Monday, October 28, 2013

Race Recap: 2013 Evergreen Pumpkin Run 10 Miler

Evergreen Pumpkin Runners

Ok, no suspense here.  The race was great!  I ran faster than my goal pace and shaved 5 minutes off last year's time!

Now for the details:

  • Event: Evergreen Pumpkin 10 Mile Run
  • Location: Jacksonville, Florida
  • Participants: 668 in the 5K  and 640 in the 10 Miler
  • Parking: Free parking is located inside the cemetery and is very convenient to the starting line. 
  • Overview:  This is a Halloween themed race run almost entirely in a large, historical cemetery (Evergreen Cemetery)  Many of the runners are in costume, making this a very interesting race indeed!  Pumpkins line the paths inside the cemetery and participants are encouraged to take one home with them.
  • Goal: To finish in 1 hour 40 minutes (10 minute pace)

This was my 2nd year to run this race and my first time trying to beat my time from a previous year.  I absolutely loved repeating a race.  We knew where to park, where to run, where the potties were, etc.  Familiarity really does make the race more enjoyable.

This year I dressed as a peacock.  It was a fun costume to make, and turned out to be easy to run in.

You can't really tell, but I have a huge plume of lame' strips on my backside!

The night before, I was very worried about the weather.  The starting time temp was supposed to be 45 degrees - which is pretty cold for this time of year.  However, I think it actually ended up closer to mid 50's which was perfect for running!

Last year I placed myself towards the back of the pack and spent the first 2 miles running around folks.  This year I started at the 9 min. mile flag and there was little congestion and no dodging slower runners.  It was perfect!

This is a very curvy course - in fact, I think they announced at the beginning that there were around 100 turns on the 10 mile course!  However, everything is clearly marked and most are forks in the path rather than 90 degree turns.   The course is very scenic with huge oaks, old crypts and peaceful benches.  It is also rather hilly for this part of Florida.  I know many of you from other parts would laugh at what I consider a hill.  Well, even I know it's not a hill but a slight incline!  But when you always train on flat, flat, flat terrain it feels significant.
Very scenic route!

Here is how it went down:

  • Miles 1-3: I felt great!  The weather was perfect, although my hands were freezing.  By the end of mile 3, I realized that I was easily keeping a 9:45 pace and I began to believe that an under 100 minute 10-miler was possible.  At the 3 mile mark the 5K-ers broke away for the finish line and the crowd thinned dramatically.  I took my first walk break at the 3 mile water station for about 45 seconds.
  • Miles 3-5: This was the only time we ran out of the cemetery.  It was an out and back down a closed road.  This provided the perfect opportunity to see a lot of other runners and the costumes they were wearing.  There are some very creative folks out there!  I caught sight of my husband as he was heading back on this stretch and we high-fived.  We were both running better than expected!  However, towards the end of mile 5 my left hamstring started cramping and I had to stop for a few seconds and try to rub it out.  
  • Miles 5-7: This was the most difficult part for me.  My left ankle, which had been giving me trouble during the past few weeks, started to hurt in an entirely different area.  I got really worried that I would be injuring myself if I continued to run on it, so I had to decide if this race was worth it.  Then, about the time I thought I should just stop and walk the ankle pain would go away.  I would begin to feel confident again and then... pain.  It took me about 15 minutes to finally figure out that my ankle only hurt when I was going uphill.  I had forgotten that this course is rather undulating.  So, my racing mind reasoned that I never ran uphill anyway, so who cared if I got an injury that only hurt on uphill runs.  Yes, I actually thought that!!  So I kicked it up a notch and ended the 7 miles with a 9:51 average pace.
  • Miles 7-9: My pace varied greatly during this time.  I would think I was giving it all I had and look down and realize I was running at a 10:20 pace.  Also, I kept forgetting to pump my arms.  I'd think something like "I'll really concentrate on pumping my arms until I get to that tree!" and then realize when I got to said tree that I'd already stopped moving them.  In other words, I was having a lot of trouble concentrating.  on anything.  I remember passing a crypt and thinking that it looked very familiar, only to realize that I was on my second loop, so of course I had passed it before.  I was feeling very tired, but at the end of mile 9 my avg. pace was still 9:51.
  • Mile 9-10:  Just past the 9 mile marker I saw my husband standing by a tree stretching his legs.  It was such a welcome sight!  I asked him why he had waited, and he said he'd proven to himself that he could run it at a 9:30 pace and wanted to finish up with me!  Isn't that sweet?!  I told him I was going to kick it the last mile... and honestly I tried, but there was nothing left to give.  I began to feel frustrated, then realized that the most I could hope to gain during the last mile was 15 seconds or so.  I knew at that point that I was going to make my goal, so I just stopped struggling and tried to keep on pace.  When I finally saw the finish line, it was almost a shock.  "Look!  It's the Finish Line! Already!" I exclaimed like an idiot!  
Finally!  The finish line!

