Saturday, November 30, 2013

Family Turkey Trot 5K Race Recap

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Mike and I celebrated with my parents, brother, grandmother, Crystal and Joe. It was great being able to spend time with some of our loved ones!

Last year, Mike, Crystal and I all did the Second Helping Challenge prior to our Thanksgiving feasts. This year, I thought it would be fun to race in Rhode Island since Mike and I have never raced in that state. Crystal, of course, joined us! Joe also came along and raced the 5K with us as well.

In the morning we woke up and Crystal and Joe met us at my grandmother's house in Fall River, Massachusetts. We then hopped in the car and drove about a half an hour to Pawtucket, Rhode Island. We were able to find a parking spot really easily and after waiting for a few minutes, we went inside to pick up our race packets.

At first I worried that they had run out of shirts, but since our bib numbers were under 1,000 we were guaranteed shirts!

We went back out to the car and waited for a little while for the race to start. We could see the kids' race and watched all of the little kids running down the street. At about 9:45am we got out of the car and walked over to the start line.

 All four of us!

Love!

We didn't intend to match, this was our 9th race together!

We took some pre-race photos and then lined up behind the start line. As we were waiting, Sara from Scrambled Legs magically found us! Mike moved up a little bit ahead of us and after the National Anthem it was time for the race to start.

I really didn't know how this race was going to go. I went into it originally thinking that I wanted to PR, but we had just traveled 6 hours the day before to get to my grandmother's house. I decided that I would just take it as it came and go from there.

As soon as we started, I had a feeling it wasn't going to be a PR day. My legs felt sore and I was having some trouble breathing. I almost immediately got the "blood" taste in the back of my throat and as I rounded the first corner, I definitely knew that a PR was going out the window. There was a pretty big hill, which I was surprised about, and I just pushed up it. As the first mile came in at 8:12 pace I was a little bit disappointed, but just knew that I was working a little bit for my Thanksgiving meal later on!

I kept going and tried to pick up the pace, but I couldn't. I just tried to enjoy myself as much as I could and eventually we turned down an out and back portion of the race. I didn't see Mike, but I guess he saw me. I did see Crystal who was a little bit ahead of me, Sara's husband and as I turned to head back out I saw Joe. My second mile came in at 8:28 pace.

I skipped the water stop and I just kept going. The wind was pretty bad, we were battling 20 mph winds at some points, and my pace jumped to above 9 minute pace. Even though I wasn't racing for a PR, I didn't want to have any miles above 9 minute pace so I pushed as hard as I could. Soon we were running down that horrible first hill and I rounded the last corner. Mile 3 came in at 8:40 pace.

 Happy to be done!

I could see the finish line and I just wanted it to be over. I pushed as hard as I could and crossed the finish line (the last .1 mile was 7:40 pace). I found Mike, Crystal and Joe and we all hung around the finish line for a little while, we even got some photos with Sara and her husband!

 The turkey trotters

And of course we jumped!

My finishing time was 25:59, which wasn't bad considering how I was feeling and the conditions. I told Mike later on that I am happy that a "bad" day for me is still a 25:xx 5K time.

Mike did great and he PR'd with a time of 22:02, he is going to get sub-22 really soon!

Even though I didn't PR, I still had a lot to be thankful for at this race. Mike and I are so lucky to have Crystal and Joe in our life and that we can call them family! That is worth a million PRs in my opinion!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Winter is Here

I know that technically the first day of winter isn't until December 21st, but I think that it has hit the Rochester area a little early this year. Actually, except for the weird snowless winter two years ago, we typically have snow by the end of November/beginning of December.

This weekend we got a little bit of snow Saturday afternoon and evening. The temperature also drastically dropped and we hit the coldest temp of the year! It was a lovely 19 degrees when we started our run on Sunday morning.

While I know some people like to retreat to the warmth of the treadmill as soon as the weather turns winter-like, I am not one of those people. I despise the treadmill, so Mike and I run outside all year round. If I have to get a workout done inside, I stick to the indoor track.

Sunday we met up with a small group of friends to go for our second trail run of the weekend. I wanted to get 25 miles for the week so I knew that I had to run 6.4 miles for the day, or so I thought. Later, I found out that I really only needed to run 5.4 miles, but that extra mile was worth it!

 If you couldn't tell by my face it was chilly, photo courtesy of Eric

 Mike and Liz, photo courtesy of Eric

Mike and I met up with a new running friend, Alison, and got in a few extra miles before the rest of the group got there. Actually, Eric and Sheila were already out running and we saw both of them (they were meeting up with the small group too). We also saw Dave who was at our trail run the day before. Lots of runners out enjoying the first real snowfall of the year!

Snowy trails, photo courtesy of Eric

I LOVE RUNNING!! Photo courtesy of Eric

After getting in about 2 miles we waited for everyone else to show up. Three more people joined and Eric lead us to the waterfall in the park.

Friends enjoying the scenery and running, photo courtesy of Alison

Even the dogs had fun! Photo courtesy of Eric

After we got back, we had some hot chocolate in the parking lot!

While winter is not my favorite time of year, I do enjoy winter running a lot more than summer running. I'm excited to hit the trails more this winter in preparation for a snowshoe relay in February!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Trail Time

It's no secret that Mike and I are back out and running the trails of Rochester in full force. Even one of my office mates, who isn't a runner, has commented on how often we have been hitting the trails!

Our first trail run was exactly one year and 8 months ago, and in that time we have sporadically gone trail running but rarely multiple times a week. In the last four weeks we have run on the trails for the majority of our runs. In fact, we've run on trails 9 times since we started back up. I have put about 50 miles on my trail shoes in a lot less time than it took me to put 100 miles on them (the amount of miles on my shoes before we started back up at the end of October).

