I Did It! Inspiring Hope 5k Recap

Last year at this time I ran the Inspiring Hope 10k, after having trained since January and ran it in 1:01. I was a little disappointed in myself for not having finished in under an hour. I went into that race feeling strong, and had just run another 10k a few weeks previously so I knew what I could do if I had a good day. The time was 5 minutes faster than my previous race, but I still had some gas in the tank afterwards, so I probably could have pushed a little harder.

A few days after that race, I hurt my hip and was out for a couple of months.

Now this year is a completely different story. Since my surgery in March,
I have not run more than a mile and a half without stopping. I’ve only been allowed to run for three weeks, and I have the ankle injury to contend with. Plus I developed a sore back the day before the race.

I kind of figured I’d be doing a lot of walking.

What actually happened was this.

I woke up at 6:30 and got dressed in my running getup, including the compression stocking things that my Physical Therapist suggested I wear to keep my ankle from getting inflamed. Then I drove to the store to get milk and some cash to register for the race.

After driving home, I walked over to the start / finish area, which was in the lunch room of Kamiak High School near my house. I jogged a short portion of the way just to check out the ankle and how it was feeling. It seemed fine so that was encouraging. The back was still a bit sore but not as bad as yesterday, which was also encouraging. Seemed to be the kind of thing that would shake out after running a bit.

I got to the registration area, signed up and handed over my fee. They asked how fast I thought I would go, and since I didn’t really know they suggested I go with the second wave. I decided that was fine.

I checked my jacket and swag bag, milled around the vendor fair, drank some coffee and ran into my friend W. Talked to her for a bit. Bought a new little belt thing to keep my phone in while I run. I even used it during the race.

Before the race there was some sort of guided warm up thing and announcements. We couldn’t hear the announcements so we were chatting and goofing around and some crabby person said, “you’d be able to hear if you stopped talking.”

Sure, but it’s more fun to do my Charlie Brown teacher imitation!

Pretty soon it was 9am and the first wave went. I had to wait until 9:05 for the second wave to start. As soon as it did I realized I was in the wrong wave. I spent a couple minutes running at a fast but comfortable pace and before long had passed almost everyone in the wave.

I spent the rest of the race chasing down an older gray haired gentleman who was first in our wave, and a young couple running together (a brown haired girl in a ponytail and her male companion in a red Seattle Marathon shirt) who ended up being second and third. I ended up fourth but ponytail girl and her boyfriend were behind me for part of the middle section of the race. They caught me when I took a walk break at the water station at mile 2.

The course itself is pretty easy for the 5k. Two small hills, one at the beginning and one at the end, the rest of the race is pretty flat. Most of the course has you running on wide sidewalks, with a couple of forays into the road. The whole thing is paved – no trails.

The course is basically my regular running route, so as a first foray back into racing, it really couldn’t have been much easier.

I had to leave before results came out, because my kids both had baseball games and also they were very eager to get to our town’s “Touch a Truck” display before the games, but I knew my time was somewhere in the range of 31 minutes, because it was 9:36 when I came across, and my wave took off at 9:05.

I had to wait until Sunday to find out my actual time. Final race results said it was 30:48 total time, which brought me in 29th place out of 128 in the 5k, and third in my age group. For a first race back with almost no training, I thought that was a pretty great place to start.

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Rain Run Recap – Better Late Than Never

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Decided that since this is a running blog, it would be good to actually write about some running. The problem is, although I have lots of time to write, I can’t actually do any running right now. I do, however, have some old races to recap, so I can at least write about that while I am laying here in bed, where I am trying to rest after a strenuous trip to the outlet mall to buy kids’ jeans, and Costco this morning.

(I am not even kidding – recovering from this surgery is no joke and while I am feeling better everyday, some days just the day to day stuff is very wearing).

Anyway, back at the end of January, I ran my first ever half-marathon – the Rain Run out in Redmond. I think the race billed itself as being in Woodinville because that’s where you ran to, but since it started and ended in Marymoor Park, I’m gonna say it was actually in Redmond.

It was an out and back course along the Sammammish River trail, which because of the early start was mostly, but not totally devoid of other traffic. As the race got later in the day, other traffic became more of an issue. But at the time when the race started it was mostly just racers on the trail.

This year the Rain Run didn’t live up to its name, as there was no rain. There was, however, ice fog. It was very cold that morning, I think about 25 degrees, and foggy. Later in the day the sun burned through the fog and it warmed up somewhat.

