Category Archives: Race Report

Race Report: Plattsburgh Half Marathon 2016

Short Version: 2nd Woman, 1:26:44. Got to hang out with the Skechers crew and had a BLAST at the Expo and post-race party.

Doing our best Kara at the post-race party.

Doing our best Kara at the post-race party.

Long Version: 

I went into this race with relatively low expectations. I’ve been lucky to run consistently this Spring but as I remarked in my recent post on this cycle’s inventory, I have been low mileage (for me) and only doing maintenance workouts. On top of this, I did a lot of driving (and not a lot of sleeping) going into this race.

The morning started in an entertaining fashion. As I pulled up to the Ferry Dock to cross the lake, the 6:30 ferry was pulling away. Plattsburgh is actually only about 6 miles from my house but there’s a big lake in the middle with no local bridge so you have to take a ferry to get there. I texted Dave to tell him I might be cutting it close and he responded “Ha! I’m on the ferry that just left you!!” Needless to say, I had to wait for the 6:45 ferry and decided to change into my racing flats (GoMeb Speed 3) and take my inhaler on the boat. As it turned out, I arrived by 7:15, found a porto-potty on my way to the Rec Center and found Erin Lopez for our warmup all by 7:30. We did 20 minutes of easy jogging then stripped down and headed for the start. It was PERFECT racing weather at 40 degrees and overcast. I wish I’d been in amazing shape because it was a PR day for sure.

At the start line, Erin and I had to get a little aggressive to get a spot as a few misplaced souls found themselves on the line. We did a strider, got our spot and we were off. Although we’d both planned to run around 1:25, Erin took off from the start and I opted to hang back and stay comfortable for me. Erin went on to win overall AND post a new PR!! We made our way around the Oval and I was happy to find that I felt smooth and effortless. I only had a stopwatch on but when we went through what I presume to be mile 1 based on the Garmins beeping around me, my watch said 6:15 pace. I put the brakes on a bit here because optimism is great, but I doubted that I was in 1:22 shape. At around 10 minutes in, we went by the mile 1 marker. Two and a half minutes later, we went by the 2 mile marker. So much for using my watch to track splits. As such, I have almost no data points from the race other than that my first mile was a 6:15 and I finished in 1:26. Since it was obvious that I couldn’t rely on mile markers, I just ran on effort through the first half of the race and was happy to feel like my effort was about 7/10. I crossed the halfway point around 41 minutes. We would later learn that it was not exactly halfway but the 10K instead…

During the second half, the turns began. Although it made it hard to hold momentum, I was in a bit of a funk at this point and appreciated the opportunity to refocus every few hundred meters as we turned. I was running alone and had quite the pity party between 7 and 9, cranky that I felt like I could hold my pace all day but couldn’t click up as I’d planned. I was also cranky that the mile markers were 100% unreliable. I had no idea if I was running 6:15 pace or 7:15 pace or if I was at mile 7 or mile 8.5.

At mile 10, we went over a little bridge and into a 2 mile flat neighborhood loop. I was able to click up in effort for a few minutes but by mile 11, felt like I was running out of fitness and found myself back at tempo effort. Mile 12 was an insidious uphill and I was just ready to return to the Oval and finish. Mile 13 is around the Oval and taunts you, as you can see the finish but you’re minutes away. I just tried to finish strong but really didn’t have much in the way of gears.

As it turns out, the race course had to undergo some changes and 13.1 miles came…a bit before the finish line did. According to one of the local ladies who runs for Skechers as well, it is actually in the middle of the final turn before the straightaway where we finished, so probably over a quarter mile long. I’m not sure why they couldn’t have adjusted the start or the finish since it was on an oval, but regardless, it’s questionable how far we actually ran. The first and second half splits are hysterical too; all of us had 4 minute “positive” splits since the second half was more like 7 miles.

The 1-2 punch!

The 1-2 punch!

Despite some course snafus, it’s actually an awesome course that I would readily race again. It has a nice combination of flats, small hills, and some cruising downhills, it winds through a lot of Plattsburgh and had great course support for a small race on Sunday morning. The weather was also PERFECTION. The vibe before and after the race was fun too; people who just enjoy running and community events. If it gets re-certified, I would definitely consider going back to aim for a PR since it’s my kind of course.

