Race report: New Orleans Rock ‘n’ Roll 10k

I wasn’t going to do this race. I had some good friends from work coming in town to do the half marathon and I told them, I’m not doing more half marathons. So I was going to make signs and support them.

But then last week, I was offered a free entry (via the mom’s blog) and I was like, FINE. But I only agreed to do the 10k. And then my work friends were like “yeah, 10k sounds better.”

I woke up bright and early (actually at 4:45 so it wasn’t bright at all) Sunday morning to get dressed and head over to the airbnb they were staying at. Since it was close to the finish line, I left the van there and we ubered to the start line.

It wasn’t too crowded when we got to the start, since the 10k started half an hour before the marathon.

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Me, Elizabeth, Deborah

We decided about a minute before the race started to try 2 minute run, 1 minute walk intervals. (I wanted 1:1, Deborah wanted 3:1, so it was our compromise.)

And then we went. I mean, it was fine.

I kept having to remind myself it was only 6 miles, not 13 like the races I usually do. It was a beautiful day, but I would have liked a bit more shade on the route. But I’m just being picky. It was lovely.

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Denise and Zandy cheered us on.

We finished in just under 1:20 (I had no time goal.) Got nice medals. (Deborah was mistakenly given a half marathon medal, ha ha.)

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We met up with Zandy and Denise and then got food. And then laid around drinking mimosas and playing Two Dots. Kind of a perfect day.

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2015 Jazz Half Marathon race report

Remember the last time I did one of these? I said it was the last time ever? Well, I mean, somehow I signed up for this one and it was all my fault (I can’t even say anyone else twisted my arm into signing up) but for real this time. This was my twelfth half marathon and I think that’s a nice roundish number. (Except I can totally see myself saying one day, “but 13 is even more perfect since that’s how many miles are in a half.”) Fortunately, my brain won’t be able to let go of the .1 so I’m hopeful I’ll be able to ignore that argument. From myself.

Anyway, this one was kinda spooky. And I don’t mean because it was on Halloween.

It all started when I went to put on my number. Heather had grabbed my number and t-shirt for me from the expo, and I hadn’t even looked at them before this morning. As I went to put them on, the thought, “it would be cool if the race number had ’42’ in it.”

I picked up the shirt and saw the number.

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So close!

As it turns out, they were giving out the numbers in order of picking up race packets, so Heather got number 42! I mean, it’s still kinda weird, you have to admit.

Anyway. Drove over to the race, and spent a lot of time trying to find the parking space I’d reserved. Finally found the lot, and pulled into a spot on the third level. Went to the race and ran into some of my NOMB friends.

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The weather was a lot warmer than I was hoping – in the low 70s, but at least it was cloudy, unlike in 2013.

Anyway, off we went. I kept to a 1 minute run, 1 minute walk. It’s amazing how later in the race that first minute lasted an eternity, and the second minute went by in a flash.

Some pics along the way:

I honestly had no expectations for my time, which in the past have ranged between 2:33 and over 3 hours. Even though I’d done some decent training, I am still dealing with Achilles tendinitis. So I just wanted to finish.

First, I just wanted to finish in under 3 hours. And then I thought, maybe I can finish under 2:50 with a stretch goal of 2:45. If I kept to a 13 minute/mile pace, that would put me in right around 2:50ish.

And I did it! Finished in 2:48:39. Woot!

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And, I mean, you know, not last. (Though now I’m in the “Masters” division. That means old.)

Got a decent medal:

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then found some of the NOMB ladies again.

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So, remember my scintillating story about parking from earlier? Well, I got in my car and was sitting there for a few minutes when Ashley (the one on the left there) knocked on my window. Randomly, she was parked in the space next to mine! Okay, maybe you had to be there. It’s a big parking garage, okay?!?

I went to get something yummy for lunch, but Taco Bell wasn’t serving Cantina Bowls yet (I’m fancy) so I decided to try to catch the end of the boys’ soccer game, which I did. They were pretty excited to see me. I was wishing I’d brought a jacket. I felt faintly ridiculous in my green sparkly skirt. Oh well.

We all hit Waffle House for brunch and I basically used up all the calories I burned during the race. Worth it!

