Thursday, July 20, 2017

Oh the HUMIDITY

Ya'll it's hot! I mean, of course it is hot - it is after all Summer in South Carolina, but it is really really hot. And I know, it is cliche to say, it's not the heat, it's the humidity, but I'm not even kidding, IT'S THE HUMIDITY.

Every morning, for the past 3 weeks now I've woken up and looked at my new favorite weather app, WTForecast (seriously, this thing is HILARIOUS) and the humidity level has been at least 90%. It starts to take a toll on you. I keep telling myself, just think how badass you'll be in the Fall, but something has got to give. My running has suffered drastically in this.

These cows know what's up
For example, this past Sunday I met a friend for an 11 mile training run. We started at 7 am and it was 96% humidity and 73 degrees already. To say it was rough would be an understatement. More like miserable!! It wasn't as bad as my last month's worst run ever (see here) but it was bad. I honestly was hoping that my friend would want to bail after we did the trail once, but she was a trooper, so I was too. At one point during the run I heard some mooing and looked over and a whole herd of cows were chilling in the river. I was super jealous of them! Afterwards, I was able to literally wring out my hair and create a small puddle!

Unfortunately, I have a Half Marathon coming up in about 2 months so taking the summer off is not an option, however, I am toying with reducing my miles and doing more cross training until the worst of the summer is over. The next few Tuesdays will be trail runs in the woods to help with the worst of the heat. I may suck it up and do some treadmill as I have access to a gym.

How do you keep cool in the heat of the summer? Any tips (or even commiserating) are 100% welcome.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

5th annual Common Heart Firecracker Run

This year my Fleet Feet Training Group chose as their Summer goal race the 5th annual Common Heart Firecracker Run. It was my first time running this race, but I had heard some really great things about it from friends, so I was excited to do it. Not only was the course highly praised, but it is a great local race in that it supports the Common Heart charity, a local food pantry that does a lot of amazing work in the area. I signed up for the 10K course.

We've been having a rough summer here in the Charlotte area already as far as heat and humidity and race day was no exception. In fact, it was 98% humidity when I arrived that the race site in the Lake Park Village in Indian Trail, NC (about a 40 min drive for me). The Start/Finish area was located right in the village center near a big park and shops, so there was plenty of parking available. My training group coordinator had picked up our packets for us the day before so I cannot comment on pick up, but the packets were in red, white, and blue bags and contained the usual trinkets, a few pens, key chain, magnet, lots of sponsor flyers, literature about Common Heart and the race shirt. Shirts were your basic 100% cotton grey unisex t-shirt with race logo on front and sponsors on the back. TBH, I will probably never wear it.

15 minutes before the 7:30 10K start, we were all called to line up at the Start. The 10K course was a large 3 mile loop around the Lake Park Village with a few turns here and there (basically, it was the 5K course twice with the start backed up .2 miles from the finish to get in the requite miles. The 5K course had been officially certified, but not the 10K. 

There was lots of cloud cover and some slight rain at the start, which did nothing to dent the oppressive humidity and temps were already rising in the mid-70s. The loop was beautiful, winding past the park, through the business district, around a lake and weaving through a few streets in the neighborhood. There were lots of course volunteers and a few police officers to direct traffic (the roads were partially closed, but being inside a neighborhood, there was very little traffic, all of which was held or re-routed away from runners. There was an aid station at the half-way point of the loop so 5K runners got 1 water station at mile 1.5 while the 10K runners passed it at 1.5 and again at 4.5. The clouds dispersed pretty quickly after the start and soon we were in full sun with little to no shade on the course. The course was very flat, but the humidity and the heat made the race a real challenge. I fell pretty short of my 10K PR but it wasn't my worst 10K performance and the course atmosphere, scenery and supporting a great cause made up for my lack of performance. Let's put it this way, I plan to make an impressive come back when I run it again next year.