Now that I’ve had time to reflect a bit, I find myself slightly frustrated with my race. It was one of my slowest half marathons ever (1:33, 1:29, 1:28 all come to mind as slower…). The logical part of my brain knows that it’s great that I got a 13+ mile effort in and that it wasn’t a race I could expect to knock out of the park. The emotional part of my brain is frustrated that I feel so…flat right now. I feel like I have one gear and although I know that I haven’t done workouts to develop my other gears lately, I have an illogical fear that this is just the beginning of slowing down as I hid my mid 30s.

Race Report: 10,000 Meter FSU Eric Loeschner Invitational

This entire race report could be summed up as round and round it goes. Alternatively, not as bad as expected.

I headed up to the Fitchburg area on Friday night. One of my close friends from medical school lives in Harvard, Mass which is only 20 minutes from FSU so I took the opportunity to visit her (we get pretty far flung during 3rd and 4th year) and have a much calmer race morning. I left for FSU around 8:30 and was onsite by 9 am. They toyed with starting the 10,000 at 10 am instead of 10:15 but one athlete said they wouldn’t be ready so we waited for the 10:15 start. I ran around the campus of Fitchburg State to warm-up, then swapped into my racing flats (wore the GoMeb Speed3) and stripped down to my uniform. It was really chilly and windy when we arrived but by the time we were lining up, it was comfortable when you had a tail wind and just a tiny bit cool with the headwind.

Having never raced a 10,000 meter and since my last track race was 16 years ago, I had almost no idea what to expect from this race other than that the number of laps could lead to some significant monotony. To break this up, I mentally split the race into 4 pieces: 8 laps at marathon effort, 8 laps at tempo effort, 4 laps at high tempo effort then 5 laps at interval effort. The intent was not to pick up my pace throughout the race so much as it was to increase my effort to HOLD my pace. Like last weekend, since I am racing again on May 1st at the Plattsburgh Half, I also didn’t want to go so hard that I’d need a week to recover.

There were about 20 guys on the track and only about 7 women. We lined up behind the guys and we were off. I was hoping we could form a pack to work together through the wind but I led from about 10 meters in. I went through the 400 in 90 seconds, which felt easy but was way too fast for my current fitness so I backed off a bit, going through 800 in 3:08. I felt comfortable and cruised through the first two miles in 6:17 pace. The wind was intermittent. Sometimes it was okay and sometimes we were getting blown around on the back stretch.

As I hit the third and fourth mile, I started to pick up my effort a little bit, running 6:13 and 6:15 for those miles. I had started to lap people which made it easier to stay focused mentally but I was definitely starting to zone out as I ran round and round the track. In the fifth mile, I continued to cruise but found myself unfocused a number of times, lost in thought rather than focusing on my pace. I wanted to know my pace for the last mile so clicked my watch for the 2000 meters of 5 and a hair of 6, clocking in at 6:19. Ooops, definitely paid for my loss of focus. For the last mile, I focused on picking it up and running strong and ran a 6:13 for a total time of 39:10. I’m bummed that I didn’t break 39 but definitely zoned out for a few laps where I could have gotten that time back. I was psyched to have my effort feel spot on for the race and to hold almost exactly the same pace for 6.2 miles. It’s also nice to have an update on what is likely close to my current tempo pace!

After the race, I chatted for a bit with the other All Terrain Runners there for the race. We all stuck out like sore thumbs at a race where the mean age was approximately 20 so it was fun to hang out with my own peers for a bit. I cooled down with Susan who had also been at the Merrimack River Trail Race and we commiserated on how long our legs took to recover after that effort.

All in all, I had a blast trying out the 10,000 and regret that I didn’t run the event earlier! I think it’s a nice combination of endurance and speed and plays right into my wheelhouse. I came into the race thinking I’d never run another one but now I think I’ll look for one later in the summer to see if I can post a better time with some more competition. The All Terrain Series is definitely injecting fun back into my racing and I’m so glad I pushed myself to get into it. I’m also loving the bonus of automatically getting a really good workout in weekly and looking forward to seeing where my fitness is at the Plattsburgh Half in two weeks.

Race Report: First Run 2016

Whelp, I can already check the box under “gain more race experience in 2016”!!

Short Version: 15th overall, 1st woman, 18:47.

