John Blackgrove 5K Race Report

Sometimes I think I can do things.  As in, I think I can do crazy things without problems, consequences, repercussions.  Sometimes I think I’m invincible.
 
So signing up for back to back 5Ks (one on Saturday, one on Sunday) seemed like a brilliant idea at the time.  Saturday’s Norwood 5K was a goal race, the second race in the 3-race Triple Crown series.  And Sunday’s John Blackgrove 5K was a smaller 5K that 2 of my friends were planning to run, so hey, why not sign up, right?
 
I busted butt on Saturday at Norwood and ran a 24:40 5K, a personal best on that particular course.  So my goal for the John Blackgrove 5K was to hit maybe 25:20 or so, reasonable after busting out a respectable race the day before. 
 
Sunday morning I picked up my neighbor Kathy who was running the race and headed over to the park where the race start was.  I’m very familiar with the park as my daughter had soccer practices and games there a lot.  Also, I was meeting my other friend George who has a streak going for this race — he’s run it every year since the race was organized 4 years ago.
 
Kathy and I got there early, picked up our race bibs and shirts, and started our warmup.  It was cold again, upper 30s, just like the day before.  Good running weather for me!  We ran into George as he and his son were doing their warm up.  
 
I asked George what his goal was for the day, and he said to run a personal best of under 25 minutes.  My friend Kathy was hoping for a personal best too as we have been training for several months.
 
We lined up at the start, and soon we were off.  Within the first couple of hundred yards George passed me, so I figured I’d just follow him as far as I could.  Also, I didn’t know if he and my husband had some sort of bet about which of us would win, and I didn’t want to unknowingly deprive my husband of a 6-pack of beer if that was the case.  And to be honest, there was no way I wanted George going to the next soccer game and telling everyone he smoked me in a 5K, even if it was one day after I ran another 5K and 2 weeks after I ran a marathon!
 
The course was mostly flat, just a couple of small hills, nothing major.  I hung in there behind George and didn’t worry about my pace.  Mile 1 — 7:58.  Probably not the best idea but I was determined to keep just behind George.
 
Mile 2 was starting to hurt a lot, but I was determined not to lose George.  We passed a few guys and kept going.  At the end of mile 2 we were at 7:53.
 
I was dying at this point.  My legs were hurting, my feet were hurting, my lungs were hurting, but I was somehow stupidly determined to hang with George.  I closed the gap between us and sensed that he was slowing down.  I pulled up beside him and told him not to slow down, that he had a goal to reach.  He said he was dying and would try to keep going, and I kept encouraging him that he was doing great.  We had less than a mile to go.
 
We turned a corner leading into the last half mile, and I encouraged him that we were getting there.  Mile 3 — 8:00.  We made the final turn to the finish, we could see it, and I told him to floor it.  We dug in and ran as hard as we could (6:46 — George later said that he’s never run that fast in his entire life).
 
The finish clock said 24:42 (George) and 24:43 (me). 
 
I told George that he had done a great job and congratulated him on a new PR!  He said thanks and that he was trying to catch his breath.  I got us some water, and we walked to cheer on the other runners.  We cheered on one of the boys from the soccer team, the boy’s mom, then George’s son.  Somehow I missed Kathy.
 
And of course I realized what kind of crazy person runs 24:40 and then 24:43 on consecutive days?  Did I not run hard enough the day before?  Am I just that crazy that I can turn anything into a competition?
 
My friend Kathy crossed the finish line with a new PR too!
 
Kathy and I both won 3rd place in our age groups, so that was exciting!  George was happy with his new PR, and we all had a fun time.
 

Apparently there was no beer bet.

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Norwood 5K Race Report

The Norwood 5K is a goal race of sorts for me.  While I haven’t been able to do it every year I have been racing, this year would be my 5th year running it since I started racing in 2007.  It’s billed as a fast and flat 5K (and it definitely is) and this year is part of the inaugural Triple Crown series made up of 3 local races.  The races with the top 5 combined times from each of the 3 races will receive a trophy.  I know I don’t stand a chance for one of the top 5 positions, but I’m hoping to be in the top 20.
 
