B.A.A. 5k Race Recap

On Saturday, I competed in the B.A.A. 5k as part of the Distance Medley series hosted by the Boston Athletic Association. This year’s field expanded to include 10,000 runners, as the BAA wanted to include as many runners as possible, allowing us to celebrate our love of Boston following the marathon bombings.

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I decided to get up and run to the start of the course instead of cabbing it in. It should have only taken about 3.5 miles, except I made a few errors about where to go and how to get there. In the end, I wound up running 5 miles to the start of the race in Boston Common (as seen in the map below, hahaha whoops). I fueled the whole morning on just a single ripe banana.

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Because of the number of runners and the insane (for a 5k!) amount of spectators, the start of the race was a little overwhelming, especially for a 5’2″ tall girl. There was also heightened security and a larger than normal police presence. Furthermore, if you wanted to check your bag, you had to dump all of your belongings into clear bag provided by the BAA, making sure all of the contents were visible. Since I only brought my garmin and armband, I just stored my race t-shirt and a bottle of water I picked up from the poland spring stand. After getting through bag check, I got myself down to the “corrals” to get ready for the start of the race.

Most of the runners only fed in and out of one section of the “corrals”( aka, put yourself next to your projected pace). Given that there were so many people, there were many runners who did not place themselves into the correct location because it was so difficult to get to the back of the line. Unfortunately, this also clogged the entire first mile of the race with many faster runners having to dodge some of the slower ones. Most of us cut the B.A.A. a little slack though, because this race was about uniting together as compared to riding the train to PR city.

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One of the best parts of the race was when we eventually ran through the finish line of the Boston Marathon. I did my best to take a picture of it while running but it was really really hard. I almost dropped my phone at this point, but managed to scoop it up before it hit the ground at the last moment. I also happened to get a little teary eyed once I directly passed underneath, which slowed down my pace a bit as my lungs were having a bit of difficulty expanding to full capacity.

photo 5I fed into the finishers shoot, which directed us towards our medals and a sweet stash of food, much more than I had even received for many of my half marathon! I also happened to be one of the lucky few that took their picture with the bag and fife band that played the National Anthem at the start of the race, that is…right before the police made sure to shoo us along.

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Regardless, I was only about 20 seconds behind my 5k race PR time! Yahoo! I was number 1343 out of about 9000 runners and was 67th out of 844 runners in my age group. Pretty stinkin’ good if you ask me! Splits listed below also include my jog into downtown. I’ve actually found that racing more has improved my racing times, because I’m getting better at the mental game that also comes into play. Duh moment. Who would have thought that racing more meant better race times.

Screen shot 2014-04-19 at 4.49.00 PMOverall, it was such an honor to be a part of this race and I am so thankful for having gotten the opportunity to take part. Thank you to the BAA for putting on a spectacular event, and for making every runner feel important, despite their experience or pace.  It truly is an event that I would recommend all of my Boston friends take part in at least once in their running history. Hey, come July, I might even be able to train you for it!

Did any of you readers participate in a race this weekend? Anyone run the BAA 5k? What was your experience?

Back at it.

IT’S ALMOST SCHOOL VACATION WEEK!!!!! YAYYYYY!

Truth.

In the week and a half since my race ended, I’ve been taking it realll eassssy when it comes to running, aka, haven’t been running at all. You can thank my knee hurting for that. But, with the Boston Marathon right around the corner, the city is all abuzz about the happenings and I’m caught up in the excitement.

There is nothing I want more than to BQ (well, that’s not true…I can think of a few others ahead of that). To get there, I have to keep up the miles, continue to practice my speed training, and drop some effing weight….which is apparently never going to happen. So, instead, I just got out there tonight and did what I do best and knocked out some miles. Not necessarily junk miles, but weren’t my best either.

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Tomorrow, I just have to get through one more day of school, one more track practice, and then its of to dollar oysters and flowing cocktails at Lineage in Brookline. I cannot wait!!

