Summer Breeze half Marathon Race Report

The whole concept of our family vacation this year was to include something that is important/enjoyable to each person in our family.  My husband and son are huge baseball fanatics and have a goal of visiting all 30 Major League Baseball parks.  My daughter is very interested in anything to do with the performing arts.  The kids and I love the beach/ocean.  And of course I love running.
 
So we settled on California, specifically Los Angeles, San Francisco/Oakland, and Santa Barbara!  There’s Hollywood, there are plenty of baseball parks, miles and miles of beaches, and there happened to be a half marathon near Oakland, CA.  Perfect!
 
We spent several days in LA doing all the touristy Hollywood stuff and had a great time.  Then we took a leisurely (long) drive up to San Francisco, stopping a few times to see different beaches along the way.  We even saw sea lions!  Of course, at one of our stops I accidentally shut the car door on my right foot….figures, the day before my race…..
 
We arrived in San Francisco in the evening and it was cold!  After dinner, I got all my race stuff out and everything that we would need for the baseball game after the race and tried to go to sleep.
 
After getting up early and going down to breakfast as soon as the hotel buffet opened at 6 am, we hit the road for San Leandro (near Oakland).  Generally, I like to be really early to races, and since it’s usually just myself going to the race, it isn’t a big deal.  But I felt guilty about dragging the whole family out too early (plus breakfast buffet wasn’t open until 6 am anyway) so I swallowed my anxiety and said it was OK if we got there by 7:15 for the 8 am start. 
 
Things to freak out about:  (a) I didn’t have my normal pre-race breakfast of sweet potato and scrambled eggs — there were scrambled eggs, but I had fruit instead; (b) hubby announces on the way that we need to get gas for the car or we might not make it to the Oakland A’s game after the race; (c) will the packet pickup and bathroom lines be long? (d) did I forget anything?
 
We arrived at the race site about 7:10, parked the car, and followed the crowd over to the race start area.  I got in line for packet pickup, then got into the next line for goody-bag/shirt pickup.  While in line, hubby and kids helped me fill my hydration bottles with coconut water (my kids think that’s gross), removed my jeans & sweatshirt to reveal the runner beneath, and pinned on my bib.  I decided to pass on the arm warmers since I underestimate how hot I get and didn’t want something extra to carry around during the race.  Everyone helped me carry stuff over to the portapotty area which fortunately was not yet crowded.
 
We passed by 2 photo back drops — one for the race and the other for age group winners.  I joked that I wouldn’t need the age group winner back drop, and hubby replied, “I don’t know, I’ve been looking around at the other runners and I think this might be your day.”  I translated that as, “I am a non-runner who loves you and thinks you’re awesome and am being supportive.”
 
We went over to the water to take photos — it happened to be our 17th wedding anniversary!
 
The family wished me luck and left me at the starting area while they walked to find a suitable spot on the race course to spectate and take photos.
 
After the usual race announcements and all, the horn sounded and we were off!  As usual, it was crowded at the beginning yet difficult to hold back from going too fast.  My strategy was to hold back the first half of the race then open the throttle the 2nd half.
 
Around the first mile marker I saw the family!  They took some photos and cheered.  I told them I’d see them in less than 2 hours.
 
It was REALLY hard to hold back as I saw runners passing me early in the race.  I kept repeating to myself, “my race, my pace” and reminding myself that I’d probably be seeing some of these people again later in the race as they burned out while I still had energy stores (ha ha, that’s the theory, right?).
 
Our route was an out and back along a narrow mostly crushed stone path by the bay.  Unfortunately (or fortunately perhaps) it was cloudy, there was a breeze, and the temperature was in the upper 50s.  Actually, perfect running weather, especially for someone who was used to running in the heat and humidity of New Jersey summer.
 
I locked onto an older guy who was running ahead of me and ended up passing him around mile 4 on a wooden bridge.  Ahead of him were a couple of girls in acid green shirts, and a woman in a pink shirt who I figured to be in my age group.  They were targets, but I didn’t allow myself to speed up to pass them — if I passed them while holding steady, that would be great.  And I did.  We started seeing the leaders coming back toward us, and I’d yell out “good job” for about the first 30 or so.  I started counting the women to get an idea of what place I was in amongst women.  Most of them looked young……really young……
 
At about mile 6 I pulled out the raisins and started the awkwardness that is running/chewing/breathing all at the same time.  I’m pretty sure now that I should be fueling sooner in the race though.
 
