2016 Flying Pig 10k recap

A few days after we arrived in Cincinnati, OH, I registered for the Flying Pig 10k. Cincinnati’s Flying Pig Marathon is considered by many to be a “must do”. The race weekend consists of a one mile, 5k, 10k, half and full (the half and full are held at the same time – so one must pick either option). While I would have loved to have done the half or the full – the past month has not allowed me to consistently train for running a distance longer than 5 miles – so I felt that the 10k would be the best choice.

I went to the expo the day before the race to pick up my bib and it was super fun – it was similar to a RunDisney expo in size and vendors, but a lot more manageable in terms of crowds. What I love about “the Pig” is the hometown pride – this is truly Cincinnati’s race – and it made me super happy to be a part of the community.

On race morning – I got up early and drove myself downtown. I gave myself a generous amount of time to drive and find parking – I arrived at the start area close to an hour before the start time. It was drizzling a little – but the rain let up by the time the race began.

The corrals AKA “pig pens” were all released at once. The course crossed into Kentucky so this was the first race where I ran through TWO states – pretty cool. There wasn’t any on-course entertainment – but there was a sufficient amount of aid stations. I crossed the finish in 1:18:24 with a pace of 12:38 – not a PR but I’m happy with my time.

screenshot_999.png

I quickly grabbed a bottle of water and some complimentary snacks and hopped in my car and drove home. As I walked to my car it started to rain again, and continued throughout the day – I lucked out! I’m still anticipating a soggy, wet, race in the future – but today was not that day.

This race was a great scenic tour of my new hometown AND a great introduction into Cincinnati’s running community.

Trying to Be “Somewhat” Healthy on a Road Trip

My husband and I recently completed a 10 day cross country road trip from San Francisco, CA to Cincinnati, OH. Below are some of the things that we did to try to make this trip a little healthier:

Try to find hotels with complimentary breakfasts –  I’m a breakfast eater and breakfasts can be a challenging thing to manage on the road – Most road hotels (Hampton Inn, Best Westerns, comfort inn) offer free hot breakfasts – where you can pick and choose what you want in the amount you want. You have the options of eggs, biscuits, waffles, yogurt, hot and cold cereals, fruit, english muffins, and pastries. It made the mornings more enjoyable and we were still able to hit the road on time.

Have snacks on hand – hunger strikes at weird times on the road, and we had healthy options on hand. Cashews, almonds, raisins, dates, peanut butter (in individual cups for those who like to eat it straight up), protein bars, and crackers were our trip staples.

Eat one “sack” meal per day – we usually had one meal in a restaurant (lunch or dinner) per day, the other meal we ate in the car or in our hotel room – which usually was a light sack lunch – some combination of peanut butter sandwich, crackers, nuts, dried fruit.We also occasionally had leftovers from the previous restaurant meals for lunch/dinner. All of our lodgings were equipped with a refrigerator. Having one lighter meal helped balance things out.

Try to fit in exercise – most of the road trip was spent in a sedentary state, but we did try to fit a few runs in if our hotel was located near a safe running route. Most hotels we stayed at also had fitness centers, but we did not take advantage of them (maybe next time). We also took a few nice walks in some of the towns we stopped in.

Have realistic expectations – I’m not someone with the strongest of discipline – while I would love to be someone who could eat clean regardless of the situation they are in, I’m just not. In my home life – we eat out once a week, but on the road, it’s everyday. I also am someone who likes to indulge during special occasions, and being fortunate to explore different regions of our beautiful nation is a special occasion. We definitely had more than a few opportunities to indulge and we took advantage of them.

20160421_100845.jpg
Cupcake Pancakes at IHOP – one of the several meals I treated myself to on the road

Our cross country road trip was an experience that made lifelong memories for us – it was nice to be able to balance the “vices” of traveling with a few healthy choices.

New town – new experiences

Two and a half years ago my husband and I packed up everything – left our family, friends, pretty much everything that was familiar to us and moved out west to San Francisco, CA.

The move was a challenge – but thanks to generous friends or as I’d like to call them: angels – who let us crash at their place for a month – we were able to find an apartment in a great location with convenient amenities – in the city of SF.

Living in one of the most beautiful and progressive cities in the country was a wonderful experience.

I found an amazing job with great people, had the opportunity to see lots of top notch live entertainment, explored new cities and locations in the Bay Area and within the state of CA, learned how to be more of a minimalist, ate lots of delicious food, and thanks to SF’s mild climate and scenic views – became a runner. If it were not for my move here – I might have not picked up what I hope to be a lifelong habit.