Slightly Longer Version:

My absolute favorite part of this race is getting to see almost all of the Burlington running community out and about on New Years Day when everyone is full of hope for the coming year of running. I got to visit with a bunch of people who were instrumental in me getting serious about running when I first moved back and connect with other area runners that I don’t see enough of with my crazy schedule.

As mentioned above, I also got a chance to work on building race experience ten hours into the New Year. Due to the overwhelming popularity of First Run this year, 700 runners showed up and bib pickup was a little crowded so there was a start delay of 15 minutes (I’m sensing a theme). However, I had anticipated this AND they announced it early and often and instead of letting it rattle me, I just did a second warm-up and set of striders (Lesson 1). It was only about 36 degrees at the start so I was a little chilly in shorts but took it out patiently (Lesson 2) until my legs felt nice and smooth.

Unlike last year where I was in about 10th for women at the half mile mark, I had passed the only woman ahead of me by then and just worked on putting as much space as I could ahead of Christine because I knew she could absolutely kick my a** if it came down to a kick. I went through the mile in a comfortable 6:01 and starting working the challenge that is Mile 2 of this course. Although I felt a little clunky for the first couple of minutes, I felt downright smooth and strong going into Mile 2. I tried not to fight the hill and just worked on picking men off as I went. When I passed Erin just before the 2 Mile mark, she told me there was no woman in site so I was able to mentally relax a bit, which was great timing because the 5K I’m going to vomit feeling was settling in. I went through Mile 2 in 6:12. (For comparison, last year I went through 1 in 6:10 and 2 in 6:30, so I slowed down a lot less this year.)

Once we crested the hill, I tried to get control of my breathing and take advantage of the downhill. I still felt smooth but was definitely aware that I haven’t done any frank speed work in a while and struggling to keep my turnover nice and snappy. Once I turned onto South Union for the last 3/4 of a mile straightaway, I tried to convince myself to pick it up but wasn’t overwhelmingly successful at this. I went through mile 3 in 5:53 and knew I would break 19 so just tried to convince myself to keep kicking through the finish. I broke the tape at 18:47 and called it good.

I’m always blown away by how gutting the second half of a 5K is and although I’m totally thrilled with my race today, I am frustrated that I wasn’t particularly motivated to kick the last kilometer of the race. I’m sure some of this was that I wasn’t under direct threat from another woman and some was that I haven’t done much real speed work, but I still want to work on the mental approach to kicking regardless of the surrounding situation. That being said, I’m really psyched that I handled the start delay and the colder temperatures well.

What was your first run of the year? Do you like to race or run or just recover from New Years Eve on the couch?

2015 In Review

It’s a bit mind boggling to be at the end of 2015 because it means I’m just a tiny bit over a year from being an MD and our next move as a family. I had huge goals for 2015 and took big chances and although I don’t regret the process, it didn’t turn out quite the way I’d imagined. Falling short of success, however, offers lots of opportunity for insight and plenty of competitive drive to get back out there in 2016.

Mileage:

2,627 miles (219 miles a month, 51 miles a week on average). In contrast, 2014 was 2,282 which included time off for surgery but came out to 190 miles a month and 44 miles a week on average. The distribution of my mileage isn’t even of course, as I have periodized training and end up with some chunks of time more in the 30s and then big training that is up in the 60s.

Races:

The year started off well with a great run on a windy, cold day at the First Run 5K. I’ll be racing this again tomorrow and hoping for a fast time to help ease the pain of Philly a bit.

Once Clerkship year started, I had to set my sites on shorter races and took advantage of being in Maine for Family Medicine to race the Falmouth 4 Miler.  This was the first race this year where I learned that I don’t tolerate racing on cold legs anymore. Foreshadowing for Philly, I suppose.

In early May, I regained some confidence on one of my favorite courses, the Champlain Classic 5K. I have no idea what my race schedule looks like for 2016, but I’ll definitely be back for the Classic.

In June, I raced a 5K for beer in 80 degree sun and ran a 3K on the track in the wind, also foreshadowing for Philly. It was a blast to do something totally different.

On the 4th of July, I raced the Montpelier Mile and re-learned a valuable lesson about running through the finish line. I felt so stupid for this tactical error until I saw Molly Huddle do it later in the summer and gave myself a bit of a break.

