Quick-Fire Week

I made a really good choice this afternoon when I decided to buy a coffee at work.  I was falling asleep, but now I’m not, and I’m also feeling very optimistic.  I may also be a little hyper, which is making me want to blog, but not put too much effort into writing a well-articulated post.

So, a quick-fire approach to recapping my recent life:

  • I went to a yoga class on Thursday with my friend Katie.  It was a lot of fun and felt really good.  It was my first time ever doing yoga in a studio.  I want to see if I can make it again this week.
  • I did the ice bucket challenge after my brother nominated me:
  • Matt and I spent the weekend with his parents, originally for the Crim, but then we hung out longer and had a fun time.
  • I attempted to run the 10-mile at the Crim on Saturday morning, despite the hip issues I had been dealing with.  By mile two, my hip was starting to get tight, and before the six-mile mark, it was pretty much shot.  I walked the majority of the final 4.5 miles after hanging out with course volunteers for 10-20 minutes.  I finished in two and a half hours and I was pretty bored walking because all the walkers around me had friends to chat with, but I was by myself.  Regardless, I covered the distance, so that is something to be proud of, even though it could have gone a million times better and I could be a million times healthier.
  • On Sunday afternoon, we went shopping at an outlet mall and I managed to get a pair of shoes, plus six pairs of no-show socks, for $32!
  • My final semester of college starts in a week, so I have been preparing for the job-hunting process.  It’s both exciting and stressful, but mostly exciting.
  • My bike is finished being repaired, so I get to pick it up tomorrow after work and I will get to ride it when we go up north this weekend. 🙂
  • Matt and I are seeing the series 8 premier of Doctor Who, “Deep Breath,” in a theater tonight!

Have you been up to anything exciting?  Do tell!

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Race Recap: Crystal Lake Firecracker 5k (27:04)

This year, I went up north with Matt to his family’s cabin to celebrate the 4th of July.  Every year, at least some of his family does the Crystal Lake Firecracker 5k.  This year, it was Matt, his dad, and me!

I had not raced a 5k since October and since then it has been an uphill battle to get back in shape after the injuries that plagued me all winter.  My PR is 24:49 from September 2012 and that October 2013 5k was 25:40, if the results that I just looked up are correct.  Going into this past Friday, I knew that I was not in PR shape, it was not a PR course, and I just wanted to have fun while doing the best I could given the day.

I didn’t know the course, but I knew that there were hills in the beginning and a narrowish trail in the second half.  I didn’t have a “goal” going into the race per se, but I had kind of an idea of what I thought I could do.  I knew I wanted to get under 30 minutes and I thought something in the ballpark of 27:50 would be achievable.

I started the race with Matt and his dad.  Matt took off ahead right away, and I kind of went off by myself, as well.  However, after a couple minutes, I regrouped with Matt’s dad and stayed with him the whole rest of the race.  It was nice having someone to talk to, as well as having someone to pace myself with.  I’m not the strongest when it comes to the mental battle of pushing hard, so having someone to keep me going at a good pace was pretty much amazing.

Like I said, I really didn’t know the course.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that all the uphills were over by the end of the first mile.  I was also very happy to see 8:46 on my watch at the first mile marker.  After that, it was all flat or downhill.  I love to fly down the downhills, but the main one was on a narrow trail, and unfortunately I got blocked in behind a couple girls running side-by-side.  I wasn’t able to get around them until they stopped to go around some mud.  If I had it my way, I would have flown down and gone right through the mud.  When I think back, that is one of the things I regret about the race, but there is no point in worrying about the “what ifs,” so I’m doing my best to let it go.  I can’t control when I get blocked in!

Matt’s dad had gotten a couple people ahead of me on the trails, but once I was able to get around those girls, I ran back up to him and we stayed together the rest of the race.  I had no idea how close the finish line was once we got out of the trail, but it ended up being closer than I thought, so I didn’t really get to kick.  That’s the second thing I regret about this race.  I didn’t pick it up until I saw the clock, but by that point I only had about 50 meters left to go.  I did almost out-kick a girl who had passed me earlier, though, which made me happy.  She finished about half a step in front of me. 🙂

My finish time was 27:04.  Despite the couple things I wish I had done better (trail and kick), I finished a solid 45+ seconds ahead of my expected time.  I am very happy with that result.  I think I could have run faster (five minutes later I was ready to do it again…), but again, I need to move on from that and dwell on the good things!  I had a fun time and I still ran faster than I thought I could have.

Oh, and I’ve caught 5k Fever again.

