Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Shrewsbury 5K (Shrewsbury, NJ)

I seriously wonder what I was thinking signing up for the Shrewsbury 5K when I knew it was a week after the Rook Run.

Oh, yeah. I wanted a race to make up for not running Little Silver, which ended up getting cancelled thanks to Joaquin, the hurricane that never hit the coast.

Well, it's safe to say that I am a "one and done" with this race. I could say it's both the race and me. Just keep reading.

I had my eye on the weather for last weekend throughout the week, and the forecast was clear but COLD!! Temperatures were only in the 30's. So, yeah. Already I knew this race was not going to be fun.

I knew I had to have a Sparkle Athletic skirt no matter what, and thankfully I would also have leg sleeves, so I chose a pair of capris along with a long sleeve shirt to wear on race day.

Wake up was at a semi-reasonable hour (7:00), since the race was at 9. Even with a 20 minute drive, I knew that as long as I left my house before 8, I would be good.

One drawback to this race was off-site parking. It was at a local shopping center with a walk of about two blocks to the start area. Other races I have done have this, but I am still not a fan of it at all.

Once I made my way to the start area, it was a lot of walking and trying to find sun to keep warm until the race actually started. This area was mostly shaded, which I would have been thankful for in, like, June. Last weekend, not so much.

Around 8:45, right after the one mile ended, the lineup for the 5K started. There was no start mat (ugh), so it was a bit of crowding at the start. I still went toward the middle, since time didn't matter to me too much. I got a PR the previous week, so I was doing this as more of a fun run. 

Oh, and you know I just had to get a pre-race selfie. ;-)


At exactly 9:00, it was go time!

The first mile wound up being the flattest and most exciting mile of the race. This was where the most spectators were, plus a family who was brave enough to sit out in the cold to play music for us. I hit the one mile marker at 11:15, which was awesome!

Then the hills came.

One thing that I was not prepared for in this race was hills. They were somewhat rolling with one somewhat big one. Since the course was almost an out and back, we saw them not once, but twice! Yay! Not really!

My second mile was 12:46. That damn second mile curse strikes again. Someday I'll learn. Le sigh.

Throughout the race, my feet and legs were feeling the cold. Don't worry, I was fine enough to keep going, but it did impact my performance. Oh well. Layer more next time, I guess?

I actually got a selfie in-race this time! I wasn't in as much of a zone, and didn't have a PR mentality, so I decided to snap a pic! 


I gave everything I had left for the last mile, and saw more hills. Hooray. I kept going until the finish area was in sight, then sprinted until I flew over the finish mat!

Official time: 37:14 (12:00/mile). Second slowest 5K, but I actually wasn't too upset with this one. I did just come off a PR, plus I raced up and down hills and battled the cold!

After the race, I hung out at the expo for a bit, where I got a sample of bundt cake along with a piece of bagel. Only after a race is it acceptable to eat a bagel AND cake before noon. ;-)

The bibs had to be returned since they had reusable timing chips on them. Bummer. I love keeping mine as mementos. I did make a copy of mine though, so I can still hang it on my wall.

The atmosphere of the race was the opposite of the Rook Run, as everyone was from that general area, and I was the outsider. Meh. Part of the reason I wouldn't do this race again.

Overall, this race was a hit or miss. It was a smaller race, which was a plus for crowding issues. Post-race food was also good, even if all I took was a bagel (I can't stomach a sub at 10:00 in the morning, especially after running a 5K). The course was challenging and boring in one shot (residential areas), but if I was actually training for it, I would have felt stronger. Crowds were small at best, but that's what happens with a small race.

I'm glad that I was able to cross another town off my list of races, but I don't think I will do this one again anytime soon. I would rather do a bigger or flatter race with a better atmosphere. Not every race is awesome and fun, but you never know that unless you try, right?

Rook Run 5K (Long Branch, NJ)

Sorry that this took so long to get up! Work has been crazy, plus too much real life going on! I needed a break from blogging, but ready to get back at it! =)

What do the best coffee company in the area, an awesome cause, and 5K running have in common?


I am a Rook Coffee fanatic (New Orleans Style is my jam), and was excited when I saw that they had a 5K in Long Branch that benefited The Valerie Fund, but missed last year's because it was in November, after my running season ended.

When I saw that this year's would be on October 11, I jumped on registration back in April, when it was $10 off.

Of course, it felt like FOREVER away, but once race weekend came, it felt like it went too fast.

Now, since this was a run sponsored by a coffee company, you know my shirt had to say coffee on it. ;-) I found this one on Raw Threads and thought it was fitting. 

As for the rest? I love orange, so I went with that as the other color. I thought it worked and so many other people loved it too! 

The race had a late start at 10:00, but I still had to be in the area early for parking and keeping loose and warm. It was about 50 degrees that morning, but the area was mostly in the sun, so it felt warmer.

Rook was giving away iced New Orleans before and after the race. WIN! I wasn't planning on drinking coffee until it was all said and done, but next thing I knew, I was drinking a sample sized coffee about a half hour before the race. Well, why not.

Next thing I knew, it was time to head over to the start area. This was where I was glad the race was chip timed with a start mat. There were about 2,000 plus runners, so crowding was going to be a factor. I set myself up in the middle somewhere and hoped for the best.