There were no participation medals for either distance, but 1st, 2nd, and 3rd overall and AG winners received medals with 1st and 2nd also receiving gift cards to Omega Sports. Overall all, it was a great, well organized race for a great cause on a beautiful course, and I hope to run it again.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Bad Runs Happen

It's summer here in the south and that means HEAT and HUMIDITY, not exactly a runner's best friend. And this weekend, boy did I feel it. I had 2 runs to get in, a 5 mile and an 11 mile. I met my run group Sat. morning who was planning to do 4, so I figured I would do an extra 1 after. Feeling pretty good despite the humidity, I decided to try to keep up with faster pace group (who, full disclosure were taking it a bit slower due a race that evening) so I knocked out my 5 in around a 9:30 pace. Needless to say, I was pretty stoked with that. Seriously, it is 92% humidity. 9:30 pace!

This is me at the end. The smile is FAKE. I was dying!
Now Sunday, Sunday was a totally different story. Sunday SUCKED! It was what I consider the WORST run I've ever had. It was super humid again, 93%, and I started out at 6 am to meet a friend who would do the first 4 with me, leaving me 7 to finish on my own. The plan was to take it nice and slow, esp since the person I was meeting run typically a slower pace than me. So we set out on my regular Sunday trail (love Riverwalk). It was very apparent in the first half mile, that this run would be awful. I was dragging for some reason, and every single excuse I could think of kept echoing in my head. We ran out 2 miles, then turned around to head back to the trail head, with what I considered too many walk intervals. But I did keep going, so there's that.


I considered quitting at 4 and just trying again the next day, but I figured I was already out there and miserable, that at least if it got uglier there wouldn't be a witness any longer. I said goodbye to my friend, dug down deep and set back out onto the trail.

I kept telling myself, just do one more mile. And when I hit that, I did one more and one more and so on. The trail is just over 3 miles long one way and I kept pushing, at a horribly slow pace and walking on occasion, but I kept moving. My pace was well over a min per mile slower than I typically do for that distance, averaging in at 12:08, yesterday's 9:30 a distant memory.

Seriously considered just running right in
I made it to the end of the trail, took a quick break to take a photo, take a Huma gel, and texted my friend that I somehow pushed myself to the end of the trail. The trail ends into a river (literally! The path turns into a boat ramp) and I did contemplate just running right into the river as there is no way I could have gotten any wetter - I was sweat-soaked completely through.

Deciding against that, now I still had to head back. I was at just over 7 miles now with a bit over 3 to head back. The beauty of an out and back route is that you can't really quit, because you have to make it back to your car. More pushing and walking and pushing and walking, I somehow made it back to the front of the trail. I was at 10.3 miles, and that was all I could do. In order to get that last mile in, I would have had to turn back onto the trail and the thought of restarting, even for such a short distance, was more than I could bear. Plus, I had run out of water by now.

It was a bad run. A real bad run. But, I did it. I lived. I took yesterday completely off and tonight, I know I'm going to rock my run. At least, it will be better than Sunday's - right?

How about you? What was your worst run? Do you push through a bad run, or do you call it and try again another time?

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Where I Learn: I Am Not A Sprinter

Subtitle: Be careful what you teach your children as it may come back to bite you

Each year a local running group in my area sponsors an Open Community Track Meet. It is a fundraiser for an athletic scholarship for the local university (which I attended) and it is a really fun event that somehow I've never had a chance to participate in until this year. The event starts out with a few kids races and then several adult races, all super casual and the fun part is awards are given to 4th place finishers (as 4th place is an underappreciated placing).

2 Tough Girls Ready to Run
I talked to my little, who is 7 about it, and she was interested in competing. See she is training in order to do the Insane Inflatable race in Nov. and as excited as she is to bounce on the obstacles, she is nervous about the 5K distance. So I've been scheduling small races throughout the year to prove to her she can do it. The plan was she would do the 2 kids events (the 50 meter and 100 meter sprints) and then daddy would take her home while I did a few of the adult races. She was nervous but excited and we geared up and headed to the track.

