Why night races aren’t always fun

Happy Halloween!!!!!

After a great weekend of 5ks I decided I needed to run another soon, so when I saw that they were having a Halloween 5k on Tuesday night I decided to race. The Bully’s 5k for United Way at Mississippi State University started at 6:30, just after dark and took us around the campus. There was also a costume contest that the runners were participating in. I had no intention of winning the contest but still sort of dressed up for fun (and got some more use out of my Supergirl shirt). This time I paired it with some cute knee high socks to keep my ankles warm and thought it turned out pretty awesome.

My serious superhero face

They handed out glow in the dark necklaces and bracelets so that cars might possibly see us during the run, but I don’t think it worked very well for me. I wore the necklace wrapped around my arm because I thought it might be hard to run with it hitting me in the face. 

The start line was located at an intersection and I had a good feeling about the course since there seemed to be plenty of cops around to block off traffic. We started uphill, which was challenging, but I still managed to run a pretty fast first mile (for me). The entire course was rather hilly and it seemed like the uphills were more plentiful than the downhills. The further we ran, the more traffic seemed to be picking up and the less the roads were blocked off for us. There were a few times I thought I might get hit by a car and there was one dangerous part where we were supposed to cross the street to turn down another street and there was just car after car not willing to stop and let us over. 

The shirts are super cute, Halloween themed!

After about 2.5 miles my legs were feeling shot, guess I shouldn’t have spent 2 hours at the gym in the morning including doing a speed workout on the treadmill. But I powered through and tried to figure out where the heck the finish line was. As I turned down another street and stayed on the sidewalk due to all the cars, one of the volunteers told me I needed to cross the street to the parking lot and finish line. I cut through the grass and headed towards the cones I saw but still wasn’t at the finish line. I rounded the corner and saw some people standing around but there was no clock or cones or anything visibly marking the finish line. This is the point where I normally would have sprinted to the finish but I was so confused and wondering if maybe I had already crossed the finish line that I just kind of jogged across the line. I handed over the sticker I was required to wear on my shirt (and hope it didn’t fall off during the run) and then wondered why in the world they had us wear racing bibs.  I checked my Garmin, since there was no clock at the finish line and it said 25:31, which was 4 seconds shy of a PR, dang it! But I’m pretty proud of that time considering the traffic, hills, tired legs, and confusion.

I hung around and had a banana and a snack size bag of candy corn (the redemption for this race) because I was positive I had placed 2nd in my age group. Unbeknownst to me until the award ceremony, they were only giving out 1st place for each age group (not to mention they were 10 year age groups) For the $25 I paid to run in this race I would have liked a few more awards offered, but I can’t be too mad as long as my money went towards a good cause. I had gotten all excited about getting one of these cute trophies, even though I’m not a Mississippi State fan, it would have been a cool souvenir from our 3 years here in Mississippi.

Super cute cowbells, wish I could have won one.

I didn’t have my camera with me since I don’t like to run with any extra stuff but here are some photos before the race started. I really liked seeing all the creative costumes and I loved the fact that all the volunteers were dressed up. These photos are by Harriet Laird / MSU University Relations copyright, Mississippi State University.

Start line, I’m back in the second row.

The winner of the costume contest, can’t believe he ran in that suit.

Some of the awesome volunteers!

Some of the runners in their costumes.

Husband and wife dressed as the tortoise and Hare.

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Close…but no cigar

Friday was a great day! I drove the 4 hours down to the beach to see my long lost husband (well only 4 weeks lost). We met for lunch at Which Wich, my first time eating there, and I really liked it. To bad there is only one location in the entire state of Mississippi. Then Chris headed back to work and I went to the Condo to discover this waiting for me:

Tigger mug full of holiday Clif bars!
My hubby is so awesome!

Chris had signed up for two 5ks on Saturday and I had the decision to run one, both, or neither of them, depending on how I felt. Despite the surprisingly cold and very windy weather predicted for Saturday, I went to bed on Friday knowing I wanted to run both races. 
We got up early Saturday morning, dressed as warm as possible, and drove the 30+ miles to the race location in Pascagoula, MS. The Ingalls 5k on the Causeway started on Singing River Island and ran out across this bridge (in 50 degree weather and 20mph+ winds).

Bridge over open water=very windy!

The race was benefiting the Special Olympics so I decided to brave it and support this wonderful cause. I am so glad I did, because I not only received this amazing finishers medal (each one individually painted and handed out by participants from the Special Olympics) but I also got the sweetest kiss on the cheek as I was given my medal. 

