One blog post to wrap up half a season

I'm really bad at keeping up with this thing lately.  Really bad.  I haven't posted a blog in over 2 months.  However I have lots of good excuses!  This is what happened in my life since my last blog post:

-I went house-shopping.
-Ran four races, three 5k's and a half marathon.
-I'm buying a house!
-I'm now a licensed architect!
-Lots of wedding-planning procastination.  Procastination takes plenty of time and effort.
-My car broke down on a construction site at Ft Bragg and the tow truck driver took 2 hours to find me.  Me to tow truck driver:  "Yeah, you know that sign that says "DON'T ENTER", you're going to have to enter there.  BTW my phone is dying."  Shit.
-Did I mention I'm buying a house?

So now I will summarize what I can remember of the the four races I ran:

Run for Young 5k
Relaxing after Run for Young
It's January 13th, and you might think that this would be the coldest race of the season, but you would be horribly wrong.  It was a beautiful sunny, 70 degree day in the middle of the coldest month of the year which would have been awesome if I didn't have to run a race that afternoon.  My goal for this race was to get below 25 minutes for the first time and to run even splits.  This was a pretty fast course for Raleigh, which means small hills rather than large ones.

Splits for Run for Young from my watch
So, looking at the splits I did really good at the even pacing, I slowed down a little in the middle but not much.  Plus, if I use a heat-adjustment calculator, if that race had been colder, I might have gone under 25 minutes.  One thing I learned is that in a hot race it is better to have even pacing or negative splits.

Run for the Roses 5k
Now this was a hilly race!  It was about 45 degrees, sunny and the entire race was on Dorothea Dix campus which is one of the hilliest areas in Raleigh.  It was all on roads.  My goal again was to get a sub 25 minute race.  I got in some warmup running, maybe half a mile.  I stripped from a long sleeve shirt to just my Capital RunWalk tee and a pair of North Face knee length tights.  I started out good, that first hill did not feel so bad.  It didn't feel so great for other people though, I could tell.  All the hill repeat training and strength training paid off!  I got to the mile mark and saw +Tim Clark .  At some point I noticed these two guys that were running together near me.  I decided to tag along with them.  At some points I was in front of them and sometimes they were in front, but we kept mostly together through the second mile.  The course wound back around to near the start a couple of times, and Ian got some funny pictures where it looks like one of them is alternately checking out my ass and trying to be ridiculously photogenic guy.  One of them sped up around mile 2 and the other guy got ahead of me also, but they got me through that rough second mile.
Here's a guy checking out my ass.  I'm taken, mister!
Now he's trying to be the next "ridiculously photogenic guy".

I wasn't really sure how I was doing because my watch was not being accurate on distance over all those hills.  I kept hoping the finish line was around the next corner.  Then at the last hill, Coach Tim was there yelling "Big PR!"  He was on his bike, and I guess I looked like I needed the extra motivation, so he rode his bike along next to me yelling "pump your arms, lift your legs!"  It was great.  Haha.  I found some extra energy somewhere to get up the hill and cross the finish line sprinting.

I crossed the finish line in 24:27!  What a great race!  That beat my previous PR by 39 seconds!

And here's the splits from my watch:

Yup, that was awesome.  The elevation gain was 250 ft, loss of 261 feet.  Plus, since this was such a hilly course, I'm bound to PR on the next flat race I do, also!  Hills are my friend.  Also, I got 4th in my age group!  One of these days I'll get an age group award.

Run for the Oaks 5k

This race is known as the oldest and fastest 5k in Raleigh.  My goal here was to run it in about 24:14, which was my best guess based on my time from Run for the Roses adjusted for being a flatter course.  I planned ahead and got to the race an hour early, got in a 1.25 mile slow warmup jog, used the port-o-john and did some dynamic stretching drills.  I saw some friends from Complete Runner before the race.  Billy said I could do this race in under 24 minutes.  This seemed like an ambitious goal to me since I had just broken 25 minutes. I do love his optimism, though.

So the race started and I was pretty close to the front this time.  I started with my running friends but they got off to such a quick start I couldn't keep up.  Most them were in the 21-22 minute range for this 5k.  Around one mile I remember looking at my watch and seeing a 7:20 pace and thinking that I should feel a lot more worn out than I did.  Usually when I start that fast, I peter out in the second mile and the pace drops to 8:30 or 8:40.  I still felt strong in this race.  I did slow down a little in the middle but I was able to finish strong.  Somewhere in the middle of the race I noticed a woman in a gray jersey and decided to race her.  She looked about my age, and I looked her up later using the time and race photos.  She's in my age group and also doing the Second Empire series, so she really is my competition.  We've been neck and neck in most of the Second Empire races and I'm just a few points behind her in the standings.  She ended up beating me across the finish line by a few seconds, but our chip times were the same.  Now I know who to line up near at the start, right?  Keeping up with her kept me going in the second half of the race, and I crossed the finish line in 23:44!!!  Billy was right, I could do a sub 24 5k.  What's next?  Under 23?  Ok, one thing at a time.

