Trying To Plan

Every year I swear I will turn into a more organized person who plans things well in advanced. Sometimes I succeed and other times I end up paying the most expensive entry fee to a race because I waited to the last minute to register. I am going to do better this year.

Organized Sommee Card

So here it is for all of the internet to see my tentative race plan for the remainder of 2014.

Race The Bar Lakeland Bar Association 5K

Race The Bar is a run/walk 5K on April 26 at 6PM in Lakeland, Florida. It is an evening race, so that should be fun. It has a post race party with food, drinks, and door prizes. J actually did an internship with the Florida Rural Legal Services, Inc. which is one of the race sponsors.

The Lakeland Runner’s Club 5K Watermelon series takes place on June 7, June 28, July 26, and August 23. $30 for four races that are always a ton of fun. This is my third year running this series and I know it will be a highlight of my summer running. This race also takes place in Lakeland, Florida around the beautiful Lake Hollingsworth.

Miracle Miles in Orlando Florida

Miracle Miles is one of the few 15K’s in Central Florida. I ran it once years ago and love the distance. The date for 2014 has not yet been announced but it normally is in September and will fit nicely into a fall half training plan. Miracle Miles is in Orlando, Florida.,

Red Ribbon Half Marathon & Run

The InnerAct Alliance Red Ribbon Half Marathon & Run is the only half marathon in Lakeland. This race is hilly (for Florida) course and I had so much fun running it last year. (Last years race report for those who are interested.) They are offering those who ran the inaugural race an entry for $45 if they register before April 13th. At that price for a half, it is impossible to say no.

So that’s my race plan for the rest of 2014. Not overly ambitious but it should be a lot of fun and I am hoping to cut a decent amount of time off of my 5K PR,.

Celebration Half Marathon Recap

The Celebration Marathon & Half Marathon, otherwise known as the race I almost didn’t run, was on Sunday. As I discussed here, I was freaking out because of a nagging IT Band issue that forced me to miss running most of January (I could run but the pain had me running with a slight limp which is very strange.) Ultimately, I decided that trying my best and walking if necessary, is a fine way to start a race.

On Sunday, I woke up at 4 AM and did the normal coffee/dicking around on the internet trying to wake up thing. I was not exaggerating about being nervous and did not sleep all well. After being sufficiently caffeinated, I ate a light breakfast and changed my clothes five times. It was a foggy cool 56 degrees and I could not decide whether to wear capris and a t-shirt or shorts and a tank. Preferring to err on the side of being cold, the shorts won.

I thought parking might be an issue for this race because the race start was in the downtown area and there is not a ton of parking. The residents tend to take up a lot of the street parking, so I knew that would be tough. I decided to park at Celebration Health, which is usually where I park for long runs, and walk the mile to the start. The good, I was able to use an actual bathroom before the race. The bad, I walk a mile much slower than I run it and I arrived at the start when they were singing the National Anthem. I attempted to squeeze myself into the starting corral but it was tight (plus moving during the anthem seems to be something people frown upon.) I eventually worked my way to the middle of the start and we were off.

My plan was to run at a comfortable pace and walk if I needed to. Luckily, it was cold enough that my leg started to feel slightly numb, which I think really helped with the pain. Celebration is such a beautiful place to run and I enjoyed looking at the houses and the pretty trees. (If you want to see what I mean, check out the course video found here.)

Around mile 7, I started to hurt and took more regular walk breaks. By around mile 11, I was done and watching my Garmin every 30 seconds hoping the miles were going faster than they seemed.

Celebration Half Split Times

As you can see, I had a tiny little bit of gas left to pull myself over the timing mat. I stuffed my face with some awesome food (garlic knots and a delicious muffin.) Wandered around the finish area for a bit to cool down and look for anyone I knew. (I did see a friend from the Lakeland Runner’s Club which was awesome.) Then I realized that I had to walk the mile back to my car but decided if I made it, would stop at Starbucks on the way home.

Official time 2:21:13. Not my best but not my worst. For the amount of training I missed and my wonky leg, I did much better than I expected.

So in a nut shell…

The Good:

Loved the medal.

