September Races #10 & #11

After not racing all summer and focusing more on training and fitness as a part of my scale-free summer, I have run two races so far this month — NFL Back to Football 5K Run on September 4th and Rock N Roll Philly Half Marathon on September 15th!  Running both of these races has definitely shown me that my speed is improving daily.

Race #10 – NFL Back to Football 5K Race – September 4, 2013

For those of you who don’t know, I am a crazy football mama and a member of the Ravens Nation!!!  This means that when I found out that there would be an NFL Back to Football Race which ended on the 50 yard line of M & T Stadium I knew I had to be there.  I was very excited when the Black Girls Run! Baltimore crew created a team for the race.  What’s better than running a race affiliated with football?  Running that race with 100+ of your running buddies!

The stadium is walking distance from my job so I was able to change at the office and walk down with plenty of time to hang out before the race.  It was like tailgating with a run thrown in.  Besides my BGR crew, I also ran into one of my twitter buddies – Meghan.

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This race was loads of fun! Even though I stopped a couple of times along the course to take pictures of the stadium, it was still a PR at 40:40!2013-09-04 19.49.00

Race #11 – Rock N Roll Philly Half Marathon – September 15, 2013

I have been looking forward to this race all summer.  Although my speed work &  training plan is focused on the Baltimore Running Festival in October, I was hoping that I would be fast enough by this “flat & fast” race course to PR.  This was also my first girls’ weekend race ever.  I got up early Saturday morning to take the bus to Philadelphia.  I was staying with my sorority sister and fellow runner for the weekend.  When she picked me up, we headed straight for the Expo at the Convention Center.

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I managed to stay within budget.  I scored some really cool earphones from Auria which hang on the ear and allow you to still hear ambient sounds.  I will be trying them out over my next few runs and reporting back to you on them.

When we left the Expo, we got mani-pedis and then headed back to the house for naps and hydrating.  I finally was able to do the least amount of running around the day before a long race.  A perfect pre-race day.

The next morning we were up early of course and rode along with another sorority sister to the race start.  After a quick stop in the Starbucks bathroom, we headed to the starting line.  I was assigned to corral 22 but in order to not be too far behind each other we all started in corral 14.  It was the first time I ever moved up from an assigned corral and will probably be my last.  I was overwhelmed by the faster runners when we took off.

I ran for about the first quarter mile then started my timer to do my 1:1 ratio of running and walking.  My Map My Run app clocked my first mile at 10 minutes which is really fast for me so I started to slow down.  Halfway through the race, my music turned on by itself and the app had me 2 miles ahead of what the mile actually was.  It turns out I had sweated into my phone case – oops! Because I didn’t realize that the app was malfunctioning until later in the race, I took a few extra walk breaks in the beginning to slow my pace down.  However, it turns out my pace was right and the app was wrong.

Good – The course through Philadelphia was beautiful.  It really was as advertised – “flat and fast.” The RnR team had inspirational signs throughout the course. There were bands and music.  There were also cheer leaders along the course encouraging us which was really cool.

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Bad – Some of the water stops were out of water and breaking down by the time we got there.  From what I heard from my BGR sisters who were in corrals further back, it was even worse for them.  The music was not spaced out well.  There was a lot in the downtown area but very spread out on the Eakin Loop.  Kudos to the lone drummer on the far side of the loop!

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Although I didn’t PR, I am proud of my time – 3:08 as it is definitely faster than my time at the Frederick Half Marathon in May.  After the race, we headed to 7-11 for coffee and took the train back to the house.  After a shower and change, we were all smiles as we picked up a well deserved chicken cheesesteak for the bus ride back to Baltimore.

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Have you run any races lately?  Drop me a line in the comments about your most recent run or race experience.

Dreaded Druid Hills 10K = Race 8

I had the best running weekend ever! Races 8 & 9 were definitely two for the books.  It was the first weekend of the summer and I definitely seized the solstice!  So here is part one of my double race weekend recap.

