Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Autumnfest 8k - race recap

Every Thanksgiving our local track club hosts an 8k race - the BlueCross Autumnfest 8k. I ran this race 2 years ago with my friend, Terri. It was an out and back then along Neyland Drive in Knoxville. 2 years ago was my first time running this particular race AND my first 8k. You can read all about that here. Last year we met up again on Thanksgiving morning and ran the 5/10k race across town with the Fleet Feet group. You can read about that here. I added those links to say it's interesting to see the progress over the years.

As you know, I started working with a coach in the beginning of October. Things are going really well with that and I am noticing a lot of progress in just the short time I have had with him. A day or two before the Thanksgiving day race my coach emailed me some race notes which included goal pace/finish time. I gotta admit that I am sometimes intimidated by his goals for me. I think this is due in part to how little confidence I have in myself to actually accomplish those goals/paces. But I'm having patience and trusting the training.

The day before race day a good friend/running buddy commented on my DM run asking if I wanted to run together on race day. Not wanting to jinx myself or give away my race plan/goal I messaged him to let him know what my coach wanted me to achieve on race day. I let him know that my coach wanted me to treat the race as my workout for the week since there was no other workout (speed work/Tempo, etc) planned for the week. And I let him know what my projected finish time was (44:20). No problem! D assured me that he was just treating the race as a training run for him and he'd be happy to pace me and push me to the goal.

So that was settled! I got my stuff laid out the night before the race. We planned to get up early to do my "breakfast" and get the kids going. We had to be there pretty early since I was volunteering at race day registration.

We got to the race in time for me to be dropped off at the registration tent. This was the craziest race day registration I have ever seen. It was just super busy! Most people picked up their packets the 2 opportunities they had prior to race day but for those that hadn't even registered the line was long to do so ON race day. I'm not sure I enjoyed that part of volunteering. I was stressing over getting out to do my warm up on time and whether I would be able to make a quick trip into the porta-potties or not (turned out not). I did manage to meet up with Michelle and Angela to get a quick little warm up in before finding Dave and discussing the plan.

This race also had a 2 mile walk and little gobbler run. Since the kids were with us and my Peanut boy saw other kids getting bibs and tees he decided HE wanted to run the Little Gobbler race too. We never carry cash but I had a $5 volunteer coupon from the morning so I handed it over and let the little guy run. He was happy to tell me he got 4th place! He was also super excited that we had matching turkey shirts.
[caption id="attachment_1665" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Peanut's first "road race"[/caption]

After his race, my warm up and the shedding of extra layers, Dave and I lined up (closer to the start than normal for me!) and got ready to run. The gun went off way sooner than I expected but once my feet and legs began moving I realized I was ready to run. D was very encouraging the entire race and was telling me my overall pace every so often. Now, I knew from hearing what others said that this course was hilly. It is Knoxville after all! However, I tried hard not to let that get all in my head. I've done some decent training.

Mile one went by quickly. 8:32
Mile two was a bit slower as I had to shed my arm warmers and gloves and did as my coach instructed (grabbed Powerade). 9:07
We were still on pace for our projected finish time going into mile 3. D was still letting me know I was doing great and that our pace was on track. I think I may or may not have to cursed him and Mr. Turkey regarding the awesome hills in this race. haha But mile 3 went just as well. 8:34
Mile 4 would be the last large hill. 9:11
And Mile 5 Dave really pushed me to give it my all to finish strong. 8:13

Here we are going up that killer hill. You'll notice one of us seems rather happy about this hill. The other one of us ran at least half the way up past the photo op before deciding to save some energy at the top to push through the end of the race.
[caption id="attachment_1666" align="aligncenter" width="300"] We love hills... or um, one of us does![/caption]

Some of our teammates chose not to run the race but were there for cheers and photos...
[caption id="attachment_1667" align="aligncenter" width="224"] Coming into the finish line![/caption]

As we were coming into the finish area D kept telling me to push and sprint as hard as I could past him. At one point I said, "NO, I can't this is it. And who the heck moved the finish line!?" But I managed to push hard and give it my all. I was never happier to be done with a race and to see my finish time. 43:46 by my Garmin! I came in UNDER my goal time.

