Tag Archives: 5k training

Race Recap: Brave American 5K

11 Mar

I am happy to announce that my first 5K of the 2014 season is completed!

In a strange twist of fate, my mom went to high school with the race director so when I first heard about the Brave American 5K via Facebook, I knew it was a sign.  I was drawn in immediately by their cause:  raising money for wounded veterans returning from duty.  After a bit more research, I was hooked!!  I got to run and my race fee went to the Boulder Crest Retreat for Wounded Warriors – a wonderful place which offers traditional and non-traditional wellness to vets in a rural setting.


Anyway, let’s talk about my favorite subject: me!  If you’re a regular around here, then you know I’ve been struggling lately with running in general.  The last week or so, I’ve also been bogged down with a sinus infection so I had serious reservations and anxiety about whether or not I should even run the race.  Christina wouldn’t be able to make it for support either, which made my anxiety spike even more!  My mom even offered to drive 40 minutes to cheer me on, but I told her I would be fine.  I waffled back and forth all day Thursday and all day Friday in the most dramatic fashion (aka my norm), but at the last minute I thought:  Geez girl, just go and walk if you have to.  It’s not the end of the world.

Saturday morning, I set my alarm SUPER early so that I could get a  serious dose of Sudafed in me well before the start time of 9:00AM.  It worked like a charm and I was only mildly plugged up by the time I pulled my car into the parking lot at 8:45.  I was still scared to death.  I’m not an overly independent person, so being all by myself while sick and under-trained…well, let’s just say it felt like a wave of doom coming for me.

After the national anthem and a prayer, we all shuffled over to the starting line.  These were the only 2 pictures I managed to snap, the view in front and behind me at the starting line:



From the start, I knew I was pushing myself a little bit too hard.  Too hard to maintain, anyway, and I knew that the possibility of me hitting a wall and having to walk to the finish was very real.  Once the crowd thinned out a bit, I found a comfortable pace and tried to stick around the same 4-5 runners.  I took a few walking breaks every mile and tried to clear out my sinuses as best I could.

I was surprised at how flat the course was!  I mean, the Ole 5K was also advertised as a mostly flat course and it was not at all.  This course was pretty flat, except for one medium size hill right after mile 2.  At least I think it was mile 2, I was pretty much in the zone the whole time!


Damn right I pushed myself up that hill!! I don’t want to say that this race was easy, because that would be a lie.  But, I was pleasantly surprised at how much easier it was for me than the races I did last year.  Emphasis on the –er.  By the time we starting coming down the home stretch and I could see the steeple of the church at the finish line, I was shocked!  3 miles had just flown by!!

By the time I rounded the corner, a little crowd of people cheering had formed and it took everything I had just to keep my little momentum going.  No one wants to lose gas when the finish lie is in sight and all eyes are on you!  As I entered the church parking lot, where the finish line/clock were, I was taken aback.  It was counting down the last few seconds and about to turn to 34 minutes!!  How is this possible?  Is this real?  I was in shock!  My current PR was 36:47.  I FLOORED IT.  People were probably wondering why I was trying to full on sprint to that finishing mat!!  Somehow, by the grace of God and my own stubborn will, I managed to snag a new PR!

I swear to you it felt like I was floating back to my car with my 2 banana halves and a smile as big as my face!!  I am so happy that I signed up for this race to begin with, but I’m also so thankful that my support system pushed me when I tried to flake out.  This was exactly what I needed to get pumped up for marathon relay training!

And then I ate a muffin as big as my face.  The End.

photo 3(7)

COST: $25, which went to great charity.

PARKING:  The epicenter of the race was St. Stephen’s church right in the middle of Sewickley.  There was plenty of free parking in the lots and in the nearby neighborhoods.  I arrived only 15 minutes prior to the start time and found a spot directly across the street!

BATHROOMS: The epicenter of the race was St. Stephen’s church.  It’s where the check-ins, food, prayers, and announcements were made.  It’s also where we started and finished.  They had 2 public restrooms which were available, but there were no other bathrooms on the course.

