The Green Lake Gobble 5k and a shiny new PR

It’s been awhile since I’ve set a 5k PR – almost a year, in fact. The 5k is such a weird distance – full of people just getting into running who are having a great time and just trying to finish, and then people trying to improve and shave seconds off their previous personal bests… which would be the category I fall into, so a 5k race is more an exercise in pain and HOW MUCH LONGER CAN I HOLD THIS PACE?!

My previous PR (set this February) was 28:18 and I distinctly remember feeling like death as I slogged along trying to maintain that 9-min-mile. ( I am not fast, clearly). But after my big half marathon PR last month, and all the consistent (if slightly halfhearted) speedwork I’ve been doing since around August/September, I thought I might have a shot at finally cracking under 28 minutes for 3.1 miles.

I met up with some friends around 7:30 – we’d all volunteered at packed pickup in exchange for a race entry. Can’t beat a free race for a few bone-chilling hours handing out bibs!

It was cooollllllllld at the start – though I should have ditched my race shirt; I ended up tying it around my waist… you’d think I’d learn…

Me, Laura, and Karene - this was the 2nd 5k ever for both of them, yeaah ladies!

Me, Laura, and Karene before the race – this was the 2nd 5k ever for both of them, yeaah ladies!

When the race started I remember deciding to go for it and took off at a challenging pace for me. That saying “it never gets easier, you just get better” is so true – it felt like a hard pace has felt for me in the past around a 9 min mile, but I was actually holding a sub-8-min pace for the first time ever.

Not sure why I look startled to be running

Not sure why I look startled to be running…

I’d decided to try out a long-sleeve compression shirt I’ve had for awhile but never raced in, and while it was comfortable enough, it looked kind of ridiculous!

Ha ha, I look like a bandit in this getup... well aside from my fabulous pink shoes.

Ha ha, I look like a bandit in this getup… well aside from my fabulous pink shoes.

Even though it was like 30 degrees out I still got too warm and took off my gloves. I am my own sunshine factory. I mostly just tried to keep up the effort as hard as I could and felt shocked every time I glanced at Henry the Garmin and saw sub-9 min mile paces. I guess all that halfhearted speedwork paid off!

Zipping through the finishing chute. Yeaaah PR!

Zipping through the finishing chute… my gumby-leg back-kick is still a thing apparently…

As I crossed the finish line I knew I’d set a shocking new PR – nearly 2 min faster than my old one. I didn’t even feel like puking afterwards, which has been a staple of previous hard efforts for me – who am I?! I’m kind of curious now what I could do if I really applied myself to training instead of just going through it and completing it… like maybe actually doing 400m repeats at a pace that feels insane?

Whaaaaaaat? How did I do this?!

Whaaaaaaat? How did I do this?! I even forgot to stop my Garmin for a few seconds after the finish…

.

And my official results were even 6 seconds faster. Uhhhh, I have no idea how I pulled that off.

And my official results were even 6 seconds faster. Uhhhh, I have no idea how I pulled that off.

.

Considering I've never strung more than one sub-9-min-mile together in a row, I'm amazed I ran each mile faster than the last. Who am I?!

Considering I’ve never strung more than one sub-9-min-mile together in a row, I’m amazed I ran each mile faster than the last. Who am I?!

Victoria BC Canada half marathon 10/13/13

WOW. I am amazed, baffled, astounded at how this race went for me. Let’s just get the big part out of the way – I was hoping to break 2:10, and at least PR (current PR is 2:12:58), but NOTHING could have prepared me for the number I ended up with:

That there is also a 10k PR!

That there is also a 10k PR!

WHAT. Just WHAT. How the crap did I pull that off?! Even more astounding to me was Henry the Garmin’s report:

Holy poop!

Holy poop!

Not a single 10+-min-mile to be found. And mile 12, what whaaaaaaaat? How on earth did I pull off a sub-9-min-mile in a half marathon!? How the crap did I run at a 9:17 average for the whole race? (I’ve run 5ks at a slower pace than that!)

There were a few significant things I did different during this training cycle, a few of which had me convinced this would probably be a SLOW race for me:

1. I did about 95% of my training runs on the treadmill, and the vast majority of those were at a 0% incline, because I’m lazy and hate hills.

2. I had that dumb 2-month cough that interrupted my training a bit over the summer.

3. I started doing halfhearted speedwork (400m sprints and Higdon-style tempo runs) this time around.

Maybe it was number 3 that made the biggest difference, who knows! I think maybe doing my 10-milers on the treadmill may have helped me in ways – I did take walk breaks during them, but they kind of taught me to hold a consistent pace and keep going (whereas when I run them outdoors my pace goes all over the place). I am a notorious hater of hills as well, and while this course isn’t totally flat (there are a lot of mild undulations and a few gradual uphill slogs), there are no giant ego-crushing monster hills like there are at NODM and Seattle RnR. I think as a result of that I was able to run every step of this half marathon and didn’t take a single walk break – that’s a first for me!

not flat, not ridiculously hilly. Think this is my new favorite course, sorry NODM.

not flat, not ridiculously hilly. Think this is my new favorite course, sorry NODM.

The day before the race we hauled our crap on the boat over to Victoria and hit up the expo first thing to get it out of the way, then wandered around being touristy for awhile. We ended up going to one of the several Irish pubs downtown to carb load – and the pasta at the Garrick’s Head Pub was actually pretty fantastic! I also had probably the best cider I’ve ever tried.

delicious, delicious carb loading and the BEST CIDER EVER AMG

delicious, delicious carb loading and the BEST CIDER EVER AMG

Dusk was falling as we wandered back in the direction of our hotel and though I’ve been to Victoria countless times I couldn’t resist snapping some of the typical touristy photos. Our route went by the Parliament building and we stopped by the finish line that was still getting set up, on the road right out in front of the building:

The Parliament building (top, where the race started/finished) and the ivy-covered Empress Hotel

The Parliament building (top, where the race started/finished) and the ivy-covered Empress Hotel

See you tomorrow, finish line.

See you tomorrow, finish line.

I was up at the miserably early hour of 5:30am and promptly chugged coffee and got dressed. One advantage of having a hotel so close to the race start was that I didn’t have to use the portapotties, but rather the warm hotel bathroom… yesssssss. It was FRIGID and I decided to keep my long-sleeved running top on, even though I know I’m my own little furnace and odds were good that I’d be tying it around my waist at some point. After a rousing rendition of “O, Canada” (ha it had never occurred to me up until that point that other countries might, you know, sing their own anthems before sporting events) we were off!

