Category: Race Recap

Ragnar Relay Cape Cod 2016 – My Ultra Sexy Recap

It’s a bit surreal – one week ago I was in Hull, MA preparing to run 36 miles over the course of a day and a half – not because zombies were chasing me but because I had agreed to be part of Team Sexy, Sexy Cheetahs, a 6 person Ultra Team preparing to participate  Ragnar Cape Cod.

After months of planning, talking, and wondering what I had gotten myself into – I along with 5 other Sexy Sexy Cheetahs (and one Sexy Driver) met Thursday evening, loaded up our “essential” gear, and hit the road for the start of our crazy Ultra Ragnar Relay adventure in Hull, MA.

If you read my last post (and why wouldn’t you have :)) you would know that I have been a part of several “regular” Ragnar Relay Teams, but when Sean Duffy (or Cheetah 4) messaged me about an opening on his Ultra team “Sexy, Sexy Cheetahs” I was intrigued.  Running 3 times over the course of 30 or so hours is challenging but cut the number of team members in half and double the running…..SIGN ME UP!

After our team meeting, when I was dubbed “Cheetah 3”, did I  realize “Holy Crap – I am going to be running a total of 36 miles over the course of a day in a half”.  Reality set in quick, especially due to the fact that I was not really running much at the time.

However over the weeks I slowly (and smartly) built up my mileage and did a couple of 2 a days to try and mimic how I would feel.

My concern, on top of tired and cranky legs, was how I would feel with even less sleep than I had during the other Ragnar’s I had participated in.  Usually your van has a couple of hours of down time, which gives you a chance to eat, sleep, shower, etc.  On an Ultra team – not so much – as you are constantly traveling from Exchange to Exchange heading (eventually) to the finish.

But Thursday rolled around & I along with my “essentials” (including our driver) loaded up and headed out.

Ragnar has their Orientation down to a science AND because the presenting sponsor this year was Reebok – team whom were able could grab their shirts, flags, shop and complete the safety orientation inside their world headquarters.  It worked out great because our team was able to get a bit more sleep AND not have to worry about watching the safety video at the start!

Ragnar Cape Cod 2016 8

We scored an immense amount of Kind bars and our shirts, headed to our slightly sketchy hotel (very Psycho-esque), ate some grub, and grabbed as much shut eye as possible.

Although we had a 6:30am start time – we rolled up at 8:30am – I mean there was only 6 of us so it’s not like there was another van waiting for us at the first Major Exchange.

Ragnar Relay Cape Cod 2016

We took some obligatory “happy to be here” starting line pics and then Bob Urban (Cheetah 1) was off.

Ragnar Relay Cape Cod Collage IVI

Van decorated and coffee obtained we headed to the first exchange – only to find out that Bob was wicked fast and was waiting for Kate M. (Cheetah 2) – Whoops!  Luckily that was the only “van drop” by our driver whom was steady and a great navigator during the whole race.

Ragnar Relay Cape Cod Collage V

I won’t bore you with an entire blow by blow accounting of the race but break it down to some of my favorite moments.

Ragnar Relay Cape Cod Collage

  • Leg 1 – 8.62 Miles (The Beginning)  After grabbing coffee pimping out our van our motley crew actually “slightly” missed Ultra Bob Urban at the exchange but this was quickly remedied and Kate took off.  Good thing that our “miss” happened at the beginning, who knows what would have happened if Team 99 did not make it to the later exchanges.  For me – these first miles were an eye opener.  I was still a bit tight and jacked up and it took a bit to loosen up and get into a stride.  Shout out to Fred Henning (a prior Ragnar Relay Teammate) whom randomly found me at the half way point and gave me some water.  It was humid and that water tasted like sweet nectar from the Gods.  Also – shout out to my training this spring – I felt comfortable enough to wear “booty shorts” during this run – the earliest in the season I felt comfortable doing so for a while.
  • Leg 2 – 4.74 Miles (I got this)Even with the cloud cover, it was humid for everyone.  We were smart and grabbed Subway (our only “real meal) while Kate (Cheetah 2) was running.  I was able to avoid the rain during my run, literally running toward my sandwich.  Best sandwich ever! At this point I felt like a bit of a bad ass – I mean I already ran 2x and almost everyone else was still on their first leg.   Liz (Cheetah 5) and Dave (Cheetah 6) were true rock stars as it just began and continued to rain during their runs.  Also – the temperature dropped fast but they were still keeping a good pace.
  • Leg 3 – 4.21 Miles (Soaked to the Bone)The wettest of my runs and on top of that I huge semi drove right past me and splashed an exorbitant amount of water over me.  Soaked to the bone all I could do was continue on to hand off to Cheetah 4.  It was also during this run that I decided to use the second pair of shoes I brought, I wanted to make sure that my “better” shoes remained dry for my later runs.  Also the best moment was getting back into the van and seeing Cheetah 5 figuring out how to light up her tutu – truely put a smile on my face.
  • Leg 4 – 5.66 Miles (Sunrise Run)Still dark but it finally stopped raining and I got to see the sun set.  This was my best run and favorite run but it started to get humid again.  I could see the clouds going out to sea and knew that the sun was going to be brutal for the last legs.  I also “attempted” to sleep – not sure but I think I did not.  Even after all that ran Cheetah 1 still had his tail on!
  • Leg 5 – 9.45 (My WTF – Leg)I was dreading this leg – I already ran 8 for my first leg and now this.  I tried to “suck it up” but in reality this leg SUCKED.  I got a huge blister and my playlist kept playing crappy songs.  Saving grace – the van “mysteriously” finding me and handing me some water – provided me with a breather and hydration.
  • Leg 6 – 3.3 (LAST LEG!!!)Last Leg! And the best part – I got to be shadowed by Mark (Van Driver).  We rarely run together and it was great to be out there with him.  He even got to experience some “kills” (i.e. passing other runners).  I apologized for not being faster but honestly putting one foot in front of the other was all I had at that point, especially given the fact that the first part of the run was UPHILL!!!! In all honestly we all had to grind through those final legs – don’t let anyone tell you Cape Cod is flat – NOT TRUE.  Just ask anyone on our team.  Dave brought us home (even after missing a turn :)) and finally we were done – Ultra tired but Ultra Accomplished.