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Low blood sugar strikes

Now. If someone sees me mention signing up for another half marathon, please just stop me.

Triathlon #3 recap: Rocketchix

This morning, Heather and I got up in the middle of the night to drive to Baton Rouge for our second Rocketchix triathlon. Honestly, neither of us had done much training so we were kind of not sure how we’d end up doing.

I hadn’t given a ton of thought to my preparation for this race, either, and kind of threw everything I’d need into a bag last night. (Spoiler alert: I didn’t forget anything.)

We arrive at the LSU Natatorium and go to pick up our packets. While Heather is applying the sticker to her bike, I notice it’s a different color than mine. And it says “Rocketchix Duathlon.”

Uh oh.

Turns out Heather accidentally registered for the duathlon instead of the triathlon. I was actually kind of jealous of her, because the swim for this triathlon was going to be the longest so far, and like I said, I hadn’t done much training for it. (A few weeks ago I did 350 yards in the pool with long breaks between each length, but that’s about it.)

There were a lot fewer participants this year than last year, so it didn’t take nearly as long to get in the pool. And I’m happy to say that while I wasn’t swimming particularly fast, I also didn’t panic and flail around like I had in the past. I even passed a few people!

While we were lined up, I just willed myself to stay calm and channel Dori. “Just keep swimming.” So that’s what I did, and it worked out fairly well. (I didn’t drown.)

Once out of the pool, I got through transition pretty quickly, and I was on my bike (with the seat set at the proper height) before too long. I get so focused on the swim for these races that I forget that being on a bike for 12 miles is…kind of boring. I am using George’s bike, which is not exactly meant for speed.

But the bike portion also went better than last year. I got into a groove, and it went by pretty swiftly. (Well, swiftly for me.) I even passed a few people! That’s a first for me.

The next transition was easy – just throw off the helmet, really, and I was off and running quickly. Well. “Running.” Only two miles. That’s nothing. But it seemed to last forever. I ran when I could (not much) and walked a lot.

Selfie during the run! Mike the Tiger is somewhere back there.

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I was looking at my watch a lot, hoping I could beat my time from last year, even taking into account that the swim was nearly twice as far this time. I wasn’t even daring to hope that I could beat my run time, since my legs were just worn out and it was pretty hot.

Finally, the finish line was in sight, and I was done, with Heather and Tee and her sister and my friend Jane cheering me on. Woot!

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When I picked up Heather this morning, we realized we bought matching shirts at Academy yesterday. Aren’t we adorbs?

Now, the important part. How did I do?

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Swim: My pace was 3:23/100m…slower than last year, but faster than the 3:27/100m I swam at Girl Power in September. I’ll take it! (Also, it’s so much harder to swim a 50m pool than a 25 yard one.)

Transition 1: Last year was 5:12, this year was 3:15. Nearly two minutes shaved off!

Bike: Remember last year, I neglected to raise my seat to the proper height, so I had a hard time. I’m happy to say with a higher seat, I finished 12 miles in 57:01, compared with 1:01:08 last year. (Still slow as molasses. Oh well.)

Transition 2: 1:40 last year, 1:29 this year.

Run: I was positive this was going to be at least a couple of minutes slower. I was stunned to see I finished the run faster! 23:44, compared to 24:06 last year. Woot!

Finish time…10 seconds faster than last year!

So overall, a pretty good race. But you know, I think I’m done with triathlons. It’s not triathlon’s fault. I am never going to improve a ton at swimming, and I’m not willing to invest in a faster bike for that portion. I could probably get faster at running, but I already run races, so I think I’ll just stick to that.

I may have committed to running a half marathon in October, even though I’d sworn them off. Ha! We’ll see.

Race Report: Shamrockin’ Run 8k

The traditional pre-race selfie.
The traditional pre-race selfie.

This is the third year of this race, and my third year doing it. I guess I’ll have to do it every year, from now on, til the end of time. Because, as you may have guessed, when I start a streak, I have a hard time stopping.

I only signed up for the race on Monday, though. I wasn’t planning on running it, but Heather asked, and I relented. I haven’t been running a ton lately, so I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to run the whole thing. I ran the whole thing (8k is a hair shy of 5 miles – and I mean really, it’s 4.97 miles) for the past two years, and I didn’t think this year it would be possible.