When I hit the halfway mark I knew I was in about 55th place for female runners.  I checked my Garmin and it showed 58:19. Fuzzy race-brain math led me to believe that with negative splits my A goal of a PR was possible or at least my B goal of a sub-1:57 was possible.  That’s when I allowed myself to drop the hammer.
 
There was an Asian woman in a blue shirt running ahead of me at a good pace, so I decided to follow her pace so I wouldn’t have to think.  This may or may not have been a great strategy but at the time I thought she was going to be holding 8:45 or so.
 
Also, there was a guy (probably around my age though I’m so bad at judging ages) who kept changing positions with me.  Sometimes I’d pass him, sometimes he’d pass me.  The first time I passed him he said I was looking good and had a good pace and I thanked him and told him he did too.
 
Miles 7-9.5 were kind of a blur with hanging in there with the Asian woman and the guy.  We passed a few people in the process.
 
But then I started feeling kind of crappy.  Not terrible, just not as strong.  I wondered if I’d hit the wall since vacation doesn’t really lend itself to typical diet.  Still, I was determined to zone out and stay with my new race running buddies.  My goal was just to hang on and ignore the crappy feeling (though I did start to wonder how I was going to manage 26.2 miles in a couple of months).
 
Around mile 11 I passed the guy for the last time and he shouted to me, “Go get’em!” and I vowed that I would indeed get’em.  Blue-shirted Asian lady was still ahead of me and ahead of her was a woman in a gray tank top.  I figured both were in my age group and vowed to hang with them.  Blue shirt and I got closer and closer to gray shirt and I felt comfortable with that.  I was hoping to be able to blow by them at the end.
 
At mile 12 I could see my family in the distance, and I started waving so they wouldn’t miss me.  Of course, I’d chosen my shirt so that it would be bright and distinctive to ensure they wouldn’t miss me.  I passed them with a huge smile as they cheered and my husband said, “Wow, you’re running a great pace and looking good!”  I thought, well, duh, I’ve been training.  Later it occurred to me that he has only attended a couple of my distance races and in both I was doing the death march at the end, so I guess I looked way better than he expected.
 
Then it happened.  The foot that I had accidentally closed the car door on the day before started cramping charley-horse style.  It felt like my toes were trying to curl themselves under my foot.  At least I only had about a mile to go and having given birth to 2 kids I am able to withstand a fair amount of pain.
 
I knew that a PR was out of reach, but my B goal was within reach if I could ignore the pain and run strong to the finish.  I watched the 2 ladies ahead of me move farther out of reach, but I also knew that I could come in under my goal.  I pushed hard and crossed the finish line, feeling dizzy and pukey as I pressed “stop” on my Garmin.  Garmin read 1:56:34 (official time was 1:56:31).  As I tried to catch my breath and quell the dizzy and pukey feelings, I started to get choked up — no, not with puke, but with emotion.
 
It dawned on me that I had just pulled off my 3rd best ever half marathon finish time, and my best half marathon finish since 2010.  I pulled out my cell phone and called my husband and related what had just happened and that I’d meet them in the food area.  The 3 of them were making their way to the finish area and would meet me soon.
 
After hugs & congrats from hubby (he doesn’t care if I’m gross and sweaty but the kids wouldn’t come near me) we decided that we’d be able to drive to the hotel for me to take a speedy shower before heading to the Oakland A’s game.  So we took off and didn’t hang around for race results or awards.
 
My foot continued to feel crampy but was easing up a bit.  Normally I would take off my shoes after a race, but I was afraid that my toes would actually curl under without the shoe.  After a couple of hours, my foot was better.
 
I asked what the 3 of them had done for 2 hours while they were waiting for me, and they said they had fun cheering for the half marathon, 10K, and 5K participants.  They were particularly inspired by one woman who was running her first 5K.  The first time she passed them, she said it was the farthest she had ever run, and they told her to keep it up.  As she came back, they told her, “RIGHT NOW is the farthest you’ve ever run!” and apparently she was overwhelmed with emotion.  How awesome!!!!!
 
