Race Recap: 2013 Brandon 5K

Woot woot! That’s another PR under the belt for my 5K.

Official Time – 21:46

PhotoGrid_1386205949457Now I admit that 5Ks are a bit easier for me to PR because I run them so rarely. The last 5K I actually raced was over a year and a half ago. If I didn’t PR now, I’d be slightly worried (not really). But I managed by more than 45 seconds and took the top of my age group (not hard since most of them sleep in hehe).

Now I really like this particular race first because my running group puts it on. Second because it’s a small and local race. So there’s no crowded course and getting boxed in at a slower pace. Plus they do a half marathon as well and it’s the main draw. The 5K is more for slackers such as myself. I didn’t want to race halfs two weekends in a row and really did want to complete a 5K just so I could grab that faster PR.

The weather ended up being on our side with it overcast, foggy, and cool. There was even a bit of misting, though I couldn’t tell if that was from not quite rain or the fog. But it made the start and races pretty mild compared to some others. I placed myself near the front and ended up probably around 15 or 20 once we got out of the start rush.

Then I sort of settled in around a 7:00 pace and kept my eyes on the one girl ahead of me. I sort of know who she is and she’s fast – runs for her college and all – so I decided to settle a bit backwards of her and see what happens. Well she ended up taking it easier today and I could have entirely paced with her instead.

About the halfway point (this reminds me that 5Ks seem so short after aiming at halfs and full marathons), they had a water stop set up and some girls from the group were egging me on to catch her. I figured it was worth a try and so picked it up a bit to just start closing the gap. I managed to get closer and was probably only a few feet behind her when we passed the 3 mile point and the last push where she left me behind.

After chasing her for 1.5 miles I just didn’t have the staying power to match her kick in the last 0.1 mile or so. Still, I finished 2 seconds back from her to take 2nd place overall for the ladies in the 5K. That also gave me the age group win. Super pleased to have managed all that with a PR on the distance. I may not race them often now, but 5Ks give a bit of self-confidence since I run them so much faster now than I did in high school.


Race Recap: 2013 Women’s Running Half Marathon

Another PR!! So stoked!

Official Time – 1:36:02

That’s a new half marathon PR. And I broke it by more than 3 minutes! So super happy. Now onto the actual recap.

I'm in there. Somewhere.

I’m in there. Somewhere.

This is an awesome event that I love. It’s newer (only 5 years old here I think) and really targeted at the ladies (obviously) even though they definitely don’t discourage guys from taking part. It’s still sort of local and a little smaller even though it has picked up bigger sponsors. I ran it for the first time two years ago and set my then PR at the 2011 race. Last year I did the 5K instead since I had less than 2 months to train after physical therapy ended and I was cleared to run.

It’s a lovely course through St. Petersberg, going along the water and past Tropicana field. There aren’t really much in hills though there are quite a few turns, so it feels like a fast course to me (though it might not actually be one…). Only thing that throws me off on this course is you run on some sections of cobblestones, but they’re relatively short. The long one has a nice wide sidewalk you can jump onto.

Now I hadn’t run a half marathon since Gasparilla in March of 2012, before I was out for 6 months, and so I didn’t have a real gauge going into this race. What could I do? Sure, I’d run a 15K in March but I was in different shape then. And the Marine Corps Marathon went fantastic – but I know more about guessing your marathon finish time from a half, not a half time from a marathon. Can that even translate right? Since you can push harder on a half due to it being shorter.

Coming in with a PR that was 1:39 and knowing my physical condition was way better off MCM than it was off Miami last year, I decided to shoot high for a 1:35. That’s a 7:15 pace and I admit, I wasn’t sure if that was gonna be doable for me over 13.1 miles. But I was going to try.

Luckily there was a 1:35 pace group for this race. Even better is that members of my running group, the Brandon Running Association, were dragged into being the pacers. So it was someone I know! Josh, who is ridiculously fast, got stuck with a group of us and it was quite amusing. The temps were a little cooler, so that was perfect. It was even overcast so no hot sun beating down. However, it seems to make up for that the weather threw some crazy winds at us – some gusts made it feel like you had to tuck in behind someone to keep going.

