Race Recap: Mars Band on the Run 10k

Itching for another race after the Pittsburgh Half Marathon I found this one, and hey it raises money for band kids, so why not? Only a 40-minute drive, the weather was perfect–cool, overcast–set up to be a good morning. It was a smallish race, as expected for a fundraiser, but well organized and a nice turnout–there are also  5k and  2k kids fun run options. Only 60 participants in the 10k, but I suspect there were a few more in the 5k, haha.

Geography is not my strong point. I rely pretty heavily on my GPS to get me from A to B and without seeing the lake I can’t really tell you where north is. I have many talents, but this is not one of my strong suits. As such, I seldom bother looking at course maps and just pray courses are well-marked. The maps will mean very little to me anyway, so I just don’t bother.

Someone described the 5k course as ‘gently rolling hills’. The 10k course was not ‘gently rolling hills’. It was straight up HILLS. Which I was, admittedly not expecting, due to my aforementioned directional impairment–I had no idea what that area was like. So I quickly kissed delusions of a new PR goodbye and just went with it. I had a good time, it was a nice little race, and all things considered my time was respectable. What made it for me though, was at the end, a lady I’d been leap-frogging with who crossed the line not too long after me slapped five and thanked me saying I helped push her though the end of the race. That meant a lot, especially with how I struggled during the race. It was a good reminder to keep pushing–you don’t know who’s watching, who’s inspired by you, who you are helping just by doing what you do.

Happy Monday, friends.

Marathon Madness…

A few years ago, when running was really bad for me for a million reasons, I kind of swore off the full marathon. I had no interest in doing another one for a long time, pretty much indefinitely. I never said never, but…I also couldn’t imagine WANTING to do it again–it hurts, and I found the training stressful. And then my running life was reborn, and that old familiar itch for distance came back. So I started poking around and looking at options. While Pittsburgh seemed like a natural choice for my return, the fact of the matter is that I HATE spring marathons. I hate training in the crap of winter to have it be 100 degrees on race day–No, Thank You. That’s the worst. Fall marathons are much more up my alley–train through the awful heat and humidity of summer, and get rewarded with cooler temps on race day. Worst case scenario is that the temp doesn’t break and you run in what you trained in–and you’re already used to it. So I came up with a short list of fall races I was interested in running and started to debate the merits of each. Then a friend posted his race schedule for the year and I was inspired–I could combine running my fall marathon with spending some time with friends I don’t get to see very often. We talked dates, he offered the hubs and I a place to stay if we wanted to come out, and I was sold on the idea–but I wouldn’t register until I knew the date of my other favorite fall race in Pittsburgh. The 10-miler should be in November, but they’ve moved it to October before and I was NOT willing to give up my streak on that race. I have done it every year since it started, and I intend to do it every year they have it as long as I live. Finally the  date was released, there was no conflict, so this weekend I bit the bullet and registered. And this fall I’m running…

the Baltimore Marathon.

I’m excited and nervous. I’ve been scoping out training plans and finally found one that I really like–though of course it will undergo modifications because I have a habit of racing as often as I can. I have a goal time in mind–though like the Pittsburgh Half, I’m not keen to share it publicly yet. The race ends on Raven’s Way, so you know I’m going to be decked in black and gold to represent my beloved Steel City.

I have a few more weeks before the marathon training cycle starts. I know it’s going to be intense, but I’m looking forward to the hard work, and first I have a few more races–a 10k this coming Saturday and the hardest half marathon in the country the following week (I’m a glutton for punishment and a buddy convinced me to sign up…).

Happy Monday, Friends.