Going into the race I had a feeling that the goal of 44:20 was just too lofty and not something I could do. I let the fact that the race was hilly put that thought in my head. I do speed work on a mostly flat surface but add hills to that and well, I lost a bit of confidence in myself. I was still in shock throughout the race that I was on pace for finishing close to goal. I was in even more shock post race when I exceeded my goal.

My family (hubby and kids) were also there at the finish line to watch me come through. I knew they were proud of me regardless of my finish time. It means so much that they come out to support me. Not just on Thanksgiving, but every day, I am thankful for them and what they've shown me through this whole journey.

I am also thankful for friends who give of themselves even when not asked. I had it in my head that I'd be running this race solo and that alone I may not reach my goal but I was going to try. I was happy (still am) that a friend offered to pace me and help me reach my goal that day. The running community is a great place to be and I am thankful for the friends I've made along the way by being a part of it.

After hugs with my friend, thanking him for a great race, finding my family and loving them for coming, I wanted to find my coach to show him how my race went. I was happy that he was as stoked as I was about it. I did a little cool down then got some food and found my family again. We hung out a while afterwards because there was a raffle. Bring canned goods for the needy and get a ticket for a chance to win a great door prize! Much to my surprise I won something (yay beer!?). haha

We also stayed for awards since we really weren't in a huge hurry. I was surprised again to hear MY NAME CALLED!!!
[caption id="attachment_1668" align="aligncenter" width="300"] 1st Place Athena!!! [/caption]
My first division WIN! 1st place with a gun time of 43:56. I could not have been happier. I won that lovely race day medal and a pumpkin cheesecake. Very fitting for a Thanksgiving Day race!
Lots of cheers and celebrating with friends and family.

And one more post race pic with some of the ladies on my Socialites team.
[caption id="attachment_1669" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Socialites Ladies[/caption]

Overall it was a great race and fabulous day.
I'm happy to look back on the progress I have made even since last year. 2 years ago this race was ran on a mostly flat out and back course and I finished in 54:51 for under 5 miles. This year I logged 5.01 miles with a time (Garmin) of 43:46. We are talking a good 10 minute plus PR for this race (by name, not course)! I'm most definitely not trying toot my own horn but rather say... that hard work pays off, big time. If you have a goal, go after it HARD! Work work work and KNOW that you can reach it!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

G.O. H.A.R.D.

Apparently today is Globally Organized Hug a Runner Day. The cute image above has been floating around my Twitter and Facebook! I just had to share it with you guys and send some virtual hugs your way! If you haven't hugged a runner today you still have time!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Ragnar Relay TN (recap)

A few months or so ago I saw a post by one of my fellow Toughies on FB that mentioned her Ragnar Relay team needing to fill an open spot for Ragnar TN. I immediately said to my husband, "I'm going to say yes to that!" And I did not having met my fellow Toughie or a single soul on the Relay Team. If you know me in real life you know that is way out of character for me. I'm a shy girl and very insecure so this whole stepping outside my comfort zone and doing this was huge. BUT I was overly excited. I was excited about the experience of the relay but also excited to go and spend those 30 something hours with strangers that would soon become my friends.

The team name was Team Cowbell.
I cannot say enough about how well organized our team captain, John, was with the entire event. I'm a totally disorganized person and to have put something like that together would have overwhelmed me majorly. But John is a pro and even if he says he isn't he surely must fake it because there was no lack in communication fro the beginning to the end (and beyond). And another of our fabulous teammates is just as organized and provided the team with a fabulous spreadsheet of pacing info before hand AND the entire time we were all running. Seriously impressed by these guys!

So, first things first. You know me. I like to get everything out and ready before the race and since this was an overnight thing I had to have a bag packed. I was seriously a big bundle of stress the night before trying to make sure I had everything.

I will also say that I had a bit of giddy nervousness the night before. Excited about the race, nervous about the race. Excited about meeting my team mates but nervous wondering if they would like me, think I was weird or what!?
I was up early the day of the race because I had to see at least one kid off to school before we hit the road to Chattanooga (actually Jasper, TN). Since I was in van 2 I didn't have to meet the team until this first major exchange where van 1 would hand off to van 2.

