe it was because Broken Spoke was a more gradual incline and so felt easier after Billy Goat Falls, maybe I was just warmed up, or maybe I just hit The Zone, but I totally cruised that level. It was like my final mile of that half marathon I did last year, when I felt like a machine and couldn’t have stopped if I tried… I was a total bike machine!

And what made the whole machine-like feeling even better? The giddiness that came from knowing I was finally finishing a challenge, and not giving up after a few half-hearted tries like I’ve been know to do in the past. I was totally getting the runner’s high feeling, but while riding a stationary bike and knowing I still had a few miles left to go. I felt great! I felt proud. I felt strong. It was awesome.

I finished that level and half expected some kind of fanfare… maybe just an email from Expresso like “Hey! You did it! You’re a MiniYeti!” Instead, I drank some more Nuun, cooled down a bit, stretched, and walked home like a boss. I completed the challenge, I surpassed 10 miles on the bike, and I now know that the walk home from the gym isn’t too bad. Plus now I have a cool little yeti dude under my avatar on my Expresso profile. So that’s neat.

My virtual challenge trophy case is empty no more!

My virtual challenge trophy case is empty no more!

It’s pretty cool knowing I’m starting 2016 having owned a fitness challenge at last! Now that I know I can actually do it, I may even be looking for more…

Have you ever completed a challenge and felt totally badass about it?
Or are you like me and generally quit and/or avoid them?

Are you doing any fitness challenges at the moment, or have any coming up?

Tales of Turkey Trots and News Good and Bad

Happy Monday! I hope you all had an excellent weekend, and that those of you who celebrated Thanksgiving had a happy one!

Now, where to start?

I guess I’ll start with the bad news: I may have reinjured my dodgy metatarsal.

Sigh... (source)

Basically my reaction to this news. (source)

Let’s backtrack real quick to two days before my Treadmill Run of Glee. I was at work, doing normal worky things, when I started feeling ghost pains on the ol’ metatarsal. I knew I was going to try my first run that weekend, so the timing was pretty crappy. It lasted maybe 5 minutes… ever-so-slight twinges that were almost not even noticeable. I tried to stifle a sense of dread and went on with my day.

I carried on with my plans to run because the pain didn’t return after that one instance… I thought hoped it was a fluke. Then I got the same ghost pains on the way home from that run. And then the next morning it hurt to put my sock on. Nooooooooo. 😦

I emailed my ortho and may have threatened to chop off my foot. He chose to ignore that threat and told me “no impact for a week,” and that if it still hurt he’d see me again to check it out. Not a bad diagnosis given the 6-8 weeks I was just off, except…

Thanksgiving was during that one week of no impact activity, and Thanksgiving was the annual Shamrock Turkey Trot! I’d been so excited to run it, and had even had bought a silly turkey hat for the occasion! Plus it was also my birthday, and I really wanted to start the day off with some Shammies fun. Boo.

Well, every cloud has a silver lining, right? I emailed my friend E to see if I could still partake in the (in)famous after-party if I didn’t run, and turns out she got injured too, and was also under doctor’s orders not to run for a while. We made plans to walk the Trot together, and I felt so much happier about it all.

Thanksgiving dawned bright and early (the Shammies meet at 6:30am for this run!) and I was instantly so happy that I dragged myself out of bed so early. I’ve missed these people!! I donned my festive hat:

IMG_5259

…layered up in preparation for a chilly walk, and then everyone took off on a 4-mile run:

IMG_5258

Running off into the gray morning

E and I were at the back of the pack with N, a fellow injured Shammie, and I started walking only to have E and N start jogging. Wait, whaaa?

Okay, sure, this is fine. It’ll be good to test out my foot to see how it feels. We’ll go slowly and gently into this good morning. No worries. … Yiiiiikes.

We all agreed we’d take it easy, and if anyone started hurting we’d stop and walk the rest of the way. And you know what? My foot didn’t hurt at all! Not during, not after. This injury is a curious one.

All in all we ran 1.68 miles and I managed to run the whole way. I was huffing and puffing and felt so incredibly out of shape, but it felt so good to run, even if it was against my better judgement! With E’s encouragement I even ran all the way up the Hill of Doom, which I’ve never been able to run up without walking before. Boo yeah!

It was pretty awesome running around town in that turkey hat. One lady actually stopped, even though she had a green light, to let E and I cross in front of her, laughing and yelling out her window that she’d never hit a turkey on Thanksgiving. I got lots of waves and felt like a celebrity!

The rest of the club trickled back into the parking lot and our Turkey Day feast began. One guy opened the back of his truck as a table and we tucked in on all the pastries and, um, “special” coffee and other beverages people had brought. I met some new-to-me Shammies, learned that a few share my home city (Woo represent!), and caught up with people I haven’t seen in months. It was fantastic.

I love these people (source)

I love these people (source)

And now I’m in the midst of my no-impact sentence. My foot has felt fine since the day after my treadmill run, so I’m kindling yet another flame of hope that it was nothing and that I’ll be okay to continue running soon.

And the good news (in addition to my naughty Turkey Trot)? I got word that I’ll continue to be an ambassador for both Nuun and Honey Stinger next year! I was so pumped… I love both brands and am so happy to be able to keep representing them in 2016!

Have you ever had an injury that just wouldn’t go away completely? 

How was your Thanksgiving?

