Race Report: Mt. Juliet Holiday 5k – December 5, 2015

This race consists of a half marathon and a 5k which start just before the Christmas parade in Mt. Juliet. This appealed to me when I was signing up, as it meant there would possibly be spectators along some of the route from the people who were waiting for the parade to start; I like spectators.

As I’ve mentioned, I initially signed up for the half, but as it got closer and closer, there were increasing signs that I shouldn’t run it. My training had not gone great. While I had made it up to an 11 mile long run, it was painful and hard and not fun. And after that long run, I started getting weird aches up and down my left leg (sometimes in my knee, sometimes in my calf, sometimes my ankle…it moves from day to day). In the week before the race, I considered dropping the run altogether and transferring my bib to someone else. Then Jonathan said he would run the 5k with me if I switched to it, so I decided to go that route and made the change three days before the race.

Race Day

The 5k didn’t start until 10:55am, so it wasn’t too early of a morning. We got up, Jonathan ate some eggs, and took our time getting ready.

We arrived at the school where the start and finish is around 10:30. We went inside for a final bathroom break and then came back out to cheer on the half marathoners as they started at 10:45. I felt some pangs of disappointment that I wasn’t running the half, but I knew it was for the best.

mt juliet holiday half and 5k

Ready to start!

Soon it was time for us to start. This wasn’t a huge race; the half and the 5k had maybe 200 people each. We placed ourselves in the middle of the crowd and soon we were off.

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from this race. I definitely didn’t have any time goals. I hadn’t run three miles straight through since the beginning of November (right before that 11 miler), so I mainly just wanted to complete the thing without walking, but that was going to be dependent on how my leg felt.

Mile 1: 10:54
At the start, Jonathan kept trying to urge me to speed up, but I was insistent that I not go out too fast. Even though he never runs, he is a lot speedier than me, so he’s not used to getting passed in races. We were doing a pretty steady 11 min/mi pace, and I told him to deal with it, hehe.

This mile was all along the parade route. We heard lots of kids yelling, “Look, elves!” as we ran by and I gave out a few high fives. Definitely the best mile of the race.

Mile 2: 11:21
On mile 2, we turned onto a residential road so the spectators were gone. A very hilly residential road. This mile was almost completely uphill, hence my slow down.

Jonathan ran ahead of me most of the time, but I was still determined not to push too hard and have to walk.

There was a water stop around the halfway point, which I was desperately thankful for.

Mile 3: 10:06
I began to push a little bit more, knowing this was the last mile. My leg was killing me and I was starting to have some GI discomfort, but I just tried to hang with it. Jonathan told me we should run this entire mile at his pace (7-8 minute miles), and I just looked at him. Crazy man. I told him I would when we got to the last tenth of a mile.

Last 0.1 (0.15 to my Garmin): 1:13 (8:09 pace)
As soon as we came out of the residential area, I began to really push with a final surge of a 7:20-7:30 pace. Jonathan still managed to eke by me at the finish though. 😛

Official Time: 33:32

Not too shabby. Even though it’s nowhere near my 5k PR, I was happy with this time considering how much discomfort I was in by the finish. I don’t think I could have pushed any more.

Photo Dec 05, 12 39 03 PM

Race Review

This was a pretty good smallish race. I liked the spectator support on the first mile, though I wish it would have continued throughout the whole race.

Packet pick-up the day before was no problem. The email they sent out said IDs would be needed and you couldn’t pick up other people’s packets, but when we got there, they didn’t check IDs and people were getting packets for their friends.

The shirts were unisex, which I didn’t realize when I signed up or I would have gotten an XS instead of a S. The goody bags had a couple nice little extras, like Chapstick and some plastic sunglasses.

The medals for the half looked nice; I’m sad about not having it!

The post-race food was good. There were bananas, chips, cookies, granola bars, and chili.

The awards ceremony seemed a bit disorganized. We missed the door prizes at the beginning because we didn’t realize where the ceremony was going on (it was in the school gym). There was supposed to be a costume contest, but we must have missed it. I don’t know if they did it before or after the age group awards, which is all we saw.