The first mile was a bit slower than pace, but then we settled in and had an amusing time for the next few miles. I actually felt quite solid and like I could stay on that 7:15 pace. But then I started to feel the pace further along near mile 7. We’d been fighting the wind even more the last few miles and 8 ended up being slow. Not sure if it was the best choice, but I decided to try pushing ahead closer to a 7:00 pace in an attempt to still make 1:35.

Unfortunately, I just couldn’t do 7:00s. I kept it close to the 7:15 but from about mile 9 on you run on a wide open road. There’s nothing to slow the wind and so this is the area that I struggled the most. The threat of rain, though it ended up just being clouds, meant there weren’t as many spectators along this stretch until you get closer to the finish. Also, the size and targeting of the race means it’s generally not a super fast field. So I knew the runners were spread out this far in the front. The next girl ahead was probably a good 250 feet and the immediate runners behind me were from the pace group.

Not having runners to either pull me along or push me forward was unusual for me. I’ve done well, but I’ve never really been “fast.” Additionally, most races have a good mix of girls and guys running it, so even if I end up being faster of the females there’s plenty of guys to pace off of. The WHM is different and this is the first time my struggle had to happen knowing I was near the front of the race. It was weird, but I definitely think I came out better experienced from it.

So while I couldn’t do the 7:00s, I could do the 7:15s and brought myself into the finish. I couldn’t close the gap to the girl ahead, but did manage to put enough space that no one caught me. Finished strong with the last mile being my fastest at 7:02 (obviously I still had a little gas in the tank) and woohooo for a PR!! Even if I did need a little help walking away from the finish while I fished out my inhaler.

So the final tally. A new PR at 1:36:02. Placed 16th overall and 13th of the women. Took first in my age group by 4 minutes. We’re still waiting on the team results, but according to one of our spectator friends, the first 5 runners on our team came in under 1:39, so I’m pretty sure the team will take the win for the 3rd year in a row.

I am mad excited! While I didn’t hit the 1:35, I got damn close. Still set a sweet PR and now I can chase that 1:35 in the future. I couldn’t dream of a better half considering the shape I’m in and the great race I had at MCM. Now I had another! Me = happy.

The Post-Race Void

It’s interesting that we spend all those months of training looking forward to THE Race (caps intended). Especially as the mileage ramps up and the event itself is so close, yet still not quite there, where we want it to happen only so we can spend less time training. Finally, the weekend arrives and all the excitement is focused on having a good time and a great race.

Then suddenly, it’s done. The training is over. No more rearranging our days to get all the miles in. No more planning weekends around long runs. No more intensive mental preparations to make this race the one we’ll always remember (though truthfully, we’ll remember every single one).

You take the few days after off. Instead of running, they’re spent recapping with friends, responding to posts of congratulations, putting up pictures of our triumph, and basking in the glow of achievement. Then it’s time to reverse taper back into a semi-regular schedule. Training no longer, simply running because it’s what we enjoy.

End_of_the_Road_Wallpaper_y3v85Yet even then, it feels like there’s a hole. A gap in our existence. Without another big race on the horizon, we lack the purpose of the past many months. An empty void in our lives. A beautiful void (we’ve been waiting for this moment, for the training and the race to be done), but a void nonetheless. And it feels weird. I think “shouldn’t I be training for something? and “shouldn’t my days be consumed with my workouts and the end goal of a race?” It’s hard to re-adjust to the mentality where my life isn’t all consumed by this event somewhere in the near future that’s steadily getting closer, while never being quite close enough.

It seems weird, but I especially feel bereft after completing the Marine Corps Marathon. I met my goal! Not only did I break the time I set for myself of 3:40 so long ago, I went a step further and ran a Boston Qualifier time. While I did not believe I would never run one, I also didn’t really expect it to happen so soon. I sort of expected more years building up my race experience and improving my training before it happened. Now, I simply have to wait until next fall when registration for 2015 opens.

Luckily, not all is an empty void in my future. I’ve plans for a half marathon just before Thanksgiving. There’s high hopes in my mind coming off this marathon that I can go on to PR my half marathon time as well. Plus, somewhere in the next 2 months I hope to run a 5K as well in the hopes of another PR. (All that success going to my head.)

While that void has been in my mind, it’s been good to get back out and just run. Plus having smaller events and goals to run towards is helping me keep from becoming completely distracted.