They also relayed how some people were happy to have people cheering for them while others ignored it.  As this course didn’t lend itself to having easy access for spectators I would have thought that more people would have appreciated the cheers!
 
We had a good time at the Oakland A’s game and headed back to the hotel.  I kept checking my phone for race results, and finally they were posted.  I went first to Age Group results and almost fell over!  I had placed 3rd in the 40-44 age group!  I told my family (I think my comment was something like, “OMG no freakin’ way, I placed in my age group!”), and my husband said, “See, I told you so!”  I asked him how he had come to that conclusion, and his response was, “I didn’t see that many women who looked like they were your age and as fit as you.”  It was surprising to me how many younger people ran the race.  In NJ there are few people in the 20-29 age group but lots and lots in the 30-39, 40-49, and 50-59 age groups.    I guess in Oakland the older ladies are doing things other than road races.
 
I have to say, this makes me feel good about my marathon training.  Third best half marathon finish time ever, best in 3 years, and an AG award to boot!
 
(I’ll post pictures later — having technical difficulties)

Queens 10K

The Queens 10K seemed like a good idea when I signed up for it 2 months ago.  Back then, temperatures were a lot cooler, and we just had a big heat wave in the Northeast.  Plus, when you sign up for races a couple of months in advance you aren’t really thinking about silly things like, oh, marathon schedules where you are putting in long runs on weekends or brothers-in-law who are visiting to do their season’s goal race the week before meaning you can’t do your marathon training that weekend and have to take a rest weekend!  LOL
 
Early in the week I always check the family schedule to plan when I’m doing the long run — either on Saturday or Sunday — and since I’m running a lot with my neighbor, we plan together which day is long run day and how far she’ll join me on the run.  So for the weekend of the Queens 10K I knew I would have to put in a 14.1 mile run on Saturday and thus run the race on Sunday.  It would have been better in the reverse, but I figured it would be futile to contact NYRR and ask them if they could pretty please reschedule the race to Saturday instead of Sunday.
 
I got up bright and early Sunday morning, had my usual pre-race or pre-long-run breakfast of scrambled eggs and a sweet potato.  I downed a couple of glasses of ice water and took another bottle of ice water for the 45 minute ride from northern NJ to Queens.  I found parking and walked over to packet pickup.  Wouldn’t you know, they had run out of shirts.  The volunteer told me that more were ordered and I could pick mine up at the NYRR headquarters.  I explained that I wouldn’t be able to go to NYRR headquarters to pick up the shirt and the volunteer suggested that I email customer service (which I did yesterday, and they said no problem they’ll mail my shirt).
 
I hit the portapotties early to avoid long lines later, then sat down to watch an adult league soccer game.  I watched “LA Galaxy” beat up on “Liverpool” 4-0 before the half.  And if you know anything about soccer, you know that it’s very unlikely that those 2 teams would ever play each other.  But it was fun to watch.  I swear that my 11-year-old and 13-year-old goalie kids can punt the ball farther than the “Liverpool” goalie.
 
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I wandered over to the race start and found my corral — bib numbers 4000-4999.  Geez, as far back as we were, we wouldn’t be crossing the start line for a few minutes (which was true).  But there were several corrals behind us.
 
It was really hot standing in the corral.  I guess all that body heat from runners standing a hand width apart really builds up, especially on a warm day.  The temperature was 79 degrees F at the start of the race, and it was sunny.
 
I decided not to warm up before the 10K since it was hot (for me).  All the speeches were spoken and someone sang a lovely rendition of the National Anthem, and soon the horn went off and some people were off.  Our corral stood stock still for a few minutes, then finally we started inching our way forward to the start mats.  Finally we were off.
 
This is probably the first race I’ve done in which I was never really alone while running and still had to weave a bit through runners all the way to the end.
 
In the first mile, we were running on the perimeter road of Flushing Meadows Corona Park.  Cars were parked under an overpass, and the strong smell of urine wafted over.  Ugh, between that stench and the smell of several stinky runners going by, even mouth-breathing didn’t help.  Soon we passed that area and we were able to breathe again.
 