In late September, I felt like I turned a corner in training. After many weeks of feeling punky secondary to anemia, I toed the line at the Downtown 10K with no expectations and was surprised to execute a great tactical race. I’ll definitely be back at this one!

Finally, I ran the Philadelphia Half Marathon in November. This was supposed to be my big event of 2016 and I’d be lying if I said that the sting of that outcome has faded.

Until I looked back today, I hadn’t realized how diverse my races were this year and there is some fun in race distances that you rarely run. The race I’m most proud of is the Downtown 10K; I stayed calm and executed my race plan. I continue to realize that I need more racing experience to help me deal with situations like delayed starts, wind and racing alone.

How do you review a year of training? What were your highs and lows of 2015?

Race Report: Philadelphia Half Marathon 2015

Short Story: 1:22:25 for 24th place.

First, apologies for a bit of a bummer post. To me, it’s more valuable to be honest about disappointments than gloss over them. As another runner said to me in the Elite Tent yesterday, we often learn more from our failures than our great moments.

Second, it’s always a little touchy to complain about a time that many people would love to run, so please know that it’s not my intent to be ungrateful for the time, it’s just that it is far below what I expected for myself given my training and fitness.

Philly Bib 2015

I’ll get to the positives at the end, but unfortunately, this race was one of those where you just never feel good. I slept relatively well on Saturday night, waking up just twice at midnight and at 4 am. When the alarm went off at 5, I felt rested and ready. In hindsight, perhaps I was TOO calm. I ate my bagel and sunbutter and drank a cup of coffee while I put contacts in and got dressed. I left the hotel by 5:30 and walked to the start. It was oddly warm out but the wind was already blowing pretty well. I tried to stay positive and hoped that it would mellow with the sunrise. Security was relatively seamless and I got to the Elite Tent a little after 6. Headed out to jog at 6:15 and felt okay, but not great. Striders, however, felt totally fine so I figured things would snap together.

At 6:50, they asked us to walk from the elite tent to the start so we did. The wind was blowing and it was much cooler without warmups on. 7 o’clock clicked by with no wheel start. Then 7:05. Then 7:10. Finally at 7:13, they sent the wheels and at 7:15, we were off. Needless to say, any benefit of a warmup was gone and I was happy to just not trip over the starting line. From mile 1, I felt clunky and stiff. I tried to stay calm and hoped I would warm up. I went through the mile at 6:10, a little slower than I hoped, but not an insurmountable deficit.

By the time we reached mile 3, however, it was pretty clear that it wasn’t going to be a banner day. The wind was very strong at times, from seemingly all directions, and it was hard to find or hold a pace. Beyond this, my legs just felt punky. I found myself counting the miles very early which is never a good sign. I didn’t feel like I had gone out too fast, I just couldn’t move my legs. At mile 6, I saw my girls (more on that later!!) and had a few moments of feeling good so tried to capitalize on the moment. In fact, I went through the 10K in 38:24, which is a small 10K PR. By mile 7, however, the wheels were off. The 2:43 pace group for the full went by me, I had a shitty water stop (my fault, I didn’t really need it but thought maybe a gel would help) and I was flailing through the hills. Of note, I don’t think the pace group was running the right pace and I’m pretty certain they lost everyone by the end. When I ran Philly in 2012, I barely remember any hills. Today, it felt like mile 7.5 to mile 9.5 was ALL hills. I saw Erin just before 8 and gave her a thumbs down. At that point, I was just hoping for a PR.

The good news is, I never really crashed, I just couldn’t pick it up at all. I never needed to use one of my faster breathing patterns because I couldn’t turn my legs over fast enough. Even at mile 12 when I KNEW I needed to push, I just kept plodding along. When I rounded the corner and saw 1:22, it was all I could do to not burst into tears. I crossed the finish line and made my way back to the Elite Tent, just stunned at how badly things had gone. I think I would have liked to have cried, just to get some of the hurt out, but I honestly felt too shocked to do so.

The run didn’t feel like much more than a workout, so there may be hope to use the fitness for another race soon. I can’t discount the effect of the wind either; at race time, it was a steady 15 miles per hour with gusts up to 25 miles per hour. Even a modest adjustment for a 5 mph headwind predicts a 1:18 without wind. This is very, very, VERY little solace but at least I feel like it wasn’t all on me. The start delay didn’t help me at all either. Looking back, I wish I’d decided to run the first two miles much slower to warm back up. Ultimately, I don’t think it would have cost me a lot of time and I might have actually been able to make some gear changes.