While this race is perfect for hitting a PR, there is ALWAYS some reason I don’t.  In 2009, 2011, and 2013, the race happened to be 1-2 weeks after I completed a marathon.  Sometimes I’m just “off” for whatever reason.  Anyway, here are my finish times for each year I completed the race:
 
2007 26:41
2008 25:30
2009 25:24
2011 24:50
2012 25:00
 
I had 2 goals going into this race.  The first goal was to set a course personal best, despite the fact that I ran a marathon 2 weeks prior.  The second goal was to win an age group award.  I know I have no control over who shows up on race day, but several times I have been in 4th place for this race, which stinks because it’s so close, yet so far.
 
Race day was COLD with temperatures in the low 30s.  At race time it was supposed to be only 39 degrees.  That’s actually perfect for me as I get really hot, but it’s not so good for standing around pre-race. 
 
I parked, picked up my race packet, and went back to the car to hang out in relative warmth until time to warm up.  My warmup went well, and I could tell that I was probably going to have a good day.  I reviewed my race strategy of starting out at about 8:00 pace and dropping down to 7:55 for the 2nd mile, then 7:50 for the final mile, and gunning it to the finish.\
 
Because this race is generally fairly large (>400 runners), I got into the start corral early so I wouldn’t inadvertently end up at the back of the pack.  Generally, I line up about 20-25% from the start because I typically finish in the top 20-25% (fair, right?). 
 
After the announcements, we were off!  I didn’t start my Garmin until I crossed the start mat……oops, there wasn’t a start mat, so I was a few seconds off.
 
The start of a race is generally pretty crowded, and you spend a lot of time weaving through runners.  Soon the pack started to thin out a bit, and I kept reminding myself to run my own race at my own pace and not worry about others.  It’s hard not to get caught up in the excitement at the beginning of the race.
 
I felt good.  Garmin beeped 7:43 at the first mile, but I passed the actual 1 mile marker at 8:00 on the dot.  I had been consistently passing people, so I made the decision to stop looking at the Garmin and just focus on passing people one by one.  Turning right into a residential loop I could see the race leaders leaving the residential loop.  Finally I spotted the first female, a woman who probably wins every local race that she enters (and happens to be in my age group).  I had my eye on each woman who was ahead of me, coming in my direction.  I’ve done so many local races at this point that faces are familiar and I know whether they are in my age group or not. 
 
Even though I didn’t recognize anyone else in my age group, that didn’t stop me from reeling in each runner that I could.  Hey, you never know….and I’m REALLY bad at estimating ages!  If you’re not obviously 16 or 66, you’re my age.
 
I left that residential loop and headed down the road a bit to turn into the next loop.  I continued to pass a few more people.  Passing the 2nd mile marker I saw by the clock that I was under 8:00 pace but didn’t look at my Garmin for confirmation. 
 
Leaving the last residential area I passed a couple of more women, one who I thought looked like she was in my age group but then again, who knows?  There were a couple of guys and a woman in a knit hat (in my age group?), and we were going the same pace. 
 
I was pushing as hard as I could.  Everything pretty much hurt, but that’s a 5K — a good 5K just hurts.
 
We turned off the main street and made a right down the side of the park toward the mile 3 marker.  I was pushing as hard as I could.  Then another right turn for the last 0.1 mile to the finish.  Pushing as hard as I could, I was still passed by an older guy and 2 young girls, plus Knit Hat got away from me too.  But that was OK, because I could see by the clock that I was finishing under 24:50.
 
Official finish time was 24:40!  Goal 1 accomplished!
 
I met up with a couple of friends afterwards, and we hung around to check out our standings.
 
And that’s when I found out that I won my age group.  Not 3rd place, not 2nd place, but 1st place!  Holy cow!  Goal 2 accomplished!
 
I have to admit, though, that it was just luck that faster women in my age group chose to stay home that day.  The 45-49 and 50-54 winners pretty much all beat me.  Oh well, it goes both ways that you can’t help who shows up on any given day.
 

Also, I found out that was in 16th place in the female Triple Crown standings after this 2nd race of the 3-race series.  I was only 8 seconds behind the woman in 15th place, so I figured I had a new goal to try to move up to 15th place in the final race.

 

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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!

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.

Demarest 5K race report

After the 2012 race season, I decided that I would not run 5Ks anymore.  My race times were disappointing and frustrating at best.  While 2011 was full of good race time finishes, many under 25 minutes, yet in 2012 I did not finish a single 5K race under 25 minutes.  The best finish time was 25:00 in October, 2012.  I’m not saying that my race times were bad, but it was frustrating not to be close to the finish times I had in 2011 despite the fact that I was doing track work and tempo runs.  Thus, I decided that 5Ks were just not for me anymore.  In fact, I wasn’t seeing a lot of progression at any race distance.  Maybe road racing wasn’t for me anymore.