Ragnar Relay Cape Cod Collage III

At the end, yes I was sore and tired but really I was more tired than sore.  It’s strange and I never thought I would feel that way.  Maybe because you are running on less rest – the lactic acid does not have as much chance to build as it would running on a non-Ultra Team.

So – now that I am no longer a “Newbie” Ultra Ragar Relay runner, would I do it again?

In a heartbeat but with a caveat – it would have to be on a  special team and group of people.  As I mentioned in my last post – if one person has a bad attitude it can make the whole van miserable.

Luckily that was certainly not the case – Sexy, Sexy Cheetahs were tired and sore and hungry but we never lost our sense of humor.  Grinding out those miles and hills was hard (don’t let people tell you Cape Cod is flat!) but knowing that I was running to Cheetah 4 or that Cheetah 2 was coming round the bend make the experience all the more enjoyable.

Ragnar Relay Cape Cod 20167

To each of my Sexy, Sexy Cheetahs – it was an honor to run with all of you.  We were #bettertogether and definitely found our #innerwild.

Ragnar Relay Cape Cod Collage II

Now when does Ragnar Cape Cod 2017 registration open?

 

Redding Road Race – Mighty Cow Challenge

One of the more “special” races that I have been wanting to do for the past several years is the Redding Road Race.  The Redding Road Race is located close to the New York border border and it always sells out fast.  In fact this past year it sold out in 35 hours.  Crazy, I know!

One of the things I love about this race is that it supports the New Pond Farm – Connecting People to the Land that Enriches and Sustains Us All. 

Redding Road Race - Cows

I signed up for this race over the winter, when I was injured (I am seeing a bit of a trend here!) along with my girlfriend Jessica Willis.

The Redding Road Race has two official races- a 7 miler, a half marathon and one “unofficial” race – the Mighty Cow Challenge which is basically a 5k that is run before the half marathon.   Not feeling that a half marathon was enough – for an extra $5 I signed up for the Challenge of running 16.2miles over the rolling hills of Connecticut.

Redding Road Race - Course Maps

Now, I am currently training for a Spring half marathon and ultimately a Fall marathon but until last Sunday my long run had not been longer than 9 miles.  Now I expected my legs to propel me to run almost double that.

On top of that the weather was supposed to be cool and a “front” to come through Redding just as the 5k was supposed to start. My mom had mentioned that maybe “not a lot of people would show” to the race.  Ha – little did she know that runners will show up in all types of weather!  We might not do much else but we will show up to run!

And show up they did!

I arrived around 6:30am and picked up my awesome swag which included a shirt, cup, insulated lunch bag, sticker, obligatory cow bell and my “mighty cow hat”.Redding Road Race - Mighty Cow Hat

With the start of the 5k approaching at 7:20am I snapped a picture with Jessica and her boyfriend Matthew and headed to the start.  I would say about 20 of us lined up.  A “gentleman, whom might have been the race director,told us we were crazy, not to “blow out our paces because we still had a half marathon to run”, and then told to “go” just as the rain started to fall.

Reccing Road Race - Friends

I kept a pretty consistent pace – finishing in 27 minutes.  I so wanted to speed up as people were passing me but I heeded what I was told before the 5k and also what my coach and I discussed in the days leading up to the race.  Also – the course (on open country roads) was a bit hilly so it was not that hard to keep my pace in check.