This morning, in celebration of one month back on the trails (not really it was just a coincidence), Mike and I met up with about 20 other trail runners for a run that we organized. In all honesty, all I did was make a Facebook event and invite people to come run with us at a local park in Rochester. One of our friends, Sean, and his dad, Dave, practically live in the park and lead us on a 6ish mile run.

Sean and Dave showed us a new trail that they developed in the park, how cool is that?!

 Running the new trail, thanks Dave for the photo!

While trail running, I rarely look at my watch. We do the majority of our trail running on Tuesday and Thursday nights, so you can't really see your watch anyway. You also need to pay more attention while out on the trails because those roots, rocks and mud can really cause some damage (like Mike's rolled ankle, which is basically better now!)

We were out there today for almost an hour and a half, 8 miles, and I never really knew my pace or how long we had been out there! It honestly felt like the time flew by, and that is very typical of our trail runs. I am not looking forward to the run being over, even if I am struggling (which doesn't always happen on the roads).

 The group taking on the sledding hill, photo courtesy of Dave

Out on the trails I enjoy the company of our friends around us, get to know new people, and take in the beautiful surroundings that we are lucky enough to get to run through.

My renewed, and deeper, love of the trails has prompted me to keep a weekly trail run on our Ironman training plan. We won't be able to get out there as much as we are now, since we'll be splitting our time between swimming, biking and running, but I know I will need time on the trails.

The physical benefits from running on the trails have been wonderful, but they are slightly outweighed by the mental benefits. Allowing myself to just enjoy the ride and not worry about pace all the time is time well spent.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thankfulness

I don't do those daily "what I am thankful for" posts on Facebook, but since we are a week away from Thanksgiving I figured I would do one post about it.

I am thankful for my mom, dad and brother. Today is my dad's birthday!




I am thankful for our furry children! Yesterday was Bernie's 3rd birthday!


Teagan and Benny

I am thankful for Mike, without him I would be lost in this world!


I am thankful for our friends, near and far!


And I am thankful for the ability to swim, bike and run. It is a huge part of who I am and one of the reasons that so many of these people are a part of my life!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

My First Marathon - Abby

This is part of a series on my blog called, "My First Marathon". The concept is simple, write a post about your first marathon, a race recap, why you picked it, how training went, if you liked the race, etc. and I will post it on my blog. If you are interested in participating in the series you can email me at fromcouchtoironwoman@gmail.com.

The fifth post in this series is from Abby at Back at Square Zero. I haven't had the pleasure of meeting Abby, yet, but I think we would be great friends! Abby's first marathon is very similar to my first marathon and we both knew that we wanted redemption after it was over. I am happy to say that Abby has since completed two more marathons and has the Rock 'n' Roll New Orleans Marathon coming up in February! 

Running for Redemption

I had just run my first real half marathon with a friend and felt on top of the world. I came in under 2 hours, something I was not expecting and have not done in the almost 3 years since, and so the logical decision seemed clear - full marathon time. In hindsight it was a crazy decision made by two very excited girls on a runner's high as we walked back to the car post-race, but in the years since then many of my decisions have been made while basking in that same post race glow.


My first marathon training cycle was tough, but exciting. Week after week I hit new personal distance records and reveled in what my body was capable of achieving. Day after day I wondered how it was possible to be that sore for that long. In hindsight it was probably my best training cycle to date - I hit all my training goals. I made it through every long run, got in great mid-week workouts, was running at a faster pace than I have since then, and most importantly… I was injury free. Everything looked perfect. I was right on track for the 4:30 finish I was aiming for.


The weekend of the marathon was a blur. Packet pickup, time at Disney, trying to eat right and get some sleep when I was in such a ridiculous, energy filled environment seemed almost impossible. It was fun, but wild. Waking up at 3:00am and heading out before 4:00 to wait in lines, on shuttles, and in corrals was unbelievable, I got a sense of how big the Disney Marathon really was.



We had our plan in place and stuck to it beautifully for the first 10 miles. Every mile was between 10:00-10:30 and while we enjoyed seeing all the characters and taking in the sights of Disney we didn't stop for any pictures, we were on a mission. My running buddy and I ran without headphones so we could talk about it all - our favorite characters, what we would eat at each country in Epcot that night, rides we would ride, etc..

  

However, at mile 11 the stuff hit the fan. I was in extreme pain and between miles 11-15 my time dropped two minutes a mile. I was hobbling instead of running and struggling to stay under a 14 min mile pace. It took me two miles, but by mile 17 I had finally convinced my marathon training partner to go on and finish without me.


It was devastating. I couldn't understand why all my long training runs had gone so well and this was going so horribly. I was miserable. I stretched. I walked for a few minutes. I stretched again. I tried to run, but a painful hobble was all I could manage. I pushed and clawed my way through those miles. I thought about how stupid the marathon was. What an idiotic race! Why would anyone want to do something that would cause them such pain? Why had I chosen something I could train so hard for, only to lose it all on the day it mattered most? I fought back tears. I swore never again. No more marathons for me.

And then I saw the finish line. I ambled across. 5:13:31. Nowhere near the 4:30 I wanted, the 4:30 I had trained for, and the 4:30 I was on track for those first 10 miles. I was in so much pain. I limped toward the volunteers holding the medals and took mine. As I hobbled around looking for my running partner something changed. I began to realize not what a disappointment I was, but how I had still made it through even when every ounce of my body had wanted to quit. And right then, right there, basking in the post-race glow, the pain meant nothing, the time meant nothing, the accomplishment - that meant everything. It was at that moment I decided I needed a redo, a redemption race, and my journey towards the marathon continued.