Then in the winter several people approached me to either help them start training or mentioned that I was an inspiration.  Whenever someone asks me to help them with running, I want to be sure to teach them the right way.  So that means I start training properly too!

In February, I started consistently doing track work.  In March, I ran a 5K at the behest of some friends and finished in a surprisingly decent 25:25 on a hilly course.  A week later I finished a half marathon in just over 2 hours with minimal training.  I started thinking that there must be something to work with.

Thursday, one of my neighbors contacted me to do the Demarest 5K with him on May 19th.  I had just done a half marathon on May 12th, so I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to run a 5K.  But then I thought, who cares, let’s go for it.  My neighbor offered to drive, so we headed down to Demarest to sign up on race day.  Of course, it was about 57 degrees and raining.  Steadily raining.

We showed up at registration and one of my friends from the gym was there.  She had been training a group of little kids at the Demarest school to run a 5K and would be running with them, which is cool.  Get kids started early, right?

My friend and I registered and then waited in the car for race start.  Then at 9:10 I said I needed to warm up a bit, so we headed over.  

57 degrees and raining is not one of those cut-and-dried weather situations where you automatically know what to wear.  I opted for less fabric that would be hanging on me wet and went for a tank top and shorts.  It was a bit chilly, but at least I wouldn’t be covered in a lot of drenched fabric.

I started my warmup and realized I was running at goal race pace too quickly, so after half a mile I decided to cut it short.  My goal for the race was to run negative splits — preferably, 8 minutes the first mile, 7:55 the second mile, 7:50 for the last mile, and then run like crazy for the remainder.  I didn’t know if I could do it on the hilly course in the rain, but I figured it’s better to start out slowly regardless.

We lined up at the start.  Since I typically finish in the top 20-25% of most races, I generally line up the same way.  Though this time there were a ton of kids in front of us.  There were some announcements before the race, then we were off.  It was crowded mayhem, as most race starts are.  My friend and I did a lot of weaving through the slower runners, the people with dogs, and even people with strollers.  Eventually, after about half a mile, I was able to break free of the crowd.  It felt good to pass people, but I wasn’t feeling great.  

The first mile marker showed up, and I looked down at the Garmin and saw 8:01.  Then the Garmin beeped 1 mile at 8:06….guess I was a bit off.  The course had already turned into the rolling hills that I remembered from when I ran the race in 2010.  My friend passed me, and while I was tempted to catch up with him, I told myself, “Run your own race.”  Besides, there weren’t any female runners around me, just guys.

I didn’t feel like I was in a good groove.  I tried to maintain a pace that was faster than the first mile, but I didn’t know if I could maintain it.  There were a couple of teenage boys that I passed, and there was an older guy in a red shirt and bad toupee who was trading paces with me.  There was also a group of 3 boys around my son’s age of 11 who were running together, and they kept cutting me off as I tried to hug the curb.  Annoying…..

The rolling hills kept coming and going.  Pump your arms on the uphill, bust it on the downhill.  Near the 2nd mile was a water stop with music playing.  A group of 3 in white shirts — 2 guys and a girl (younger than me, who cares, not in my age group) passed me as if they didn’t have a care in the world.  One guy was raising his arms and waving to spectators.  I kept telling myself that the hurt would be over soon.

Garmin beeped the 2nd mile at 7:55.  I told myself that this was the final mile, open up all throttles and go full out.  I also knew that this was going to be the most hilly part of the course.  

I passed a young girl who suddenly stopped and told her not to quit.  Red-shirted toupee dude and I kept exchanging leads.  I looked at my Garmin and realized I had about half a mile to go, so I told myself to treat this like an 800 m repeat and bust it out.  Up and over the hill, bust it on the downside.  I got to the turn in the road that led to the final stretch and passed a teenage boy and girl.  The girl was struggling while the boy was trying to encourage her.  He looked back and stepped in a massive puddle.  I came up on his left and jumped over the puddle.  We both laughed.  

