My Inadvertent Trail Race

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On Saturday I set out to run race #9 of the year — the Race Wellesley First 10K.

Coach Bennett had suggested that I run a couple of “tune-up” races this month — the primary goal to see if my race stomach woes are hopefully behind me. The other goal – run a solid, consistently-paced race. Simple enough, right? Well that was until I got to the starting line.

There was both a 5K and a 10K race – starting together, which didn’t worry me much because this was a very small race. Just before the start, we gathered around to hear final instructions from the race director. The 10K course was a double loop of the 5K course so the director was explaining who should go where as we completed the first loop…and then he said the words that struck fear in my heart. “So just be careful on the trails, it could be a little slippery.” Wait…what? Trails?!? As I listened to the comments of some of my fellow runners I was clearly not alone in my surprise about the “trails.” But before complete panic could set in, we were off.

20 feet from the start we turned into the woods – hello trail. Did I mention that I have never run on trails…never!

The course was a mix of trail, fields, crushed gravel…and yes some pavement as we wound our way in and around the campus of Olin College. In truth it was a beautiful course…but it was hard people! Running the trails and across the fields took so much out of my legs that when I hit the pavement it was hard to pick up the pace – that and the fact that a good stretch of the pavement portion were hills. As I climbed the two hills towards the end of the first loop I may have been cursing between gasps as it was suddenly very clear to me why most people running this race were only doing the 5K!

The small crowd around the finish line was very encouraging as the handful of us made the turn back out for the 2nd loop. I heard someone call my name and spotted my friend Kathleen who had just finished the 5K. I had no idea she was running this race -turns out it was her first 5K!

The good thing about the double loop course was as least I knew what was coming and had a better sense of how to approach the trails. The second loop was harder though as we were all strung out along the course and so I was running some sections completely alone. As I hit mile 5, I was so happy to be done with the trails but knew the worst hills were coming – I was so ready to be done!

While I would encourage the race director to be a little more explicit in his course description in the future, there was really nothing to complain about this race. The course was well marked, there was good on-course support and indoor bathrooms at the start/finish line! For me, on the good side I had no stomach issues! And while I was a little too tentative to hold a solid pace on the varying terrain, I did get my first taste of trail running and came through it relatively unscathed – I may even try it again 🙂

 

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My Best 5K

Sunday morning I ran my best 5K yet!

And there was no PR or great bling involved. The race itself was full of logistically glitches typical of a new race (mis-measured course, not enough porta potties…you get the idea).

picmonkey_image (5)It was the best 5K because I got to run with my son as he completed his first 5K!

I watched him push himself to go further than he’d ever run before (and in very warm conditions!), watched him experience both the “I can’t believe I’m about to do this!” moments, along with the “what if I can’t finish” moments.

We had a great conversation along the way – none of which I’ll share here…stays between Mom and son. Except that I will say about half way through he started talking about his next race – “it should be in the fall when it’s cooler and I’ll be better trained” – at that moment I knew that despite the heat and walk breaks, he was really enjoying himself!

picmonkey_image (4) I especially loved seeing the look on his face when he knew the finish line was close and watching him sprint to the end! It was a proud mama moment for me from beginning to end – and I can’t wait to do it again 🙂

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Some of the Best of 2011

Recently, Miss Zippy posted a great list of questions on the “best of” for 2011 and invited us all to do the same…so here are my answers!

Best race experience? 
Without a doubt Boston’s Run to Remember – this was my first half marathon! I felt like I had achieved a huge accomplishment just making it to the start line, and the whole race I had this “I can’t believe I’m actually doing this!” feeling. Also, I had my whole family there and they went through herculean efforts to see and cheer me on in multiple sports throughout the race.  It was a great first experience and laid the groundwork for my growing love affair with the half distance!

Best run?

Another first — the first time I ever ran 10 miles. It was one of those perfect runs, everything felt good and even the traffic lights cooperated so I never had to stop. I remember my confidence growing as the miles ticked off and when I finished I did a little happy dance in my driveway (neighbors must have loved that!)

Best new piece of gear?

This one’s hard – I did a lot of….um..er…accumulating this year 🙂 It’s a tie between my Brooks running skirt and my Saucony Kinvaras – for both it was love at first run!


Best piece of running advice you received?

Everything I learned during my time with Ryan Miller, certified ChiRunning instructor! Also, to make the transition to minimalist shoes slowly.

Most inspirational runner?

Way to many to pick just one! I have been inspired and motivated by so many runners’ stories this year – from daily training, to racing, to overcoming injuries.

If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be?

Moving in the right direction!

There is so much to reflect on this year. This list was a fun way to get started! 

What were your 2011 highlights?


 

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A little Friday randomness

Thanks to Blogger’s little meltdown yesterday, my Thursday post vanished into cyberspace and by last night I was googling how to transfer from Blogger to WordPress!