The arrow points to where the start flag and mat were. It took me just under 2:00 to cross the mat.

Here's a bird's-eye view of the sea of runners. Photo comes from Holly Migliaccio's Instagram. She is the owner of Rook and one awesome person. =)

No, I can't find myself in there, even with all the orange. Haha. ;-)

Next thing we knew, the horn sounded and we were off!

Once I got going, I had one time goal: All miles below 12:00. I wasn't planning on a PR that day, mostly because of the crowding. I just wanted to have a solid race and a good time.

I accomplished both and then some.

I ran with both my Polar and Caledos app, and started both a little too early, so I had no clue of my EXACT pace, but I did have an idea of where I was in terms of both time and pace.

According to Caledos, I hit the first mile at 11:46. A little too close for my liking, but still on pace for my goal. I tend to go out too fast, but with the crowding, I didn't have that problem. Maybe I should run more races with a few thousand people! ;-)

The course was an out and back, so there would be people on the return as I was still on the first loop. A little discouraging, to be honest, but I knew I would be on the flip side soon enough.

Sooner than I thought I would be, I was.

I hit the second mile a second faster than the first, and still felt strong. I was running when I felt comfortable, and walking when I needed. 

I misjudged the finish area, and wound up sprinting sooner than I thought. Oops. Lesson learned for next year!

Still, I had a time of 11:42 for the third mile, which meant I had negative splits in a race for the first time EVER! All while having a blast! I was cheering for other runners, high-fiving the Rook Run crew, and enjoying myself! I can't tell you the last time that happened!

After making the final turn and seeing the finish area for real, I ran with my heart and sprinted like crazy to the finish! I ended up with a 10:46 pace for that final stretch. I leaped over the finish mat, and just like that, my Rook Run was over. I actually was sad to see this race end. It was an awesome time!

I ended up with a clock time of 36:24, which meant a pace of 11:44/mile. I nailed my time goal! Yay! I had no clue what the chip time was, and wouldn't for a few days, but I was still very happy with how I did!

They had a black screen for people to take finisher photos, so you know I was on board for that. ;-)

I also ran into my co-worker Heather, who was one of the volunteers. Of course we had to get a selfie! This one is compliments of her. =)

Oh, and Holly totally recognized me before I recognized her. Haha. She knew of me from Instagram, since I post quite a bit of Rook related stuff. Anyway, we chatted for a few, got this pic, and she thanked me for my support. I thanked her for an awesome company and race.

After a little while of mingling, I decided it was time to head out. I wasn't feeling the post-race party, so I went and got more coffee. Haha. 

Before I got in my car though, I had to make being a Rook Runner official. Hey, it's not official until something is on the car, right?

But it turns out I was in for a surprise. 

I checked the results two days later, and saw that they posted the chip times on that one.

I came in at 34:33 (11:09/mile). PR by three seconds.

Can we say "Holy cow!"

I didn't think I was that close to a PR at all! I went into this race without the intention of a PR, and I got one. I surprise myself sometimes. =)

This race has become my favorite out of all the ones I've done! Awesome 

Is it time for the 2016 Rook Run yet? ;-)

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

NOT Keeping Up with the Joneses: The Running Editon

I have become convinced that having blogger/social media friends who are running half and full marathons the same weekend I did a 5K has messed with my mind. Especially when I saw paces that were minutes faster than mine.

Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled for y'all, but at the same time, it has made me feel...small.

I tweet during #RunChat on the Sundays when it occurs at 8:00 EST. One of the questions was for the participants to ask something.

So, of course, I tweeted "How do I feel like a real runner? I feel like everyone else has done so much more than me." I got several responses that pretty much told me the same thing: "Do YOUR thing. Forget about everyone else."

I know that's all I need, but sometimes, I still struggle with this.

It is partially because I've never done anything longer than a 5K. I alternate walking and running. I haven't exactly been the fastest either.  The only race where I placed was the Iron Girl where the 5K was only about 50 people. 

I've seen people run more in one day than I do in a week. Granted, I should be thankful that I'm doing something, but some days, I feel like my fastest or longest isn't enough.

Long-distance running isn't for everyone, and I've come to the conclusion that my body is not meant for it. I can handle three to five miles, but the thought of anything more makes my body hurt. I am totally okay with this, but at the same time, I don't feel like one of the "cool kids." You know, all of you who've done multiple half and full marathons.

Ridiculous? Totally.

I am human, and sometimes I let numbers mess with my mind. Similar to the scale (which I just started to let go a bit, but that's another post), I let myself get caught up with everyone else and not be happy with all I've done.

I mean, five years ago I wouldn't have thought of doing ONE 5K, and now I've done THIRTEEN, with my fourteenth on Sunday.

One of the lessons I've learned is to do what makes me happy. I've also realized that running is PART of me, but not ALL of me. I have too many other fitness interests to be able to commit to any more running than I already do. 

Plus, with a crazy work schedule, it's hard to block out time for long runs. I'm lucky I get the two miles at a time I do now. 

Besides, I love the atmosphere of local races, even the one I did this weekend with about 2,000 people. 

In a nutshell, I am okay with never being a long distance runner, but need to work on not letting myself feel small. Like my one Momentum bracelet says "Be the best version of YOU." As long as I do that, no matter how far I run or whatever, I'll be fine.