A Tale Of Three Races

It’s no secret that I’m not very on the ball with doing race recaps. Recently I’ve done two small (but memorable) 5ks, and one pretty big 10k, so I figured I would consolidate all three into one post.

Race 1 – October 6, Totally Awesome 80’s 5k – Haddonfield, NJ

My birthday is (was) October 4, so when I heard about this race back in August I thought it would be a super-fun way to celebrate.  I reached out to a few Twitter friends in the Philly and South Jersey areas and Maureen was free along with Mer.  Unfortunately Mer has been sidelined with a knee injury and wasn’t able to come out, but Maureen and I had a great race!

The race started and finished at the Irish Mile on Haddon Avenue.  I arrived incredibly early because it’s always hard to predict how traffic will go on the Schuylkill. It took much less time than I anticipated, but I was not the first to arrive (phew). Initially, the other runners were dressed very type-A runner style, and I, in my awesome day-glo 80’s inspired outfit, felt slightly out of place. Gradually the type-A’s were drowned out with mullets, lace tops, leg-warmers, big hair, and mesh shirts.

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The course was a big loop that was a gradual downhill for the first mile or so.  Some light rolling hills came along and then one pretty big climb a little before the halfway point. It was a nice course, and, of course, having beer at the finish is always a plus. Along with beer, the Irish Mile had a great spread of post-race eats – pizza, caesar salad, and roast pork sandwiches (a specialty of theirs). The food was excellent, and Maureen and I stuck around to enjoy the post-race activities for at least an hour after finishing.  I’d like to go back to the Irish Mile just for the beer selection!

Because I’m a slow-poke, I hardly ever put my finish times out there, but for these three races I will and you’ll see at the end the relevance.  Finish time: 36:34, place 224 out of 346.

Bonus: Haddonfield is just outside of Cherry Hill, so I was able to check out the new Road Runner Sports, my first time in an actual store! Loved it, and definitely will find my way back there again!

Race 2 – October 19, Runner’s World Running Festival 10k – Bethlehem, PA

Lots of other recaps are floating out there in blog-land for this along with the other races that occurred at the Running Festival so I will spare some details.  As a Lehigh Valley local, I love that this race brings people from all over the country.  While I was only able to meet Jocelyn, I had hoped to meet some of the other visitors.

Because the race is two weeks out from New York, and I had done the Hat Trick (5k, 10k and half) last year, I knew that I didn’t want to do the half again this year. It’s a hilly course, so I wanted to do my long run on my own Sunday.  I signed up for the 10k so that I could do something there without beating myself up too much.  I also had a lot of Team in Training friends doing the 10k so I knew I’d have someone to run it with.  The expo Friday was like a reunion with all the people I ran into!

On race morning, my friend Amy from my Ragnar team and I arranged to meet at 8am in the coffee shop at the Sands outlets.  We walked over to the ArtsQuest Center at Steel Stacks and I watched the 5k runners finish while she picked up her bib.  It was the first really chilly morning we’ve had recently so it was pretty cold waiting for the race to start.  Earlier in the week I picked up some crazy running capris (at JCPenney of all places!) so I wore those and was really impressed with the way they fit.

The run started at 9:30 and Amy and I agreed to run together, with her sticking to my pace because she’s been bothered by some hip pain lately.  The course was not much different from what I remember of last years, with a little uphill on the south side then winding around to head over the Fahy bridge and through downtown – up and down, up and down.  My official finish time was 1:16:05, place 1727 out of 1903. HOWEVER, Amy and I ran the entire thing together, and her finish time came in at 1:15:46, so that is what I consider my true finish time (it also matches my Garmin time, so I’m not sure what was up with my b-tag…).  Oh yeah, and as I was closing in on the six-mile marker, Summer Sanders was walking past so I (obviously) had to get a high-five from her!

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Race 3 – October 26, Trick or Treat Trot at the Trail 5k – Coplay PA

Three of my Team in Training run coaches, Marney, Jackie and Melissa (my NYC Marathon roomie) organize this race every year to benefit LLS.  It is a Halloween-themed race, with a kids trick-or-treat walk, so there’s something for every age.  In tribute to running New York next weekend, I dressed in a Statue of Liberty costume. I bought a costume that included the robe and headpiece, and picked up tissue paper, a foam cone, and a flameless tea light at Hobby Lobby to make a torch, while I covered a couple magazines with the tissue paper to be my book.  I’m pleased with how it came together!  And no, I didn’t run with the torch or book – only the robe and headpiece.

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I’ve had a tough time sticking to my training program this marathon cycle, with long runs being very inconsistent, and nonexistent in some critical weeks.  I should have done my 20 way earlier this month, but had delayed it until this past weekend (the day after the RW 10k).  I set out to do it, and had a mental bonk, getting a mere five miles in  Rather than throwing in the towel completely, I rallied, took a day off from work and eked out those miles Wednesday, which I felt was truly the last possible day that I could do it and still recover enough.  So this 5k was my first run since that 20, which were WAY easier than I would have expected, and I had a lot less DOMS to deal with than I anticipated.

For this race I wanted to go out there and run it comfortably. I’ve been noticing that my pace on my 3-4 mile training runs has been around a minute faster per mile than what I was typically running, so I wanted to try for that, but I also noticed that my legs were still a little sore from my 20.  Of course I left my Garmin at home, so I ran the race blind, with no clue what my pace was.  This course is an out and back along the Ironton Rail Trail, a repurposed rail line through Whitehall. It’s mostly paved, and relatively flat. At the turnaround there was water so I grabbed a cup and walked a minute or so to drink it. There was some wind pushing against me as I came to the finish, but when I saw the clock I was pleased. I finished in 34:25!  Two whole minutes faster than the 5k earlier this month. I would have liked to tack on another 8 or 9 miles after doing the 5k, but it was clear that my legs needed a little more rest than I thought.  I managed to win a prize for my costume, and my friend Jeannine is speedy and won 2nd place in our age group!

My takeaway from the three races this month? Ultimately, I have a ways to go to improve my pace. I’d love to at least be where I was five and six years ago, and anything I can improve on that would be gravy.  In the latter part of the summer I was doing track workouts which showed me that I have some ability to run fast (relative to me), so my challenge is doing the faster pace for more than half-mile increments. I would have to say that the 80’s run gave me some running mojo back, and it’s since then that I’ve stuck more stringently to getting miles in during the week.  Getting my long runs in has given me the boost to push my pace in those weeknight runs.

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