Friday, March 30, 2012

Race Report: Montvale 10 Miler

Of all of the Mountain Junkies events that I’ve participated in the Montvale races are my favorite. They are, as far as trails are concerned, my favorite type of terrain to run.

Last year I was ten weeks pregnant at the event for which I did the five mile option. I had just made it through my worst week of morning sickness and hadn’t run a step when we showed up that morning. I was not concerned with race times or finishing places, only with my ability to actual complete the event. I not only completed the event but I fell in love with this race, the rolling hills, switchbacks and all. This year I have been looking forward to this event because I felt like it was where I could really shine, I knew that I could do well as long as I went into the event rested and injury free.

I had three goals for this race: 1.) To run sub 90 minutes 2.) To finish in the top 3 and 3.) To place in the top 20. This was the first time I've ever set out to compete for an overall placement. I wasn't putting a lot of pressure on myself, mainly I wanted to go out and run as close to an 8:30 pace as I could.

Race morning was wet and I knew that like Explore Your Limits the course would quite possibly be muddy. It actually put me in an even better mood towards the race because I had fared well in the mud at the previous race. When I ran my mile warm-up the course was even muddier than I had imagined. All the same I was thankful for all of those wet wild Wednesday trail runs and ready to run. 

The race went well. I went out faster than I normally would but I wanted to get far enough ahead to not have to worry about passing people on single track trails that were muddy. I was a little nervous about the distance and there were a few times I was worried that my pace was too fast for me to keep but I just slowed it down and took a minute or so to recover before picking it back up. Overall it was a great race, the last mile was the worst because my legs had grown a little tired and the mud was thickest through this section where all of the five miler participants had already run through. However, I made all of my goals. I finished in 1:23:53 which was good for first female and 17th overall.

Afterwards a friend who had run the 10 mile race with me went out to the Sedalia Center and ran out to meet up with Todd and run him in. By the time we got out there he only had a little over two miles to run. He did great  finishing in 5:51.  It was an overall great race day for our household. Looking forward to running a race or two with Todd in the near future.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

2012: Week 12

Monday: Rest
Tuesday:  Track session, 3.5 miles with a friend. Total of 10.5 for the day.
Wednesday: Easy trail run, 6.4 miles.
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Warm-up, race, ran Todd in at Terrapin, 17 miles for the day.
Sunday: 2 shake out miles at Candler's, Todd was too sore to run and I wasn't prepared to run alone.

Miles ~ 35.9

Monday, March 19, 2012

2012: Week 11

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Track session, arrived a little late, didn't get in as long a warm-up in as I'd planned. Did a ladder workout of 400, 600, 800, 1200, 800, 600, 400. The whole work out was a little bit of a struggle and it was warm out. 6 miles
Wednesday: Trail run, great run. Ran 13 miles on Candler's in just over 2 hours. Pushed it several times and then almost crashed twice but was able to recover while running both times.
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Ran ~5.5 with a friend, a comfortable pace.
Saturday: Did not want to get up and out of bed for this morning's run. Brodie was up three time the night before and I was just wanting to go back to bed. Ended up going out to Blackwater and ran an awesome tempo 10k training run faster than my current goal for the race. Track work is paying off. 7 miles.
Sunday: Long run on Candler's 15 miles.

Miles for the week~ 46.5

Didn't do any cross training or strength this week and my long run was shorter than I had planned (supposed to be 16). However, the tempo run on Saturday has me pumped for the upcoming 10k  at the end of the month. But first, Montvale 10 miler this upcoming week. Aiming for ~9 minute overall pace. Hoping that all that running on Candler's will pay off.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

It's Official

My Promise Land 50k++ application has left my possession and is on its way to the race director. Now for a countdown...45 days.

Still looking at this race from a very laid back stance. I have had a few people guess what my time might be but I have decided (at least at this point) to be very generous with myself on time, they do after all give you 10 hours to complete the course. Besides the terrain does have me a little nervous, I enjoy Holiday Lake for the same reason others dread it, because it's runnable (is that really a word?). From all that I've heard about Promise Land we're talking a completely opposite kind of race where hiking will be prudent. I'm excited but I'm not aiming to set any records.

Not yet, anyways.


Monday, March 12, 2012

2012: Week 10

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Track Tuesday and then the Leesville Loop with Todd and Chelsie. 11.5 miles
Wednesday: Trail run, 10 miles.
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Rest
Saturday: First tempo run...maybe ever? Ran a mile warm-up and then 5 miles tempo keeping track of quarter splits. Wonderful run, came away feeling great.
Sunday: Long run. Ran 8 miles on the trails at Blackwater Creek which felt fun and easy and continued on to pavement where I realized I was getting a blister. Pushed out the whole 15 miles but my feet were not happy. Good starting point for a long run as now we start building for the marathon...