But I looked at the weather forecast, and it looked fine – overcast and coolish.

So, you know, I did it. I mean, not much to say. I started running (at what I judged, very nicely, to be a 12 minute mile) and just didn’t stop. I mean, that’s how you do it, right? I had Runkeeper on to tell me every 3 minutes how my pace was, so that helped, though I think the GPS must’ve gotten wonky during mile 2, because suddenly it wasn’t exactly the same as the race course. (There were timing mats at every mile, which was nice.

Anyhoo, that’s about it. I wanted to finish in under and hour, and voila:

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I mean, talk about just coming in under the wire! 59:59!

A few notes about the race:

I find the classification as anyone slower than 11 minute miles as a walker pretty insulting. I didn’t walk a step.

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I drank a Guinness at the end. I don’t really like Guinness, but it wasn’t the worst thing in the world at 10am today.

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Now I suppose I may as well sign up for next year now, when it’s super cheap.

Race report: Big Easy Running Festival Mini Marathon

Yesterday (November 23, 2014) was the inaugural Big Easy Running Festival. I signed up for it months ago, and I only had to pay a few dollars for the entry, so when the weather looked like it was going to scupper the whole shebang, I wasn’t too upset. I had signed up for the mini marathon (which sounds way more impressive than the actual race distance of four miles.)

Up until the time I woke up Sunday morning, I wasn’t sure if it was going to happen. The time had been pushed back to a 10:15 start, so it was nice not to have to rush out the door at the crack of dawn. On the other hand, I was worried about it being warmer than I’d like.

I got down to the race site and there weren’t a ton of people. As I was walking up, the national anthem was being sung, and I recognized the voice as that of my friend Robin. She really does have the most exquisite voice.

I got my race packet and debated putting on the race shirt because it was rather chilly, and I’d only worn a short-sleeved tee. The race shirt was short sleeved too, but hey, layers. In the end (even though yellow is not my color) I decided to wear it.

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I huddled under a building overhang while waiting for our race to start, because it was lightly raining. Mostly I was just trying to avoid getting my shoes wet. It cleared up in time to get lined up for the race, and we could see the sun coming out in the distance.

The race started not long after the finishers from the 10K (it was supposed to be a half-marathon, but it was cut short) started coming in. Man, they were fast! Pretty awesome.

And then the race started. It was fine. I had been training at a pretty slow pace (basic advice from a coworker who runs really long distances) to go farther distances, so my splits of just under 12 minutes were just what I was aiming for. I mean, not to sound too defensive, but I’ve run a 31 minute 5k, so I definitely can run faster. I just chose not to this time. NO REALLY.

{Let me ask myself, since I gave up doing half marathons, why am I working on running longer distances instead of working on going faster? I must ponder this.}

{Maybe one day I want to try to actually run an entire half-marathon?}

Anyway, there was a nasty headwind from mile 2-3, and the sun came out blazing. I started to regret the extra layer, but oh well.

I ended up finishing right in 46:22, a pace of 11:36 per mile. I’m totally fine with that. In fact, I’m rather proud that I didn’t go out too fast. I don’t know my mile splits (I think the GPS was just bad downtown because Runkeeper had my first mile at 8:50 or something absurd) but I suspect they were negative. (In a good way.)

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I’m also possibly unreasonably proud for finishing 16th in my age group. And not 16th out of 18, but 16th out of 40. And the 73rd female out of 175! That’s the top half! At least next year, I’ll be the youngest in my age group instead of the oldest. Heh.

Anyway, I was kind of bummed that we didn’t get 610 Stompers cheering us on at the finish like the 10k finishers did, and we got plastic cups instead of medals, but oh well.

Ran into my friends Robin (the angelic-voiced one) and her husband Bryan at the finish and forced them to take a triplet parent selfie with me.

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Not sure what’s next. Am I going to cave and do another half? Or some 5ks? Another sprint triathlon? No idea.

Triathlon #2 recap – Girl Power

10354156_10152508670346725_9178356250560875686_nToday, my friend Heather and I finished our second triathlon. I had high hopes that I’d do better this time, for a few reasons.

