Pacing Jason

Let me begin by providing some background on my husband Jason’s running.  He ran his first 5k in June 2012 when we lived in Jermyn, courtesy of me talking him into it.  He ran 2 more that summer.  He’s never been a stranger to working out, and having been in the Army National Guard for 6 years he was familiar with long miles logged on marches.  To watch him run one would think he’s a natural as his form is quite good.  His height and build make me think he would’ve been a standout 800m or 1600m runner in high school, had he chosen to participate in track.

I don’t think Jason has ever considered himself a runner in the sense that I do, but rather he runs if he’s in the mood to do so.  Some years this means he runs quite a bit.  Other years he will go months with maybe one or two runs under his belt.  He actually ran a half marathon by himself on the York Rail trail a few years ago.  If I recall he has ran a personal best of 23-something in a 5k back when he ran more often and raced more regularly.  I would love to know what he would be capable of running if he committed to training regularly.  However he much prefers DailyBurn workouts and weight lifting.

For the past month Jason and I have been running together every Saturday.  He was only running sporadically and hadn’t ran all winter.  I told him if he wanted to run the Cancer Crushin 5k and Turkey Hill Country Classic 10k that he needed to start getting some longer miles logged.  He also threw out the idea of running the Dumb Dutchman half marathon since my dad and Armand plan on running it.

If Jason’s inconsistent training is annoying as a runner to watch, his lack of pacing himself is infuriating.  He is a jack rabbit as soon as a run begins wanting to go out hard from the very start believing that every run is a race against himself.  While I admire his drive to push hard, any distance runner knows pacing is a key element to long runs.  Too often in the past our intended 5-6 mile runs have changed to 4 because he’s gone out way ahead of me and been too tired to finish.

A few weeks ago we went running with my dad on the Northwest Lancaster River Trail intending to run at least 6 miles.  Our first mile was at a good pace, but during the second mile I watched as Jason began pulling further ahead of me.  My dad stayed with him and I called out that they were pushing pace too much.  Sure enough when my Garmin beeped the second mile the pace had increased by at least 30 seconds.  Jason made the argument that he didn’t feel like he was running any faster, but by the time the fourth mile came around he was hurting.  Dad and I ended up completing 6.5 miles while Jason threw in the towel around 5.75.

The “you need to stop going out so hard” lecture has been given to Jason by myself and my dad.  I don’t think he intentionally ignores our advice.  It’s just in his mind he is in shape from his other workouts and if he feels good then his pace is fine.  I can’t say too much as I was guilty of similar thinking during the Hands on House half marathon last fall despite my first few mile splits indicating otherwise.

Yesterday Jason and I set out for the river trail once more for our long run.  Originally we planned to run on the York Rail trail, but the increasing temperatures made us want a shadier route.  We were aiming for a minimum of six miles with a preferred distance of seven.  Jason mentioned maybe eight, but I didn’t take him seriously given how the run with dad on that trail had gone.

One difference in this run was that Jason had ordered a sleeve to hold his cell phone on his arm while running so that he could listen to music.  I hoped any upbeat tempo songs wouldn’t cause him to increase his pace more than he should.  He told me at the start of the run to let him know once we hit 3.5 miles.  I knew we wouldn’t be talking during the run, but I reminded him to let me control the pace that I would aim for 9-9:30 per mile.  I hoped being the water/sport drink carrier would be reason enough for him to not get too far ahead of me.

The first mile we ran nearly side by side.  During the second mile he started to pull away again and I called after him, but of course he couldn’t hear me.  Fortunately he did glance back and I motioned to slow the pace and he did.  I remained a few steps behind him, but not the feet that I had been.  Throughout the third mile he would start to edge ahead then realize he was gaining too much ground and ease up.  I was by his side as we approached the 3.5 mark and he responded with “Let me know when we hit 4”.  Slightly surprised but feeling ok, I agreed with the plan while expecting him to end up deciding seven was enough on our way back.

We reached our turn around point and I noticed his breathing wasn’t as labored as it had been on past runs indicating that his cardiovascular endurance was improving, and he was benefiting from my controlled pacing.  At mile five he told me to let him know when we reached mile six.  He began to pull ahead of me and stopped checking on my location.  I couldn’t tell if he was picking up the pace, or if I was slowing.  My left knee began to twinge and my legs were heavy and reminded me that I haven’t been running near as much during track season.  I moved to the side of the trail, hoping the softer ground would alleviate some of my fatigue.