I looked at my Garmin and realized that I could finish in under 25 minutes.  The remainder of the course was downhill into a straightaway to the finish line.  I was running as hard as I could.  There were some guys in front of me, and I made it a goal to pick them off one by one.  I felt like I was going to barf, and as I neared the clock, I could see 24:XX………I sprinted, knowing that my race time would be 24-something, anything, please!!!!!

I crossed over the finish line and immediately pressed stop on the Garmin.  24:38.  I did a major fist pump and stifled the urge to barf.  Barfing is a sign that I put in my best effort, and 24:38 was a sign that training was working.  

I looked over and saw my neighbor and asked how he did.  He was ecstatic that he finished in about 24:20.  We walked over to the table with water bottles and snacks.  Red shirt bad toupee dude came over, shook my hand, and thanked me for helping to pace him to a good finish.  He said his goal was to keep up with me because he thought I was running a good pace.  I congratulated him on running negative splits too! I picked up some orange slices.  We both were ecstatic over our sub-25 minute 5K times.  I mentioned that this was the first time I’ve seen 24-something since October, 2011.  As we drank our water and ate our orange slices, I basked in the feeling of joy at having accomplished that feat again, finally!

We noticed that people were crowding around the race results as the rain kept coming down.  I found my name and saw a “2” next to age group place.  What????  Did I really finish 2nd in my age group?  Not believing my eyes, I checked the results 3 times.  Yep, 11th female finisher, 2nd in the 40-49 age group.  Unbelievable.

My friend had finished 11th in the 40-49 male age group, just one out of the top 10.  He was a bit bummed about that, but I reminded him that he had shaved over a minute off our 25:25 finish from March 17th.  Not too shabby!

My friend offered to hang around for awards, but I didn’t want to stand around in the rain and insisted that we go home.  I was so happy to find that training is paying off.

Today I picked up my trophy, which was cool.Image

It’s good to have my passion for running back again.  It isn’t about winning trophies, that isn’t important.  What is important to me is to see that my hard work is paying off.  Additionally, I felt ecstatic to have successfully executed negative splits:  Mile 1, 8:06; Mile 2, 7:55; Mile 3: 7:46; Last 0.13, 6:35!  There’s something to running negative splits.

Tomorrow I head to the track with my friend to do 1600 m repeats.  And I will crush them!

Pancakes!

So this past week was supposed to be my heavy week for Wendler 5/3/1 and a lighter week for running leading into Sunday’s 5K. I’ve actually been doing consistent speed training and was hoping to see improvement over the St. Patrick’s Day 5K in March.

The week started off well with a great gym workout. Tuesday, I had a fun run with my friend with great 100 m sprints at the track. But Tuesday afternoon, I started to get a tickle in my throat and a slight cough. Hmmmmm…..

The cough got worse as the week went on. Oddly enough, I didn’t have a fever or any other symptoms except a bit of a runny nose. Running became interesting as I could feel some rattling going on in my tightening chest. And I started coughing up some lovely phlegm! Lovely!

I decided to just continue with my gym and regular running but to drop the heavy weight training (pun intended) for the week to give myself a little more rest. I took Saturday as a rest day hoping that the cough would go away by Sunday’s race. It didn’t, but I wasn’t about to give up the race because I was doing it with a friend….and I wanted to test out my training. I’ll write a race report with pics later, but suffice it to say I did have a faster finish time than my March race time.

Who likes pancakes? I used to like pancakes pre-paleo, but I never found them to be filling. Paleo pancakes, on the other hand, can be filling. My first paleo pancakes were with coconut flour. My son and I loved them, but no one else in the family did. So I did a variation with half almond flour and half coconut flour. Same story. But everyone liked my almond flour pancakes.

Inspired by Jennifer’s super-easy pancakes that she posted on Wine to Weightlifting, I decided to throw in some banana. Here was my modified recipe.

1 very ripe mashed banana
1/2 cup coconut flour
4 whole eggs
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup coconut milk (canned, full fat)
maybe 2 tablespoons of honey (from my friend’s beehive)

I mixed them all and made them on my 500 year old special pancake griddle. Actually, I think it was designed for making grilled cheese sandwiches. At least, that’s what I used to use it for…and for pancakes.

Pancake Batter

Pancake Batter


Pancakes

Pancakes

They come out so well on the griddle!

Breakfast!

Breakfast!

Did you find Nemo? When you have kids, you end up with very fancy plates. Anyway, my son and I really enjoyed these banana-flavored pancakes.