Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Steve's 5k to Run Down Cancer 2015

A few weeks ago I decided to take a final pre-summer stab at a 5k PR. I knew that I wanted to push and see what could happen even if I wasn't running on fresh legs. I also had a volunteer (Eric) to run with me, keep my watch, and allow me to just focus on hanging in there. It was the perfect plan, of course we all know how perfect plans lay out :)

Race morning was easy. I got picked up, ate in the car on the way to the race and then did a solo warm-up run. I noticed my quads were feeling heavy but hoped that it would shake out quickly. The race took place at Mendon Ponds Park, which I am familiar with- I knew it wouldn't be super flat course but I also knew it wasn't on the hilliest section of the park. I still felt confident heading to the start.

I passed off my watch, and stood at the start line- I'm pretty sure I tapped an imaginary start button on my wrist when the gun went off out of habit and muscle memory.
And we're off. Yes, I'm only wearing one calf sleeve. Yes that was on purpose.

The first mile was fast, downhill and with a decent crowd still. 6:05. PERFECT.

The second mile we made a turn and hit the turnaround a little later (out and back course). 6:04. Yeahhhhh buddy.

It was all good and PR pacing, until it wasn't. Slowly Eric started getting further in front of me, he motioned to get me to pull ahead and my legs just wouldn't oblige. We caught up to Joe, I hoped that would help me push along- but legs still said no. I knew that I needed to figure something out, because we were about to head up that nice hill we came down in the first mile.

It's a good thing I didn't have my watch and didn't know how slow I was going at the end. I tried, legs still wouldn't go- I was feeling the effects of training. I ran the last 1+ mile (course was long but it didn't matter, wouldn't have changed much) around 6:45 pace. Basically, how NOT to run a 5k :)

19:35, again. At least I am consistent this spring 19:38 at FCC, 19:35 at Airport, and 19:35 at Run Down Cancer. It feels so far from my PR, but I know that it's in there- I am confident in that.

I admit I was MAD at the finish. I kicked rocks for a few minutes and then cooled down. In the end, I'm okay with it and moved on. This wasn't a goal race originally- it was a "there's a 5k for a good cause on a day I can actually race, lets take a stab at a PR". I wasn't tapered, in fact I ran 5 x 1 mile repeats a few days prior. This isn't me blaming improper training, this is my realization that my eye is on the bigger prize. My marathon goals in September are forming the placement of training right now, not a random 5k. I got frustrated and I got over it- my usual MO with dealing with things. I try not to dwell on stuff like I used to, I'm much happier for that.

The positives: I got to run an inaugural race in honor of a local runner, whom many of my friends were lucky enough to know (I didn't know him, but heard some great stories!). I was lucky enough to have Eric run with me, and even let me beat him at the end (mark it down as the only time I'll ever beat him). I spent the morning outside, in a beautiful park with a bunch of runners. I got a hard effort run in, 2 miles strung together at 6:04,6:05 is something I couldn't do years ago- now I just need to figure out how to add a third ;)

I have such a love hate relationship with 5k's. They're finicky, and the littlest thing can make the biggest difference. It's "only" a 3.1 mile race, so if one section of it is off- it's not like you have a few miles to make up ground as in distance races. Maybe this is also why I am able to move past 5k's a lot easier. They're so hit or miss, and its all over and done with pretty quick (although, it hurts the whole time). You're off by 30 seconds in a 5k and it's a HUGE deal, 30 seconds in a marathon is basically one less Garmin glance per mile. For me, the shorter the race the easier it is to move past it (bad, or good).

I won't race a 5k again until August- Bergen 5k which is also the USATF Niagara Championship, if you live in Upstate NY you should definitely be there August 8th! :)

For the record, I'd still rather run a marathon than a 5k any day- but since bodies recover just a smidge faster from a 3 mile race, I'll stick to a good balance of both throughout the year ;)

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Airport 5k 2015

After Boston the urge to race wasn't overly strong. I did the 5k a few days after because I needed to feel something- and did another a few weeks later because it was a tradition. Maybe it was because I paced at Buffalo 2 weeks prior, and was still soaking in the positive energy from that- but I finally wanted to race. Coach agreed and said we would use it as a time trial of sorts. There were a TON of options of a race this past weekend in Rochester- too many actually. We decided on a 5k, and I picked one I knew normally has a fast field and has a good chance of being a PR course. I was going back to the Airport 5k, my third time running this event.

Both of the times I have ran this one before, it was very hot and sunny- for some odd reason airport runways have no trees or shade, who knew? I was excited this year when I saw the temps were going to be cooler, I side eyed the projected wind but still felt confident in a good race- after all last time I ran it, the conditions were hot sunny AND windy and still had a good race.

This quickly turned into a goal race. I was dreaming of a PR. My 5k PR is 2 years old, and I know I am a much better runner now than I was then. I may not train specifically for 5ks anymore, but I do train. I run workouts, I run more miles, and I hit the track- nailing a PR shouldn't be something that is too far fetched in my mind. 