When my Garmin beeped mile six I realized I had indeed slowed the pace beyond a 9:30.  Jason was at least 200m ahead of me by that point and I worried I wouldn’t be able to catch him to supply him with the sport drink.  My legs slowly began to feel better and I resumed running on the macadam trail.  I gradually picked up the pace and a slight uphill over a wooden bridge provided me the benefit of reeling in Jason.  We were almost at seven miles.  The last mile I took the lead as Jason began to fatigue a bit.  Part of me wanted to increase the pace because I was feeling better, but knew it was best to hold steady for his sake.  We finished the full eight miles together, a distance I was not mentally prepared to run when the day began or even when our run began.

I gave Jason props for completing the distance and for maintaining such a good pace during it.  I thanked him for following my cues to ease up the pace when needed and he agreed it helped him to feel better for longer during the run.  I feel more confident going into the 10k having gotten that long of a run completed.  I’m still on the fence about running the half marathon in June, and I think Jason may be more leery now after feeling how much the eight miles could hurt.  There is a “half a half” race option that day, so I told him if anything we could just run that instead.  He wants to wait until after the 10k to make any decisions.  That is fine with me, and I will continue to help pace him if he decides he wants to tackle the full half.

Do you run or workout with your significant other?  Do you find it hard to run beyond a certain distance if you haven’t planned to run that at the start? 




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Cancer Crushin 5k

Normally I wouldn’t sign up for a race during track season, but when a flyer for the Cancer Crushin 5k was put on my dad’s windshield at the Indian Rock 10k, he was all for us signing up for it.  His dad had lymphoma so he likes to run races that benefit cancer research.  I figured it was a close to home race (held in Jacobus) and since the money went to a good cause I might as well run it too.  Our running buddy, Armand, and my husband, Jason, decided to sign up as well.

Jason and dad preran the course last Thurs., but as I had a volleyball game to work after track I wasn’t able to join them.  I was forewarned that the last mile contained a hill about a half mile long.  I had no real expectations going into the race since I haven’t been regularly training, but was still hoping to run in the 24’s.  I also wanted to focus on pacing Jason for at least the first mile as he’s inclined to go out faster than he should.

The near 70* temperature this afternoon was a nice change from the sometimes cooler than usual temps we’ve had so far this spring.  The 1pm start time on a Sunday afternoon was uncommon for a race, but a nice change from the usual early Saturday morning races.  There were a lot of community groups volunteering and participating, and I saw 2 other track coaches as well as a few athletes.

Our group of 4 lined up fairly close to start line to avoid getting stuck in a pack.  Dad took off well ahead of Jason and me.  The first mile began downhill which provided for a quick start.  It then had some rolling hills through a development before another downhill that led to a gravel trail.  Jason and I tried to work the downhills and hit a 7:24 first mile.

The trail slightly inclined as it went on until we connected to road once more.  I cheered for dad before we reached the turn around point.  Once more Jason and I tried to quicken our pace on the slight declines as we knew we’d lose time on the hill.  We grabbed water from the aid station, something I don’t normally do during a 5k, but the increasing sun and decreasing breeze made it feel more necessary.  We reached the 2 mile mark in an 8:34, not far from where the trail connected back to the road again.

Once we came off the trail we had to climb the hill.  At that point I pulled away from Jason having given him some reminders to keep his eyes focused a few feet in front of him and to drive his arms if he felt tired.  I had in my sight Les, a local runner I often talk to at races and a member of the Flying Feet racing team as well, and eventually caught him near the top of the hill.  There were two girls ahead of me who Jason and I had passed on a downhill, but who came back on us while on the trail.  The hill flattened out and I turned onto a road that traveled behind the intermediate school.

With a quarter mile to go I quickened my pace.  I was slowly closing the gap on the two girls ahead of me, but doubted my ability to run them down.  Throughout the race I felt as if I could keep running, but never felt like I had the speed to pick up my pace a whole lot.  Turning into the final corner towards the finish the two girls started running harder, and I had no kick to go after them.  I crossed the line in a 25:05.