Overall, however, it was a holly jolly good time!

Race Report: Tomato 5k – August 8, 2015

I mentioned before that I was coaching a group of East Nasty’s Potato to Tomato participants. This is an eight week couch to 5k program that culminates in running the Tomato 5k at the start of the Tomato Art Festival in East Nashville. So this race was a pretty big deal!

The group was meeting at 7am before the 7:30am start time, so I was up before 6am to get ready and head out. Jonathan came with me to take photos and cheer us on (he even made a sign!), so we headed out and arrived at our meeting spot around 6:50.

We found the group and took a few photos. Everyone seemed a little excited and a little nervous. This would be their longest run to date. The Wednesday before we had gone around 2.6 miles.

east nasty potato to tomato couch to 5k training

Before the start!
Photo from Kelley Luberecki.

Soon it was time to warm up. We did some walking and a light jog to the start line. We lined up as best as we could, took some more photos, and then…we were off!

Of the coaches in our group, Kym and I had decided to stick with the group pace of 13 minute miles. (Ralph planned on running with his girlfriend, who had sustained a mild injury during training.) A few of our group members took off right at the start, with one finishing at just over an 11 min pace!

east nasty potato to tomato couch to 5k training

Running with Monica and Kelley on the final mile!

Throughout the race, I bounced between group members, giving motivation and encouragement where I could. On the last mile, I started running with Monica, who was struggling with a side stitch. I told her to just hang on, there were only a couple more minutes left and pointed out that we could see the finish line. She later told me that this gave her the strength to finish, and she even put in a nice finishing kick!

We finished in 39:50, with a 12:51 average! I was so, so proud of our group.

east nasty potato to tomato couch to 5k training

Group 8 is no longer a bunch of potatoes!

We gathered back in our meeting spot for more photos and congratulations, then we were off to walk in the Tomato Parade.

east nasty potato to tomato couch to 5k training

The entire Potato to Tomato group.
Photo from East Nasty.

east nasty potato to tomato couch to 5k training

With fellow coaches, Kym and Ralph!
Photo from Ralph Booker.

I loved coaching this group so much. I received lots of wonderful thank you cards and sentiments from them, but I feel like I should thank them. It was just absolutely amazing to see a group of people who never thought they could run for three miles straight accomplish that very thing in just eight weeks. While I will not miss running in the same smelly shirt three times a week, I will truly miss seeing our group (eight is great!). I hope I get to run with all of them again in the future!

Race Report: Purity Moosic City Dairy Dash 5k and 10k – April 11, 2015

I volunteered at this race last year, so I got to see all the yummy stuff that the runners get to eat post-race. I needed to get something close to 10 miles in, so I opted to run the 5k/10k combo.

I wasn’t quite sure how to pace this thing. If it had been an actual 15k, I would have started slower and finished faster. However, the 10k started 30 minutes after the 5k and I wanted to be at the start line when that happened, so I wasn’t straggling behind everyone else for the whole race. So, I decided I would push a little harder than I normally would for the first 5k to attempt to get in under 30 minutes.

Race Day

I woke up at 6am (much better than the last race’s 4am wake up time) and got ready. It was supposed to be in the 50s/60s and sunny, so I opted for shorts and a short-sleeved top.

purity moosic city dairy dash

I arrived in plenty of time. I had picked up my packet the evening before, so I had already pinned my bibs and attached my timers. I made a quick stop at the port-a-potties, then sat in my car for a bit (it was cold) until I got a message from my cousin Gillian (who was running the 10k) that she had parked. I met up with her, we got her packet, and then waited for the 5k to start.

purity dairy dash

With Gillian before the start.

5k, Mile 1: 9:43
There was some nice crowd support at the start of the race, along Athens Way. After a quarter mile or so, we turned onto Great Circle for an out-and-back section. I just tried to maintain a steady fastish pace. I was feeling pretty good.

