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Posts tagged ‘racing’


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.

Half Marathon Recap

This past weekend was a great time with great friends and family. There were a few new PRs, a lot of good food, and I was able to chat with my local running hero. If my hip were not a factor, I’d say it was a perfect weekend. However, I’m walking on crutches and hurt A LOT. But on the plus side, I know if I had been healthy, I could have nailed a sub 1:30.

Saturday morning started out as a typical race morning. I had four alarm clocks go off at 4:00 am, started the coffee pot, and took a hot shower to loosen up my hip. The race started at 6:30 and I wanted to leave the house by 5:00. Granted, we were only 10 minutes away but in my mind, traffic is going to be horrible and we are going to have to park a mile away. We ended  up leaving around 5:15 and were parked by 5:30 (only 2 minutes from the start line). I did a lot of warming up. Strides, jogging, stretches – anything I could to help my hip. I knew my hip was sore but I was certain after a few miles, it would be okay. Wrong.

When the race started, I felt fine. Not perfect but I was okay. I held back at first, just to give myself time to warm up. Then I started to pick up the pace. The first few miles were around 6:50/mile. Aerobically, I felt okay but because I had missed so many runs training at that pace, I didn’t know if I would be able to sustain that pace. I kept looking at my watch and getting frustrated. I was frustrated because I wasn’t hitting the pace I had in mind a month ago, 6:45/mile. I was frustrated because my hip started to bother me. I was frustrated because people were passing me and I couldn’t keep up.

The first six miles went by pretty quickly. I hit the six mile mark right at 42 minutes. Then the race started to take a lot of turns through a shopping area. The turns really slowed me down and made my hip hurt even more. Around mile 8, I gave up on the 1:30 time and realized no running miracle was coming my way. I told myself, just run your race and don’t overdo it. I turned up my music and tried to get away from the other people. Running in a group stresses me out for some reason. I need my own space. 

At mile 10, I stopped to stretch. Maybe if I could just have a second to stretch, I would be a little better. Yea, that didn’t happen. Maybe my 2nd Surge with 100mg of caffeine would get me to the finish line a little faster. That didn’t happen either. I’m pretty sure the 2nd Surge is what caused my intense side stich at mile 12. I wanted to walk. Then I heard people screaming. The finish line was so close. I knew my family would be at the finish line and I didn’t want them to see me walking. My cousin already saw me not finish Boston when he toughed it out and finished the race, despite the heat. I did not want to give in to the pain again. I crossed the finish line in 1:33:38. Yes, I was happy with a PR but it was not my race. I was not super excited like maybe I should I have been. I hurt and I was cold. Perhaps the highlight of yesterday was talking to Kelcey Carslon, who has been my running inspiration for years. Other than that, I’m not sure the pain I am suffering today was worth the PR.

My proactive plan of getting back to a healthy hip includes anti-inflammatory foods, icing, Advil, crutches (yes, it’s that bad), and rest. I don’t want to hurt anymore and now that the race has come and gone, I just want to get back to being healthy. I’ll get this running thing figured out one day.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,


With Emily and Hamburger Joe's after the race.

With Emily and Hamburger Joe’s after the race.

At the race, one hour early thanks to me :)

At the race, one hour early thanks to me 🙂

Race stats are here.

Race Anxiety

Yesterday I read a post from my blogger friend Tania over at iRuniBreathe about race anxiety. Race anxiety? Well that is something I know too much about. I’m a chronic sufferer of this condition and if there were meds offered, I’d be the first one to sign up. (BTW, I only take medicine if I think I’m about to die. I hate pills. But a starting line makes me feel like I’m about to die.)

For me, race anxiety starts the week before. Even just typing this, I get that nervous feeling. It’s that feeling of did I train enough? What if I don’t PR? What if I start cramping and have to drop out? (Oh wait, I’ve already done that one.) And what makes my anxiety even worse, is the fact that I have to get to the start line hours before the race starts. You see, I’m an obsessively early person. Therefore, for fear of traffic and no parking, I like to be one of the first people at the start line. Then I’m just sitting there, a runner who is a ball of nerves, practically alone, staring at the start line. Honestly, I think it might be unhealthy.

The first race my husband, who was at the time just a friend, and I did together, I puked before I even walked out the door. I have a love/hate relationship with racing. I love that feeling a few miles into the race when I’m in my zone doing my thing. But I dread the hours before I get to that point. Perhaps that’s why I only race once or twice a year. I’m not sure my emotions could handle much more.