I thought it was a pretty well run race generally. They had the start and finish in a place where there were lots of restrooms and had also brought in porta-potties to address the runners needs, but as is always the case in these races there were still massive lines in the 15 minutes before the start because that is when everyone wants to go.

For various reasons having to do with pre-race stomach problems and subsequent dehydration, I decided to wait until the very last minute to make my last visit to the facilities, which contributed to a nearly 2 minute discrepancy between my chip time and my gun time. The race had started by the time I got out of the potty, and so I had to go tearing over to the start and ended up somewhere at the back of the pack. Not a great way to start a race, and not a good place for the middle of the pack runner to end up since you spend the first half of the race dodging bodies until you find your pace and an empty spot to run.

The race looped around in the grass to start and then headed over to the paced portion of the River trail. The trail is old converted rail bed so it is pretty much pancake flat except for a couple spots where you have to go over the River via a bridge.

The run out to the turnaround was therefore flat and mostly unmemorable. Once we hit the turnaround things got a bit more interesting. They had Gu and water at the two hydration stations. This was good because again owing to the aforementioned stomach issues, I was sort of dehydrated. I got a banana flavor Gu, which lasted me the whole race. I could barely eat because it was pretty gross tasting and because the cold gave it a texture a bit more like gum than Gu. And I ran through the stations meaning I wore more of the water than I drank, but whatever. I tried. Probably my fueling strategy needs improvement but it worked well enough given that my goal was just to finish, which I did.

Once I hit the turnaround, things got hard for a few miles. I wasn’t feeling overly fatigued but my ankle, which had been bothering me for a couple of weeks, really started bugging me. I tried walking a couple of times to see if it would let up (it did), but I was pretty determined that I wanted to finish in under a 10 minute pace, so I chose to ignore this little bit of biofeedback and continue running as best I could.

Around mile 9, the ankle finally went numb and stopped bothering me. Either that or the rest of my body drowned it out. My legs started feeling pretty much like lead by about mile 10 but I kept on chugging along. I felt like Dory from Finding Nemo, only instead of singing “just keep swimming,” it was “just keep running.”

As we neared Marymoor Park on the return it was necessary to cross over the River via a little pedestrian bridge that was also open to bikers. Remember how I said we had ice fog that morning? Well it came into play when a cyclist tried to pass me on a tight turn under that bridge and ended up losing traction and falling down right in front of me. I hopped over (it was that or trip and fall down myself), then ran about another 20 feet, then I felt like an ass so I went back to ask if he was okay. He was, so I ran the last mile and a half to the finish as fast as I could manage. In other words, still not that fast, but faster than I had been running before.

As I neared the finish I spotted my husband and kids holding up signs that said “Go Mom” and was suddenly overcome with emotion. I was proud of finishing my first half, glad it was over, and wondering when or if I would be able to do it again. It felt pretty darn good to cross that finish line.

After the finish line, there were cupcakes, stretching and some post race recapping with a friend of mine who also ran the race. Then I changed clothes and drove the half hour home in the car. By the time I got home my right ankle had completely seized up. The tendon pain I’d been having prior to the race became a full fledged case of tendinitis, which I am still dealing with somewhat. But oh well – it will heal, and it was worth it.

In the end, despite bike crashes, bathroom emergencies and lack of fueling and hydration, I finished the race in just under a 10 minute mile pace (9:56). My chip time was 2:10. I had been hoping to finish in under 2:15, so I was very pleased with that.

And now I am recovering from surgery. I am glad I pushed myself to run the race even though I had less training than was probably ideal (adding too many miles too quickly probably caused the tendinitis), and I look forward to running this race again next year!

Snohomish River Run – Race Recap

For two weeks our weather has been very foggy with no rain, and the weather report for today was supposed to call for clear skies this morning. So what do you suppose woke me up this morning at 6:45, two hours before race time?

That’s right – pouring rain.

I seriously considered rolling over and going back to bed but then I thought about my race fees, and how much I hate wasting money. And then I thought about how hard I had worked to get ready for the race and forced myself up and out of bed. Besides, I thought, if you are going to be a runner that lives in Seattle you simply cannot be the kind of person who backs out of races because of weather. And so, I got dressed, ate some oatmeal, drove through Starbucks for a latte, and arrived at my parking spot one minute before they closed the road.

Perfect timing.