5k, Mile 2: 9:34
The halfway point came and went without a water stop. I was kind of wanting some at this point. We had passed Athens Way for the second out-and-back section in the other direction. I just told myself it would be over soon.

5k, Mile 3: 9:18
The only water stop on the course was right at the end of mile 2/beginning of mile 3. I briefly stopped to gulp down some water, then pushed on. I started counting in my head to distract me from the discomfort of knowing that I really had six more miles to go after this.

5k, Final 0.1 (0.14 to my Garmin): 1:12 (8:44 pace)
I pushed with everything I had and right as I crossed the finish line, the gun for the 10k went off. No breaks allowed! I joined the throng of people heading towards the start line again.

Official 5k Time: 29:40
I liked that I managed to run negative splits on this race!

10k, Mile 1: 9:57
10k, Mile 2: 10:13
I was pretty tired from running a sub-30 5k, but I knew I could push on. I hoped that the 10k would have a water station before the two mile mark. Spoiler alert: it didn’t. While my strategy for the 5k was to run it straight (except for the water stop), my 10k strategy was a one minute walk at the start of each mile.

purity dairy dash 10k

I look exhausted already.

10k, Mile 3: 10:37
10k, Mile 4: 10:29
The first water stop of the 10k was at the start of the third mile right before we got on the greenway. We were on the greenway for the next three miles. You could just see runners for miles ahead of you. It was a little disheartening because you could tell you weren’t anywhere close to being done. I tried to enjoy the nice view of the river for these three miles, but I really was just ready to be done.

10k, Mile 5: 10:49
At the start of mile five, I started singing Disney songs in my head. I got through “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”, “Love is an Open Door”, and “Let it Go” before we finally got off the greenway for the final mile.

10k, Mile 6: 10:45
I continued with “Part of Your World”, “Poor Unfortunate Souls”, and “When Will My Life Begin” on this mile.

10k, Final 0.2 (0.26 to my Garmin): 2:10 (8:20 pace)
We were finally turning back onto Athens Way. The crowd support was back. I gave it everything I had, for my fastest quarter mile of the entire day.

purity dairy dash 10k

The exhaustion continues.

Official 10k Time: 1:05:22
A little slower than my last few 10ks (and my last 15k), but I’ll take it!

After finishing, I downed a banana, then went in search of mac and cheese. There wasn’t any. 😦 I guess all the 5k finishers got to it because all they had out were sausage balls. Instead, I grabbed an ice cream sandwich from the ice cream truck, and then met up with Gillian.

purity dairy dash ice cream sandwich

Yay, ice cream!

Race Review

This was a well-organized race with a unusual-for-Nashville flat course. I was a little worried about the logistics of running both races, but had no problems doing so. (For what it’s worth, next year they will be offering an actual 15k, so I doubt the 5k/10k combo will exist anymore.)

Now that I’m going on my third year of running, I am figuring out what kind of races I prefer. You’ve seen me mention before that I like a lot of crowd support. This one has some at the start/end, but not much elsewhere. (And it’s impossible to have any on the three mile section of the greenway.) Not necessarily a negative thing for other people, I just like more.

But the volunteers were fantastic, packet pickup was quick and painless, and the ice cream was tasty! And chocolate milk! I do wish I had been able to get some mac and cheese at the end, though. I was sad that I missed it.

Race Analysis


Night Before: I think I had Zaxby’s. I was being lazy.
Pre-Race: half a bagel with peanut butter
During Race: just water
Post-Race: banana, ice cream sandwich, chocolate milk


Sports Bra: Gracie’s Gear
Top: Asics short-sleeved top (I need to retire this one and get a new white top; this one got stained with hair dye during the last race I did in the rain)
Bottom: Lululemon Speed Short
Socks: my trusty Injinjis
Shoes: Mizuno Wave Sayonara 2

Race Report: Tom King Classic 5k – March 7, 2015

Originally, this was supposed to be my first goal half of the year. This was the race where I was going to try for that 2:15 goal that I set for myself at the beginning of the year.

But then I ran 2:13 at Cedars Frostbite, so that goal was done.

