Posts Tagged With: cool running

Race Recap: NYCRUNS Riverside Park Hot Chocolate 10K

I’m down to the final three weeks of training before the Disney Princess Half Marathon, and I convinced myself that it would be a great idea to run one last 10K. I basically had four good reasons:hotchocolate10k

1.) I haven’t run a 10K since last November, nor competed in a race in 2013 yet…and it just seemed like something I should do before taking on 13.1 miles later this month.

2.) I wasn’t particularly thrilled with either of my previous 10K times (59:18 and 59:15) because both races were run in unseasonably high temperatures — almost 80 degrees in NOVEMBER! — and on ridiculously hilly courses. I was pretty sure I could do better (spoiler alert: I DID!).

3.) I forgot to submit a time for corral placement for the half marathon, so I thought I’d give myself one more chance to ensure an earlier placement when I bring proof of time to the expo.

hotchocolate10k_24.) And the most important reason of all: I, ladies and gentlemen, am starting to PANIC about this half marathon. Like, really panic. So I thought it would be good to get all of the “race day” practice I can get…even if a 10K is still, technically, less than half of a half.

Of course, I scoured all of my favorite running websites for local 10Ks taking place in New Jersey in the final weeks before I head to Disney World, and found absolutely nothing except a handful of 5Ks. So I decided to consider running my first out-of-state race (granted, it’s only a 40-minute train ride, but still!) and ended up in New York City on this past BRUTALLY COLD Saturday morning for the NYCRUNS Riverside Park Hot Chocolate 10K. Seriously, it was frigid, and I was convinced that I’d have to be taken to the nearest hospital to be treated for hypothermia before I even crossed the starting line. (A special thanks to my boyfriend for jumping on a 6am train and freezing to death on a park bench just to see me cross the finish line…and take lots of pretty pictures!)

hotchocolate10k_5But then the race began and I found myself warming up, as always — and maintaining a respectable 9ish/mile pace. Most surprisingly, despite the fact that the park — which offered some FABULOUS views of the Hudson and my great state of New Jersey — contained lots of lovely hills to climb, and I was struggling with a droopy waist on my running tights and various cold-weather running issues (can someone please tell me: IS there a socially acceptable way to wipe the snot from your nose?), I couldn’t help but admit to myself that I felt pretty damn fantastic.

And I continued to feel fantastic for the entire duration of the race. I could have done without some of the hills, but overall, I was maintaining my target race pace, enjoying the views, and best of all, actually having fun. The hot chocolate awaiting the runners at the finish line was a much appreciated bonus, too!

I love running, but since I’ve been in half marathon training mode for months and months there are definitely days when it feels more like a chore…and those off days when I find myself winded halfway through an “easy” three-miler can make me question why I even bother.

But Saturday was not one of those days. As I flew through the final miles of the race, still feeling strong and without any need to stop (well, taking a moment to blow my nose might have been nice), I found myself thinking that I might just be able to do this. You know, run a half marathon.

Ihotchocolate10k_4 thought about the idea of running two 10Ks back-to-back, and for the first time didn’t shudder in fear. Don’t get me wrong — running a 10K is hard work, and I am definitely tired and sore (and hungry!) afterwards…but it’s now something that’s completely within my realm of possibility. I’m not afraid anymore.

Oh, and the icing on top of it all? I CRUSHED my previous 10K time from November (59:15) by three full minutes! My official chip time from this weekend’s race was 56:17, for a pace of 9:05/mile.

Regardless of what corral I end up in for the half marathon, I’m so proud to be able to submit my shiny new 10K PR. There’s nothing like seeing the fruits of your labor…and I never knew how exciting a measly three minutes could be!

hotchocolate10K_7Even though I haven’t been perfectly following my Cool Running half marathon training plan — I definitely don’t do speedwork consistently enough, and I always have to rearrange the mileage a bit based on my martial arts classes — I think it might just be working. Not only because I no longer have to stop to “tie my shoes” (read: catch my breath and combat the urge to drop dead on the side of the course) during races, but more importantly, because I’m no longer intimidated by other runners.

Granted, I’m typically the only one racing in a Sparkle Skirt — just because it’s fun! — and I know I won’t be taking first place anytime ever, but I’m finally starting to feel like I BELONG at that start line. I deserve to be there just as much as anyone else — including those people who finish a 10K in the amount of time it takes me to run a 5K! — because I am a “real” runner now.

And in just 20 days, I will be a half marathoner!

When did you start officially thinking of yourself as a a “real” runner?

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Welcoming 2013 with New Goals…Not Resolutions!