Saturday, I ran the Dreaded Druid Hills 10K.  The race is marketed as:

A torturous race by runners for runners through Baltimore’s famed Druid Hill Park, beginning and ending at the Moorish Tower and traversing the most wicked hills to be found in the Baltimore Metropolitan Area.

Seriously, the race lived up to its hype in many ways.  However, I was determined to finish this race.  I even wore my Under Armour Women #IWill tank shirt to remind me of that fact.

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The race started at 7:30am which was before it was too warm.  I somehow missed the BGR picture.  However, I met up with one of my sole sisters, Darlene.  She wanted to run intervals with me so that she wouldn’t overtax her knees and not be able to run the BWC on Sunday.  The first mile of the race wasn’t too bad.  It took us in front of the Conservatory and towards the Maryland Zoo at Baltimore.  After that, it got funky.  We ran towards TV hill then behind the old zoo grounds to a section of the park which I never even knew existed.  We started climbing up hill and then ran downhill which was doable.  We were feeling challenged but ok at the 3 mile mark.  This is where the fun started.  We started running up a winding hill.  We’d get to what we thought was the top only for it to turn and keep going up.  It was absolutely sick!  The organizers had a warped sense of humor.  They had spray painted messages along the way up that hill.

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Then when we finally got to the other side of the crazy hill from hell, we had to turn around and go back the way we came! Absolutely nuts!  When we were done with that madness, we headed back through the grove to the zoo in a different direction.  That meant a different set of hills to the finish. 

The only other 10K I have run was in January.  It was my second race since becoming a hysterrunner.  I finished in 1:34 which was fine with me as it was a part of my slowly increasing mileage en route to my first half in April.  On most of my training runs, I come in at about the 1:30 mark or a little longer when I get to that distance.  Because of the crazy hills on this course, runners are warned not to expect to PR.  So I didn’t.  But I did!  I came in at 1:28.56!  I can’t imagine what my time would be if the course was flat!

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Tomorrow, I will post about my experience at the Baltimore Women’s Classic.

Did you race this weekend?  How do you feel about running hills?

Baltimore Ten Miler = Lucky Race #7

Last weekend, I ran my seventh race on my quest to run 13 races in 2013.  I ran the Baltimore Ten Miler.  Last year, when I was beginning my journey as a runner, I volunteered at a water stop at this race.  I remember being in awe at the ability of the runners to do 10 miles.  It was one week before my first 5K and I couldn’t even fathom running much further than that.  Fast forward to this year and I’m running the race.

I picked up my packet from Sports Authority on Monday before the race.  It was both the closest location and the only day I could pick it up as I was travelling the last half of the week.  I ran into one of my BGR Sole Sistas, Trish at packet pickup.  We both started with BGR on the same day – June 2, 2012.

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After a great run with Twilight Tuesday and dancing at the Kings of the Mic concert, the rest of the week was spent tapering and being a PhDiva at a symposium.  The only problem with travelling was not being in complete control of what I ate on Thursday and Friday.  Friday evening, my family stopped at Don Pablo’s for Mexican on our way back to Baltimore.  Carb loading but not too much.  I couldn’t resist the sangria.  It meant drinking a lot more water that evening to try to insure not getting dehydrated.  I laid out my clothes and made sure to be in bed before 10pm.

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On Saturday, I woke before the alarm, had my chia breakfast bowl, and headed to Druid Hill Park in more than enough time to pose for pictures with BGR.  The thing I loved about this race was that it runs through my part of the city.  The route goes from Druid Hill Park to Lake Montebello and back winding past Johns Hopkins University and Greenmount Avenue.

Before Pics:

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Even though I had run this distance before many times and had even trained on the course, this was not my best race.  Every long run I had done this Spring had been in cooler temps.  So my body wasn’t fully acclimated to warm weather running.  Add to that the fact that miles 8 & 9 are HILLY! You will understand that it was a hard race.  When I ran the route in cooler temps the Saturday before I finished in 2:15 which put me on pace for a PR.  However, the heat and the hills combined led me to finish in almost the exact same time as the Cherry Blossom on April 7th.