Sweat was pouring off me before Garmin beeped the first mile. Unfortunately, I missed the first water station just past mile 1. I was cursing myself for not bringing my hydration belt.  I almost never use a hydration belt in any race shorter than an hour, so it never occurred to me to bring it.  Several runners had the foresight to bring theirs and I coveted their probably lukewarm beverages.
 
Mile 1:  8:23
 
After the first mile I decided that I should hit the next water station.  Garmin beeped Mile 2: 8:18 and soon I saw the water station.   I nearly missed it!  You practically had to queue up to get to the water, and that’s when I realized that each water stop would mean stoppage time, but I decided it was better than the alternative of being dehydrated and overheated.  I grabbed a cup, drank some, then poured water on myself.  A volunteer was holding a garden hose, and I went through the spray of water as well.  Nice.
 
Mile 3 8:28.  Soon after was a 5K marker and at that point I gave up the will to race.  Not that I was going to quit, just that I decided I wasn’t going to worry about stopping at water stations and just go by feel not by Garmin pace.  I stopped at the water station and tried to douse myself.
 
Mile 4:  8:51  Soon after mile 4 was a shaded water stop.  I grabbed 2 cups — one to drink and the other to pour on myself.  I got a good dousing that time and then went through the sprinkler.  Nice.  We could see the faster runners going by us in the other direction.  I thought, those are our fast people (mostly guys, a handful of women) and we’re their slow people.
 
Mile 5:  8:42  OK only about 1.3 miles to go (I was over course by almost 0.1 at that point due to all the weaving around runners).  I dug down knowing it would be over soon.
 
Mile 6:  8:39  I laid down the hammer and kicked it into gear.  Where’s that finish line?
 
Last 0.31 — 7:59  Garmin showed 53:50, official results showed 53:48.  This was one of my slower 10K races, which is a shame because it was a flat course, but whatever.  It was hot and my body had done 14.1 miles the day before.

Tri-ing to Spectate — NYC Triathlon

In November, my brother-in-law Chris who lives in Milwaukee contacted us because he was excited that he got into the NYC Triathlon.  Of course, he spent months training for it, and finally July and race day arrived. 
 
He drove to NJ with 3 of his 5 kids to visit us.  Given our close proximity to NYC our home makes a great base for NYC events.  He came with his triathlon gear, his bike, and a ton of food.  I don’t think there was a time when he wasn’t eating during his stay with us.
 
Chris and my MIL stayed in a hotel in NYC the night before the triathlon, so it was my job to get all of the kids out of the house and into the car at 5 am so we could drive to NYC, park, and walk to the swim start, and his wave was to start sometime after 6 am but before 6:10 (or something like that).  Fortunately, the kids were good sports.
 
I’ve done a number of races (running races, that is), but this whole triathlon thing is a whole different animal.  I have never felt so out of place as I did at the start of the swim portion.  Everyone is in either a wetsuit or a tri suit or in portions thereof.  I even saw one guy who was only wearing a very tiny bathing suit (and I didn’t turn around when he walked by to see if it was a thong….probably was).
 
I learned one thing — the waves started by age group and gender, so all the 40-44 year old guys were in one long corral.  They were to be lined up on a dock in groups of 15 to jump off every 20 seconds.  I guess that’s normal?
 
We finally found Chris and I got a photo of him with his kids before the start.
 
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His group of 15 made it to the dock and jumped in.
 
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The kids and I walked the 1500 m to see him come out of the water.  A couple of snafus though — the current was a lot faster than we expected, so he was swimming faster than we were walking; and my MIL can’t walk so we kind of ditched her so the kids could see their dad get out of the water.
 
While he made it to the transition area, we found a bench for MIL and the rest of us waited for Chris to come by on the bike.  They had to go up a steep hill to make it out of the boat basin area, and we saw one guy totally wipe out and several others who hopped off and walked their bikes up the hill.
 
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We sent my MIL to a taxi so she could meet us at 72nd St. and Central Park West, and the kids and I took our time walking as we knew we had about an hour and fifteen minutes or so until Chris would arrive.
 
We parked ourselves on the side of the street and started seeing the elite and then sub-elite athletes coming through.  We cheered for every one!  Then we started seeing the older men coming through as the over-50 men started the race right after the elites and sub-elites.
 
Finally we spotted Chris running down the street, looking good!
 
