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.

Fueling with Island Boost

Its not secret on the blog — or to anyone in my life really — that I have had an insane amount of stomach issues while running.  Back in July it killed my dreams of a 42-43 minute race at Wharf to Wharf (which I just realized I never recapped…), and in February it dashed by dreams of a close-to or attempt at a sub 1:40 half marathon at the San Diego Women’s Half Marathon.  And those are just two of the most recent downfalls of my stomach woes.

Since then, and I’ve made it my mission to discover different fuel options that will work for me in my long distance PR quests in 2014.  As I’ve embarked on this mission, there has been one name recommended to me over and over as I’ve explained to runners from all walks of life the massive amounts of stomach unhappiness that I get on raceday — and during long, hard runs in general: Island Boost.  So, for a while, I’ve been dying to try out Island Boost but just because everything has caused me problems, I’ve been hesitant to try out something new.

IMG_1495After receiving an email about Island Boost attempting to get a new flavor (Chocolate!) FDA approved, I knew I needed to try it, especially with the hopes of chocolate coming out in the future, so I reached out to them to see about getting a sample of the chocolate. Unfortunately, the chocolate samples were all out, but they did graciously give me a few samples to try out.

It’s different from your average gu or gel because it’s not a gu or gel.  Its more the consistency of Gatorade, but its got more calories than Gatorade in a small little thick liquid.

I was pretty excited to try it, and I’m not going to lie — my first taste was a shocker.  I mean, its like really, really over powered Kool-Aid on the first sip (note: this is coming from someone who doesn’t drink sugary drinks or juice because I don’t like them, and who thinks the Gatorade generally made at water stations is faaaaaaar too potent).  However, by the end of the first pouch, I got over the intensity and the flavor was actually pretty darn good (Passion Fruit Flavor).

IMG_1496I was given three flavors to try, and of the three, Passion Fruit was by far my favorite, but the Orange wasn’t far behind.  I just couldn’t get behind Blueberry-Pomegranate flavor, but then again I’m a fresh wild blueberry girl from Minnesota, and anything made with blueberry flavoring, just doesn’t cut it for me.

The real test, though, was how the Island Boost functioned for me on my runs.  Although I was only able to take them on one run (I’ve only run one run long enough to require fueling in the past few months), I was stomach problem free.  I can’t say it was my hardest run or my longest or that I had anxiety associated with race day, but it settled nicely in my stomach.  Maybe its because I can read and pronounce pretty much everything on the back of the nutrition label?  Or because it has coconut water in it (cue automatic swoon)?! Those both definitely made me happy — oh and its gluten free and dairy free!

IMG_1501So would I buy them for training?  Definitely — I’m actually putting in an order this weekend.  I’m still playing with a few other options for long runs and hard runs, but I am definitely keeping Island Boost in the mix — and if they can come up with the funds to get the chocolate through FDA testing and production, you bet your buns I will be all over that like a runner in a self serve fro-yo joint.

If you’d like to try out Island Boost, or just help them get chocolate into production, there are 10 days left in their fundraiser — if you give money, you get fun things back – for example $25 gets you a 10-pack of Island Boost to try; $40 gets you a 10-pack of Island Boost + a runner’s hat/visor.  When I get paid on Friday I am definitely jumping on that — every little bit helps, and it gives a great company run by wonderful people with a good product the chance to make it against the big guns.  Check it out here.

IMG_1502(I’m excited for all the temporary tats they sent me! — the inner child in me rejoiced!!)

Have you tried Island Boost?  What’s your fuel of choice?

***While Island Boost gave me the samples to try, they did not compensate me in any way or ask me to write a review.  As always, all opinions are my own.

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?