Race Recap

Race Recap: Shark Run 4 Miler

Hey friends!

As you probably know, the Fourth of July is one of the most popular holidays for racing! I ran a 4 mile race, the SHARK Run, in Gulf Shores this year on the Fourth. Four miles on the Fourth of July?! Yes, please.

The race starts at 7:00 a.m. at the Flora-Bama. There is also a 4.5 mile race that is 2 miles on the road and 2.5 miles on the beach. I opted for the all road 4 mile race again this year. I ran it in 2016 as well (as the last 4 miles of an 18 mile run no less (pure craziness)). This year we left the house at 5 a.m., picked Jessica up on the way and arrived at the race right after 6 a.m. This gave us plenty of time to pick up our numbers, go to the bathroom and get a few warm up miles in.

Jessica and I headed out to do a two (ish) mile warm up. The warm up ended up turning into a hunt for a bathroom. We stopped at a gas station temporarily, but that was a bit of a mess (literally). Jessica actually tried to tell one of the workers that the bathroom wasn’t usable. The lady responded that she didn’t even work there. Eek. She had on a Shell gas station uniform, but apparently we weren’t at a Shell station (insert facepalm). After that incident we stumbled upon a very nice, private bathroom near a tennis court and we were both pumped. It’s the little things like pre-race potty victories that make us happy as runners.

We made our way back to the Flora-Bama, found a few friends and chatted briefly before the start. Before we knew it, it was time to line up and get the show on the road. I didn’t really have any sort of elaborate pacing strategy for this race. I knew that the VDOT calculator estimated my race pace to be in the 6:10 to 6:15 per mile range, which seemed reasonable. I also knew that if I could average slightly under 6:15 pace then I would have a chance to finish in just under 25 minutes, which also seemed like a reasoanble goal.

The course is a completely flat, out and back course. You start out going west from the Flora-Bama (headed towards Alabama), run out for approximately two miles, veer off of the main road to run under the Perdido Pass Bridge and then head back east towards Florida.  I lined up with Steve, Jim and Scott (all of whom I have raced with on multiple occasions). Jim paced me to my 5K PR a few years ago, which wasn’t really a planned thing, but worked out quite nicely and I frequently say that Steve is the smartest racer that I know. I figured that I would try to start off with those guys and see what happened from there.

We came through the first mile right at 6:10. I was happy with that and told myself to try to just hold on to the pace. There were several girls in front of me for the first half to three-quarters of a mile or so, but I passed all but one by the first mile marker. I have raced against the girl who was in front of me many times as well (and all but once she has come out on top). As luck would have it, she was doing the half road, half beach race. I had just caught up to her at mile two, which is where the two courses divide.

My split for the second mile was also exactly 6:10. I was still pretty much running stride for stride with Steve. He grabbed a bottle of water at mile two and very kindly offered some to me. I declined, but likely should’ve taken him up on his offer. Things definitely got real out there once we turned around and headed back east. The sun had been at our backs up until this point and you could really tell a difference once it was full-on in your face!

I basically stopped looking at my watch at this point. I knew that I was doing everything I could and it didn’t really matter what the pace was. I grabbed a cup of water somewhere just before the third mile marker and dumped the entire cup on my head. I hadn’t ever done that before, but it was offered as a suggestion in a coaching newsletter as a good way to try to keep yourself cool during hot races. I will definitely be doing that again if needed. It felt amazing! My split for the third mile was 6:24.

Even though I had slowed considerably, I was maintaining my position relative to other runners. I really didn’t even feel like I was fading. I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing … likely some of both. I’d say it was good that I didn’t feel terrible, but bad that my pace slowed without me even realizing it. I started trying to do math in my head and decided that if I could pick it up slightly or at a minimum keep the pace steady and not slow down any more during the last mile, then I would still have a chance at breaking 25 minutes.

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I played mental games with myself during the last mile. I told myself to get past the traffic light up ahead and then I could re-evaluate. Then I told myself to get to that car parked up ahead on the side of the road. I decided to take my sunglasses off for a minute to see how far away the finish line really was (I think I was hoping that would somehow make it seem closer). Once I had them off, I told myself to get to the next fence and then I could put them back on (as if that was some sort of reward (I don’t claim to make sense all of the time)). I pretty much immediately took the sunglasses back off again and then they went back on. Basically I just messed with my sunglasses for the entire last mile.

I really just wanted to get to that dang finish line!

