Race Report: Smyrna Parks 5k – August 2, 2014

Another race in the books and another goal accomplished!

Despite this being August in Tennessee (aka, The Sun), I had set this as my goal race for my sub-30 attempt. Luckily, it had been fairly mild weather-wise for the last few weeks, so I hoped race day wouldn’t be too bad.

My goals for this race were as follows:

A Goal: Under 30 minutes!
B Goal: 31:24 or faster (a PR).
C Goal: Don’t drink margaritas the night before and be dehydrated the whole run.

Race Day

Amanda and I got up at 6 am to get ready. She lives only about 15 minutes from where the race was being held, so we made it in plenty of time. I had picked up our bibs the night before, but the packs didn’t include our timing chips, so we grabbed those when we arrived.

The weather was warm but not terrible. In the lower 70s with 100% humidity, so around the same or maybe a little warmer than my July 4th race. Definitely not as bad as it could have been for an August race in the south!

smyrna parks 5k

Amanda and I pre-race

After a very light warmup, it was soon time to start. I said farewell to Amanda, who was pushing her son Gavin in the stroller and had to start in the back. I lined up closer to the front, on the right side. The race started promptly at 7:30.

Mile 1: 8:54
Perhaps I started a little too close to the front because everyone soon zoomed past me, despite the fact that I was averaging about an 8:30 pace at this point, meaning I started a little too fast. I tried to back off that speed, but still ended up doing a sub-9 mile.

Mile 2: 9:43
I was still maintaining the first mile’s pace for much of the start of the second mile, but I finally came upon a water stop that I walked through and (thankfully) slowed me down a little, as I knew I was going to crash and burn if I kept going at that speed. We were on an out-and-back portion of the course for this mile, so I waved to Amanda as I saw her pass by in the other direction.

smyrna parks 5k

You should’ve seen the photo taken 3 seconds before this.
Photo credit: Kelly Stum for Nashville Striders

Mile 3: 9:38
Knowing that I only had a mile or so to go is really the only thing that kept me going on this mile. There was another water station, which I walked through again. I told myself I could take one last walk break about a quarter mile before the finish, just to collect my breath and my bearings. So after that quick 30 second break, I was ready to sprint it in.

Final 0.1 (0.13 to my watch): 1:02 (7:41 pace)
There was actually quite a bit of crowd support on this race, which I appreciated. At the finish line, there was a woman screaming, “Kick it!” And that I did, pulling out a sub-8 pace for the final stretch. The race clock showing a time starting with “29” may have also helped.

Official Time: 29:14

I did it! I DID IT! After my timer was cut off, I walked around to cool down and just kept repeating, “I did it!” to myself. I couldn’t believe it. I was so incredulous after coming to terms with the realization that I probably wouldn’t get a sub-30.

I cheered Amanda on as she ran in, then we headed over to the food.

smyrna parks 5k

Amanda’s “I hate running” shirt got so many compliments, haha!
Photo credit: Kelly Stum for Nashville Striders

Race Review

This was a very well-run race! I have no complaints.

At the finish line, the food was great: bananas, doughnut holes (mmmm…), PIZZA! Since I waited for Amanda to finish before getting food, I can attest that there was plenty left, even for those coming in towards the end. Shaved ice was also being handed out.

The shirts were actually tech shirts, which is unusual for a $20 race. We also got lots of little samples in our bags, including Advil, deodorant, and Clif bars!

And the course was so so flat, an anomaly around here. There were parts that were shaded, maybe about 25% of the course, which is always welcome in the August heat.

Race Analysis

I did well with hydration. I had been drinking at least 72 ounces of water per day for the last two weeks, and I did not drink any alcohol the night before the race. I was thankful for the water stops, but I never at any point felt like I had to walk because I needed water.