My dad had hoped to break 23 minutes and didn’t and Jason didn’t run as fast as he had hoped to either.  We attributed it to the heat/sun affecting us more than we expected.  Jason still managed to finish first in his age group though and received a nice medal.

Awards were only given to the overall male and female and the top person in each age group; the girl who won mine beat me by 5 seconds.  I know that had I been able to kick like I did in past races I could’ve beat her.  Loss of speed is a consequence of inconsistent training and decreased mileage, but I’m grateful to be able to maintain my overall endurance and strength.  I would like to run that course sometime when I’m in prime shape as it was challenging but certainly my kind of course.


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2019 – 1st Quarter Fitness Summary

When I decided in 2016 to make it a goal to never take off more than 2 days in a row from working out, I began a simple spreadsheet to hold myself accountable.  It lists the date, exercise type (Running, DailyBurn, etc), duration and any notes which are usually just which running route I ran.  I know some people make their logs very detailed including temperature, heart rate, etc.  I like to keep mine simple so that I stick to using it, and until I see a benefit to adding more categories I’ll continue with my current ones.

I’ve never been one to set mileage goals.  Over the winter and during track season just keeping consistent with running (ie 2-3 runs a week) is a big enough goal to tackle given the extremes in weather and the increased busyness to my schedule.  For that reason I have never actually added up the number of miles I’ve ran in a month.  Inspired by the last day of the month I thought it might be fun to do that for a change.

In January I took off 3 days from working out and had 11 days of running totaling 67.53 miles.  That included racing the Indian Rock 10k.  In February I took off 5 days from working out and had 9 days of running totaling 51.7 miles.  That included racing the Springettsbury 10k.  In March I took off 6 days from working out and had 13 days of running totaling 45.85 miles.  That included racing the Northeastern 5k.

My mileage is certainly on a downward trend thanks to track season beginning the first week of March.  It may appear odd since I had more total running days, but I often join the kids for part of their workouts such as a 1-2 mile warmup or on pre-meet days a 2-3 mile run.  I coach mid distance runners (400 and 800m runners and 300m hurdlers) and their long runs don’t need to be as long as the distance runners’ workouts.

I’m not running the 5-6 miles on Wednesday evenings with the group anymore as they meet when I’m coaching.  I’ve been able to keep a Saturday run in my schedule due to Jason signing up to run a 5k with me, dad and Armand in April and a 10k with me in May.  He’s needed to build his mileage up and we’ve ran 6 miles the past two Saturdays.  He should be running through the week as well, but that’s a lecture for another post.

I have been rather consistent with my core workouts thanks in part to making my kids do core regularly after their workouts.  I have also kept up with at least one upper body workout a week.  Normally I combine two 10 min DailyBurn workouts featuring chest/triceps and back/biceps to get 20 mins of work completed.  My active recovery days are slacking a bit, but I still try to foam roll as needed.  I find that with not having as many days of running or longer miles that I’m not needing as much mobility or yoga work.

Looking at how much my mileage has decreased, I’m very grateful I made the decision to run the Turkey Hill 10k instead of the half marathon.  Sometimes I miss having more runs and longer runs in my week, but I enjoy coaching and feel it’s worth the sacrifice to my own training.  I think it’s also good to have it built in as an “off season” for myself in hopes that it will motivate me mentally and physically to gear up even more for racing this summer.

 Do you use a fitness log and if so, what do you track?  Do you set weekly or monthly mileage goals?  Do you plan an off season in your yearly training?

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3 Day Weekend Randomness

Jason and I took a vacation day on Friday.  It was a much needed three day weekend for me as he had MLK Day and Presidents’ Day off so far this year, but I hadn’t taken any time off work.  Rather than taking the extra time to relax, I used the additional day to accomplish tasks.  Here is my categorical randomness rundown from the long weekend:

House – Jason and I met with a flood insurance agent on Friday to finalize obtaining a policy.  It was something we discussed in the fall after 2018 was such a rain dominated year.  While our house isn’t in a designated flood plane and we have no bodies of water close to us, it still gives us peace of mind knowing that in the event of flooding we’re covered.  I am still waiting on news from the plumber regarding the water service line work.  The neighbor across the street said the neighbor on the corner received permission to install a water meter kit (something we plan to do) and run a new line from it to the water main, but not replace their galvanized piping into the house.  It would require them to rip up either their driveway or garage floor to do it.  I left a message for the plumber asking if this was an option for us as well, as I would much prefer if we didn’t need to shell out a ton of money and destroy our yard to put in a new line into the house.  Fingers crossed this works out for the best and doesn’t cost a fortune as Jason and I were hoping to have the spare room remodeled this year.