Happy National Running Day!

irun

It’s that happy time of year again, when we celebrate running, and when I watch the celebrations sadly from the sidelines. Womp womp. Two years ago I had a back/neck injury and couldn’t participate, and last year it was a dodgy stomach that kept me out. This year it’s the dodgy knee. Sigh. Oh well… I can still celebrate in my own way, right??

Last night I had a PT appointment and it actually went quite well. I was having a bit of pain in my knee after the nearly 6 miles of walking I did over the weekend, but the physio had me try running on the treadmill again and it actually felt fine. Huzzah and yay for running!

Today I am celebrating NRD by planning to heartily complete my PT exercises, in hopes that I will soon be back among the running for more than just 4 minutes every 2 days.

And, speaking of PT exercises – and as a special PSA from your friendly, neighborhood, perpetually-injured, slow running blogger friend – only YOU can prevent overuse injuries like Runner’s Knee! Take it from me – stretching is your friend, and don’t ignore your hips! 

In fact, be sure to check out this awesome video – The 5 Hip-Strengthening Exercises Every Runner Should Do – which I found on a recent post over at Run, Rest, Repeat. Most of those are actually exercises prescribed by my PT for my dodgy knee… if only I had seen this video before the dodginess struck! Or, you know… if only I had seen the video and actually DONE those exercises. (Toe-may-toe, toe-mah-toe.)

Finally, runners love their gear right? And we all love deals on our gear? Check out the NRD deals on the NRD website

And, finally-finally, do you ever find yourself flagging on a long run, wishing you had someone to cheer you on and give you the motivation you need to keep going? Are you running alone in these moments and bereft of such motivation? Well, be bereft no more! Thanks to the awesome folks at Nuun, you can get a free week subscription to Motigo, an app that sends you audio clips of personalized cheers from friends and family (and even running celebs like Kara Goucher!) while you run! Who can pass that up? Head over to http://nuun.getmotigo.com/ to start your free week of “emotional fuel!”

 
Why do you run?

Are you doing anything to celebrate National Running Day?

Running Favorites

I have a few posts that are overdue, including a race recap, but haven’t had the time to sit down and bang them out yet. Remind me again why I thought taking a class during a super busy chunk of my life would be a good idea?! Oh, that’s right… because when I registered for the class I didn’t know 80 other things were all going to happen at once. So it goes.

Anyway, in lieu of those posts, here’s a quick and fun running questionnaire as a placeholder to remind everyone (including myself!) that I am indeed still here 🙂 Thanks to Fallon at Slacker Runner for the tag!

Running Favorites:

1) Location: Trail, Road, or Indoors?

Can I be diplomatic and say all three, depending on the time of year and weather conditions? I do most of my running on roads/sidewalks, and I like that just fine. However, during the winter (especially this past winter we are only now slightly emerging from) I’m not quite badass enough to deal with the ice and running in the roads, so indoors tends to do the trick. I do prefer indoor tracks to treadmills, though. And trails… how awesome does a nice, shady trail feel in the middle of summer when the roads are sweltering? So nice.

Stopping for a photo in the middle of a lovely, cool trail run last year

Stopping for a photo in the middle of a lovely, cool trail run last year

2) Time of Day: Morning, Noon, or Evening?

Evening. I’m not a morning person, and noon running just brings to mind thoughts of midday sun and red, throbbing faces (read: mine). I do most of my running in the evenings, so it’s what I’m most used to. However, I’m not opposed to a nice runch (lunchtime run) when it’s not a hot, summer day and I actually have the time, nor would I turn down a morning run if I could actually haul myself out of bed.

3) Weather: Sunshine, Mild or Hot?

Mild! I do not do well in the heat. My ideal running weather would be cloudy and low-50s, even upper-40s.

4) Fuel: Before, After, and sometimes during?

I try to fuel before but usually don’t do a great job (excepting the amazing job I did with fueling before my half last October!) If I’m grabbing fuel before a workout it’s usually a Honey Stinger waffle or some sort of energy bar, or if it’s before a race it’s usually something along the lines of a bagel with peanut butter and a banana. Mid-run I’ll opt for Nuun or, if I’m running for longer than an hour, I’ll usually bring along a packet of Honey Stinger chews. After a run I’ll typically grab a chocolate milk… and if it’s after a race and there’s a diner nearby, usually chocolate milk and banana pancakes!

5) Accessories: Music, Watch & More?

Definitely my Garmin (pre-Garmin it was my phone and MapMyRun) and my RoadID bracelet. That’s usually it. 99% of the time I ran it was with Colin and we’d chat as we ran so I never brought music along, and just got used to running without it. Sometimes I’ll bring headphones if I know I’m going out for a long solo run, but my earbuds tend to bounce out of my ears anyway so it’s more of nuisance than a help.

6) Rewards: Food, Wine, or …?

Food for sure! See above comment about banana pancakes 🙂

Or blueberry pancakes. I'm not picky.

Or blueberry pancakes. I’m not picky.

Also, lounging on the couch is a pretty nice reward too.

7) Type of run: Long, tempo, intervals, hill repeats, progression, or recovery/easy?

Oof. You know, I might have to go with intervals. They appeal to my natural preference for short distances and allow me to run faster than I usually do, which makes me happy. I always feel like I’ve accomplished a nice, hard workout once I’m done too, which is a nice feeling.

I nominate…

Darlin’ Rae

2 Generations Running

redfacedbutrunderful

Jess Runs Happy

Run Away With Me

And anyone else who wants to take part, either in the comments or in a running faves post elsewhere!