It’s been kind of a trend now with my last few halfs (halves?) that I feel really stiff and awkward for the first mile or so and wonder what I’ve gotten myself into, but this is probably more because I don’t usually run at 7:30 in the morning. This race was no different and as we looped around the parliament buildings and up by the harbor I felt like I was running through jello, but I was still passing people pretty consistently. I remember glancing down at the Garmin somewhere around here and seeing a sub-9-min-mile pace. Oops!

I was yanking my overshirt off by mile 2. I should have known I wouldn’t need it! It became my awkward waist buddy from that point on, flapping against the back of my legs for the remainder of the race. You’d think I would have learned my lesson after last year, but noooooooo…

Somewhere in the first few miles, as we were going up a hill, I passed a guy in a wheelchair who was wearing a racing bib. This wasn’t a sport wheelchair though, this was a regular old standard wheelchair, and he was wheeling himself along the course. I couldn’t help but be impressed by how hardcore that was. I can’t imagine propelling myself through 13.1 miles with my arms!

The course takes its first real uphill jaunt into a few loops around a pretty big park right about mile 3.5 or 4. I only really remember this because I took my first Gu at mile 3.5 and also because I hit the 5k mark in the park at a number not far off from my PR, which was a little scary, but I was feeling good so I just went with it. The uphill sections were a little slow but I just kept putting my feet to the ground and trying to take quick, short steps.

Coming out of the park we hit the long section of road that travels right along the coast of the Strait of Juan de Fuca:

A good section of the course is out along the water like this - it's beauuuuuuutiful. And you can see my hometown across the way!

A good section of the course is out along the water like this – it’s beauuuuuuutiful. And you can see my hometown across the way!

This part is all fairly downhill/flat (but is part of an out and back, so what goes down must go up in this case) and easy to just plow through. The sun was in our faces a bit and I kind of wished I’d brought along my runglasses. Also, the signs that said “water stop ahead” along this part might as well have said “slip and slide zone ahead” in my Pureflows… man I love those shoes, but they do not grip a wet road at all! This part of the race went really quickly though and before I knew it we were curving up a slight hill into the residential part of the race, which winds through some neighborhoods before looping around at a turnaround point shortly before mile 8. I vaguely remembered this part from last year but couldn’t remember exactly where the turnaround was and kept hoping to see it just around the next bend (which is always annoying when it ISN’T). I kept looking at my watch here as well and seeing numbers I totally did not expect, not to mention the fact that I was way ahead of pace to hit my goal of 2:10. But I still felt good and just kept going with it!

At mile 7 I took Gu #2 and shortly after that hit the turnaround. I have a memory from this part of the course with Laurel last year – she wanted to take an extra long walk break as we ate GUs, so we walked and enjoyed knowing we were more than halfway done. This year I rolled on through and back through the residential part of the course. I remembered at this point last year Laurel and I started to see the super-fast elite full marathoners (and the guy in a business suit) and realized I wasn’t seeing any this year yet… probably because I was running quite a bit faster this year!

I popped back out onto the road running by the water for the “back” portion and set myself down for the uphills I knew were coming. On one of them a guy was standing outside his house with cups on a tray, and as runners would reach for them he’d yell “it’s not water!” At that point I saw his sign – FREE BEER! Haha. I allllllmost went for it, but you know, nothing new on race day and all that.

I saw the guy in the wheelchair again around this point going the other way – still chugging along! SO HARDCORE. Huge props for that guy, I was tired and his arms must have been killing him.

At mile 10 I took my final GU (I didn’t do a 3rd one at NODM or Seattle RnR and felt pretty dead in the last few miles, so figured I should go ahead with it this time) and chugged up the gradual uphills back in the direction of the park (which thankfully we would run by instead of looping around again).

Heading up one of the longish moderate hills in mile 11

Heading up one of the longish moderate hills in mile 11, on the “back” part of the out and back

I kept seeing faster times than I expected on my watch and going holy crap, well, ok! The race had seemed to go by pretty fast up to this point but I was starting to get tired (the complete lack of walk breaks probably also contributed to this) and time began to drag. We hit a long downhill in mile 12 (see my Garmin’s clocking above) and I tried to use it to my advantage and just blitzed it, passing a bunch of people in the process. I knew once I got through this mile we’d twist through a few windy streets and then be heading straight for the finish, which was a part I remember being really fun last year, but last year I wasn’t racing faster than I ever have before for the distance. I tried to distract myself and cranked my music as I came off the bottom of the hill and headed into the final mile, just trying to keep my feet chugging. (sorry to the spectators who saw me dancing like a dork!)

As we moved into the final winding streets I spotted a photographer – right after I coughed in front of him, which he so kindly preserved on film for me:

I noticed him right after this and was like oh great..

I noticed him right after this and was like oh great.. also, charming sweat mark there!

After a final annoying hill there was the 800m to go sign (of course all I could think was agh, that’s half a mile!) and further down I could see the row of flags over the course! I tried to pick up the pace but my feet felt like rocks. And there was the finish, so close and yet so far away – but I could see the clock counting down and knew that unless I totally biffed it I was going to shatter my goal of hitting 2:10. I tried to give it all I had and crossed the finish with pretty much nothing left to spare.

Apparently it took me 3+ min to cross the start line!

Apparently it took me 3 min to cross the start line!

I found Laurel on the sidelines shortly after and showed her the frozen face of my Garmin with my shiny new PR plastered across it:

I just noticed you can see Gu on my arm from where I wiped my mouth. Hot

I just noticed you can see Gu on my arm from where I wiped my mouth. Hot

She wasn’t allowed into the immediate recovery area so I collected my medal, grabbed the free milk and bananas and etc, and worked my way through the masses to reunite with her and gimp-walk up to the same waffle place we hit up after the race last year for the best recovery breakfast evaaaa.

We've done this twice, it's now a tradition.

We’ve done this twice, it’s now a tradition.

Afterward we walked back to the hotel (well she walked and I shuffled) where she rubbed my legs down (having massage therapist friends = bonus!) and I had a nice soak with a Lush bath bomb, which unfortunately had the side effect of giving me a raging migraine for a few hours (memo to self, drink more water and don’t immediately suck all the moisture out of your body with hot water next time) but I recovered in time for us to go out for a dericious recovery meal and drinks later that afternoon. We spent an additional day in Victoria just being touristy and enjoying not having to rush back home… and in all it was a great weekend, a fantastic PR race (I’d probably call this my favorite course ever at this point), and full of all the fattening delicious carbs my stomach could ever desire!

