Monday, March 12, 2018

March: My Four Year Run-A-Versary and Registration Begins for the Race That Started it All....the Race for the Place 5K

The month of March is my "run-a-versary" where four years ago I started to run after I decided to run a 5K in memory of my friend and sister-in-pink, Kris. How excited it was to learn over this past weekend that registration is now open for the very same race, the Race for the Place 5K. It supports The Gathering Place, a local organization that offers FREE services to those affected by the horrible disease: cancer and is held the first Sunday in June, National Cancer Survivors Day. Fully expecting to run that race and quit after that, it was after that race four years ago where my love/addiction began.

Since the Race for the Place is my "race-a-versary" and running has always been more than just lacing up to me, every year I run it in honor/memory of someone for inspiration. This helps me train harder leading up to the race and also pushes me to do my absolute best on race day. I also decided in 2016 to make it my goal race each year. As you know, I’m dealing with a mysterious hamstring issue and it has kept me from running and training the way I would like to so for this year's race, I will forego a time goal and take the glass half full approach…just be thankful that God is still allowing me to run at all and more importantly, has given me another year of being cancer free. But even much more important than that, I have decided to dedicate this year's race to all of those who have or who are battling something WAY WAY worse than a cranky hamstring…cancer...and will run in honor of the warriors, the survivors, and in memory of the taken. My fundraising goal for this year is $2,018.

Join my team: Just Keep Swimming…and Running! Not a runner? No problem, you can walk the 5K or sign up for the 1 mile walk. Visit my race page and click on my team name to join. If you aren't able to participate in the race in person and would like to make a donation to support our efforts, you can do so by using the "Donate" button.

I hope you will join me in supporting an organization and race that is near and dear to my heart. #racefortheplace #justkeepswimmingandrunning 

Link to my race page.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Home Free: 22 years later

"Wish I had me a pause button
Moments like those Lord knows I'd hit it
Yeah sometimes this old life will leave you wishing
That you had five more minutes"

Twenty-two years ago on a cold winter night at 10:59 pm, heaven gained an angel. My brother, Rick, would finally see the stars when he closed his eyes on Earth and opened them in heaven after a senseless act of selfish rage ended his life and changed ours forever. Since 1996, the 19th has only fallen on a Friday again twice, in 2002 and 2007. Today makes number four. Rick's angel anniversary is always a difficult one because memories of that day and the days that followed are etched in my brain forever, but when it falls on a Friday, I relive in my mind the last weekend I saw him alive. He came home the weekend before he was killed to tell us he was leaving Columbus and was going to come home to Chesterland, something we had been praying for for a long time. I am so thankful God gave us that last weekend together and I can so vividly remember so many happy things about it and getting to spend time with Rick. Of course, I didn't know that weekend would be our last or that I would be living the rest of my life without my little brother in it but I am so thankful for that weekend and thankful I had one last hug, one last I love you, one last goodbye. Gosh, what I wouldn't give for just five more minutes!

The forecast for today is sunshine and blue skies I'd like to think a certain someone had something to do with that. Not only that, but I think a certain someone knew I needed a reason to smile today. As turns out, my daughter-in-law needs a babysitter today and I given my current job situation, I just happen to available. What better way to remember an "angel" than by spending it with another angel, my grandson, who makes my heart so very happy. Coincidence? I'd like to think divine intervention.

There is not a day that goes by that I don't miss my brother and wish he was here but I am thankful for God's promise that this life is not the end and I will get to feel one of his amazing hugs and see his contagious smile once again. Love you always, Slick. Until we meet again….

PS Give Papa D and my two grand babies a hug and kiss for me.

Every year, without fail, I receive a card from POMC, a support group we were active with after Rick was killed. Gone, but never forgotten, even by people who never knew him.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Every Mile a Memory: Run Santa Run 5K 12.17.17

I'm trying not to go into full on race report for this race so I'll try to keep this as brief as possible. The Run Santa Run 5K, benefiting Toys for Tots, is a very popular race and is usually a sell out. For whatever reason, the heavy hitters always come out for it so I've learned in the three years I've done it to not expect an AG placing but to try and at least improve where I rank. This year would be no exception. The swag is pretty cool. The local restaurant who is the main sponsor gives everyone a free Christmas Ale after the race, everyone gets a Santa hat, a decent t-shirt, and this year they gave out finishers medals rather than pint glasses.

