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?

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.

I Might Be Getting Faster Or The 5K I Ran On No Sleep

I recently ran the last race of my favorite 5K race series, The Watermelon 5K Series, put on by the Lakeland Runner’s Club. (I previously wrote about races one/two and three.) It is a wonderful series that helps keep me motivated through the sweltering Florida summer and is like $30 for four races if you register early.

Even though I feel faster lately (this is completely due to some breakthroughs with my new running group), leading up to Watermelon 5K Race four was not ideal. Months earlier, I bought tickets to see The Killers at Hard Rock Live. Very exciting, but of course it was the night before the last race. My friend and I stayed for the entire concert. I didn’t drink at all, which was a first for me (not because I’m some huge drunk but because I do like a few beers at a concert). After the second encore, we decided to leave but there was a torrential downpour. I mean it was biblical. (Also it was truly hilarious to watch quite a few inebriated people staring out the doors and trying to decide what to do.) Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal but Hard Rock Live is located in Universal City Walk. That means we had to walk about two miles in the pouring rain to the parking garage. So we ran. (I am kind of glad that I was sober, would have been much more annoyed about this after a few.)

I got home around midnight and promptly passed out. (The concert was awesome and they played every song you would want to hear.) Somehow, I was able to wake up at 4 AM and got my butt out the door. I am not someone who does well with little-to-no sleep but I paid for the race and was going to run it (unless I slept through my alarm which I thought might happen.)

So the plan going into this race was to finish. Not die. Not pass out. Not fall asleep on my feet. So, it was a success there. Somehow, maybe it was the lack of sleep, I ran my fastest 5K ever.

Watermelon 5K Race Four Splits

Official time 30:43.

Watermelon 5K Race Four 2013 Finish

Not sure how I seemed to finish with no other people.

I loved that they took free commemorative photo’s of participants after the race was over.

Watermelon Number Four 2013 DinaRuns Picture

For running the series, I did get this awesome woman specific tech shirt.

Lakeland Runners Club Watermelon 5K 2013 Shirt

This is my second year running the Watermelon 5K Series and it is starting to mark the end of summer. Until next year, it was fun huffing and puffing my way around Lake Hollingsworth.

Two Races, One Time Or Am I Getting Slower?

Do you ever feel like you aren’t getting faster?

Running Motivation

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Every summer when the humidity is high and the heat unrelenting (I do live in Florida), I run a race series, The Watermelon 5K Series, hosted by the Lakeland Runner’s Club. There are four 5K’s throughout the summer and it is an amazing deal ($30 for four races.) You can read about race’s one and two here.

Lakeland-Runners-Club-Watermelon-5K-2013_

Last week was race number three and I ran it in exactly the same times as race number three. I ran 31:15 gun time and 30:56 clock time. On the bright side, at least I am not losing fitness but it seems odd to run two races in the same time. My Garmin matched my clock time exactly, so at least I am improving somewhere.

Garmin Time Watermelon 5k Race 3 2013

My finishing picture came out nice. (Although, my arms always looks strange in any pictures I see of myself running. I wonder if I need to work on my form or if my arms are normal?)

Watermelon 5K Finish Picture Dina Lakeland Runner's Club

A great race as always put on by the Lakeland Runner’s Club and I cannot wait for race number four.

The Post Where I Find Some Motivation

There may have been more of this lately.

Pizza Dominated

Than this.

Bathroom Selfie Runner

March was not a great month for me. I had a sinus infection that would not quit. I wasn’t sick enough to stay home from work but felt just crappy enough that working out just wasn’t happening.

Daily Mile Chart March 13

Nothing like seeing it in graph form.

I am feeling like myself again and slowly getting back on track.

Motivation PUSH

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I need to come up with a new plan for the next few months. The only thing I am certain of right now is that I am running the 18TH Annual Summer Sunrise Watermelon 5K Series.