As it turns out, I got there a bit too soon. The course ended up being a little bit short, unfortunately. My watch measured 3.92 miles. My pace for the last mile was 6:19, but my split was 5:47 since it was short. My finish time was 24:31, which averages out to 6:16 pace over 3.92 miles. The average pace was just over what I was aiming for, but was pretty darn close. I’ll take it. It would be really nice if they would just move the start and finish back ever so slightly in order to make the course actually four miles. Then they could get it certified and it would be a great race for people to go for four mile state records. The four mile distance is not very common at all and I think several of us would have a shot at age group records.

Dear Mr. Race Director, if you are reading this, please make this happen for us!

After the race, I headed back out for an extended cool down with Jessica. She was using the race as part of a 6 X 1 mile workout and she had two and a half more miles of “workout” to go after the race. Two years ago she voluntarily ran 14 miles with me before this race, so I definitely owed it to her to go out and keep her company during the last part of her workout this year. It takes a lot of mental strength to make yourself continue to run hard after a race is over, but she didn’t seem to have any problem doing this and she ended up crushing her workout!

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By the time we finished the workout and cooled down a little bit it was basically time for the awards. It was really crowded and very hard to hear, but I guess that’s to be expected given the venue. We got our awards and hit the road as quickly as possible to get back home and avoid the worst of the beach traffic. Everyone got a finisher’s medal and the age group and overall winners also got an additional medal, so that’s pretty fun. The overall winners got a bar of copper (same award as the Paradise Island 5K).

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Once we got home, we promptly changed into our boating clothes and headed out to enjoy the rest of the morning on the water.

I skied for about 5 miles (ish) and also spent some time on the paddle board, both paddling and “surfing.” We went through a little pod of dolphins and one of them played in our wake right beside me, which was SO NEAT!

My arms (and entire upper body really) are still incredibly sore several days later. Holy moly. It was totally worth it though! I have been really wanting to get out on the water and ski and I was so happy to finally be there. I’m hoping that we can recreate this day again in the not too distant future!

How did you celebrate the Fourth of July? Did you race?

Race Recap, Summer of Speed

Race Recap: Hot Trot 5K

Hello, hello!

On Saturday, we ran in the 36th annual Doc’s Hot Trot for ARC 5K at LuLu’s in Gulf Shores. Let’s dive into the details!

As I mentioned in a previous post, Hot Trot is one of my favorite races of the year! The TL;DR version of that post is that I’ve run Hot Trot five times before this year, it was my first race recap to ever write in 2015, I missed breaking 19 minutes by two seconds last year and my goal this year was to finish in 18 minutes and 50-59 seconds. Obviously I would’ve been totally happy with anything faster than 18:50 as well, but I wasn’t expecting that (based on a realistic assessment of my current fitness level).

The weather forecast was iffy all week and it looked like there was a fairly good possibility that we would be running in the rain. We drove through some pretty heavy rain on our way to the race, but thankfully all of the showers cleared out by the time the race got underway. We arrived around 6:30 a.m. for a 7:30 a.m. race start, picked up our bibs, hit the bathrooms (nice indoor bathrooms … always a plus :)) and headed out to do a few warm up miles.

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Photo cred: Classy Sassy!

I ended up doing two miles to warm up and added on about a half mile of strides. We got a quick “team” picture and then it was go time! My coach suggested targeting somewhere around 6:10 per mile pace for the race. My goal of breaking 19 minutes was purely my own wishful thinking, although I definitely felt like I had done some workouts that at least pointed close to this goal. I needed to average 6:06 per mile in order to break 19 minutes. Of course, that also assumes that I would run the tangents completely accurately, which pretty much never happens. With that being said, I figured that I would start out somewhere in the 6:05 range and see what happened from there.

There had been a bit of cloud cover earlier in the morning, but as we lined up on the start line and almost as if on cue, the clouds cleared up and the sun made its appearance. I guess it would really be a shame if Hot Trot didn’t live up to its name. Ha. I lined up on the start line directly behind My Daniel. I knew that he would be running a bit faster than I was planning to and I decided that I would just chase him for as long as I could. I ended up running the first mile with Bowie and Daniel Holley. My mile one split was 6:07. I knew I was right within my range and I also knew that I needed to pick it up at least a little bit to stay on track for my goal time.