Here’s my half mile splits. As you can see, I did okay except I ran the first mile way too fast. It was six seconds off from being my fastest mile ever, and my fastest mile ever was entirely downhill. I think it was because of this that I had to take that last non-water walking break right before the end. I just wore myself out a little. My time probably evened out overall, but I much prefer to go out a little easier and negative split than start out too fast and have to reel it in on the subsequent miles.

smyrna parks 5k pacing

Age Group (30-34 F): 9 out of 29
Overall: 242 out of 507

Race Report: Music City July 4th 5k – July 4, 2014

If you remember, I ran the 10k version of this race last year. When I started planning out my 5ks for the summer, this one fell perfectly in line right where I needed one. I liked it well enough to run it again (though, I probably wouldn’t do the 10k again, with it just being two loops of the 5k).

The joy of having run a race before is you should know exactly what to expect. I knew we would start off on a downhill, then it would level off before climbing that long bridge that annoyed me so much last year. After descending the bridge, it remains mostly level, with some slight ups and downs until you get through the convention center, and then it’s a series of climbs to the finish.

This was not planned to be my pinnacle 5k, as I was bestowing that honor onto next month’s Smyrna Parks 5k which (from what I hear) is flat. But if I could break 30 minutes anyway, it would be awesome, especially considering the hills.

So here were my goals before my knee got messed up and derailed my training:

A Goal: 029:59 or under (obviously)
B Goal: 031:24 or under (a PR)
C Goal: just don’t walk the bridge

To run a sub-30 minute 5k, you have to average 9:39 per mile if you run your tangents perfectly. Since the start was on a downhill, I originally planned to run the first mile a little fast–maybe 9-9:15–and then slow on the second and third miles for the climbs. Yes, I actually planned to positive split this race, which is unusual for me.

Anyway, so, of course, my knee happened and I threw all my goals out the window. Which was probably a good idea since I didn’t meet any of them. I did positive split the race though, lol.

Okay, from the beginning…

Race Day

I got up and got ready around 6:30am. I drove downtown and parked in the library parking lot (which was only $4 compared to the $10-$20 parking actually near the race) and walked the several blocks to the square.

The weather wasn’t terrible. I was actually kind of chilly walking through downtown to the start, so that’s a plus for a July race. For some reason, they had moved the start time to later than last year. No idea why. It would have been better to have it earlier. The sun, however, was beating down, so when you weren’t in the shade it was a little miserable.

I had met some friends for drinks the night before, and I knew I was a little dehydrated going in. I had chugged some water that morning, but I didn’t think it was enough. I didn’t want to risk having to pee in the middle of the race so I stopped about an hour before run time. I considered bringing my own water, but I remembered that last year they had several water stops and that was in the rain, so I assumed they would have us covered with it being hotter and sunnier.

I knew from experience that I wanted to start probably about mid-pack and to the left to try to clear myself away from any walkers, since the course is a little congested at the beginning. This year was no exception. We started close to 8am, but it was pretty slow going until we got out to the first bridge.

Music City July 4th start line

Mile 1: 9:36
Yes, I actually started out mostly on target to run a sub-30, but this mile was mostly downhill so it was to be expected. My red, white, and blue headband that I had just bought (this was only my second time running in it) flew off my head at half a mile in. So I spent most of the second half of the first mile concerned about my hair. Not really what you want to be thinking about in a race.

Mile 2: 10:34
I stopped to walk about a quarter mile into the second mile, so I could repin my hair. It had started falling into my face with my lack of headband and was annoying me. I was at the base of that bridge I hate, so I started running up it. I was feeling pretty dehydrated at this point, since the entire thing had been out in the sun thus far. The first water stop was at the top of the bridge, so I just needed to make it up there. I stopped and walked a little of the bridge at this point, then ran to the water station where I took another walking break.

Instead of cups, they were using these water bag things. The directions said, “Bite. Squeeze. Drink.” So I bit and squeezed and….nothing. Oh, I have to rip it with my teeth. That’s not in the instructions. I was desperate for water and this annoyed me to no end, but I felt I would be prepared for the next water station. I ran to the end of the mile.

