25k race=15.5 miles of tough running

The 5/3 Riverbank 25k is the largest road race of its distance in the country.  As I mentioned yesterday, 7,000 people take to the streets of Grand Rapids, MI and there are runners from all over.

25k start line

I spent the night with friends who live about 25 minutes away from downtown GR.  Hanging out with friends the night before a race is a great way to ease any anxieties.  Pre-race fueling of pizza and a beer, playing with an adorable munchkin (who loved saying my name – it was adorable) and hitting the sack around 11:30 pm was the order of the night.  I woke up on time (and multiple times during the night) and despite my game plan to leave at 6:45 am I made it out the door at 7 am.

I ate a bit too much pizza the night before as I was too hungry by the time it arrived.  I mention this because on the drive to the start, I almost had to pull over and throw up.  Jostling around for the next few hours was not appetizing and I didn’t eat my peanut butter sandwich until I arrived.  I did manage to drink some coffee though – priorities.

deep cleansing breaths kept the vomit at bay…

I drank some Vega Sport Pre-Workout Enegizer 20 minutes before the start.  I will post a review of this product in the next few days and it’s quality.  I’ve now tried it with training along with a race and I’m impressed.  The race started right on time, 8:20 am and I made it over the start line at 8:29 and this was the 11 min pace group.  The race is efficient.

I felt good for the first 5 miles.  I was using my quads and kept my ipod in my pocket so I could be in the moment.  I got stuck behind one guy who was complaining up a storm because the shirts didn’t say 25k on them.  It was a universal shirt for the 5k, 10k and 25k.  You could pay extra for a tech shirt with 25k on it ($15) but he “certainly” wasn’t going to do that.  He also said how he was going to send a nasty email to the director later this week.  Now mind you, I paid $35 for this race.  CHEAP!  Suck it up dude…

the shirt mr. grumpy pants was complaining about
the shirt mr. grumpy pants was complaining about

At mile 5 I took a powergel – provided, and turned on my tunes.  The water stops started at about 1.5 miles and they were approximately every mile and half after this, sometimes two miles.  The volunteers were incredible.  There was water, Gatorade followed by oranges and more water and then ICE!  Oh my goodness, I have never been offered cups of ice in a race but it was magical.  It was probably around mile 7 when it started and I would take a cup at each one hereafter.  It was heavenly.

After mile 6 miles my quads started cramping a bit.  Mile 8 was my magic mile as I knew at this point there would be no question to me finishing.  This was also my first lovely embrace with some biofreeze.  I think mile 7 was the start of the hills.  Man oh man, the hills kept coming!  I had forgotten about them, conveniently I might add, but I took them in stride = I walked many of them.

While I was keeping 11 min miles in the beginning, this crept to 12 by the halfway point.  Mile 1o I took another gel.  I also kept focusing on what a cool experience this was and how lucky I was.  The last time I did this race, my mental attitude was already in the toilet at this point.

this is a great depiction of my previous meltdown

The last five and half miles were tough.  More hills, more quad cramping, one more biofreeze stop and lots of water.  It was a beautiful day with a breeze, which was lovely but I was seriously reaching my “I’m done” point.  The last mile and half took forever and horror of horrors you have to run UP a hill to the finish line.

25k finish line
this was at the top of a long hill

My leg muscles were melting at this point.  I kept saying, “c’mon legs” almost yelling at them as I wasn’t sure if I could stay standing.  It was so, so tough!  I had nothing left – heck, even the girl who was puking her guts out that I passed a few feet behind me managed to beat me.  I made it though.

at this point, I could barely stand up straight - I kept almost falling backwards
at this point, I could barely stand up straight – I kept almost falling backwards

Hard/enjoyable race and I ran my buns off.  I have some work to do before my next half (it’s in 3 weeks) and I’m keeping some of my newly employed racing strategies.  Good gel timing, starting my music later and a positive mental attitude – putting these into practice again!

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25k… the aftermath

My race recap will be up in tomorrow but the following has been swirling around my brain:

1.  More/real training would have made those 15.5 miles much easier!

2.  I think my rebellious streak comes into play with regards to running.  Maybe a “let’s see what I can do without training!” attitude.  Is this rebellion?  I don’t know but it’s how I used to shoot myself in the foot with regards to my academics as well.  I will also say it’s part of the procrastinator’s creed – if you don’t give your all to the preparation then you don’t have to risk your best being a “failure”.

deep thoughts on the hour drive up to the race and then back

3.  My legs were absolute gelatin as I crossed the finish line.  I completely left it all out on the course!  I was proud of myself.

4.  I stretched after the race, which I rarely do.  Solid plan Amy.

5.  Today my legs are fairly fatigued and sore.  My quads are especially tender.  I see some serious squats in my immediate future.