There is a turnaround shortly after the mile marker. I absolutely love races that have out and back stretches with a turnaround. You get to watch and cheer for all of the runners both in front of and behind you. I always get a bit of a boost when we turn around and start seeing the other runners! I tried to focus on maintaining my rhythm and slowly easing my pace down just a touch.

After the turnaround you make a righthand turn and run a little side loop that is probably about three-quarters of a mile long. The only downside of this loop is that there is absolutely no shade, so you really can start to feel like you are baking a little bit out there. Did I mention that the temperature at the start of the race was 82 degrees? Nice and toasty! My mile two split was 5:58. Whew! I actually felt pretty good and I was hopeful that I could finish the race strong and not fade too much.

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After you finish running the loop, you made another righthand turn and head for home. I focused on not letting the runner in front of me, who happened to be My Daniel, make up any distance on me. I told myself this was just like a track workout where he runs in front of me and all I have to do is hold on and feed off of his pacing. It actually worked out quite well for me. I knew that he would out kick me in a sprint or die trying, so I just settled in behind him and hung on! My mile three split was 6:03.

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At that point my time was 18:08 and I hadn’t quite gotten to the three mile marker on the course, so I knew that I was really going to have to book it in order to get under 19. When it comes to aiming for a very specific time in a 5K, the last tenth of a mile can really make or break you. I usually don’t think about it too much, but this time I was keenly aware of what I needed to do. I found an extra gear and kicked it in at 5:30 pace!

My official time was 18:57! Definitely cut it a little bit close! At the same time though, I know that I literally got everything out of myself that I could’ve that day and that is such a wonderful feeling! I’m also pleased that I was able to accurately gauge my fitness level going into the race. I’ve been doing some pretty intense speed workouts and they have given me the confidence that I needed to be comfortable with running in the low six minute range.

Several of us headed out for a long (ish) cool down. My schedule called for a five mile cool down, but I settled with just over four. After that it was time to relax and wait on the awards. There was a bit of confusion with the results, but I think they got it straightened out (at least for the most part) before they did the awards. We had heard that they were bringing back the ceramic coffee mug awards this year and I had been looking forward to adding a new coffee mug to my Hot Trot collection for quite some time.

When they called the first place overall male and female finishers, Kenny and I were given a cool wooden plaque and a stainless steel mug. We got our picture taken and I think we were both trying to hide our disappointment about not getting a ceramic mug. As we walked away the race director stopped us and said he had one more thing for us … YAS! Just about everyone that I know loves the coffee mug awards at this race. They give them to the top three in each age group as well. Several of our group can testify that they are perfect for dipping Oreos in milk. I, on the other hand, prefer to use it for what I assume to be its intended use … all the coffee!

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All the awards! 

After everyone collected our awards, we even had a discussion about exactly how much coffee these guys will hold, which led to a discussion about the mathematical formula for the volume of a cylinder is (πr2h). Riveting stuff for sure!

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#mugshot

Our team pretty much racked up … we were first, second and fourth overall in the male and female divisions, plus several age group winners! Left to right we have Erin (20:21), Daniel Holley (19:35), My Daniel (18:51), Cody (18:03), Kenny (17:54), me (18:57), Tobias (21:12), Marlen (26:21) and Jessica (22:29). Woo hoo! Way to go team!

After the race we headed to the beach for a little bit. The water was really pretty (and cold!) and we had fun playing in the water and also just relaxing some.

 

Hot Trot certainly lived up to its name and to the standards that have been set in years past! I’m already looking forward to next year’s race!

Race Recap

Race Recap: Grandman Tri Relay

Hey friends! I’ve got a fun race recap to share today!

Yesterday morning I did the Grandman Triathlon Relay in Fairhope as part of a two-woman team. There are typically three relay team members (swim + bike + run), but my teammate, Kristan, is an amazing triathlete and she can actually do all three on her own. She is healing up from a hamstring tear and she just needed someone to do the run for her (we basically did the same exact thing for the same reason last year). I was happy to be part of her team again this year!

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The race started at 7 a.m. at the Fairhope Pier. I woke up around 5, got myself ready, made some coffee and headed down to the race. I got there around 6:30. Once I found a parking spot and walked down the hill (the same monster of a hill that I would have to run up during the race), I was greeted by volunteers with sharpies who were eager to write our team number all over me. Seriously. Both arms, both legs and a calf.

Once I got to the pier I found Kristan and the rest of her teammates pretty easily. The new orange jerseys are VERY easy to spot! I walked out on the pier to watch the swim get underway. The start is staggered (so not everyone goes into the water at once). The athletes jump in one at a time and start making their way to the shore.