Basically it boiled down to – Yes, I signed up for the race BUT I was not to race, the race.  This meant running in my trainers and keeping the pace down.

Redding Road Race - Listening

With about 10 minutes between the 5k and half marathon start – I grabbed some water, made another bathroom stop and headed to the start.  I also made a plan in my head to follow a pacer for this race.  I know that following a pacer can be hit or miss BUT I knew the 2:00 hour paces, Adam Osmond, is a very consistent pacer so if I could just say with him, I knew I would be good.

But how would I do – that was the real question.  I put my faith in following the plan and knowing that if my coach knew running the Redding Road Race was a bad idea, he would have told me to DNS (and I guess I would have listened).

The race itself was a challenge, not just because I ran a 5k before but because of the following:

  • The roads are country roads – meaning a lot of holes and uneven surfaces.  They are supposed to pave, just not this year
  • It had a lot of rolling hills and those can take a told if not run correctly
  • It was raining and that combined with the cool weather can be downright miserable

BUT you know what with Adam pacing I just fell into a groove – he consistently hit his splits.  The course was really well marked, with plenty of water stations and even a sponge station at mile 11.  Shoutout to the boy scouts manning the sponge station – unfortunately I was soaked at that point but if the weather was warm (as it was last year) they would have been my best friends.

Don’t get me wrong – the course was challenging but by keeping my pace under control I still had some gas in the tank at the end (although once I stopped my legs told me different).

Listening

Crossing the finish was a great accomplishment and I got a sweet finishers medal.

Redding Road Race - Bling

RACE TAKEAWAYS

  •  There are so  many races are happening every weekend in Connecticut – I love this time of year!
  • I love races that benefit a great cause.  I will happily plunk my money down for these races.
  • The race director of the Redding Road Race is awesome – from the 10 newsletters that runners receive before the race to the small personalized factors on race day, and truly makes all runners feel special.
  • I am usually wary of running with a pacer but after running with Adam this past weekend, I believe that they can really help you keep on pace.
  • I need some new running songs – suggestions?
  • Running in the rain and cool weather never gets easier.  I got some great chafing as a prize for running 16.2 miles (or as Mark said – vampire bites)
  • The Redding Road Race is a truly special event and some of the best swag around.  I can see why it sells out so fast.
  • Shoutout to those that made the home baked muffins – I am not usually a muffin eater after races but they truly hit the spot!
  • I am impressed with my endurance.  I was really wary going into this race but being able to run both races WITHOUT STOPPING was a great accomplishment and confidence booster.

 

CT Fastrack 15k – Weekend Runnings & Ramblings Part II

So, when I last left you I had just finished running a 10k in Canterbury.  My legs felt fine after the race and for the rest of the day I took it easy  – stretching, icing, hydrating – recovering because over the winter I had also signed up for Hartford Marathon Foundation’s CT Fastrack 15k AND had also registered to volunteer.

Woof!

For a split second I had thought about just not showing up – I mean I already had my bib and would the organizers not let me run the race if I did not show up.  But then a voice in the back of my head (thanks mom!) reminded me of all those races I have run, and the all the volunteers that were there to make sure I could run the best race I could.

CT Fastrak 15k

So at 6am I was up and out the door.  My plan was to park in Hartford, take the Fastrack to New Britain, volunteer, and run back to my car. 

Side note – there was free parking available to runners provided by HMF but you had to park by the Capitol – I know I should not be complaining but because I was lazy (and not really awake) ended up parking in a lot. I spent $5.00 but had piece of mind that I would not come back to a possibly towed car.

I admit – this was my first time riding the Fastrack, which picked me up in front of Black Eyed Sally’s, and brought me (and several other volunteers) to the start.  I had stressed a bit about whether the busses would be running that earlfast track routey and often, but no sooner had I pulled up to the bus stop then one appeared out of no where.

Hartford Marathon Foundation has their races down to a science and although this was only the second year for the Fastrack, one would not know it.  It is a well oiled machine.  I check in at my assignment (Registration) and for the next 2 hours proceed to help runner sign up or check in.  It was actually a lot of fun and great to see some runner friends.

CT Fastrack 15k - Volunteer

With 15 minutes to the start, I was relieved of my duties, headed to drop off my bag and stand in the port a potty line.  It was standing in this line that I realized that this was one of the few races I had signed up for where I was not planning on racing it.  As those around me freaked out about not getting to the start on time, I did not.

It was a strange and wonderful feeling, there was no pressure on me and my only goal, besides finishing, was to run the entire course without stopping. 

It was also literally the only time where I walked to the start and basically started from the back.  The course was wide enough where I did not have to worry about weaving around walkers.

As with the day before it was a gorgeous morning for a run and with music blaring (and my Garmin synced) I headed out at what I felt was a comfortable pace.

