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: 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 1/27/14 – 2/2/14: Country Music Half Training, Week 3

I seriously cannot wait until it warms up and daylight savings time begins. Three out of my four runs this week were on the treadmill. Ugh.

week of 1/27/14 to 2/2/14

On Tuesday, I went to the gym to do my easy three on the treadmill. This week I was doing 5 minute running and 1.5 minute walking intervals. (Are you noticing a pattern yet?) It went well, despite how utterly monotonous the treadmill is, and I just tried to zone out to my music for the most part. I need to create a new playlist post for the stuff I’ve been listening to lately that really help me on these boring treadmill runs. On my last 5 minute interval, I increased the speed by 0.1 every minute to end on a high note and to make sure I was adequately warmed up for my strides.

Strides this week were more structured than last week, since I set my watch interval timer. I did 40 seconds fast, then 40 seconds recovery. My watch starts beeping when the next interval is 5 seconds away, so I would enter the new speed at around 3 seconds to go, which seemed to balance out well. The first six I did at 7 mph and the last two at 7.5.

My speed workout on Thursday was my first of four tempo runs. I have 10:45 to 11:15 min/mi listed as my tempo pace, but I didn’t want to push too much, since (a) that’s a little aggressive for me right now and (b) it was my first one. I was to do 10 minutes at tempo pace, 2 minutes recovery, then another 10 minutes at tempo pace.

To warm up, I did a five minute progressive walk (from 2.0-3.5), a four minute jog (at 4.2), and a one minute walk (at 3.5). (I never record my walking warmup, so I started my Garmin when I started the jogging part of my warmup.)

For the first interval, I set the treadmill (yes, I’m still not doing these with the group even though I said I was going to) to 5.2, which equates to about a 11:30 min/mi. My footpod recorded me at about an 11 min/mi, but I think I just need to calibrate it.

It was hard, but I got through it and relished my 2 minute walking break. For the second interval, I changed my speed by 0.1 every minute, fluctuating from 5.2 up to 5.6 (10:42 min/mi) and back down to cover my whole tempo range. And I finished it! I like changing my speed every minute or so on the treadmill because it gives me something to look forward to besides counting down the minutes. Even though I made it through both intervals, I’m still nervous to put them together for my 20 minute tempo next week!

I flip-flopped my 5 mile run and my long run this week. I hung out with Amanda on Friday night, and so we did our long runs together on Saturday morning. She’s a little slower than me, so that made it easy to make sure I wasn’t running too fast and was keeping my pace conversational. It was an absolutely gorgeous day outside. It was around 50 and sunny when we went out at 9am. Shorts and short-sleeves, yay!

I started out being the complaining one. I really hate the first two mile of all runs. So each time our walking interval ended and our running interval started, I would groan. But my legs finally loosened up about two miles into our 7.5 mile run.

About halfway through, Amanda felt the urge to pee, but there was nothing around. I tried to get her to go in the woods, but she wouldn’t. So we ended up a little slower around that time because it had slowed her to a walk. We finally came to a building where some national guard training or something was going on and the nice soldiers let us in to use the restroom. After that, we had less than three miles to go.

This is where the roles reversed, and she resumed my complaining from miles one and two. I was all warmed up and felt like I could run forever, but she was getting tired. I tried encouraging her, but she would just glare at me. On our final interval, I told her to try to push the pace. I pushed mine all the way up past 5k pace! The average pace for that five minute interval was just over a 10 min/mi. Woohoo!

After that, I went home and continued to enjoy the nice weather (it got up to around 65 that afternoon). However, it didn’t last. The next day was cold and rainy. I kept hoping for a break in the rain, but one never came. I have no adequate running clothes for going out in a 35 degree rain. So after I woke up from my afternoon nap, I went to the gym and did my five miles on the treadmill.

All in all, it was a good week of training. I am just ready to ditch the treadmill!

Week of 12/30/13-1/5/14: WDW Half Training, Week 16

Week of 12/30/13 to 1/5/14

This graph’s stats are ignoring Sunday’s runs. Feel free to ignore it back.

I occasionally participate in challenges on Strava. They had one to run 33 miles in the 10 days over the holidays. I signed up for it, since I knew I was going to be doing a couple long runs in that time, so I thought I could do it. The last day of the challenge was the last day of the year. Going into that day, I was 0.23 miles short of the 33 miles. So, on New Year’s Eve, before I headed out to all the festivities, I ran a third of a mile. And completed the challenge!

The next day I went out on a real run. Jonathan came along and jogged beside me and would not let me walk! I was pretty much begging him to let me walk at several points, but he kept pushing me. I will say that I snuck in a couple walking steps when he wasn’t paying attention (and more than a couple when he was but I had an awful side stitch that I just needed a couple breaths to work out), but for the most part, I ran over 2 miles straight for the first time since October, even pulling out a sprint at the end.

I have no real excuse for the next few days; I was just being lazy. I pushed myself out the door on Sunday for an hour long run before it started raining. It was a nice day (then) in the upper 50s and the sun shining. I started off well, running about the first 1.1 miles without walking. Then I hit a major hill. (Nice time to pick a new route.) I’m talking nearly quarter of a mile, 15-20% grade. No. I walked that thing. And I maintained a heart rate of over 185 bpm just walking up it, so I’m sure I would have exploded trying to run it. After the hill, I started running again, but the road had curved and I was now running against the wind. Did I mention there was some crazy 20 mph wind? Because there was. It was pretty much over after that. I was tired from walking that hill and running into the strong wind was not fun. So I started walking quite a bit.

I ended up doing a little over 4.6 miles, but really only the first mile was any good. And by good, I mean that I got my best time on the 0.6 mile straight segment that started out the run.

Straight road segment times

After I cooled down a bit, I did a couple 0.1 mile strides in front of my house. I wanted to do more, but, let’s face it, I was impressed that I even did two.

I can’t believe the half marathon is in less than a week. I feel woefully unprepared, but I’m sure it will be fun no matter what. I just hope that I’m able to continue to walk around the parks afterwards.

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