Celebration Half Marathon Marathon Medal

Loved the shirt.

Celebration Marathon Half Marathon Race Shirt

Great food.

Race support was excellent. Lots of water stops with great volunteers.

Beautiful course.

Great price.

The Bad:

I had to hunt for my water after finishing the race.

Would prefer timing clocks throughout the course.

There was a delay in getting the times posted.

For an inaugural race, the good far outweighed the bad. The race is showing a lot of savvy by allowing people to give constructive criticism on their Facebook page. I know the race directors care about responses because I ran into one on the hike back to my car. He asked about my experience and took a few notes about the minor criticisms I had.

Ultimately, I really enjoyed running the Celebration Half Marathon and plan on running it again.

Race Day Nerves

So tomorrow this is happening.

Celebration Marathon Half Marathon

I have not been this freaked out and nervous about a race since maybe my first 5K.

So what makes Half Marathon number six so particularly scary?

I have a nagging pain in my right leg that has bothered me since around Christmas. As race day got closer, I decided to take time off from running to see if it would get better on its own. So my peak week of training I did not run at all. The following week I ran a modified training schedule, pretty much eliminating all speed work, and felt uncomfortable but passable. Going into the taper week, I ran 12 miles on Saturday. Felt fine for the 12 miles but my pace is definitely slower. Rested completely until Friday which I used as a test run. My leg still hurts, but I was able run. Today (Saturday) I ran a three-mile shakeout which felt better but not 100%.

I think one of the worst feelings is being unprepared and that is exactly how I feel about this race.

So what to do?

I want to run it because I am cheap and I paid for it.

I want to run it because it is an inaugural race in a town that I love to run in.

It is so disappointing because this training cycle was going so well. The last race I ran in 2013 was a PR that put me on target to PR on this race. That is just not going to happen tomorrow.

So game change, I plan on running for fun tomorrow. If I have to walk because my leg hurts I will. Celebration is a beautiful place to run and I will enjoy my surroundings.

Celebration Running Bridge

Celebration Palm Trees

Celebration Running Path

Have you ever decided not to run a race?

Are you Spartan?

I love to run and this past year have really pushed myself to regularly get in the gym to lift heavy things. Being a terrible blogger and a generally disorganized human being, I have yet to post any of my goals for 2014. I have them but they really haven’t gotten any further than swirling around in my head. Besides the obvious running goal of getting faster in every distance I normally race (yes I am super original), I want to try new things and do at least two unassisted pull-ups.

Maybe even climb a rope?

Who am I kidding, the only way I am climbing a rope is if there is a fire below it.

As far as trying new things, I really do want to try an obstacle race. I was excited when the Spartan Race contacted me to talk about an upcoming race, Tampa Special Ops Spartan Sprint.

Tampa Special Ops Spartan Sprint

The race is four miles filled with mud and all kinds of crazy obstacles.

Glad they give out medals and beer at the end. If I have to carry a big rock and get knocked over by some shirtless guy with a stick, someone needs to give me a beer!

They even have a Spartan Workout which is like boot camp on steroids. Would love to try such an intense workout.

Lucky for one of you badasses, the Spartan Race offered me a code for one lucky reader that is a free entry into any 2014 Spartan Race in the continental US in the open heat division. The giveaway will run from January 19, 2014 at 12 AM through January 26, 2014 at 12 AM. The winner will be chosen by Random.org and will be contacted by me with the entry code.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you don’t win, click here http://bit.ly/spartanwarrior to generate a 15% discount code. You can even use this discount to enter the Tampa Special Ops Spartan Sprint, which takes place on February 15.

Have you done an obstacle race? Does the mud feel as gross as I imagine it to?

Disclosure: Spartan Race did contact me to spread the word about the Tampa Special Ops Spartan Sprint. I have not been compensated in any way and all thoughts about the Spartan Race are my own.

The Last PR Of 2013

My last race of 2013 combined a few things I love running, libraries, and dogs. (The race includes a 5K, kids runs, and a race with your dogs.) The Jingle Bell Classic replaced the Shamrock Walk And Run. The new race added a 10K which was perfect because my 10K PR is so old, that running at an easy pace, I knew I would be faster.