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The kids and I made our way into Central Park and kind of guess where the finish area might be.  Fortunately, our guesses were right as we eventually spotted the white tents in the distance.  We parked ourselves along the finish chute to cheer again, and then we tried to find my MIL.  (Long story short, she had no idea where she was and my 15-year-old nephew went looking for her and missed his dad crossing the finish line — my nephew was NOT happy about that).
 
Several of the aunts came to see the race finish as well!
 
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Group shot of all of us after the race (kids, aunts, FIL, MIL, triathlete).  Can you pick out the triathlete and the marathoner in the photo?
 
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Then we headed to the Major League Baseball Fanfest where my husband was volunteering.  It was fun, but talk about a LOT of walking in one day!
 
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We all went for pizza and ice cream because that’s what Chris wanted after his race.  He had an old photo from when the kids were little where he was holding all the kids at once and wanted to try to reproduce that scene.  Unfortunately, the kids together weighted about 500 lbs.  You can see how that turned out!
 
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It’s hot here in the Northeast — this is what my car showed me when I left work yesterday afternoon.  NOT really doing good things for my training now.
 
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Woodcliff Lake 5K — race 2

A larger group of people headed over to the starting area for the 5K, including some people I recognized from the 10K race.  Apparently, I wasn’t the only crazy person running both races!  I was feeling good though, and my clothes were dry as I had changed everything, including socks and shoes.
 
The race volunteers had to move the balloon arch because the wind had picked up and was blowing it down onto the starting line. They played the National Anthem again and had another moment of silence.  And then the air horn went off!
 
I basically had no strategy for this race other than to run hard.  I didn’t even look at my Garmin though I had it on.  I spent a couple of hundred yards weaving through runners, passing the kids who start out at a dead sprint and then stop abruptly. 
 
I love how in 5Ks people start out way too fast and then you can pass them as the race goes on. 
 
We hit a turn-around point which was about halfway, and I waved to Peter on the other side.  I felt good in the first mile but started feeling it in the second mile.  Soon, there were no women around me, just guys.  Guys don’t really motivate me that much to go faster.
 
After the second mile marker I was really feeling the pain.  But I knew we only had a mile to go and decided to suck it up.  Finally, we made the turn back onto the main road and about 200 yards later made the left turn into the school’s drive.  I was still running with those guys, and I just busted as hard as I could to make sure I could finish under my goal of 26 minutes.
 
I crossed the finish line in 25:26 according to my Garmin (25:28 according to official race results).  Peter finished in 24:16 and was very happy!  He ended up second in his age group, and I was 5th in my age group and 12th overall female.
 
I was exhausted after those 2 races.  The 10K was my target race, while the 5K was just for fun.  I felt powerful after finishing those 2 races, especially as 25:28 isn’t a bad 5K finish time, 10K prior or not!
 
I think I’ll try to do both races again next year to see if I can better my finish time.  Hill training will be in order though!

Woodcliff Lake 10K — race 1

Running 2 races in one day requires a bit of extra planning.  In the case of the Woodcliff Lake 10K and 5K, the 10K had a race start time of 8:30 am while the 5K was scheduled to start 2 hours later at 10:30 am.  That meant that I would have about an hour in between races……to do what?
 
The only other time I ran a 10K and 5K back to back like that was a couple of years ago, and I had about 20 minutes between races.  Perfect for changing shirt, socks, and shoes and having a recovery drink and banana.  Also perfect for still being warmed up and loose from having run a 10K already.  Having an hour in between kind of freaked me out a little, but I figured I’d refuel, change clothes and hope for the best.
 
June 9 was an absolutely beautiful day!  Race start time was about 70 degrees, sunny, low humidity.  I have issues with running in the heat, but I hoped that the low humidity would make it bearable.  Since I was going to be running over 9 miles at hard pace, I decided not to warm up — instead I drank a lot of water, took a Saltstick capsule, and did some walking lunges, leg swings, squats, etc., to loosen up a bit.
 
They had a beautiful blue and yellow balloon arch at the start/finish area, and the shirts were yellow with blue lettering.  It turns out they chose these colors in honor of the 2013 Boston Marathon.  At race start, after the National Anthem there was a moment of silence for the victims of Boston.
 