Rock n Roll Seattle half marathon recap

My morning started (after a slightly sleepless night due to a lapse of judgment in letting my cats sleep in my room) with my “Runnin down a dream” alarm at 4:15 and my coffeemaker gurgling to life. I tottered out to my kitchen and grabbed a cup, and gulped it down (with a banana) while I got ready. I decided to go ahead with my Pureflow 2‘s and Pro-compression knee socks, and made sure not to tie the Pureflows too tight to try to avoid the foot achies I endured on my last 10 miler.  I also setup my lemon-lime Nuun (which I probably should have done later since my handheld water bottle tends not to seal all the way if I don’t jam it down real tight…)

The race had offered an Uber promo code for runners, and I was seriously nervous about it (you don’t pre-schedule it – you basically ask for a ride when you want it, and I was worried they’d be busy with other runners, or take forever to get to my neighborhood and make me late, etc) but it was great! The car showed up within 10 minutes of my request and I hopped in and was shuttled downtown. On the way I realized my Nuun had leaked inside my bag, doh… I knew I should have waited on filling that bottle.

The Uber car dropped me on Mercer around 6am (free of charge with the promo code!) and I walked past the finish line and into Seattle Center where sleepy runners were shuffling in the same direction like zombies. My peoples!

Good morning Seattle!

Good morning Seattle!

I scooted straight to the loo indoors (a much shorter line than the portapotties) and did that glorious pre-run thing runners do, then sat down for a bit at a table to apply another layer of sunscreen, eat my vanilla Powercrunch bar (my favorite protein bars, nomm), and turn Henry the Garmin on briefly to make sure he was in the mood to get satellites.  Around 6:30 I moseyed toward bag check, where the sun was already beating down mercilessly. I applied more sunscreen (seriously, I am practically translucent, I need all the protection I can get from that death orb in the sky), checked my bag (always a “here we go, gulp” moment), and walked toward the corrals.

As I was making my way back (back, back, back) to corral 21 the announcers called for a moment of silence with peace signs for Boston. Everyone raised their hands in the air and a chilled silence fell over the crowd. I prayed everyone would be safe today.

I found my place in corral 21 and we slowly shuffled toward the start as corrals started to go off around 7am. They seemed to be releasing every 2 minutes so I guessed I’d take off around 7:30ish.

Corral shot, pre-sweat!

Corral shot, pre-sweat!

And finally, just after 7:35, my corral was off and running!

I tried to fall into a groove. I am not much of a morning runner (well, ever, except on race days) so it always takes a few minutes to get my road legs going. Mile 1 had a bit of an uphill heading down 5th ave under the Monorail tracks (it went by overhead as we ran, that was kind of cool) and through the core of the city heading south. I was feeling a little awkward and stiff and gut-rumbly at first but hoped that was just my body going “what the crap are you doing, you should be in bed right now!”

looks like I'm speedwalking!

looks like I’m speedwalking!

what is going on in this picture? am I dancing?

what is going on in this picture? am I dancing?

But then as we headed out of the downtown area there was a looooooong awesome downhill I picked up some speed on. Downhills are my jam, I looooooove them.

weeee!

weeee! (what am I doing with my hand?)

stompin' downhill

stompin’ downhill

As we (sadly) hit the bottom of the downhill part I tried to run evenly and focus on keeping my shoulders back, and my breathing in my belly. As hills approached I kept picturing the hills on my neighborhood loop in my mind and telling myself they were no worse than my usual hills, and just to chug it out and keep moving, that it was OK to go slow as long as I kept my feet going.

We turned onto Rainier Ave, which I remembered from last year as being mostly downhill. There was a fun water stop with volunteers in blow-up airplane hats. (I avoided all the water stops; I just ran down the middle of them and took a gulp of my Nuun at every mile marker… avoided most of the cup grenades this way but the ground was still pretty sticky, yeech) At this part of the course I really fell into an awesome groove at a sub 10-min pace with quick strides and even breathing and I just went for it and tried to hold that groove.

At mile 3.5 –  I ate a choco mint Gu, NOM

Alright with Me, my usual late-race pace-picker-upper, came on my playlist somewhere around here and I realized I was running faster than the beat and it was hard to run in time with the song. Made a memo to myself to move it to the end of the playlist for my next half.

I actually literally zoned out at some point along this part of the course and was one with whatever song was playing though I don’t remember what it was… fail.

A little past mile 4 (maybe 4.4 ish) two ladies screeched to a walk right in front of me; I hopped to the right to avoid them but ended up tripping on one and tumbling to the ground, twisting my right ankle – I popped right back up and said “sorry” (not sure why I was apologizing actually) and kept running, but my ankle was definitely not happy and I gimped a bit for about a mile. (It eventually felt ok for the latter half of the race but it’s pretty sore now… not bruised or anything, thankfully.) I noticed if I kept my foot somewhat flexed (which I’ve been trying to focus on anyway) it lessened the ache as I ran, so I tried to keep that up as well.

We hit a little out and back dogleg which thankfully wasn’t very long.. out and backs are mentally kind of grating for me. Gangnam Style came on my ipod right about here (don’t judge) and I have such a hard time not dancing when I hear that song, I had to keep reminding myself not to flail wildly. On the “back” portion of the dogleg I saw a dude running on 2 artificial legs! Hardcore!

We cut through some residential areas and I kept expecting the huge 2-part nasty killer hill from last year that precedes the Lake Washington part of the run. As I was watching for it an older lady suddenly tripped and fell about 10 feet ahead of me and sat up with blood dripping down the side of her face. She was immediately surrounded by other runners and many called “MEDIC!” – I hope she’s ok :(

Suddenly we turned a corner and were on Lake Washington – needless to say I was super happy with the course revision that eliminated the nasty, two-tiered, pooptacular hill. I had been planning to walk it, but decided since it had not made an appearance and I was still in a groove and feeling good, I would just keep running until I hit the other nasty hill I knew was coming – the trail leading up to the I-90 tunnel at the end of the lake portion of the course.

They had a huge blow-up rocker dude over the course right about at this point but what I remember most about that was the LOUD machines keeping him puffed up that blew hot air on me as I ran by, blehh.

About halfway through the race! Pretty sure they superimposed the blue on the road...

About halfway through the race. Pretty sure they superimposed the blue on the road…

I noticed as I crossed the 10k timing mat that I’d just broken my 10k PR, ha (both by my Garmin – which was timing me about .15 further than the course at this point, around 58:35 or something for the 10k – and by the actual timing mat, which I crossed in exactly 1:00). It actually didn’t worry me that I was running so “fast” (clearly a relative term for me) at this point, since my 10k PR was set when I was seriously out of shape and is one of only two 10k’s I’ve ever run.