Unfortunately on the way I got a call from the husband that he wouldn't make it in time due to a meeting at work. No big deal, a friend and her daughter would also be there and my little could hang with them while I run a few events. The meet went kinda late so we'd have to leave early which meant no 5K for me which I was ok with. Wasn't looking forward to doing 13 laps around the track anyway, that just sound's kinda boring to me.


First event was exclusive to the kids of a local school so we just watched and the little got to see what she would be doing. Next up, the kid's 50 meter. She raced in the 2nd group (1st was under 6, her wave was 7-8 year olds) and she ran her little heart out finishing solidly in the middle of the pack. Pulled up daddy on Facetime so he could watch. She was super excited and got a ribbon. Next up was the 100 meter and it didn't quite go as well for her. First of all, it was a HOT day. 84 degrees with no shade, and this was her first time sprinting. I recommended that she not run as hard as she could and instead pace herself to not run out of steam. She took that to heart and ended up placing last, which she was disappointed in. It took a bit to convince her that finishing last wasn't a big deal, that I was so proud of her for doing it and the important thing was she tried her best and had fun. That being brave enough to compete was the real win here, and it didn't matter her place. Our friends did the same and we were able to convince her. This will come back on me though.

Next up were the adult races. I first competed in a 100 meter sprint. I am not a sprinter. It was just a small group of us, 4 ladies and I managed to squeak out a 2nd place finish (1st place was WAY ahead of me though). Next event, 1 mile sprint. I took 1 look at the competition and was like, nope. It was mixed gender, only 1 other girl, and pretty sure the other competitors were about 15 years younger than me on average. I told my friend that I was going to sit it out as there was no way I could compete with them. Then I hear a little voice telling me, "Mommy, it is fine if you come in last place, what is important is that you try your best. I'll be proud of you no matter what."

After the 1 mile. I may have been last, but was still feeling strong
So you know what happened next of course. I lined up, fully expecting to get killed. And that is pretty much what happened. Although I will say, I did not technically come in last as I did pass this guy during the 2nd lap, but he quit shortly after. So I was the last one to cross the finish, but I did complete all 4 laps. Really wish I had been wearing some kind of timing so I know what my pace was, but if I had to guess, it was somewhere around just under 9 min mile, which for me is pretty great. I got a huge hug at the end and a very happy little girl who didn't feel so bad about finishing last anymore because mommy, who is a "real runner" also finished last in her event. So yeah, humbling, but worth it.

After that, I competed in one last event, the 4x 100 meter relay. We formed a team on the side of the track which consisted of 3 of us who are in a running group together and this nice guy we just met at the event. I was the 2nd leg and had a lot of fun talking to this really nervous 4th grader who had never run a relay before. I gave him some tips and made him laugh some and he did awesome. I think our team came in 5th, but I honestly wasn't paying attention, it was just for fun.

By then it was almost 7 pm and I had a little who hadn't had dinner and needed a shower so it was time to take her home. Overall, it was a lot of fun and the little said she wanted to do it again (she was sad she'd have to wait a year). But yeah, while I may compete again next year, I'll stick to distance running over sprinting thank you very much!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Kings Mountain Marathon (Half) Race Recap