Mile 3: 11:17
I took a brief walk break at the beginning of this mile, as I was feeling the need for more water. Luckily, we were about to run through the convention center, so SHADE! I ran through that, remembering that the next water station from last year was just past this point. The course had changed slightly, however, so I wasn’t entirely sure where to expect it. I told myself I’d run until I got to it, but….that didn’t happen. I took another walk break up a hill, ran a bit, then took one more.

By this point, there was only about 0.3-0.4 mile left of the race. I finally realized that they took away the second water stop. I told myself I’d have to get to the finish if I wanted water, so I started booking it since we were finally in the shade of the skyscrapers.

Mile 0.1 (0.13 to my watch): 1:09 (8:14 pace)
I crossed the finish line flying. And then…flashback to the Richland Creek Run finish. I grabbed a water, but couldn’t bring myself to drink it. I just knew I was going to throw up in front of everyone. I could barely even accept my medal. I started making my way towards the portapotties, but I thought I was going to lose it in a bush. Just before I got to the portapotties, the feeling subsided. I finally downed my water and a banana.

Official Time: 32:35

Yep, despite the tons of walk breaks, I was only 1:10 off from my PR. Sigh! I can do lots of what ifs at this point (the main one being, what if I had drank water the night before instead of freaking margaritas), but it is what it is.

Race Review

Since I’ve run this race before, I get to compare it to how they ran it last year!

First, the positives: they improved the course. It was mostly the same, but they added a flat little section near the stadium that means they got rid of a couple extra uphills toward the end. The medals actually had the year on them this year, an improvement over the generic medals from last year that I was a little scared they were going to reuse since they weren’t dated.

The negative? They removed a freaking water station despite it being sunny and hotter than it was last year. What is the point of that? I was counting on that water station! Maybe it would have made a difference in my time, maybe not (although probably, because the lack of water was mentally defeating me), but I just don’t understand how they wouldn’t have ADDED water stations instead of REMOVING one. I know a lot of people don’t think water stations during a 5k are necessary, and one station is usually typical for a 5k race. I just chose not to bring my own water based on last year’s race and “knowing” that they had more than one. I didn’t see anything on the website or emails beforehand that would have clued me in that there would only be one this year.

Note: There was a second water station for the 10kers, which was just after the start point (they run the 5k loop twice). This means they only got 3 water stops this year, instead of the 5 we had last year. I would die. I usually need water every mile when it’s hot.

Apparently there were a lot of issues with the timing and results as well, though that didn’t affect me. I also heard that they ran out of Gatorade for the people at the end.

Race Analysis

I started out running very well. I have high hopes for next month’s flat 5k, as it was mostly the hills that killed me on this race.

You can see my quarter mile splits here. My first mile was so on target! Then it’s just a hodgepodge of paces after that, until I decided to just sprint it out at the end to the point of near vomiting, lol.

music city july 4th quarter mile splits

Strava tells me I was almost good. This kind of sums up the entire race. Even my final quarter mile sprint wasn’t the fastest I’ve ever done.
strava achievements

Injury-wise, I was okay. My knee got a little stiff while sitting down a few hours after the race, but was fine after I stretched it. My biggest surprise was how sore my glutes were the next day. Maybe I finally started using them when I run??

The main lesson learned is NO ALCOHOL THE NIGHT BEFORE A RACE.

Race Report: Nashville Predators FANGtastic 5k – March 15, 2014

When this race happened last year in February, I was in the early throes of Couch to 5k. It was not even on my radar. But as I kept running, I found myself awaiting the announcement of the 2014 dates. After I signed up for the Hot Chocolate 15k, I thought there would be a conflict. But then…it was in March! I immediately signed up because I heart the Predators and I heart free tickets.

(Weird fun fact: I’m pretty sure the bib numbers were assigned in the order you signed up for the race. I have the lowest bib number. I may use hyperbole a lot, but when I said “immediately” it wasn’t one of those times.)