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I made my way back over to the transition area to watch as the swimmers came out of the water and got on their bikes. Once Kristan came through and headed out for the bike portion of the race, I knew I had about 45 minutes or so until I would start the run. I used that time to get a few warm up miles in. Since no one was actually on the run course yet (lots of geese, but no runners), I did a few miles along the course. I likely confused several of the spectators and volunteers who were working to get the water stations set up. I repeatedly told people that I was just warming up.

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I got 3 miles in and made my way into to the transition area to wait. The transition area was a pretty hectic with all of the bikers zooming in, racking their bikes, changing shoes, etc. and heading out to run. I mainly just tried to stay out of everyone’s way and I cheered for as many people as I could as they came through.

I saw Kristan zooming down the hill (her orange bike, Betty, and her orange jersey made her hard to miss) and I was excited to get out there and RUN! She had to take the timing chip off and give it to me before I could take off. She told me that she had the ride of her life, which was really exciting and made me want to run even faster. She crushed the bike portion, averaging over 21 miles per hour! Smoking!

I secured the timing chip around my ankle and took off. You climb from 1 ft (we are talking literally at sea level here) to 80 ft in the first tenth of a mile into the run. I don’t know if that sounds hard or not, but trust me when I tell you that it is … very challenging!

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I knew that the hill was going to be the biggest obstacle of the race and I told myself to be patient and not try to run up that thing too quickly. I wanted to take it easy up the hill and then start to push. Theoretically this sounds wonderful, but it is incredibly difficult not to get caught up in the heat of the moment during a race (and especially in a relay when you know your teammate just busted her hiney and is counting on you to do the same :)).

Once I got up the hill the course flattened out a little bit, but there were still some gentle rollers to deal with. Here is the elevation chart …

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I came through the first mile in 6:22. I didn’t really have any specific pace goals in mind, so this seemed decent enough. I was steadily catching people and picking people off throughout the run, which is usually pretty fun (especially in a pure road race setting). I actually feel bad passing people when I am on a relay team, knowing that they had to both swim and bike before they ran. I, on the other hand, was fresh as a daisy and just had to run. I tried to encourage everyone that I passed and I hoped that they all saw the big “T” on my left calf (indicating that I was part of a team). I cannot even imagine having to run that course after swimming and biking.

The first two miles of the course are an out and back, so as much as I like to complain about the hill, it isn’t really all that bad because you do at least get to come back down. You definitely get a decent amount of momentum going down that thing and I kind of had to reign it in (for fear of getting completely out of control and busting my face). I’m pretty sure that if you did fall, you would continue to roll down just as quickly as you could run down. I didn’t, however, plan to test that theory. I came through the second mile in 6:19.

The last mile is a loop around the duck pond at the pier. I knew that I just had to keep pushing for one more mile. It can be really tough to hold the pace during the last mile of a race, but somehow I did manage to keep it pretty consistent this time. My last mile split was 6:20. After the third mile split you have to do a little “off roading,” through some sand and grass before making your way onto the sidewalk and around to the finish line.

My mom was down near the finish watching and got a good picture with the pier in the background.

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My 5K time was 19:48 (according to Strava), but the course was 3.2 miles, so my official time was 20:15. Triathlon courses aren’t always exact distances, as in this isn’t a certified 5K course, so I’m simply including my 5K time for my own refernce. An extra tenth of a mile can definitely add 30 seconds or more to your 5K time. I was a little bit faster last year, but I think it was hotter and more humid this year. Either way, I am happy with the time.

I decided to forgo a cool down. I don’t think people really cool down after triathlons … at least, it doesn’t seem like they do. At a running event, you typically see lots of people cooling down after the race, but at a triathlon, not so much. Perhaps the run is the cool down? We just hung out, chatted with friends and waited on the results for a little while. I thought we might’ve won the women’s relay division, but then again, you never really know (especially since no one starts at the same time) …

We got to stand at the top of the podium again this year! Woo!

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Grandman is such a wonderful event. The location, the organization, the volunteers, really just everything is great. Participating in any event as part of a relay is always so much fun! As much as I enjoy individual sports like running and tennis, I can’t deny that there is just something about being part of a team that makes a sport feel more meaningful. I am so glad that Kristan asked me to do this event with her again this year. I’m pretty sure that it’s becoming a tradition at this point …

Congrats to all of the athletes that competed yesterday! I am amazed by all of you!