This was my first year running the Kings Mountain Half Marathon, but it has quite a reputation with local running groups as it is touted as an out and back course that is somehow uphill both ways. I mean, it is on a mountain for goodness sake. I'm not going to sugar coat it, this is a tough course, but when you finish it, you feel like a total badass!
The race is pretty small, just 170 participants for both the Half and the Full which started at the same time. With it being so small, each running is given special attention, with a welcome to the race twitter post by the management company when you register, to several pre-race emails. The race management (coordinated by Adventure Geeks Productions) really get to know the racers, recognizing multi-year participants by face/name making it a real intimate race.
I did day of packet pickup and it went super smooth and quick. I arrived early and carpooled with a friend and we were able to park right at the start. Participants who arrived later would have to park a mile or so away, but there was a shuttle bus bringing them to the start, so it was not a big deal. We received bags with s really nice tech shirt, a buff and Clif bar. We were told to hold on to the bottom portion of our bib to exchange for a post race meal (burger, hot dog or chicken sandwich with chips, muffin and drink) provided by a local Boy Scout troop.
The course winds through Kings Mountain State Park, which is absolutely beautiful. It was an unusually hot and humid race day, but luckily being on the mountain cooled things slightly, plus the course is very wooded so there was lots of shade. I considered not wearing my sunglasses, but glad I did for the last 2 miles when the sun came up fully. The first 4.5 miles of the Half was on paved road, which wasn't closed, but very minimal traffic (the Half and the Full followed the same route for just over a mile with the Half turning left and the Full turning right). After cresting a pretty big hill, the next 5 miles (consisting of about 2.5 miles down and then back again at the half way point) of the Half were on a gravel road with some pretty decent up and downs. At the turn around there was a port-a-potty and an aide station. The course had fully stocked aide stations about every 2. 5 miles with water, Gatorade, gels, protein bars and toilet paper (just in case you needed to hit the woods) and lots of volunteers cheering on the runners. At mile 10, someone was handing out cold towels and ice. The last 4.5 miles was running back to the start but somehow, the hills seemed so much worse the 2nd time around, esp the one at around 11.5 miles. I really had to push myself up that one and I think everyone within my sight walked a portion of it (including me).
At the finish, there were lots of people cheering runners and the race director called out each person as they crossed the line. The medal was awesome and doubled as a bottle opener. Despite the hills, heat and humidity, I managed a 3rd place age group finish! The awards ceremony was really nice with place boxes for award winners to stand on. Overall winners were given glass plaques while AG winners were given pint glasses with the race logo. It was awesome.
In summary, this race was a challenge, probably the hardest race I've ever done, but also one of the most enjoyable and best managed. I will absolutely do it again next year. Highly, highly recommend!!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

For the Love of Oofos

My Project Pink Oofos. <3
This is a long overdue post that I have been meaning to make. About a month ago, I received via a contest on Twitter during a #BibChat, a free pair of Oofos Recovery Sandals. Let me just get this out of the way, THEY ARE THE BEST THINGS THAT I'VE EVER PUT ON MY FEET!! EVER!!

Okay, you can see I am excited about them. And I am feeling guilty that I haven't posted earlier, but ya'll let me tell you, go and get yourself some now if you are a runner. Previous to being amazingly gifted these flip flops that were sent from above, I was developing a nasty case of plantar fascitis in my left foot. I was keeping it at bay with stretching, but could feel it creeping up after each run. Now I have these bad boys to cradle my arches and the pain pretty much as disappeared. These shoes are no joke. I ran a crazy tough half marathon last weekend and smart me packed my Oofos in my race day bag. I'm not even kidding, I crossed the finish line, got my medal, and went straight to my car to change. My calves were starting to cramp up on the walk over and the moment I put them on, I felt my feet and legs relax.
No shame. Wore them right up on the podium.

Anyway, just wanted to extend a huge thank you to both BibRave and Oofos for gifting me these little clouds to walk on. I wish I could wear them at all times. I am planning to get myself a pair of the slide sandals so I can wear them with socks (yeah, gonna be that girl) too.

If you've ever been considering recovery footwear, seriously, you should. Check them out here- https://www.oofos.com. Also, be sure to join me and other awesome people in the running community each Tuesday evening at 9 pm (EST) for #BibChat on Twitter to chat about running topics and for chances to win awesome sponsor prizes. Just log on to your Twitter and follow BibRave - https://twitter.com/BibRave to find out more.

How about you? Any specialty footwear that you are all excited about? Love your shoes? Tell me about them.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Come See Me Road Races 5K Review

The Come See Me Road Races are a part of Rock Hill, SC's Come See Me Festival, a 10 day festival each spring with events all over town. This was my second time running the Come See Me Road Race 5K, though this year the race location moved back into the center of Rock Hill starting at the Winthrop University Coliseum. The past 3 years, the Road Races included a half marathon (which I had run multiple times), but with the move into town, the Half was eliminated and a 10K added. Was super disappointed about that decision as this Half had become my benchmark race for improvement year over year. But I will admit that it was nice to not have to wake up early for a race for once as it took place just 2 miles from my house. Heck, I considered running to the race!