However – with time brings change – and many things are calling us back east: primarily opportunities and family.

We are planting our roots in Cincinnati, Ohio. I lived in Columbus, Ohio (about 90 minutes north of Cinci) for close to four years.

Ohio has a special place in my heart – it’s where I met my husband, where I made my closest friends, and where I received my college degree.

I’m not as familiar with Cinci as I am with Columbus – I have visited there many times (my husband grew up there) – however I still consider myself to be unfamiliar with the area.

Like our move to SF – I’m looking forward to finding a place to call home.

I’m also really looking forward to running in Cinci – a challenge for me will be the hot summers and cold winters (fall and spring are the sweet spots for running outdoors). I’ve been doing a lot of research on races in the Cincinnati area and throughout the tri-state area (Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky) and it seems to be that I’m arriving at the start of racing season. I already have a list of races I’d like to register for – I might have a busy summer ahead.

First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon 2016 Recap

After not running my planned half marathon this past month due to a bad chest cold – I was antsy to run the earliest half I could get my hands on.

I had a trip out to Florida in March to spend time with family, and the First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon fell during the time I was there, and was conveniently located.

This race conveniently (please note sarcasm) fell on the first day of daylight savings time – so the 6:45 am start would feel like a 5:45 am start, and the 4:30 am wake up would feel like a 3:30 am wake up.

Nevertheless, I slept very well for a pre-race night, and woke up to my alarm. I had my usual oatmeal and almonds – and since my body felt it was the middle of the night – it was really tough to get down.

My mom dropped me off at the start area at 5:45 am, and I picked up my packet, checked my participant tee with gear check, and lined up at the start, placing myself between the 2:45 and 3:00 pacers. I had no PR in mind due to it being my first half marathon in the Florida heat and humidity. I believe it was 75 degrees at the time of the start.

There were no time-released corrals at the start, everyone started at once. I started out at a slow jog until the crowd thinned and eased into my 30:30 intervals.

There were a lot of Galloway runners in this group. I played leapfrog with with a few people who must have been running the same intervals as me. There was one major “hill” which was a causeway bridge that we ascended before mile 1 – and we would return to that bridge  again a little after mile 4. I crossed the first 5k at 40 minutes in, which was consistent with the pace I wanted. When I came back to that bridge, I changed my intervals to 15:30 as I climbed – my goal was not to wear myself out – especially as the heat rose.  Once the bridge was out of the way – I switched back to 30:30.

Miles 7-9 seemed to take FOREVER – at that point the course went through residential areas, pretty but didn’t captivate my attention enough.

At mile 11 I started to get a pain in the back of my knee that forced me to switch to 15:30 intervals and alternate which foot I pushed off of. The pain started to go away halfway through mile 12 and once I saw the finish line I pushed through.

screenshot_985.png

My time was 2:54:53 with a pace of 13:20 per mile. Not near my faster times – but I’m happy.

The post race food was a catered brunch from First Watch – but I was not hungry at all – bummer, because it did look delicious.

After the race, I grabbed my bag from gear check – took a medal selfie and waited for my mom to pick me up (just like middle school).

This race was my first out-of-state half marathon, and it gave me confidence to know I could run the distance in high humidity and heat.

The race was organized and provided enough on-course support. Definitely a great experience.

2016 Disney Princess 5k Recap Part 2

Part 1 here

After the expo, we chilled out at the hotel for the remainder of the day – the red eye flight from the night before started to take it’s toll on me and I was fast asleep by 8pm.

Which brings me to 1:30 am the following morning – both my mom and I were up around this time and after laying around for a half hour we started to get ready. Since we were walking a 5k – I decided to primp myself up a little bit more than I would if I were “running” – i.e – I wore makeup and “styled” my hair. By styled I mean I wore my hair down in pigtails and we had matching Ariel headband/tiara thingies that we got from Party City.

We also wore matching Disney tops – which we bought at Macy’s on clearance back in September (I told you we’ve been preparing for this race)

We hopped on the first bus which left the hotel at 3:45 am – we were at the start area by 4am.

One thing I loved about Disney World RunDisney was that they sold concessions at the start area. Our hotel wasn’t selling any food or drinks that early (FYI – Disney host resorts do sell breakfast items before the 10ks and above) – but the start area for the 5k did have coffee, granola bars, breakfast sandwiches, and a few other things. Thank GOODNESS – I need coffee in the morning.