Race Recap, Summer of Speed

Race Recap: Paradise Island 5K

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I ran the Paradise Island 5K this morning. The race is part of the Run the Coast Summer Series, which is comprised of the Zydeco Festival 5K (April 13th), Paradise Island 5K (Memorial Day weekend), Shark Run 4 Mile (July 4th), and Bloody Mary 5K (Labor Day weekend). The only event of the series that I had done before this weekend was the Shark Run a couple of years ago. After running this one today, I am 1) super bummed that I missed the first race of the year and 2) planning to do the rest of them this year. It was a very well-organized race, fun race!

Before the Race

Daniel made plans with Reed and Miles to ride their bikes from our house to the Orange Beach Sportsplex, where the race takes place. It was about a 45 mile ride, so he was up and at ’em pretty early to get on the road. He left the house just before 5 a.m., which is when I got up. I got to the race just after 6:30 a.m., for a 7:30 a.m. start. I got my bib and met up with Jessica and Lizzie to do a few miles before the race. Jessica was doing her long run for the week and Lizzie ran part of it with her and biked the other part.

We ran the course before the race as my warm up and as the first few miles of their run. We made it back in just enough time for me to pin my bib on and get over to the start.

The Race

The race runs on the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail (same location as the Shimp Fest 10K). The trails are all paved and it’s a great location for a race. The only minor drawbacks are that there isn’t a lot of airflow and the GPS satellites can be a little wonky in the woods. I made the executive decision to not look at my watch at all during the race. Although the temptation to glance down throughout the race can be hard to resist, somehow I have been able to do it successfully a few times now. I’ll include my splits here, but just keep in mind that I didn’t know them at the time (as if you really care :)).

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Daniel surprised me at the start of the race and captured the above picture. I thought they would be there for the finish of the race, but not for the start. That just was a real nice surprise, Clark. I wanted to run close to 6:10 ish pace for the first mile. I settled in behind several guys and tried to just hold tight for as long as I could. Eventually I got dropped and found myself running in no man or woman’s land.

The course is basically a loop with 3 left-hand turns. By the time we got to the first turn, I was running alone. I really prefer to run in a pack with other runners, but that rarely seems to work out. I could tell that there were potentially a couple of runners close behind me, but at the same time, I wasn’t able to really work with anyone. My split for mile one was 6:05.

During the second mile, I actually caught and passed two of the runners who had been in front of me from the get go. One of the guys didn’t seem to want me to pass him and he sprinted for a few seconds before conceding the pass. The other guy told me good job as I went by (which is always appreciated (I always try to reciprocate the encouragement)). After I passed those two guys, the only other runner in sight was Steve and he was a good bit ahead. I knew I wasn’t going to catch him, but it was at least nice to have someone to focus on up ahead. My split for mile two was 6:14.

The last mile was very lonely and very winding. We ran over several wooden bridges with signs indicating that they were “under construction,” which basically meant that there were lots of boards on each bridge that were being replaced. In the meantime, they had nailed some extra plywood on the top of said boards, which made for a lot of little mini speed bumps. The footing was a bit tricky and definitely not ideal for race conditions. In hindsight, I guess it gave me something to focus on instead of thinking about the fact that I was hurting, so perhaps this was actually a good thing. My split for mile three was 6:19.

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I didn’t have too much fight left to “sprint it in” to the finish. I finished with an overall time of 19:35 as first female and sixth overall. My time surprised me and not exactly in a good way. I would’ve definitely guessed that it would’ve been close to 19:00 (just based on the effort that I was giving). Also makes me wonder if I had looked at my watch, if I would’ve known that I *should’ve* been able to go faster? Who knows. The good news is that I have plenty more opportunities to try again soon!

After the Race

I got in almost four miles after the race as a cool down. I ran a couple of miles with Jessica and Lizzie again and then turned around to head back so that I wouldn’t miss the awards. My timing was pretty much spot on, I must say, as I got back less than two minutes before they started the awards. The winners (age group and overall) got sweet medals and I also got a bar of copper. So random. So unique! I love it.

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In case you are curious, this bad boy is worth approximately $6.75. Ha. The more races you run, the more you appreciate a good quirky award and this one did not disappoint.

We celebrated with breakfast at Brick and Spoon after the race. It seemed like a lot of other folks had the same idea because it was pretty busy (as to be expected on a holiday weekend (or really just every day of the week)). I got the farmers market eggs benedict (an english muffin, veggies, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce). It was delicious!