I settled into a great grove, as I made my way to Hartford.  Admittedly the course it self is boring, but it was cool to run on a bus route (and not get run over) and see how my tax dollars have inevitable been spent.  However there were several bands (and water stations) on the course so it helped to break up the monotony.

One thing I did not account for was  – the sun.  This fair skinned gal, whom has been covered up all winter, had her fist exposure to the warm sun for an extended period of time.  Whoops – I ended up a bit red (although not burnt).  Guess I will have to break out the SPF.

I pushed it when I saw the finish line and was rewarded with a sweet bus medal for my participation.

CT Fastrack 15k

I picked up my bag and grabbed some water and grabbed a seat along Asylum Street to watch some of the remaining runners come through, cheering them on.  They might not have been as fast as me (relatively speaking) but they still covered the same distance, and that is an accomplishment.

I also made it safely back to my car, something that might not have been said if I had not parked in a lot

CT Fastrack 15k - selfie

So – what do I take away from the CT Fastrack 15k

  • It’s important to give back.  Volunteers are so vital to races, and now having been involved in this capacity, I will definitely do it again.
  • Although I hate to admit it – I can sign up for a race and not “race” it.  For many years I always let the adrenaline kick in and let other people propel me to race, sometimes when I should not have.  It totally removed any type of race pressure. 
  • Cheers to smart training and a training plan!I was really happy with my pace.  My normal easy runs have been in the 9:10-9:20 range but I pulled off an 8:21 pace.
  •   CT Fastrack 15k - placing
  • Running 18 miles over 2 days did do a number on my legs.  This is the first heavy mileage weekend I have had in a while and my legs are screaming.  So, I believe that a massage is in my very near future.
  • Always bring post race nutrition with you.  I waited too long after I finished the CT Fastrack 15k and I paid for it.  The line for food was enormous and did not seem to quit.  I was starving when I got back to my car.  Lesson learned.
  • There are no two ways around it the Fastrack is a boring route.

Canterbury Road Race- Weekend Racing and Rambling Part I

Hi There –

I have been all over the place this weekend. From running the Canterbury Road Race and the Fast Track 15k to attending a blogging event at Rooftop 120 (post coming soon) it has been a pretty active weekend.

First Up –

Canterbury Road Race

So I signed up for the Canterbury Road Race the winter – it is one of the few Spring 10ks in Connecticut (or for the entire year come to think of it), I thought it would be a good way to continue to build up my endurance, and as a member of the Run 169 Club – I had never run in Canterbury before.

Fast forward to Saturday morning and I was up bright and early to head to Canterbury, an hour away.  Thankfully my mom (and co-running czar for the day) was nice enough to be my driver so I could zone out before the race.

Canterbury Road Race - Start

The weather was gorgeous – much nicer than the Quarter Marathon several weeks ago.  Sunny, cook and breezy, I could not have asked for better weather.

In speaking with my coach and sending him the elevation map earlier in the week, I had commented that the course was “not that hilly” to which he responded I was wrong (not in so many words though 😆 ).  So the plan was to “work the hills” and open up on the downhill portions.

Ok – no problem.  However, after my warm up and drills, I was still feeling a bit tight but there was no time to worry about that after the race director literally said “GO”.  

That’s what I love about small races – no pomp and circumstance – just race and we’ll see you at the finish with water and snacks.

We headed out on what was an open course (meaning it was not closed to traffic) and after 1/2 mile I checked my watch to see a pace of 6:55.  Whoops – I knew I was going to quickly burn out at that pace, so I slowed down and a 1/4 mile later my pace was an 8:30.  Whoops – not fast enough.

So I picked up the pace and focused on a male runner with a blue NYC marathon shirt in front of me.  He was running at a good clip and I settled in behind him.  Checked my watch at mile 1 – 7:37.  Ok – still a bit fast BUT I was feeling good and had worked out whatever kinks I felt before the start.

Music blaring – the minutes and miles clicked by – I climbed and conquered the first hill by focusing on my stride and not pace, powering up the hill at a good pace.

Everything was going well until…..mile 4 when in front of me I saw the second “Bolton”-like hill.  Good grief, I thought to myself.  At that point I had a decision to make – give it a try and if I did not feel comfortable – stop and walk to the top OR keep running and moving forward, not stopping until I reached the top no matter how much I wanted to.

MjAxNC00OWZmN2NhOWJhOWQxOGE2

In contrast to the Quarter Marathon – I chose the second option and huffed and puffed my way up that second hill.  And you know what – I did not feel as bad as I did a couple of weeks ago.  I think I can thank my training for that – it seems I am getting stronger.

Cresting the top of the hill at mile 4.4 the rest of the course was some more rolling hills but after the hill at mile 4, it was nothing I could not handle.

The course was well supported – I believe there were two water stations and as I crossed the finish, that bottle of water hit the spot.

And – I was rewarded for my efforts with 2nd in my age group F35-39 and got a cute medal.