Hubby and I got there pretty early but I'd always rather be early than late. We walked around, used the potty (they were fresh and clean!!) and let Peanut kick his football a while. We also browsed the Ragnar tent to see what goodies I might want to pick up after the race. After walking around a bit more and more vans started rolling in. We were standing at my car when I heard, "Hey Kimberly!" Ahhh yay! It was John and the rest of my van 2 team mates! The meeting with everyone went well. We had a few minutes to load everyone up, potty and then take our night reflective gear and lights to check in, go to a safety briefing and snap a few pre-race pics. We were also able to chat it up with van 1 as we waited on runner 6 to hand off to John.
John did a fine job killing his first leg which was a doozy with a killer hill to start.

While we were waiting and cheering John on his leg we got ourselves inked up Ragnar style.
[caption id="attachment_1650" align="aligncenter" width="300"] I'm not entirely ashamed that I didn't wash it off until Tuesday after the race. haha [/caption]

Next up was Carolyn, then Randall, John (E), Kelley and then myself bringing up the rear. I tried to get as many pics of everyone as I could. Between the hours of 4pm and 8am we had to sport of lovely reflective gear and headlaps/butt lights. This was quite fun with running (or not)! Below is a pic of the rest of us running one of our legs. I'm the one in the dark. That was the handoff from my leg (12) back to van 1.

I was runner 12 which meant I had legs 12, 24 and 36.
My first leg (12) was 7.9 miles with an elevation loss of 1250 ft and a gain of 374 ft, net elevation change -876. I was not at all worried about this leg as I have done a half marathon totally downhill before. I knew my legs would be trashed before starting the flat portion. My coach wanted me to stick to my comfortable pace for this leg (9:30mm) however that was quite a feat since it was downhill. My overall pace ended up being 8:41mm. I ran this leg in just under 1 hour 9 minutes. I saw the most amazing sunset coming down the "hill" and only had one kill! I decided to count my one kill and not even care that one guy passed me because the one hill I had was a girl in a tutu. ;) As far as the rest of this run... well, it was fine until the sunset and it got dark. By that point my van had to make it to the exchange so I was alone. The roadway I was running on was rather narrow until I got into the little town, which was scary because I wasn't familiar at all with where I was going and only hoped the course was as well marked as I had seen other legs being marked (it was). Soon I saw the exchange ahead and could hear my team cheering for me. I handed off to Richie in van 1 and made my way to my team mates. We were ready for food and rest before we had to be at the next exchange and ready to run again.

And food I did have!
[caption id="attachment_1652" align="aligncenter" width="300"] mmm chicken burrito get in my belly![/caption]
I admit that I was kinda nervous about the choice of Mexican during a run/race because I hadn't informed my team mates that I held a prestigious award with my running club (Most Likely to Wander out of the Woods Missing an arm warmer/sock) for my "issues." But I played it safe with my choice and skipped the beans and immediately took my Imodium before my next leg.

We drove to the next exchange and from what I can remember we weren't allowed to be too early or we'd be penalized. We hung out in a parking lot nearby and tried to catch a little rest. I'm not sure I actually slept but I did close my eyes, wrap my blanket over my head and attempted to catch a few zzz's. The middle of the night legs were next. They were the ones that made me most nervous. Everyone did well! It had gotten cold but I was prepped and ready to go by the tie my 2:30am run rolled around. As soon as Kelley handed off to me I was off. Again I was told by my coach to stick to my comfortable pace (9:30mm) but 1. I was cold and 2. It was dark and lonely especially after I passed the only few people out there that started with me and my van wasn't really allowed to make much noise or really leap frog me given that we were in a little bit of a residential area. There were a few homes from what I could see but by the sounds I heard (BIG barking dogs, anyone!?) I knew there were more than what was visible.
I basically just kept my eyes on the road and ran. I didn't have my music for this leg so I could hear the barking of dogs. i was glad this leg was only 3.6 miles because I didn't want to be out there alone in the dark for long. I remember the one last time my van yelled, "Go Kim!" out the window that the girl just a few feet in front of me seemed a bit unhappy to be out there. She muttered a "yeah yeah" and I passed her. I was excited for one final kill on that leg. I told myself to just keep running as I got closer to the turn off. Once I made the right turn headed towards the next big exchange things got really dark and all I could see was my breath in front of me. I wanted to really push myself hard to finish but in the end the girl I killed got me back! lol Turns out she was on a team with some friends from home.
I ended up finishing 3.48 miles in 30:14 for leg 24 again around that same 8:41 pace. I was proud to have ran fast but hoped I hadn't worn myself out too much for my final leg of the day.
We finished at a high school gym where we were able to shower and catch some sleep on the gym floor. The shower was nice but I never was able to get totally warm so sleep on the gym floor wasn't much. Between my chattering teeth and the constant slamming doors I think I might have napped for a solid hour before we had to be up around 6am.