We had about two hours to kill before lining up for the corrals – there was a DJ playing typical pop/party music – so my mom and I killed time and warmed up by dancing and people watching.

Soon enough – we lined up in our corrals – waited another 25 minutes – and we were off.

My mom’s goal was to finish as fast as she could walk – she did not want to stop for any reason – no water, character photos, or even a selfie.

The first mile was in the parking lot/backstage of Epcot, and the remaining 2.1 were in the park.

Once inside the park, the course felt very familiar, as it is essentially a walk around World Showcase and Future World – because we have done this path so many times before – it went by very quickly – however it was so much fun!

Based on looking at the clock when we started and finished – it took us about 56 minutes to walk the 5k – a pace of around 18 per mile.

My mom finished strong – and felt great. I was SO proud of her. She really caught the RunDisney bug and wants to do a 10k next! She feels with training she could get her pace to under 16 minutes – and I plan to help her get there.

Z

We spent the rest of the day at Magic Kingdom – and proudly wore our 5k medals.

This race was so much fun! I thought I would feel like I was “missing out” because I wasn’t participating in the longer races – but I didn’t feel it that much. In fact, it felt pretty good to wake up early only once and relax the rest of the weekend.

Sure, a 5k might be the shortest “long distance” race out there – but it was memorable – 1.) because the majority of it was in the parks  and 2.) because it was my mom’s first RunDisney race

 

2016 Disney Princess 5k Recap Part 1

Yes – this race experience warrants more than 1 post.

It surprises me that a 5k could mean so much to me. This particular one has as much emotional weight as my first race.

I have been blabbing about RunDisney to my mom ever since I ran that first race, the Avengers Half Marathon. My mom would always ask me: can I walk those events? And I would tell her yes, but you had to keep a 16 minute per mile pace (which is a brisk walk). A 16 mm pace for an extended distance can be challenging.

After doing some research about the RunDisney 5k distances – I found out that RunDisney seldom sweeps for those races. While they still do enforce the 16mm rule on the website – because the 5k’s are mostly all in the parks, and also because they are targeted towards families with children – they are very generous and as long as you keep moving, you should be fine. I asked my mom if she wanted to get her RunDisney feet wet with the Princess 5k – and she enthusiastically said yes.

In July of this past year, registration for the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend opened up. The 5k was a definite for me and my mom – I was considering doing the Glass Slipper Challenge or at least the half – but I decided not to.

Why? A few reasons:

The primary reason for this weekend was to spend time with my mom – I didn’t want to enforce early evening bedtimes and lose a big chunk of the mornings more than one time- especially if I was doing the rest of the weekend’s races alone.

This was also my first time doing a RunDisney race in Walt Disney World – sure I’ve had two early morning wake ups in a row for the Dumbo Double Dare, but I could arrive at the race 30-45 minutes before the start – here I had to be on the resort shuttle AT least 1 hour and 15 minutes before the start. I wanted to test the waters out with one race per Florida weekend.

So it was what it was – we were “JUST” doing the 5k.

As the months passed by – I was getting excited and my mom was REALLY pumped. We had been visiting Disney World together many times over the past 25 (eek! where does the time go!) years. This was a brand new experience – a new twist to our typical vacation.

I took a red eye in from SF that landed in Orlando the morning before the race. On both of my flights over to FL – I made conversation with a lot of people who were also participating in the race weekend.

When I landed in MCO – I took Disney’s Magical Express to our resort – where I would meet my mom who was driving in (she lives in Southwest Florida). The line to get on the bus was a bit long – but once I boarded the bus- it took about 45 minutes to be dropped off at the hotel.

Once we were all checked in – we drove over to the expo to pick up our stuff.

The “world” expo experience, was different than the “land” experience. It was a lot more crowded, and the communication on where to pick everything up wasn’t very strong – it was challenging to locate where to pick up your t-shirt and gear bag once you received your bib.

After we got our necessary items – we perused the official merchandise area. I didn’t find anything worth buying. Between the crowds and lack of interest in anything else at the expo – my mom and I went back to our hotel.

Part 2 to come…

2016 San Francisco Kaiser Permanente 5k Recap

On February 2nd I started to have an inkling of a sore throat – which turned into almost 2 weeks of the worst chest cold I’ve had in a very long time. I usually get one to two head colds per year, but fortunately have never been so sick where I have been out of commission. This time was different. I spent many a day laying on the couch all zombie like trying to rest and rid myself of the hacking cough and nasal congestion.