On the great side, my girls team came down to Philly to surprise me. I was sitting in my hotel on Saturday (in my robe, having just showered) when the front desk called to see if I would take a package. I didn’t know who would send me something but thought maybe Will sent flowers. Imagine my surprise when I opened my door to see my girls!! They had been planning it all season and I had NO idea. They came equipped with giant pictures of me, tinsel and all their screaming voices. I will never, ever be able to articulate how amazing that gesture was but they saved the weekend for me. It would have been very easy to mope for the rest of Sunday but having them there made me realize I have to practice what I always preach to them about moving on from rough races.

I'll never be able to explain to them how much this meant to me.

I’ll never be able to explain to them how much this meant to me.

It’s similarly hard to articulate what I’m feeling right now. Devastated, heartbroken and humiliated all come to mind. I know that one race doesn’t define anyone but I don’t know when I’ll get the opportunity to give it my all again. That’s the risk with taking a big chance! You might not get the result you want and when you put it out there and are vulnerable, failure stings that much more. As my sister said when I was pathetically texting her, it’s just going to be raw for a few days. And as the much more brilliant Lindsey said, some days you just don’t have the magic.

For the next week or so, I’ll just take it easy, run when I want and try to figure out what went wrong, what I can do to salvage the cycle and where I want to go from here. If anyone knows a great December half marathon, I’m all ears!

Race Report: Downtown 10K 2015

A wee bit late on this write-up…

Downtown 10K is one of my favorite races for a few reasons. First, it almost always has good weather (save for 2014, which was a gusty disaster). Second, it’s well organized and results are always accurate and fast. Third, it’s a 10K which are remarkably difficult to find but hugely useful for a half marathon training cycle. Finally, there are cash prizes which can help motivate you when say, you want to give up at mile 4. The organizers were new this year but they kept all of these good things going and besides a really odd start command, everything was smooth.

I’ll get to the odd start momentarily. I came into Sunday feeling really anxious and to be honest, had I not preregistered, I probably wouldn’t have run. On Saturday night, I had a dream that Joe came home from the race and told me that I shouldn’t have skipped the race because no other women showed up and they had no one to give the money to! Needless to say, when I woke up on Sunday, I decided I’d better at least show up.

The weather was perfect at 50 degrees, cloudy and a north wind, which meant a headwind for the first half of the race, not the second. I did an easy warm-up for 2 miles plus some striders and didn’t feel entirely horrible. I handed my watch to Erin and lined up. The race start was hysterical; the new sponsors thanked us for being there and then in the middle of a sentence, the speaker just plainly stated “Go.” Twice. None of us moved. Finally he said with more emphasis “GO!” and we were off. Hopefully someone educates him for next year…

Start? We think?

Start? We think?

The course has a screaming downhill in the first mile so my only goal was to be controlled and not smash my quads up early. About halfway down the hill, a girl went shooting by me and by the bottom of the hill, she was 20 seconds ahead. I told myself to stick to my race plan and that if she came back to me, she came back to me. While I wasn’t wearing a watch, I would guess I went through the first mile in about 6:30 pace based on where I was off Joe who was wearing his watch. The effort felt super easy, a lot like a steady state run. I kept it here until we hit mile 3 at Leddy, where I clicked my effort up to tempo as planned. I had passed a couple of people at this point but the first woman was still ahead of me by about 20 seconds. Another guy caught me around Leddy and was about halfway between she and I.

As we were coming out of Leddy, the first woman stopped to tie her shoe (what?!) but shot away again as I got closer. The few seconds I was near her, however, I could hear that she was breathing hard while I felt totally in control, which gave me a boost that I might not be out of first. As we turned onto North Avenue and started the rolling hills, I kept my eyes on her and held tempo effort while trying to remain confident. I was pleased, however, that 5K was done and my legs felt totally fine with none of my recent concrete-anemia feelings. As we worked up the hill, I caught the guy who had passed me in Leddy and sat on his shoulder for a few strides then made a hard pass around him which brought me within 10 seconds of the first woman. We crested the hill by the high school and I leaned forward and let the downhill carry me. As we rolled up the next hill just before the cemetery where I’d planned my next gear change, I caught and passed her easily. As we crested that last hill and hit the cemetery gates, she was still hanging on to me.