First things first: for those of you who have followed me over the years, as well as those who are seeing this blog for the very first time, I vow to you that THIS will be the year that I uphold my promise to update more frequently! I’ve set a very realistic and manageable goal — two posts per week — and I’m sticking to it.

So here it goes.happynewyear

Although I love the idea of a fresh start every January 1st, I’m really not a New Year’s resolution kind of gal. Anyone who has ever promised themselves that they’d lose weight in [insert year here] only to find themselves back on the couch with a bag of chips by January 15th knows that it takes a whole lot more than declaring a “resolution” once a year to make a permanent lifestyle change.

I prefer to live my one and only “resolution” — leading a healthy lifestyle — 365 days a year.

However, if there’s anything that the last six months of 2012 taught me, it’s that consistent goal-setting really is EVERYTHING. And best of all, you don’t have to wait until January 1, 2014 to set new goals for yourself…you can do it all year round!

Early last year, I would describe myself as a recreational runner at best. It was something I did to exercise, and that was pretty much it. At that point, I had participated in a few 5Ks and 4-milers “just for fun,” and had to admit that the thrill of crossing the finish line was unlike any I had ever experienced. I couldn’t deny my growing desire to give running a real shot.

I wanted to try a real training plan and I wanted to learn how to get faster and stronger, but I still couldn’t quite deny that nagging little voice in my head telling me that I would ALWAYS be too fat to run.

So when I raced in my local Firecracker 4-Miler on July 4th and found that my finishing time had not improved one little bit from my first time running the race in 2011 (it was also my first race overall), I decided it was time to make a choice.

Was I going to be a “real” runner, or what? And if so…what the heck was I waiting for?

I had to set a goal. A real goal. One that I couldn’t back out of even I wanted to. And that’s why, last August, I ended up setting the ultimate goal: to run a half-marathon. And not just any half-marathon…the Disney Princess Half Marathon in Feb. 2013.

I paid the pricey registration, booked myself an on-site room on the Walt Disney World resort, started comparing airfare, and Googled like crazy to find half-marathon training plans and advice on how I was actually going to make this goal a reality.

In the last six months of 2012, I followed training plans from Cool Running and raced in a handful of 5ks, 4-milers, and a 5-miler — and, surprise, surprise — my times started getting better and better! I even participated in two 10Ks, and much to my amazement, finished both in under 60 minutes.

I began the year struggling to maintain a 10-minute/mile pace, and now I’m averaging a 9-minute/mile pace. In 2011, I was running a 40-minute 4-miler, and now it takes me about 35 minutes. My 5K PR once hovered around 29 minutes, and in October I completed a sub-28 minute 5K for the first time.

thanksgiving

I celebrated the holidays not with alcohol and turkey and sweets (okay, fine, there was SOME of that going on!) but by racing in “turkey trots” and “jingle bell” runs. My Christmas list consisted of pretty much nothing but running gear and accessories, from a Garmin Forerunner 410 to more BondiBands and Sparkle Skirts to another Spibelt and fuel belt for long runs.

Yes, that’s right…I’m even doing “long runs” now! I used to think that the idea of me running five miles was laughable, if not downright impossible. And now my long runs are up to 10 miles and counting!

christmasBottom line? I am absolutely, utterly addicted to running. And it’s because I finally mustered the courage to set a goal that I can proudly say today that I am a “real” runner.

Whether it’s a weight loss goal (say, shedding those few extra holiday pounds!) or a running-related goal (like setting a new PR), consistently challenging ourselves with new feats to accomplish is how we grow. And that is why I’ve decided to make it official and declare my top three goals for 2013:

1.) Cross the finish line of my first half-marathon. An obvious choice! Aside from my weight loss, I don’t think I’ve ever wanted anything this much. I don’t care how long it takes me, or if I have to crawl across the finish line…I WILL do this!

2.) Pay closer attention to what my body is telling me. This is a big one for me. In the last few months I’ve dealt with a few minor injuries that I know resulted in pushing myself too hard. I combine my half-marathon training with my Muay Thai kickboxing, and because my two workouts of choice happen to be very high-impact, I’m working on learning how to just let my body rest (without the need to call myself “lazy”) and to know when I need to scale back my efforts for the sake of my well-being.

10k3.) Strive for improvement, not perfection. I am notoriously hard on myself, so when setting new goals this year, I will focus not on being “perfect” but on recognizing and celebrating my own personal improvement. That means no more beating myself up at the finish line when I miss setting a new PR or other time goal, or berating myself for indulging in dessert or not exactly following the day’s food plan. I am not perfect. I will never be perfect. And it’s time I start admitting it!

What are some of your goals for 2013?

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