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Shamrock Shuffle 5K 2014

8:00 AM and my alarm goes off.  Already I am in a good mood.  Why, you might ask?  Because my first race of the season doesn’t start until 10:10 AM and that is fantastic!  The birds are chirping, the sky is blue – already this is a vast improvement from last year’s Shamrock Shuffle where it was cold, gray, and on the verge of raining.  Don’t get me wrong, it was still quite chilly out but somehow the cold factor is so much more bearable when the sun is shining.

I love the Shamrock Shuffle 5K because 1. It supports Tatum’s Bags of Fun which is a great organization that distributes backpacks filled with games, activities, and toys to every child diagnosed with cancer in Indiana. 2. It is by far one of my favorite race shirts EVER.  They are so comfortable and soft it is not even funny.  And it gives me something green to wear for St. Patrick’s Day.  3. It’s close to home so I don’t have to drive far or fight traffic for a parking spot.  BONUS!

This year they made it even better because you got a super sweet green frog medal (the mascot for Tatum’s Bags of Fun).  That’s an improvement from last year.   I’m always down for some new race bling.  They also improved the route from last year as well which is greatly appreciated.  All in all – I really dig this race and because I was able to run in the inaugural race last year, I’ll probably want to keep running it every year.  It’s not very often you get to be a part of an inaugural race.

Anyway – despite the sunshine it was still pretty chilly and the wind was brutal.  Even with these two factors (and don’t forget a couple of hills), I was able to hit a new personal record for a 5K.  My last personal record was in June of 2012 when I ran the Fishers Freedom Festival 5K.  My official time was 24 minutes and 47 seconds.  I’m super proud to say that I broke that PR today with an official time of 24 minutes and 32 seconds.  My husband didn’t do too shabby either.  He finished in 23 minutes and 40 seconds.  We both were able to place in our age divisions, he placed 3rd and I placed 1st.  This is the 3rd time we have both placed in a race together.  I’m hoping this becomes a regular occurrence.

So my race season has officially started and it’s gotten off to a great start.  I couldn’t be happier!

Shamrock Shuffle 2014 Official Time - 24:32 Average Pace 4:54/K Official Place - 19/291 Age Division Place - 1st

Shamrock Shuffle 2014
Official Time – 24:32
Average Pace 4:54/K
Official Place – 19/291
Age Division Place – 1st

Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon

The Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon was my 2nd half marathon for the 2013 running season and my last race of the running season as well.  Yes – I’ve hung up my running sneakers until the weather gets warmer again (metaphorically… we all know I still workout during the winter months, I just don’t pay to run in the cold).  I’ve never run in the Indy Monumental half before, but I’ve run two downtown races so I figured it would pretty much be the same thing.

For this last race, I ran with my friend, Alyssa.  Alyssa decided to run the half marathon (her first half marathon) to raise money for Joy’s House, an adult day service in Indianapolis for adults who need assistant and cannot provide for themselves.  She had a goal of $200 and a finish time of 2 hours and 30 minutes.

Where do I come into play you might be thinking?  My job was to be her running buddy, to keep her motivated when she wanted to quit, to help her with her pacing, and to let her know she was doing a good job.  I was able to run with Alyssa a few times prior to our actual race day but nothing more than 8 miles.  In fact, neither one of us ran more than 8 miles before the race.  (To be honest, I didn’t train as much as I should have for this race but I was in the middle of moving from my house into an apartment and then from an apartment to my new house… it was quite a hectic month for me).  I wasn’t too worried for myself, however, knowing I had run 13.1 miles earlier in the year and I run quite often.  I know how to pace myself for longer runs without over doing it in it the beginning.

Race day arrives and we get to the start line.  There is no race coral and no one is really pushing to be up towards the front.  I find this oddly refreshing compared to my last downtown half marathon start.  It is very relaxed.  The music starts and we are off.