With 2 miles to go, I clicked down to interval pace and started pressing hard. I could still hear her footfalls, but they weren’t right over my shoulder. As we hammered down North Avenue, my effort was definitely hard but I still felt in control. When we turned into Battery Park, I gave it what I had left and just prayed that it would be enough to get away from her for good. The curve in the park gave me a momentary glance that showed that at the very least, she’d fallen back a bit. In full disclosure, I actually spent most of the race thinking it was a local runner I know who is a miler and thus has a crazy finishing kick so I didn’t want to leave it until the last 200 meters.

Turning onto Church Street, I experienced the oh so fun moment of seeing the finish line but realizing you have almost a minute to go before you’re there. I just kept trying to push as hard as I could and prayed no one was coming up on me. When I passed my friend Will, he just cheered for me, so I knew I was in the clear. As I reached the final block, I saw the clock turn to 38:00 and realized a PR was a possibility. I had tunnel vision but just hoped I’d hold up til I got to the finish line. I did, and squeaked out a 5 second PR!

Definitely working hard here and seeing stars.

Definitely working hard here and seeing stars.

While I’m happy (thrilled) about the PR, I’m even more happy about the execution of the race. A week before the race, I went out and previewed the course and came up with my race plan. Having a race plan and following it, however, are two different things and I’ve made the mistake of going out too fast at this race in past years. It would have been tempting to do the same thing this year as the initial first woman pulled away from me but sticking to the plan worked out well for me in the long run and gave me a much needed boost of confidence after a hard cycle.

Put the wrong foot up to have my timing chip cut off about three seconds before this picture. Classic.

Put the wrong foot up to have my timing chip cut off about three seconds before this picture. Classic.

 

Race Report: 10th Annual Montpelier Mile

Alternate Title: Years of marathon training do NOT prepare you for a road mile.

I made the last minute decision to run the Montpelier Mile instead of Clarence DeMar earlier in the week, in some part because I wanted a new experience and in some part because there was a lot of cash on the line. Regarding the latter, I should learn that if in any other year I would have won going away, assume that if I’m there, at least four other faster women will show up. Sarah Luck. Anyway, with a $15 entry fee and the opportunity to race through my hometown in front of tons of people, I signed up to donate my lungs to the streets of Montpelier.

Since I’ve never raced a road mile and my last 1500 meter run was literally in the 90s, Will and I hit the track on Wednesday to try to calibrate me for a 5:30 mile. My job was to run 3 200s in 41 seconds. I was not successful. The first was a 36, the second a 39 and the third a 38. Eff it, we’ll do it live.

I will admit to being incredibly nervous. I spent most of yesterday worrying about how to approach the race. I realize that the plan is to run as fast you can for a mile but I worried that I’d either go out too fast and suffer for 300 meters or go out too slow and run out of real estate. The course was set up well with two turns and a round-about. The best part, however, were the crowds. I’ve never run a race with so many people out to cheer us on! Brilliant to have the race just before the parade.

I didn’t wear a watch because the course wasn’t marked, so I have no idea what my splits were. There is a “Dash for Cash” built in for the first 400 so I just tried to stay clear of all the people sprinting for that line. The top 4 women (of which I was a part) were all within steps of each other at the 400 meter mark but a high school girl (she’ll come back into play later) got there first then as we rounded the turn, dropped back quickly. I had my eyes on Christina’s back (ok, her braid, it’s swingy and easy to watch) and the woman in 2nd but was just trying to stay calm. Just before the Roundabout and 800 meter mark, I heard my godparents cheering. As I moved around the Roundabout, people were dropping back quickly and I actually felt pretty good. Somewhere in here, however, Christina and 2nd Woman got away from me. I’m not sure if I was slowing down or they were speeding up but I lost contact big time.

My original plan was to round the last corner and kick for home, which seemed like a lovely plan when I was talking it out with Will. When it came time, however, I rounded the corner and wanted to die. The finish banner was SO SO SO FAR AWAY. And by so far away, I mean 400 meters. I just tried to keep it together but my legs were done with the idea of a mile. As we closed in on the finish, suddenly the high school girl from the start was back and before I could respond, we were over the line. 5:31 for her (and $125) and 5:32 and $0 for me.