The race took place in Winter Haven, Florida, which is a quick 15 minutes from my house. The parking was perfect and there was no traffic to speak of. The course is an out and back that takes you around Lake Silver.

JIngle Bell Classic 10K Course

I live in the land of many lakes and always enjoy water views on any run.

The weather was a perfect and I felt great the entire time.

Things I Loved About The Jingle Bell Classic

$35 entry fee

Proceeds benefit the Winter Haven Library

Long sleeved tech shirt with this guy on it

Jingle Bell Classic 10K Mascot

Race started with a Fiat done up like a reindeer

Close to my house

The only thing I can say that I didn’t love about this race is that somewhere just before mile five, a volunteer shouted that I was almost there just two miles to go. I looked at my watch hoping that he was wrong. (He was thankfully.)

JIngle Bell Classic 10K Splits

I have to share my splits because I never see numbers like this. This race is the ultimate confidence booster. It really makes me feel that the past six months of training has made a difference. For awhile, I thought I would never get faster but I have. I am still on the slow end of the scale but the difference between now and where I was a year ago, is vast. So lesson learned, hard work actually pays off.

My official time is 58:10 which means I obviously have Ninja-like skills at stopping my Garmin. I also came in second in my age group, which will probably never happen again, so I will enjoy it.

Red Ribbon Half Marathon

On Saturday, I ran Half Marathon number five, the Red Ribbon Half Marathon in Lakeland, Florida. This half was special in so many ways. It is the first half that I trained with a group and the first J was able to attend.

My training group met the night before for dinner and a last minute pep-talk from our coach. This really helped with my nerves because I was starting to feel a little sick (similar to a sinus cold) and was freaking out. Spending months training and getting sick the day before a race is the worst. I was assured this sick feeling was normal and luckily, I woke up the next day and felt fine.

Saturday started off like most running Saturday’s. Coffee, toast with peanut butter and cats staring at me wondering why I am up at 4 AM. Lakeland is about a 30 minute drive from my house but I wanted to give myself enough time to park. I ended up getting turned around and ended up on the wrong side of Lake Mirror. Luckily, I stumbled upon a park-n-ride lot with plenty of empty spaces which just happened to be steps from the finish line.

As I discussed in my goal post, my ultimate goal for this race was a 2:15. The course being a challenge, my coach thought that running with the 2:20/2:25 pace group would be a good idea and trying to push at the end if I could. I planned on doing this but there was only a 2:30 pace group and I thought that pace would be to slow.

So I lined up at the start, shivering, with the 2:15 pace group. I decided that if the pace felt fast, I would leave the group and finish the race alone. This was my first time running with a pace group and I am so glad I did. Yes, Florida is pretty flat, but we do have some hills and it seems like they were all in this race.

Elevation Red Ribbon Half Marathon 2013

Elevation Gain and Loss Red Ribbon Half Marathon 2013

Sticking with the pace group forced me to keep a steady pace and push through the hills.Of course all the the hill sprints, repeats, and hilly running routes, really prepared me to run this course. Not that the up and downs did not hurt, but I felt prepared for it.

Everything was going great until around mile 10. I got the worlds worst cramp and felt like death. I am pretty mad at myself for not just pushing through it (because what is three more miles after you just ran 10?) but I started to walk a bit. Hoping the cramp would go away and the 2:15 pace group passed me by.

So the last three miles were not my best but I was able to push through the last two hills. One, Johnson Ave., I ran quite a bit during my training. I hated it then and I hated it during the race. I will say that the cheering section near Florida Southern and all of the wonderful residents of Johnson Ave. did help keep me motivated up that terrible, terrible hill.

When the finish line was finally in my sights I was so relieved. Then I heard J screaming my name and it scared the crap out of me. I saw him snapping this picture.

Red Ribbon Half Marathon Finish

I just kind of stared at him a minute and kept going.

Red Ribbon Half Marathon Finish 2

Red Ribbon Half Marathon Finish Line Clock

After I crossed the finish line, I kept walking and ran into one of the girls from my training group. She did not mention it at the time, but she finished as the third female and second in her (and my) age group. I then remembered that J was there and I needed to find him because my phone was in my car. We walked over to the Runner’s Village to get my medal and some food.