  1. It’s September, not July.
  2. I spent a week in the mountains doing a 5k, a 20 mile bike ride, a Crossfit class, a Barre Method class, and hiking. (Fine. Eating and drinking too.)
  3. I knew what to expect.
  4. I knew what to do and what not to do, based on what I learned last time.

Alas, in some regards I did do better, and in others, I did worse.

My official results:

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So, the swim was further, the bike was shorter, and the run was the same length as the Rocketchix triathlon.

I picked up Heather at 6 am, and we headed across town to the UNO campus where the race was being held. We’d been keeping an eye on the weather, and the chance of rain was hovering around 50% for the morning. I was glad for the clouds, but nervous that it would start pouring.

We got there, got our bikes set up (with a tote bag this time, not a crate) and set up everything in the transition area. I appreciated that this race had specific spots for each of us, not just “find a spot on the rack.” Made things a lot more organized.

Soon enough it was time to go inside to the aquatic center. Just like at Rocketchix, we were self-seeded. I thought I might be able to finish the swim in about 9 minutes, based on my previous time. So basically, I headed to the back of the line. There were about six women behind me and 340 in front of me. Yeah, it took a while to get in the pool. Heather went in very early, so I was able to watch her swim, which was nice. Forty-five minutes, later, it was my turn. This pool was 50 meters long, not at all what I was used to. And let’s face it, it’s not like I’d done much swimming before this race. But I got in, and since the timing chip around my ankle wasn’t too tight, my foot didn’t cramp up.

I had plenty of room, and I even passed some women without too much trouble. I did a lot of backstroke, though, which probably explains why my time was a bit slower. But I felt so much stronger and less panicky, so I’ll take it.

Funny aside…Heather and I were really dismayed by our swim times. We were comparing our pace to the last race, and it just seemed way off. Turns out, the first race was 200 yards, and this one was 300 meters. Whew. In the end, I figured out that for Rocketchix I swam 1 yard every 1.63 seconds, and this one was 1 yard every 1.89 seconds. I think I did the math right. Hmm.

After the swim, I got out of the pool and walked to transition. It had started sprinkling, so the concrete was very slick. No biggie. I don’t care that much about transition times. Nevertheless, I shaved a couple of minutes off. Got my damp socks and damp shoes on, threw on my helmet, and off I went on the bike. Right up a hill and into the wind. Fantastic.

The bike course went along the lakefront, and remember, it was a cloudy day. A storm was rolling in. The wind was fierce. The course was a lopsided T shape. We turned right onto Lakeshore Drive for about a mile (into the wind), then we turned around with the wind at our backs for about 5 miles. Ahhh, that was nice. But every foot I rode I knew it was going to be hellish coming back. And so it was. At the turnaround, the wall of wind hit me like…a wall of wind. I mean, no point in being poetic about it. It sucked. Oh, and there were hills. I mean, technically they were levees and overpasses, but hills nonetheless. Going up a hill with the wind pushing you back is pretty sucky.

Since we couldn’t have music or anything, I spent the time making up songs about how much the wind and hills sucked. I wonder how many people were singing “Against the Wind” to themselves? Probably a lot. I also made up songs like, “Stupid Hill,” sung to the tune of Garbage’s “Stupid Girl.”

But eventually it ended. (Not until the person in front of me took a wrong turn and led me UP A HILL WE DIDN’T HAVE TO GO UP. That was suboptimal.)

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fakest smile ever.

When I got to transition, there were people all over the place who had already finished, getting their bikes and generally being in the way. I don’t think they realized that the swimmers from the back of the pack were only just then getting back from their bike ride. A little crappy, but whatever. I chucked my helmet off, racked the bike, and off I went for a very slow run/walk.

Well, I say very slow, but it was really faster than at Rocketchix. I managed to finish the run with faster than 12 minute miles, which surprised me. I felt like I was running through sludge. Anyway, before too long (the run was only two miles, after all), I was done! My friend Robin (who sang the national anthem at the beginning, beautifully) was there at the finish with her husband and their triplets, cheering me on. That was nice. 🙂 And Heather was there too, of course. She had finished about an hour earlier, so I’m sure she was glad to see me finally cross the finish line. Ha!