Canterbury Road Race - Medal Canterbury Road Race - Winners

So – what do I take away from this race

  • Sometimes small races are the best races.  I loved that my entry fee to the Canterbury Road Race went to support the 8th Grade Class trip for which I believe they raised $2,500. 
  • I love that it is getting warmer but I have to plan my race day outfits better.  Luckily I brought a change of clothes with me or I would have died of overheating.  I have to remember- always dress for running in weather 20 degrees warmer than what the temperature is.
  • Connecticut needs more 10k races – it’s a great distance but does not seem to get the love it needs.
  • Canterbury is hillier than I thought.  
  • I have to stop putting so much pressure on “having to do well”.  I am only competing with myself, no one is going to criticize my performance accept myself.  I mean – most people I know were probably still in bed when I was starting my journey to Canterbury
  • Running friends are the best friends to hang out with after a race (and run a cool down with).  It was great to catch up with Elizabeth Wright while waiting for the results to be read.

Cantertury Road Race - Finish

Hartford Track Club Quarter Marathon – So Much Rain!

For the past 10 years the Hartford Track Club has put on a Quarter Marathon (6.55miles) at the West Hartford Reservoir in April to benefit the Blazeman Foundation for ALS.

It’s two fairly straightforward loops (with a couple of “rolling hills” thrown in to keep it interesting) around the Reservoir followed by a great post race party, some delicious home baked goodies, and a great raffle.   I ran the race last year and signed up for it again because as the tagline of the race states  “You Should Race Other Distances”.

Bib Number

The Groundhog had predicted a pretty early winter and we have been blessed with pretty temperate weather in Connecticut.  However – this past week the weather was all over the place.  What started out as a forecast that included sun and moderate temperatures at the start of the race, ended up being the complete opposite of that.  By Friday evening the temperature was supposed to be pretty warm (mid-40s) but it was supposed to rain all morning and as the weatherman said “possibly heavy at times.

Great!  So not knowing what to expect (and still not believing the weathermen) I loaded the car with a variety of clothing options and headed over super early so I would not have to take the shuttle bus offered from UCONN.  My thoughts were that if it was going to be wet and rainy I did not want to wait for a shuttle bus, in the rain, after the race.

As soon as I parked – it started to rain, and although it let up a bit, I know it was going to be a wet one and I would have to “embrace the suck”.  I left my car to do my warm up and came back to change shoes, my shirt and pin on my number.Hartford Quarter Marathon

I added a garbage bag (I know very fashion forward) to stay as dry as I could until the start.  A couple of other runners had the same idea as we all huddled together waiting for the start.  I chatted about a few other runners about how crazy we all were but when I told them my husband was golfing – they thought he was crazier!

I also saw my coach before the race – that was a great spirit lifter.  He asked what my goals were (run sub 8s for the entire race and have evenish splits) and reminded me to run the “rolling hills” by effort and not speed.

Before I knew it a sudden downpour began (which did not matter to me as I was already soaked at that point) but I did not have time to register it as we were off.

The race is limited to 600 runners which was great so I never felt crowded or had to jockey for position.  The course itself is lovely – I love running here during my easy training runs.

The first loop was great – the miles ticked off and I was keeping a pretty consistent pace.

Through the start/finish I started the second loop and it was at this point I started getting a bit fatigued.  I had to really focus on effort as I kept thinking that I was slowing down.  It was also at this point that I realized that my shoe was coming untied.  So I decided to pull over at mile 4.5 to gather myself (catch my breath – I was really working hard), and tie my shoe.  That cost me some time (that mile ended up being and 8:45) but I regrouped and pushed on.

It was after I passed the second lake that I knew I was done with “rolling hills” and I could coast and try and put on some speed as I headed to the finish.

Crossing the finish was (and always is) the best.  After I caught my breath and grabbed some oranges (the best post race food EVER) I heard someone say over the loud speaker that they were going to mail the age group awards out, so we should grab some food and not worry about waiting around.Hartford Quarter Marathon

The volunteers (they were the best!!!), whom all had smiles on their faces from the start to the finish of the race, helped the runners grab food and provided numerous zip lock backs so that we could take our treats home.  I chatted with some friends and then hightailed it home for a hot shower and coffee.

The rest of the afternoon was spent recovering – stretching, icing and eating.  I have not raced this distance since last year so my body is taking some time to adjust (meaning I was really sore as the afternoon wore on).

Today as I write this I am feeling much better due in large part I believe how I handled myself post race. Stretching and compression calf sleeves worked wonders!

The Quarter Marathon was another great race by the Hartford Track Club.  Their next race is the Summer Solstice 5k.  It is also at the West Hartford Reservoir and although I have never run it – I am seriously considering signing up for it.  I mean how bad can only one loop be!