Volunteering – Jason, myself and two other ladies from church have formed a Welcome Team group to partner with Church World Service, an organization based in Lancaster that helps refugees once they arrive in the United States.  Our group’s main focus would be socialization and being friends with the refugees through spending time together doing various activities such as playing games, going for walks, etc.  We attended our second orientation on Friday and found out that there is a Congolese family due to arrive early in April.  The family consists of a father, mother, two brothers to the mother and five children ages ranging from 1 – 13.  I have learned so much already about the struggles that refugees go through from living in camps for years on end to the hoops they must jump through to come to the United States.  I am very nervous about meeting people who speak limited English as I am a talker, and I haven’t had much interaction with people of other cultures and fear saying or doing something offensive.  I know this is a great opportunity to grow as a person though, and help others in the process so I am going to put my best foot forward in taking on the challenge.

Track – Originally our first scrimmage was to be Thursday afternoon, but due to heavy rains all day it was rescheduled for Friday.  The winds were quite wicked at times and my hips ached from being cold, but being cold was much better than being cold and wet.  Several of my kids had really solid performances and while scores weren’t kept, it helped me to know who should be in which events for our first real meet on Tuesday.

Running – Jason and I were going to meet up with my dad Sat. morning to run the Turkey Hill Country Classic 10k course in preparation for the race in May.  Unfortunately dad was sick Friday night with a stomach virus, so Jason and I took to the roads without him.  The winds from Friday carried into Saturday and we began running into a head wind.  This lasted almost until the third mile when we turned and finally had the wind to our backs.  We finished into a head wind, and I think Jason gained a new understanding of how challenging running can be.

Food & Drink – Friday morning Jason and I went to breakfast after dropping the cat off for dental surgery.  I love going out for breakfast, and there’s something extra special about going on a day off of work.  Ironically I ran into a coworker’s husband who was out to eat with his coworkers.  On Saturday we decided to use one of our gift cards from Christmas to enjoy lunch at Fiesta Mexico, a very filling treat after our tough and windy 6 mile run.  Eating high quality Mexican food made me wonder how people can enjoy food from Taco Bell.  We tried one of the desserts, sopapillas, which was the closest thing I have tasted to an elephant ear in terms of flavor since Lordys Elephant Ears stopped attending the York Fair.  Saturday evening we indulged in craft beverages at The Taproom at the Barn & Barrel prior to attending a comedy show.  I had a blood orange cider that wasn’t quite as orange flavored as the one I sampled during our tiny house trip in the fall, but was still very light and refreshing.

Comedy Show – Earlier this year I was browsing events held at Mt. Hope Estate & Winery, home of the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire, and discovered they had renovated one of their buildings and were using it to host a once a month comedy show.  Tickets were only $15 a person in advance, so I ordered two for Saturday’s show as the February show had already sold out.  I had never attended a comedy show other than ones on the two cruises I’ve taken.  The 8pm start time was a tad late for my liking (Jason and I are usually in bed reading at 9 and asleep by 10), but I was looking forward to having a “date night”.  The show area was very intimate with rustic decor.  This included wooden chairs which had I known about in advance, I likely would’ve worn jeans instead of leggings as my butt was rather sore by the end of the show.  That being said Jason and I had a very good time.  There were three comedians, and the host also performed a short bit.  We found the two male comedians to be very entertaining.  Unfortunately we felt the female comedian relied too heavily on sexually themed topics.  Neither of us are prudes by any means and don’t take offense to most comedy.  We just find it in poor taste to rely on such “easy” material as sex and feel that too many female comedians do this.  I wish more females would take a clue from Ellen DeGeneres.  Overall it was a good show though and at a little over two hours, very worth the price.