I like the lake part of the course – the gently rolling hills, the sun blinding me, er, glistening off the water, and the tribute to fallen soldiers that always cuts to the heart. I was passing a lot of people here – I felt like I was constantly weaving around slower runners and 3-abreast walkers. I was in the groove and didn’t want to slow down and felt good, so I just let my legs go and kept passing people. (The past two years I’ve felt pretty tired at this point of the course so I figured I should go with it while I was feeling sprightly.)

I took my second Gu, delicious chocolate flavor (tastes like a packet of frosting!), @ mile 7, and shortly afterward accidentally hit the lap button on my Garmin, which threw off my mile splits for awhile – I didn’t realize it was now timing miles based off my new created laps and not the actual miles, and I didn’t correct this until mile 10.

I walked the nasty B of a hill up into the I-90 tunnel between miles 7 and 8 – my first walk break of the race! – and walked for about 30 more seconds inside the tunnel, then made myself pick it up again. My Garmin lost satellites but I noticed I was definitely on pace to break 2:10 – except for the fact I was already “behind” the official mile markers by almost 2 tenths of a mile, blargh. I was running the fastest mile splits of these distances that I ever had, all at a sub 10-min-mile pace (which has been a challenge for me in runs of 8 miles or longer).

Inside the tunnel everyone screams of course which makes you feel like you’re in a post-apocalyptic movie. Midway down the tunnel I heard car horns and engines coming down the right side of the road, which was roped off for full marathoners. Suddenly the lead truck and motorcycles went by and then came the lead male for the full marathon hauling arse past all of us. Everyone cheered as he went by; it was so amazing to think he was running almost twice as fast as me!

I was still in a great groove coming out of the tunnel and the blast of cool air as you exit made me throw my arms out (thankfully didn’t clothesline anyone, ha ha). We were running on the freeway now, curving around to the section that heads toward downtown Seattle. There are a few hills here too but I kept using the same mental trick from earlier in the race and picturing the hills on my home route, and just chugging up them. You turn a corner and it’s a looong curving downhill stretch into downtown, which I tried to let my legs free on and pick up some speed, but I was starting to feel it at this point, especially in my quads. I was still below a 10-min overall average pace and going faster than I ever had before for the distance.. and still losing more and more ground on the mile markers, arg!

Usually it’s my wind/cardio getting tired before my legs, but it was the other way around here – my breathing seemed fine but the legs were definitely feeling it, especially in my thighs.

I hit “lap” again on my Garmin as it hit mile 10 to try to correct the offset miles I’d messed up back around mile 7. I crossed the official mile 10 timing mat in 1:39:09 (though I’d gone that distance even faster by my Garmin’s mile 10 measurement) but both were PRs for the distance.  I was supposed to take another Gu here but I forgot! Maybe that would have helped me finish a little faster, maybe not…

lurching past the stadiums!

lurching past the stadiums

The course swept into downtown past the stadiums and train station, and then up onto 2nd ave, which is a slight, but long, uphill. I was curious to see what route we’d take onto the viaduct – last year we were routed up a steeeeep horrible offramp which was one of the worst hills of the race for me. I watched the runners up ahead and it looked like they were turning down Seneca, which is a road I’m on every work morning on my way to the office, so it was a little strange to careen onto it with thousands of other sweaty, puffing people. There’s kind of a steep downhill going down Seneca (which I briefly heel-stomped) and then a bit of an uphill to the actual viaduct itself but I didn’t allow myself to walk and just kept running. (Mile 11 – entering the viaduct)

My legs were feeling dead dead dead and at this point the mantras came out in full force. “Just keep running” – “don’t quit” – “you made it this far” – “you can maybe PR if you keep going” – “you don’t get to the last mile and stop, you keep going!” (thanks Jillian Michaels for that last one) I prayed for endurance and energy and the will to finish, no matter how slow. Running on the Viaduct is not my favorite part (and I always forget to look around at the scenery from up there!) though I was definitely feeling better here than I ever have in previous years. I guess putting in all the training really does help, huh, fancy that?!

After (thankfully) making an exit off the viaduct we puttered into the battery street tunnel which kind of sucks (cambered, mostly uphill, narrow, dark, blah) but I kept pushing through the pain, reminding myself of how I ran out the last 3 miles at NODM, and how I knew if I started walking I’d totally lose my running groove and walk a lot more than I wanted, and regret it later. Fleetwood Mac’s the Chain came on my playlist (it’s a weird mix… I know) and I knew I had maybe 2 or 3 more songs until I’d hit the finish, at 3 or 4 min per song. I was so ready to be done and felt like I was doing a death chug, but would not allow myself to walk.

We popped out of the tunnel and there was a slight downhill, yay! I picked up a little speed. I could see runners up ahead making a right turn. By my watch we had maybe a half mile to go though I knew I was behind the markers so it would be a little longer than that. Everlong by the Foo Fighters came on my playlist.

I like that the guy to the left looks like he's talking on his phone!

I like that the guy to the left looks like he’s talking on his phone.

I rounded the corner and up ahead I saw another left turn happening onto Mercer so I knew we were going to face the same last killer of a hill that we did last year (SO CRUEL right before the finish!)

my arm looks weirdly kind of muscley? smoke and mirrors, I tell ya

my arm looks weirdly kind of muscley? smoke and mirrors, I tell ya

I walked that poopy hill last year but I was DETERMINED to chug my way up it and defeat it this year no matter how slow I ended up going. I hit the hill and just crawled up that stupid thing but I did not stop running!

At the top of the hill I pretty much had nooooothing left and was just putzing forward on fumes and visions of recovery foods dancing in my head. I could see the finish line was still maybe .2 miles away. My watch had already hit 13.1 (probably before the hill) so I knew I wasn’t going to PR (stupid swerving, or long course, not sure which) but I was determined to finish at a run, or a shuffle, or anything not technically a walk.

I don't remember throwing peace signs...?

I don’t remember throwing peace signs…?

I had nothing left for a sprint so I just tried to keep my feet moving. I scanned the rows of spectators looking for my friends who were supposed to meet me and just chugged my way across the finish line in an official time of 2:13:59.

more peace signs. I was apparently feeling very peaceful in my moments of leg-crushing agony

more peace signs. I was apparently feeling very peaceful in my moments of leg-crushing agony

YAY! I was immediately handed a Gatorade, got medal’d, picked up some chocolate milk, and walked headlong into a fleet of photographers.

yay sweaty tired photo

yay sweaty tired photos!