We ran most of the 13.1 miles with a couple of walk breaks and lots of water breaks to ensure hydration.  In the end, not only did Alyssa exceed her $200 fundraising goal, but she also finished her very first half marathon in just 2 hours and 24 minutes (6 minutes under her goal).   I am so proud of her and I’m so glad I was a part of it!  Way to go!

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Alyssa and I with our finisher medals and bananas!

Ghost and Goblin 5K

The Ghost and Goblin 5K has got to be in my top 5 favorite 5Ks to run, most likely because I get to see a bunch of my students participating plus the proceeds benefits my school district. But it is also a really fun course to run. It takes you through downtown Carmel and over to the Monon trail for some great fall scenery before taking you back to the high school.

Ever since I was hired by Carmel Clay School District, I have run in the Ghost and Goblin 5K. In fact, this race was my very first 5K I ever ran in back in 2011. It really does hold a special place in my heart.

This year it was unusually brisk out for an October run, 33 degrees to be exact. Luckily I had my long pants, long sleeve running shirt, and running gloves to keep me warm. I can’t say the same for my supportive husband who had all of his jogging pants in storage (we were in the process of moving and the majority of our stuff was in storage). He toughed it out in a pair of gym shorts, long sleeve shirt, and a thin jacket. I’ve certainly got myself a good man!

We headed out for the start line with 5 minutes to spare and took off. The great part about repeating races is that you are familiar with the course and so it is easy to pace yourself. Plus the cold is motivation for you to run a bit faster so you can get warm quicker. We took off, set a solid pace, and simply enjoyed the run. It was over before I knew it and I was back at the high school looking for my students to congratulate them on a job well done!

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Some of my students who participated in the race.

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My wonderful, loving, supportive, husband!

 

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Ghost & Goblin 5K
Official Time: 25:33
Division Place: 11/85
Overall Place: 160/870

 

Noblesville Fit Fest 5K

Saturday, August 17 started just like any other race day.  My alarm went off about an hour before I needed to leave.  I brushed my teeth, washed my face, put some tinted SPF on my face, pulled my hair back, and got my race gear on.  It was a brisk 48 degrees that morning, but just like a nice fall day (wait a minute… it’s August), it was scheduled to warm up a bit later on.  So I opted for my Nike capris, pink top, and long sleeve pull-over.  I checked the clock, 6:45 AM and we need to leave in 15 minutes in order to find parking, get to the packet pick-up table, get our race bibs, timing chips, and put the bag of goodies in the car all before the race starts.  Guess who was still sound asleep in bed?  That’s right, my husband.  I gently shook him on the shoulder to get him awake.  Meanwhile, I let the dog out and put food and water into his bowl so we could get out on time.  I have anxiety about being late…

Being an inaugural event, you never know what to expect, especially because the Noblesville Fit Fest wasn’t just offering a 5K, but also a Sprint Triathlon, Sprint Duathlon, Sprint Aquabike, Aquathon, and a Kids Aquathon as well.  That’s A LOT of races to manage in one event.  The race was located at Forest Park in Noblesville.  It is probably one of the prettiest parks I’ve been to in the area and it is HUGE.  It boasts a mini-golf area, carousel horses, skate park, playground equipment, baseball diamond (with bleachers), and a pool with a serious high dive.  I’m sure I’m missing quite a bit (like the beautiful surrounding nature) but you get the point.

The 5K was first up in the race events.  The course was simple, just running a straight path over the bridge and onto the trail.  Now let me just say that this was my kind of trail run.  Paved trail wide enough for 4 people across to run next to each other if they wanted to (although no one did) and all around you were beautiful trees, plants, and the river.  If I wasn’t running in the race, I would have definitely stopped to survey my surroundings.