This was one of those weeks that flew by in a blink – there were lots of meetings, school events and sports for the boys, along with all the usual stuff that makes up life. I did manage to hold to my training plan too, though I could have done with more yoga and yamuna body rolling – my hamstrings and calves are ridiculously tight!

And speaking of calves, I have discovered relief in the form of Zensah compression sleeves. After using them post-run a few times, I’m wondering what took me so long to buy a pair!

Another first today – first 11 mile run. I’d be lying if I said it was a pretty run. I haven’t been sleeping great this week and it definitely caught up with me in today’s run. But I got the distance and that’s what counts. Every run teaches you something, and this one taught me most that I can push through when I really feel the tank’s on E.

I have only one more long run before my half. One more “test” run to figure out fueling, clothes options, socks and play list. I’m close on the play list, but if you have any suggestions, especially for those last few miles, please pass them along. I think on the fueling front, I’m going to stick with a couple of Chomps around mile 5 and then depending on how I feel, a couple more around 9. Still working on my chewing and running at the same time 🙂

“It costs nothing to dream…And everything not to.” — this was in my inbox this morning and I love it and just had to share.

Have a Great Weekend!
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Double digits

When I first put my training plan into Smart Coach weeks ago, today was a day I circled. Today would be the first time I’d hit double digits!

While I was out running this morning, I kept thinking about where I was almost a year ago – working my way through the Couch-to-5k plan, finding it hard to believe I’d ever get to 3 miles….and anything beyond that was just crazy talk. But there I was this morning, cruising along to my new playlist my youngest son helped me together last night, watching the miles tick off on my Garmin and feeling pretty good, (by the way, music planning with a five year old is always interesting!). Today there were no walk breaks, even the traffic lights cooperated. And, while definitely windy, it was a beautiful day for a run and hitting a new distance. Great feeling to look down at my Garmin and see that 10 miles!

Now I’m ready for another jam-packed weekend! I’m really looking forward to heading out to see part of the Marathon on Monday. Gotta send a huge Friday Shout Out to all the runners heading to Boston this weekend – congrats on all of your hard work to get to this point…now enjoy the final ride!

Enjoy Your Weekend!
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Friday 9!

Well Hello Friday – so glad you showed up! It has been a long week…nothing dramatic, just one of those weeks where you feel like you’re running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off! I was very happy to wake up this morning and know it was Friday and the weekend is coming!

This morning was also my first 9 mile run! I will admit that I was a little nervous about trying this distance. I tweeted before I left that I was going to take on a new distance, and almost instantly I got tweets from so many other runners encouraging me, wishing me a good run and telling me to have fun! It was the nice little boost I needed before heading out the door. I’ve said it before, but I have to say it again – I love how supportive the running community is!

It was a beautiful morning for a run – in the mid-40s and bright sunshine. As I set out, I decided to not focus on the distance, but just run and enjoy the first signs of spring finally creeping into New England. I’m happy to say that it was a fairly uneventful run – took two quick walk breaks first to stretch out my left leg a little and then when I discovered that I cannot run and chew Chomps at the same time 🙂

So now it’s time to enjoy the great weather on deck for the weekend!

Have a Great Weekend!
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My New Target

This lovely necklace came my way about a month ago courtesy of a great giveaway from Marcia at The Studly Runner (aka Running Off at the Mouth).

Since I received the necklace from Nana’s Jewelry, it’s been sitting in the box it came in on a shelf in my closet — put aside until the 10k training I was currently in was complete.

Well, the 10k is done and in the books. So on this first day of a new month, it seemed like a good time to bring it out. It may sound corny, but this little necklace will serve as a great reminder and motivator for the journey I’m about to embark on. I’m so excited to go after this goal!

I’ve decided to treat this week as kind of a step back week — a chance to get my half training plan finalized and give my angry left knee a little break. So I did an easy run of 3 today, and plan to get in some strength training, yoga and couple more easy runs during the rest of this week. Then it will be time to go after my new target…time for another first! I can’t wait to get started!

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A Couple More Firsts

One of the beauties of being a new runner is that there are lots of firsts to celebrate! This morning I added a couple more firsts to my collection —  I ran 8 miles and in 15 degrees!

Obviously I’m more excited about hitting 8 miles than I am about the new low temp…especially after such glorious weather just two days ago. But with a race on the Cape only a week away, I have to be prepared for whatever New England weather might decide to show up that day. Well given the high winds I ran into for at least half the run, I think I have definitely reached the point where I’m unfazed by the weather – a definite victory!

The run itself was more like two runs – the first 4 and a half miles were smooth and easy. Then I felt a sharp pain on the outside of my left knee. I have no idea what happened, but after that it was part run, part hobble with the occasional stop and stretch. Not always pretty, but 8 done nonetheless – a first!

Hopefully ice and rest is all that’s needed – I’m scheduled to run again until Tuesday…so fingers crossed!

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