Tag Archives: couch to 5k

Coming To Terms

26 Sep

I can’t even say that my absence has been well spent.  Well spent on working, yes.  But working isn’t what I write a blog about.  I would even venture to say that I’ve been avoiding you.  And avoiding this:  I will not be running The Great Race on Saturday.

I just can’t.  And not like I just can’t because I don’t believe in myself.  I can’t in that I haven’t put my shiny new running shoes on for over a month.  I can’t in that I’m not one of those people who can unintentionally step away from running and then just pick up right where I left off.  I’m also not the kind of person who can admit defeat.  But, here I am.  Coming to terms with the fact that my 2013 race season has ended and it was the year of the 5K.

The year of the 5K wasn’t a bad year.  It was actually my best year ever.  2013 is the year I started running.  Training for and running two 5Ks is nothing at all to be ashamed of.  In the Ole 5K, I surpassed my estimated pace goals by 2 minutes and shocked myself completely.  I learned that I am capable of so much more than I ever imagined.


In the John Thompson 5K, I placed third in my age group (I still can’t believe that), despite the fact that I had no idea how much more difficult a trail race is from a street race.


I really feel like I ruled in 2013.   And oh, yeah:  I also whelped a litter of puppies, flipped a friggin’ house, helped run a professional association, not to mention opened a new facility and picked up a ton more work at Changin’ Time.

2013 has been a year of huge personal and professional accomplishments.  2013 has also been a year of coming to terms with the fact that I can’t do it all.  And I have to be okay with that.  I have to take pride in what I have been able to accomplish and use my experience to develop realistic goals of the future.


Sum Up Sunday

19 May

This week was pathetic.

No, really.

But, then it was kind of awesome.

After taking 6 days 12 days off of my training plan to birth some puppies and complain about sleep deprivation, I was more than a little worried.  See, I have had this habit in the past of attempting to build some kind of running base and then losing motivation for a few months.  I’ve basically had to start from scratch more times than I care to count or share with y’all.  So, on Wednesday, it was clear that I had to hit the pavement to make sure I wasn’t going to die during my 5K on Saturday see what I was made of.  Turns out, I’m made of pure grit baby!

I knew I couldn’t mess around with a little 2 mile teaser, I had to really push myself.  Especially since I was terrified that the Transit would come around the corner blasting more tough love and inspiration.  I couldn’t stand the thought of being caught taking a walking break while the inspo-wagon was on duty.  That’s like a Biggest Loser casting video waiting to happen.  So I switched up my route and busted out 2.5 miles at a pretty decent pace (12:01 mile) considering my lapse in exercise.

Then, on Thursday morning I pumped it up even more to 2.92 miles at a 12:07 pace.  I knew I was going to be running a farther distance, so I intentionally ran a bit more conservatively.  And guess what?  I was only about a minute off of my 5K PR and only .28 miles off.

FINALLY. FINALLY, I have built up enough of a base that I am able to basically pick up where I left off.  FINALLY.  Not that I plan on taking 6-12 days away again.  But it feels so damn good to know I’m making progress.

I know that’s right, y’all!


Source: Tumblr

On Friday, I gave myself the day off to recover and rest before race day.

Saturday was race day!  I’m not going to say much except for that you can read the full recap on Monday.

So here we are, another weekly summary.  I’m now officially turning the corner and adventuring out of the safety of 5K-land and into to the minor leagues!  (I’m making this up as I go, but I’m pretty sure we can consider 10Ks minor league and half marathons major league, right?)

Race Recap: Ole 5K

14 Apr

Well, I did it.  I ran my first 5K on Saturday, April 13th, 2013.

I decided to wake up at 7 a.m. and eat a light breakfast on Saturday.  I had a banana, a piece of whole wheat toast with peanut butter, and some water.  I was a complete ball of nerves all morning and I was terrified to eat too much or drink too much water.  The 10 a.m. start time didn’t help – by the time we were getting ready to leave for the race, my stomach was grumbly.  I’m still not sure if this was nerves or hunger.

We were meeting my mom, brother, and sister in North Park before the race, which began at 10 a.m.  I don’t even know if you can call my mom punctual, which describes someone who is on time for things, because she is ridiculously eary to everything.  They arrived at about 8:15 a.m. for no reason!  I think she might have been a little nervous because my brother was registering the morning of the race.  Since I had pre-registered, I asked her to grab my race bib and timing chip, which they allowed her to do.  We arrived around 9:15 a.m.  and there were all ready TONS of people there.  I had received an email the night before letting us know they were expecting around 700 attendees!  (Not all were racers, though.)  I grabbed a slice of orange, pinned my race bib on, and got to stretching.


I was so freaked out about my clothes.  I had worn a t-shirt, because I always overheat.  But it was way colder than I expected and I ended up keeping my fleece jacket on.  I pinned my race bib on the front of my jacket, over top of my zipper.  Rookie mistake, which I’ll get to below.  I also opted not to wear my headphones because I wasn’t sure if Brother was going to stay with me or not.