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At the beginning of the week, it looked like Tropical Storm Alberto was going to put a damper things along the Gulf Coast over the Memorial Day weekend, but (knock on wood) so far, so good. It’s tracking a little farther to the east than was originally expected, so hopefully things won’t get too crazy. It was a beautiful day for a 5K!

What is the most unusual award you’ve ever gotten at a race? Did you like it or do you prefer more traditional awards?

Daniel, Race Recap

Guest Post: Tri Chewacla Triathlon

I was able to convince Daniel to do a post about his triathlon last weekend! Woo hoo! It’s a good one too. Enjoy! 

I didn’t think I would do a race recap on this one, but after talking with Sam, I decided it may be nice for me to have this to refer back to down the road. We actually referenced one of my other recaps in the car on the way to the race, so I guess that proves that it may be useful to have. Let’s get to it! 

I’m still fairly new to the triathlon and biking in general, but after doing IM Augusta last year, I decided I wanted to continue biking regularly and doing a few triathlons (this has really helped with my hip injury). I looked around and found the Tri Chewacla Sprint and Olympic Distance Triathlon. I opted for the sprint distance, which was a 500 meter swim, a 12 mile bike and a 5K run. After looking at the previous year’s results, I decided my primary goal would be to compete for an overall award and my secondary goal would be to compete for an age group award. 

Swim – 500 meters (9:42)

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I hate to admit this, but I haven’t been in the water to swim since getting out of the Savannah River in Augusta last year. Despite the lack of training, I was still confident that I could cover the distance. I also didn’t really feel like there was much to gain or lose in the swim in terms of my overall time. My goal was to be close to 9 minutes for my overall time on the swim.

My training for the IM was always around 2 minutes per 100 meters, so I felt like I could keep a sub 2 minute per 100 meter pace during this race and still feel fresh. Since it was a chip timed race, they let each person start individually to avoid a big pile up. I was approximately seventh into the water (definitely in the first 10, but not the first 5). There was a serious looking old guy in front of me and I figured he was who I needed to chase. I caught him midway through the swim and was feeling like I was in a groove. As I was finishing, I heard (or thought I heard) someone yell “First out of the water!” so I was feeling REALLY good then.

The run up after the swim was VERY rocky, rooty, and rough. I elected to slip on my flip flops out of the water and run in my flip flops up to my bike (they allowed everyone to do this if we chose to). This was probably a tad slower, but my feet were happier. This long trek to the transition likely resulted in a swim time that looks a little slower than I expected.

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Prior to the race I got an email outlining several USATF rules. I never knew this, but one rule that was highlighted was if you touch anything else in transition prior to putting on your helmet and latching it, you are automatically disqualified! I heeded these rules and felt like my transition went pretty smoothly. Helmet on, socks on, shoes on, grab bike, and go. I still do a stop and mount on the bike and I fumbled a bit getting it off the rack, so this could’ve been a little cleaner, but overall everything went according to plan.

Bike – 12 miles (32:59)

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I looked at the route online and knew that there would be a few rolling hills, but I felt prepared. My bike training prior to this has been 1-2 rides per week. One ride is a Tuesday 25 mile “hammer” ride which is pretty much an all out effort with the local bike shop, ProCycle & Tri. The other has been 20-30 miles easy after my long runs. The Tuesday rides have been tough and I have averaged in the 22-23 mph range so I felt like I should’ve been in shape for a 23 mph average for 12 miles. This did not happen.

Sidenote: I did a really hard track workout on the Tuesday before the race with Sam and I think my legs were still feeling that a little bit. As soon as I got on my bike and stood to get up to speed I realized my quads were already spent. I thought I was going to fall over from my legs being so fatigued and I hadn’t even gone a mile yet! I sat back down and decided to try to get my cadence up as high as possible and go from there. After a few minutes I was averaging around 22 mph but I knew getting to 23 was going to be a stretch.

I decided to just keep the effort up as much as I could and not ease off any in anticipation of the run. The old guy from the swim passed me around mile 3 (on his superbike) and he and I proceeded to flip-flop for the next 6 miles (don’t worry, we both allowed plenty of space between us with each pass and did not draft off one another). Finally we got to a big downhill where I thought I would be able to catch and leave him, but no, he crushed it (and me). I never could get closer than about 50 meters to him until we came back to transition. According to Strava, I averaged 21.9 mph and given how bad my legs felt at mile 1, I thought this was a good time.