Given the change in weather I had to make some last minute changes to my race day attire. Out with the lightweight capri tights and in with the UnderArmour cold gear long pants. I opted to add a second lightweight jacket under my soft shell, to keep warm before and after the race. I also swapped out my lightweight running socks for wool, since if my feet had to be wet, I wanted them to at least be warm. Under my two jackets I wore my official race shirt, a blue long sleeved tech shirt. It got a real test today and it passed – I felt warm enough and dry the whole time.

My parking spot was about a quarter mile from the start. Definitely worth the $10 to have guaranteed parking near the start and not have to ride the shuttle. On the other hand, I did have to arrive an hour before start time to use the parking spot. The best part was really after the race being able to go right to my warm car and straight home. I think the shuttle would have turned into a real hassle on the way home.

I parked the car, drank all the water in my bottle (decided to pre-hydrate and not carry – when it’s cool I don’t usually feel the need to drink on the run), and chugged the rest of my coffee. Next thing, time to scout out the porta-potties. An hour before race time there was already a line about 30 deep and the potties were running out of TP. Not a good sign for later, so I decided to get that taken care of sooner rather than later. I walked a little further and arrived at the start, where everyone was milling around in the rain.

I saw a friend from my gym who was going to run the half and wished her luck as they were calling half runners to the start, which began at 8:30. The 10k started at 8:45 and I was feeling chilly so I went to the coffee tent and got a cup just to hold on to.

While I was standing there, a woman approached me and asked, “so where do the runners start? At the start line?” I politely answered yes, but it did take some self discipline to avoid telling her that they actually would start at the finish line and run in reverse.

I considered taking a selfie but opted against. Did take a picture of runners standing around though.

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At 8:40, they called the 10k runners to the start. I wasn’t really sure whether I should be in the 10 minute or 9 minute pace corral. As I was training for the race, my big goal was just to finish in under an hour. That is about a 9:45 pace. I knew I could manage that pace – but I also thought of the advice I got from a friend on Saturday that said that if I wasn’t sore the day after, then I didn’t run hard enough. It is a race, after all. You’re supposed to go fast.

So I opted for the 9 minute corral but since I wasn’t sure I’d be able to pull off a race at that pace, I stood towards the back.

The gun went off and we all started running. I never bothered to turn on my gps and just ran by feel. I was surprised at how many people I seemed to be passing – I’ve never started that far forward before and expected to be getting passed a lot. I figured out why when we got to the first mile marker and the guy running next to me goes, “that’s 8.”

I asked him incredulously, “8 minute mile??”

He said yes, and I said, “holy cow, I’d better slow down!”

I did back off a bit after that but since I was feeling surprisingly okay, I didn’t back off too much – just enough to where I was breathing easy. At about mile 2 I started shedding layers, at which point I realized I had forgotten to take off the light jacket under my soft shell, which meant I would not have anything dry to put on at the finish. I was kind of bummed about that but decided to take it as a lesson for next time; I really need to write myself a note with things I need to do before the start since when I am excited I really can’t remember anything.

It was an out and back course along the Snohomish River, so we hit the turnaround just shy of 3 miles. As we were running I noticed I wasn’t seeing many people coming back from the turnaround. I figured out I was toward the front of the pack. I couldn’t help but feel pretty proud of myself for that, so as we hit the turn I made all the ladies standing there give me a high five. Yay me – I’m now a front of the pack runner!

After the turn, the pace started to affect me more – the tightness I’ve been feeling lately in my shoulder started really burning, and some new tightness in my hamstrings and hips reminded me that I was at the edge of what I really could handle. I pushed myself to maintain pace anyway though. I had a couple of people that I just stayed with most of the way back.

I enjoyed the course itself but I will say something that surprised me was the smell. It is riverbottom farmland that the course runs through and they must have had some cows around, because there was a definite odor of manure in the air. Didn’t bother me on the way out but on the return trip it did. I think I get more sensitive to smells when I am more tired.

As we made the final turn towards the finish we passed the photographer and I was feeling good so I made some crazy face. Apparently, that sapped the last of my energy because I could not get my body to cooperate when I tried to kick it in to the finish. But I held my pace. I looked up and saw my family right before the finish, and then I saw the clock and realized I had run my race a full 4 minutes faster than I had expected.

In spite of the rain, it was a pretty awesome race experience. I ended up 8th in my age group and was very happy with how everything went.

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