So this week was supposed to be my back on track week.  Raced three weekends in a row, celebrated by going to Disney World, then this week was back to race training for February.  And maybe getting rid of the extra “fluffiness” that I have accumulated during all of this racing and eating.  (Whoops.)  Tuesday, I hit the gym.  Ran a solid four miles.  And then by the end of the day on Wednesday, I had a terrible cold.  Didn’t even make it to work on Thursday because I felt like I was swallowing knives.  And not in the magical way.

Hoped to get out on the roads again today, but it didn’t happen.  I lifted weights for a while, and that felt good.  Probably won’t make it to rehearsals tomorrow night because I have no singing voice, so instead, I might hit the gym and try to get in another 3-4.  Gotta get back on track!

2010 Amish Country Half Marathon

I know what you’re thinking.  You ran a race called the Amish Country Half Marathon?  After two Disney halfs?  Sounds like a drastic difference.

And it was.  But not in a bad way.

I signed up for this race after I realized how close I was to achieving Half Fanatic status.  I just needed one more race sometime in November to make it.  And then I found this little race only 2.5 hours away.  Sounded perfect!

This was an inaugural race in a tiny town, but it was being run by a national race company, so I figured the support would be good and that it would be a well-run race. And I was pleased.  Colleen picked up my packet from the expo, so I can’t say much about that (and if it was even a real expo at all).  Nice tech t-shirt though.  Can’t complain about that.  Chip timing too.  Very important.

On race morning, we showed up, and because of traffic, they started the race a little bit late.  It was frustrating, since it was COLD, but nice for all those stuck in traffic.  There weren’t corrals – just start where you think you should start and get running.  Very quickly, I realized I was going to be in the back of this particular race.  I knew it was small, probably around 1000 people or so, but it welcomed walkers and had a 4 hour time limit, so I hoped I wasn’t going to be completely last.  I forced myself to not worry about my placement and just run smart.  I knew that pushing too hard would lead to disaster and I just needed to finish to get HF status.

I have to admit, in my head, I knew that my PR was 13:15 minute miles.  So if I could just keep things a bit faster than that, I’d have an easy new PR.  Considering my PR was based on a Disney race with photo stops (and a bathroom break) it was definitely feasible, but this course was HILLY.  So I wasn’t sure.

I set out with my 2:1 run/walk pattern and just kept on running.  Slow, but not too slow.  The course was gorgeous.  Farmhouses and wonderful Mennonite families out watching the race (not cheering, just watching, occasionally returning a wave).  The water stops were manned by Mennonite children, which was beyond adorable.  I found myself running among the same group of people, and we had a good time.  We were near the back, so they were letting cars pass, some more politely than others.  And of course, there were horses and buggys.  At one point, we almost got run over by a milk truck trying to pull in to a driveway.   That was a fun moment. But we all survived.

By mile 11, I knew that I had a PR.  I just had to keep moving and it was mine.  So I kept moving, even with all the crazy hills.  Actually, I think my run/walk pattern really helped with the hills.  Giant hill?  Just alter the plan so I’m walking up them and running down.  Easy as pie.  Except for that slightly gravelly hill.  But it was still doable.  And I came around the last turn and finished strong.  I felt great when I finished.  Not exhausted, not nauseous, not sore, just happy.  It was an awesome feeling.  The PR was mine, and HF was mine.  A great day all in all.

I really think I might run this race again next year.  Sure, I was probably one of the last 50 finishers, but it was such a gorgeous course that it was worth it.  I’m also a bit of a solo runner, so I didn’t mind being fairly alone.  I also had my music, which was nice, though weird when I ran past the Mennonite families while listening to Lady Gaga.  But then something slow and classical would come on as I ran past the wide open fields and it was beautiful.

2010 MCM10K Race Report

This was my first race with the ROTE contingent! Unfortunately, I didn’t meet up with them til afterwards.