 

Processing…

I’m still processing all the awesomeness of this year’s Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend. My husband and a buddy crushed the marathon. I had an amazing experience at the half and I can’t stop thinking about it. I was really distracted all day at work on Monday. I can’t put my finger on why this year’s race is sticking with me so much more than any other year. Even the year I first broke 2:30 faded faster than this. Maybe it’s because I’m still sore, I worked really, really hard during that race and I gave it everything. Perhaps even more than the year I first broke 2:30. Perhaps it’s because of the emotional experiences of friends and my husband, who finished the full after not being able to on previous attempts. Maybe because it was just the perfect day. The weather ended up being amazing. It was the perfect blend of work and fun. I enjoyed every second of this race. I took in the city, the signs, the crowds, but I also worked my tail off during it. Maybe the fact I was mid-pack for the first time in such a large race played a role–I’m used to seeing people ahead of me, but not the huge crowd I had this time. It was really awesome. Maybe the fact I did the Steel Challenge factors in. I had a great time in the 5k on Saturday, even though it was raining. I used to hate 5ks, but not anymore. This was fun. Back to back races are fast becoming one of my favorite things ever. Maybe it’s because this year I had SCRR, and while I’m fairly reserved and not the most social person when I’m at group runs/events, I know that I have the support of an amazing community and seeing and hearing their stories and triumphs made the day even sweeter and more memorable. Oh, and how about this race photo where they actually captured me with both feet off the ground? This was the cherry on top of the weekend–evidence that I ‘get air’.

 

My heart is overwhelmingly full from this experience in a way that I’m having a lot of trouble articulating. And with no races on the calendar until mid-June I’m feeling a bit of a void. I need to remedy that quickly, looking at a 10k next weekend, though I also need to focus on re-building some distance for the 12-hour event in June. Then I will shift gears and get into some serious marathon training, because I have some big goals for my fall race. Lots to look forward to and work for.

Til next time, friends.

Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend Recap

One of my favorite weekends of the year–Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend! The Pittsburgh Half was the first big race that I ran back in 2011, and it was in training for it that I really fell in love with running, and I suppose with racing. Starting on Friday, with the GNC Live Well Health and Fitness Expo. Usually I’d just go on Saturday, but this year I signed up for the Steel Challenge–a 5k on Saturday and one of the longer races (half, full, or relay) on Sunday, so I wanted to pick up everything before Saturday. I took a half day at work so I could wander around at the Expo and spend money. Which I did (with my husband’s blessing) because RUNNING and ALL OF THE THINGS. I get so excited for Expos, but then I’m always somewhat disappointed when I actually get there. It’s always a little chaotic by the nature of being an Expo, but still I wandered around for quite awhile and found some great stuff, ran into a friend, and signed up for the P3R Mega Ticket–Liberty Mile, EQT Pittsburgh 10-Miler, and next year’s Pittsburgh Half Marathon (or full, but I’m doing the half again), so hey, first race for 2018 is officially lined up and paid for!

Next up was the 5k on Saturday morning. The course runs around the North Side near the stadiums, and the science Center, then into town where you finish at the Official finish line. They have offered the Steel Challenge for 3 years now, and this is the first time I’ve taken part. I LOVED it. I told myself the 5k was just going to be a fun run. I wasn’t trying to PR, I wasn’t going to push myself, I needed to save all that for Sunday. And I didn’t. I ran a nice easy 5k, came in with a solid 32:42, though I did manage to negative split (each mile was a little faster than the previous one),  which rarely happens in my world so I was pretty pumped about that. One of the SCRR crew managed to capture this shot of me near the finish line and I LOVE it! One of my favorite race photos ever:

Good form, I’m smiling even though it rained the entire race. I’d just slapped 5 with a random lady and there was a kid ahead with his hand out so I left mine out to get him. And I was completely unaware of the camera. I wasn’t cheesing for him, I was just genuinely happy and in the moment. It’s how I feel when I’m racing (though admittedly I’m not always smiling).  The race went well, and I was happy. I definitely want to do it again.

Sunday was the half marathon, one of my favorite races ever. I LOVE running through the city of Pittsburgh. Had to change the course this year due to some construction projects, which made me really sad. They had to cut out some of my beloved bridges, and replaced it with a loop through the North side (again). It was fine, I still love it, though I sincerely hope they can bring the bridges back because to me running bridges is way more fun, and way more iconic Pittsburgh than a stadium tour (though we do have some nice ones).