It was also a fairly flat course so I made pretty good time.  My husband, the loving supportive man that he is, ran next to me the entire time… until we reached mile 2.  We came up on a little boy no more than 10 years-old (and that’s pushing it).  He was running his little heart out, speeding up, slowing down, not really having a specific pace in mind.  So naturally, I sped up and passed him as did my husband.  We kept our pace steady.  And wouldn’t you know that little kid sped up, passed us, and then slowed down again right in front of us.  Well, my husband didn’t think it was so cute anymore so he simply took off leaving both me and the kid in his dust.  Real nice, sweetheart, real nice.  So now I’m left trying to push myself to get around this kid.  My music on my phone wasn’t doing me any favors.  Every time I would get close to him, he would hear my music and speed up.  Not to mention this kid was running back and forth closing any kind of gap that I could possibly pass him with.  I was getting frustrated because I was also speeding up and slowing down so I didn’t trip over him.  I saw an opening and decided to go for it, I sped up ready to pass him on the left and wouldn’t you know the minute I started to gain on him, he started drifting that way.  Nope – sorry kid.  Not this time.  I put my hand out and touched his arm and said, “On your left.”  And that was it, I took off to put some space between us before I slowed back down to my comfortable pace.  That kid didn’t try to pass me again.  I was finally free.

My husband was no longer in sight… so I just keep trucking along picking off people to pass in front of me.  At this point, I’m pretty sure my lungs are ready to collapse because I’m seriously booking it.  And of course there is that pesky hill at the end… always a hill at the end.  I swear they plan it that way.  I round the bend and the finish line is in sight and I can hear people cheering, “Way to go, Joel!”  Joel?!  Who’s Joel?  I turn to look over my shoulder and I see this guy creeping up on me getting ready to pass me.  Well now my competitive side has kicked in and you better believe I’m not going to have someone pass me in the last 0.1 mile of the race.  I put my best sprint forward and cross the finish line where the fresh bananas and bottled water are calling my name.

I found my husband relaxing on a bench nearby.  He told me I did a good job.  I wanted to smack him because I ate a good dinner, went to bed early, and ate breakfast while he ate a crappy dinner, went to bed at 12:30 AM, and woke up 15 minutes before we had to leave with no breakfast and he STILL beat me.  Some things are just not fair.  It’s a good thing I love him!

He came in 3rd place in his age division while I placed 1st in mine.  Another PR set for me.  It is the first time I came in 1st place in my age division on any given race.  I’m pretty proud of that.  We collected our prizes and called it day.  All in all, it was a fun race, great scenery, and the race coordinators  did a great job.  I look forward to participating in it again next year.

Noblesville Fit Fest 5K Overall Place: 18/97 Age Division Place: 1/5 Average Pace: 8:05

Noblesville Fit Fest 5K
Overall Place: 18/97
Age Division Place: 1/5
Average Pace: 8:05

Fishers Freedom Festival 5K

The last weekend in June is typically one of my favorite weekends in June because of the Fishers Freedom Festival.  I LOVE festivals.  I love the food, the vendors, and just meandering around with nothing to do.  Last year, my husband and I participated in the 5K that kicks off the festival.  It was fun and low-key.

Fast forward to June 2013.  I had thought about running in the Freedom Festival 5K but then thought against it since I was running in the Hoosier Park 8K the week before and the Carmel Freedom 4.5 run the week after on the 4th of July.  I figured I should give myself a week off to rest in between races.

My neighbor across the street has recently begun to start working out again and has been running around the neighborhood.  He casually mentioned to my husband and I that he was interested in running a local 5K but his two boys don’t want to run with him because he’s too slow.  Being the good-natured folks that we are, my husband and I offered to run the Freedom Festival 5K with him since it was practically in our backyard and it’s a smaller race.  He seemed excited and agreed.  So that night I signed us up for the race.

A week goes by and I ask my neighbor, “Hey, we signed up for the race.  Have you?”

His reply, “Nah, not yet.  But I will.”  Okay…

I see him walking his dog later in the week. “Hey, have you signed up for the race yet?”

“Not yet.  I need to get new running shoes.  Then I will sign up.”