Afterward, we ate awesome bagels from Panera Bread and talked to our friends that were there.  I felt like I should be celebrating - after all, I beat last year's time by more than 5 minutes!  But, I just felt sore and tired!  I asked Brian if he wanted to get a pumpkin (which would involve walking back down the race course) and he just gave me a sideways glance and said "If I want a pumpkin, I'll buy one!"

We spent the rest of the day in our recovery tights, eating stuff we shouldn't, napping, and just reliving the race over and over.  Finally I began to celebrate!  I did it!  I actually did it!!!    

Time: 1:38:32 (last year 1:43:35)
Average Pace: 9:51
A/G Place: 22nd of 49
Would I run it again?  Absolutely!  I love almost everything about this race!  I love the closed course, the wonderful costumes, the easy parking, and the race distance.  10 mile races are hard to find!

More pics: (note: most of the pics on this page were taken by my wonderful local running store: First Place Sports.)

My friend "O" - She is 65 years old and ran it in 1:31!!!
I even spoke to this woman during the race
and didn't know who she was dressed as until I saw this picture!

Baby was dressed as the Cowardly Lion

This woman was NOT walking back for her pumpkin!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

T-10 hours and Counting!

In 10 hours I will be running my first race of the season - The Evergreen Pumpkin 10 Miler!
My tummy is in knots!

So far, this week has been productive.  I finished cleaning the whole house!  What a euphoric feeling when the whole house is clean!  Anyone could stop by and I would be fine with it!  I wish I could say that the other 51 weeks of the year.

I added this wall transfer to the livingroom:

 Now I just have to finish putting pictures in all the frames (I have mostly filler pics in there now.)

Also my husband, daughter and a few others built a house for a family of 7 (!) (plus a baby due any day now) in Reynosa, Mexico.

Here they are with original house:

New home in progress:

Finished home:

The house is fully furnished with a food prep area, plenty of food (beans, rice, oil etc plus personal items like shampoo, and diapers for the baby), a table with chairs, full sized bed, and a loft sleeping area.  You and I would call this a fancy shed - to the poorest folks in Mexico this is a treasure!  Brian just informed me that in their previous house all 7 were sharing ONE small bed - which was really just a mattress on the floor.  I know the family runs a taco stand, so maybe they were sleeping in shifts.  Still, it is sad to think such conditions exist just a stones throw across the border!

Brian and the crew returned from their 2600 mile round trip at around 6AM this morning!
Then, I heartlessly forced my husband to drive another 45 miles to pick up our race packets!  But, it involved our favorite pizza, so he didn't seem to mind!

Here is what was in the packet:

The shirt this year is actually gender specific, which I love!  However, I won't be wearing it because I'm going as a peacock!

Now, I'm off to try on my peacock costume and make sure it all works - then I will attempt to get some sleep.  I can't wait for tomorrow!!!!