The rest of the weekend includes celebrating, Easter, and the Boston Marathon. My vote is for Shalane Flanagan, after having watched her CBS interview this past weekend.

#BostonStrong. Love this city.

Fool’s Dual Half Marathon Race Recap

My how that winter was long!  I can already tell that the spring is going to whiz by based on how eager we all were for the sun to shine and for temps to reach higher than freezing. I love this time of year because it means the start of baseball season, the start of our spring track and field program at the middle school, and two and a half short months for all of us working in public education to make it to the finish line. As always, the lack of posting is directly proportional to the amount of work I have sitting on my desk. I’m not sure there are many of you out there, but let’s jump into the review of the Fool’s Dual Half Marathon!

unnamed-1I want to first point out that I thankfully met my goal of completing a half marathon around the 1:45 mark, as I officially finished in 1:45:43! PR CITY!!!!!!!!

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In the week since I’ve finished the Fool’s Dual Half Marathon, I’ve taken a number (aka the last 4 days) off from running. This course along Cape Ann and Gloucester was one of the hilliest courses I have ever participated in. My legs, with a special shout out to my IT bands, continue to ache and I’ve decided it best to take a complete rest instead of jumping back into running in order to complete the BAA 5k next weekend and continue my training cycle to include the Runners World Heartbreak Hill Half Marathon in June.

If any of you readers decide to dive into your first Half Marathon experience, I highly recommend that you participate in the YuKan Run Race Series, that hosts events in the Gloucester area during April, June, August, and December. The field was even smaller than my race in December, with only 412 half marathoners finishing the event. I believe the race only holds about 1,000 runners in general, so I was surprised to see so few of us participating. Regardless, the event organizers put on a pretty good show, with amazing views and a well-supported albeit challenging course.

In the days leading up to the race, I didn’t eat well (a.k.a. pizza was the main staple) but made sure to drinks gallons of water. Race morning, I had a toasted multigrain bagel with plain cream cheese from Dunkin Donuts on the go.* I typically like to eat a banana on the side, but had completely forgotten to grab a banana on my way out that morning. When we pulled up to DD, they informed us that they were sold out. Blargh. I decided to forge ahead despite my lack of potassium intake. Chris and I trekked about 40 minutes up the Massachusetts coast and arrived at the O’Maley Middle School, where the race began and ended. Parking was a breeze, packet pickup was a breeze, and there were no porta potty lines all morning (with the exception of the last 20 minutes). The start of the race went off without a hitch at exactly 9:00 a.m.

*(and yes, gluten free was not the way to be. Stomachaches galore!)

The beginning of the event started at around 36 degrees with the wind chill making it feel around 29, the sun continued to shine throughout race morning making it a perfect temp to get out there and run. I saw way too many people suited up in layers and gloves, as I don’t think they were expecting it to heat up so quickly along the coast. I kept to an Underarmor long sleeve tech tee, my Brooks running capris, and a racing hat.

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The course was very well supported, with water and gatorade (at most locations) on miles 2,4,5,6,9, and 11! I always make sure to take water or gatorade at each stop, but usually dump out half of the drink and fold the paper cup so that it is easier to drink. This was also the first time I haven’t worn a fuel belt to race a long distance event since May of 2012.

There were also packets of energy gel twice during the race as well. I can’t remember what kind it was, some kind of Clif gel, but took it anyway because I wanted to save my gu for another time without spending more money. 😛 I never worry about whether or not the gel will make my stomach sour at the taste, because nothing really upsets my stomach. Just make sure to take it with water and not gatorade. Anyway, I took a gu at mile 5 for a mental boost, and again at mile 9. I’m pretty sure that I don’t require two packets of fuel during a race. I think I do it more as a mental distraction and something to look forward to.

Screen shot 2014-04-10 at 5.33.19 PMOverall, this race was a challenge for me mentally. The rolling hills shredded my quads, hamstrings, and IT bands and I could tell that it was going to be a battle for me to finish. Within the first three miles, I almost decided to quit the event because my plan was not being executed the way I had hoped.  I honestly thought to myself…what if I just call Chris right now and have him pick me up. No harm, no foul. I would only tarnish my pride and miss out on a medal. Still, somehow I managed to push myself.