While I was curled up on the couch – I kept anticipating the inevitable half marathon I was registered for – the one I was fully trained for. My 5th half marathon – taking place in my favorite location in San Francisco – Golden Gate Park on February 14th.

Three days out, and still sick, I was about to throw the towel in, when it dawned on me that I still had the option and the physical stamina to complete the 5k – which was also offered that day. I decided to rest up and make a game time decision on race day.

The morning of the race – I still hadn’t made up my mind. Mentally I was there and physically I was feeling close to normal . I had my typical pre-race morning – full of my usual breakfast and jitters/excitement. The Uber driver on the way out to the race told me to follow my mind and do the half – but I still had that nasty bronchial chest cough. There is that common rule I’ve heard about about exercising when sick: if it’s below the neck don’t do it.

The race was set up where everyone started at once – no timed corrals. The 5k cut off was less than a half mile on the course. When I started the race I still didn’t know what race I was going to do – but as I approached the cutoff my gut told me to take the shorter option.

The rest of the race felt like a blur – I did 30:30 intervals and finished with a time of 40:39 – a pace of 13:09 per mile. The best part of the race: I finished feeling healthy and strong.

After this 5k, I got a 5k medal and finishers shirt (that says “Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon & 5k” – so it’s still relevant to the race I did.)

screenshot_973.png

I’ll never know how I would feel if I decided to do the half, but I do know the rest of the day after the race I spent on the couch sleeping – I also know that the two “easy” shorter runs I did after the race were VERY hard – so I feel that my body still wasn’t half-marathon ready.

I’m just eager to do another half in the coming weeks – I trained for one – so I want to finish one! I’m flying out of state next month, and there is a half marathon near where I am staying that I’m on the cusp of registering for. What’s holding me back is the fear I’ll get sick again – and also running 13.1 miles the day after I take a red-eye flight.

Race Recap: 2016 San Francisco Hot Chocolate 15k

I ran this race over a month, so I’m not writing this recap super fresh.

The Hot Chocolate 15k/5k is a series that holds races in different cities throughout the country. Similar to the color run, but with less cities on the map.

The San Francisco event was held at Golden Gate Park.

I had heard about the race from a friend who ran it last year and a BIG draw for me to sign up was the free jacket with registration (some people do it for the medal, I do it for the shirt/jacket).

My husband (who after running the Dumbo Double Dare, told me he was capping his distances at 10ks) signed up with me for the 15k.

There was an expo held two days before the race in an convention center outside the city. Unlike RunDisney, my husband was able to pick up my bib and his without me going with him.

On race day – we got there with a little time to spare. This event was pretty big – and  they had a large setup in the music concourse of GG park. They had gear check, a merch tent, and even a few sponsor kiosks. It almost felt like another expo.

For corrals – they asked you to give a pace at registration – I listed mine as 12 per mile, my husband listed 9 per mile. Right before our registration was confirmed – I got notified I needed to submit a proof of time for my husband (not for me). I attached a screenshot of his Disneyland 10k race – and he got approved. On race day – he turned out to be in the first corral. I was in the second to last one.

There was a LOT of time between corrals. I think my husband started 20 minutes before I did. We were getting text alerts of each other’s tracking, and he told me he started to worry about me because it took a LONG time for my 5k split to be sent to him.

So now the race – after ending the Berkeley Half not feeling so well. I had no PR in mind – I just wanted to pace myself so I would not hit a wall and finish strong. I stuck mostly to 30:30 intervals. I always start races at a slow continuous jog to warm up and find my place amongst the crowd.

There was an ample amount of aid stations and the “fuel” being handed out was plain and chocolate marshmallows, M&M’s and chocolate chips (a different option at each point). I opted out of eating any of it and stuck to my own fuel. I just grabbed the water.

This was my second time running a race through GG park – and it was lovely. SF is the best city for running.

I finished with a time of 1:58:06 – a 12:41 pace. I’m happy to run 9.3 miles in less than two hours and felt really good after finishing.

The medal was SWEET get the pun? A chocolate bar shaped medal with an SF theme. It might be my fave medal to date.

The post race festivities were THE BEST I have ever experienced. Each finisher got a mini fondue cup with melted chocolate, a banana, marshmallows, cookies, rice crispie treats AND cup of piping hot chocolate to drink. After running 9.3 miles everything tasted like heaven. The music concourse was jam packed with runners resting, socializing, and eating. There was also a DJ “spinning tunes”.

In addition to the food – they kept the merch tent open – we didn’t buy anything but looked around.