The course 
I drove the course the night before because I wasn't sure with all the snow we have had if I was going to need my screwed shoes or not. Roads looked find but I didn't take into account the warmer temps followed by below freezing overnight. Needless to say, this made for some very slippery spots and as we were walking to the staging area, I was wondering if I made the wrong choice by not wearing my screwed shoes. I was also worried about Rick racing and falling too and must have told him five times to not try and kill it this race. 
Going into the race, my goals were to: 
  • 1st and foremost NOT slip and fall during this race which meant taking it slow if I had to
  • 2nd to PR the course if possible and beat 25:49 
  • 3rd try to move up to the top 5 in my AG. In three years I've gone from 15, to 12, to 6
However, with the knee problems I was having after the Oofos incident, I really wasn't sure how this race was going to go and I told myself getting to the finish line in one piece is all that mattered and would be ok if none of my other goals were met for this race. 

Rather than a play-by-play, I'll just make a few mentions about the race:
  • The race is always a major cluster because the staging area is at a local restaurant and the start is on a main road with lots of shopping plazas but little room and little green space so it's very congested. Even though they tell people who are not "racing" or those walking to get towards the back, people don't listen so everyone is all packed in this little area and when the gun goes off, it is almost impossible to get around the slower "I’m just here for the beer" runners. It's not until about mile 2 where it thins out enough where you're not constantly fighting the crowd.
  • I realized after my warm up I was completely overdressed for the 30 degree temps, not to mention the earbuds I borrowed from Rick because I couldn't find mine kept falling out, and my antlers that I wear every year and run in without issue kept falling off. So needless to say, I was already annoyed before the race even started and when the gun went off, I was even more crabby and irritated so that pretty much set the stage for the race. At no point did I ever feel "good" like I have the past two 5ks I've done recently. Quite honestly, I was miserable.
  • My knees surprisingly did better that what I expected but they still weren't 100% and hamstring was also making it's presence known as well as my hip. It was a good choice to take it easy the week prior because had I not, I probably would have had to walk some of the course.
  • I made the mistake of wearing the custom orthodics I just got Wednesday all day Saturday when you're supposed to transition into them gradually and was on my feet pretty much all day so it made for sore feet on Sunday.
  • There were slippery spots throughout the course and I decided after I slipped a few times it wasn't worth trying to catch up to Laurie (whom you know from my other races) or a woman from the running club I've gotten to be friends with. She is a real hoot and we stood together joking around while we waited for the gun to go off. She's 10 years younger than me and up until this point, she has had slower times than I have but she has apparently been on a mission to work them down and now has become one of the people I'll keep eye out of for if I want to race with a purpose and not just run for fun. The gun when off and she quickly disappeared into the crowd never to be seen again. I found out after the race she was trying to PR (and she did with a finish time of 24:44) so she was definitely running with the a purpose!
  • 5Ks are hard enough but not being used to running in the cold has put me at a huge disadvantage for two reason: my lungs aren't used to the cold and I was WAY overdressed. Both total worked against my mental game. I was sweaty and feeling overheated. I could even feel my feet sweating which always make my hands sweat and I had to take off my antlers and carry them so I was constantly having to switch hands not to drop them.
  • My first mile felt super slow because of the herd of cattle, my second mile felt even slower, and my last mile I thought for sure I was practically walking. I did glance at my watch once and only once….at the first mile…and when I saw my pace at 8:25, I thought for sure I'd be in the 26s as I crossed the finish line.
  • When made it back to the main road for the final stretch, I could see the arch in the distance and I decided there was nothing left in the tank for a final kick so I was just going to focus my energies on crossing the finish line. All I wanted was for this race to be OVER and it was doomed anyway, right? Well imagine my surprise when I could finally see the time clock and it was still in the 24s! I couldn’t believe it. I didn't have anything left to kick it, even when I saw Paul along side of the road cheering me on, so I just maintained my pace and crossed the finish. This race DEFINITELY ended WAAAY better than it started and I was pretty stoked.
I met up with Paul in the sea of people and the line was so long at the computers with people checking their results and Paul gets texts when I cross the finish line so I had him look since I didn't have my phone with me and sure enough, 25:22, a course PR and not only that, but I moved up the ranks in my AG by placing 5th! This definitely wasn't my fastest time of the year but all three of my goals were met and that, to me, means more than what the time clock said. Rick was technically 4th in his AG got bumped up to 2nd because the top 2 runners in his AG won other awards so he was pretty excited, too.