Is flooding a concern for you?  Do you volunteer with any organizations?  Do you have any suggestions for me with meeting people of a vastly different culture than my own or tips for communicating with limited English speakers?  Have you ever attended a comedy show?

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Multitasking = Overstimulated Brain

I know many studies advise that multitasking does not accomplish as much as we tend to think it does.  By focusing on several things at once we’re unable to give any one thing our full attention.  I am a big proponent of mindfulness and appreciating the little things in life.

That being said, this past week I was incredibly guilty of multitasking.  I blame this mostly on trying to take on too much in one week.  Working and coaching were a given, commitments I couldn’t break.  Working out was another “must do” although there was some flexibility in the type and duration.  Monday evening consisted of a special borough meeting (which led to more multitasking as you’ll soon read), Tuesday evening was Meet the Team night for track, and Wednesday evening was a Citizens Climate Lobby meeting.  I also signed up for a free online crash course in “pioneer cooking” knowing I wouldn’t get to watch all the videos, but that I would try to watch as many as I could.

I thought by pre-planning dinners to mostly consist of crock pot recipes and putting cleaning on the “to do another week” list that I would be fine.  Monday was a busy work day as it always tends to be, and I wasn’t able to watch any of the pioneer cooking videos because of it.  The borough meeting that evening resulted in me having to call the borough the next day to send someone out to inspect if we needed upgraded water equipment in anticipation of a big project this spring in which the water company will install a new main water line.  The borough claimed that letters were sent out in the fall advising of the project and what would be needed, but the 30+ people in attendance (Jason and I included) spoke up to say that we had never received letters.  No apology was given and we were told to have the work done “as soon as possible” with no firm deadline.

Wed. morning two men from the borough came out and confirmed that while I had a new water meter, I would need a new water line as it was galvanized steel and they wanted copper, along with a new shut off valve and two other things.  I quickly called the plumber only to discover he didn’t do service line replacement, but fortunately his dad did.  I then called him and left a voicemail.  He came out on Thursday to scope out the layout and proposed a plan that would hopefully save us money; rather than use copper line from the street to the house (a distance of 80-85 ft as our house sits back quite a bit) he was going to see if the borough would permit us to put in a meter kit and hook up from there and use well water piping instead.  He called on Friday to say the borough would allow this, but that he would need his excavator to come out to determine costs on digging the yard to lay the new line.  We’re fairly certain the current one runs directly under the house to which is there is no basement but only a concrete slab.  Due to this there is a strong likelihood the line will have to come up under the stove and into the cabinet under the kitchen sink thus causing the floor under the stove to be ripped up.

All of this craziness was being done during my work hours of which I often don’t need a full 40, but can put me into a slight panic mode when I’m trying to get everything wrapped up before track practice.  Throw into it the “Sure I can get a workout and shower in before track” mindset and I was piling on the stress.  I was also keeping my personal laptop stationed near my work desk to check for track related emails.

The strange thing was that through the whole week I never felt stressed.  I was sick to my stomach wondering about the costs of the new water line and annoyed by the way the borough handled things, but not truly stressed.  I bounced between work tasks and replying to track emails and even threw in a pioneer cooking video here and there.  My mind would get distracted during my workouts, but I quickly refocused all my energy on being mindful during them.  I thought everything was under control and that multitasking was of benefit to me.  I was sleeping well, eating well and had the energy to just keep pushing through the to do’s.

This morning I had to force myself to do my 20 minute upper body workout, but felt accomplished once it was finished.  I went to church looking forward to some time for quiet reflection and listening to the new interim pastors speak.  Instead of experiencing the calm I felt tired and highly irritable.  A woman sat in front of me whose child (possibly around 2 years old) seemed to continuously make noise through talking, smacking the chair and dropping toys.  An older lady two seats from mine was trying to help shush the child by putting a finger to her lips.  The irony in her doing that is that she had a tablet out nearly the whole service, shopping online for shoes.  I saw another older lady have her phone out scrolling a website near the end of the service.  The constant noise of the child, the visual distraction of the technology and just overall mental fatigue had me wanting to cry at some points and walk out at others.

I came home and vented to Jason about the noisy child and technology loving woman and expected to feel de-stressed.  I then proceeded to apply for clearances for he and I to begin volunteering with an organization partnering with the church.  It felt mentally draining and the sound of the TV was grating on me the entire time.  Once I finished I said I needed to go lay down for awhile to shut everything out.