Next up I have a four mile race in November, and I might try to find some 5Ks to do in the meantime. I just rejoined Weight Watchers so hopefully by next spring I’ll be better shape for another sprint tri. We’ll see…

Triathlon #1 recap – Rocketchix

Nervous pre-race selfie
Nervous pre-race selfie

Finished my first triathlon today! I was never super sure about doing a triathlon, mostly because of the swimming. But as I’ve probably posted a jillion times, I’ve been training over the summer and have been feeling pretty confident about my swimming. So then I’d get nervous about the bike ride, or maybe the run (or more accurately doing the run after swimming and biking.) I’m going to recap the race here, along with some tips and tricks so I’ll remember them for next time.

I did the race with my friends Heather and Maggie (well, we all did it today, not exactly together) and we drove up to Baton Rouge from New Orleans last night to stay at my mom’s house. On the way there, we stopped for dinner at a Mexican restaurant.

Tip #1: Don’t eat Mexican the night before a big race. I’m not saying it caused any major issues for me, but it just wasn’t the best choice.

We go to my mom’s, went to bed fairly early, and were up at 4:30 a.m. Got dressed, hit up Starbucks for a bagel and coffee, and got to the race area in good time. Picked up our numbers, got our stuff together, racked our bikes. On the advice of a friend, we put our stuff in crates so we could sit on them during the transitions.

After getting all set up, we found Teresa, who came to cheer us on and take pictures.

Tip #2: Bring your own paparazzi. Especially if you like seeing pictures of yourself in spandex.

It was time to go get in line for the race! Everyone got in groups according to when they anticipated finishing the swim. Since Heather is a former swimming champ, she was way at the front, and Maggie and I were closer to the back of the pack. I was pretty confident in where I seeded myself. It was a little slower than I could do, but not too bad.

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After a million years, it was finally time for me and Maggie to swim. By this time, Heather was well on her way to being done with the bike portion of the race! Kind of crazy since her swim time was about two or three minutes faster than us, but she ended up finishing about 45 minutes before us. (At least.)

So it’s time for me to get in. I’m strangely calm. I knew I could do this. I get in the pool, and off I go. And…I feel awkward. I can’t get into a rhythm. My foot cramps up. I feel like my ankle chip thingy is too tight, causing this foot cramping.

Tip #3: Don’t put on your ankle chip thingy too tight.

Maggie started just after me, but passed me. I don’t know why, I just am not doing great. I am doggy paddling. I’m breast-stroking. I’m doing it all wrong. I feel bad – did I seed myself all wrong? There are other swimmers (doing about as well as me) clumping up around me. We pass each other a few times, and thankfully, before too long, I’m done with the swim.

I go to the transition area, and sit down to dry my feet off, put my shoes and socks and helmet and number on, and get my bike off the rack. The damn crate is in the way. But I get the bike down, walk to the bike start and off I go!

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Almost immediately, I know something’s wrong. See, the day before, I’d picked up George’s bike (that’s what I was using) from a tune-up at the bike shop. And here’s where I made a big mistake. I didn’t even get on the bike until this very moment. And I discovered that the bike shop must’ve moved the seat all the way down.

Tip #4: Always get on the bike before the race. Duh.

I could barely straighten my legs, and I felt like Donkey Kong with my knees practically up to my ears. Or that’s how it felt.

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I assumed I’d need a tool to raise the seat (my bike does) and I didn’t want to get off the bike to check, so I just kept going. I was pretty down at this point. I couldn’t go very fast on the bike, I’d just choked on the swim, and I was getting passed left and right. (Actually, just on the left. Heh.) But I just kept on. My quads were burning, and I was worried I’d pay for it during the run, but what could I do? I just kept on. Most of the ride was on River Road, which is pretty rural-feeling, with the levee on one side and cows or fields or trees on the other. At one point, I turned on some music (not with headphones, and just loud enough for me to hear. Not that it would have mattered. The only people who were riding near me were just passing me.)

I got passed a lot. I only passed one person during the entire 12 mile ride, and she passed me again at the end. But once I hit the halfway point, I was in decent spirits again. Everyone was so supportive of each other, and it was a beautiful day. I mean, for July in Louisiana.