I wondered what I should do about Tom King. Should I try to PR again? Just run it for fun? I couldn’t decide.

So the weather decided for me.

Nashville got its first snowdome-busting (over 1″) snowfall in over four years on the Wednesday night/Thursday morning before the race. The Shelby greenway, which the Tom King half runs down, would not be in any shape to run on by Saturday morning. So the race officials made the hard decision and cancelled the half.

They reconfigured the 5k (no more running through the stadium and finishing on the Jumbotron) and invited everyone to run that instead. So that’s what I decided to do, despite that I’m not really in 5k shape and I knew this would probably hurt.

Race Day

The time had also gotten pushed back to 9am, so there was not a super-early wake-up, which was nice. I even managed to convince Jonathan to get up and come spectate, with the promises of a yummy post-race breakfast.

We arrived a little before 8:30. I grabbed my bib and shirt and then met up with some of the Flyers that were running the race for a quick photo.

mt juliet flyers

I probably should have warmed up in the remaining time, but I didn’t.

We got lined up at the start and I turned my watch on. Except it had some major problems finding a signal and didn’t finally start reporting distance and pace until over half a mile in. I have no idea how fast my first mile actually was, other than it was probably too fast and may have been the fastest mile I’ve ever run. All I know is after we completed a loop around the stadium (which Strava tells me is 0.9 miles), the clock at the start said 7-something, and the time difference between my finish time and the time my watch said I was moving is 3:51 (for approximately half a mile – my fastest half mile before this was 4:12). Thus I figure I was running at a sub-8 pace for the first half mile and probably averaged 8-something overall for the first mile.

It should come as no surprise to you then that I ended up taking some walk breaks. I just absolutely wore myself out at the start. I ended up taking three. There were no water stations, so these were just I-need-air breaks.

I started really trying to push when I knew there was only a quarter mile or so left. Ugh, it was rough. I was pushing as hard as I absolutely could but felt like I was crawling. In reality, I was pushing an 8:30-8:40 pace, although I seemingly slowed down right before the finish.

I know I say this every race, but I have never been so happy to finish a race before. I got my medal (that says half marathon on it) and then found Jonathan. I didn’t know my official time, but I knew it was a PR. A very rough-won PR.

We went up to the breakfast buffet and loaded up our plates with eggs (which I didn’t think were very good but I’m not a big egg fan), muffins (which were absolutely delicious), and biscuits. After eating, I went and found the printout with the results.

Official Time: 28:43

A 31 second PR. I was happy with this, but I was not entirely happy with my performance. I do not like going out too fast. I like finishing fast and feeling strong. With an average pace of 9:16 overall, I think I could have done this race with no walk breaks if I had just managed to hold that pace from the beginning instead of flying out of the gate. But with my watch not responding at first, there was no way I knew that I was going that fast. I need to work on pacing some more, I guess.

Race Review

While I was disappointed they had to cancel the half, so far I have been pleased with how they handled the situation. We will be receiving a discount to next year’s race, but right now the details of that are still being worked out, so I’m not sure how much of a discount.

I have a couple of complaints, but I’m sure they were related to having to change everything around last minute.

The first is that I did not see any mile markers on the course. This would have been super helpful when my watch wasn’t working (as I could have hit the lap button at the end of the first mile and then been able to keep up with how much was left after that). If they were there, they were not obvious.

The second is that the race photographer cancelled, so there’s no official photos. Boo.

Also, some suggestions for the breakfast buffet. Meat! Some bacon or sausage would have been nice. I love carbs (and I had two of those delicious muffins), but I want a little bit of protein after I race. There was also no chocolate milk, which was disappointing.

That’s really it. Everything else was well put together. As a spectator, Jonathan liked that we looped the start once so that he was able to see me a few times without having to move locations. I always like having him spectate because he takes videos so I can take notes on my form!

Race Report: Go Commando 5k – October 18, 2014

I went back and forth for the longest time on this race. Do I run the 5k so I can directly compare my race to last year’s? Or do I run the new 10k since it’s the first year they are doing it?