All in all, a great race with unexpected results even though it started out on the wrong foot LOL...and it was a great way to end the 2017 racing season.

181/922 OA 
69/577 Females
5/65 AG

8:25, 8:23, 8:04
Funny how I thought I was slowing down when actually I was running faster. Guess I had a kick after all. LOL

Being able to race with Rick was the best part of all

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Deciding to swim and fly...DCIS Day five years later 11.8.17

"Cause I found a way to steal the sun from the sky
Long live that day that I decided to fly from the inside"

~Fly from the Inside, Shinedown

Who knew that the time I would learn how to just keep swimming would also be the time I decided to fly from the inside without even knowing it...

A milestone. Five years ago today we received the news that would change our lives forever…shortly afterwards would I not only learn how to just keep swimming, but I would learn how to fly from the inside, too. While I have l always liked the song by Shinedown, it wasn't until I really "listened" to the lyrics when I was running one day not too long ago that the lyrics really hit home.

According to the singer, "fly from the inside" is a metaphor about believing in yourself and going after anything that seems unattainable. When I was diagnosed with cancer, I felt hopeless and lost. After all the other stuff that happened earlier that year on top of if, I wanted to give up…but then I learned how to just keep swimming….. and then I found something that helped me learn how to fly from the inside about a year later…running. Who knew? After all, I was a non-athlete growing up and at 40something, running from my house to the stop sign less than a quarter of a mile away was darn near impossible. At first I was only going to only run a 5k to run in memory of my dear friend, Kris, who left this world too soon, and that was it. But it became something more and every day when I've laced up since, I remember why. For the record, it was all Paul's idea that I even try running. Sure you may have created a monster, dear, but you did tell me I needed to find a hobby. Thank you though, for believing in me for all the times I've had no faith in myself (and we know there have been many). I could never have gotten here today without you.

Don't worry, I won't make this post all about running because if you follow my Facebook posts or my blog, you already know I talk about it….A LOT… Today's post is about remembering where I was five years ago, how far I have come, and those who have helped me get here. It's remembering how I've learned to just keep swimming…and to fly from the inside….I don't know where I'd be without God and the love and support from all of you, my floaties, so from the bottom of my heart, I thank each and every one of you.

And for the ones who are no longer here with us, the angel I wear is for you.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Every Mile a Memory: Make a Difference 5K Race Report 10.22.17

This was the third year running the Make a Difference 5K benefiting a local food pantry. It's held at the middle school both of my boys went to, it's a flat course meandering through some residential neighborhoods and a local park named Veterans Park  so it's a nice combination of road and trails PLUS it's five minutes from home so why not. It is also a grand prix race for my running club so there are usually some members there which also means there is stiff competition so I don't expect to ever place. I usually have friends running the race with me but none of them were joining me this year and with Paul being out of town that weekend and Rick not allowed to race because it's still XC season, I was going completely solo....for only the second time in my racing "career." It was weird for me.

The race is small and much to my surprise, I have walked away both times with an AG placing. Gotta love small races!!  In 2015, with a time of 26:07, I was 1st in my AG and in 2016, I was 1st in my AG and 3rd female OA with a time of 24:41. This year, the race was going to be even SMALLER so I thought possibly another placing would be doable as long as there weren't too many ladies from the club there. But as the race got closer, the less enthusiastic I was becoming. I picked up the race packed Friday and with the numbers 7617, I came up with 777 so maybe with the 7s, I'd have some luck. 