I loved this race. I would definitely run it again – in SF or another city if I happen to be nearby.

2016 Running Goals

1000 miles

That’s my one and only goal for 2016. No race PR’s or marathons (although if I get the inclination to register for a full marathon – I might go ahead and do it)

Why this goal? While I definitely hope to increase my speed and achieve PR’s I didn’t want to lose sight of the reason I run – for my physical and mental health.

I will probably never place in a race. The day I can consistently maintain an eleven minute pace will be a HUGE achievement for me. I am not athletic by nature. The cliche “last kid picked for the team”. Some might read these as excuses, but life is long and my ultimate running goal is to be able to keep doing it for as long as I possibly can. If that means I’m a turtle, than I’m ok with that – at least I’m on the pavement.

Running has made such a positive impact on me – both mentally and physically. I’d love to see how doubling the miles I run will benefit me. For the record, I logged 556 miles in 2015.

 

January is almost over and as of today I have run 85.71 miles this month alone. Increasing my mileage hasn’t been too difficult. My 2015 running schedule consisted of two weeknight runs and one weekend long run. My current schedule adds two “lunch break” short runs and one more short run on the weekend – so I am running an average of 5-6 days a week versus 3 days. It might be double the miles, but it hasn’t eaten into my schedule.

I ran a 15k the first weekend in January (recap to come) and I have a half in a little over two weeks.

 

2015 Berkeley Half Marathon Recap

Between the Dumbo Double Dare – and this race. I started to become a little cocky. I was so impressed at my ability to run 19.3 miles in one weekend without burning myself out – that I viewed my 3rd and last half marathon of 2015 to not be a challenge.

Boy was I wrong. The 2015 Berkeley Half Marathon humbled me, and put into perspective that if running a half marathon were easy, everyone would do it.

Like my past three halfs – I put in the time and miles. I was all trained up. My speed has definitely not improved during my training runs – in fact they might have slowed down a little – yet for some reason, I thought there was a possibility of me getting a PR.

The morning of the race, I hopped in an uber that took me across the bay to Downtown Berkeley. My corral had an 8:22 am start time, so I got there with a little over 45 minutes to spare.

I placed myself at the front of my corral and had a quick start. I hit the 5k mark around 35 minutes into the race – which was speedy for me, but soon after that – I started to experience pain in my stomach and a little bit of nausea. I slowed down a little and by the time I got to mile 4, I started to feel better.

This course was very hilly in the beginning. The inclines felt greater than the Rock’n’Roll SF half which I ran earlier this year. Living in SF – I pretty much have to train on hills, so I was prepared, but hills do wear me out sometimes.

Around mile 9 is when it hit me – or I hit it. The wall.

At mile 10 it got harder, and by mile 11 I had to switch my 30:30 intervals to 15:30 (run 15 seconds, walk 30). Once I turned the corner and saw the finish line in view I *trotted* to the finish line. I was worn out. My finish time as 2:47:10 with a pace of 12:46. Not a PR. However it was my second fastest half.

race_1268_photo_28806545

 

Despite my pace not being too far off from my PR and definitely faster than my long training runs – I felt unfulfilled with my performance.

This race was small compared to the other half marathons I have ran in the past. In every other half marathon I have run – the crowds never truly thinned out. I always had people in front of me AND behind me. Even my first half – with a 3:17 finish time – there were plenty of people crossing the line with me.

While I never was truly ALONE during this race – it definitely got pretty quiet during the last two miles – and once I saw my official results on how I placed – OOOF McGOOF.

I don’t know if I will ever run a sub 2 half. I am not an athletic person by nature –  however I know I made mistakes during training and during the race – if a PR was something I wanted. I think can muster up a 2:35 finish time.

I need to push myself during my weekday short runs.  I had become a little lazy toward the later half of the year – and pretty much went through the motions with all of my runs.

I also could have paced myself better throughout the entire race. Gone slower in the beginning – so I could finish strong. I did not finish strong at this race.

It also made me question my marathon goal. When I finished the race I thought to myself “how in the heck can I double this and finish without being swept or diverted away from the finish?”

I also thought to myself – do I even want to do another long race in the near future?

For the past year and a half – I have been training for half marathons. I had written about the glory of taking some time off of the longer runs in the past – and I think that might be something I plan to do through the rest of the year.

I plan to keep my long runs in the single digits (probably maxing out at 8 miles) until the start of the new year. At that time I will think about my 2016 goals. Do they include a marathon? A half pr? A 10k PR? I need a little time to reflect and think about it.