I finished the bike and was happy that my legs weren’t too jelly-like. I had done a few “brick” workouts (triathlon-speak for a bike-then-run so you can get used to the feeling) so maybe that had helped. Or maybe doing slow did. Who knows, but I was pleasantly surprised. But I was getting nervous about the run. I just didn’t wanna. I don’t run outside in the summer. I just don’t. And I was about to have to do it.

Got to transition, dropped off my helmet, and headed out on the run. I felt like I was going incredibly slowly. I walked and ran, not really worrying about my time. Just wanted to finish. The run course was a little shady, which was nice, and it was also great to see Teresa (and Heather, who’d finished long before) cheering me on. When I got to the turnaround, I had the best-tasting cup of blue Gatorade of my life.

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And really, before too long, I was at the finish! I high-fived some random kid, and got my medal and stuff. Woo! Love medals.

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Found everyone and of course we posed for a pic.

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We did it!

After the race, we went to get our bikes and stuff out of the transition area, and while struggling with a crate and my bike, I was given more good advice by some other women nearby. “Girl, get a bucket! It has a handle!”

Tip #5: Get a bucket instead of a crate. It has a handle.

We were able to get our official times, and I was so excited to see I placed ninth in my age group! (In my bike’s division.) (Okay, it was out of 14. But still.) And while I didn’t really have a goal time (honestly, I had no clue how long it’d take, but as the race went on, I was shooting for under 1:45) I was thrilled to see my chip time was 1:37!

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Everyone said I’d be hooked after my first triathlon. I’m not entirely sure I’m hooked yet, but I definitely want to try again, knowing what I now know. I know I can get faster times in transition, and I know I can bike faster. In cooler weather, I’m sure I can run faster too. It’s too bad all of these sprint triathlons are different lengths, so it’s hard to compare apples to apples, but at least I can get my pace up.

This was a great beginner’s race. I didn’t feel terribly intimidated by the other athletes, and we talked to some great ladies in the line waiting for the swim. I think I’m going to have to try just one more, and then I’ll see if I’m hooked. There’s one in September (another all-female race with similar distances as this one) that I’ll probably do. I do love that I wasn’t just running the whole time. I’ve already said my half-marathon days are over, and I stand by that. So we’ll just have to see if triathlons take their place.

Race Report: 2014 Shamrockin’ Run

On March 16, I ran the Shamrockin’ Run 8k race for the second time. I didn’t write about last year’s race, apparently, but what I remember of it is that a) I ran almost the whole thing, except one short port-a-potty break and b) I ran with Heather. I had to look up my time, and it was 58:47. Since it’s almost 5 miles, that’s a tiny bit faster than 12 minute miles. Hmmm.

Coming on the race this year, I had one goal, and that was to run the whole thing without any breaks at all. And to finish in under 55 minutes.

I was excited about this year’s race because not only was Heather going to run again, but also a bunch of other friends. Fun, right? Well, some friends ended up going out of town, and then the weather forecast was terrible so they ended up pushing the race back and hour, so Heather couldn’t make it. So it was just me and Maggie.

It was a little drizzly when we went to pick up our numbers, but in spite of dire forecasts, it only sprinkled a few times throughout the race. I wish more races were overcast and sprinkly.

There’s not much to say about the race except that I started off at a comfortable pace (which ended up being almost exactly 11 minutes/mile) and basically kept at it for the next 4.97 miles. Not to say it was easy. At the end, it took some real willpower to not stop. It wasn’t as cool as I’d hoped, and I was getting overheated.

When I’m running and I want to stop, I try to evaluate why I want to stop. Legs felt fine. Lungs felt fine. But I was just hot. Ugh.

I didn’t have a watch on me, I just had my phone tracking my time, so I didn’t really know what my time near the end was looking like. I certainly wasn’t going to waste energy pulling my phone out of my pack and looking at it, so I just had to hope that my pace was still on track. Since I started my tracking app a minute or so before the start of the race, it wasn’t going to be totally accurate anyway.

So I gave it my all in the last 100 yards or so (though at this stage I was so focused on not stopping that I barely even noticed the 610 Stompers dancing at the finish line) and went to find Maggie, who finished a few minutes before me.

Checked my results on my phone (ain’t technology great?) and I finished in…

 

54:58! Just made it in under the wire! Woo hoo!

Next year…52 minutes?