Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Every Mile a Memory: Make a Difference 5K Race Report 10.23.16

On Sunday, October 23, I ran the Make a Difference 5K. It's a small, community-type race put on by the PTSA of Shore Middle School to benefit a local food pantry. I ran the race last year and since it was close to my house and the course went through nearby neighborhood streets as well Veterans Park, a beautiful local park, I figured why not end the month of October with a nice, small race. 

The weather was a chilly 50 degrees and clouds until after the race was over. It was also damp so it felt colder than 50. I still opted to wear one of my USMC tank tops and black running skort than long sleeves and capris though. 

Going into this race, I really didn't have any goals for the race other than to hopefully run faster than last year (26:07 which somehow snagged me an AG placing even though it was my 2nd slowest time for that year). While I figured I'd have no problem at least breaking 26:00, I really had no plans for much more, especially considering my sister and I went on a winery tour Saturday night. While I offered to drive to where the bus was meeting us which meant I couldn't get all wild and crazy, I still wasn't sure how a variety of local wines were going to agree with me on race day. Anyway, my sister and co-worker were doing the race too but my sister was behind schedule so I didn't see her until she was just finishing up the race. My co-worker and I talked for a bit and then I headed off to do a real brief warm up run. 

Even though there was a timing mat at the start this year, I decided to get closer to the front mainly because there were so many kids and I've been in several races where kids have dead stopped right in front of me and I've almost bit the dust because I didn't have enough time to react. Unfortunately, there were more of them than adults at the starting line so I just accepted it for what it was and waited for the race to start. After all, I wasn't looking to PR anyway and this race was supposed to be for fun anyway. The gun went off and away we went. For a small race, it was still congested. I was finally able to get in front of most of group once we hit the park trail around the 3/4 mile mark but it was still pretty slow going up to that point with the amount of kids/slower runners who were in the front of the pack and it was hard to get around them. Of course, it never fails there has to be that ONE little boy who will look over his shoulder and cut in front of me every time I try to pass. This has happened to be quite often this year and I'm beginning to think I'm a little kid magnet. LOL It's extremely frustrating regardless.

Once again, my race strategy was to pick out a runner and either keep up with them or pass them. This plan has served me well and there were several targets in this race. Other than feeling tired like you do when you are racing, there were times I felt in pretty good groove so I just zoned out listening to my tunes and enjoyed the changing trees around me. Towards the end though, between miles 2 and 3, I felt like I was losing steam though and it just so happened Kick Start My Heart by Mötley Crüe started playing and while I don't typically run to the beat of the music during a race, I needed to something to keep me from slowing down. It certainly worked because as we made our way out of the park and back to the school and approached the time clock, I saw it was still in the 24's (to say I was shocked is an understatement), I mustered up whatever energy I had left and gunned it. Finish time of 24:41 which just so happens to by my 2nd fastest time for 2016!!! 

They have live results so I went over to the monitor and surprised again, I was first in my AG. Woot woot! But wait, there's more! After my sister and co-worker finished, we met up with a couple of the XC parents (one of the moms ran the race but the other two were there volunteering) and talked while we waited for the award ceremonies. They announced the male overall winers first and then the female overall. Imagine my surprise when they called my name as 3rd overall female!!! I couldn't believe it. 

So thus completes race #14 for 2016 and I am so glad I followed the advice of some of the runners on the Runners World Running Forum  I am a member of of not making every race a PR this year. I tried doing that in 2015 and all it did was frustrate me almost to the point I didn't know if I wanted to run anymore. Having only one goal race (which for me is the Race for the Place 5K in June) and letting the cards fall as they may with all the others really has served me well. I am also glad that I treat every race as a learning experience and try to find at least one take away. I've learned when you run with your heart rather than expectations, it makes all the difference and with the racing season winding down, I have successfully met another goal for 2016 of not worrying about a PR every race and feeling pretty darn ok about it. =)

What was kind of cool is after the race when I went to go check my time, there was a woman behind me with her black lab. They ran the race together and were one of my targets during the race and I decided if I was ever able to catch them, it would be my goal to not let them pass. So when I stepped away from the computer and noticed she was behind me, I thanked her for helping me during the race and explained my target theory and how she and her dog were one of them. She said when I passed them, she decided she wanted to try and keep up with me because she was horrible at pacing herself and I looked like I knew what I was doing because I had a watch (keep in mind I don't make it a habit of looking at my watch anymore so it must have been just the fact I had one on) and was running at a pace she could keep up with so in turn, I ended up being her target. I chuckled and told her I really had no clue what I was doing either and I was horrible at pacing as well was glad I could help her out anyway. Who knew the helpee was actually the helper too. LOL

This really was a great race all around. Very well organized, a nice course, and decent post-race goodies. I'll definitely go back for round three next year!