As I've mentioned, I have been falling out of love 5ks and I really wasn't looking forward to this race. Actually, I wasn't even planning on running it this year until my friend said she wanted to do it again so I signed up, only to have her back out after I had already registered. To give me some motivation, I decided a day or two before the race I would run in honor of a friend's mom who lost her battle with cancer earlier that week and I'll be honest, that was the only reason I went through with the race. I woke up at 12:30 a.m. Sunday morning and I never went back to sleep. My mind was going a million miles a minute about lot of things but the thought about how much I hate 5Ks, how hard they are, how I don't like the way I feel like I’m dying when I'm running them, etc. kept creeping in to my thoughts to the point I was obsessing about it. Not the best way to go into a race and I'd have to say I may have had several races where I wasn't "feeling it", this was the worst by far so I felt this race was really was doomed from the start. 

I finally got up around 6 a.m. even though the race didn’t start until 9 and had I not told my friend I would run in his mom's memory, I would have bailed. Since his mom's favorite color was purple, I picked out a purple shirt to wear, put on my "unstoppable hope" running socks, and new running shoes, and headed out the door about 8:20 a.m. You know when I don't have my outfit all picket out the night before, I'm not "feeling" it and I certainly was not. 

After I parked and got in a short 0.5 warm up, I walked over to the staging area where I saw my 81 year old relay teammate, Jean. We chatted for a bit and she told me if I plan on doing the relay next year, she wants in. Much to my surprise, all of the usual suspects (speedy ladies from the club) were no where to be found. Laurie, the XC mom I've mentioned, was there so she joined us in conversation. Soon it was time to head to the start so knowing Laurie is faster than I am, I decided I would just try to keep up with her and whatever the clock said the clock said. At the very least, I would like to course PR so the time to beat was last year's of 24:41.

The race
There really isn't a whole lot to say about the 3.1 miles in general other than I really hate 5Ks and that's all I could think about. I even stopped to walk for a couple seconds during this race and I have NEVER stopped during a 5K before. I think this mindset, as well as being tired, contributed to my bad attitude and lack-luster performance. 

I did a pretty good job keeping up with Laurie until around mile 2 where I started to bonk, at least that's how I was feeling. When I stopped (mentioned above), that gave her even more of a lead and I finally I told myself I just needed to get to the finish and that this was my race, my pace, not hers and just run. I also realized with the race being much smaller than last year, no one who looked in my AG was passing me (actually it was so small of a race I was either passing people or running with no one around) so even if I ran a crappy race, I'd probably still have a good chance of getting a placing. I just needed to get to the end. I did pass one of the boys from the XC team in the park somewhere between mile 2 and 3 so that kind of made me chuckle. I can't be doing THAT bad, right?

Anyway, the race ended back at the school and I felt like I had slowed down considerably the last mile and I really didn't have much left so I just kept my pace and crossed the finish.

I walked over to the computers where the live results were and lo and behold, I did place 1st in my AG with a time of 25:21. I didn't realize it was a gun start so per my Garmin my time was 25:15 but even with that, I didn't even course PR and that kind of bummed me out. Last year I was 3rd OA female and this year I was 4th. Laurie was 1st in her AG but was 3rd OA with a time of 24:56.

After the awards, I jumped into the running club's group photo (which I always miss…and of course when I’m finally in the picture, you can't see me because of the shadow LOL) and headed for home. While I was not happy with the race whatsoever, knowing I ran the race in memory of my friend's mom made my less-than-stellar performance not so bad and the AG placing "for her" was more important than what the time clock said.

Final thoughts
What's funny is had I finished this RR earlier this week, I would have said I don't think I'll be running many 5Ks from here on out or they would be few and far between because I was just miserable during the race but I've had a lot of time to think about this over the week and I've changed my mind. I do love the race vibe and even though my performance was a disappointment personally, I really felt energized this week during my runs and I haven't felt that way in a long time. Perhaps part of the slump I've been in these last few months is because I HAVEN'T been racing this summer like that last two. I'm not sure if that makes sense but racing every other weekend, sometimes every weekend last summer kept me energized. It's like the "high" from racing never went away and therefore my runs during the week were more enjoyable. This summer was a totally different story so combing the "depression" I was in because I couldn’t race because of my hammy and not having the "high" from racing I really think is what is the main contributor the funk I have been. Perhaps this race was the kick in the butt I've been looking for.