6.  I have a lot more determination and heart than I give myself credit for.

but I didn’t quit!

7.   I ran with 7,000 other runners!  This is the largest 25k in the country.  We all love running!

8.  Biofreeze is my bestie.

I’m talking to you biofreeze

9.  I didn’t run with my thumb brace because I knew it would be difficult to grab water and other fuel.  Adrenaline got me through the race buuut it wasn’t a great idea later.

10.  I parked about 8 blocks away.  Wow – it was a long way back!  A woman with her two kids offered me a ride to my car and while I was tempted I’ve watched way to much Investigative Discovery to take her up on it.

More tomorrow… all smiles though.  I seriously thought about not running – I had a prime excuse!  A dislocated thumb?  Prime!  However, I needed to prove something to myself.  I’m a proud runner!

 

running realizations

Yesterday I had a good run.  I was sitting on the couch after a long day of work.  I didn’t want to go running.  I was grouchy.  My hand hurt.  I was tired (actually not super tired but enough so I used it as an excuse).  And then there was just this, “I don’t want to get off of the couch” feeling.  But I used these excuses the day before so I needed to buck up, buttercup.

So, at 7:20 pm, I got up, changed and went for it.  I have reversed my normal route, which has two really tough hills.  My hand has been hurting when running as I haven’t been wearing my ace bandage when I go.  Finally, I clued in this was a bad idea since all of the jostling wasn’t doing me any favors.  Thankfully, the less amount of hand pain offset the pain in my lungs and legs!

I also wore my new shoes outside for the first time.  At first they felt a little off in the heel area but soon they were comfortable.  I definitely can feel the higher heel drop as my piriformis acted up a bit.  I concentrated on landing mid-foot and this will need to be more of a focus.  Considering I will be wearing these for the 25k on Saturday (I don’t have a choice, the Hokas are causing blisters and my other shoes are shot), it should be interesting.

The funny part is, there were times when I was keeping some good time.  My phone would show my current pace and it would be 10:07.  I swear, lifting my knees and turning my feet over faster has completely changed my running.  HOWEVER, I don’t have the endurance/fitness to keep up with this!  I had to walk a couple of times and/or stop and catch my breath.  My overall pace was about 11:15 including these breaks.  The nice part is knowing I can hit these numbers again.  For a long time I just figured I had lost all speed and couldn’t physically do it anymore.  Realizing I simply wasn’t picking up my feet is a major boost.  Endurance and fitness can be earned the more effort I put into it.

wahoo – run fast!

Yesterday was also a moment of truth.  I did 5.75 miles.  I couldn’t get the last .25 as I got a work call otherwise I would have finished 6.  This run made me realize Saturday is going to be painful.  I’ve been fooling myself into thinking 15 miles was totally doable.  While I still believe I can finish it, I’ve adjusted my goals to comply with my current running fitness.  Here is my plan:

1.  Enjoy the run.  Last time I did this race I put SO MUCH pressure on myself and set some very unrealistic goals.  At the end I was crying because I missed the mark and was incredibly disappointed in myself.  I don’t want to repeat this.  I made sure to enjoy my Dopey experience and plan on repeating this mindset.  I’m also wearing my Minnie polka dot skirt for funsies.

Minnie mouse skirt and zen-y attitude... I'm ready
Minnie mouse skirt and zen-y attitude… I’m ready

2.  Embrace the pain – physically and mentally.  I’m preparing for it.  I have a mantra.  There isn’t anything I can do about it now so accepting it is the first step – in my opinion.  My legs will hurt and I will want to give up – I refuse to.

3.  Not go out too fast!  I’ve noticed on my last few training runs I have shot out of the cannon and then wanted to crawl through the rest of the miles.  I’m a huge fan of negative splits (aren’t we all??) so I need to keep my mind and body focused on slow and steady.

this illustrates what happens to a “T”

4.  The first three miles always suck for me.  It’s one of the reasons I’m not a huge fan of 5k’s.  It takes me this long to warm up and typically it dampens my spirit.  Thoughts like, “is this going to be how the rest of the run will be?!” bombard my brain.  Despite knowing things will get better it’s hard to get my head on track and my spirit sinks a bit.  Again, accepting this and relaxing.

5.  Realistic goals. A) Finish. B) Under 3:30.  C) Under 3:15.  D) Under 3 hrs.  I’ve decided to wear my garmin but not have it show pace.  I will keep it on regular watch mode so I can track my progress but not get caught up in the numbers.

Ha!  This is a bit of a long post.  Clearly there are some things on my mind.  I focused on running today because it’s been an up and down week and I don’t like moaning and groaning too much on here.  Or at least I don’t want to today!  Hope you enjoy your Wednesday!