I had a really steep goal for this race. I wanted to hit or break 2:15. Earlier this year I would’ve been absolutely crushed and/or pissed that I didn’t do that. I didn’t, and I wasn’t. I could tell pretty early in the race it wasn’t going to happen, so I just adjusted my sights–I really just wanted to PR, even if it was only by seconds. I had a great time. I enjoyed running through the city, I enjoyed the spectator signs, slapping 5 with random strangers and small children. I gave everything I had to the race, I can tell because I’m sore today from a distance my body is used to. And I DID PR, by about 3 minutes, 2:26:49 (previous PR was 2:29:53).

Post race I hung around the Finish Line Festival and killed time until my husband finished the marathon. Didn’t take as full advantage of the SCRR perks as I should have (now that I know what to expect, I think next year will be different). Didn’t take advantage of the cool but goofy photo ops, didn’t even ring the PR bell, because it’s not about any of that for me and I didn’t feel like waiting in the lines, quite honestly. At the end of the day I know I PR’d and I hope to break it again before the year is up. And these beauties are mine:

I have much more to share, but that will come soon. Happy Monday, friends.

Happy Weekend Times!

Hello Friends! It’s finally Friday! I have a half day at work, I get to wear jeans, and it’s Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend! I’m leaving early to go to the Expo today because I’m racing both days–finally broke down and decided to do the Steel Challenge, 5k on Saturday and Half Marathon on Sunday. The weather is looking to be disgusting, but I really don’t care. I hate running in the rain, but I love running through Pittsburgh, and I’ve been training for this for months. Plus, I’m not a huge weather stalker, so while I get that it isn’t likely to change at this point in the game, I also don’t believe forecasts too far ahead because they inevitably change. So I’ll take this in stride and deal with whatever is thrown at me.

I’m all about that Expo though. Love it. Excited to drop some cash on running stuff, because running. I usually don’t get to the Expo until Saturday, and frequently I’m not able to get the sizes I want/need for things because they sell out on the first day–but not this year. I’ll be there within the first two hours of them opening.

More after the weekend’s festivities. Have a good one, friends!

Monday Morning Rambles

Short and sweet today. So excited for this coming weekend’s races, and race Expo. So many running related purchases to be made. On par for a good race as my training runs lately have been lousy, and that is my pattern. Only made it through 4 miles of my scheduled 8 yesterday–calves were locking up and it didn’t feel like the right time to force through it. Lesson learned–I cannot wear the New Balance Zante v3 shoes even for errands. I wore them around on Saturday morning for a bit and apparently even that was too much for my legs. I’ve NEVER had this kind of trouble when changing shoes–I’ve changed brands, styles, etc without issue, but these apparently just don’t work for me. Never fear, I found another pair of New Balance Zante v2 and they should arrive today. I need another pair in the rotation, and I’m going to start breaking in my PGH Brooks shoes too. Hoping I’ll have no issues with those as OMG I love them and have big plans for them.

Need to find some more summer races, and finalize my fall marathon training plan. Super excited for what is taking shape. So much potential, so many big goals to smash and PRs to crush. I can’t wait.

Happy Monday, friends.

Weekend Race Recap

So I ran a couple races this weekend. Getting to be old hat because back to back races are fast becoming one of my favorite things–even though it seriously messes with my routines. But I LOVE racing. I LOVE it. It lights me up and makes me happy. To be fair, it usually makes me cranky first, but I’m happy when I’m out there, and when it’s over I can’t wait to do it again. Even when it hurts. (Like right now.)

I felt really good going into this weekend. I’d had some bad training runs, but figured out a couple of things, and I was just feeling it this weekend. I could just tell it was going to be a good weekend of racing. So Saturday morning I had the Pittsburgh Pirates Home Run 10k–running around the North Shore and finishing across home plate at PNC park, you get a medal. They had me at medal, honestly, I’m a sucker for the bling.

Pirates gear, repping the black and gold, ready to run. My 10k PR was 1:10:41, set last December at The Christmas Story 10k. I did the math and knew that if I could keep my average pace split under 11, I would PR. I started with the 10:30 pacers, but didn’t stay with them for long. And I was where I should be mile after mile. Things got a little rough around miles 4 and 5–I had a wicked stitch and had to walk a couple times, but I managed to pull it together and finish strong. I was originally thinking maybe I’d pull a 1:09:something. But as I entered the stadium I knew it would be much better than that. I ended up pulling out 1:05:07–a PR by more than 5 minutes!