Miles ~ 42.5


Surprised how difficult the long run felt, quite possibly pushed the pace too hard, maybe should have run even slower. The tempo run however had me feeling good about my goals for Ukrop's Monument Avenue 10k in a few short weeks.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Race Report: Explore Your Limits 5k

A few weeks ago, as the days headed towards the Liberty Mountain 5k, I was a complete and utter mess. Sure I was pumped, but in a way that nearly drained me. This past week was a complete different episode. Instead of breaking down the race into segments and fretting over pace goals or rather any goals really, I contemplated asking the race director if I could switch from the 5k to the 10k.

When I printed the registration for Explore Your Limits back in January I was so undecided on which distance to pursue I filled out only some of the form and stuck it on the refrigerator. The website suggests the 5k is a great beginner trail race and I suppose I felt I was taking the easy route by running the 5k. I eventually, but only halfheartedly, committed to the 5k and officially submitted my registration. However, as the race approached I began to second guess my decision. I even got so far as to draft an email to the race director to see if I might be able to change to the 10k. I knew that packets had been filled and entrants posted so I chickened out on sending the email, deciding to stick with my decision instead of being a bother to the race director and volunteers (the deletion of that draft a few minutes ago reminded me that I had failed to write up a race report!).

Due to this wavering between race choices I never really thought about the actual race. Friday night I gathered my race gear but because we were also bringing the children along for the race there was so much of their stuff to get ready that I again didn't have the time to worry over the looming race. I was more concerned about the news that, due to bad weather over the preceding days, the Blue Ridge Parkway was temporarily closed. I spent an hour studying alternate routes on Google Maps and worrying over how we were actually going to get to the race headquarters. The race itself was never really in the forefront of my mind.

Saturday morning's schedule was carefully planned out and executed and before you knew it we were at Explore Park a half hour ahead of schedule (thanks in part to the re-opening of the Blue Ridge Parkway). I was thankful to have a friend from our weekly Wednesday trail run there to warm-up with. We ran a two mile warm-up and I realized how little I knew the course even though it was my third year running this 5k.

The time flew by and before long the 10k race was beginning. Those of us running the 5k lined both sides of the road about an 1/8 of a mile from the starting line as the 10k race started promptly at 9 and then the 5k staggered ten minutes behind. It was enthralling to see the 10k racers run past, including a man around my father's age at the back of the pack. As he ran by I thought to myself I hope I'm still running trails when I am a septuagenarian. I know people half this gentleman's age whom the thought of trails alone would have kept them at home, his presence really was a source of encouragement. 

As the 10k crowd cleared those of us left running the 5k starting moving towards the start, I was going to place myself near the front when I remembered that being passed can sometimes do a number of my confidence level. Deciding I'd rather pass others during the race than be passed, I placed myself mid-pack and checked the laces on my shoes. 

Photo Credit Mountain Junkies LLC...I'm on the right.
Now even though this race was only a few days ago, it's all become a big muddy blur in my mind. The course was a masterpiece of mud and muck and I was so focused on staying upright and dodging puddles that the time hurried by. I ran fast and hard but I also remembered to have fun, which is something I think I'd forgotten the week before. There was slipping and sliding, narrow escapes from tumbles and falls and a section of switchbacks through gunk that had me clambering with the aide of trees through the trail. I was surprised a mile or so in when I passed the talented young girl who normally beats me without question at these events. I had the passing thought, "I can tell Todd I was in front of so-and-so for a few seconds ", but to my even greater surprise she never passed me back. On the long climb to the finish I slowed my run down enough to recover my breathing so that I could run the straight away to the finish line a little faster. I'm not sure that was necessary and perhaps I should have given it my all on that last climb. Besides, I can't say that I was all that fast as I neared the finish line. 

I was very thankful that Todd and our children were at the finish line. I know it isn't easy for Todd to have all four children during a race but I appreciate getting to see them and hearing their cheering voices at the end of a race. When Todd said I was the first female to finish the first thought I had was and I didn't even set any goals for myself! My second thought was maybe he was mistaken, he was after all, watching our children and taking pictures. Turns out I was first overall female. And that, I must admit, is exciting. However, I'm just as excited that I finished 10th overall in the 5k. Finally, I was assured by my decision to run the shorter distance. I finished in a time of 24:33, a PR but again I don't feel that's the best I have in me, especially since I know I geared it down on that last hill. Last year I walked the hill, this year I ran the entire course, next year maybe run those hills a little faster and shave off a few more seconds. 

