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This morning I ran the Raleigh’s Finest 5K for the second year in a row. Last year my finishing time was 20:41 and I came in 5th female overall. This year, I had big hopes. I set several goals for myself. The I’m certain I can do this goal of running under 20 minutes, the this would be awesome goal of running under 19:45, and the OMG, I am super fast goal of running 19:20 or faster. And based on the finishing times from last year, I also set the goal of finishing in the top 3 overall for females.

As with any race, I spent the days before mentally preparing and of course, drinking my beet juice. It honestly doesn’t matter if the race is a 5K or a marathon, I take them equally as serious. Last night I watched my motivational playlist on YouTube and focused on a few of my favorite inspirational quotes…

Wins and losses come a dime a dozen. But effort? Nobody can judge effort. Because effort is between you and you. ~Ray Lewis

In any fight, it’s the guy who’s willing to die, who’s going to win that inch. ~Al Pacino, Any Given Sunday

When I got to the race, I met up with some of my friends and was getting pretty excited. The turnout seemed less than last year so that was a plus. And it was cloudy instead of the hot, 85 degrees it was last June. Although the 100% humidity wasn’t too uplifting. While I’m standing there talking to a friend right before my warmup mile, I see the girl who won last year. Ok no biggie. A race is a race and anything can happen. Plus, I had been drinking all that beet juice so that had to help, right? Then after my warmup and strides, I see one of the fastest local marathoners by the start line. I think she runs around a 2:45 for the full. She’s fast. Ok, now I’m starting to get a little nervous and see my top 3 goal slowly start to slip away. Then as I was in line to use the bathroom, I saw another one of the super fast local runners. Alright, that’s it. I’ll save top 3 for another day.

At the start line, I made sure to be in the front. I told myself not to look at my watch for the first mile and to run my race. To my surprise, when the race started, I was running in 3rd, not that far behind super fast local #1 and #2. That lasted all of  1/2 a mile. First I got passed by the girl who won last year and then another girl who I didn’t know. Then another girl ran up beside me but her was breathing really heavy so I didn’t think she would keep up. Maybe I should have given her the beet juice tip. 😉

The race was painful, as are most 5Ks in my opinion. I much prefer the pain of a marathon over a 3.1 mile race. There was a lot of self-talk going on inside my head and I tried to take it one mile at a time. Going up a hill, I asked myself, what’s the worst that could happen if your legs keep burning like this? Since I didn’t think I would die, I tried my best to just embrace it. I don’t know what my mile splits were because the autolap was turned off on my Garmin. However, I do know I did the first mile in 6:10. During the second mile, I managed to pass two guys along the way but was outsprinted by a man about .2 miles from the finish line. My finishing time: 19:41, a 6:21 pace and a PR by 1 minute.


For the second year in a row, I finished 5th female overall but it was one of those races where I was very happy with how I ran. Many times after a race, I’m not too excited about my time because I think I should have done something differently. But this time, I am happy. Last year I remember thinking  it would be a dream to run under 20 minutes one day. Today, I did it. And today, when I saw my top 3 goal slip away, I was totally okay with it. I was okay with it because I knew I was going to run my fastest 5K, I knew I was going to run under 20 minutes, and I knew I was going to achieve at least one of my goals. That made for a great Saturday morning.

If anything, today’s race has motivated me to try harder. Yes, I do work hard at my running, but I know I could do more. From cutting back on the chocolate and wine to adding more strength training and core work. It’s going to take a little more effort on my part if I want that top 3 finish. And on a side note, the first female almost caught up with the first male. She was fast!

Happy Trails and Happy Running,


PS- I’ve been away from blogging for the past week because we were in San Francisco. Talk about some hill running! I plan to pick it back up next week.

Nasal Breathing

One of the benefits of going home to visit family (other than getting to see my family of course) is I get to learn what new and exciting things my super speedy runner cousin has been up to. Well other than letting me ride his Elliptigo, (so much fun!!), my cousin shared with me a few awesome fitness websites, a few new books, and a little info on nasal breathing.

Question: How do you breathe when you run? It’s not something I typically think about either but based on my running pics, I can say for a fact I breathe through my mouth and not my nose. Mouth open, oxygen in, aerobic glycolysis starts, and I keep running. It’s what comes naturally to me, right?

Well I did a little reading after my information session with cousin Dan, and it seems breathing through the mouth is in fact, not natural. Infants breathe through their noses and it is only when something prevents them from nasal inhalation, that they open their mouths. It’s an emergency response.

Here are some of the things I read about nasal breathing:

  • it allows you to better utilize oxygen
  • you breathe cleaner air because it is better filtered
  • it slows down your heart rate
  • it stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system which calms the mind and rejuvenates the body
  • it produces less metabolic waste than breathing through your mouth
  • and the most common thing I read about nasal breathing… it’s hard!

Yesterday I tried a little nasal breathing during my run. Other than feeling like I was blowing snot everywhere (sorry, gross I know), I felt like I was suffocating . I was only able to get up to six breaths at a time before I had to open my mouth. But I did notice a little increase in pace. That was probably because I was at the end of my run, but maybe a little nasal breathing helped. Today I have a hard speed workout so I doubt I’ll be trying my nasal breathing at the track. Perhaps I’ll save it for my easy run tomorrow.