I ran the Woodcliff Lake 10K 4 years ago, and I remembered that it was a brutally hilly course.  By brutally hilly I mean you need to be part goat to do well at this thing.  At the beginning, the race announcer always says, “This is Woodcliff Lake.  We have woods.  We have a lovely lake.  And we have hills…..lots of them!”  They are not kidding.
 
I was going to have a strategy of starting off slowly and speeding up as the race went on, but I quickly changed that strategy when I realized that I was going to lose a LOT of time on the hills so may as well bust it out on the flat parts…..what few flat parts there were.  The quickness of strategy change happened in the first mile when someone mentioned that the first mile is flat, and I got caught up in the excitement of racing.
 
This race was well organized with markers at each mile, frequent water stations, and a bucket of water bottles at each mile marker as well.  I guess they’re used to the fact that June can be hot, and hot runners need water.
 
Garmin beeped 8:20 at mile 1 (too fast…).  Right after mile 1 we hit the first hill.  There was a lady running beside me wearing a North Jersey Masters singlet, and I commented that I hate hills, and she agreed.  These NJM members are at every race I go to, and many of them are familiar faces though I’ve never introduced myself.  I guess when you’re in your 50s and 60s and your kids are all grown it’s a great way to spend your spare time — wish I could now, but with 2 active kids that’s just not possible.  Mile 2 had its share of rolling hills.  On one downhill, an older guy was walking and I asked him if he was OK.  He said he was hanging in there, and I wished him good luck.  The guy behind me asked the same thing and wished him good luck too. 
 
Garmin beeped 8:40 at mile 2.
 
We came out of the rolling hills just after the 2nd mile marker and onto a flat area to cross the causeway.  There I could get a good look at what women were directly ahead and behind me.  There was one woman in a peach tank that I really wanted to pass, and I made my move on the causeway.  I kept repeating to myself, “Easy pickin’s, easy pickin’s” which probably isn’t very nice but it worked.
 
At the end of the causeway, Garmin beeped 8:17 at Mile 3 as we headed back into a residential area.  I heard footsteps as a woman in a black tank top and pants came up by me.  We kept passing the lead back and forth.  She looked a lot younger than me, so not an age group threat (ha ha — see how we runners think of these things?).  We started up a long, steady hill and I told the girl that I hate hills.  She was like, “what, what?” as she pulled out an earbud.  I tried to engage her in conversation about whether she’s done the course before, the hills, but she didn’t seem to want to talk.  OK whatever.  I guess I’ve grown accustomed to talking as I run because I’ve been running with my friend a lot.  Plus, I like either being social during a race or trying to freak out the competition (ha ha).
 
This is where the race got interesting…..or painful…..depending on your point of view.  We kept going up and up.  We’d go up a hill, then there would be a slightly flatter point, then up again.  We kept climbing. 
 
Garmin beeped 9:35 at mile 4.  And we kept climbing.  We passed another water station and a bit later a nice lady who would spray us with her garden hose if we wanted it.  I did and thanked her!
 
I also kept freaking out my black-tank-top-clad friend.  I’m terrible on the uphill and lose a lot of time, but I bust it on the downhill.  So she’d pass me going up, and I’d blow by her going down.  I wanted to say, “Don’t freak out, this is just how I run”, but I didn’t.
 
My legs started feeling like they were being squeezed by a vise-like grip.  We were on one particularly brutal and long uphill and I asked a race volunteer if this was the last one.  She said, yes, this is the last one, then you get to go downhill.  Thank goodness!
 
She was right — we got to the top and turned left onto a straightaway.  Garmin beeped at 9:07 and we started a series of flat and downhill portions.  One one downhill I blew by black-tank-top-clad-girl and she looked over at me again, startled.  I kept running like a bat out of Hades.  Turning left and downward again, I heard footsteps behind me, but it was a guy, so who cares.  He said, “You’re running a great pace”.  I said, “Thank you, so are you”.  I followed him the rest of the way down through the neighborhood.  I saw by Garmin that we had about half a mile to go.  No big deal, I do 800 m repeats all the time, that’s routine.
 
Garmin beeped 8:00 at mile 6.  I was running as hard as I could and I knew I had about 400 m left to go.  We turned left onto the main street, then left again into the school’s parking lot.  I could see the blue and yellow balloon arch.  I knew if I busted it I could beat my time from 4 years ago. 
 