PRE-RACE GRUB:  I saw coffee, water, and some donuts but honestly I was too uncomfortable being alone in a room full of strangers to even notice!  There were options, though, because I saw people eating.

TIMING:  Chip-timed!

WEATHER:  Training for this race was TOUGH.  I have never been a cold weather runner, but boy did this race change that!  Thankfully, the weather on race day was a gorgeous 32*F with very little wind.

POST-RACE GRUB:  I grabbed bananas, but there were cookies and other fruit.  The race organizers really made this a great event with lots of friendly people and accessibility.

That Time I Surprised Myself With Awesomeness

25 Feb

Between the weather, work being busy, trying to get the house organized and packed (which I was informed that I am failing miserably at), and PMS, I think I have used up all of my excuses for not sticking to my training plan.  Instead, I have been hibernating, sleeping in, and being a lazy slob in general.

Then, I looked at the calender.  I am running a 5K in 11 days and I have yet to log enough mileage to qualify as even “mildly substantial.”  Womp, Womp.

So in the spirit of failure and un-achieved goals, I forced myself to put on warm clothes and go to the park for a run.  When I left the house, it was lightly snowing and it had just started to cover the streets and sidewalks.  The wind chill was measuring in at 19*F and I was dreading everything that was to come.  Except maybe the iced coffee I knew I would buy on my way home.

I wanted to start out nice and slow, since I feel like I always go hard and then burn out too quickly.  This was advantageous for two reasons actually – the beginning of the trail was covered in patches of ice which were disguised by mud!  Yikes!!


I love the Bridle Trail at Schenley Park.  I love the way it slowly wraps around the side of the hill.  I love how surrounded I feel by natural beauty while at the same time being smack dab in the middle of the city.  The Bridle Trail is never crowded nor is it desolate like the rapey trail by my house.

I think it holds a special place in my heart because I have a lot of good memories here.  When I first moved to the city, I was a mess both emotionally and physically.  I remember coming here for a 5K with my roommate and walking it IN FLIP FLOPS while slightly intoxicated.  I had no idea what I was in for.  That’s so funny to me now for some reason!

Several years later, I did another 5K here – the Greenfield Glide – with some of Christina’s immediate family.  There are actually quite a few cousins missing!  Yes, this is only PART of her immediate family.  Yes, everyone is super close and we see each other all the time.  It is amazing.


We all either walked or ran in memory of her Uncle Pat:  a marathon running, Golden Gloves boxing Irishman with the biggest heart of anyone I’ve ever met.  I will never forget watching his widow cross the finish line last, emotionally flocked by her adoring children and grandchildren.  It brings me to tears just thinking about how powerful that moment was.

I walked that particular race because I was afraid for people to see me struggle.  I was so new to running that I didn’t even know what chip timing was, so I didn’t even have a chip on!   I laugh thinking about how Christina’s dad was breathing down our necks the whole time, power walking right behind us and challenging us not to let him pass us.  At one point I’m pretty sure he was smoking a cigarette and still managed to finish just ahead of us!  I wasn’t laughing about that 20 lbs. ago but it’s humorous now.

I think of these memories almost every time I run at Schenley and it makes my heart happy.  I must’ve spaced out at some point because I ended up missing a turn and making a wider loop than I had intended.  I ended up having to climb a MONSTER hill only to be welcomed by all of the stairs which take me up to Schenley Oval and eventually my car.


Miss Negativity (aka the little voice in my head) was bitching HARD the whole time.  She was throwing herself on the ground and kicking her feet and stomping around and sighing and insisting that she just was not going to do the hill or the steps or any of it.  SO THERE.  Hmph.

But…I had to get back to my car.

When I got to the top of the hill, I had survived.  Surprise, surprise.  And so I made it a point to run the Oval as a sort of victory lap/middle finger to show her that I would be the one to determine where we went and how we got there thankyouverymuch.   I actually continued to run the whole way back to my car.  Who knew?  I finished strong on my so very tired legs, with a huge smile on my face, wings in my heart, and an unusual silence where Miss Negativity is usually filling up space.