Happy Trails & Happy Running,


Running Update: Last week I ran 45 successful miles. I had two speed workouts, one at the track and one tempo run, and they both went very well. This week is my low mileage week so I’m enjoying a few shorter days. And Friday will be my long run day because we are leaving for San Francisco on Saturday. So excited!! Yesterday’s run is here.

Workout Fears

Sometimes I’m afraid of workouts. Strange, perhaps. But when I see some of the track workouts my coach has planned out for me, I can’t help but to experience a little anxiety. It’s not the distance that has ever bothered me. It’s the speed.



Yesterday I decided there are two main reasons I’m “afraid” of my speed workouts…

Reason #1: Pain

Track workouts can be intense. Right now, because we are so early into my training, we are doing shorter, faster intervals. (Not my thing.)  Tuesday, I was reminded why I like long distances.  Short and fast equals painful. The workout was 4-5 sets of “split 1000s,” which means a 200, 300, and 500 at around 5:30-5:40 pace with a one minute break between intervals. The 200 interval – not too bad. The 300 – a little more painful. The 500?? Oh my gosh, I have to do how many of these!?!?  By the 4th set, I was done. Not even 3 miles and my legs has a nice little burn going on.  The 85 degree weather and hot track didn’t help make the workout any less painful. I asked coach how do you get over the pain? His response, embrace it and know it’s making your stronger. Okay, I’ll do my best coach.

Reasons #2: Failure

When I saw my Tuesday workouts for the next month, I started to tell myself, I can’t do this. This is too fast for me. Well if that’s not setting myself up for failure , I don’t know what is. I’m not use to doing a lot of speed work on the track and I’m afraid of not meeting my goals. What if I can’t run the splits that I’m aiming for? What if my last interval is significantly slower than my first? What if I fail? Before we started on Tuesday coach said to me, I think you’re faster than you give yourself credit for. And that got me thinking… Who cares if I don’t meet my time goals as long as I try my best? I am fast and I know I can be faster. Pushing myself to the point of failure is the only way I’m going to know how fast I really am.

Happy Trails & Happy Running,


Running Update: Tuesday’s track workout is here followed by yesterday’s 8 miles. I was amazed at how easy and fast 8 miles felt after Tuesday. Today is an easy 6 mile run. It’s been a great running week. 🙂

Helping Others

I don’t really consider myself a selfish person. However, when it comes to my running, nothing will interfere with my workout time. Well, almost nothing…

Wednesday my sister called to remind me of the charity day at her school that I had volunteered to help with on Saturday morning. What time did I need to be there? 8:00 am and it is a 45 minute drive away. My first thought was holy cow, when am I going to run my 14 miles? It would be too hot to run during the afternoon and Sunday morning I was hosting a baby shower. Saturday morning really was my only chance to get in my miles.

Of course I told her I would be there because it was the right thing to do. She is my sister and she always does so much for me. However, I was really stressing out. (One of the few things I ever stress about.) After thinking about it for a day, I realized that I could still run, if I got up really early. And as Thich Nhat Hanh (my new favorite Buddhist monk) puts it, you should always put others before yourself. I got over my selfishness and then sent out an email to recruit a few more volunteers. My plan would be to get up by4am be out running by 5am. I’d run as far as I could and be headed to the event by 7:10am.

At the event, I had way more fun than I was expecting. I had two of the cutest 5th graders follow be around and help me with whatever I needed. One of them asked if I’d stay and play with her after we were finished, which I thought was really sweet. There was a 1 mile fun run that I ran with the kids. The 6th grade girl who won, crossed the finish line with her mom in a time of 6:58. She was awesome! There was face painting, tug of war, a dunking booth, and my personal favorite… a basketball shoot out.

When I was younger, basketball was my absolute favorite sport to play. Then I stopped growing and gave up on my basketball dreams. Here was my chance to relive my childhood. My task was to shoot 30 free throws and whoever made the most, won. I was the only female in the adult group but I was oh so excited to play. After rebounding for Alissa, a middle school basketball player, and Matt a varsity basketball player, it was my turn. Turns out I’m a 50% free throw shooter (15 out of 30) which I thought was pretty decent since I haven’t touched a ball in 10+ years. I didn’t win but I still had a lot of fun. Maybe I’ll play a little more ball this summer.

The lesson I learned from this weekend is that running doesn’t have to be my life. There are so many other things that I enjoy such as working with cute little 5th graders, cheering on students to their fastest mile, face painting, and playing basketball. More importantly, I learned that putting others before myself is an opportunity for a new experience. And I can always get in my miles… I just might have to run really early and in the dark.


A fun Saturday helping out the kids. I couldn't do the face painting but I didn't mind having my arm painted. :)

A fun Saturday helping out the kids. I couldn’t do the face painting but I didn’t mind having my arm painted. 🙂

Happy Trails and Happy Running,


Running Update:  I ran a total of 40 miles last week. Unfortunately I didn’t get in 14 miles Saturday morning because I didn’t have the time. But I didn’t let it stress me out. However, I will say I thoroughly enjoyed running at 5am in the dark. It’s so peaceful.