I staggered toward the exit to the family area in a lurchy daze. My quads were already starting to stiffen and get SOOOORE, and my right ankle was reminding me I rolled it earlier and then ran 9 more miles on it.

Right outside the exit to the family meetup area I heard my name being yelled through the delirious fog in my brain; I turned to the right and there were my friends with a sign for me!! YAY!

Spotting my friends right after the finish - with the armfuls of crap you pick up right after the race

Spotting my friends right after the finish – with the armfuls of crap you pick up right after the race

the awesome sign they made me!

I didn’t pants my poop!

We staggered… well, they walked and I staggered over to the bag check to pick up my crap, and then over to the merch booth so I could buy a finisher’s shirt (I’m a sucker, I know). We then moseyed to a nearby Starbux, where I had a delicious iced caramel macchiato and sat for awhile, feeling my legs get nice and stiff. (Probably would have been best to stretch at some point…)

Later, after the most awesome-feeling shower ever, I ate my weight in recovery sushi with my friends (YUM) and we watched The Island with Ewan MacGregor… pretty interesting movie if you haven’t seen it.

Stairs are now my mortal enemy. So is getting out of bed, and sitting on the toilet. TMI!

I’m proud of this race: technically it was my fastest for the total distance I actually ran per my Garmin, ever (a sub 10 min mile) – I pushed through the heat, the ankle rolling, the hills I made myself run, I only took one walk break (a first in a half marathon for me!), hit an awesome groove for a good portion of the race, outran my running playlist – overall, this was technically my best half performance ever, even though it wasn’t a PR.

Mile 9 in this list included the nasty hill I walked before the I-90 tunnel

Mile 9 in this list included the nasty hill I walked before the I-90 tunnel

My Brooks Pureflows and the Pro-compression socks did great. My poor toe that got trashed in Newtons at the NODM half seemed fine, and I didn’t get any new blisters (also a first in a half). I also didn’t get a sunburn, so even though I was covered in crusty sunscreen sweat-off by the end of the race it did its job.

I forgot to take any running pics but did jumble together a Vine, which wordpress won’t let me embed, but apparently adding a twitter link works?

Clothes I wore:
Nike G87 tank – so soft and comfy
Brooks Ephiphany 2-in-1 shorts – love the coverage
Brooks Glycerin 2 bra – love the uh, “help” and modesty ;)
One More Mile 13.1 visor – probably could have tightened it a bit, it was down over my eyes by the end!
Oakley 26.2 runglasses – they don’t slip!! and they don’t squeeze my giant melon head
Pro-compression marathon socks many fun colors!
Brooks PureFlow 2 shoes were awesome in this race!
Runderwear I bought off backcountry.com awhile ago, don’t remember the brand.

Playlist for this race (clearly I have odd taste in music):
Monument – the Frames (rockin’ beginning to the run)
Hopeless wanderer – Mumford & Sons (starts slow, gets awesome)
You told me – the Monkees (folky rock awesome)
Dreams – Fleetwood Mac
What wondrous love is this – Kenosis (proving Christian music isn’t all pansy)
Run the world – Beyonce (the actual song starts at :50 in that video.. also lol, her dancing)
My Sharona – the Knack
Are you gonna be my girl – Jet
No one knows – Queens of the Stone Age
Alright with me – Kris Allen (a fav running song)
1901 – Phoenix
Party rock anthem – LMFAO
Lotus flower – Radiohead
Gangnam style – PSY (don’t judge ;P)
All my tears – Kenosis
Wonderwall – Oasis
Mirror in the bathroom – the English Beat
Sunday Morning – Maroon 5
Electrify – Beastie Boys
Pleasant Valley Sunday – the Monkees
Missing – Beck
Hello it’s me – Todd Rundgren
The denial twist – the White Stripes
The national anthem – Radiohead
Tusk – Fleetwood Mac
Circle – Sarah McLachlan
Runnin’ down a dream – Tom Petty (one of my fav running songs, makes it on every playlist)
La caravane – Caravan Palace
Daily Nightly – the Monkees ;)
White blank page – Mumford & Sons (another one that builds to awesomeness)
Take me out – Franz Ferdinand – makes me dance while I run.
The chain – Fleetwood Mac (dang, had a lot of Fleetwood!)
Everlong – Foo Fighters (only song I have a perfect score to on Rock Band, heh)
Harder, better, faster, stronger – Daft Punk (and my favorite mesmerizing video of it)

The final countdown

(Sorry if I got that song in your head.. but check out their terrible 80’s HAIR)

8 days till NODM!! I’m both nervous and kind of confident, and have been watching the 10-day forecast like a hawk. Here’s the current projection of THE FUTURE:

PLEASE NO WARMER THAN THIS

PLEASE NO WARMER THAN THIS

I think I can roll with that… as long as the weather doesn’t decide to drop an 80-degree-no-breeze bomb of a day on me like it did at my first NODM, I should be ok. I prefer overcast, high 50’s and a slight breeze, though ;P

Also funny is the comparison between my amount of running before the race last year vs. this year. Dailymile will show you about a year’s worth of monthly training (though I wonder if there’s a way to view your entire history?) and you can see just how much my training sucked last year:

sheesh!

Look at December… sheesh! And the June mileage of last year includes TWO half marathons… and I ran another half in Oct… amazing I didn’t injure myself

I’ve already more than doubled the amount of miles I was running back then. Somehow I managed to PR at NODM last year so I’m hoping with some actual structured running I can make the magic happen again this year.

NODM also announced that they will have half marathon pacers for the first time ever this year. (YESSSS)  I might try to get out ahead of the 2:10 pacer (whose name is Robert per the website… hi Robert, prepare to be stalked) during the first 3 flat/fast miles and then let him slowly catch up during the hilly miles 3-7… and when the big downhill and final flat part along the water start around mile 8, hopefully at least keep up with him, or beg for a piggyback ride manage to stay in front of him.

I also need to decide which shoes to wear… my trusty Asics Gel-Landreth 6 (the same model I’ve worn in all my past half marathons, sadly no longer sold [I bought my last 2 pairs on ebay] – bigger and a little heavier, but comfy and reliable), the Newton Gravity (a little weird-looking, but lightweight and geared toward my footstrike – did fine on my 10-miler), or the Brooks PureFlow 2‘s (lightweight and speedy, but made my feet sore after 8 miles, maybe a little too minimalistic?):

L-R: Asics, Newtons, Brooks, bonus curious cat feet

L-R: Asics, Newtons, Brooks, bonus curious cat feet

Kind of leaning toward the Asics or Newtons… but if I think my feet can take the pounding, I might even go with the Brooks, just ’cause they seem to make me run faster… though I might regret it the day after ;P

Have an 11-miler tomorrow and then a week of taper left! AIEEEE

Suddenly, speediness. Also, weight musings

Don’t laugh at what constitutes “speedy” for me, but I had a great run on Thursday evening:

Yeah, I know, nothing to write home about, but fast for me!