With that said, I have done a lot of "sole" (ha ha get it) searching this week and have decided I am going back to the MOA of how I started 2016, the first year I started setting goals for myself (and also the year my goal to run 100+ MPM for the year began..never imagined I'd still be doing that 46 months later). Since I was a total racing junkie in 2015, I decided in 2016 I would have one goal race, which would be The Race for the Place, and all other 5Ks would be training runs where I would try various racing strategies and use them as speed workouts since I didn't do them in my "training". This served me very well and it made 5Ks fun because it wasn't always about a PR (except for repeat races I wanted to course PR). I was going into that same mindset this year but things fell apart first with my mysterious hammy issue in May followed by not being able to lifetime PR at Race for the Place and throw not being able to race as much as I wanted to because of my hammy, mentally I have been in somewhat of a downward spiral….that is, until Sunday's race. 

Funny how yet again, a race that initially had no "meaning" when I signed up and was just doing it to do it turned out to be race with a purpose (in memory of my friend's mom) but more importantly, turned out to be a very valuable learning experience and while 5Ks will always be my least favorite distance, I honestly think this race gave me that "something" I've been looking for but couldn't find to get me inspired about running again. Perhaps my bib numbers forming "777" was a luck afterall.

One last thing, I was rather surprised that the mile I felt was my worst (I honestly thought I had slowed WAAAY down) ended up being my fastest. I'm still shaking my head with that one. 

25:21 gun start
25:15 per my Garmin
8:10 pace
1/9 AG
4/42 Female
21/79 OA


My purple shirt, award, and bib; me and the infamous Jean Toth, and group photo
with the running club. I'm the one in the shadow. =)

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

You really CAN teach an old dog new tricks!

My career in the graphic/web designed field started over 25 years ago as a work-study job in college doing desktop publishing while I was earning my degree in a completely unrelated field. I learned the tools of the trade then and over the years, taught myself graphic design and eventually how to build websites. What I though was going to be my dream job four and a half years ago has turned out to be a dead end position with my current skill set but I’m completely behind the times with what’s “hot” so I have felt “stuck” in my current role.

Making a career change has been something I have considered many times over the years but I’ve never known what I’d like to do. With having a family, working full time, and volunteering for a non-profit youth organization, I have always felt overwhelmed and going back to school just hasn’t seemed doable because I just don’t have the extra time to commit to having to go the local community college. Plus, college is expensive these days and I really just haven’t had the extra money. Sure, there are online classes but those "learn on your own" course are intimidating because who do I go to if I have questions? Lastly, I haven’t taken a class in over 12 years so I’ve been worried my brain is too “old” to learn something new. So how can I find a more rewarding job or spice up my current one without having the time and money to improve myself? One word: Udacity.

While sitting on the beach on vacation this summer, my husband, who is in the IT field, received an email that Udacity was offering a discount on their Digital Marketing Nanodegree program. Digital marketing? Hmmm, I like to write, I am active on Facebook and have my own blog so after looking at the course outline it looked very interesting. Maybe becoming a digital marketer was the change I was looking for! But how would I get help or to whom would I ask questions if I got stuck? Along with the course, you get your own mentor, there is a discussion forum, and you can talk directly to your instructors and fellow students on dedicated Slack channels. The best part is you can earn your degree from the comfort of your own home and can do the course work when it's convenient for you. While Udacity suggests you complete the course in three months, you can actually take up to six months if needed. All this for a fraction of what college course would cost. After taking all this into consideration, I decided that day on the beach to take the plunge and sign up for the Digital Marketing Nanodegree program.

So now I’m on the road to earning my nanodegree in digital marketing and I’m not even halfway through the program and I've learned so much already. I guess you can say I'm proof that you really can teach an old dog new tricks. If you're an "old dog" wanting to learn a new trick too, check out Udacity's Digital Marketing Nanodegree program. You'll be glad you did.