So  – what do I take away from this race

  • Hartford Track Club – rain or shine puts on a great race.  From the long sleeve shirts to the great post race food (oranges and other homemade goodies) to the charities they support, their races are ones that I have no problem plunking my money down for.
  • Always bring a chance of “outfits” to a race.  I started out thinking I was going to run in a short-sleeved shirt and light jacket but after my warm up mile I was soaked.  Then I thought I could just run in short sleeves but the temps dropped.  Luckily I had a third option – a light long sleeve shirt.  It kept my arms warm and did not weigh me down like the jacket and
  • Hills should be run based on effort and not pace – until this race I had never really put this into practice. At this race, however, I did and it helped me not get frustrated when I “thought” I was not running up the hill as fast as I wanted.
  • My endurance has a ways to go to be half marathon ready.  This race was a good test of where I am in training (and under not really ideal conditions)  and what I need to work on to continue to improve
  • In years past my “pre race” meal has consisted of a salad of some sort BUT the night before this race I had the below pictured meal (and an extra half scoop of couscous) AND you know what it sat really well for me.  Healthy fats and healthy carbs – this might become my go-to pre race meal.

Hartford Quarter Marathon

  • Hot showers and hot coffee (not at the same time) after a cold and wet race are two of the best things ever.

Hartford Quarter Marthon

Bristol Shamrock Run – First RACE of 2016

This time of year is known for several things – Basketball, Daylight Savings Time AND St. Patrick’s Day.

I love all of these things and although I am not really into “theme runs” – throughout the state of Connecticut various groups and organizations put on St. Patrick Themed races this time of year.

The Hartford Marathon Foundation has a lock on three of the most popular St. Patrick’s Day themed 5k races in the Connecticut.  Termed the O’Trinity Series, over the course of 2 weekends runners have the opportunity to travel to Putnam, Niantic and finally Hartford to complete one, two or the trinity of races.

Personal running fact – – The O’Hartford 5k was actually the first race I ever ran in 2009 – my how far I have come.

Race 2009a

Hartford O 5k

Anyway – this post is not about any of the O’Trinity races BUT the Bristol Shamrock Run & Walk that took place this past Saturday morning in Bristol, Connecticut.

After last weeks “hill” at the Bolton Road Race (which to be honest wiped me out for the rest of the afternoon) I had a pretty good week of training and the plan was to treat the Bristol Shamrock Run & Walk as a quality workout but to RACE the course.

In laymen’s terms – I would do a 2 mile warm up, race, and the do a 2 mile cool down.  We hoped that based on my training thus far I would be able to run this in 14-15 minutes.  It would be a good fitness test and like I have said – even if I don’t “race” a race I sign up for I love the comradery of people at these events.

My coach has actually run (and won) this race before, and I was surprised and happy that he texted a brief description of the course the night.  I went to sleep a little bit nervous but telling myself that I could do anything for 2 miles – right???

Also – I was a little embarrassed – a 2 mile race, is that really a race distance??? BUT I am always up for something new and since this race benefited the Saint Vincent DePaul Society, I knew my race registration would be going to a good cause.

Up early the next morning – Google Maps led me to Chippens Hill Middle School where the Bristol Shamrock Run & Walk was to take place.  I grabbed my bib and some pretty cool swag (loved the long sleeve shirts and water bottle), dropped everything off at the car and proceeded to cobble together a 2 mile warm up.

At a 9:39 pace and a not quite light on my feet feeling – I traded my trainers (Brooks Adrenaline) for my racers (Adidas) and did another loop around the parking lot.  WOW – the difference was significant and I felt much lighter.Adidas Boost

I made sure to line up at the front (I am notorious for waiting until the last minute to position myself) and before I knew it we were off.

I knew what I was aiming to do but instead of being tied to my watch (as many runner’s are prone to do) I decided to go all out and see where it would take me.

The course – regardless of it only being 2 miles was hilly AND what I was told about a “slight incline after mile 1” was, in my mind, not slight at all.  As I turned the corner after passing the first mile marker I saw a hill – not as bad a Bolton but a hill none the less but I put my head down and just trudged up it.Shamrock Run & WalkBristol Shamrock Run & Walk - Bib

For my effort, once I reached the top and turned right I was greeted with the sweet, sweet view of a downhill.

Crossing the finish line – I was spent but after I caught my breath I realized I probably had a bit more in me.

After cobbling together my cool down miles (and not wanting to get in the way of those still participating) I headed inside for a sweet finisher’s pint glass and then back outside for some well needed post run soup (which on a chilly March morning was THE BEST THING EVER)

Shamrock Run & Walk - Finisher Glass

I thought I did ok and decided to wait around to find out my official time and place.  Well I was pleasantly surprise – shocked and elated actually.  FIRST PLACE IN MY AGE GROUP!!!!!

Shamrock Run & Walk - Age Group Winner

And for my troubles of getting up early and running around in a circle in Bristol, I won a lovely hand painted plate – which in my opinion was one of the best age group prizes I have ever received.