T2 (0:43)

This was fairly simple. Racked the bike, changed shoes, grabbed my bib and I was out.

Run – 5K (20:39)

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I knew from my pre-race research that this run would also be a hilly course. However, I underestimated just how steep it would be. The race directors and event staff kept referring to it as “running up the mountain.” I love climbing in general and I feel like it is my strength in running, but since my legs were so fatigued and my quads in particular were tired, this is the worst I’ve ever felt in a 5K. I literally had the thought of walking go through my mind at one point (I did not walk though).

After transition I was ahead of the old guy and felt like that meant I was in a spot for a podium possibly. Half a mile in, I was caught by a young guy and knew at that point he had made up time on me so unless I could find some energy to gap him on this climb, my chances of getting on the podium were getting slim. We ran together for a bit until old guy number 2 appeared. He jogged right past us and we were both scratching our heads trying to figure out where he came from. We discussed the idea that he was a relayer, but since he was wearing a tri suit, we decided he had to have done the whole thing like us.

The guy running with me tried to go catch him, and I was left alone. At this point I had no clue if I would even place at all and began to dread the thought of being passed by people during the run (what should be my strength!). We summited the mountain and I noticed there was someone running in front of me who I had not seen. I later found out I was actually second out of the water and this guy had been so far ahead the whole time that we never saw him on the bike either. I decided that I would be really mad at myself if I didn’t truly push it and give my best on this last mile and a half. I was able to negative split the race (and yes there were hills both ways so it wasn’t just the descent that helped) and ended up finishing 3rd overall!

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Even though I didn’t hit any of the specific time goals that I had in mind (and felt like I was in shape to do), I am pleased that I was able to compete and grind on a day when I didn’t have my best stuff. I like reflecting after races (especially triathlons) and trying to see what I could’ve done to improve my time. Both of the top two guys beat me in the transitions (one by over a minute and the other by 35 seconds). We were separated in the overall standings by less than a minute and a half so I know the transitions are somewhere I need to improve if I want to keep competing. I also know I will have to do more brick runs and put more miles in on my bike in general to be able to continue competing.

Next up, I want to do an Olympic distance tri and really give it a good training effort. Also, to be very open, it’s been pretty disappointing to come off of the bike and not have my legs under me. I feel like this should be where I shine. I have had several strong brick workouts, but I’m not sure what I’m missing as to why I can’t seem to replicate it in a race setting. My best guess is to just put more miles in on the bike and run after every ride.

Any tips from some seasoned vets out there?

Race Recap, Trails

Race Recap: DIITB 5K

I ran the Do it in the Bush 5K at Cottage Hill Park in Mobile Saturday morning. DIITB is one of the few trail races that we have here locally. Cottage Hill Park is actually the place where Daniel and I first met!

The main event of the weekend was Daniel’s triathlon in Auburn on Sunday, but I was able to do this race Saturday morning before we left to head up to Auburn. The race started at 7:30 a.m., which was nice, not only to beat the heat a little bit, but also so that we could go ahead and get on the road a little bit earlier.

We got to the park around 6:45 and I was able to register and go to the bathroom before warming up on the course. I was a little bit worried about getting lost in the woods and I wanted to make sure that we ran the course beforehand just to make sure I knew what I was doing. I wasn’t sure if I would have anyone to run with, as you never really know who is going to show up on any given day. We talked briefly with Aaron Freesmeier, who marked the course, before the warm up. He gave us some pointers and we set off to see what the trails were like.

We didn’t have any issues at all navigating the course at all! Every single root was marked with orange paint (that must’ve taken a lot of time) and there were lots of arrows, etc. showing you where to go. I definitely noticed that I was working harder than normal to run my “easy” pace on the trails.

The race started off in the parking lot at Cottage Hill Park. It used to start on a soccer field, but apparently there were some “issues” with the course measuring long in the past and they decided to change that up this year. It’s a trail race though, so accuracy really shouldn’t be a huge concern. We were only in the parking lot for the first tenth of a mile or so and then it was to the grass around the baseball field (same as it always has been). We were on the grass for less than a half of a mile before we headed into the trails.

I was in second place overall as we entered the trails. The first place runner almost turned off course not too long after we got on the trails and I passed him briefly as he got his bearings back. I really didn’t want to be leading this thing through the trails, but here we were. At least I knew where I was going! I knew that was going to come in handy.