Fitting this race into my half training schedule was a little bumpy, since my Saturday was supposed to consist of a five mile run. But since there was a 70% chance of rain on Sunday, I decided to do eleven miles total on Saturday and move my five miler to Sunday. I figured I could just run the 5k with a one mile warmup beforehand in the morning and a seven mile easy recovery run following right after on the greenway to make up the mileage. And, while I wanted to race well, I also had to consider that I had those seven miles plus the five miles scheduled for the next day. I knew if I really pushed it, I could probably finish in 32 or 33 minutes. But I thought this probably wasn’t the race for a PR, despite my excitement coming off of my 15k time and the speedwork from two days before. Thus, my goal time was to do around what I had done for my last few 5ks: 35 minutes.

Race Day

My friend Chris was running the race with me. He had just graduated Couch to 5k a month earlier, so this was his first real 5k race. I met up with him a little after 9am on the day of the race, and we headed down to the arena to pick up our race bibs. Packet pickup was quick. There was no bag check (I wasn’t expecting one for a race of this size), so we went back to the parking garage to throw our race tees in our cars. After that, I started my one mile warmup. Chris chose to tag along, so I kept it really easy, around a 13:30 mile.

Gnash at the Nashville Predators Fangtastic 5k

Pre-race with Gnash!

After a photo with Gnash and a sip of water, we chose a spot in the crowd to start. I tried to pick a spot in the middle-back, so hopefully we wouldn’t be behind too many walkers, but also past all the speedy people. Except I’m not sure the people in this race really knew how to line themselves up, as we ended up around both speedy people and walkers. Oh well. They were prompt in starting the race, which I always appreciate.

fangtastic 5k start line

Start line photos are a little like Where’s Waldo. Can you spot us?

Let me talk about the weather for a second. It was a gorgeous day outside. But perhaps not entirely running friendly. It ended up being the maybe the second or third 70+ degree day we’ve had this year. The race started at 10:30am, so it was starting to warm up pretty good. And the sun was out. When I initially checked the weather for the race, it was supposed to be race-perfect: around 55 and cloudy. It ended up being around 60 and sunny. Not terrible, just not ideal.

The course itself was an out and back. We traveled down Demonbreun to music row, around the Musica statue, with a turnaround point at Edgehill. This means the first half of the race is mostly uphill, while the second half is mostly downhill.

fangtastic 5k elevation profile

As soon as we started, we were staring at the uphill that is Demonbreun from fifth to eighth. “Good luck on the hills!” I called out to Chris as we took off. I started up the incline around an 11 min/mi pace. A few rolling hills later, I was at the bottom of the biggest hill of the entire race: the hill on Demonbreun that goes up to the roundabout where the statue is. I thought about walking it. But I didn’t. I charged up that quarter mile section around a 10:30 min/mi pace. And I was greeted with a sweet, sweet downhill and the start of the second mile at the top.

Down 17th Street was much a blur. I know that I wasn’t entirely feeling this race, but I made myself go on. At the halfway point was the sole water station of the race. I had told myself I could take a walk break there, but when I got to it, I grabbed a cup and kept on running. Then, of course, proceeded to dump half the cup on myself because it’s really hard to run and drink water at the same time. I can’t even walk and drink water out of a cup at the same time. I tried the pinch technique, which at least got some of it into my mouth.

Up 18th was much like going down 17th. There were some people outside in their yards that would occasionally cheer us on, but not a ton of crowd support, except at the beginning and end. Soon I was back at the Musica statue and got to run back down the Demonbreun hill. Why, hello, 8:30 min/mi pace!

At this point, there was less than a mile left. I hadn’t looked at my watch much the whole race, so when I glanced down at the start of the third mile, I was surprised to see how fast I was going. No wonder I kept wanting to walk. I did some calculations in my head. Pretty much, no matter what, I was going to PR. I could stop and walk and I would still PR. I knew I wasn’t going to break 30 minutes (I have plenty of time for that later this year), so I told myself I could take a break if I wanted to, knowing that I had seven more miles to run later. But my legs laughed at me. “You’ve come this far,” they said. “It’s mostly downhill from here. Just finish it out.” So I did.

fangtastic 5k finish line

Picking up speed towards the finish!