Front of medal
The back of Chris’ and my medals, so cool!

I managed to finish the race in 26:14 despite fighting against the wind for more than half the race and I placed 3rd in my age group. There was also some wonderful pizza and cake for after the race and you bet I scarfed lots of that down.  

Then it was time to go searching for a last minute costume/something to keep us warm for our night 5k. I found a cute Supergirl shirt for cheap and got a thermal to wear under it. I also got a ear warmer headband because my ears were hurting really bad during the first run from all the cold and wind. It turned out to be colder weather than predicted so I’m glad I got this. Chris got a sock monkey hat to keep his ears warm/be his costume. 

I might have to wear this in all my races.

Once we got there and registered I spotted the trophies and knew I had to have one, they were so cool! The run finally started around 6:20 and it felt good to run and get the blood pumping. Despite the cold, I felt good and was running faster than I thought I would. I checked my Garmin way too many times because the course felt really long, but I was on pace to score my first 5k PR since April 2011 (25:29). I scored an amazing PR of 22:54, unfortunately the course was a bit short so that is not an actual 5k PR. My Garmin said 2.86, Chris’ said 2.90 and another friend’s said 2.98. The course wasn’t well marked so I guess that might have had something to do with it. 

Witches for the women, pumpkins for the men.

So now to address the title of this blog. Both the 5ks I ran yesterday were flat, fast courses and I had a great shot at getting a PR out of both of them. The wind during the morning 5k took that shot out of the running but I am so proud of the time I did get considering the wind. I know if the course for the night 5k had been long enough I would have gotten a PR of around 24:40 since I was running an 8:01 pace, so that made me really frustrated. However, I did do well enough to take home one of those awesome trophies with 2nd place in my age group and Chris also got one with 2nd in his age group! 

I also scored an awesome t shirt, bag, pretzels, laffy taffy, and some yummy bananas (they begged us to take some home since they had so many left). All in all it was a great day and I am ready to get out there again and finally get that 5k PR I’ve been wanting for the last year and a half. 




 

1st vs. 2nd Half Marathon

Ever since I ran my second half marathon on Sunday I have been thinking about the physical and mental differences I experienced with each one. Here’s a comparison of the two half Marathons (HM).

1. 1st HM- I physically and mentally felt like I had accomplished this big feat and pushed my body to its limit. (I also felt this way after I ran my first 10k)
2nd HM- It was challenging but also felt like just another long run

2. 1st HM- As soon as I crossed the finish line I was in pain and every step hurt like crazy. The day after, I could barely walk and every muscle in my body hurt. 
2nd HM- I felt my legs starting to tighten up when I stopped moving but they were fine after I was able to stretch.

3. 1st HM- After the race I was famished and everything tasted amazing. All day I couldn’t get enough food (lucky for me it was Thanksgiving).
2nd HM- I only ate what I knew I needed to refuel. Even at lunch time I forced myself to eat something simply because I knew I needed it, not because I was hungry. 

4. 1st HM- I rode the high from this race for weeks, but also had no interest in running anymore after I was done. It took me several months to find my love for running again.
2nd HM- The high from this race only lasted for the first day but I still have my love for running and am already planning my next half and possibly a full??

**The only lasting soreness I had from this last HM was in my deltoids and after looking at my pictures, I can see why. I really need to work on my running form and stop punching myself in the face.**

Massage and Cracker Barrel…yes please!

I decided to treat myself after the half marathon and get a deep tissue massage. I think I might have to do that after every race from now on. It was so relaxing I almost fell asleep and I really think it helped with some of the soreness, especially in my feet and back. I wish I could afford to have one of those done every week! 

My Mom went on a cruise over the weekend and was arriving home on Monday night. My Dad was going to pick her up from the bus that night and she called and suggested we eat at Cracker Barrel for dinner. Continuing the trend of my Monday splurge, I quickly said yes because A.) Cracker Barrel is one of my favorite restaurants and I haven’t eaten there in forever and B.) I ran a half marathon on Sunday and figured I needed to stuff myself silly. 


My Mom’s bus ended up being a lot later than expected and we didn’t eat until 9pm, so I was starving! I had chicken and dumplings, fried okra, green beans, biscuits, and a sweet tea (because you can’t eat southern food without sweet tea). I completely cleaned my plate and scarfed down 3 biscuits. Oh so good! I also saw this in the store and had to take a picture, I only wish it was an actual piece of candy corn and not just decorated to look like one. 