To say I spent the first few minutes (like 30 minutes) seriously effing pissed is an understatement. I actually took my singlet off and threw it. Dramatic. I don’t know why I expected to have an amazing mile in the middle of a 70 mile training week, after years as a marathoner but somehow I did. I was more frustrated that instead of staying focused and kicking it in, I just let someone by me in the last 10 feet. Yes, the prize money would have been nice but I was (and am) more frustrated that I didn’t fight all the way to the line. Definitely a race lesson that I need to learn and improve upon…

All in all, it was a great experience to race a totally different distance and I’d actually like to continue to do more short races, both because it hurts in a completely different way (I mean seriously, what’s with the lung pain?) and because it forces me to be razor-focused from the start. I’m already looking forward to the next track meet to keep honing my speed skills!

Race Report: GMAA Mini Meet 3K

GMAA started hosting these mini-meets last year and I never managed to get to one so I made a pact to try to make all of them this year both to work on my speed and to get a chance to keep working on my pre-race nerves. I went into this race hoping to run around 11 minutes for the 3K. However, 20 mile per hour winds from the Southwest and 80 degree temperatures decided that none of us were moving that fast. I even had a moment while rounding the first curve where a gust knocked me off balance and I stutter-stepped not to fall over the rail.

Having never raced a 3K and been away from any kind of track race for 15 years, I barely remembered how to do it. I ended up not wearing spikes because they hurt my feet on the warmup so found myself on the 200 line in my trainers, surrounded by men. Literally. There was one other woman in the race. Kasie yelled go and we were off. The lead pack of men shot off and I was left by myself to work through the 7 1/2 laps. I kept my eyes on the guy in red ahead of me and just tried to focus through the first half of the race.

The first 1000 passed without much drama and by the beginning of the third lap, I’d closed the gap on red shirt. When I went to go around him, he fought a bit so I jumped behind him instead since we had plenty of the race left. After sitting on him for about 600 meters, he started to fade and I passed with confidence. With two laps to go, I focused on keeping my form together and tried to pick it up. At the bell lap, things got a little crowded as Eli and Binney were finishing while I was lapping a runner. I ended up squeaking through on the rail but put my elbow out so I wouldn’t get stepped on. Sorry Pascal! The last lap was hard but I still felt like my form held together. I crossed in 11:20, a little frustrated with the time but happy with the effort.

All in all, a fun way to get a hard effort in. I can’t wait for the next meet in July! Thanks to GMAA for a great idea.

When was the last time you raced on the track?

Race Report: Craft Brew 5K Stowe 2015

Short Version: It was hot and I ran just fast enough to call it a workout and win a stein.

Long Version

Mike asked me to run this race earlier in the week as part of the brewery team for Frost Brew Works, where he moonlights when he’s not running the Catamount Outdoor Family Center. Races are always a great way to get a good effort in and there’s little I like more than a beer festival, so I happily signed up. I did not anticipate quite as much heat and humidity as we encountered with a noon start time, however.

We didn't realize HOW appropriate our team singlets would be for the day.

We didn’t realize HOW appropriate our team singlets would be for the day.

We arrived a little after 11 and managed to get the second to last reasonable parking space. Seth and I found our way to the crazy registration line then did our warmup, a bit of a misnomer since we were overheated already. My legs felt horrible on the warmup but I wasn’t expecting much at 86 degrees and 98% humidity plus a week of nights. The race start was a little delayed because they were having some parking issues (1 road in created a problem) but the organizers did a good job of communicating and we were off a little after noon.

And we're off...

And we’re off…

I had no goals for the day except to get a workout effort in and win the giant Stein if I could, while helping my team to a team win. I planned to go out in no faster than 6:20 for the first mile and in hindsight, I wish I’d stuck to that plan. Much like the Champlain Classic, I looked down a bit into the race and saw 5:40 something and had to put the brakes on. I went through the mile in 6:11, which felt totally fine at the time, but was probably the nail in my coffin.

Mile 2 was BAKING hot. We turned onto the bike path at some point and I distinctly remember thinking they’d moved the marker because it seemed so long. Other people started to come back to me during this mile, which was the only consolation. Somewhere in this mile, I stopped checking my watch because it was just so depressing. I resolved to focus on good form and tempo effort and just grind it out. My watch beeped long after the marker at 6:32.