I crossed the finish line in 31:25, according to my watch. Nearly a four minute PR. Nothing has ever felt as good as stopping running did! I grabbed a banana and a water and situated myself near the finish line to wait for Chris.

He rounded the corner and finished a little past 46 minutes. So proud of him!

chris finishing the fangtastic 5k

After he went to grab some water and food, I picked up a bagel. Best bagel ever. We walked over to where they were posting the results, and I found my name. It said my time was 31:23! Later, I checked the results on the website and they said 31:25, just like my watch. I guess I’ll go with that for my official time. 22nd in my age group though!

The results as posted on race day, which is 2 seconds shorter than what they posted online.

The results as posted on race day, which are 1.5-2 seconds shorter for everyone than what they posted online. I’m bib 5501.

Race Analysis

In addition to my best 5k time, I ran two sub-10 minute miles, which I’ve never done before. One, sure. Two? No. Let’s just let that sink in. It’s looking really good for busting that 30 minute 5k barrier later this year! I managed to have negative splits, which was kind of expected based on the elevation profile of the race. My slowest mile was the first, at 10:39, and my fastest was the third, coming in at 9:19. I didn’t run tangents very well on the first mile, since I had to weave around a lot of walkers at the start, so in a more correctly seeded race, I think I could definitely be faster there.

Here’s my quarter mile splits. You can see they were fairly even throughout after the first one, just speeding up in the last half mile or so. The first quarter mile was on a hill and I was weaving around walkers, so it makes sense that it’s the slowest. The next slowest one is the aforementioned hill on Demonbreun. Look at that finishing sprint!
quarter mile splits

Overall Place: 267 out of 910
Female Place: 108 out of 540
Division (30-34 F) Place: 22 out of 87

Shoes: Skechers GoRun 2

Week of 11/11/13 – 11/17/13 and The Mo Run Race Recap

I don’t have a pretty graph for you this week because I didn’t run.

My ankle is still bothering me. I cared for it all week, icing it and elevating it and all that jazz. I even went to the gym on Thursday and worked out for 20 minutes on the elliptical and bike. By Friday, I was able to walk on it okay and traverse stairs gently, so I decided to walk The Mo Run on Saturday morning.

My alarm went off at 5am (*yawns*). Did I mention it was my birthday? That is way too early to be up on my birthday. I arrived around 6:30 am, ankle brace on. It was a pretty small race, with less than 150 people. Too bad I wasn’t running, maybe I could have placed in my age group or something. Anyway, a little after 7am, we were off. I took it pretty slow and by half a mile in, I was in last place. I enjoyed myself and posted goofy photos on Instagram for entertainment.

goofy faces while walking the mo run

Here’s some outtakes.

Around the one mile mark, I saw I was gaining on some people (one of them may have been a small child), so I decided it was my race goal to pass them. I got pretty close, but then they cut course just after the water stop. Yeah… (And from what I heard afterwards, several people did. Wonder how many I really would have beat had they not.) I was offered water, but I looked at them like they were crazy and said that I wasn’t really straining myself.

I never really came close to anyone after that, so I finished dead last. But, hey, it was in less than an hour! AND I had negative splits, ha!

running skirt ribbon

I also had a really cute ribbon on my running skirt. That’s all that really matters.

Although I probably pushed too hard in trying to finish in under an hour, since now my ankle actually hurts more than it did last Friday. Ah well.

So it looks like I’ve got at least one more week of no running. Guess I need to start hitting the gym more this week to crosstrain.

Race Report: Go Commando Clarksville 5k – October 19, 2013

What a race!

Amanda and I arrived in Clarksville the night before the race and picked up our race packets at the Wilma Rudolph Event Center. Then we joined my parents for a nice carby dinner at Olive Garden. Mmmm, pasta and breadsticks!

olive garden chicken parmesan

Carb time!

