Run Your Heart Out 5k

I’ve been doing an insane amount of running these past few weeks, and its been showing – in terms of mileage (39 mileage week three weeks ago and another one last week) and in terms of pace and strength.  Definitely feeling the best that I have in terms of health wise body and mind in a very long time.  And as a result of all this running fun, I signed up for PRR’s Run Your Heart Out 5k Sunday, February 9.

Going into the race, I knew I wanted to push myself to see where my fitness was at, to get a good evaluation of my speed and strength as I began week three of theCherry Blossom Ten Miler training program I am doing with CUCB, New Balance & PRR (Its a free virtual training program they offered to all participating runners).  Other than that I had no goals, other than to try to be somewhere around 21:15 (my PR).

Race morning came, and I hopped in the car with my friends from PRR, Ashley, Amanda and Dustin, and headed out to Reston, VA.  It was COLD out, but we grabbed our bibs, hit the INDOOR bathrooms and hung out til race time.  We also saw a few of our other fellow PRR friends there as well (shoutout to Lauren & Becki!).

At 9:01 it was go time and we were off.

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The race starts on the track, and then heads down a huge hill into the woods, where the course winds and turns and goes on lots of little ups and downs before returning the to the huge hill we went down which we had to CLIMB just about a 1/4 mile from the finish.  That hill was HORRIBLE.  It caused me to slow down significantly and to almost lose my breakfast at the top.  And then I felt awful as I had to run into the finish.

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Evidence of Feeling Awful…And Cold.

Then the course finished on the track, and I felt and finished strong – surprised to see the time of 21:07 on the clock, which meant a shiny new PR!

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All in all I was happy with my performance.  I also know that but for the hill at the end, I would’ve likely broken 21:00, which would’ve been amazing and has been my goal for a long time.  Additionally, I learned that in the case of the 5k, I can’t look at my watch.  I looked 1 or 2 times just to see mileage, but I never once looked at my pace and just kept running hard and trying to pick off the person in front of me (which I did quite more often than being passed), and it worked!  I was able to shave 8 seconds off my PR – and am seeing that 20:xx goal come within reach!

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Lauren, Me and Ashley post race

A nice surprise was also placing 2nd in my AG – something I never expected to happen since the PRR races generally have an extremely fast field (hello, the girl who won it ran it in 16 and some change), but it was a nice way to round out a PR race for me!

Next up?  I’m looking for another 5k in about a month or so — hopefully something without the hill of death at the end to make that 20:xx a little easier.  And then I’m training, as mentioned before, for the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler.  My goal for that is to run a consistent race, and hopefully at my 10k PR pace from this fall.  Lofty goals, but something I definitely think is feasible.

What races are on your schedule this spring?  What fitness goals do you have?  I was supposed to run a marathon, but I decided that right now, I don’t have the time or the ability to train and so I am deferring.  I hate doing it, but I know its the right decision for me, especially having been plagued with a series of injuries since fall 2012.  A marathon is in my future, I just need to find the right one and the right time to train properly – I am finally admitting I have too much on my plate.

Run 4 The Parks 10k

Another weekend, another 10k.  [Last one for a while, promise.]

This weekend was my *redemption* weekend from last weekend’s mess with the port-a-potties at MCM 10k.  While I loved the course, support and overall race experience last week, I was ready to test my limits a little bit – I was ready to PR on November 3rd at Run 4 The Parks.

IMG_1436 A few snafus headed up leading to the race.  On Sunday/Monday of last week, the lupus flare I had been pretending wasn’t happening hit full on, meaning I basically slept for 16 hours a day M/T/W, and only attended classes, ate and did little/nothing else until the steroids kicked in.  Aka: I took M/T/W off from running.  Then, on Thursday I went out to run with the Thursday night run ladies. And a tree came out and attacked me and hurt my arch, so I managed about 2 – 2 1/2 miles before I took another two days of rest.

And then, race day morning happened I wasn’t sure if I was going to run – literally – until I arrived.  I decided I would go out “easy” and see how I felt.  So, we arrived around 7:40am (20 minutes before race start), picked up our packets and jackets, hit the port-a-potties (zero problems this week!) and then I jumped into the front area at the start line and said farewell to the Thursday night ladies and my sister who was visiting for the weekend – and who ran her first 10k ever – and the longest distance she’s ever run!