This was the second race in the Mountain Junkies RNUT Series, and I am feeling ever more excited about this upcoming spring and the rest of the series. From this point on though I plan on doing the longer distance when given a choice between two races, which includes a 10 miler, a half marathon and a full marathon. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

2012: Week 9

Monday:  Rest
Tuesday: Track Tuesday. ~1 mile warm-up, ~ 6 100 yd strides, 1x800, 4x600, 4x400. I really do love these sessions...afterwards. Tough but worth it. Cycling and strength at the YMCA.
Wednesday:  Trail run, 8.5 miles.
Thursday: Zumba class at the Y and a comfortable 4.2 mile run afterwards.
Friday: Rest  Intended to run an easy 3 but never got it in...
Saturday: Explore Your Limits 5k. ~ 2 mile warm-up, 5k race. ~5.25
Sunday: Trail run. Supposed to be our 'long run' and was gunning for 15 miles. Ended up with 12 in 2 hours and called it a day.

Miles ~ 35

Had a pretty good week, still some swelling in the foot but less pain. Trying to ice it but because it isn't as painful I tend to only think of it at the end of the day. With spring approaching there are going to be a lot of races on Saturday mornings. Wondering what this means for Sunday long runs as my legs weren't really up for going the full 15 yesterday.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Race Report: Liberty Mountain 5k

The Liberty Mountain 5k, held each year mid-February, holds a special place in my heart. It was, in 2010, the first time I EVER ran on trails. Covered in snow and hill laden, it was an experience I may never forget. I geared down from race mentality half a mile in and just enjoyed the adventure. It still stands as my slowest 5k, but regardless of my time I was hooked on trail running. Last year the race was held one week after my ultra debut and I went out and ran, irritated knee and all, over 11 minutes faster than the previous year and finished as first female overall. I felt as though I was in the best shape yet of my life last year when I ran that race and I was curious where I would be this year when I ran it. 

I've been training on Candler's/Liberty Mountain a lot this year and I feel that I am becoming a better and stronger hill runner all the time. Despite my training and growing confidence on hills I was still very nervous about this race because I was giving it the power to define where I stand as a runner. I went out on several occasions and ran the course becoming ever more familiar with it, but instead of empowering me it just made me grow worried.

To make matters a little more interesting my left foot started to hurt the week before the race and I took my shoes off Tuesday to see that the tendons were visibly swollen. Thankfully, ice, ibuProfen and KT Tape kept disaster at bay.  

Thursday, with a legal pad in hand, I broke the course down and made a race strategy. I went out Friday afternoon attempting to 'feel' my goal paces for different sections of the course just to be met with thunder and lightning. Drenched and defeated, I headed to my car. I was, to put it lightly, a mess.  

I tried to convince myself that none of this really mattered. And to someone else those words may be true. But it DOES matter to me. I want to do the best that I can possibly do. I want to be fast. I want to be good. I want to run with both my heart and my brain. I want to set, push and surpass my own expectations. 

I headed out early Saturday to warm-up, I readied the iPod and found my way to the starting line. Surrounded by strong people I felt so very unsure of myself. The race began and downhill we went. I did well keeping the pace I had set out for myself, and when I reached the first mile marker I was 3 seconds to the good. With everything going according to my plan I noticed a looseness in my foot, I glanced down to see my left shoe laces flying. I had tied them loosely but double knotted them, apparently when tied this way laces can shake free.  I contemplated running the rest of the race like this but decided that this was rather dangerous, especially with an already injured foot. I hopped off the trail and tied my shoe as quickly as I could. Back on the trail I immediately realized the other shoe was loose as well. I stopped to tie this one and five people whizzed by me as I struggled to make bunny ears. 

Finally back on course, I tried to refocus on my plan. For the first time the long climb between miles 1 and 2 flew past and I was back on target pace. Unfortunately, with less than half a mile left in the race, things did not go according to plan on Lake Trail. I had two people in front of me and I couldn't muster up the strength to pass them and so I just ran their pace. I didn't run this section at goal pace. Instead I felt like throwing up. The best I could do was a constant forward motion. It was a run, but it was not fast. Finally up the hill and out of the woods. The last section I felt like I was barely moving. I was done. I didn't even check the clock as I crossed the finish line. I knew that I had not met my goals based on my Garmin's average pace. 

I had three goals. To run every step of the course. To PR or come in under 28 minutes. And my 'secret' goal was to come in under 27 minutes. I did run every step of the course if you don't count shoe tying breaks. And I did PR, by 19 seconds. But I didn't hit my pace goal (which was 8:21-8:40 average).  I finished in 27:59, and was second Overall Female.

With a week's worth of perspective I feel very positive about this race. At roughly 3 months postpartum I hit a PR, and I still feel like I have room for improvement which is better than feeling I've done as good as I could ever do. Next year, sub 27.