Lakeland Runners Club Watermelon 5K 2013

If you are in Central Florida, you have to run this series. The dates are June 1, June 22, July 20, and August 17. The races take place around Lake Hollingsworth and are put on by the Lakeland Runner’s Club. You can register online here for the series ($30) or the first race on June 1 ($10).

This series really helped me get through the I can’t believe how hot it is Florida summer while still getting my butt out there to run. Races really help me stay motivated. You can read my recaps of this series from 2012 here, here, here, and here.

2012 OUC Orlando Half Marathon

Going into OUC Orlando Half Marathon, I was very unsure of my training. (I vented about it here if you are interested.) I was all over the place with changing my training plan, getting sick, and feeling like I was never going to get faster.

Pity Party

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Like most things, it was much worse in my head.

I started the race day off by waking up at the ungodly hour of 4 AM (in which I ask myself, why do I have to live in no-mans-land Polk County which is far from everywhere?) Had my typical pre-race breakfast of peanut butter and toast. I went back and forth on what to wear because the morning was in the low 50’s, which is chilly in the land of sunshine, but went with a t-shirt and shorts. I would much rather be chilly to start and comfortable during the race than sweating buckets because I am overdressed.

I got into Orlando with few issues and was lucky to be able to use J’s parking pass to park in a lot for free. (He goes to Florida A&M Law School which is in downtown Orlando.) The lot is a half a mile from Lake Eola so I counted that as my warm-up. The bathroom situation at the start was ideal, a fairly short wait for real bathrooms (no wait on the men’s side.) I love not having to use a porta-pottie.

I fought my way into the starting corral, lined up in between the 9-10 minute mile signs. There were so many people that I couldn’t even see the start, only the back of the heads of those in front of me. I was pretty cold in my shorts but luckily the wait was only a few minutes and then we were off.

I tried to start slow, my goal was to stay at a 10:30 pace, but did get caught up the the starting frenzy. It can be so difficult at the start to not get caught up in the frenzy of moving forward but I get better at every race.

OUC Orlando Half Marathon 2012 Race Route

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The race route was lovely and took you through some beautiful neighborhoods in Orlando. I loved everything about it minus the very painful brick roads. The last few miles had plenty of hills with bricks which may have caused me to swear. I get so paranoid running on uneven surfaces because I am a tad bit clumsy and likely to trip over my own feet, let alone uneven brick.

A few signs of what I consider a successful half marathon:

1. Not needing medical attention (this is one that I have for everyday life too.)

2. Not needing to pee (or at least being able to hold it until the end.)

3. Not bonking

So how did I do?

OUC Orlando Half Marathon 2012 Splits

I was a little slower than my goal to average a 10:30 m/m but I was able to avert a diaphragm cramp. I only am able to do this with some walking, so I walked a little.

My official time:

OUC Orlando Half Marathon 2012 Official Time

My official time of 2:23:29 is a half marathon PR of eight minutes! I hoped I could PR but really was unsure if it would happen. This gives me so much hope that I can drop my time even further for Gasparilla in February.

The medal:

OUC Orlando Half Marathon Medal

The race shirt:

OUC Orlando Half Marathon 2012 Shirt Race

Cool towels being handed out at the finish line:

Florida Milk Refuel Chocolate Milk Towel

So horrible, painful brick aside, I had so much fun running half marathon number three, the OUC Orlando Half Marathon.

Gasparilla Distance Classic 2012 Race Report

Saturday night I attended a charity dinner and left super early.

Polk County DEC Obama King Fundraiser

I had a small speaking part which was scary and awesome at the same time. I really need to get better at public speaking because my heart nearly beats out of my chest at the thought of it.

Polk County Obama King Fundraiser Program

I went straight from the event to my Mom’s house which is about a 20 minute drive from the race start.

I attempted to fall asleep but it was still pretty early and couldn’t sleep until 10:30. The weather was really loud and stormy plus I kept waking up assuming I slept through my alarm. Anytime I sleep in a room where I can’t see the time, this always happens.

My alarm did go off at 3 AM and I got up for coffee and breakfast. The wind was howling so loud that my Mom got up to check if I was still going.