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I led the race through the first mile. The mile split was 6:29. The course winds in and out of the woods a few times during the second mile, but you are primarily on the trails the entire time. I love being in the woods and running on trails! I really wish that we had more trails and more trail races. I can totally see myself turning into one of those crazy ultra trail runners at some point down the road. Ha.

I likely need to invest in a pair of trail shoes though. I wore the Brooks Launch for this race (definitely not a trail shoe) and it worked out fine for a 5K, but if the race had been any longer, I likely would’ve wanted some better shoes. I love the Brooks Launch for road running though (I don’t want them (them being my shoes) to get their feelings hurt, so that seeemed worth mentioning).

I got passed back by the lead runner right around mile two. The mile split was 7:19. I didn’t know the split at the time. I decided during the warm up that I wouldn’t look at the splits since I knew I would likely feel like I was giving more of an effort than the splits showed.

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After he passed me, he almost ran off course two more miles in the last mile, but I was able to yell at him and tell him where to go. The last mile took us back into the parking lot for a brief moment, back into the woods and then back on the grass. Lots of varied terrain! I finished a few seconds behind the leader with a time of 20:02.

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It should be noted that the course was a tad short, but with a cross country style race, that is to be expected. My watch read 2.95 miles and my pace for the last mile was 6:37.

I LOVED everything about this race! It was such a laid back, fun approach to “racing.” I stayed upright, which is always good. Unfortunately the same cannot be said of my easy run on the trails Sunday in Auburn, but … it happens. I’m already looking for another trail race to do!

Have you ever raced on trails? What was your experience like? If you have any good race recommendations, send them my way!

Bay Life, Race Recap

Race Recap: 8K by the Bay

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Saturday morning I ran the 8K by the Bay in Mobile. The race starts and finishes at Arlington Park (near Brookley Field). This race wasn’t really on my radar as far as a goal race or anything like that and in fact, I had pretty much decided that I wasn’t going to even run it. My training has been lackluster over the last few weeks and I wasn’t feeling super excited about the idea of racing. I typically take a little bit of downtime towards the end of tax season when things get a little bit crazy, which seems to work fairly well.

Daniel is training for another triathlon (this time a shorter, sprint variety) and he decided that he could get in a good training ride by biking across the bay to the race. Daniel Holley was running as well, so I figured that I might as well just go for it. I haven’t done many 8Ks over the years (less than five I think) and it was nice to go into the race without any real time goals or preconceived notions about what a good time would be.

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That’s not to say that I didn’t have a goal at all though. I was actually hopeful that I could keep my average pace fairly close to what it was at the Azalea Trail Run 10K last month (6:18 average). I figured that since the race was one mile shorter and it’s only been a few weeks without any major workouts that I might be able to pull it off. Spoiler: that was a little overly ambitious, but I got close.

The weather was amazing Saturday morning! The temperature was in the mid fifties when we woke up and warmed up to mid sixties by the time the race got underway. There was a slight breeze and it was cool, clear and crisp … perfect running conditions! The course is very fast. It’s an out and back with a few slight variations on the way back. You run straight on the way out. There is a turnaround just passed the second mile marker and on the way back you run two little side loops before heading back the way you came.

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The race itself was fairly uneventful. I had 6:20 in my head as a goal pace, but wasn’t really sure as to how that was going to go. D Holley and I decided to start between 6:30 and 6:40 pace and see how things unfolded from there. We ended up running the first two and a half (or just over that) together and then he took off. We only passed a couple of people during those first two miles and no one passed us. I guess that’s a good thing!

Our splits for the first three miles were 6:34, 6:25 and 6:19. I couldn’t quite hold on to the pace, but I also didn’t fall off too much. My last two miles were 6:25 and 6:30. D Holley left me in his dust and finished with major negative split (and a 5:59 last mile). I finished fourth overall (first female) with a time of 32:22. I didn’t even realize it at the time, but that is actually an 8K PR for me! Woo hoo for unexpected PRs! I mean, granted, the bar was pretty low as I’ve only run a few 8Ks, but still … a PR is a PR. I’ll take any records I can get at this point.

Hopefully that is a sign of good things to come! If only I could figure out what it is that I actually want to train for …

In other news, I’ve decided that I want to PR in time spent on the water this summer and that’s exactly what we got to work on post-race. Brooks had a blast and everyone was worn out by the end of the day.

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend! Talk to you soon!