Once the group was back up Saturday morning we headed for grub and coffee before heading to the last major exchange to finish up our Ragnar Relay experience.We were able to get a group shot with everyone except the one runner still on the course.
[caption id="attachment_1653" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Team Cowbell[/caption]
I honestly didn't remember posing for this picture when I saw it posted on FB. I must not have had all my coffee by that point.
Exchange of the lovely orange Ragnar slap bracelet (aka baton) was made and once again van 2 and John were on the way to finish up Ragnar!

The rest of the day was spent cheering on all the runners in van 2. Everyone ran so well and FAST! I was so proud of our van. We had a blast all day ringing the cowbells! So many of the legs were ran in such beautiful areas I had never been to or seen before. I'd love to go back that way and take in all the scenery again!

The closer my final leg (36) got the more nervous I was. It had gotten a bit warm outside and I was extremely worried about all the turns on my leg. It wasn't a very long run, 5.9 miles that I had told myself all along was actually 5.6. There were a total of l7-19 turns. I was running well and had a couple of early kills. The course was mostly flat with a slight incline midway through. The most annoying thing was the stoplights I had to wait for in order to cross the road. I think when I looked back at my Garmin I lost a total of 4-6 minutes just waiting to cross streets! That is crazy for running but insane during a "race." One guy caught up with me towards the end and we both ended up missing one of the turns. This added about a quarter mile to the race for us. All along I was thinking it was 5.6 miles I was running so imagine my surprise when my Garmin read 6.1. eek. I was giving myself high fives for being a Ragnar Over Achiever and adding a half mile to the run. Turns out it wasn't the case but I still kind of felt bad for making my team wait longer while I had made the mistake of missing a turn. Thankfully all was well and I was on track to the finish in no time. It was a lot of fun running through down town Nashville though it was crowded!

As I rounded the last turn and saw my team mates I was so excited! I had ran a Ragnar relay! Carolyn and Kelley were the first ones I saw because Carolyn had my "Got Cowbell?" shirt ready for me to just slip on. Thank you for that! We all ran in together with our families. I had already warned them that I might be a blubbering mess at the end but turns out I was far too excited (and tired probably) to do any crying at the finish!

By the looks of the picture it appears the finish is up a slight hill. I don't recall that if it was. I was so excited to finish this race with such an amazing group of people! We hung out, got medals and took more pics before grabbing brews and pizza (best post race treat ever!).

The overall experience was great. I'll have some final thoughts on it and more pics to share soon. I know it's long and I thank you for sticking with me to the end. It's taken me a week to recap this far and while I would love to break it up leg by leg I'm sure you'll be thankful I didn't! One thing I will say before my next post is that this whole thing was the most fun I have experienced in running so far and I cannot wait to do it again!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

[caption id="attachment_1643" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Every single day[/caption]
props to Lift Your Sole for posting this to FB today!

And another note, still working on Ragnar Relay recap. Hang tight, friends!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Ragnar Relay TN - finisher

I have mia in blog land the last week or so due to sick kiddos, trying to keep myself well and training for upcoming races. This weekend I had the opportunity to participate in Ragnar Relay Tennessee with an amazing group of runners. I can't wait to share my experience with you!