 

Tuesday morning I got up and Daisy and me headed back home. Can I just say that was the longest 5 hour drive of my life. I love going places and visiting friends and family but I get so bored on long drives, especially by myself. At least I had my Pandora 90s station to keep me company. 

 

Now I am unpacking, doing laundry, and repacking to head out once again and see the hubs. I’m excited because its been over a month since I saw him. I think that is the longest we have ever been apart since we met. 

AthHalf Half Marathon Recap part 3

In case you missed part 1 or part 2 of my race recap, I wrote about the morning leading up to the race and how I did on the run. As I crossed the finish line and stopped my Garmin, I was riding the high of not only achieving a PR but beating my goal of under 2 hours by over 2.5 minutes. I don’t remember feeling this tired as I crossed the finish line.
I accepted my finishers medal and a bottle of water from the wonderful volunteers at the finish line and made my way over to the food. At this point I ran into a wall of people and chaos worse than at the start line. One of the volunteers was yelling food to the right and exit to the left. I knew I really needed some fuel so I tried to head to the right. Unfortunately, everyone else was also thinking the same thing. There was only one sidewalk of space to enter and exit the food area so there was a lot of pushing and shoving. I don’t mind waiting in line for food but my legs were starting to hurt and I needed to keep moving. Also, I understand being happy about your accomplishment but it would have been nice if people went somewhere else to celebrate and let those of us that wanted food to get to it without having to climb over them. 

As far as the food went, there was plenty to choose from: bagels, bananas, muffins, pizza, smoothies, and many other things I didn’t take the time to see because I was trying to get out of the mass of people. I grabbed two quarter pieces of a bagel and a third of a banana (not sure what the point of cutting them up was, I would have liked to have a whole banana and bagel without having to grab a million different pieces) Even the muffins were cut in half, which just seemed weird to me. 


Luckily, I was able to cut through the Tate Student Center and not have to face the mass of people trying to push back past others trying to get food. I was worried about finding my Dad because we hadn’t set any definite meeting place for after the race. I headed up to the bridge in hopes that he stayed where he was and luckily found him without a problem. Now came the hard part of walking back to the car, a very steep half mile on tired legs. 

I got a picture with my medal and called my husband to tell him what my time was. He was a little jealous that I had beat his time again but very proud of how I did. (His first half time was 2:19:03, I ran my first a couple of months later in 2:05:39, then he ran his second half in 1:59:21 and once again I have triumphed!) 

We got back to the hotel so I could stretch, roll, and shower. It was when I took my shoes off that I felt how much pain I was experiencing in both of my feet. The injury I had suffered a few weeks back was definitely bothering me but now there was a new pain on the other foot, right in the middle of my instep. Needless to say, I got to hobble around for the rest of the day and Dad said I was walking like an old lady. Then we headed home and I got to eat some delicious leftover Pizza Hut pizza for lunch, yum yum! Do you think it’s weird that I had green peppers, black olives, and pineapple on it?

I need to add that I really enjoyed the enthusiasm of the spectators and volunteers. I also loved the massive amount of signs along the course and I am sad I couldn’t read all of them without slowing down. Shirtless dude who kept me entertained, thank you! I loved the singing and air drumming immensely.  

AthHalf Half Marathon Recap part 2

That’s my Dad in the red jacket taking pictures

As I talked about in part 1 of my half marathon recap, it was very crowded at the start line and it didn’t let up once our timing started after we crossed the line. I was able to start jogging but definitely not going very fast. I started trying to weave through the other runners as much as I could but I wanted to stay on the left side because that was were my Dad was going to be taking pictures. Unfortunately, there were so many people my Dad didn’t see me so I missed photo op #1. 
Since we were basically running around the block, my Dad was able to walk up the street and get some more pictures of us passing. I again tried to stay on the left side so he would see me, while still weaving through as many people as possible. Here is the one pic my Dad was able to snap before I zoomed by.

After I knew the photo ops were done, I started concentrating on keeping a comfortable pace while getting free of most of the crowd. I was feeling really good and keeping an awesome pace of around 8:35 and then after I hit mile 2 my legs just wanted to quit, they felt so tired and I began to question my fueling plan and whether I would be able to finish the race. I told myself to just keep going until mile 3.5, refuel, and then reassess how I was feeling. So I pushed through and got my peanut butter gu followed by some water at mile 4. 