I got into Tampa and the parking garage with no incident. I guess I was lost enough on Saturday, so Sunday went smoothly. As soon as I got out of my car in the garage, it started to rain. It was raining really hard and in combination with the wind, it was raining sideways. I wasn’t sure what to do, so I hung back in the parking garage to see if I could wait it out. It was starting to get late and I wasn’t sure how long the walk to the start would take me, so I decided to suck it up and get wet.

After getting drenched and of course my shoes were wet because of all the puddles, I made it into the convention center where most people were waiting. I actually ran into Carissa, which was nice because I had someone to talk to while we waited. Finally, the march over to the start began but it was still rainy and windy. I had on shorts and a tank top, so I was nearly frozen. It only got colder waiting in the last corral but at least the rain stopped.

As the race started, it was pretty congested. There were also a lot of puddles that people kept avoiding. The race begins with a fairly narrow bridge over to Davis Island that was a huge bottleneck. The good part was the bridge had to prevent people from going out too fast because people were squished together and there was no way around. The bad part is that there was definitely time lost trying to get over it.

After the bridge, people started to spread out. The run through Davis Island was relatively uneventful but it was cold and pretty windy.

Gasparilla 2012 Half Marathon Course

Crossing one more bridge, this time much less crowded, onto Bayshore was a nice change. The homes and water views on this road are just beautiful. I may have been fantasizing what it would be like to live in one of those houses and wake up to Bay views everyday, through most of the race.

At around mile seven, I needed to pee. I was making good time and every porta potty had a decent line. I decided that I would not stop unless I felt like I would burst. Around mile 11, I was at bursting point but it seemed crazy to stop so close to the finish line. I assumed there would be porta potties close to the finish. Of course, I had to go through a gauntlet of food vendors to get there. I ended up going in the convention center and nearly running (hobbling) up the stairs to the bathroom.

My pace throughout the race felt comfortable minus the crazy wind whipping me in the face. I did end up walking for a minute or two around mile 10 because of a massive stomach cramp. Slowing down for a few minutes pretty much made it go away.

Gasparilla 2012 Half Marathon Splits

I am surprised with my splits. My goal pace was 12:10 with a finish time of 2:39:29. I noticed early on that it felt comfortable to run a bit faster. I think the main difference besides typical race adrenaline was the weather. I ran the vast majority of my training runs after work when it was still quite hot out. Running in the dark with massive winds felt good. I was confident that my training was solid and was really prepared. These two factors made a big difference.

My official time was 2:31:38 which is a PR by 15 minutes and beat my goal time by eight minutes. I am so happy to see such an improvement because it can feel like you are working so hard but not improving. (I get like that at the end of a training cycle. Did I do enough? What about this run I missed? So much second guessing.) It gives me confidence that even though I am on the slow side, that with the right amount of training and effort, I can get faster. Being a slow runner is difficult mentally because many of the training runs, especially long runs, can take a huge chunk of your Saturday. For me, 14 miles is a three-hour process and that can be a lot of time to dedicate regularly. (I can’t even imagine marathon training at my pace. Would need to continue to be unemployed to do it.)

The Good

Organizers did a great job with terrible weather.

We started on time even though the weather was crappy.

Water stops were plentiful and the volunteers were very prepared.

Bad ass medal.

Gasparilla Half Marathon Medal 2012 Tampa

(So freaking cool.)

Little traffic congestion entering or leaving the race. (As someone who often gets lost, I appreciate this more than I can express.)

The Bad

Need to do a staggered start. The way runners were broken down was over/under a two-hour finish time. There was supposed to be a five-minute start time difference between the first and second corral. This did not do enough to help with the slow down crossing the bridge to Davis Island.

Bathrooms closer to the finish line. I cannot be the only person who crossed the finish line feeling like they were going to pee on themselves.

I really enjoyed the Gasparilla Distance Classic and can see why it is so popular in Central Florida. Will definitely be running this one next year.