Yeah, I know, nothing to write home about, but fast for me! Mile 2 has a looong, gradual, 7-8-block stretch of hill, ugh

It was actually a pretty decent run for me on my old neighborhood loop – it was on the challenging/stiff side of comfortable and I somehow managed to go right about my 5k pace without feeling like death, or even that I was really pushing myself super hard…. which maybe means this isn’t my 5k pace anymore? (That or I just happened to have a really good day!) I even got stopped cold at one point by a car blindly racing through an intersection (with a crosswalk no less… at least I was paying attention!).

I focused a lot on posture and breathing from my stomach, which may have helped my overall sense of fatigue. I also broke out the PureFlow 2s again and I’m not sure I want to run my half in them – they’re lightweight (and speedy for me, clearly) but I think my feet aren’t quite used to the more minimalistic aspect… my ankles were aching a little the first two miles of this run (though they did settle down by the 3rd).

I’d also just like to say ARGH my body is so frustrating when it comes to weight loss. I have ONE cheaty meal and the scale immediately goes up 2-3 pounds, and then I have to  fight to get back down to where it was. I don’t know if my metabolism sucks or if I just can’t afford to eat the delicious things like pizza and ice cream, but it’s annoying to watch the numbers spike up and down. I’ve been floating in the mid-to-low 140’s for months now and I keep getting down to around 141-142 and sabotaging my efforts to break into the 130’s by enjoying a reward kind of meal.

blargh!

blargh! chart courtesy myfitnesspal

It’s extra frustrating because most of the time I don’t let my daily calories go above 1500-1600, and I shoot for 1300 on non-workout days. Do I need to cut back even more? EAT more? Cut out wheat/grain? I do eat fruit and veggies daily and not a whole lot of dairy. Maybe I need to incorporate a little HIIT into my workouts?

My weight likes to manifest itself in a highly obvious and unattractive belly lump that shows through all my shirts (one reason I never wear tight/clingy ones) and the dreaded thunder thigh chub rub. Last year, when I somehow managed to work my way down to 136-138, those symptoms had finally started to disappear… and I would love to get there again!

Either way, I’m still training much more consistently than I did last year, so I’m still hoping I can PR, even though I’m running 5-7 pounds heavier!

2 weeks till NODM!

A new 5k PR (somehow) – the Firecracker 5000 5k

I know I haven’t posted my RnR recap yet, but just wanted to mention I ran the Firecracker 5000 July 3rd and 4th (it starts at 11:55pm July 3rd and runs into the 4th, obvs) and even though it was kind of a hilly course and I hadn’t run since the Seattle RnR half, I managed to beat my old 5k time, coming in under 29 minutes with a time of 28:52… and Henry the Garmin actually measured the course a little long, too! I think this is all speed by weight loss and not related at all to how I’ve been training, which is sucktacular.

weee!

I somehow went sub-8 min-mile in the last tenth of the race o_O

The race itself was fun though; I wore a statue of liberty crown thing (my brother took a picture of me getting ready and posted it to facebook… thanks bro >_>)

I fail at costumes

my room is kind of a mess.

There were a TON of other folks dressed up, so I didn’t feel too overly ridiculous. This guy must have been SOO COLD:

seriously!

for reals, it was FREEZING!

I think I arrived a bit too early (half marathon habits and all) as I had to stand around and freeze for about an hour before the race started, and ended up putting on my longsleeved NODM shirt to stay warm, which covered my bib during the race… oh well. We ran by a bunch of bars on the route and drunken patrons had come out to watch us run by and cheer, which was fun. My Statue of Liberty crown hat thing managed to stay in place during the entire run as well, and there was a nice long gradual downhill at the very end that I was able to pick up some speed on. I was actually kind of surprised to PR given the several crappy hills in this race… but I’ll take it! Maybe I have a sub-28 in me somewhere?

wee!

annnnd we’re off! The watermark on these photos is so annoying

chug chug

in hindsight, I should have taken off the red overshirt in the starting chute, oh well… I was trying to hold it up so my bib was visible

blarg

man, my legs look so chunky in some photos…

NODM half marathon 6/3/12 race report

I was pretty nervous about this race due to the fact my training had been absolute FAIL the last few months. My last run was 10 days before the race, an 8 miler that did feel good, but was the longest I went in training. In the following days I did Jillean Michaels DVDs and moved my entire house over a weekend, which kind of counts as working out, but there was zero running after that 8-miler. I’d gone on the runner’s world forums and asked how stupid I was to attempt even finishing the half marathon and got some pretty good advice – go with a run/walk strategy and run in the final 3 miles if I was feeling good. I decided I’d take a 1-2 min walk break at every mile marker and also walk the rough hills if I felt like it, and also wore my sweet knee-length compression socks to help my legs along. That seemed to work! This was actually my best half marathon to date (SOMEHOW) – I ended up PRing with an official time of 2:17:15!

Most of these miles (except the first 2) include a 1-2 min walk break… so I’m pretty happy with these splits!

Since this race is in my hometown I stayed with my folks and my mom kindly honored my request for race-eve spaghetti. It’s ironic since we ate spaghetti at least twice a week while I was growing up and I developed an intense dislike for it, but now that I’ve lived away from home for 10 years (dang, really that long?) I’ve come to like it again, especially the night before a half marathon.

I set my alarm for 6am and hit the hay around 11pm, and laid out all of my race gear for easy groggy grabbing in the morning. I actually slept pretty well, which isn’t typical for me the night before a race, but I’ll take it! I chugged coffee and ate a banana and half a balance bar and drove downtown to catch the shuttle to the race start.

I ended up catching the last bus to the start around 7:45.  NODM is awesome and uses city busses instead of school busses, weeee! As we chugged out to the halfway point between Port Angeles and Sequim I gleefully gazed up at the overcast skies and prayed it would hold so I wouldn’t have a repeat of last year’s death march through the sun.