When the gun went off, I thought I was following my plan, I really did.  The pace felt easy and I was just enjoying the run, and listening to my body (it was also sliiiightly downhill, so that may have been why it felt so easy.

Mile 1: 7:05 (so much for ‘easy’)

I felt good after Mile 1, so I decided to keep going and once I realized my pace, knew I needed to pull it back a little bit.

Mile 2: 7:11
Mile 3: 7:15
Mile 4: 7:17

Pretty good, even paces and then was the run back, which is just every so slightly an incline, and I could feel that incline more than I thought I would.

Mile 5: 7:29

At this point I did the math and knew that if I kept it at a sub 7:30 pace I would definitely PR, and that depending on how fast I could push it, that a 44:xx would be possible.  However, there was a small hill in the 6th mile that kept me a little slower.

Mile 6: 7:26
Last .2(3): 1:44

Not my most flattering shot, by far...but the only one I could find.

Not my most flattering shot, by far…but the only one I could find.

Official Time: 45:27 – a shiny new PR by 41 seconds – and more than 2 minutes faster than my 10k last week.  That’s a win, for sure – especially after the lackluster running week I had.

And another bonus – NO TUMMY ISSUES AGAIN!  I think something is either starting to sync for me, or I’ve just been really lucky.  I’m hoping its the first one – because it would be amazing if I was finally figuring out pre race nutrition!

I thought the race was put on really well (these are my own opinions even though I work for Potomac River Running who put on the race – I did still pay for my own race entry).  There were plenty of port-a-potties great race day packet pickup (which is good for someone like me who doesn’t have a car and couldn’t make it to race packet pickup beforehand), and good food afterward (though a maybe a little short on some of the food items – either that or earlier runners were greedy as my sister didn’t get much to refuel with).

My only complaint would have to be about the race jackets/sweatshirts.  In the past years (I have seen my fellow employees wearing the jackets around), they’ve been nice, technical shirts jackets (like the ones you’d wear to the track to warmup in in the fall/early winter/spring), however this year they were basically glorified sweatshirts – and as they were advertised as $55 retail [and technical], I really felt like could have picked something up like this at Walmart or Target for about $25.  I know budgets are tight, but I felt like the jacket didn’t live up to the advertising, and I hope next year its a little higher quality, because I definitely won’t be wearing it except while working at the store.

IMG_1435At least it was embroidered and not screen printed on.  I will give them props for that.

After I finished I grabbed some water and my jacket, and headed back to find my sister who had just under a mile to go.  I ran her in most of the way and then sprinted to the finish to get some photos (when you can run fast after a 10k, you know you didn’t leave it all on the course.  Just sayin’…).  So proud of you, B!

Then we headed to a delicious brunch with the Thursday night run ladies, before I fitted my sister for new running shoes, worked and hung out with her and then headed to a Brooks event put on by Brooks and the running store I work at for employees – and we got to test drive some awesome clothing and get a sneak peek at the new shoe coming out in February!  I’ll have the deets and product reviews up soon!

Did you race this weekend? 

MCM 10K [Review & Recap]

Its no secret that this past weekend I participated in the Marine Corps Marathon 10k (I was supposed to run the marathon, but…I covered that here).

I wasn’t necessarily set to break world records (let’s be honest, I never will be), but I was ready to chase down my PR — and get under 45:00.  That was the baseline goal, the one that was definitely achievable but that apparently wasn’t in the cards on October 27, 2013 — but it wasn’t because of what I did, that’s for sure.  So, where do you start when reviewing and recapping?  Well, first I want to say that the MCM10k, was overall, a fantastic race and I am definitely considering signing up for it again next year.  The course and support were great and straightforward, and I really enjoyed the run.

And now onto the recap: let’s start with the Saturday night pre-race fuel.

Saturday Night.

I met Brennan and Megan at Fireworks for some pre-race carbo-loading since Brennan was running the full marathon, Megan was working an aid station all freaking day (props girl!) and I was pretending I needed to eat the world for the 10k.  As such, enter 3 girls, 3 pizzas, and it was all but gone at the end of the night.

Megan, Brennan and I each with our respective pizzas.

Sunday Morning.

6:00am wakeup — eat breakfast (banana + almond butter), drink water, bathroom business, get dressed (in far too many layers to race) and get out the door by 6:30 to take the metro to the 10k start near the Smithsonian (about a 20 minute metro ride).