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I’m surprised I finished in the time that I did, just looking back at these splits. You can tell which laps I decided to take some walking breaks, which worked as an excellent strategy for me.  I hooked onto my pacer, which was a gentleman who let me creep a little too close at times yet kept in my sights during those moments of frustration. When he and the others around me continued to trudge up the hill running, in the end, they fared no better than I did. Using those walking breaks, I was able to push out ahead of the group and continue on to meet my PR.

I was so excited to see Chris in the last .01 of the finish, knowing full well that I had met my goal. I kicked it in faster than I would have expected for the last mile of the race, but I knew I needed to push myself if I wanted to reach my goal. I can honestly say it felt so wonderful to be able to train competitively in this last cycle. Someday, I’ll beat Chris’s PR of 1:42…it’s so close, I can taste it…but also one day get into the 1:30’s range.

Lastly, I would like to finish this post by thanking the race organizers from the YuKan Run series for their finely executed event, making it one of my favorite series to compete in. I can’t help but wonder if the PR had something to do with it. 🙂

A bundle of nerves

Hey, YOU!
You didn’t enter my giveaway yet, did you?

Today was a tough day for me.  Really easy at school, left super early because I needed to run some errands, didn’t have a ton of work by the grace of God. See, look what I bought at Trader Joe’s!! It was a lot of quick and easy foods, because I knew I wouldn’t have time to make meals this week.

Regardless, I was a bundle of nerves throughout the day and couldn’t shake the feeling. The only thing that helped was that as soon as I got home I literally cried into Chris’s shirt (with Chris being in said shirt).  There was ABSOLUTELY no reason for it. Nothing set me off, I just carried this weight in my chest the entire day. Thankfully, that emotional outburst did the trick and I feel better now.
(Oh, you know. Just a little Natalie Dee humor to make the world go round.)
I forced myself to head to the gym and rewarded myself with some TJ’s sushi.  I went with Trader Joe’s instead of a local sushi place because I had a hankering for raw fish, yet didn’t want to indulge in as many calories. Good thinking, Lauren. Anyway, I did a HIIT workout, for everyone’s favorite workout of the week: Speed Work Tuesday.  It was pretty much the same cycle as the last few Speed Workout Tuesdays. However, because running felt so difficult for some reason, I broke up my time at the gym into three parts:

HIIT 1. Run at 7.3 mph for 1 mile,
.5 mile 8.0,
.5 mile, 7.5,
.5 mile, 8.1

STOP. Took some time to do a weight circuit, including some kettlebells.

HIIT 2. Run at 7.5 mph for .5 mile,
               .5 at 8.1 mph,
               .5 at 7.5 mph,
               Cool down mile at 7.4, for a total of 5 miles at approximately an 8:00 overall pace.

PHEW!  It took a lot to get me through that workout, but its done.  I honestly can say that knowing that I had committed to the run only yesterday and complaining that I never get in a perfect training week was the motivation I needed to get the job done.

Thank you all for holding me accountable. You rock.
Let’s Chat:
 
Did any of you do Speed work today?
Does the cold weather make your anxiety feel worse?  
Here is an article about how cold weather can increase and worsen symptoms of anxiety in some people. I totally TOTALLY believe it. I bet you anything it has to do with the tightness of the air (from what the article suggests) making it hard to breath and fully expand our lungs, causing those predisposed to anxiety, to feel a little panicky.

And on a lighter note, are any of you allergic to cats? 
I am…can’t even touch them. I have to pet my parents’ cat with my elbow and/or foot. Dogs for life!