Splits:  8:23, 8:22, 7:55
Stats: 1/8 AG, 3/80 Females, 22/130 OA

My "bling." I also received a $5 gift certificate to the local running store, Second Sole.
Me and one of the XC moms who won 3rd in her AG. 
My co-worker won 3rd in her AG

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Every mile a memory: the Northern Ohio Half Marathon 10.2.16 (full race report to come)

I will work on full race report once I've had time to condense all my notes but here is the "brief" overview" how today's race went.

Today I accomplished what I thought would be impossible: a sub 2:00:00 half marathon and not only did I do that, I smashed my 2014 time with a finish of 1:58:42, shaving almost 20 MINUTES off that time. In 2014, I was 21st in my AG so my goal was to hopefully make the top 20 this year. Not only did I make the top 20, I was 8th!!!! Just goes to show that you should never listen to the voices in your head that say you can't because they have no idea what they are talking about and when your friends and loved ones tell you can, they are right. LOL. Running with a pacer/pace group this time around was definitely a good move because it was just like having my own personal running coach every step of the way and he not only kept us motivated, but I told him I would love to try to break two hours (a lofty goal but hey, a girl can dream) so the last mile of the race, he told those of us who wanted to beat the pacer to kick it up...and he kept right on encouraging us from behind up to the second we cross the finish.

What was extra awesome is that my son's XC team volunteered for the race so I had a few cheerleaders along the way and a couple of the boys, including Rick, even gave me high fives as I ran past. And of course, Paul was taking pictures of the race so he was able to meet me at various points of the course and cheered me on. That was icing on the cake. Of course, having some inspiration not only from above, but inspiration here on Earth helped, too.

AWESOME AWESOME race, AWESOME day, and who knows, I may just make it round 3 next year. Wait, did I just say that???!!! Just keep swimming...and running.

Nailed it. What a complete and utterly amazing surprise.

Half marathon #2 complete. A PR to boot!
Start and finish at the beach? What's not to love!!!

Thanks to my pacer, Sean, and a friend I met along the way for helping me to the finish.
She finished a tad bit in front of me but it was fun running with her and trying to catch her in the shoot.
Cool swag. Thanks to the race organizers and sponsors for another amazing race.
A personal best and victory in honor and memory of all my sisters in pink.

Here's to never saying never. Northern Ohio Half Marathon, take two. 10.2.16

In October 2014, I ran my first and only half in honor of my dad as he battled lung cancer: the Lake Health Northern Ohio Marathon/Half Marathon. His fight was my inspiration to cross the finish, especially during the times I thought I'd never make it there. After than race, I swore I would never run a half again, especially not that one for two reasons. One, let's be honest, I love running and I love racing but 13.1 miles? Not really a fan of that distance. Second, knowing what this particular race meant to me and the reason I ran it in the first place, yep, I swore never again. It's really a great race though and last year, they changed the course a bit. They moved the start and finish to Headlands State Park/the beach/my favorite place and it's a relatively flat course going through the streets of Mentor so last year we put together a team for the 5-person marathon relay they offered instead. Well, this year the plans to run the relay fell through and left me with either not running the race at all and kicking myself later or sucking it up and running another half, the race and distance I have vehemently sworn I would never run again. I chose to suck it up and go for round two.

So if I was going to do this again, I needed to make it personal and have something to push me in those moments When I feel like I can't take another step. One morning on a run a few weeks ago before sunrise it hit me. The race is in October. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It was in October four years ago my cancer roller coaster began and it's because of cancer that I started running in the first place. Good motivation but making it about me wouldn't be enough. So then I started thinking about the people who have crossed my path from the moment God put me on it and the answer became clear: run this race in honor of my sisters in pink: the fighters, the survivors, and the taken. I found my inspiration.

7:30 a.m. today in the rain…it's round two. This one's for you, "sisters."