Packet pickup was Friday evening at the Winthrop Coliseum, where the race would take place (you could also pick up morning of). It was easy in and easy out with lots of parking as the area is designed for large crowds. Packets were well organized. There were, however, lots of complaints about the race shirts. The good news was they were tech shirts. The bad news is that they were huge-to-size. I ordered a Med. as I usually do and realized upon holding it up that I easily could have fit 3 of me in it. There were no extra shirts for exchanges and those signing up at packet pick up were not going to get shirts, so I ended up actually giving my shirt to a man who was signing up for his first race ever. I doubt I would have worn the way too big shirt, and I felt he would appreciate the shirt much more. I heard from several others that the shirts in their packets did not actually match their registration order and some who had ordered before the deadline even did not receive shirts either. The packet also contained a 5K or 10K magnet, water bottle and chapstick with sponsor logos in a cloth bag (shopping type, not drawstring).
The morning of the race was a bit confusing as there was not much information on where to go. The race information said that the race started at the Winthrop University Coliseum. The Coliseum in fact is in the center of a 325 acre sports complex and the race actually started at Winthrop Lake, which is a pretty good hike from the Coliseum. There was also no official "Start" line, just a mark on the road and lots of people were asking where exactly to line up. On top of that, apparently the bullhorn for the start broke, so a volunteer sat on someone's shoulders and shouted to start the race.
From the race start, I'll be honest, I couldn't say if the route was well marked or not, I am assuming it was, but since again the race was so close to my house, I literally run this area several times a week so I could do it with my eyes closed. It is a beautiful area to run through, past the lake, through the sports complex past the baseball field, Coliseum and tennis courts and then down one of the most beautiful residential streets in Rock Hill. The route turns right before Winthrop University, and back up another street leading back to the sports complex. The final mile was a lap around the other side of the sports complex with Finish Line set up at the Historic Dairy Barn stone wall (the sports complex used to be a farm when Winthrop first opened). It's a super simple course, but I may be biased because again, I run this route a lot. I heard from friends running the 10K that the 10K course was a bit rough and knowing their route, I would agree. There was a tricky bit that goes down a pretty small bike path that could be pretty confusing if you didn't know the area.
The 5K began at 8:30 am and honestly it was already hot. Would have much preferred even a half hour earlier start time due to the heat. There were 2 water stations on the course that had plenty of volunteers handing out water. The finish had lots of water, oranges, bananas and bagels. All finishers, 5K and 10K receive a medal.
Overall it was a good local race and I will do it again for sure as it is a super convenient race and lots of my running buddies do it. I spend more time socializing this race than running it. My results were ok (28:54 with a 4th place AG finish) but I know I could have done better, so I was disappointed. I'm really hoping they bring back the Half (Race Director said they were looking into).

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Happy Runniversary to Me

Pre race - ready to run
Today is the Anniversary of my first race. 3 years ago and a bit more, I decided I wanted to get healthy and for some reason, running was my answer. In Feb. 2014, I set a goal, I was going to run a 5K at the annual Come See Me festival that April. I ordered a Couch to 5K program on my phone and set to work. I followed the plan to a T and on race day, I was incredibly nervous, but ready. That was 3 years ago today. I did my first 5K, running the whole way, in a respectable 35:40 min.

Crossing the finish line!
3 years, -40 lbs, hundreds of new running friends and too many races later to count later, I am still going. Every year when the Come See Me Road Races roll around I get a bit nostalgic. The past 2 years, I ran the Half Marathon option, but this year I am doing the 5K again (they phased out the Half this year) on April 22nd. Here's to many more!

What was your first race? Have you run it since?