I chose to become a runner because I wanted to be pushed out of my comfort zone.  I wanted to be active and become a healthier person.  I never could have imagined all of the things that running has given me.  Then again, running hasn’t given me anything really.  Running has proven to me that I am capable of so much more than I can imagine.  Again and again I am surprised at every one of my achievements.  And yet, I continue to improve every day.  So, really I gave this to myself.

I am at a point in my life where I honestly feel like I am the best version of myself that I have ever known – mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  And you know what?  That’s a pretty awesome feeling.


Things Yet To Be Seen

13 May

I swear, every time I commit to writing a series (Fish Fridays, Sum Up Sundays to name a few), it completely sucks out any motivation I have to complete the activity.

Do you have a habit of self-sabotaging?  Clearly, I do.

Here’s my current life crisis:

I have a 5K on Saturday.  A 5K which I committed to run in lieu of walking in my own commencement ceremony.  IN LIEU OF.

Then, 9 little labradoodles appeared in my living room.

Then, 1 especially little labradoodle started “fading.”

Then, his two super grand-dogmas swooped in and refused to give up on him!

I don’t know what’s going to happen with him.  He won’t put on weight.  We started dropper feeding him Esbilac’s goat milk puppy formula yesterday, hopefully it helps him.

photo from Amazon

Say a few little prayers for him, he needs it!  It’s been stressful and nerve-racking and patience testing.


As for my 5K, all I can do is try to get a few decent 2-2.5 mile runs in this week and give it my all.  I’ve been seriously reevaluating my early summer race schedule.

5 Days:  Mr. T Memorial 5K

20 Days:  Greenfield Glide 5K

39 Days:  Man Up! 10K

I will run for fun on Saturday with my brother to memorialize one of my favorite teachers from high school who died very suddenly in class of a heart attack a few years ago.  I will train to beat my current 5K time for the Greenfield Glide, which I’ve walked in but never raced.  But, can I train for 6.2 miles in only 39 days when my running schedule is practically non-existent at the moment?  Maybe.  Just maybe.  If I buckle down hard.  Christina has her doubts.

Will 2013 be the year of the 5K?  Will little doodle thrive?

In Training for Training

18 Feb

I think I owe you guys a fitness update, partially because I use this blog to hold myself accountable and partially because I don’t want to leave anyone with the impression that I’ve all ready flaked out on running.  I just figured people would be sick of hearing about the same. exact. thing. every day.

Lifecasting is soooo 2012, didn’t you hear…

That was sarcasm.  With a hint of mocking.  Do what you want, people, not what  people tell you to do.


Except that.  Don’t do that.

In January when I discussed my goals for the year, I recycled one from last year: running. Up until a few weeks ago, my training was inconsistent.  At best.  Then, at the beginning of last week I realized that me saying “I’ll do it tomorrow” wasn’t getting it done.  I’ve been putting things off until “tomorrow” for…..oh, I don’t know….28 years.  Then, I looked at my calendar and realized ohmygosh if I actually want to run the 5K I picked out in January, then I was running out of time to train.


Dramatic, yes.  But effective.

Every time I’ve attempted to train myself to run, I’ve opted for one of Hal Higdon’s plans.  They are easy to follow and they work.  They just work, ok?  Don’t doubt the Higdon.

Higdon’s training program is 8 weeks long.  Mind you, the day I decided to look at my calendar was 9 weeks out from the race date (April 13th).  Even though the Higdon program begins with a 1.5 mile run, I decided to use the extra week to build up my endurance.  I have a habit of burning out too quickly and I have to be careful because of an ankle injury from earlier in the year.  You can read more about my gracefulness here.

