Posts Tagged With: sparkle skirt

Race Recap: St. Paddy’s Day 10-Miler

In addition to consuming all sorts of green goodies yesterday — and, unfortunately, I don’t mean spinach and celery — I tackled a new race distance: the 10-miler. I ran the St. Paddy’s Day 10-miler hosted by the Freehold Area Running Club.

DSCF3094Once again, I cut it dangerously close to the start of the race — I underestimated just how long it would take to get there! I had an ambitious goal of 1:30 in mind for my finish time, but because I was doing this race “just for fun” and, no joke, was still feeling a little sore and tired from last weekend’s 20k (recap here!), I gave myself permission to slow down if necessary at any point during the race.

I’ve decided that since I seem to be racing pretty consistently now, that it would be prudent to pick and choose my BIG races to focus on, and then treat other races as practice. And yes, I do still have a hard time believing that I would ever call running 10 miles “fun,” or refer to it as “practice.” I don’t even know who I am anymore!

I am actually part Irish, and I’m sure you already know my affinity for running in costumes and/or any type of festive running gear, so I thought this would be a great way to celebrate the holiday and challenge myself with something a bit longer than a 5K (there were TONS of those in my neck of the woods this weekend). However, I was hesitant to sign up for this race because of the strict “no headphones” rule the club has posted on their website and the race applications. I know I should be able to run without headphones, but the music really does keep me out of my own head when I’m running, and it helps give me something else to focus on other than the physical agony of, you know, running 10 miles. I decided this race was just a tad too long to run without the distraction of music, so let’s just say I got a little creative with the use of my shamrock Bondiband over my ears…and may or may not have figured out a way to successfully hide the iPod wire in my hair. But I still kept the volume low and one earbud out the whole time so as to hear instructions from race volunteers, I swear!

DSCF3084I was able to keep a pretty steady 9:15-9:30 pace for the majority of the 10 miles, but I will say that the club’s description of  a course with”rolling hills” might have been just a little bit of an understatement. The course itself began in a park and then wound through back roads with some lovely home and nice scenery, but some of the hills were pretty damn steep…and they served as a not-so-gentle reminder that I should really be incorporating more consistent hill training into my weekly runs.

Much like my most recent 20k, I felt great right up until the end of the first 10K, and then things really start to go downhill for me (not literally, of course, because the final miles of the race had some pretty SERIOUS hills to climb). I’m still convinced that part of it is psychological, but I do still find myself mentally struggling in the second half of a race. Don’t get me wrong, my body is definitely feeling fatigued, and my legs may be sore, but it’s the mental dialogue I know I need to work on.

DSCF3085It takes everything I have not to chastise myself for falling behind a fellow runner I might have been pacing for most of the race, or for really struggling to maintain my speed in the last mile or two. I’m working on being a little bit kinder to myself and am slowly but surely developing the confidence to know that I CAN do this…I’ll be thrilled when I can finally get ANY sleep the night before a race.

I do feel as though my sudden addiction to racing is all part of my need to prove to myself that I AM a real, true, bonafide runner now…and that I CAN take on these longer distances. I guess I figure the more times I successfully complete a 10-miler or a 20K or a half marathon, eventually I’ll have to believe that I really do belong out there with all of the “real runners!”

The volunteers were really enthusiastic and helpful, but there wasn’t much in the way of spectators along the course. However, I did enjoy the fact that one of the spectators (a guy who was playing the trumpet at both last weekend’s race as well as yesterday’s race) recognized me and called me out…apparently I’ve become the “sparkly skirt girl” since I always race in a Sparkle Skirt!

And, I did finish right around my anticipated time…1:33. Given the hills and the fact that my body wasn’t fully recovered from the 20K, I’ll take it!

Overall, it was a well-organized event, and other than the fact that it was FREAKIN’ COLD (despite it being, you know, March and everything…), it really was a great race. The post-race goodies included bagels, donuts, Irish soda bread and beer (of course!), hot dogs, a2013-03-18 14.32.00nd soup — which was GREATLY appreciated — and I actually very much enjoy the t-shirt design. I definitely plan to run this race again next year!

Who else ran for St. Patrick’s Day? 😀

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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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