Edited to add:
It's T-8 hours now and I can't calm down enough to sleep.  I keep checking and rechecking the weather, and it still says 45 degrees at race start.  That is VERY cold for this time of year.  I've had to remake my top for my costume (since I was wearing a tank and now I need sleeves) and now I'm worried that it won't dry in time.  ugh!  On the plus side, I made a pair of throw-a-way arm warmers out of a pair of socks I had laying around!  Honestly, I know I sound like a total ninny, but anything less than 55-60 is painfully cold for me.  I guess I'll break out my throw-a-way jacket as well!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

My 10 Mile Race Playlist

I've been hard at work, fine-tuning my race day playlist. (I'm running the Evergreen Pumpkin 10-miler on Sunday)   Last year, music played a pivotal role in keeping me going when I felt like giving up, so I know that the right song at the right time can be a powerful tool.

All of these songs have been chosen for their beats per minute, their encouraging message, or the ability to pump me up!    I find that I tend to run to the beat of the music, and 180 bpm (90 X 2) seems to keep me at my max pace.  I added slightly slower songs at the beginning to keep me from going too fast during the first half.

I debated putting this up, as musical tastes are so subjective, but I have discovered some awesome tunes while perusing other runner's playlists, so I thought maybe someone out there might find a new favorite on mine!

  1. Hall of Fame - The Script feat. 85 bpm  (To get me started off right!)
  2. Dance - Dizmas 153 bpm  (The words of this song are perfect for the start of a race!)
  3. Prisoner - Needtobreathe   86 bpm  (Great beat!)
  4. Reverie - Scott & Brendo   125 bpm  (Reminding me that "it is time to run"!)
  5. Graveyard Shift - Sam Roberts Band   86 bpm  (I will be running in a graveyard after all!)
  6. Saving Grace - The Afters    87 bpm  (Great beat, great message.)
  7. Runnin' - Adam Lambert    84 bpm  (I just like it, Ok?)
  8. Laying Me Low - David Cook   87 bpm  (Great beat!)
  9. Bang Bang - K'naan  90 bpm  (Just plain fun!)
  10. Chocolate & Ice Cream - Plumb 88 bpm  (The reason I run -ha!)
  11. The Victory - Third Day 88 bpm  (Great race lyrics!)
  12. Untouched - The Veronicas 88 bpm   (Pumps me up!)
  13. Walking on the Stars - Group 1 Crew  89 bpm  (Great beat!)
  14. Turbo Style- Beckah Shae    158 bpm  (Check out the awesome lyrics!)
  15. Fight For You - Jason Derulo   89 bpm  (Always makes me think of my husband!)
  16. Move - MercyMe   106 bpm  (a perfect race song!)
  17. Welcome To The Show - Britt Nicole   90 bpm  (Beat, baby!  Plus, LOVE her!)
  18. Run-On - Barbara Cox 187 bpm  (runnin' for Jesus!!)
  19. Kiss You - One Direction   90 bpm  (*blush*  but it does have a good beat!)
  20. Roar - Katy Perry 90 bpm  (see above)
  21. Laura - Scissor Sisters   90 bpm (see above)  
  22. I Will Run - Misty Edwards   86 bpm  (This is the song that got me through the 10th mile last year!)
  23. Like A Champion - Selena Gomez 90 bpm  (I might need an attitude adjustment at this point.)
  24. Incorruptible - Beckah Shae 129 bpm  (One of my favorite running-lyric songs!)
  25. Shadow Of Your Wings - Casting Crowns 113 bpm  (From my favorite Bible chapter : Psalm 63!)
  26. Unbreakable - Fireflight 90 bpm (Pump-me-up song!)
  27. Speed - Billy Idol   88 bpm  (Guaranteed to make me 30 seconds faster!)
  28. Light Up the Sky - Thousand Foot Krutch 89 bpm  (See above!)
  29. Worried About Ray - The Hoosiers   87 bpm  (My goal time is 1hr 40 minutes.  My playlist is 1hr 43 minutes long.  If I make it this far I am "worried about Mendy!")
Do you have a favorite race day song?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Week 7 Ramblings

It's Fall Cleaning Week!!!
I completely missed Spring Cleaning this year due to my hand being all broken and such, so the house is in dire need.  In fact, I think I've been hearing it calling to me in the middle of the night... "Please clean me..... Please clean me!"