Friday Night Lights 5K 7.14.17 Race Report: Epic Fail or Valuable Training Run

In the 3 1/2 years, I have been running, this always been my worst race which is probably why my journal entries for both times I've run this race have never made it to a “published” race report. I decide this year that no matter how it turned out, I would complete a race report. We can’t always have stellar races with unexpected victories, right? So here it goes….

The Friday Night Lights 5K is a race held at 9 p.m. and benefits my son's XC team. It begins and ends on the high school track under the lights. The course is on the local bike path and has a few rolling hills and at the end of the race between miles 2.3 and 2.7 shortly before you get back to the high school, there are two back to back; one you can tell is a hill and when you get to the top you think the worst is over followed by a sneaky, gradual incline that isn't very kind to tired legs. Not only have I run this race twice before, but I've run the course many times in my training runs so I definitely know what to expect.

It's a pretty popular race and a lot of kids from local XC teams participate as well as runner graduates home from college on summer break. It also attracts a lot of local running powerhouses. Numbers were down this year though with "only" 554 runners.

To race or not to race, that is the question

This race is always one of my worst races because I am just not a night person. Get me up at 5 a.m. to go for a run and I'm all over it but ask me to run past 5 p.m.? Forget it! I’m usually getting ready for bed at 9 p.m. so I never anticipate doing all that well and if I can make the top 10 in my AG, I am happy. In 2015, my time was 27:40 and I was 8/32 in my AG. In 2016, my time was 26:34 and I was 7/28 in my AG so at least I've been able to hit my AG goals even though both times were my worse 5K times for each of those years.

It is usually very hot and muggy for this race which adds to the level of difficulty for me. Last year it was 90 degrees and the humidity was so intense it was like running through soup. I had debated whether to do this race this year because my company was a sponsor of a local airshow and Friday night was a private party held at the airport. However, we had to take our son to the race and I knew I wouldn't be able to just be a cheerleader, especially with all the racing I have missed this summer. Plus, they changed the course this year due to construction at the high school so they cut out the two hills at the end making it a slightly easier course. The weather was actually forecasted to be more pleasant too, 70% humidity and 75 degrees. Right as I was getting ready to sign up Friday morning, one of the board members from the running club posted on Facebook she decided not to run the race and was giving her bib away. Perfect timing.

Last year's course

This year's course
May not be much of a change but a welcome one for those of us who have run this race before and those of us with tired legs and aren't used to running at night.

Backing up just a bit, as you know I have been dealing with a couple unexplained ailments. On Thursday when I went for my run, while the ball of my foot pain was pretty much gone, towards the end of my run, I felt my left hamstring tighten up, something I have never felt before. It was bad enough I had to quit running and walk the last half mile home. Great, something new to worry about.

Race day

Since I wasn’t sure when I woke up Friday morning if I was going to do this race, I got up before dawn for a short 3 mile run with some walking mixed in so I was sure to get miles for the day and also wanted to see how that hamstring was doing. It wasn't too bad but towards the end again, I felt the strange tightening so I decided I was going to just run the race and not try to race it. Walking would be an acceptable option as well.

Friday after work, I went to pick up the bib and a black cat ran across the street in front of me. I kind of chuckled to myself because as I was trying to get my get up ready for Sunday's race, my black cat sat on it and I ended up smashing that race. I knew with this one I would need all the help I could get! I noticed on the way home my bib number was 1333. Ahhhh, the number 13? Another sign for good luck perhaps? Ha, I wish.
Every year the t-shirt has some kind of movie design.
Even though I don't wear the unisex shirts, I still thought it was cool.
I had everything ready to go before we headed to the party because I knew we would only have a small window of time to get changed and head to the race. I didn't get a picture of my get up but I wore a fluorescent green USMC tank top, a hot pink running skort, a flashy silver headband, and a new pair of running shoes that only had a handful of miles in them. I figured they were the exact same shoe, right down to the color, that I have been running in for over a year and a half and the other three pairs never bothered me before. Besides, this was a "short" 5K so I didn't think new shoes wouldn't be a problem.