Race day came, and it logistically doesn't get much easier. I was pre registered and already picked up my stuff. The airport is 5 minutes from my apartment, and really didn't have to stress about getting there super early. I did my warm-up, chatted with friends who came to cheer with their kids, and felt confident. The flags outside were whipping around, but I didn't let it really distract me too much. The course is a double out and back (up and down one runway, up and down another) so you never have a super long stretch into any wind direction- it's "only" a 5k after all.

I got ready and made my way to the start with what I thought was a few minutes to spare. I was confused where the start line was marked (it used to start in a different place, but the finish line was in same spot), and was about to do my strides when the race director said it was time to go. Basically 30 seconds later we were off- 4 minutes early, no strides, no moment to compose myself- just go.

I was around some people for a little while but by the end of the first mile was almost completely solo. Apparently the excess of races that day really had runners spread out leaving no one race with deep fields. I got to high five the kiddos part way though, and then set out for the second out and back runway.

Basically how the race unfolded:
First out- Tailwind, weeeeeee.
First back- headwind, but saw my friends which helped
Second out- Tailwind but slight incline. Someone was close behind me but I managed to pull away.
Second back/Finish- Holy effing headwind. Joe was next person in front of me and wasn't within striking distance. My will to push at the end just really wasn't there- something I need to get back.

I finished in 19:35, third female and top 10 overall- while it wasn't the time I wanted, it was still a solid race and I can use it as fuel to get faster and back to my PR. I walked away with a $75 gift card for a little over 19 minutes of work- can't complain about $200+/hr pay rate.

The race itself disappointed me a bit this year. As I said, I have run this two other times prior and both were far more organized and prepared for race day. While they couldn't control the wind- the early start and the misplaced start line(led to long course) WERE controllable factors. The race was moved up a few weeks this year, which landed it on the same weekend as a few other big well known races. Previous years the race saw over 200 more participants, and my top 10 OA time this year would have barely placed me top 40. Local runners were spread out thin among all of the races- leaving each one less competitive than the next. Rochester has an amazing running community, but at this point it's almost too saturated with races.

My last 3 fastest 5k times since my PR: Airport 2015 19:35, Scarecrow October 2014 19:36, and lastly my PR from August of 2013 19:09 at Bergen--That PR is definitely going down this year, the question is just when. I am running another 5k next Saturday(20th), and then not again until Bergen in August as I will be focusing on marathon training. I'm doing the necessary work and have the drive so I don't question IF I can PR right now, more about WHEN. Marathon PR's have taken over my focus the last few years but that doesn't mean I need to give up my speed at shorter stuff to get there.

Who knows, maybe in 2 weeks after my next one I will have a PR recap- fingers crossed.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

National Running Day: EVERY day.

If you're on social media in any aspect, you're well aware that today is a BIG day! National Running Day takes place the first Wednesday in June each year (according to my quick Bing search). {Side note, Monday was National Heimlich Maneuver day- so we celebrate by choking and hoping someone knows what day it is??}

In case you didn't know- today is also Chocolate Macaroon day, and repeat day- don't forget to celebrate those too. Maybe eat a chocolate macaroon between your mile repeats today, celebrate all 3 things at once.

Now don't get me wrong, I love running. I love celebrating running. I love thinking about all the amazing things that running has done for me and brought into my life- that list is endless. But I don't need a special day to do that (much like I don't need a holiday to feel love, Valentines- I'm looking at you). Similar to my thoughts on New Years Resolutions- I feel like any day is a good day to appreciate things or change something.

I'm not saying National Running Day is a bad thing- not in the least. I'm always down for good sales on running gear, talking about running things, and going to a special event which happens to involve something I am incredibly passionate about. In fact, I fully plan on doing all of these things today. I fully plan on celebrating June 3rd, but I don't love running any more today than I do other days of the year. Just as, Friday is National Doughnut Day- I certainly celebrate that more than once a year.

National Running Day- a day to celebrate this thing that we love, give our sport some attention, and pat ourselves on the back for putting one foot in front of the other. Please tell me what we are doing every time we race, post a photo of our running stuff on the internet, or log a workout on a public site? Let's be honest, we celebrate running almost daily :)

I guess my point is, don't wait for a special day to tell you what to do. Don't wait for a special day to appreciate things you have, or had in life. If you want to have a doughnut on January 5th, I promise it doesn't make it taste any less amazing. If you want to listen to Christmas music in July, just do it. Look for the positive things, and reasons to be grateful every day and not just because something is on the calendar.

These are my people, this is my life.

But, in honor of National Running Day- I love this community. I love this sport. I love this life. I love everything it has done for me, I even love the callouses and chaffing scars in some weird way. I love the people I've met, the places I've gone and the goals I have chased. I will thank my runner friends, I will go for a run, and I will probably indulge in some NRD deal (which will most likely still be there tomorrow). Any excuse to celebrate this crazy love even more- why the hell not :)

Happy official National Running Day today,
Happy unofficial National Running Day tomorrow
...and the next day...and the next.

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