An hour of partial resting, partial napping, and I’m feeling slightly better, at least enough to keep to my commitment to blog once a week.  I had never experienced the kind of moodiness that I encountered this morning, and all I can figure is that my brain was too mentally stimulated.  Jason agreed that it made sense.  I had a fairly relaxing day yesterday of running 5 miles with Jason and dad and later going out for pizza with Jason, mom and dad, but it appears that the craziness of the week finally caught up to me.

I am going to be very careful to limit the multitasking this week and rather than stress about getting a lot of work done before a vacation day on Friday, I will accept that I have teammates who can cover for me and just do what I can do.  I will not treat needing to lay down and close my eyes for a bit as a sign of laziness, but as a mini break to recharge my batteries.  I will acknowledge that I may not have the time or energy to workout as much as I feel I should, and that’s ok because my fitness level won’t deplete in a week.  I will remember that my mind needs to be taken care of as well as I take care of my body.

Are you guilty of multitasking or do you try to limit it?  Have you ever had house projects forced upon you due to your township/borough?  How do you deal with distractions during church/other important functions?


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York Winter Series Summary Year 2 and What’s Next

One week ago yesterday I wrapped up running the York Winter Series for my second year.  It seemed to pass by much faster this year for some reason.  I can definitely say it’s the best way to stay motivated to keep running throughout the winter even when the temperatures are much more conducive to curling up on the couch to binge Netflix.    I remained more consistent in my training and maintained some longer runs (over 6 miles) than I did the previous year.  I also became a little more consistent in strength training.  I completed 7 of the 8 races and only missed one due to taking the track team to an indoor invitational.  This year brought about some very strong races for me and an overall placement of 2nd in my age group.  Here is a list of the races I completed and blogged about throughout the series:

Dover 10 Miler – I still say the timing of this race in November worked out great as a follow up to running a half marathon in the fall.  I’m glad I had Todd to help pace me as I risked going out too fast and burning out later.  It was a solid race with no detour to rescue kittens in the road like last year.

Spring Valley 4 Miler – Although I was originally concerned about the slight course change I found the new course to be a lot better.  I’m unsure if the race director will keep it or change back next year, but no matter what I’ll always have to keep up solid hill training to manage the course.

Wildcat 10k – I loved having “home course” advantage for this race.  I think it automatically makes me biased in saying it’s a favorite race of mine.  Getting to go indulge in holiday food later that day was a great reward for conquering such a challenging course.

John Rudy 5 Miler – I was very excited that the weather behaved this year to be able to run the race.  I was not so thrilled to have to run it a few days after suffering from a nasty stomach virus.  I ran it better than I expected, but I’m looking to really improve on this particular race next season.

Indian Rock 10k – I missed this race last year due to being sick and icy conditions, so I was glad to be able to complete it this year.  Granted I found it exceptionally boring since I’ve ran that portion of the rail trail so many times in my life, but given the chilliness of the morning I’m glad it was an easy course.

Jacobus 5 Miler – I’m 2 for 2 on missing this race due to indoor track.  The course was changed to a 5k this year due to construction work on a bridge that was part of the route.  It still finished up a nasty hill though.  I am making it a goal to run this course next year even if I have to miss a different race in its place.

Springettsbury 10k – I would argue this is the hardest race in the series due to the challenging course and the fact that it always seems to be super cold and/or windy.  That may be why I’ve elected to prerun it the past two years.  Fortunately there was no ice to tip toe across anywhere this year, and despite the wind exhausting me at times I had a solid finish.

Northeastern 5k – I’m still not as satisfied with my performance at this race as I should be.  The course changing that morning threw me off my mental game, and I wish I had gone into the race truly determined to break my overall 5k time as I now know I could’ve.  That said it was nice being able to break the age group tie and officially finish second overall in the series.

While running the series I had decided I wanted to run the Turkey Hill half marathon in May.  After running the 10k course the Wed. before Northeastern, and running such a fast time at Northeastern, I began considering if the 10k would be a better option.  I looked at last year’s times and though everything can change from year to year, I figured I would have a slight shot of placing in the top 5 women overall.  That, coupled with the challenge to get in 3 runs a week during track season, solidified my decision to run the 10k instead of the half marathon.  Jason has also decided to run it as his first 10k.  We’re both signed up for a 5k in April as well, one my dad wanted us to all run since it supports cancer research.