At 9:40ish, while I was using the bathroom, I heard the announcement that we were to head to the starting line.  This was it, no turning back now.  My brother and I chatted on our way there and I reminded him to pace himself and not burn out in the beginning.  I also told him that if I was running too slowly for him, to leave me behind and run his own race.  We continued to stretch out at the starting line and talk about how hard we had worked to get to this point.  He’s absolutely adorable and I am so glad I asked him to train with me – this whole experience was such great bonding for the two of us.

And we were off!  We ran by the pavilion first, which allowed our cheering section to give us a big send off.  Also, for a photo op.  You can see us passing the orange cones for the finish line.


The course went around a big loop and ended up back near the pavilion.  Brother pulled ahead of me almost immediately, and I wished him good luck.  I didn’t have my phone or my headphones or anything, so I had no idea what my pace was like or how far I had gone.  I did keep pace with these two women who seemed to be at the same skill level as myself.  I stayed right behind them until just before the halfways point where we turned around.  Right before that point, I stopped to use the porta-potty.  I know.  But, my nerves were completely shot and I didn’t want to pee my pants.  Better safe than sorry!

Just after I used the bathroom, I saw Brother looping back around and he yelled “Great job, Michelle!! Keep going!”  and I yelled back “Thanks buddy!  You’re doing great, too!!”  Then, at the turn, I saw my mom and Christina with huge smiles and it was a huge motivation.


The cold weather was an issue for me.  I literally felt like each breath I took, my lungs were on fire with the cold air.  I felt like I was going to have an asthma attack!  But, by the halfway point, I was so hot and sweating.  As I was nearing them, I kept thinking that I wish I hadn’t pinned my bib on my jacket because I would have taken it off and given it to them.  In retrospect, I think that would have been a bad idee based on the temperature.  I was thankful for the water station at the turn and kept going.

This is where I feel it is safe to explain: this course is not what I expected.  I had checked the elevation chart, and yes, I saw that there were several hills.  But the course description kept saying: “mostly flat course,” and that overrode the geographic map.  As someone who holds a Master’s degree in a geography-based field, I should have known better.  Oh, there were hills.  There were hills going and hills coming.  There was nothing that would’ve posed a problem if I was walking, but I hadn’t really trained for elevation changes.  And I walked.  I took more walking breaks than I care to admit in this recap.

I struggled against those hills and my legs and most of all, my mind.  But then, there were three wonderful girls cheering for people somewhere in the middle of the course.  And some of the runners who were apparently running the course a second time were cheering for us.  And I felt like I could do it.  And then, and THEN, I came around a turn and I saw the girls who I ran behind for the first half of the race.  And then I felt awesome!  Just as I felt a little pep added to my step, I saw Brother heading back from the finish line which I could not yet see. He had come back to find me and finish with me because he’s the most perfect brother in the world!

Ole5K.LastLeg Ole5K.FinishLine

And even though I wanted to quit, I knew that I would run the whole way to that finish line because I could not let Brother down.  I could hear Christina and my mom before I could see them.  And you know what?  I dug down deep and found the energy to spring across the finish line and finish strong.  And IT. FELT. AWESOME.

I’m not sure what my exact finish time was because I was all ready fighting back tears.  They collected my timing chip as soon as I passed the clock.  My mom ran over to me and gave us both a big hug and then as soon as Christina hugged me, I was fighting back big tears.  I had done it.  I had done it.  I had done it.  I kept saying, “I can’t believe I just did that!”


But I did do it and Christina said that my finish time was close to 37 minutes.  (The race results haven’t posted yet, so I’m not 100% sure).  But y’all.  That makes my pace around a 12 minute mile.  I trained at a 14:00 mile!  I know it was just the adrenaline of the race and all the people and not having technology on my person.  I kept telling myself to just slow down, but I couldn’t.  I just couldn’t.  The whole time I just felt like I was going to slowly…well, until I caught up to the two women from the beginning of the race.  Then I realized why I kept having to take walking breaks – because I stopped to use the bathroom and literally stopped at the water station to re-tie my pants and still caught back up to them.  DUH.

But, no regrets.


I am really happy with my time and really proud of how I did.  I did better than I expected given the temperature and the hills.  I seriously reccommend this race to anyone who is looking for a good 5K in the Pittsburgh area.  It was really, really well organized and just plain old fun!

Here are some of my final thoughts on the details of the Ole 5K:

COST:  I paid only $20, for pre-registration.  There was also the option of early bird at $15; my brother ended up paying $25 the day of the race.  There was food provided before and after, along with a cute shirt.  I really felt like I got my money’s worth AND I knew it was going to a good cause (Father Scott & his Mexican clinic):


PARKING:  Parking was awesome.  It was really well organized, with at least 3 people directing cars into parking spots.  I say “parking spots,” but really we parking in the grove near the pavillion and starting line.  The race pavilion was directly across the street.  I noticed that there were two porta-potties in the parking lot.

BATHROOMS:  Also an extremely important thing to note.  There were 5 porta-potties near the pavilion, 2 in the parking lot, and I noticed at least 3 along the course.