Runner's Village Red Ribbon Half Marathon

The food was pretty good (provided by Publix.) They had muffins, granola, fruit, and chocolate milk. They were handing out those perfectly sized for the gym towels. I love those towels and think that every race should hand them out. J and I walked around a bit and watched the rest of my group finish. It was so amazing to watch people cross a finish line that I knew worked so hard.

I then made J take a picture of me with my medal. (I really need to learn how to stand getting my picture taken. I feel so silly posing, so I always just stand there.)

Red Ribbon Half Marathon 2013 DinaRuns Picture

Official chip time is 2:19:06 which is a PR by four minutes. On this hilly course, I’ll take it.

I was more consistent with my pace but it was obviously because I stuck to the 2:15 pace group for the majority of the race.

Red Ribbon Half Marathon Lakeland Florida Splits 2013

The timing is a little off because I ran with a brand new watch and didn’t realize that starting it was a two step process. My watch was off by a few minutes the entire race which was super annoying but completely my own fault.

I loved every second of this race and highly recommend it for anyone looking for a challenging course. For an inaugural race, the execution was flawless. This is one I definitely plan on running again.

Goals For The Red Ribbon Half Marathon

One of the best parts of a taper week, is the time it gives you to focus on your goals and reflect on your training. This training cycle I did so many things I hadn’t done before. I ran with a group, did lots of hills, and actually did track workouts. Did it all pay off? Hard to say before the race but I feel strong and as prepared as I can be.

Running Motivation Being Slow

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A Goal:

2:15

My running coach thinks this is a stretch. The course for The Red Ribbon Half Marathon is challenging. There are lots of steep (for Florida) hills. One particular hill, on Johnson Avenue, is toward the end of the race. My long runs have all taken on the same roads as the race and this particular hill is haunting me.

Luckily, I am running flat as a pancake Celebration Half Marathon at the end of January. Getting to 2:15 there will be a lot easier, so I am not stressed about that particular goal for Saturday. What my plan is, to start with the 2:25 pacer and see if I have more in the tank to drop down to faster pace in the last few miles. This way I should finish strong.

B Goal:

PR

As of right now, my Half Marathon PR is 2:23:05 which I ran at the Gasparilla Distance Classic in February of 2013. (This is also the race where I peed on myself. So yeah, I would like to have my half PR be from a different race.) I am faster this training cycle, so I am pretty sure I can beat this current PR.

Other Goals:

Negative Splits

I am not a smart racer. I always go out to fast and pay for it at the end. Pacing myself, saving something for the killer hills at the end is important.

Staying strong on the hills

I want to stay strong running the hills. One tip I read recently in Runner’s World was to think of keeping the same effort not the same pace. It also mentioned counting ten steps after you reach the peak of a hill because often people reach that point and slow down significantly. Those ten steps really help to keep the momentum going.

Not having to pee

My small bladder is my running nemesis. Ask anyone that runs with me, I need to pee right before I go out or I am in trouble. I need to find the perfect medium of being hydrated before the race but not having a full bladder. I do not think there will be room for a bathroom stop during this race and I do not want to lose the time. I also do not want to spend the whole race wondering if I have to go or should stop.

Consistency

Just as with the goal of negative splits, I tend to run at many different paces. This is something I am trying to work on during my training runs but staying consistent is difficult for me.

So, there it is. All of my goals for the Red Ribbon Half Marathon for all of the internets to see. Wish me luck.

New Shoes And The Secret To Getting Me Out On A Weeknight

Last week I attended Ladies Night at my local running store, FITniche. Actually getting me to go anywhere that is not the gym or running on a weeknight is a miracle. (Can you blame me? There is so much fall TV to watch. I have priorities here.)

Ladies Night at FitNiche

They had wine and food, which is usually enough to make me go anywhere, plus they gave out little gift bags that had all kinds of nutritional samples in them. When I could tear myself away from the free food, they had great stations where you could learn about different items in the store. (Listening to the bra demonstration really made me realize I probably should buy a new sports bra sometime this year. I don’t have a lot going on on top, but I may have sports bras that I still wear that were purchased in the early 2000’s.)