We arrived at the half marathon start (which is a soccer field out in the middle of nowhere) and I took care of bizniss before the portapotty lines got too long. It was kind of chilly and I decided to leave on my red long-sleeved race shirt and not check it in my bag, even though I knew I’d just end up wrapping it around my waist at some point. I also prepared my Nuun mix and tried to seal the top of my handheld bottle as best I could (if I don’t get it down just far enough it likes to leak all over me no matter how full it is)

I stood nervously at the start thinking of my complete lack of training. I completely threw out any idea of PRing or even beating my time in this race from last year, which was 2:35:39. I just wanted to finish without my legs falling off! I brought 3 GUs as well which I planned to take every 4 miles (at 4, 8, and 12) to keep me going.

that's me in the corner, that's me in the spotlight

Looming to the right, apparently deep in thought.. or half asleep

When they blew the horn I was dinking around on my phone and was taken a little by surprise – I didn’t have time to stuff it back in my ifitness belt and ended up carrying it the entire race in a plastic bag (but that worked out ok since I ended up texting a bit to facebook as I ran).

aiee!

caught slightly unprepared at the start. Also didn’t end up wearing the red shirt too long

Right after the start my legs were feeling pretty rusty and I started to wonder what I’d gotten myself into. As we headed down the country road and up onto the only dogleg of the race I chugged along, shaking out the kinks and getting my road legs back. The weather was absolutely perfect for running – low 50’s and overcast – though I was already regretting wearing the longsleeved race shirt.

I missed my planned mile 1 walk break (I’d set Henry the Garmin to beep at intervals to tell me when to walk and run but he must have forgotten that part), which I realized when I glanced at my watch and saw 1.32 miles. I decided to just do a 2-min walk at mile 2 instead and chugged on. I hit Mile 2 on a stretch of road between two fields with the Olympic mountains looming in the background behind the clouds, a spot I distinctly remember being miserably warm last year. I pulled off my longsleeved shirt at that point and actually had to force myself to do the walk; I was feeling good and I’m not used to throwing walk breaks into my runs!

We dropped into the first long downhill of the race which unfortunately ends with one of the steepest hills in the race – a creek bed that dips under the highway and then back up to the trail. Last year I was determined to run it and was about dead by the time I hit the top, so this time I happily walked it out, but was still panting as I ascended the summit – it’s seriously a death hill! A lady next to me kept trying to start running it and dropping to a walk again and muttered something under her breath as I went by her at the apex of the hill. “This one’s a killer,” I mumbled in agreement. There’s thankfully a water stop right afterward and so I walked through it, grabbed a cup, and picked up the pace again on the other side.

At mile 4 I took a walk break and ate a delicious chocomint Gu, mm… I seriously would eat these even if I wasn’t running a race, heh. This was the rolling forested part of the race, with some gentle and not-so-gentle hills, and I was feeling pretty good, still loving the overcast skies. I remembered a lot of this part of the trail from last year, though last year it was all death patches of sun between blessed bits of shade, and this year I was able to appreciate the beauty of the trail a lot more since I wasn’t distracted by the possibility of my imminent death by lava-hot sunbeams.

At mile 5 I texted my good buddy B and took a 2-min walk break. I also posted a brief blip to facebook that I was feeling pretty good (somehow) but that there was still a looooong way to go. Right around this point I kept seeing the same mother and maybe 10-year-old daughter for awhile; the daughter and I walked some of the hills together and laughed about it while her mom chugged on ahead.

Around mile 7 the trail heads up toward the highway, which it runs alongside for a short while before dipping down into one of the most fun downhills of the race along Morse Creek, weee! I love this downhill, and I decided to keep running through mile 8 (which hits right about the middle of the downhill), took a short video and self portrait for some reason and stormed up over the bridge over the creek itself (which is sooo pretty and fun to run over). I took a late walk break once over the bridge and realized I’d forgotten to take my delicious chocolate Gu at mile 8 since I was too busy enjoying the downhill, so I ate it around mile 9 instead.

weeeee!

self portrait while barreling downhill. WEEE

The trail after the Morse Creek bridge slants gently downhill, is packed with comfortable dark dirt and forested over with a canopy – super pretty and easy on the legs. When I started running again on this stretch I was feeling really good, and didn’t take a walk break again till mile 10 out on the coast. There was a guy out handing out water from his own little cooler – I think he was the same one who did so last year – and I called out “thanks!” as I ran by.

Sometime during mile 9 the trail breaks out of the woods onto the coast for the final stretch to the finish, which is so amazing! The Strait of Juan de Fuca is so beautiful and you can see Vancouver Island, Canada faaar across the way. By this point I was starting to feel it a bit, mostly in my hips, and as I chugged down to a 2-min walk break at mile 10 I steeled up my resolve for the final 5k. I posted the below pic to facebook and texted B again as well as my dad, letting him I know I was around 30-40 min from the finish, so he could hopefully meet me there.

oops. darn tire tracks

right after mile 10, during the final 4 mile stretch along the water. I chose a bad spot but it was really pretty

I hadn’t really been paying attention to my time at all, but as I glanced at Henry the Garmin I noticed I was hitting this point of the race a lot earlier than I’d originally guessed. I thought I might have a chance to PR or even break 2:20, but I didn’t want to allow myself to over-exert trying to catch these goals, and as I picked it up to a run again after my walk break, I just tried to focus on running smooth and steady and maintaining my form.

I ping-ponged with another girl for a little while who would catch me as I walked and I would catch her when I ran – we kept encouraging each other up around the 1/2 mile dirt-trail mill bypass in mile 11, which is kind of the last sucky part of the race.

I took 1-min walks at miles 11 and 12, and saw my old high school band teacher Mr. Gailey at the last water stop (each one is organized/sponsored by a different group and the band owned this one) – he recognized me even 15 years later, ha, calling to me “Courtney! Good to see you!”

I decided not to take my final Gu at mile 12 like I thought I might – I had enough energy still and decided to just run it in, plus I would only be on my feet for 11 more minutes at the most! I tried to keep up my pace though I was definitely feeling tired at this point. I spotted the final course photographer at the old waterfront trail ending and tried to summon up a grin for him.

looking far too happy for mile 11ish

looks like Gumby Legs were starting to kick in!