We got up at the awful hour of 5:30 the next morning. (I really shouldn’t complain about that, since that’s the time my next race STARTS.) We got dressed, downed a cereal bar, and headed out to Liberty Park.

Since the 5k was entirely inside the park, that meant that you had to park in one of two designated parking lots about a mile down and then get shuttled to the start line. It was a little chilly, in the lower 50s and overcast, as had been predicted, but we waited for the shuttle and arrived at the park just as the half marathoners were taking off.

Amanda had worn pants and a tank, but it had started to sprinkle, and she decided the tank was a poor decision. So we went inside the event center to the expo and bought her a nice long sleeved shirt instead. Then we had our final bathroom break, met up with Jessica, and gathered at the start line.

I’m used to races starting about 5-10 minutes after they say they will, so it was a surprise when the gun went off about 2 minutes early. I didn’t have a real time goal for this race, figuring I’d come in around 35 minutes like the Oktoberfest 5k. My main goal was DO NOT WALK.

go commando 5k start

And we’re off! Can you spot me?
Source: ClarksvilleNow.com

For the first half to three fourths of a mile, I jogged next to Amanda and Jessica. They typically run around a 13 min/mile, and I didn’t want the mistake of starting off too fast, so I stuck with them. However, after that, I settled in to a nice pace around 11-11:30 min/mile. And I stayed there.

There were three points on the course where you loop back and get to pass all the people running behind you. I was running with them through the first of these, but on the second, I passed them and they were running together. I waved and continued on, probably just a minute or two in front of them at that point.

About a mile and a half in there was a water station. I grabbed some Powerade and tried to chug it down as best I could without walking and without spilling it all over myself. I succeeded at not walking through the water stop, but failed at not spilling the drink. Most of it went all over me, but it was a downpour of rain by this point, so I didn’t really care. I was just glad that I had decided to go with long sleeves.

The third loop back was just after the start of the third mile. I was feeling strong, so I picked up my speed a bit. I kept an eye out and saw Amanda, but Jessica wasn’t with her.

Here I am looking way too happy to be running in a cold downpour:

I passed through the water station again without grabbing anything as I was only about a quarter mile from the finish at that point. I was still feeling pretty strong, but going up to the finish line was virtually the only uphill in the race. I pushed through and sprinted through the finish line with an official time of 35:15, two seconds faster than I had done in Seattle. Except this time it was better because I did the whole thing WITHOUT WALKING. Yay!

go commando 5k finish line

Crossing the finish line!

I grabbed a glazed doughnut and a banana and stood by the finish line waiting for my friends. Jessica came through about five minutes after I did, and Amanda followed about three minutes later. Woohoo!

After checking our official results and taking a photo, we went inside to relax our legs a bit. We ended up over at a chirpractor booth, where Amanda and Jessica had their upper backs and shoulders worked on, and I got him to use the Stick on my legs. Hurts soooo good! I felt like a million bucks after that. I think I could have run another 5k at that point, ha!

clarksville chiropractic

Amanda getting worked over by the chiropractor.

We headed over to Blackhorse for a celebratory lunch, then Amanda and I headed back to Nashville.

Despite the rain and chilliness (it dropped about five degrees between the start of the race and the finish!), it was an awesome time with great friends. While staying with them for some of the first mile might have slowed down my overall time, I’m glad I did because it’s a lot of fun to be able to talk and laugh while racing. Now to push Amanda a little more to get her up to my speed… 😉

As always, here’s my quarter mile splits. Go go, negative splits, by the way! Mile 1 was done at a 12:38 pace, mile 2 at 11:08, mile 3 at 10:15, and the final 0.1 at 9:10. Yep, I shaved off about a minute each mile!

Go Commando 5k quarter mile splits

And the medals (yep, a medal for a 5k…I could get used to this) were pretty awesome. My favorite medal of the year!

go commando 5k medal

Maybe I’ll go for the half next year…

Shoes: Skechers GoRun 2