Here is what week one looked like for me:

Monday: 1 mile @ 14:33 pace
Wednesday: 1.25 miles @ 13:44 pace
Friday: 1.25 miles @ 12:48 pace

Now before you get all


on me…please keep in mind that I have never pushed myself to jog with no walking breaks EVER.  Before, as soon as I could feel myself starting to sweat, I would slow down.  I had a sweat aversion.  Last week, I not only proved to myself that I CAN do it, but that I can push myself to improve over the course of the week, and I’m learning to embrace the sweat.  One thing I am nervous about: treadmill running vs. running the actual course.  I suppose there’s nothing I can do about this until it warms up outside.  There’s nothing like frigid Pittsburgh temperatures to suck the motivation right out of a person.

This morning is officially Week One/Day One of Higdon’s training program and I am feeling motivated, accomplished, and inspirational.  Last week, I managed to convince Brother that he wants to run the 5K with me in April.  Its been a really great way for us to bond, even though we live an hour away from each other.  We have been checking in almost every day!  My sister is still on the fence, but I think she’s catching the bug.

The End.

A non-plan and other ramblings…

7 Jan

The snow is starting to melt ever-so-slightly in Pittsburgh.  Things are now at a state of either slush or ice.  My white, powdery snow has turned into grey and black gush that looks like tar-splatter.  The “winter wonderland” euphoria has worn off.

That being said, I dusted off my Asics and walked Liberty for about 2 miles.


A little side note – truthfully, I’ve had these shoes for awhile.  At least a year.  However, I haven’t logged many miles on them so they will be following me into 2013. If you are looking at this post thinking I know what the heck I’m talking about it when it comes to running shoes – you are mistaken.  Sorry.  There are double amputees out there that know more about running shoes than I do.

These are the by Asics and they are called RUSH33.

I basically bought them because they are neon.

When I wear them, I basically feel like this:

Own it! 😉

Anyway, luckily I feel all entitled when I wear my neon shoes because the sidewalks were barely shoveled at all.

While I did not fall, I’m sure you can imagine how slowly I maneuvered me and my giant dog over an entire sheet of ice based on some of my previous spills.  I’m glad I committed to the route I did, though, because once I got through the icy part, the rest of my usual loop was basically clear.

Now I’m snacking on some cheddar cheese and Sprite Zero, having a panic attack.  I know that I need to eat better, but when I think about changing my eating habits I freak out!  I know that processed foods are evil.  They are for so many more reasons than for your health (I will save that discussion for another post – our food system is one of the main issues I have with life in general).

I’ve tried about every single diet that’s out there.  However, I never stick to it long enough to see if it actually works.  I have to be true to myself and find out what’s best for ME.

For that reason, I’ve decided that this is my plan:

1. Limit my sugar intake.  As adults, we are probably all aware of the fact that most sugar we eat or drink can’t be broken down and our bodies store it as fat.  Blah blah blah.  Whatever.  All I know is that I’ve developed a mean sweet tooth this holiday and a fairly serious pop addiction.  (That’s soda for you squares.)  Some other areas where sugars hide in my diet are my perfect cup of coffee, condiments, snack foods like chips and pretzels, and cereal.  At the store tonight, I will probably buy things to snack on like: whole nuts, eggs to hard-boil, cheese, peanut butter and edamame.

2. Drink TONS of water.  Despite the fact that I know how good water is for me and how important it is that I drink 2.5 liters of water every day, I am the first one to crack open a Diet Coke.  Well, guess what, based on #1 up there – aspartame is out.

3. Eat intuitively.  I was first introduced to this concept by the writer over at RunEatRepeat.  You can find a really great description of it here, but its basically a strategy of listening to your body instead of trying to adhere to a set of rules also known as a “diet.”  The three things I like about the intuitive eating are A.) learning to respect your body when you feel full  B.) learning to respect your body when you feel hungry  and C.) learning what your personal satisfaction factor is.

So, that’s my plan.  I basically don’t have one.  But, I have to throw myself into this lifestyle change like my life is at stake.  Because it kind of is.  The life that I picture myself having is on the line.  I am basically double-dog-daring myself to be accountable for my choices and taking responsibility for my happiness.

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