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?

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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. 🙂

Ras na hEireann Race Recap

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Goal officially accomplished! I set out to run this race with hopes of PR’ing at 24:00 minutes, and I did just that at 23:32! Thankfully, I even came in a little bit faster than goal pace, although my garmin and the official results suggest a 5 second pace discrepancy. I find that quite odd given that my garmin still clocked me in about .03 longer, yet the same overall time from the official results. At least I’m getting better at these tangents!

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Lets start from the beginning. First off, the day was FREEZING. I think when race time started, it was about 27 degrees. This would have been..ok… if my mind wasn’t set on it being 40 degrees based on the weather reports from earlier this week. Anyway, I decided to split from the apartment at 10:30, in hopes of making it with a few minutes to spare before the gun went off. In order to grab another mile, I jogged down to the race start, which was an amazing idea given how cold it was.

I decided to leave Chris in the dust at this point, because he wasn’t ready to leave the apartment when I was (even with plenty of warning and planning). I didn’t see him until the very end of the race…which was only about 1 minute after I finished. YES you read that right. Stupid Chris hasn’t been running at ALL and still finished with 7:55 minutes per mile, on average. I have to say, I’m very proud of him, even if I’m also super jealous that he hasn’t put in the same work but put up similar numbers.

unnamed-1(Yes, I am in the process of getting a new Canon Powershot, instead of using my Iphone camera all of the time.)

After the race, all of the bars in Davis Square and the surrounding areas hosted an after party, with kegs of Harpoon Beer on tap until they were kicked, with many of the bars hosting a local band.

Baby Snake, Chris, and I wound up heading to The Pub in Ball Square for the rest of the afternoon, where we met up with my co-counselor from camp, Jen, who was also at the race. Jen and I met up at the very start in order to high five and wish each other luck. Jen’s girlfriend, by the way, was also a race photographer for the event.

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Several hours later, ugh…yes..you read that right, and a few games of foosball, Chris and I wandered home with no plans of indulging our Sunday night routine and instead ate a calzone and ice cream. DAIRY AND GLUTEN FAIL. Whatever, it was just what the doctor ordered.

All in all, I have to say that the event was very well organized and the start and finish made for a very enjoyable experience. Most of the 5k’s run in Davis Square are along the same route, so I was pretty familiar with the terrain seeing as how I had run the Jingle Bell run in years past, in addition to jogging along Broadway for many of my weekly training runs. There were some very small hills that would slow me down, but in the same breath, you were always lead to a glorious downhill, which is how we ended the race. Tack on an After Party and my friends, you have a world class 5k experience. I highly recommend this to other runners in the Boston area. Thanks to the organizers for putting together a stellar event!

Friends, you should also join me in running the Runners World Heartbreak Hill Half Marathon in June! Use the code from Blonde Ponytail blog and save yourselves some money when you sign up for 1, 2, or all 3 of the events! I’m looking forward to seeing all of my blogging heros!

Sisterhood of the Traveling Necklace

Before I delve into the meaning behind the title, I just have to share with you how awful my run felt today.  Tip #1 in running in cold weather: don’t forget your base layer, even if it is a heat wave as high as 30 degrees. Tip #2 Don’t forget to wear pants with fleece lining or your butt will freeze and fall off like mine did.  Tip #3 If your legs feel like tree trunks, then just embrace it. (Oh, by the way, Fitbit giveaway continues.  Ends 2/3!)

Seriously, my legs felt like they were bricks…or at least a brick/dead body tied to my right ankle.  For some reason I couldn’t get my leg to feel lose and light, just frustratingly tight. I decided to continue with the run anyway, because I was naughty and didn’t run last night.  (In order to get to 30 miles this week, I have to somehow squeeze in 4 miles either tomorrow/Saturday morning/evening before/after the School Mental Health Conference I’m going to.) At least the view of Spy Pond on the run was a highlight, even if the whole run required me to trick my brain into keeping my body in motion.

On top of Dietbet hosted by Jess from Blonde Ponytail (and seriously, the pot is at $2300 at the moment I’m writing this), I’m in a race to the finish in order to look svelte for my bestie, Jody’s wedding.  She is getting married in Tampa next weekend and I have the honor and privilege of being a bridesmaid in her wedding.  I’m doing the best I can to make sure the dress fits with a little room to spare.

I’ve decided to use Tone it Up’s 7 Day Slim Down, although I don’t currently subscribe to Tone it Up, nor am I able to stick to the “plan” (as I understand it) to a T.  It basically makes you:

*drink butt tons of water
*cut out most carbs and don’t consume any carbs after 4 p.m.
*Don’t eat fruit in the afternoon
*Do a morning workout (I can’t)
*Drink some kind of crazy concoction consisting of apple cider vinegar, honey, lemon, etc. (no thanks).
*cut out as much salt as possible
*eat 4-5 CLEAN meals a day
*stick to lean meats and clean vegetables for your dinner
*OK really only eat lean meats, veggies, fruits, and lots of egg whites. Everything else is a no go.
The last time I tried out the this 7 Day Slim Down, I think I did a pretty good job and felt confident for my bestie Baby Snake’s wedding last August.
And now, the reason I titled my post, “Sisterhood of the Traveling Necklace”. Four of my best friends from high school came up with the idea or passing around a journal and a necklace in order to document our dating highs and lows throughout our 20’s.  Now that we have gracefully (or not so much) entered our 30’s, I decided to upgrade the necklace in order for us to use it in the many events we will undoubtedly be a part of in the next several years (i.e., our own weddings, having children, etc.) and I wanted Jody to be the first to be able to wear our traveling necklace during the rehearsal dinner the night before her big day.  I’m so excited to be able to share these moments with them, and am thankful of how we have stayed in touch throughout the years, despite the distance and the difficulties. I’m so excited for you, my dear, dear, friend!
(Necklace by Kate Spade. OH man, its even on sale!!)

Distance Medley

Since we had a snow emergency in good ol’ Boston land, I wasn’t able to make it to the gym last night. With temps around -20 degrees with the windchill, I decided to scrap my speed work tuesday. Instead, I followed the same HiiT workout routine I did last week, and will add an extra easy run day in Friday. Total miles for the week: 12 in 2 days. Goal is 30.

Being fortunate enough to live in the land of the world’s benchmark marathon for a distance runner, I have the pleasure of watching the gun go off in Hopkinton each year, in hopes of seeing runners both great and small cross the finish line on Boylston Street. Its given me enough motivation to want to make the Boston Marathon a goal I hope to attain in the next 10 years*.

*To clarify, I may never attain this goal, but what I wouldn’t give for one of those jackets.
Fortunately, I had the honor of signing up for the distance medley today, which the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) hosts in April, June, and October where runners participate in the 5k, the 10k, and their half marathon in the fall. I’m looking forward to the challenge, especially because I think I will be signing up for the Cape Cod Marathon in Falmouth in October. Fingers crossed! Want to join? Head into the B.A.A. website above, in order to gain registration through January 25th. 

Quick post today, because I was knee deep in coo coo land.

Let’s Chat:
Any races or events that you are either looking forward to, or proud of from your past?

What’s your favorite race medal?