Since my husband and older daughter are on a mission trip in Mexico this week building a house for this family:
Yes, that  is the "house" they are currently living in!

and since I'm in taper mode for my upcoming Evergreen Pumpkin 10 Mile Run, this seems like the perfect opportunity to do all the things I've been procrastinating for the past 10 months!!
So far I've cleaned the Laundry Room on Saturday and the Living Room on Sunday.
Yes, it is taking me ALL DAY to do one room.
Today, though, I am tackling Gracie's room and the School Room.
It's gonna be a looong day!

Anywho... Let's wrap up Week 7:

Days running: 4
Total miles: 23
Long run: 8
Group runs: 1
Days strength training: 1 (I just can't seem to make myself do that 2nd day!)

This week was the exact opposite of last week.  My runs all seemed off kilter.  I couldn't quite make the distance or speeds that I needed.  I think that was due to the fact that the TAPUUR run last Sunday exhausted me!  It was much more like a race than a training run.

However, I ended this week with my first group training run ever!  Sunday, I woke up dark and early (5am!) and traveled 45 minutes to Jacksonville for a group long run at 1st Place Sports.  There were 30 or 40 people there, and a wonderful lady named Sarah graciously let me tag along until my half way point.

Pros of a group run

  • I ended up running much faster than usual (because I was trying to keep up with Sarah!) 
  • I got to talk non-stop during the first 4 miles (haha!)
  • I felt very much a part of the running community.
  • There were water stops every 4 miles, so no need to carry water if I didn't want to.
Cons of a group run:

  • Well, there's the whole getting up at 5 am and traveling 40 miles thing.
  • I wasn't at all familiar with the area, so without staying with a person or group it would be easy to get lost.
  • I couldn't run my own pace (see above con)
  • Unless you run with someone, it's really just like any other run.  In other words, I would need to go with a friend or make a friend (which I did!)
 I'm not sure I would travel that far for a group run again.  But that is probably because I rarely run alone, anyway.  I did it this week because my husband was out of town and my oldest daughter let my kids sleep over at her house.  I am glad that I gave it a try!

This week I will be pausing the training as I taper for the Pumpkin Run on Sunday.  I am so excited about it because this is really the first time I have repeated a race.  I'd say that of all my races last year, this was my favorite.  I'm working on a pre-race post, so stay tuned!

Do you do group runs?  Why or Why not???

Now, back to the insanity!

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Best Run Ever! Week 6 Wrap-Up

I just ran the best run of my life!
No kidding!!
In fact, despite an ankle that keeps acting up and a diet that was out of control, I had the best week of training ever!

  • Days running: 4
  • Long run: 11 miles
  • Total miles: 24
  • # of totally awesome, pump-u-up runs: 2
  • Days strength training: 1 (at least I'm getting 1!)

The first TAPUUR (totally awesome, pump-u-up run) happened on Tuesday when I ran 3 X 1 mile repeats at a 9 minute pace.  What made this so exciting for me, was that I actually jogged during my rest intervals instead of walked!  I've never done that before.

The second TAPUUR happened last night.  I decided to run my Steady State 5 miles without looking at my Garmin.  Now - this is HUGE for me.  I'm a frequent Garmin peeker (FGP) and NEVER run without...well... frequently peeking!  However, somewhere in the first 1/4 mile of this run I wondered how fast I could go if I just ran by feel.  So, for the first 2.65 miles, I didn't even glance at the Garmin.
Here's the kicker... I had NO IDEA how fast I was going.  At times, I thought I might be keeping around a 10 minute pace, and at others I was afraid I was nearer 11 minute pace.  When I glanced down at the 2.65 mile mark and saw 9:20, I thought I was seeing things.  There is no way I can run that fast in a training run.  Right??