I finally made my decision sometime in July. I had started to believe that I wasn’t going to meet my sub-30 goal in August’s race, so I went ahead and signed up for the 5k as a backup race. Of course, then I did get sub-30 in Smyrna, so…

It worked out all for the best. My cousin Gillian emailed me a few weeks later and said she was thinking about training for the 5k, her first ever. Yay, a race buddy!

I had no real goals for this race. I wanted to be faster than last year (35:15), but other than that, I just planned on running by feel. I definitely didn’t plan to do another sub-30, since my ankle was still gimpy, and I was doing a running streak.

Race Day

I had spent the night at my parents’ house in Clarksville, so I got up at 6am to get ready and tape up my ankle. I arrived at the race location a little after 7am and parked. I met up with Gillian and we took the shuttle over to the start line. After checking a bag, I was ready.

before the start of the go commando 5k

Gillian and I before the start.

It was a little chilly before the start, but the sun promised to come out. It turned out to be great running weather: in the low 50s with the sun peeking through. I wore shorts and a tank, but a lot of people were dressed for cold-weather running. I wondered if they got hot.

The race started promptly (my Garmin data says exactly 8am) after the national anthem and a prayer.

Mile 1: 10:17
Gillian and I started together and placed ourselves around the middle of the crowd. It was pretty congested starting out, so there was a bit of weaving around people and not being able to run the pace that you wanted to. Her shoe came untied right before the end of the first mile, and she told me to go on without her.

Mile 2: 9:34
Once most of the congestion cleared out, I settled into a good pace. I still had to weave around some people, as a lot of the race path is very narrow and it’s hard to get around someone slower. Mile two starts you on an out-and-back portion where the lane is split between those headed in and those headed back, so sometimes you have to weave into the other lane and dodge those runners to get around people.

Mile 3: 9:12
Knowing I was on the last mile, I started to push it a bit. However, I knew the only incline of the race was right at the end and that I needed to save something for that. A quick glance at my watch when I was about a half mile away from the finish told me I was going to come in really close to 30 minutes. I had been running by feel and not looking at my watch until then. I started to push a little more.

Final 0.1 (0.13 to my Garmin): 1:04 (8:05 pace)
I pushed with absolutely everything that I had to get across that finish line. It was another I-think-I’m-going-to-throw-up finish. (And the closest I’ve come to actually doing so. There was some dry heaving.)

go commando finish line

This is what an 8 minute pace looks like.

Official Time: 30:05

go commando finish

Stop Garmin. Don’t throw up.
Photo: The Leaf Chronicle

So close to sub-30 again! But I’m happy with this time, especially considering my ankle. And you know I ❤ negative splits.

Gillian did fantastic! She ran her very first 5k in 31:19, 11th in her age group! Much better than my first.

Race Review

Go Commando is always a well put-together race. I like that they provide shorts as an option, instead of a shirt, although this year’s shorts are exactly the same as last year’s, except blue instead of black. If I run it again, I might opt for the shirt.

The post-race food is always amazing. This year we had mini muffins, candy bars, pizza, sandwiches, some delicious cake bars with chocolate chips, bananas (of course), Nesquik (Thin Mint flavored!), and coffee.

thin mint nesquik


My only complaint is about the congestion at the beginning. The race is starting to get big (I think they had a record 2000 people this year between all three races), so they might want to think about putting up some pace flags at the start to help people figure out where they need to be. I don’t think it’s big enough to warrant actual corrals with a staggered start, but just some direction would make it better.

Race Analysis

Here you can see my quarter mile splits. Notice the first half mile was much slower than the rest, due to the congestion. After that, I settled into a very consistent pace, until I started to push on the last mile!

go commando pacing

Could I have come in sub-30 again if the beginning of the race had been faster? Maybe. I don’t know. I wasn’t planning on pushing that hard. Overall, I’m very happy with my performance.

Age Group (30-34 F): 8 out of 52
Overall: 120 out of 488