Couldn’t celebrate for too long, though, because after I collected my medal I had to hightail it out of there so I could change, pack, and we could head to packet pickup for Sunday’s race. Drove to Ohio, picked up our packets, had some lunch, visited my dad, hung out with our friends (who graciously hosted us for the night) and tried to relax before the next event.

The next morning was COLD. MUCH colder than we’d anticipated, though I was optimistic that it would warm up before the race actually started. Sunday we did the 10-mile Drop, a point to point race that starts in Chardon, Ohio and ends at Fairport Harbor, Ohio. We parked at the finish and were bussed to the start where it started to warm up (and so did we). The race is billed as downhill, but its in Northeast Ohio, so that basically means flat with a slight downhill grade. PR material, though if you know me you know that I’m not super fond of flat courses, I much prefer some topography because I’m good at using the downhills to my advantage. Still, I chose this race, and I felt good going in. Same deal as Saturday, if I could stay ahead of 11 minute miles, I’d definitely PR. I started off great. The first half I was more than on track. I slowed down some in the back half, but I’d made enough time up in the first half that I was still on pace to PR. My record was sitting at 1:52:04. I would have been happy with anything less, but I really wanted 1:50:something. I was struggling in the last mile, I was sure I could PR but doubted I could get 1:50. I wanted to walk at one point and then I said NO. Just go for it, see what happens. I ended up coming in at 1:49:41.

I pushed hard both days. I was sore on Sunday from Saturday, and I’m sore as I type this now. It’s the most delightful sore in the world, I’m super proud of myself and how hard I worked. The Pittsburgh Half Marathon is 2 weeks away, and I have a steep time goal set for myself. I don’t know if I can do it, but after this weekend I know that I will do everything I can to get as close as possible. But today, I rest.

Happy Monday, friends.

Friday Funtimes…

I have been soooo excited about running lately. I’ve been binge listening to the Run, Selfie, Repeat podcast (which I discovered from another favorite podcast 300 Pounds and Running) and I can’t believe that I haven’t been following her forever–she’s like my spirit animal. That coupled with one of my buddies having a super great 20-miler the day of my ill-fated 11-miler. I’m going into a back-to-back race weekend that will be an exhausting whirlwind, but awesome to be sure and I feel really good going into it. I can’t wait to see what I can pull off.

Listening to the journey of Kelly (Run, Selfie, Repeat) as she goes for a Boston Marathon Qualifying time has me so pumped to start training for my fall marathon (registration coming soon). I’m trying not to get too ahead of myself though, I know I’ll set a steep time goal for myself (TBD, I’m waiting to see what time my buddy puts up at Pittsburgh) and I need to stay focused on the first set of races before I dive into a new training plan. I’m really embracing this ‘setting a goal that feels impossible’ mindset. If I don’t hit it, I don’t hit it, but I want to see how close I can get if I don’t.

I’m feeling really good about myself and my body. I wore a bikini for the first time ever on our vacation–just around our beach house, but still. I’m no Victoria’s Secret model, but I’m cool with that. I’m a ways from being comfortable running in just my sports bra, but maybe I’ll get there. It doesn’t feel like an impossibility to me anymore. Not even so much that my body has changed, but my comfort level with it has. The scale is bouncing around the same 3 pounds and for the first time, I don’t really care. I’m fine with the relative consistency. Intense training means I have to eat. And I like to eat. I’ve been reading The Endurance Diet by Matt Fitzgerald (who I got to meet through my running club, awesome guy) and it makes so much more sense to me. I want to perform my best–so I need to do whatever it takes to get there. Which right now means focusing on what my body can do and what it needs to do it.

Happy Weekend, Friends.

Coming Up to Speed…

I’ve honestly started this entry a million times, but never really finished it. Today’s the day. No lengthy catch up, just the basics…

I finished Insanity! and I LOVED it. LOVED. But it messed with my running–I didn’t have enough time or energy to properly devote to my training. So while the process was great and I got good results, I’m holding off on another round because I have some serious running goals staring me in the face.