Brene Brown: The power of vulnerability

Today I wanted to share my experience with the book, “Daring Greatly” by Brene´ Brown, Ph.D. Dr. Brown suggests that when we embrace what makes us vulnerable, we are able to become our best selves and that shame, comparison, and disengagement ultimately make it impossible to achieve what we set out to do. This is because we never embrace a talent or skill because we are afraid of what people think, we compare ourselves too frequently to others which holds us back from expressing ourselves, or we allow ourselves to disengage from what we love because of what we fear.

One of my favorite moments in the book is when Dr. Brown learned about joy and light from the people who have spent time in “sorrow and darkness”. She suggests:

1. “That joy comes to us in moments-ordinary moments. We risk missing out on joy when we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary.”

2. “Be grateful for what you have.”

3. “Don’t squander joy”. She states, “But every time we allow ourselves to lean into joy and give into those moments, we build resilience and we cultivate hope”.

It is in our vulnerabilities, strengths, weaknesses, wounds, and experiences that allow us to either feel the shame of our scars, or embrace what they have taught us and allow us to move forward.  In a comparison to the book, “The Velveteen Rabbit”, Dr. Brown suggests that those of us who acknowledge that the difficult moments, those that make us struggle, or cry, or feel, those moments, when embraced, allow us to experience joy wholeheartedly.


Throughout the book, Dr. Brown gives us examples and strategies in order to embrace these moments and to live life fully. We are to give in to feelings, but not to the point that it becomes counterproductive or halts our growth. In the final chapters, Dr. Brown goes on to suggest that if we are to become wholehearted, then we need to instill these practices in ourselves and in our children.  She writes,

1. Engage with the world from a place of worthiness.
2. Embrace vulnerabilities and imperfections.
3. Feel a deep sense of love and compassion for self and others.
4. Value hard work, perseverance, and respect.
5. Carry a sense of authenticity and belonging with you, rather than searching for it in external places.
6. Have the courage to be imperfect, vulnerable, and creative.
7. Don’t fear feeling ashamed or unlovable if you are different or struggling.
8. Move through our rapidly changing world with courage and a resilient spirit.

I highly recommend this book, as it has sparked the beginning of my own self acceptance, to be less afraid when I want to accomplish something out of my comfort zone, and to go beyond what I believe I am able to accomplish.

To hear more from Brene´ Brown, watch her Houston TedX talk below:

Just remember, above all else…a little lighthearted humor:

Let’s Chat:
Have you ever dared greatly?

Did you miss me, fuelbelt?

Listen.  I ain’t no fool.  I know that six miles doesn’t require a fuelbelt.  But, like I said.  I ain’t no fool.  I know myself and the temperature and I knew that my six mile walk/run fail would have never gotten off the ground without some sun protection and hydration.  Come on September. (And by the way, there was NO way it was cloudy.)

Ooo reflectors!
After gearing up, I headed out the door for the longest long run I have run in two months. 31, err 6 miles.
Yup, you heard me correctly, I haven’t run more than 6 miles at a time in 2 months.  Heck, I probably haven’t run 6 miles in a week in the last month.  I told you I was on an emotional injury fueled by summer and love. hahah.  I know its bad, but guess what. I got out there and I’m proud of myself.
Well, half disappointed, half proud.  I’m glad I tackled it, I’m sad that I had to take it at a run/walk formation lasting about 60 minutes.  Sure when I ran was fast, but when I walked, it really balanced out those averages. And I walked a lot. Pffft.
I keep trying to tell myself that it doesn’t matter to anyone else but me, but I know you readers; I know you well.  You love fast and you love furious.  So I vow to you, that I will get myself back in this game.  I don’t want to look like this anymore after the 5 mile mark…
And props to all my readers that have recently messaged me about their injuries. You are all champs.  This runs for you.
My goal is to get in 20 miles this week.  That’s running 5 miles, 4 times, or a combination of a million things, like running 14 miles my next run, or like… 6 today then 6, then 6, then 2.  But 20 it is for week 1 back into running. I don’t want injuries, I don’t want a superstar run schedule, I just want to balance my brain and my body.
Can you help me reach my goal by sending a little motivation my way?  Pwease?