Tag Archives: brave american 5k

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.

Brave-American-5K-Logo

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:

Brave-American-5K-2

Brave-American-5K-1

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!

Brave-American-5K-Course

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!!

Bridle-Trail-Schelney-Park-Pittsburgh-2

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.

Pats-Pack-2012-Greenfield-Glide

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.

Schenley-Park-Oval-Stairs

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.

Schenley-Selfie

Brave American 5K

24 Jan

Seems like most of my running friends are in full-swing training for spring racing season!  I, on the other hand, am sitting on the bench for about a week while my foot heals.  Because of course I stepped on a nail which had been lodged in the bottom of Christina’s boot!  I’m fine, but the location of the injury (my heel) sucks.  I have to kind of walk on my toes or favor my left foot, which is throwing my body a little out of whack.  It’s starting to feel better today, so hopefully I will be ready to hit the pavement when the weather breaks this weekend!

In other news, I registered for the Brave American 5K in early March.  The race raises money for wounded vets coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan.  Every $200 raised helps a vet stay the night at Boulder Crest Retreat for Wounded Warriors.  I will probably cry at the starting line and the finish.  Super patriotic happenings get me all weepy.

Brave-American-5K-Logo

I know that I said the Ole 5K was going to be my inaugural race for the year, but I’ve been feeling ansy.  I just can’t wait until the Ole 5K in April to kick off my 2014 race season!  Since I am not putting pressure on myself about training this time, I just feel excited! I’m not focusing on beating my PR or my time at all.  For me, having a goal to work towards is sometimes all the motivation I need.  Knowing that I have a race coming up will make me run on mornings that I may want to keeping hitting snooze!  I hope to get to a point with running that 3.2 miles don’t seem like no thang.

Brave American 5K Course

Brave American 5K Course

Honestly, I was on my way to that when the nail incident happened.  Frustration!  I’m not letting myself get down about it, though, because success isn’t supposed to be easy.  There are supposed to be obstacles.  Character is developed when you learn to overcome the obstacles you are given.  Some successes happen in spite of obstacles, and some successes happen because of obstacles.  Once my foot gets better, I know that I need to keep moving forward.  Hopefully having this race on the horizon will keep me on track. 🙂

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