I’m starting to have a bad feeling about this.  And so the conversation goes on, week after week, of me asking him if he has signed up yet and he will get to it later.

We are now 3 days from the race.  “Hey, the race is on Saturday.  Have you signed up for the race?”

“Oh man, those new shoes really messed up my knee and it’s all swollen now.  I can’t run.”

I told him to rest up and that I would find him a new race soon.  But that still meant I had to get up and run on Saturday anyway, after all, I did pay $12 to run in this thing.

Saturday morning arrives, my alarm goes off at 6:30AM (later than most of my races since it is so close), and I immediately want to throw my phone out of the window.  After getting up at 5AM Monday-Friday, the last thing I want to do is get up at 6:30AM and run.  But I do because I paid for it and I’m not about to throw $12 away.  It’s a humid 71 degrees outside, weird for this time of year, and I’m not sure what to wear.  I settle on capris and a tank and make my way towards the starting line.

As we were walking to the race, I kept telling myself that I was just going to run this for fun.  It was going to be low-key. I wasn’t trying to place in my division.  I just was going to run and have fun.  Then we started to line up and all of these people were in front of me.  I started feeling anxious.  I looked at the hoards of strollers that were ahead of me.  I couldn’t control the feeling that was creeping up on me, that I had to get around them, but it was too late to make my way to the front.

3, 2, 1… and we’re off.  I immediately took off, weaving in, out, and around people.  I was up on the sidewalk passing families and strollers.  My only goal was to get out of this crowd.  My husband was doing the same thing and we eventually met back up about half a mile into the race.  We know this course well because we run it all the time.  After about 1.5 miles, we  finally broke away from the main pack and found our steady groove.  Well – more like my husband’s steady groove.  I was huffing and puffing trying to maintain a 7 minute 49 second pace and he looked like he was jogging.

We head up the hill and my husband informed me that once we round the corner, he’s going to take off for the last 1/4 mile.  I said, “Go right ahead.  I’ll be back here.”  So when the time came, off he went and there I was still struggling not to die.  Sometimes he really frustrates me because he never trains and he can still whoop my butt in any race we run in.  It really isn’t fair.

I rounded the corner, put my head down, and headed to the finish line.  With an official time of 25 minutes and 10 seconds and an average pace of 8 minutes and 6 seconds, I guess I’ll take it.

Fishers Freedom Festival 5K Official Time - 25:10 Average Pace - 8:06 Division Place - 6/34 Overall Place - 234th

Fishers Freedom Festival 5K
Official Time – 25:10
Average Pace – 8:06
Division Place – 6/34
Overall Place – 234th

Triple Crown Series Event #3: Hoosier Park 8K

89 Degrees + Felt like 92 Degrees + 52% Humidity = Perfect Day for a run!

Today was the final event in the Inaugural Triple Crown Series.  I had already run a street 8K and a trail 8K, today was the track 8K.  The race began at 9 AM rather than an early 7:30 or 8:00 AM start time in order to give people time to travel up to Anderson who were coming from different locations.  At first I thought this was awesome because I was able to sleep in a little (6:30 AM) rather than get up super early for a 7:30 AM start time.  As I was running in the hot and humid sun… I began to think otherwise.

We started on the horse track (which is made up of crushed pea gravel or something of the sort – just in case you didn’t know) just after turn 2.  The start line was 2 cones and a truck with a big fence/gate thing attached to it.  I’m guessing they use it for the horse races at Hoosier Park, but since I’ve never actually seen a horse race, I can’t be too sure.  This race was based on gun time rather than chip time, so I made sure to make my way up to the front of the start line.  After all, I didn’t want to get caught up in the back traffic and lose precious seconds (if it were chip time, that would be a different story).