As the title indicates, this 10K is part of the Marine Corps Marathon weekend, and with that comes a lot of perks. The expo was possibly the best expo I’ve been to in a long time – and from what I hear, it was smaller than last year! Great goody bags with lots of fun samples, and amazing vendors. I got to talk to the KT Tape people (who have amazing customer service) and I finally bought the running necklace that I’ve been searching for. The one thing I didn’t find was a long-sleeved red technical shirt. They have them for men, but all the womens’ shirts were in “girly” colors. Not that I’m complaining about girly colors, but I really wanted red.

This race was on Halloween, which meant that there were a lot of people in costume.  I am a little embarrassed to say that I was beaten by a guy in a crab costume running sideways.  Yeah.

Strangely enough, this was my first 10K.  I’m not sure how I missed this distance before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Sure, I had run 10Ks in training, but never as a race.  I wasn’t sure how to pace myself.  It wasn’t as long as a 10 miler, but definitely required more stamina than a 5K.  Either way, first race, so it’s a PR, right?

Finished in 1:20:25!  I struggled with letting my HR get too high, because it was “only” a 10K, so I shouldn’t have needed the walk breaks, right?  Well, I paid for that later.  I was absolutely wrecked by the end of the day.  Of course, that could have been due to what I did the rest of the day.

I met up with a number of ROTErs and we made our way to around the 22 mile mark of the marathon, where we met up with even more ROTErs.  And we cheered.  And we cheered and we cheered and we cheered.  We cheered on our friends and we cheered on strangers.  We cheered until the last person passed us.  And man, what fun that was.  I think that might have been the best part of the day.

Race Report – 2010 Army Ten Miler

First off, this race is emotionally very tough.  I grew up in the Midwest, an area of the country known for the intense support of the military.  And this race is filled with military – active military, retired military, family of military, etc.  There are a lot of wounded warriors participating, both in wheelchairs and on prosthetics.  There are also a lot of people wearing shirts reading “In memory of” or “In honor of.”  And then there are the spouses and children running “with” their family members overseas.

It’s intense.  And it always makes me want to run faster and run stronger.

Now on to my run.  Since being diagnosed with heart rate issues (must write post about that), I’ve had to slow down.  In fact, I’m thinking that I should set up a series of new PR goals – PRs for “before” issues and PRs for “after.”  I know that I’m never going to beat my old 10 miler PR, but it would be nice to have a new PR to go along with my new run/walk pattern.

For this race, I used a 2/1 walk/run pattern.  It felt a little bit slow, but I have to say, I felt really strong for the whole race.  My first mile was faster than the others, and that’s probably a bit because of the excitement of a race and a bit because of the way I set my watch.  Because I like that my Garmin 305 shows me my mile splits, I have it set to beep every 3 minutes, and then when it beeps, I watch it for the minute of walking.  So that means that for the first 3 minute interval, I run all 3 minutes.   I had moments where my HR got high, but I forced myself to just slow down, and my average HR for every mile was a very healthy point.

It was a bit of a weird race because a stranger discovered I was doing a 2/1 pace and decided to run with me.  She joked about hijacking my run.  I was alternately irritated and glad to have the company.  Ultimately she couldn’t keep up (though at times, I felt as though she was pushing me), and I lost her around mile 7.  I’ve never run with someone before, but I clearly should try it at some time.

My finishing time?  2:09:36.  A far cry from my old goal of 1:50:00.  But I’m really happy with that.  I kept a sub 13:00 pace.  I probably could have kept it up.  Based on this race, I think that PRing on a half marathon isn’t out of reach.  Not sure if it’s going to happen in my next race (two weeks after this one), but we’ll see.

The Army Ten Miler has some nice finisher’s bling.  Instead of a medal, it’s a Finisher’s Coin, in true military tradition.  It’s a great thing to have, something to pocket for a good luck charm or just keep on a dresser to remind you of your accomplishments.