So  – what do I take away from this race (and I think that even if you don’t do well – there is always a take away)

  •  Just because a race is not a traditional distance, does not mean it’s not a worthy race
  •  Racers make such a difference in a race.  My trainers only weigh a few ounces more but when trying to run quick – those few ounces can make all the difference.
  •  Smaller races sometimes have the best swag – long sleeve shirt, pint glass and soup – enough said.

So at the end of it all I am happy with my progress – would I have liked to run faster – yes BUT forward progress regardless how slight is still forward progress.

Shamrock & Run - Music

 

Bolton Road Race – I Ran the Hill!

As this is a running as well as a food blog – you get to (from time to time) hear me ramble about running, so settle in. 🙂

Earlier in the year, when I was injured and not running, I signed up for the Bolton Road Race.  As many runner’s will tell you – those who can’t run…. sign up for races.  I don’t know why we do it – maybe to make us feel better and give us a glimmer of hope that whatever injury or ailment we are currently dealing with will not last forever (although many times it feels that way).

Well, I am back to running and more importantly training for the Amica Half Marathon in June BUT I have just started doing “quality workouts”, so I was by no means ready to give this race an “Olympic Effort”.

Luckily I was told that this was going to be a quality workout session – phew – until I read the workout plan.

1 mile warm up
drills
1×2 at easy pace
1×2 at marathon pace
1×1 at threshold pace

This might not seem like a problem – I mean I ran a similar workout on the track last Sunday – BUT the last mile, the threshold pace that I was to run – seemed (and was) difficult and nearly impossible.

Why might you ask – because the Bolton Road Race is “famous” for the hill.  I mean the tag line for the race is “Come Run The Hill”.

Connecticut is known for what I like to call “rolling hills” and this race has a doozy and it’s at the end and (from the rumors that I overheard before the race started) the grade is from 12% to 40%.

BUT – I just wanted to get back out there – to see my friends – and to get that “race feeling” that runners get when surrounded my like minded people.  I mean how many others do you know that would drive to Bolton, CT on a Sunday afternoon – to run up “THE HILL”.  Well – about 300 this past Sunday.Bolton Road Race

I had never run the Bolton Road Race until Sunday but I have heard about it for years – it’s a really grass roots race, put on to support the Bolton Boosters and run expertly by Dani Kennedy – whom I have never met but silently cursed up that hill.

But what did I have to lose – I know I am working toward something bigger but nerves still took over.  I wanted to do well, I wanted to run fast but I knew I had to stick to the plan.

And I am glad I did – the Bolton Road Race course is a figure 8 loop and there are some pretty steep declines, even one before the hill, but I kept telling myself over and over – stick to the plan, stick to the plan.

Bolton Road Race - Looking Like a runner

And for the most part I did.  I am not going to lie – the hill sucked and I did not hit my pace for the last mile but I ran up the entire hill.  I did not stop and once I saw Dani – asking her if she was the race director and she confirming – I knew I had nothing but sweet sailing down hill to the finish.

The time was not what I wanted BUT I got back out there and saw some great people in the process.  I “speak” to them often on Facebook throughout my non racing months but it was great catching up and knowing that for the next couple of months I will be seeing some, if not all of them, often.

And really isn’t that what running is about – a sense of community.

Poor Attempt at Selfie

So – would I run the Bolton Road Race again next year.  Definitely – the hill and I have some unfinished business.Bolton Road Race - Finish

New York City Marathon 2015 – MY Recap

Medal Madness
Sweat and tears but I got it done!

It’s been about a month and a half since I ran the New York City Marathon.   I have written a recap to my running coach, on Daily Mile, and have talked a lot about it to people whom has asked, but it truly has taken me a month and a half to truly process my feelings.  It did not go as I wanted or expected but (*spoiler alert*) I finished.  What is written below is my recap – which I wrote several days after the marathon but upon further reflection, I have added additional thoughts.

Enjoy!

20151030_215246

Well after 18 weeks of training another marathon (my 3rd) is in the books.  I honestly don’t know how my endurance distance runners can run more than one marathon a year.  It is 2 days later and I am beyond sore.  I don’t remember being as sore last year but according to Mark I was.  Everything from walking down stairs to even sitting on my bed is a struggle.

20151030_181822

The marathon is a distance that should be respected and after Sunday I have new respect for it.  I did not hit my time goal – I honestly wanted to run a 3:45 and as you can see above (3:50) – I did not AND even ran more than I should have (27.06).  Womp Womp. So both tangents and time were not my friends in the least.

In looking back at my splits I was good up through mile 20 and then the soreness/cramping I felt in my quads/hamstrings got the better of me.  Surprisingly the PF I had been dealing with since August was not my problem – my feet held up fine.  It was everything else that was screaming for me to stop as I headed up 5th Avenue toward Central Park.