The Dumb Dutchman half marathon in June is still on my radar.  I feel I will be able to get in enough long runs by June to complete it and have been told the course is very flat and fast.  I’m not sure if I’ll set a time goal for it, or if keeping up running through track season will make just completing it enough of a challenge.  For now I’m enjoying backing off the long and harder miles for a bit and getting back into the groove of track season.

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Northeastern 5k – Year 2

I was very motivated for the final race of the York Winter Series yesterday, the Northeastern 5k.  Going into the race I was tied for 2nd overall in my age group and I felt confident I could beat the girl despite not actually knowing what she looked like.  I was also excited to see my 5k time after improving all winter, and since I hadn’t raced one since the early fall.

Given the name winter series, it seemed fitting that when I woke up yesterday it was to a snow covered car.  Fortunately the snow ended in the overnight hours so that the roads were fine to drive and my wonderful husband, Jason, cleaned my car off before I left.  I did a longer warmup than I normally do, including plenty of stride outs.  I was really set to run a hard race and the temps hovering in the low 30s seemed tolerable enough to race well.

I lined up with some local runners I know, and we were chatting when word started to be passed around that the course was being changed.  I was bummed.  I had ran two loops of the course the previous week with Todd and Armand and felt mentally prepared to race it hard.  Annoyance set in further when the race director confirmed that for safety reasons we would be staying on the high school campus and completing 4 loops instead of running the usual course.  I certainly understood his decision, but it didn’t do anything for my anticipation of racing.  There’s a reason I was a hurdler in track in high school; the idea of running multiple loops around the track for a mile or two mile race never had appeal to me.

I quickly got over my irritation of the course change once the race started knowing there was nothing I could do about it.  I went out comfortably hard, but hung back from the lead pack as I wasn’t entirely sure of what the loops were.  There was a slight grade in the front parking lot that led to a right turn, then a descending turn behind a building.  The course then gradually climbed again rounding a corner before flattening.  A left turn led to a straightaway across the finish line then a turn in the parking lot put us on a straightway back across the start line.

Part of the way into the second loop I heard my Garmin beep for the first mile – a 7:28.  I was slightly surprised at the quickness but chalked it up to going out a little harder than usual.  During the loop I began considering stripping off my windbreaker jacket as my long sleeved Under Armour top was doing a great job at keeping me warm.  I was also forced to swallow some nasal drainage as there were too many people around me to risk getting spit on someone.  These minor distractions helped me to not focus on how boring the course was.

The second mile beeped a 7:30.  I began considering the idea that I could run my fastest 5k ever, a goal I set last fall but didn’t figure I would begin really working on until spring.  I shrugged off the thought thinking I would likely slow at some point as my legs were really working hard.  This decision resulted in my finally stripping off my windbreaker coat and taking a few steps to the side to toss it in my parking space before joining back on the main course.  Looking back on the race I wish I had just tolerated feeling overheated and not wasted that precious time.

I kept working the grades in the course, missing my usual rolling hills that are my strength.  Another challenge of running loops was passing slower runners and losing sight of who was actually ahead of me that could be competition.  For this reason I ended up not kicking in as hard during the final straightaway as I physically could have.  My finishing time was 23:11 – 2 seconds slower than my all time fastest 5k from high school.

Needless to say as impressed as I was to have ran that fast of a time during cold conditions, I was also kicking myself for not running harder.  Had I known the course in advance, went out harder and finished with a fast kick, and not wasted time tossing my jacket, I fully believe that not only would I have broken my record of 23:09 but that I might’ve been able to go under 23 minutes.  I rarely finish a race and feel that I could’ve ran that much faster, but I certainly did Saturday.

Those discouraging thoughts aside, I did finish 2nd in my age group for both the race as well as the series.  I received a nice trophy and tshirt for placing.  For completing at least 5 of the 8 races I also received a pair of gloves.  Although it was a bit chilly for a cold treat, I indulged in a small birch beer ice courtesy of Ritas.  Overall it was a good end to the series.

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