And we were off running down the track, around turn 3 and 4 and off to the side, through some grass, and onto the parking lot where we ran through the parking lot and out onto the street.  We had just started running and the heat and humidity was simply oppressing.  I was getting passed left and right!  I didn’t let it bother me though because I knew it was hot, there was no shade in sight to get a reprieve from the sun, and I didn’t wear my water belt.  Figures the only time I don’t wear my water belt I actually need it.  I was not about to exert all of my energy in miles 1 and 2.

Around mile 1.5 there was a water station. Normally I skip the water (I usually have my belt on) because I find that trying to grab water and drink all of it takes a lot of time away from your actual run.  Plus, I haven’t mastered drinking from a paper cup and running at the same time.  However, today it was a necessity.  So I ran with my arm stretched out, grabbed the cup from the nice water lady, and tried to drink.  I got some water up my nose, a bunch down my shirt, and just a tiny swig in my mouth.  Good enough.  It was just enough to wet the dry spot that was forming in my throat and keep me going until mile 3.

By now people had started the run/walk/run method but I kept on trucking.  I kept my pace around 8:30 minutes/mile.  I usually can run faster and I have run faster but this was by far the hottest run I’ve ever raced in.  I didn’t want to tire myself out too quickly.  I figured slow and steady wins the race (or at least finishes the race).  Soon I see mile 3 and the final water station.  I have some serious cotton mouth going on so I try again to get some water.  No water up the nose this time, but most of the water ended up going down my shirt instead of in my mouth.  Can’t fault a girl for trying.

At this point, I’m started passing people.  I looked up to see the entrance to the casino parking and new the finish line was just around the track.  Running into the parking lot of the casino, I see the sign for mile marker 4.  Just 1 mile to go!

I enter into the horse track and let me just say that the horse track didn’t seem so daunting at 9:00 AM when we had started the race.   But after running a bit over 4 miles in the blazing sun, that track seemed never ending.  Still I didn’t try to speed up even though I knew it was the end.  The last thing I wanted to do was slip and fall or twist my ankle on the loose gravel.  I’m not exactly the most graceful person.  So I kept my pace, put my head down, and headed down the last lap of the track.  Turn 1, turn 2, turn 3, turn 4, and finally I headed down the last stretch of the track.  Normally at this point I would start to pick it up and sprint the last .2 miles but not today.  Like I said, slow and steady.

I crossed the finish line in 43 minutes and 50 seconds.  Not my fastest time, but I’ll take it!

The coolest part of this Triple Crown Series (besides the awesome medal you get for participating in 2 out of the 3 events) is that there were prize categories not only for the Top 3 male and female overall finishers of all 3 events, but they had age division winners as well.  After event #1 (Carmel 8K) they put up the top 5 finishers in each age division.  After event #2 (Eagle Creek 8K), they updated the leader boards so you could see how you did and where you stood in the running.  Then they took the time from event #3 (Hoosier Park 8K) and averaged it in for a final time and the overall age winner received a special Age Division Champion Pint glass.

Before the race at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino

Before the race at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino

My standard post race banana picture!

My standard post race banana picture!

Renee and I with our awards.  Renee won her age division for today's race AND her age division overall!

Renee and I with our awards. Renee won her age division for today’s race AND her age division overall!

My awesome hubby who drove me and cheered me on!

My awesome hubby who drove me and cheered me on!

Hoosier Park 8K Official Time - 43:50 Overall Place - 64 Age Division Place - 3/10 Triple Crown Series Age Division 25-29 CHAMPION

Hoosier Park 8K
Official Time – 43:50
Overall Place – 64
Age Division Place – 3/10
Triple Crown Series
Age Division 25-29 CHAMPION

 

 

Triple Crown Series Event 2 – Eagle Creek 8K

My husband asked me what I thought trail running was, I said, “I don’t know, in a park on a paved trail?”  You see, my first experience with nature walking was on the bike path next to my neighborhood that my parents told me to never go on without them… Naturally I was out there all the time walking to the park, walking to the bowling alley, walking to the post office, blockbuster, etc.  But I figured it was a trail because it was in the woods.  My next experience with Nature Trails the Monon (paved) and a couple of Nature Parks which all have paved trails.  So when I heard 8K trail run, I figured some paved park running with some pretty scenery.  If you know me, that’s about as one with nature as I get.  Boy was I in for a rude awakening…