Ian got my picture at the beginning of the race.
My next goal is a sub 2 hour half marathon at Shamrock.  Of course, the first thing I do when I get home is pull up the McMillan running calculator to see what an equivalent half marathon time is for my new 5k PR.  It's a little under 1:50.  Ok, I know I can do under 2 hours, but 1:50 would be a stretch right now.  Maybe next season.

Splits for Run for the Oaks:

Shamrock Half Marathon

Sometimes it just hits you how lucky you are to have such great running buddies.  Sometime in November after a Nog run we were having a beer and someone brings up the Shamrock Marathon (you know who you are).  Several people expressed interest and/or were peer pressured into saying they would go.  I said I would go because I know a couple of people in Virginia Beach I could stay with and it is awesomely flat up there.  Also, it's Barry's birthday the Friday before and he wanted to celebrate his 60th with his first marathon.  Why not?  That's how 26 people from Raleigh ended up traveling to Virginia Beach for a race.  My friend +Elizabeth Lamy  traveled from Charlotte to run with me.

I had made a mistake the week before; I ran a few miles the day after Run for the Oaks when I should have relaxed.  I got a cold, which wasn't much more than a sniffle but still worried me that it could get worse and mess up my race.  So, I was drinking grapefruit juice and taking echinachea like it was going to save me from the apocolypse.  I also slept almost all day Saturday in preparation for the Sunday race.

One thing I did right this time was eating.  I didn't eat so much at any one point that I felt that ugh gross full feeling but most of what I ate was low fat carbs.  I found this Runner's World article and tried to follow its advice.  Which included low-fat waffles with maple syrup on Saturday morning.  Oh yeah, nothing better than real maple syrup.

So, the night before we are carbo-loading at an Italian restaurant in Virginia Beach.  Coach Tim and his wife are there, Elizabeth, Ian, lots of people from my running group.  Barry recites a pretty awesome poem which incorporated everyone.  Billy predicted that I'm going to run a 1:50 half marathon and cajoled Coach Tim into predicting "under 2 hours".  No pressure.  Haha.
We're in Corral 6, in the dark, waiting to start.
Me and Elizabeth got to the start line just in time, totally underestimating the craziness that is finding a parking space in downtown Virginia Beach on race morning.  No warmup, just get in corral 6 and wait.  We were in corral 6 because I gave 2:15 as my estimated time when I signed up 3 months ago.  I should have moved up, but it worked out ok in the end.  I didn't see anyone else from my running group, they were all ahead of me.

Still waiting to start...
We started behind the 2:15 pace group and quickly passed them and kept passing people.  There were a lot of people to weave through.  Sometimes we went in the grass on the side of the road.  The first mile was at 9:21 pace with all the passing.  The second mile was at 9:00 pace and it felt slow to me, so I slowly sped it up.  Elizabeth was right there with me, but I was the one pushing the pace.  We got up to 8:46 in mile 5.  There were waterstops every 1 1/2 miles, energy gels at mile 6, which is when we slowed down a little and I ate my pretzels.  At mile 7 I said "We're halfway done."  Fuzzy math.  My plan was to do an easy pace the first three miles, then settle into half marathon pace in miles 3-10, then speed it up.  Mile 7 was 8:39 and I still felt good.  Mile 8 - 8:45 pace.  In mile 9 I got excited thinking about speeding it up at mile 10, so I speed up early - 8:26.  Mile 10 - 8:25, mile 11 - 8:19.  This whole time we are passing people.  I don't remember where, but I think it was around mile 11, we passed the 2:00 pace group.  That was a great feeling, epic!  I felt like we were two cheetahs cutting through a herd of wildabeast.  Mile 12 slowed down a little to 8:31, but then picked up to 8:15 in mile 13.  Another great feeling, hitting the boardwalk and seeing that finish line in the distance.  It's weird, I got kinda bummed out at the last bit, when it's so hard to tell how far away the finish is down that straight boardwalk filled with runners.  Elizabeth was right there with me, I could tell that last mile got easier for her somehow and she carried me through.  The pace for the last .11 miles was 7:54.  We finished right together, with the same chip time!
In the home stretch, on the boardwalk!
13.1 miles
8:43 average pace
118th place of 817 in age group women 25-29
1628 place of 8490 runners

Splits for Shamrock:

To summarize, of the last four races, three were personal records.  This was a great season of running.  It's not quite over yet, I have four more races in the Second Empire series to run:  St. Timothy's Spring Sprint 5k (next weekend), RunRaleigh Half Marathon (in two weeks), Wake Med Distance Festival 5k and the NCRRC Invitational 10k.  This will be my first 10k, and my sister wants to run it, too!  After that race on May 19th, I'm going to take it easy over the summer.  Well, not too easy, just less races and more trail running.


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