We headed off to the party and when we got there, I was really bummed we were going to have to leave at 8 to head to the race. Not only were we going to miss out indulging in all the awesome food they had, there was also a nighttime air show we were going to miss. Since I wasn't super excited about this race and I knew my time wasn't going to be all that, I figured I might as well enjoy the party and enjoyed more food than I should have. I also stood the entire time because I was worried sitting would make my hamstring cranky. Coincidentally, my boss and his wife were going to run the race too. They both run at night and live in a pretty hilly area so this would be an easy race for them. They were at the party too and didn't seem too concerned about enjoying what the party had to offer before the race.

The clock struck 8 and it was time to leave. Paul was going to take aerial video of the race so we needed to make sure he had enough time to get set up so we headed for home, got changed, and headed up to the high school. I decided I wasn't going to do a warm up but Rick wanted to so we wished each other luck and all parted ways. While I was waiting around, I ran into my boss's wife. We chatted for a bit and then I decided I might want to do a real short warm up so we wished each other luck and I went on my way. I happened to see Paul and wondered why he was carrying his UAV and not flying so close to the start of the race. Apparently he had forgotten his memory card for the UAV in his laptop from an aerial photography job he did earlier in the day. Even though we are only 2 miles from the school, there wasn't enough time for him to drive home and get the card before the race started. Bummer. This would have been a really cool race to video from up above. He was not happy about this either.
Egads, I even look like death before the race. LOL 
They announced the race was about to start so I headed over to the track, saw my boss and his wife again, and decided to move up closer to the front. It was a pretty packed race and there were also a lot of young kids so I tried to get as close to the front as I could, of course giving space to the serious runners. One of the women from the running club came up next to me so we chatted for a bit. She knew I was not looking forward to this race and that I was at a shin dig beforehand so we joked a bit about whether I was going to be able to keep my dinner down or if she'd find me on the course sleeping. I told her it wasn't going to be pretty but in my head I thought I have gone into races not expecting to do well and I always surprise myself so maybe I would luck out this time. Goodness knows just how wrong I would be.

The gun went off and as we made the lap around the track, I actually wasn't feeling too bad. Maybe this race wouldn't be a bust after all, reinforcing the thoughts that I would probably do better than expected. Unfortunately, as soon as we got to school's parking lot and heading towards the bike path, my shins started to ache and for the first 2 miles, they felt like they were on fire. I tried using positive self-talk since it worked so well on Sunday but it wasn't helping. Not this time. What made matters worse was seeing the people I usually pass in races pass ME up never to be seen again. Ugh. Talk about demoralizing. This.Sucked. And I had 3 miles of this crap? I had already fallen out of love with the 5K distance but now I was REALLY hating it. I tried to ignore the shin pain and tried to keep telling myself positive things but all my mind would do was go back to how miserable I was feeling. There were several times I thought about just walking because this race was doomed before it even began but I decided to just keep going until I couldn't go anymore.

Push it
Mile 1 came and went and so did mile 2. The hills didn't seem too bad but it's probably because I was feeling pretty miserable as it was so how could it get worse, right? LOL. All my usually racing strategies went out the window and I just kept reminding myself the misery would be over soon. At about mile 2.5 is where the course changed from last year, all we had was one more hill to run and the rest of the race would be nice and flat leading to the final lap around the track to the finish line. I don't know what it was about that hill or maybe it was the song that came on my playlist "Push It" by Static X but all of the sudden I got this surge of energy and I ran up that hill like it was nothing and started running past people I had been behind the whole time. Maybe I had virtual cheerleaders somewhere cheering extra hard! Shortly before I got to the football stadium, I saw Paul and I don’t recall what he said to me because I was in a zone. This is also where I could start feeling my hamstring tighten up a bit but I just kept going because there was no stopping me now.