I’ve done a ton of races so far this year, and I’m looking at another back-to-back race weekend this coming weekend. Still trying to find my groove as far as time management so everything gets done, but damn I love racing. Even on the bad days, running is lighting me up like it used to. Not going to get into details right now, but some new PRs have been set (as I inch ever closer to a sub-30 5k), and you can check out my Race Schedule page if you’re curious about what races I’ve done and how I did.

That said, there have been some bad days recently, and my poor performance at the half marathon course preview run killed me. Yesterday I went out for a 5k to redeem myself and was able to dissect it a little bit, which helps–if I can figure out what went wrong I can correct it. (1) My diet has been absolute crap–I’ve been on vacation so I haven’t been as consistent with my food plan. (2) New shoes–the ones I just bought and have been wearing are the updated version of my standbys, and whatever is different doesn’t seem to be working for me.

So today it’s back to my “diet” and I’m going back to my other shoes this week to see if it helps. Tweaked my ankle somehow during yesterday’s run so I’m resting today (crazy as that’s making me). That’s all I have for now, more soon.

Transformations…

When I was looking up race times for my last post I encountered the photos from last year’s First Day 5k. I shared them on social media on Tuesday, but there was far more to say than I could fit in an Instagram caption. I had a LOT of feelings when I first saw the pics and compared them to the ones from this year.

Not all of them good. My first reaction was admittedly not ‘wow’ and feelings of pride in how far I’ve come. I don’t remember being that big, for one, I was surprised when I saw the pictures. But I do remember how unhappy I was–not so much in or with my body, but just in general. I’m definitely someone who eats their feelings so periods of my life where I’m heavier are generally periods where I am struggling to deal. I was also just running races for the sake of running races at that point. I had fallen out of love with running and it would be another 6 months or so before I started to love it again. The second thought was still not ‘wow’, but more disbelief. ‘Sure, I look good in comparison, but…’ was my reaction as I was very much still spinning my wheels about the progress frustration I’d discussed the Focus entry. Yeah, I look good in comparison, but I’m still not where I think I should be. And that’s very much the headspace I was in when I posted it on Tuesday. I didn’t post it right away, and I was a little uncomfortable when I did. The nag at the back of my head wasn’t ready for compliments and way to go’s, her response was ‘yeah, but…’ and I think that’s what came through in the caption. Still, a part of me knew that I needed to put it out there, so I did.

Today the universe forced my hand–I woke up with pink eye and had to call off of work. Not what I wanted at all, my workaholic side was pretty pissed in fact, and if working from home was an option I would have been doing so today. Which is why the universe forced my hand and made me take a break. I did stuff around the house, went to the doc and the pharmacy (obviously), and I’ll be getting my Insanity workout in because I’m fine besides my eyeball, but I also took a nap and took advantage of the unexpected down time to try on some old clothes. Like I said in my Focus post–I feel tighter and leaner despite the scale and so I needed to see if there was any progress that I could actually see for myself. I didn’t have my hopes up, I wasn’t expecting much of anything, and maybe that’s why I got a pleasant surprise. Most of the things that I haven’t been able to wear for a couple of years were still tight the last time I tried them on. But today way more of them fit than I expected. Not everything, but a lot of things. And I was kind of floored by it.

I wore these shorts on my first date with my now husband. Pretty sure that was the last time I wore them. I’m still about 10 pounds heavier than I was then so I couldn’t believe that they fit. Husband pointed out that I’ve put on a lot of muscle since then. And it finally clicked. My composition is shifting, so I’m heavier but smaller all at the same time. Duh. Still a work in progress–I’m by no means where I want to be, I’m still chasing my optimal racing ‘weight’, though I realized that I need to focus less on the scale and more on other means of measurement as it’s going to be skewed at this point. It also means that in order to progress I need to really tweak my diet because I’m closer to my ‘goal weight’ than I previously believed so I have to strike a more careful balance.

But more important to me in this moment is that for the first time in months I can see progress, and I feel really good about it. (And really disappointed it’s January and too cold to wear most of my reclaimed clothes…)

Happy weekend, friends.