I crossed the finish line as Garmin said 53:58 though official time said 54:00 (later my 5K time would also be 2 seconds slower — maybe a glitch with the timing system but who cares).  I grabbed a water bottle and started heading towards my car to get my stuff.  Then I saw my friend/neighbor Peter who was coming to run the 5K and I took him over to registration.  After he registered, we put his stuff in my car as he had parked about half a mile away and I was parked at the school (easy exit).  I drank my protein shake, ate a banana, took another Saltstick capsule, and went back to the school to change.  Peter and I hung out for awhile drinking water, and then noticed people gathering around the race results.  I checked the results and found that I had won my age group! 
 
Awards were given out before the 5K started, and I picked up my medal.  Not having enough time to put it away before race start, Peter suggested that I wear the medal, but I was afraid it would be annoying bouncing around, so I wound the ribbon around it and held it in my hand.  We headed over to the starting line. 

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Idaho! Not just potatoes anymore….

Last week I got to travel to lovely Boise, Idaho for work.  Whenever I travel to a new place, I hope that I have the time to explore a bit, especially with a nice run or walk.  Fortunately, the day we got there we had a couple of hours to kill before our evening dinner appointment, and Boise did not disappoint!
 
I asked the concierge at the hotel where would be a good place to run, and she directed me about half a mile down the street to the Boise River Greenbelt which is a lovely walking/running/biking path along the Boise River.  There were lots and lots of people out walking, riding bikes, or running, so I felt quite at home.  Plus there were lots of parks along the river equipped with bathrooms and water fountains!  I wish I’d had my phone with me so I could take photos but I forgot it (I know, that’s bad, but I was wearing my RoadID or as I like to call it, Carcass ID).  I ran 4.5 lovely miles.
 
We ended up having a nice dinner at a place called 10 Barrels Brewery.  I had a fantastic steak salad with asparagus.
 
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My colleagues and I decided to share a decidedly non-paleo dessert — a red velvet “twinkie”.  I didn’t care for the cake part, but the berries and whipped cream were scrumptious!
 
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What I found was that it was still light at 9:30 at night!  This was the view from my hotel balcony.
 
 
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The next morning I was awake at 5 am due to the 2 hour time difference between NJ and ID so I went to the gym first for a nice circuit.
 
5 thrusters with 2 x 25 lb dumbbells
10 floor wipers with weight
10 pushups
10/10 dumbbell swings (25 lbs)
5 rounds
 
By that time it was light outside and I went for a 4 mile run.
 
Boise River Greenbelt at 6 am
 
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Along the Boise River Greenbelt
 
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I was ready to face the day, and then my colleagues and I went to visit our clients.  That evening, we had a nice dinner with clients and then went to a rooftop tiki bar.
 
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The next morning we got up early to head to the airport and then the looooong journey from Boise to Newark. I had a minor panic attack because I wasn’t finding anything I could eat for breakfast, but after inquiring around, we found a pizza place that made eggs.  I asked for a breakfast combo but no toast, and the guy took pity on me and gave me extra eggs and bacon!  Yay!  It can be challenging to find paleo-friendly food at the airport at 6 am. For some reason, I was able to sleep in transit and arrived home in time to make dinner and hang with the family.  Usually, I’m dog-tired after a long journey, but I wasn’t that day.

Tenafly 5K Race Report

Tenafly 5K and Dog Walk was my very first race (not counting races I did as a kid — I mean an organized road-race).  It’s a great event with over a thousand runners every year.  They even have a “race expo” in the gym where local businesses can set up their tables.  My kids’ pediatrician has a table, local banks, local gyms, local massage studios, pet products, etc…..lots of good stuff!
 
I remember when I ran this race in 2007.  As it was my first race, I was so nervous and excited.  I listened closely when the volunteer told me to pin on my bib number and what to do with the timing chip — these were all new things for me!  When it was time to line up at the start, I had no idea how far back to be so I inserted myself somewhere into the middle of the pack.  I was terrified.  There were all these “hardcore” runners there who looked intimidating in their shorty-shorts and singlets and doing their stretches and warmups.  Was I supposed to do that too?  I was wearing black cotton shorts from Walmart and a green-trimmed white wicking top from Marshalls.  Also, my mom’s old Ryka sneakers that she didn’t want anymore and some short cotton socks.  Anyway, when the race started, I was so excited and just ran as hard as I can.  Crossing the finish line felt like a tremendous accomplishment!  My husband and kids were there to cheer me on.  I had no idea about race times, pace, any of that. I finished that first 5K in 28:36 (9:12 min/mile pace) and was ecstatic.  And I was hooked and couldn’t wait to race again.
 