By the third mile, I just wanted to be done. We were on the uphill section of the bikepath, there was no respite from the sun and to make things more miserable, someone was blowing dust to clean out a parking lot, creating a chokingly horrible few meters. Mile 3 was 6:51.

We finally turned onto the final stretch and I just did my best to keep it together to finish, which was about 6:12 pace. 20:30 has to be one of my slowest 5Ks ever, but when I looked around at the other finishers, it was clear that everyone had a similarly exhausting experience. After a few seconds of kneeling and taking an assessment of just how overheated I was, I found Mike, Seth and Will and we headed out on the cooldown. By the end of the cooldown (and 3 full water bottles of Nuun later), I was feeling back to my springy self and much better about the run.

I was first woman overall, but not by nearly as much as I thought, so I’m happy that I didn’t phone it in more than I did! We also won Biggest Team and Fastest Team, which meant that there were plenty of steins to go around.

My stein had yet to appear, so I went with an awkward pose instead. I was wearing shorts, by the way.

My stein had yet to appear, so I went with an awkward pose instead. I was wearing shorts, by the way.

Am I thrilled with this race? No. Am I worrying about it? Not one bit. It was hot and miserable and I just plugged along and got it done. I felt amazing by Saturday afternoon and ready to attack another week of training.

A note on the race series: Craft Brew Races is a relatively new race series that brilliantly pairs running and a brewfest in a reasonably priced ($55) package. I don’t usually do events like this because they are chaotic and not generally aimed at creating a good race environment but I was really pleasantly surprised with this production and am guessing that the creators are actually runners first. The course was well thought out (great loop), well marked and had professional timing, which meant that results were accurate and fast. The brewfest was great too; unlimited samples, which meant that you could dump out beers that you just didn’t like and a reasonable sized crowd so you weren’t waiting forever in line. They had a nice combination of local breweries (including some that we had never even heard of) and some better known breweries from Vermont and New England. I didn’t sample any of the food trucks but there were plenty of those too. Two thumbs up from me!

 

Race Report: Champlain Classic 5K

I absolutely love this race. In 2013 and 2014, I ran the 15K as my season opener but opted for the 5K this year. As I was trying to write up this race report, I tried to figure out WHAT my 5K PR was going into this race. I don’t race the 5K often and I knew my open 5K PR was somewhere low 19s but the fastest I could find was from January of this year, at 19:11. I covered the last 5K of the my half marathon PR in about 18:40 but don’t count “en route” PRs for straight PRs.

In the first mile.

In the first mile.

This race was a good reminder to not always trust your Garmin. I planned to run the first mile relatively easy, then crank it up as we went along. When the airhorn sounded, the race went out hard. About half a mile in, I saw 5:51 on my Garmin and put the brakes on. I’ve been running faster recently but not THAT fast. I felt very in control for the first mile but stressed about having two other women right on me. As we turned onto the dirt path about 3/4 of a mile in, I started to pick it up. Went through the first mile in 6:04, which is the last time I trusted my Garmin. The second mile is dirt, mildly uphill and has a very tight 360 turn in it, so I knew it wouldn’t be screamingly fast but was discouraged that my watch was telling me it was a 6:25 because it definitely didn’t FEEL like a 6:25. I just kept pushing and tried to remind myself that the point of this race was effort, not outcome. The turn also gave me the opportunity to see where I was and I was happy to see that the second woman was now 20 seconds behind me. For most of the second half, I was just behind a clump of guys who had gone out too fast and I went from 10th to 6th, but in striking distance of 2nd. As we hit the long paved stretch for home, I focused on using my “working hard” breathing pattern and just keeping good form. Ultimately, I couldn’t catch the last group of guys and my watch still said I was running a 6:16 so I was beyond thrilled to round the corner to the finish and see 18:30 something on the clock. Finished in 18:44 (6:03 pace), a 26 second PR for me. 1st woman, 6th overall.

I’m thrilled with the results from this race; I’m still hacking from my hospital cold and definitely still adjusting to running fast, so I’m psyched to get some good feedback on my progress. I also enjoyed recovering from this race; my legs were a little tired on Monday but otherwise I felt completely fine. Onward and upward!