Usually by the time I hit the track in past races, I am dead and have zero energy left. Not this time. I almost felt like I was floating as I made my way around the track and was passing people left and right. I didn't even notice the finish line clock and surprised the heck out of myself that I was able to pick it up like that. I crossed the finish line and looked at my Garmin. The "high" I felt because of my strong finish quickly dissipated when I saw my time….28:19….my personal worse 5K time ever. I knew I was going to do poorly but that poorly? Buzz kill.

I found Rick after the race and we headed over to the computers with the live results. Sure enough, worst 5K time ever coming in at 28:19… Over 4 minutes slower from my current 5K PR set the hilly race on Mother's Day. I did, however, make the top 10 in my AG by placing 7th so it wasn't a total epic fail. Rick did really well with a time of 21:00 and even though he was 25/55 in his AG, he was 85 OA and he also met his time goal so he was happy. I chatted with another lady from the running club and once we found Paul, we headed home. I was still so full from the party I didn't even bother with the post-race snacks.

Post race thoughts
Even though I went into the race not expecting to do well which is a pretty common mindset I have with every race, this is the first race ever where I actually did poorly than expected. I literally have never has such a horrible race on so many levels in the short 3 1/2 years I have been running. As you can imagine, at first it was a pretty hard pill to swallow and I was downright embarrassed and mad at myself. But then I started thinking about the comments people made on my Facebook post and conversations I had with some of you here and my thinking has gone from "this race was an epic fail" to "this race was a very valuable training run" and I started to think about all the things that may have contributed to my performance:
  • First and foremost, running at night. I am just not built for running so late and I have no desire to start so that will always be a factor.
  • Even though Friday morning was a run with some walking mixed in, it was still 3 miles and I usually take the day off from running completely before a race. Not only did I run all week, I also ran on race morning.
  • I raced a pretty hard 5 mile race five days prior. I looked back in my journal from the past two years and same thing...Johnnycake Jog 5 miles on Sunday, Friday Night Lights on Friday. 
  • I wore running shoes that weren't broken in yet.
  • I also stood the entire time at the party so could both the new shoes and standing for two hours prior contribute to the shin pain?
  • I never eat or drink before a run or a race (except for a cup of coffee on race morning). I pretty much had a full stomach and actually felt bloated from the carbonation and water.
I have thought about the good things about this race as well. I did still manage to place in the top 10 so it wasn't a total loss. Also, not only have I done this race before but I have done others that follow almost the exact same course and the surge of energy I had at the end was a first. I couldn't believe how I was was able to tackle that hill and pick up the pace after feeling so rotten the previous miles. It was a pretty awesome feeling!

I ended up a pacer for someone. =) Apparently my boss and his wife were trying to keep up with me which I didn't know this until after the race. He is very fast and often places in his AG but she is more of a casual runner and she has never broken 30:00 for a 5K and that was her goal for this race. He decided to run with her to help pace her and apparently I helped pace her too. They know I'm a quick on my feet so they decided if they could keep up with me, she'd meet her time goal. He said they did a pretty good job until I had that surge of energy that came out of no where and he commented he was pretty impressed with the way I picked it up like that. By the way, she did complete the race under 30 minutes and thanked me for "helping" her.

I mentioned the cheerleaders earlier. What's funny is with this race, they have live results and you can have your splits and results texted to people or post to your Twitter or Facebook feed as you pass the sensors. Even though they changed my information associated with that bib number, apparently the live results were still being texted to the people the woman whose bib it was originally. She told me after the race her husband, her running coach, and herself were virtually cheering me on and congratulated me for a great race and for picking it up at the end like I did. Virtual cheerleaders indeed. LOL Of course, they didn't know this was my worst race ever but it was still kind of cool they were cheering me on. I got kudos from some running elites. How could I be upset about that?!

So this year's Friday Night Lights will go down as the worst race in history for me and the first race where I actually ran as horribly as I felt but considering how many races I've done so far, one out of 30+ really isn't all that bad. I'm glad that rather than feeling defeated by it, I have been able to take a step back and accept every race can't be an unexpected victory and that even in a bad race, not only can you learn from it, you can still find something positive about it, too.

Mile splits 8:53, 9:17, 9:07

7/27 AG
118/276 Females
327/554 OA