Jutting rocks, large roots, low hanging branches and tree limbs, fallen down trees, mud holes, tall grass, land bridges, stairs made out of landscaping timbers, two sets of steep stairs, steep hills, gravel path, mud path, and trees so thick you couldn’t see the sky… Seriously, it felt like I was running in The Hunger Games (minus all the tributes trying to kill me and the muttations) but you get my drift.

I honestly had no idea what to expect since this was my first trail run.  Once I got out in the trenches, the goal was not to win, but to finish unscathed.  The first mile I was thinking to myself, What have I gotten myself into… as we were running practically single file on the dirt trail.  I come to the first little mud spot, which I easily maneuvered myself around.  I figured that was the mud spot the MC was talking about, but then I came to a second mud spot which was a little bit bigger than the first.  Now I’m in the clear.  That wasn’t so bad, what was that guy talking about? Whoopsie – he wasn’t talking about either of those.  When I saw the mud hole, I knew there was no going around it.  It was the width of the entire trail (about 4 people wide) and equally as long.  Even if you went around the perimeter of it like I did, your shoes were still being eaten up by the mud.  It felt like walking through the swamp, your shoes making sucking sounds as you pulled it out of the mud.  So much for clean shoes.  Then we ran through tall grass.  All I could think was, Please no snakes, please no snakes, please no snakes.  There weren’t any snakes, thank goodness!  We came to a clearing, crossed the street, and back to the trail and that was only the FIRST MILE!

Second mile was not any easier.  There were a couple of broken tree limbs (not little ones, but ones that took up the whole path) that I had to hurdle over.  It was then that I noticed that this was the kind of race that you needed to be able to look down, look to your sides, and look up to make sure you weren’t going to trip, knock your head, or slam into something.  A couple guys passed me taking thin branches to the face… no thanks, I’m good.  I don’t need to pass anyone.  Getting hit in the face by nature is not my idea of a good time.  I guess I’m not that hard core.  We come to a part where the path is so thin that only one person can fit at a time and to the right is a creek.  I’m silently saying to myself, please don’t collapse, please don’t collapse, please don’t collapse… Whew!  I made it through that part and up the hill I went.

Mile three had this HUGE tree branch that had grown in a funky arch.  It was too high to jump over, but to low to just run underneath.  You literally had to crouch down and duck under it.  I felt sorry for the tall folks in this race, but not as sorry as I felt for myself when I saw the set of stairs that loomed ahead.  Really?  I had visions of Bop to the Top come in my head.  But, I put my big girl pants on and ran up those stairs one at time, one foot in front of the other.  I was not walking in this race.

I don’t remember much of mile 4 except that I was muddy and wondering how I was going to clean my sneakers when I got home.

Then I could hear the finish line music.  There is something about hearing that music in the distance that gives you the extra little umph that you need to push through the last half mile.  I crossed the street, back to the path, around the bend, and through the grass (to grandmother’s house we go?) to the parking and across the finish line.  No injuries, no walking, no problem.  I have a new found appreciation for my ankle and knee joints after running on rough terrain.

Did I come in first? No.  Did I place in my age division?  No.  Did I finish last? No.  But you know what?  Even if I did, that would have been okay too.  The point is, I went out and did it.  I tried something new, put myself in an uncomfortable situation for me, and I finished.  That in itself is just as good as winning.

Eagle Creek 8K Official Time -  40:55 Average Pace - 9:12 Overall Place - 91 Age Division - 4

Eagle Creek 8K
Official Time – 40:55
Average Pace – 9:12
Overall Place – 92/258
Age Division – 4/12