I began to feel better and then we hit a nice long downhill that felt like it lasted for over a mile. This was when the euphoria hit and I felt like I had the biggest smile on my face. I was enjoying every minute of the downhill and felt like I could run forever. Then we got to mile 5 and the uphills started, just a few at first and one big one I powered up but then it felt like we just kept hitting more and more uphills and I started feeling sluggish again. We crossed the timing line at the 10k mark and I realized I had just ran my fastest ever 10k at 54:39. This gave me a nice push when I needed it and I knew I was still on target to meet my goal of finishing under 2 hours. 

Crossing the bridge over Sanford Stadium

At around mile 7 I started recognizing some landmarks from my college days, and realized we were heading towards the apartment building I lived in my junior and senior years. Unfortunately, we had to climb a couple of big hills to get there. By the time we made it to where my apartment was, we were headed down a nice hill. I totally missed the complex as I was concentrating on getting some water at mile 8 and trying not to focus on the pain that was radiating from my right ankle and up the back of my calf.

Heading up the first of the last 3 hills

The course then brought us to the east side of the UGA campus, which has changed so much in the last 9 years. The parking lots I remember are now dorms, but it was nice to be able to run down some of the same roads I walked down all those years ago and see the many changes and that some things are still the same. I refueled again at mile 9.5 and followed it with some water at mile 10. At this point I was ready to be done but I was really enjoying seeing the campus again. 

As I was nearing mile 12 I passed what used to be my dorm my sophomore year and sadly it no longer existed. A new building was going up in its place, this made me a bit sad but that quickly passed as I zoomed down the hill and headed towards the stadium and what would be the final leg of the half marathon. 

I pushed through the last 3 hills and finally headed downhill towards the entrance to Sanford Stadium. This was the part of the race I had waited all morning for! Actually I had been waiting months for this part of the race and it was so much better than I thought it would be. Running a lap around the hedges, being on the jumbotron, not once, but twice…So amazing and the perfect way to end a race. 

After leaving the stadium, it was just that final tenth of mile left and I was making great time. I was even kicking myself for not pushing harder and getting an even better time. So my goals were to set a PR (my first half marathon time was 2 hours 5 minutes and 37 seconds) and to finish under 2 hours. Here are my results:

So there is my recap for the race course. Overall, it was a great course, some of the hills tried to kill my spirit but I made it and I am stronger for it! Stay tuned for part 3 where I will review the finish line set up, post race food, and the race aftermath.   

The hills of Athens
Mile splits

AthHalf Half Marathon Recap part 1

The alarm went off at 5:15 and I got up easily, still not feeling anxious but also not feeling excited either. After dealing with the foot problems that have not completely gone away and some not so stellar training runs I wasn’t feeling very positive about my chances at a PR and I was just ready to get it over with. I got dressed and got everything together and went downstairs to meet my Dad for breakfast. 


The hotel provided a fairly common continental breakfast and I decided on a mini bagel with some jelly (sadly there was no peanut butter) and a blueberry muffin. I made sure I drank plenty of water and mentally prepared myself for the cold I was about to step out into. 

After breakfast we left the hotel to head to the start line. We managed to find parking within a block of the start line and I begrudgingly took off my sweatshirt. I had a quick motivational chat with my husband (he is so encouraging) and climbed out into the cold. I immediately started pumping my arms and jogging in place to try and get the blood flowing so I wouldn’t freeze before the race started. It actually was not that bad out as long as we stayed near the buildings and out of the wind. 


We headed over to the start line and staked out a warm spot to hang until closer to race time. I decided I should try to empty my bladder before the race and headed over to the port-a-potties. I made it halfway across the street when I saw the line and decided I would never get through it before the race started and I didn’t have to really go so I went back and started my warmup. My Dad was nice enough to lend me his jacket because my arms were freezing and I enjoyed the warmth until they announced it was time to head to the start line. 


There was supposed to be close to 3,000 runners and they told us to line up according to our bib numbers (hello I was 1007 and now I’m 2955!) because they were assigned according to estimated finishing time. Of course no one really stuck to this and I managed to squeeze my way into the middle of the pack but a bit far behind the 2 hour pace group. 

As we were packed in like cattle, I was reminded why I dislike running in races with more than 500 people. It was complete chaos (at least to me) and I only heard the last line of the National Anthem and none of what the announcer was saying. I didn’t even hear the gunshot and only knew we had started when I began to see people heading up the hill in front of us. 

One nice thing about being packed in like sardines is you are no longer cold but it makes for a very frustrating start to the race. As we slowly started walking to the start line, I hoped that I would be able to start running once I crossed the line and my time started. I was really starting to fear that this slow start would blow my entire race plan. Stayed tuned for part 2 of my recap to find out how the race went along with a few pictures of the course.

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