I managed to avoid FGP for the rest of the run, and as I entered my driveway and hit the stop button, the sweat was burning my eyes so bad that I could hardly read my final average:


Let's put that in perspective, shall we?
I ran my most recent 5K race at a 9:27 pace.
And my 5K PR (last Nov.) at a 9:06 pace!
But I just ran 5 whole miles at a 9:23 pace!!!
Yes, I am pumped! 

My next race is in 2 weeks.  It is a 10-miler that I am hoping to do in 1 hr 40 min or less (10 minute mile).
Two weeks ago I thought that goal might be a bit ambitious.  Now, I think I might just make it!

Have you had any TAPUURs lately?

Monday, October 7, 2013

Training Wrap-Up Week Five

Whew!  This past week was exhausting in my typically slow-paced life.
Every year, during the first week in October, we attend a conference in Atlanta (Catalyst).  This year everything changed at the last minute when the Government shut down.  Thank goodness my husband was not furloughed - but as an "essential" employee, he was prohibited from taking leave of any kind.  So, it ended up that I went and he stayed.... I hated that!  Also, one of my daughters was celebrating her 19th birthday so that party had to be planned (something I had not anticipated being a part of, but got drawn into!)
By the time I left Wednesday morning, I was already tired... then there were the 3 days of non-stop conference stuff and eating.  Yes, eating!  I realized that the only time I ever actually eat 3 full meals a day is during vacations.
I'm not sure how I survive the other 50 weeks a year!!

So, let's recap shall we?
  • Days running: 3
  • Long run: 9 miles
  • Total miles: 19
  • Runs while on vacation: 0 
  • Days strength training: 1
  • Best running-related discovery: denture cleaner!
The low point this week was my long run on Saturday evening.  After 3 days of "3 squares" I was tired, bloated and miserable!  The whole run was slow and laborious.  However, by Sunday evening I was feeling more myself and had my best run of this training season... 5 miles at a 10 minute steady pace!  That was a full 35 seconds per mile faster than I ran the same run last week!  


My daughter's birthday party was a success!  It was a murder mystery party, where each guest came in character and one was revealed to be the murderer.  Here is the murder scene (in our guest bathroom):

Pretty awesome!!

I enjoyed the conference very much!  We had a special guest star: Uncle Si from Duck Dynasty.  I'm not really a fan of the show, but It was still neat seeing him in person (PS... he sounds exactly the same as on the show!)

Sorry about the lousy quality of the photos, but there were over 13,000 people there and all I had was a cell phone!

And now for my favorite new product!

A few months ago, I received some Bottle Bright cleaning tablets in this StrideBox.  I thought they worked great at cleaning our hydration belt water bottles, but when I looked them up to purchase more I found the cost way too high.  $10 for 10 tablets!!!!
So, I looked for an alternative, and thanks to helpful reviewers I discovered that denture cleaner works great on those hard to clean bottles!!

Best of all, 90 tablets cost me about $2!

First I fill the bottle about 3/4 full with warm water.  Then plop in a denture tablet:

It fizzes and starts cleaning right away!  I then put the top on and do a little dance and shake it all around (no reason I can't have fun, right?)  My next step is to open up the spout and squirt some of the liquid out so that the solution gets in all the crevices of my spout:
Been using this Amphipod bottle for about a year, so it's a little beat up!
If the bottle is really nasty, I leave it propped upside down somewhere for a while, then give it another shake and empty it out.  The denture cleaner is easy to rinse and - if anything- leaves a fresh minty smell behind.  I've never noticed any aftertaste.

So there you have it - an easy, low-cost option for cleaning your water bottles!

Any new products you have fallen in love with recently?