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Big Question

Why? I get that asked of me a lot. Why do you run? Here's my story -

I have struggled with being healthy for most of my adult life. Never really happy with how I looked or how I felt, but not really unhappy enough to do much more about it than sporadic dieting and/or exercise. I wasn't really obese, but I wasn't thin by any stretch of the imagination. Just in that zone where you get comfortable.

In Feb. 2014, we decided to take my little one on a birthday trip to Disney World. When we got home, I started the daunting task of going through the over 1,000 photos we (and others in our group of 9) took during the week long trip. Looking at photo after photo after photo, there was no denying it, I looked FAT. That week I decided that was it. I was going to get into shape. I didn't have a whole lot of disposable income due to just dropping $5,000 on a week long Disney trip, so I figured, hey, it's free to run. I used  a gift card left over from Christmas to Kohls to buy a pair of Nike running shoes and downloaded a free Couch to 5K app on my phone and hit the road. Almost 3 years later, I have learned so much more (including that running is NOT free) and I'm still at it. I've lost 40 pounds, become so much healthier, accomplished a number of goals and made life-long friendships.

So for me, ultimately it started as a free/cheap way to lose weight, but running has become a bit addictive to me now. I start to get antsy if I go to long without a run now. It has become a part of who I am.

How about you? Why do you run?

Monday, January 16, 2017

Overcoming Self Doubt - Or At Least Pretending To

I haven't posted again since my first post because I was in a kind of bad place motivation wise. See, I am not to most optimistic girl on the block, and I had a HUGE goal race this past weekend. One that would determine my running course for the rest of the year. And I had little confidence I would make it and was letting that self doubt affect everything else in my life. Long story short - I needed to hit a 10K time of or below 58:13 to qualify for a race team that I've really really been wanting to make. And this was it, last chance. Plus the last qualification timing I missed by 7 seconds. 7!!!

Long story short... after all the doubt, up to and including a mini breakdown at the start line where a friend let me cry on her shoulder, I did it. I ran it in 56:49. I'd like to say I had a dig deep moment and convinced myself I could do it and that fueled me, but the truth is, on the course even I was so convinced I'd miss the mark I actually stopped on one hill for a few seconds and sobbed a little before forcing myself to keep going. That little negative voice inside is my weakness, but being stubborn keeps it a bit at bay - I know this about myself and will struggle with it forever I think.

So how about you? What do you do when it seems like you'll fail? At one point I joked that I refused to miss the mark by seconds again, that instead, I'd lay down flat on the road when it was obvious I wouldn't make it, and just be done then and there. Luckily my stubbornness won out in the end this time. This time... 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2017 Trail Gnome Run - Happy New Year

I started the 2017 the same way as I did 2016, by running through the muddy woods with 249 other crazies and consuming yummy "good luck" food afterwards.

This was my second year doing the Baxter Trail Club New Year's Day Run and it will not be my last. This year's race was particularly fun as the swag had a cute Gnome theme, so now I have not only an awesome and adorable tech shirt, but also, all participants that hung around for the door prizes were given a Gnome pint glass.

All week I was anxious about the race as rain was in the forecast off and on both before and during the race. Last year it had rained for almost a full month prior to race day, so I know what this trail is like when it is full on muddy. Luckily, the rain held off until the early morning hours and even then, it was more of a light drizzle than rain. Plus, it pretty much fully stopped during the race. While it was still pretty muddy, conditions were pretty good with only one section really treacherous. With the much improved conditions, I was able to shave about 10 minutes off my time over last year and finished 13th female overall and 4th in my Age Group. While I had really really hoped to place, I cannot be upset about my time.

After the race, the main sponsor, Legal Remedy Brewery, treated us to craft beers on tap and a huge spread of New Year's Southern classics - Pork BBQ, Collards, Black Eye Peas and Cornbread, all to bring such and wealth in the upcoming year. It was crazy yummy and worth the entry just for the food.

I will for sure start of 2018 with this race, and since I will be advancing to the next age group in July, I will for sure place next year. Who knows, I may even brave the 18K.

So how about you? Any running or racing today? Tell me all about it. And have a very Happy 2017!!