Race Recap: Bayshore Half Marathon

I ran this same race last year in 1:57:11, which I wrote about on my old blog if you are interested in reading about it.  This year, I ran a full 20 minutes slower at 2:17:12 (net time).  I can’t even compare the two races though because my circumstances were completely different.  Last year, like this year, I was hurt leading up to the race, but last year, I ran three weeks over 40 miles and many in the 30s in the months leading up to the race, whereas this year I have only been able to run two 20-mile weeks in the last six months.  Last year, I was looking to run a very ambitious 1:45, whereas this year I was hoping to finish.

So, I was wayyy less fit, some might say injured, and generally feeling unprepared for this race.  There had been a few periods leading up to it when I didn’t know if I would even be able to run the race, and it was actually still up in the air until Friday afternoon.  Given all of that, I am very happy with the way things went.

Matt and I drove up to his grandparents’ cabin the day before the race.  We arrived at around 3pm, visited for a bit, and then I decided it was time to see how my hip was feeling (I had taken the previous 9 days off running because it had been bugging me).  We went for a short 20-minute jog and I felt spectacular, even adding two strides onto the end.  That is when I finally decided I would be able to run the race.

We then drove into Traverse City about 45 minutes away to pick up the race packets, which was a breeze.  We had no trouble finding a parking spot and there were no lines, which is a huge difference from last year.  At packet pick-up, they were selling previous years’ shirts for $5, so I bought last year’s half marathon shirt in a size up from the one I got last year.  The shirts run small, but I didn’t quite believe them and I ordered a small that year, which looked like this…

The 2013 Bayshore shirt in a small, oops...

The 2013 Bayshore shirt in a small, oops…

The medium fits great. 🙂

I went to bed around 10:15 on Friday night and wake-up was at 4:15am.  Somehow, I woke up at 4:14, before any alarms had gone off, which was pretty convenient.  I got dressed right away and sat down with some black coffee.  I also spread peanut butter on a plain bagel to bring along and eat at 6am.

We got out the door at 5:15 and Matt’s mom drove his dad and me to the half marathon start 45 minutes away so we wouldn’t have to take a shuttle, which eliminated a lot of stress.   We stood around in the park chatting for quite a while, then I warmed up and it was time for the 7:30 start!

I started with Matt’s dad (Bryan) between the 9-minute and 10-minute pace signs, but quickly fell off.  New to the course this year is an uphill section before joining the main road.  I went out in what felt like a conservative pace and handled the hills just fine–I wasn’t tired at the top and felt better than a lot of the people around me sounded–yay Ann Arbor hills!  After that section, I decided to continue not to push things and hung back, losing Bryan ahead of me for the rest of the race (he ended up finishing about ten minutes before me).

I ran the first 5k in 30 minutes and I was entertaining thoughts of going slightly faster, but that quickly went downhill as the course did.  The course is a net downhill and by mile 5, the fronts of the bottoms of my feet were becoming incredibly painful from sliding forward in my shoes.  I have had this problem before in training, but it has never been quite this painful.  It felt like the bottoms of my feet were on fire and between miles 5 and 8, it got so bad that I felt like I was running on knives.  I’m not exaggerating when I say every step was a mental battle and I thought I might pass out from the pain.  It was a struggle to make it to the halfway point, after which I started walking quite a bit.

So there I was, around mile 7 or 8, walking (which did not hurt) and contemplating.  I could either not finish, I could walk the whole rest of the way, or I could suck it up and keep going.  Sucking it up wasn’t an option, but I didn’t want not finishing to be an option, either.  Well, I am a forefoot striker, and I realized that if I completely changed my stride to heel-strike, kind of like a quick walk/jog, I could run and I could finish.  So that’s what I did.

This is the closest I have to a picture of me.  Mile 9 - I'm in the yellow singlet in the background.

This is the closest I have to a picture of me. Mile 9 – I’m in the yellow singlet in the background.

I ran the last five miles alternating between walking and my awkward heel-strike method.  I would run a mile, take a little break, and then run again.  It felt like it took forever, but this finally got me to the last mile.  I told myself I would run the whole last mile, but not very far into it, I gave up and started walking.  As soon as I did that, a lady about my mom’s age came up from behind me and said, “No, I have been following you this whole race and I am NOT going to beat you.  Come on.”  I started running again and we ran all the way to the finish on the track together, where I pulled away in the last 50 meters or so.  Even though it took a push from someone else, I am very proud of how I finished as strong as I possibly could (and held on for a lot longer than I usually do).  I was in so much pain at the end, from my feet to everything else that comes with being undertrained, yet I was able to push through it and finish literally as fast as I possibly could have in that situation.  I had absolutely nothing left at the end.

My official results

My official results

I don’t have a picture from the finish line because I was a lot more concerned with getting hugs and eating food, but I promise I was there ;), and even though the journey was rough, I’m really glad I was able to complete this race.  In time, I will get back to the level I once was at and then beyond. 🙂

(And in case you were wondering, my feet are perfectly fine, just blistered.  No injuries here.)