 

I knew I was in a bit of trouble coming off the Queensboro bridge when my hamstrings/quads started to burn.  I really don’t remember being in “trouble” at this point last year – I am not sure if I was more focused on the windy conditions last year or the elation of running my first New York City Marathon, but this year the “hill” of that bridge punched me in the gut.

20151030_14382020151030_121743

In reality it was a bit before the bridge, probably around mile 13 when I realized my even splits were off – I was about a 1/2 mile off.  Running 26.2 is a lot, and you never ever want to run more than that.  BUT – in a big marathon (hello – 50,000 other runners besides myself), I guess that is understandable but I don’t remember really bobbing and weaving that much up to that point.  That was a bit frustrating.

Flt Ann
Flat Anne Ready to Race!
BALLOONS
The Balloons That Mark Carried LITERALLY THE WHOLE MARATHON!

It was also at this time (mile 13) that I realized I was sweating, and by sweating I mean a lot.  I thought I had hydrated a lot in the days leading up to the race, but in looking back I did not.   So that might have contributed to my continued thirst during the later miles of the race – I could not feel hydrated and even had to stop at two of the water stations toward the later mile so that I could take an entire cup of water. Mark commented, after the race, that I had a layer of salt crystals on my face and arms.  Usually the weather is not as warm as it was that day (cloudy, a bit humid and in the 50s at the start) so being even a bit dehydrated at the start means you are already behind the eight ball.  .

The third part of this marathon tri-fecta was……my ipod – which I love and use Every.Single.Day. decided to go on the fritz.  My playlist, which I had so lovingly created for the marathon, just stopped and started.  Until that day, during my training and the bad weather runs, my ipod had worked perfectly.  THIS WAS THE WORST DAY FOR THIS TO HAPPEN.   For someone that uses the music as her motivation, was a bit crushing to me.  I thought I could use the motivation of the crowd to help and it worked for a while but the soreness started over the Queensboro Bridge got the better of me.

Thank god I saw Mark (aka the running czar) at 2 points during the race – he really spurred me on.  He said I was happy and smiling at mile 17 and 24, but inside I was crying and cursing myself.  After mile 25 it was all I could to get to the finish and sweet relief when I did – I really wanted to stop when I was done but the Volunteers (who were all wonderful) were ushering 50k other runners and I was told to move it along.  The cramping was extreme in my legs but the slow walk out of the park was helpful.

Sitting here today I wonder – what  could have I done differently during training and during the race.

  • Could I have stretched more (Maybe, but I stretched more during this training cycle than in the past)
  • Should I have had more water and walked less leading up to the race
  • Should I have done some of my runs without music (Maybe but I still live and die by my ipod)
  • Should I have done more strength training (Yup -but family health issues made me limit what I was able to do toward the end),
  • Did I run my paces too fast (Yes – the initial elation of those early miles came to bite me in the ass later on)
  • What if what if what if…those questions have haunted me.

Honestly, a month and a half I don’t have all the answers.  Within the first week or so after the marathon I was looking for another marathon to run before the end of the year and then when that was not possible I was searching for a Spring Marathon.  Redemption is a saucy minx – what I never mentioned (really to anyone) is that I really wanted to qualify for Boston (with a 3:45) and feel that if I just did one thing different that dream could have become a reality.

I feel to a certain degree I disappointed and let down the people who supported me and myself.  Yes – I do run for myself but after all the hard work I put in I wanted to see the pay off.

The long and the short of it was (and is) that I have to re group BUT  I ran a fucking marathon!!!!

Yes – I would love to do another one soon as redemption but I don’t know if that would be smart and possible.  Right now I just need to re-group and remember to run for the sake (and love) of running.

For so long this has been my life and I do have post marathon blues what I do not, and will take away is that maybe, just maybe, if I run another marathon again I will do a smaller one so that I can run the tangents better.

I will say that I have enjoyed this training cycle as much as I could.  I ran more weekly miles than I ever have and for the most part had limited injury complaints.  I have run my fair share of races to know that they don’t always work out the way you want and maybe because I only run one marathon a year I put more pressure on myself for this race.  I guess I will just have to just keep plugging along.

20151030_153608(0)

A huge shout out to my husband – Mark has been through this rodeo 2 times prior – and he truely the best support this marathoner could ask for.  He is prodding yet compassionate and really just “gets” me.  Living and breathing training for 18 weeks is hard, not just on me but on us as a couple, but we are a team and he supports me 100%.   He knows what I need to do but also knows when I might need to take a step back.  He is always there saying – you just need to finish.  The training is the real test, the race is just the icing (although not always sweet) on the case.  For that I am thankful beyond words.  He is not only my love but he is also my partner in crime, my companion, and my friend.

20151101_160355_003

20151101_05451220151101_054717