PRE-RACE GRUB:  There were bagels and cream cheese, dougnuts, bananas, and oranges along with beverages.  I saw coffee and water, but there may have also been juice or a sports drink.  I was too nervous to even walk over to the bev table!

TIMING:  From what I could tell without a watch, the race started right on time.  We were clocked using timing chips.

WEATHER:  It was freezing.  Like, absolutely freezing – I think it ended up being between 35 – 40 degrees while I was running.  I felt so bad for my mom and Christina, cheering from the sidelines with rosey cheeks and chattering teeth!


POST-RACE GRUB:  After the race, we enjoyed a “fiesta!”   All attendees lined up in two single file lines and went through a nacho line.  The options for topping were rice, beans and peppers, ground beef, cheese, sour cream, and salsa.  I meant to take a photo, but I was so overwhelmed after the race.  By the time it occured to me to take a picture, I had all ready inhaled my nachos!  But, everything was really yummy and served hot.

Race Day Eve: Checking In

12 Apr


The 5K is tomorrow morning!!!

I don’t know why I’m so nervous, it’s not like I’m trying to win a medal. If this makes sense to anyone not living inside my brain: I have trained for nine straight weeks. NINE. And even after nine weeks, I’m still doubting myself. Not doubting that I can finish, because, lets be honest. If I one of my legs pulls a Kevin Ware and snaps, I will Walking Dead-style pull my bloody carcass across that finish line.

I just tried to find a GIF online of a crawling zombie and completely freaked myself out, to the point of closing the door to my office.  Instead, look at this adorable priest:

Father Scott Seethaler, who uses the Ole 5K to raise funds for the medical clinic he founded in Oaxaca, Mexico & named after his mother. (photo from Northern Connection magazine)

But, I did set a goal for myself to run the entire way and try not to take any walking breaks. Easier said than done, but I am going to be strong and I am going to be tough and I am going to push myself, dammit. Hal Higdon’s 5K Novice plan has me resting today and yesterday, which is nerve racking, especially since the last two weeks have been so inconsistent. I just keep randomly stretching and trying to mentally prepare myself.

This week, I’ve cut back on caffeine and processed foods and increased my intake of fruits, veggies, and whole grains. I’m embarrassed that this only became a priority the week of the race, but I can’t change that now! Better late than never. 🙂

Today, on race day eve, I am trying to fuel my body as well as possible. I ate a hearty breakfast of cheesy eggs, bacon, and almond milk. As my mid-day meal/snack, I packed a banana, 2 cups of halved strawberries, a bag of popped kennel corn, and celery with Alouette creamed cheese. I’ve been drinking tons of water. For dinner, I am keeping it simple with broiled steaks and a veg. I don’t want to eat anything different that’s going to make my stomach feel all wonky. Based on plans we made for tonight, I am allowing myself a late night bite. By no means do I plan on carb loading. Let’s get real: its a 5K (not a marathon) and with my nerves running so high, that’s just giving myself a permission to binge.

Every one has been so positive and encouraging, I really could not be more thankful for all the wonderful people I have in my life – especially ♥Christina.

The race doesn’t start until 10AM. I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing, but its one of several things I will talk about in my first ever race recap.

Oh my gosh, I am going to write my first race recap!!!!!  Anyway, wish me luck 🙂

Final 15: Checking In

28 Mar

Yep, that’s right.  It’s 15 days out from my first 5K.


Training has still been completely on the treadmill due to the weather.  I’ve read that treadmill training is not the best idea, but I have no regrets.  This is what works for me right now and its kept me on track.  I’m not yet a “runner of steel” – how many Pittsburgh runners refer to themselves.  These frigid temps would have definitely been an obstacle for me, one which I feel I overcame by using the treadmill.  The late Pennsylvania spring promises to be right around the corner and I’m looking forward to spending many of my last training runs outside.


When race day does arrive, I know that I will have some pacing issues.  I’m okay with that.  I will just continue to remind myself to slow down and focus on finishing, not trying to keep up with the other runners.  I’ve intentionally slowed down my pace on the treadmill and repeat to myself a little mantra: long & strong.  That’s how I need to run my race.  Focus on the longer distance, not the speed.  Run strong, finish strong.


I’m so completely nervous and excited and anxious, but I’m starting to feel ready.  This week I bumped my distance up to 2.75 miles and you know what?  It’s not that bad.  I know that as long as I focus on my goal of long & strong, I can and will finish.  This whole experience has been such a confidence boost for me.  I feel like such a boss every time I input my run into daily mile and so accomplished as the distances keep getting longer and longer.


One thing I know I need to work on is food.  I’m always confused about what I should be eating.  Am I getting enough carbs?  Am I eating too many carbs?  Am I getting enough protein?  How many calories should I be eating? It’s all very confusing and I feel like I should at least be losing some weight during this process.  I’m not though, so I wonder if I’m doing something wrong.  Losing weight is not the reason why I started running, but it sure would be a nice bonus!

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