After doing that race, I vowed that I would make sure to do Tenafly 5K every year as a celebration of the first time I ever raced.
 
As every year, I signed up for the Tenafly 5K.  However, as June 2 dawned, I woke up feeling terrible.  Checking all systems while lying there in bed, my head hurt, my nose was all stuffed up, my chest was congested.  If I had not agreed to pick up my daughter’s friend so the 2 could goof off and walk the 5K together, I wouldn’t have gone.  But I decided I’d suck it up for the kids and go anyway, especially as the girls were meeting some other friends there too.
 
We got there and picked up our race packets, pinned on bibs, went to the restroom, and met up with our other friends.  I went to warm up but felt crappy and cut it short.  I told my daughter and her friend who were walking to line up at the back and took the 2 other girls who wanted to run so we could insert ourselves about 20% back from the start line.  After speeches, National Anthem, etc., the air horn went off and so did we.  It took about 20 seconds to reach the starting mat and soon I lost the girls.  I decided I’d just run by feel and not look at my Garmin.  Plus, it was hot (about 75 degrees) and sunny, and I don’t run well in heat.
 
The first mile wasn’t so terrible despite the fact that I wasn’t feeling my best.  Soon I spotted my daughter’s friend H as she passed me — she’s a good runner and I was happy to see her going out well (we had talked before the race and I’d given her some more pointers).  I tried to keep the pace conservative.  In the second mile, we started hitting the hills, and I was feeling hot and yucky.  Some spectators were out cheering us on, and one older lady sprayed those who wanted it with her garden hose.  I wanted it.  Heading into the third mile I knew that’s where the worst hills were located.  Hitting one, I contemplated walking.  I don’t usually contemplate walking during a 5K but this time I was sorely tempted, thinking I’m sick, what’s the point?  But I kept going because I’m stubborn like that.  I recognized the final hill and knew there would be a flat stretch followed by a great downhill, another flat stretch, and a gradual downhill to the finish line.  I tried to bust down the downhill as I typically do and headed into the final straightaway before the turn to the finish.  A couple of women were ahead of me but I didn’t really care.  Usually that would motivate me, but not today.
 
  
Those are some white legs! 

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I crossed the finish line in 25:52 (25:32 chip time) for 5th place in my age group.  Only 7 seconds slower than I ran this race a year ago.  Not bad for feeling crappy.

Splits were as follows:  

Mile 1:  7:46

Mile 2:  8:11

Mile 3:  8:24 and comtemplated walking….

last 0.16: 7:38

 
As I crossed the finish line, I took a towel from the volunteer and headed to the fire truck to stand in the cooling spray.  I stood under it for a couple of minutes, and the thought crossed my mind that my shorts might fall off or be see-through but I was too hot and miserable to care (they didn’t fall off and weren’t see-through fortunately).  I met both of my daughter’s running friends — one finished in 24:20 and the other just under 30 minutes and then walked the course backward to find my daughter and her friend.  I talked with a lone race volunteer for awhile and we cheered on the runners/walkers.  Lots of cute kids, a couple with superhero capes, and lots of people with their dogs.  Soon I saw my daughter and her friend doing cartwheels at the top of the hill.  We walked the last 0.5 mile together, and both girls did a cartwheel over the finish mat.  I wish I’d had my camera!
 
The girls had a fun time, and I like to encourage them to do active things.  If that means I go to a race when I feel crappy, I’m definitely willing to make the sacrifice to promote health with young people!
 
My kids had soccer games later in the day, and it was so hot that the games were played in quarters instead of halves so the kids could have water breaks for safety.  All of us in the family felt heat exhaustion to some degree, and we spent the remainder of the evening indoors.  I went to bed at 7 pm because I felt so bad.  That was the right thing to do because I was better the next day.