After attending the different stations (bra fit, nutrition, form analysis, and foam rollers), they signed off on a raffle ticket. My ticket was picked and I won new shoes! (I got the voicemail from my running coach the following day. I may have jumped up and down in excitement while listening to the message at the gym.)

I was able to pick any pair of Brooks shoes. Never having run in Brooks before, the very helpful sales associate helped me pick out a pair of Ravenna 4’s. I have only run in them once, but they felt great.

Brooks Ravenna 4

I also decided to try a pair of Asics GT-2000 2’s.

Asics GT-2000 2

Ever since they discontinued my beloved GT-2170’s, I have been trying to find a shoe that works. The huge ad in Runner’s World, plus the 30 day return period, sold me on giving this shoe another chance. (Please don’t disappoint me the way the terrible GT-1000’s that I wanted to love did.)

I was not able to contain myself with two pairs of shoes, I also grabbed some GU for the next few long runs. Then I spotted this.

GU Salted Caramel

GU Salted Caramel. It is really delicious. I do not usually take GU’s with caffeine but tried this on my long run this week. Not sure if the salt and caffeine had any effect, but the taste was delicious.

What goes better with new shoes but new socks.

Balega Socks

So the lesson learned here is you can’t win if you don’t play (plus that offering free wine and food is enough to make me leave the comfort of my couch on a Tuesday and spend more money than I intended on running items.)

I Feel Famous And Random Thoughts On Running

I was invited to participate in a Today Show Google + Hangout. The book we discussed is The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon.

It was so cool to be able to interact directly with an author and get questions answered that were bothering me about the book answered. I need this to happen for every book I read because I am the worst at not knowing anything (please don’t ever tell me you have a surprise for me or that you know something I don’t, it will make me crazy.)

I have actual proof that I am getting faster.

Track Comparison

The workout was for a ladder:

2×400 1×800 1×1600 1×800 2×400

The first set of splits is from this week and the second from the first track workout of this training season. This week is slightly faster but the main difference is how much easier it felt. A huge takeaway from this training cycle, is that hard workouts do payoff. Especially when you are willing to do anything to get faster, doing track and tempo workouts will give you gains.

I am not getting lost as much on my runs. After running these new (to me) Lakeland routes, I am generally able to get to my car without pulling out my phone and having it direct me. For someone who is as directionally challenged as me, this is a huge relief.

Futurama Running

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Half Marathon Training So Far

I am currently training for InnerAct Alliance Red Ribbon Half Marathon & Run in Lakeland, Florida. It will be my fifth half marathon and the first one that I trained with a group.

InnerAct Red Ribon Half Marathon & Run Lakeland Florida

What is different during this training cycle?

  • Running with a group
  • Track workouts
  • Running hills

My mileage and days running are actually less than in past training cycles. I am really enjoying having one complete rest day and being able to fit in two days of full-body weight training.

Total mileage from weeks two through five.

Weeks 2 3 4 5 half marathon training

The mileage for last week (36) would have been higher but a massive thunder storm stopped the track workout about four miles short.

Key Workouts

Hill Repeats

Hill Repeats August 13 Lakeland

In this workout we ran up the hills and walked back down. It hurt but the Red Ribbon Half is a hilly course, running these repeats can only help.

Track Workouts

8×400 Repeats with 200 walks in between

Painful but helpful to feel speedy (which rarely if ever happens to me.)

7×800 Repeats with 200 walks in between

Painful again but the Lakeland High School marking band practices when we run, so that was fun.

Hills

Hills Sept 3 Lakeland

I didn’t even know they had hills like this in Florida. They are massive and they sure are painful. This is a route I will remember and incorporate when training for future races.

Long Runs

The group is up to nine miles and I am already feeling a difference. Just looking through runs of similar distance from the beginning of 2013, I am significantly faster. As someone who is on the slow side and my number one goal is to get faster, this is really making my day.

Running Motivation Florence Griffith-Joyner

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