Then it was just the looooong straight flat shot to the finish, which is kind of death because you can see the chute and it seems sooo far off and takes forever to come back to you, lined with people and the finish mats calling your name. I could see the big timing clock ticking away and realized I was not only going to PR but break 2:20 as well! Like a dork I glanced behind me to make sure I wasn’t going to get swallowed up in a bunch of last-minute sprinters like last year and then ran it in to the finish, picking up the pace a little but mostly just running steady. I actually heard my name this year too! (Last year they said someone else’s name as I crossed, haha.) I managed an about 18-min PR over last year – 2:17:15! – in spite of crap training and walk breaks… probably mostly due to my 20 pound weight loss this year and the much better running weather.

le fin

DONE! And a PR, somehow!

stompy

thank you legs for not falling off

An old friend/leader from high school youth group, Teresa, coincidentally happened to be my finish line buddy (NODM has a rotating line of folks who hand you your medal and a cold drink and walk you through the chute) and met me as I crossed the line with “COURTNEY! That’s a good time!”She asked if I felt like I was going to puke and I said I felt totally fine, just tired (weirdly, I felt like puking after my last 5k, but that’s a whole different level of effort heh). She walked me to the end of the chute and I spotted my dad walking up from the road – he’d JUST missed me finishing by probably 15-20 seconds! He was bummed to have missed it, but took some photos:

feeling good!

about 15 seconds after I finished. He juuust missed me!

medal!`

I has a medal!

My mom showed up as well about 10 minutes later and we bummed around the finish festival for a bit; I picked up the free food and chocomilk and tried to keep moving around for about 20 minutes – I could already feel the soreness setting in.

aww

my dad and I. I feel bad he missed me finish :\

Afterward, I went back to my folks’ house and foam rolled like a baws and bummed around in my race outfit for pretty much the rest of the day. Gotta wear a medal while you can!

NODM half complete!

Though my training was pretty sucky due to my real life issues, I managed to beat my time from last year (which was 2:35) – I think that’s mostly due to my weight loss this year and that the weather was FAR better for running this time around (cloudy in the 50’s as opposed to to the hot sunny fires of Mordor). I did a walk/run plan for the first time (basically took a 1-2 min walk break at most every mile marker; skipped a few) and I think that really helped keep my legs going far past the 8 mile mark (the longest run I managed in training). Legs started to get tired after mile 9 but I just kept them moving and chugged along.  I’ll surely be sore and gimpy tomorrow but I’m pretty happy with this race and I felt awesome most of the run. This was actually a PR so I’ll be curious to see how well I can do with a proper training schedule o_O

Full report coming soon!

legs did not fall off! victory!

Well hellooooo

Jeez! I have been an absentee blogger lately. Truth be told I had a lot of relationship drama explode in my life over the last 3-4 months and it kind of sucked the motivation and discipline out of me and replaced it with kind of a depressed apathy about most everything in my life, including running. I’ve still been running but it has been a bit inconsistent and not at all following the half marathon training I’m supposed to be doing right now.

In spite of that, I lost about 15 pounds and I think purely due to that my natural speed has automatically increased – I realized I was going faster than before with the same amount of perceived effort – like I was suddenly just going faster without feeling like I was trying any harder. When I ran 6 miles effortlessly under an hour I knew something had seriously changed – I’ve struggled to maintain even a 10:30 pace on runs over 4 miles in the past. I guess hauling around less of myself really does make a big difference!

But, I’m kind of left in a weird place where my first half marathon of the year is in less than a month (NODM on June 3) and I have about 2 weekends left to get long runs in -I completed 7 this last weekend and I know if I can hit 8, 9, and 10 over the next few weeks, I’ll actually probably be able to finish the race (hopefully without injuring myself in the process) – but I wish I hadn’t let my training kick rocks the way I did over the last few months. I was hoping to PR and I still might with my newfound increased speed but it won’t be the MEGA AWESOME race I was hoping for. I guess there’s still Rock n Roll Seattle on June 23rd to shoot for!

Green Lake Gobble 5k recap

Finally! A long-standing goal of mine has been crushed – namely, finishing a 5k in an official time under 30 minutes. At long last I pulled it off in this race, clocking in exactly 3.1 miles (per Henry the Garmin) in 29:27.

To be fair, Green Lake is pretty much mostly flat with only just a few very gently rolling hills, and the weather was COLD (about 31 degrees at the time we started!) which also usually makes me run a little faster. I even somehow overdressed – I wore my Brooks running fleece from RnR Seattle last year over a long-sleeve Nike top and I actually got a little over-warm (also had gloves and a running beanie, which I thought would be good due to the temps, but I ended up yanking off the gloves sometime during mile 2). I did push into the uncomfortable zone but I think overall I probably have it in me to go even faster, though that would require “visting the pain cave” as they say.

Also, they just posted race photos and LOL I think this is quite possibly the most flattering picture of me ever:

Ironically I actually didn't feel as bad as this photo suggests

Of course, that’s also the ONLY photo they got of me…

I started off the race checking my watch neurotically to make sure I was sticking around the pace I wanted (I was shooting for 9:30) and had to keep reining myself in the first mile – I would glance down and see numbers like 9:08, 8:56, 9:15. I eventually settled in behind a tall older fellow in a blue track suit who was chugging along right about exactly where I wanted to be and let him pace me for a little while.

After a while, though, I glanced at Henry and realized track suit guy had fallen off pace and was going around a 10:03 clip. I picked it up a bit and trotted on by him to do my own thing.I was actually getting pretty warm (somehow) and made myself wait until 1.55 miles (exactly halfway!) before unzipping the necks on both my fleece and Nike long-sleeve shirt underneath, and the rush of cold air on my neck felt awesome.

Mile 2 is usually one of the worst for me – on my route at home, it’s the hilliest, so I inevitably slow down for this mile, and I think my body is used to taking a little break. As such mile 2 was my slowest of the race at 9:40 average. I kept glancing down and reminding myself that if I wanted to hit my goal, I was going to have to work for it and not slack off. Strangely though I never hit the “I feel like death” mode that I usually do during a race – I was working, and keeping my feet moving (and “running tall,” a piece of advice I read on the McMillan site a week or so ago), but I felt strong the whole time. (I’m kind of shocked considering how random and inconsistent my training has been lately.)

We hit the 3rd mile and I knew I had to keep it up and finish strong. I kept repeating my posture-helping tips over and over in my head and focusing on keeping my feet moving quick and my shoulders back and tall. With around .6 of a mile to go I drew next to another girl and she sped up to keep stride with me, and we ran side by side for a few minutes until she dropped back with about two tenths of a mile to go. I picked up the pace again , summoning whatever I had left, and when I hit mile marker 3 I sprinted as best I could (OK, maybe I did feel a little like death right at this part) to the finish, stopping Henry the Garmin right after the mats in 29:30!

Then there was the obligatory stand-there-breathing-like-a-freight-train-while-getting-your-chip-cut-off-your-shoe moment, and I staggered over to the food booths to snag a banana and a bottle of water, feeling very accomplished. Achievement unlocked!

I guess my next goal should be to go even faster, eh? And perhaps even train a little more consistently ;)