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Brrrrrrr.

[All is still going well.]

7:00am Arrive at the Smithsonian Metro stop and exit the metro and get ready to go drop my bag check (I was cheering marathoners after and knew I would need a ton of clothes) and then see the lines for the porta potties, realize that I need to get in line now to ensure I could use it before the race.

7:30am Still in line for the porta potty.  Have barely moved in half an hour.

7:40am parachuters with American flags drop from the sky and they sing the national anthem.

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Parachuters in the sunrise with American flag.

7:45am Get anxious and beg the people behind me to save my spot while I drop my bag at bag drop because I now desperately need to use the bathroom.

7:50am Back in line, they call people over the startline to start the race in 5 minutes. [still in porta potty line but half the people leave to head over to the start line -- thank goodness!]

7:55am They announce a 5 minute delay [still in porta potty line].

8:00am The race actually starts and some 7300 people start the race [still in porta potty line].

8:12am Finally get to go go to the bathroom [Yes, 12 minutes after the race started.]

8:14am Start the race 14+ minutes after the race officially started, behind some 7500 people and realize there is no way I can get a PR with all the weaving and pace changing I’m going to have to do and resign myself to the fact that I will just run a strong race

–But before we go on, let me just let you know how bad the situation really was, so you get an idea of what I went through race morning.

(1) 50 porta potties for 7500+ runners = porta potty fail.
(2) I showed up 55 minutes before the official start of the race and didn’t use the bathroom until 17 minutes AFTER it was supposed to start — that means I was in line for 72 minutes — more than 1 1/2 times longer than it takes me to run a 10k (so it wasn’t like I was showing up 20 minutes before and had a problem)

And this is what it looked like in front of all of the porta-potties.

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Yes, those are the porta-poties, very small and very far away…and I am in a “line” [This was at 7:25am], 25 minutes after standing in line…

It’s really my only complaint about MCM 10k.  This was not okay.  It would have been one thing if I had shown up 10 minutes before the race started and started late, but I was there with plenty of time.  Runners use bathrooms far more frequently than the average person — especially before a race or run.  And this is MCM’s 38th year, they should know this.  Just sayin’.  So one last call out to MCM10k:

Add more porta-potties next year and you won’t have this problem. 

Moving on…

So the rest of the race went as follows: run fast and weave in and out and then suddenly have to slow down to weave around people who decide to walk at the moment I try to weave around them.  Repeat for the rest of race.  Or, in other words, you end up with paces that look like this:

Screen Shot 2013-10-29 at 1.33.57 PMThere is basically no consistency and I was constantly pulling up and surging and it ended up destroying my legs by the time I got to the final .2 hill, but that’s okay.

9:01 cross the finishline an hour and 1 minutes-ish after the race started with a time of 47:45 (after running 6.3-6.4 with all the weaving).  Nothing to call home and complain about, but definitely not the race I had planned.

I am a little bitter about the porta-potty situation (if you couldn’t tell) in large part because this was the first race in a long time where I didn’t have stomach issues on the course, and believe I could’ve done much better in terms of time if I hadn’t started behind the entire field.  That being said, the rest of the race was great.  The crowd support was awesome, the marines on the course were fantastic, the aid stations were well manned and well executed even for the 10k, and the finishline area was great (albeit a little long to get out of) full of lots of tents, food options, marines saluting you when they gave you your medal, and so on.  Great overall execution of the race with the exception of the 10k bathroom issue.

But, regardless, I’m keeping a positive attitude, and know that there’s another 10k I’m signed up for next weekend, Run for the Parks 10k, and I’m looking to that as my redemption race — should be a much smaller field, and am hoping we don’t have the same crappy issues.

After the 10k, I went out and cheered on marathoners and new friends and had a great time, before retiring back home to reenter the only world I currently know — that of law school.

Have you ever had a race with a porta-potty issue?  How did you deal with it and/or rectify the need to go to bathroom situation?  I honestly wanted to go to the bathroom in the wilderness and would’ve if the situation allowed for, however we were on the Mall, there was no wilderness, the closest open Starbucks was 1+ miles away, and frankly I needed toilet paper.

I heard there were people peeing against the monuments, and while I understand that people needed to go to the bathroom, it saddens me that that is what it came too — and couldn’t people have at least found a bush instead of a monument?  I’m hoping that next year MCM10k learns from this year and fixes the situation.