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I’m happy that I finished and that my time wasn’t worse.  I still have a few more races left in this year to PR.  After the race, my BRFs and I celebrated with free beer and music at the after-race party.

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All in all, I had fun! And isn’t that the real reason why I run? Smile

Have you raced in warmer weather?  How do you tackle hill running?  Share your favorite thing about racing or running.

New Goals–What’s Beautiful?

Thanks to Mother Nature, I barely ran this past week.  Tuesday evening was stormy – thunder, lightning…so Twilight Tuesday was cancelled.  However, I found a TV exercise game online.  I did the exercises during Dancing with the Stars The Results show. 

I did get to Bikram Yoga on my lunch time on Wednesday.  I followed that up with a 2 mile run on Thursday morning before work.  All in all, not bad for someone who completed 2 half marathons in 8 days.  I probably needed the rest more than I realized.

Next week, I will be building back up my miles and beginning speedwork in preparation for my next challenge. Thanks to the encouragement of the wonderful Dr Shauna Harrison, I have signed up for the Under Armour What’s Beautiful competition.  If you don’t know, Under Armour Women “are redefining the female athlete by setting epic goals and pushing past where we’ve ever been and where we thought we could go.”  As a part of the challenge, you set goals for yourself with the hopes of crushing them.

I had already set a challenge for myself for 2013.  I planned to run 13 races in 2013, including my first half marathon.  Well, in the past few months, I have blown through more than half of my goals.  At this point,month 5, I have already run 6 races including 2 half marathons!!!  So for my challenge, I have upped the ante so to speak.  I am aiming for a sub-three hour half marathon! Yes, that means I will be running at least one more this year!  My specific goal is:

I Will run 13 races in 2013 including a sub-3 hour half marathon and rebuild my core.

I’m still working on my Summer/Fall race schedule.  However, I’m thinking Rock N Roll Philly and/or the Baltimore Running Festival will probably be on it.  One of those two will be my goal race.  This will mean running and training strong this summer to be ready to blow through this next goal. 

Classes are done for this school year so I get my Thursday evenings back.  That means 3-4 runs and 2-3 crosstraining sessions are back in the schedule.  Woohoo!  This week’s schedule looks like this:

Monday – Bikram Yoga

Tuesday – Twilight Tuesday Tempo Run 3-4 miles

Wednesday – ?

Thursday – Speedwork

Friday – Bikram Yoga

Saturday – Long Run 6-8 miles

Let’s see how I do this week!

What are your goals for this week?  Are any of you doing the Under Armour What’s Beautiful challenge?  Is anyone else sick of this crazy weather?

Resolution Run 2013 Recap

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My first race of 2013 was cool! In order to prepare, I joined a training group specific to this race with a great group of people.  The group started in November about 2 weeks after I was cleared to run following my hysterectomy.  I felt that I needed the support in starting to actively train again.  My Twilight Tuesday runs with BGR were used as a part of this training.  There were a lot of BGR ladies running yesterday as well, many as their first race.  I am proud of everyone that I ran with as it was New Year’s Day.  My time was slow (50:22) which is fine being that I was tired after the New Year’s Eve festivities. Basically – Fried food, 4-inch heels, and fruity drinks -> Fun time was had by all!

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For this race, I was more focused on finishing and not losing the mini in the crowd of runners.  I abandoned my regular race pace and ran when he felt like running and walked when he stopped to walk.  At one point, he took a break to climb the rocks.  I jogged in place until he was ready to catch up.  Here’s a pic of the two of us at the Finish line.

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The Resolution Run was a great way to kick off 2013! It helped me to meet many of my goals early on – spend time with family, focus on my fitness, and help others by donating to a good cause!

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Rock N Roll Philly Half Marathon

Race # 10September 15th, 2013
Aiming for a PR!