I came across this article that had four strategies for overcoming racing anxiety. I do absolutely none of these, but maybe I should start. The four strategies are use races as training runs, simulate race conditions in training, develop a routine in training, and ditch the watch and stop over thinking. The first and the last would be the hardest for me. I am such a competitive person, I don’t know if I could resist the urge to race if I were only doing it for a training run. And ditch the watch? Maybe one day but not until I hit my racing goals. And I’d like to add one more strategy to this list. I think to overcome the anxiety, one should just race more. Eventually you’ll get over it, right?

Looking back at 2012, I realize that I actually raced 5 times, which is way above norm for me. One half marathon, one failed attempt at Boston, one 5K, one 5 miler, and one marathon. My best races were the ones where I had the least expectations. Maybe I should just stop psyching myself out.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,


Running Update: Well good news. First, I’m feeling 80% better and my cough is practically gone. (The bad news is now my husband is sick.) My other good news is I got to run!!! I’ve been doing some Tara Stiles hip opening yoga videos and they are really helping. I ran an easy 5 miles this afternoon and other than my lungs still feeling bad from being sick, I felt good. Leg/hip are about 85% better. Stats are here.

2XU Compression Socks

It is tax free weekend here in North Carolina.  I really dislike shopping so I will be staying far away from the stores.  However, I did stop by my favorite running store yesterday morning just after they opened.  I have been wanting compression socks for a looooong time, it’s tax free weekend, I had a coupon, and my cousin was visiting.  One store wouldn’t be too bad.

There are so many different types of compression socks from so many different companies.  I was seriously considering these calf sleeves until I was convinced otherwise.  Bobby Mack, who was the 9th place finisher at the Olympic Trials in the 10,000 meters and who also happens to work at my favorite running store, suggested the 2XU Women’s Elite Compression Sock.  With a $60 price tag, I needed a litte more convincing.

First, I want to state that the idea behind compression socks and compression clothes in general, is to help with recovery.  Compression clothes are suppose to relieve muscle soreness, stabilize the muscles, and help deliver nutrients to the muscles in order to facilitate recovery.  There really isn’t that much scientific evidence supporting these claims, but there are a lot of athletes who swear by the compression craze.  (I bet Shalane Flanagan will be wearing her compression socks for tomorrow’s race.)

The 2XU brand is actually a really popular brand of compression gear and workout clothes.  They have socks, tights, tri-suits, arm sleeves, hats, sports bras, bags, gloves… you name it, they have it.  I checked out the reviews of their many different types of compression socks and they get a lot of positive feedback.  One of the “cons” that I continued to read of their recovery socks (not the pair I bought) is the top band rolls down.  I’ve been wearing my socks for a few hours and they haven’t moved one bit.

In looking at the 2XU website, this is what these socks have to offer:

  • PWX Power Fabric- a collection ofpremium compression fabrics to deliver power, weight, and flexibility
  • Linked Toe Cage (I’m not sure what that is but I do know the socks are foot specific because of how they wrap your arch.)
  • Antibacterial
  • Moisture Wicking
  • Circular Knitting (no seams)
  • Graduated Compression, which means compression decreases from bottom to top
  • DVT Protection, which means the socks protect against deep vein thrombosis

I’m not going to say that they have improved my recovery or that they are essential to my workout.  I’ve only been wearing them since lunch.  However, I will say this about the socks… they have a great amount of compression.  They are much tighter than the socks I was borrowing from Mario, but they aren’t too tight.  They feel great on my legs and they have some fun colors.  And I don’t mind taking advice from someone who ran at the Olympic Trials.  If Bobby uses them for recovery, I bet they’re pretty good.   Yes $60 is quite a bit of money for a pair of socks, but here is the perspective I was given yesterday – it’s the difference between lululemon workout clothes and Target workout clothes.  I consider this a good investment.

Yes, I went out to lunch like this 🙂


And check out my cool “I RUN” necklace from my friend Amber

Happy Trails and Happy Running,


Running a Hilly Race

I signed up for the City of Oaks Marathon on November 4th.  I’ve run it before and swore I would never do it again.  It was incredibly hilly, pouring down rain, and freezing cold.  I think it took me about 2 months to fully recover.  Well anyway, in the name of a new challenge I signed up for it again.  After all, the website says it’s a “flatter course.”

I have the fortune of living right along the course so I checked out the map this morning, and planned out my tempo run. I might as well become as familiar as possible with the course since I have the opportunity. I did my two mile warm up and then started my tempo pace, 7:05/mile.  Yeah, that was not happening. I couldn’t make myself hit that pace no matter how hard I tried. Why? Because after every small stretch of flat road, there was a long ascending climb.  Not to mention it was over 80 degrees and near 100% humidity.  I thought to myself, oh my, what have I gotten myself into?  But then I came to a realization. I can run these hills every single day if I want.  I can master them. They are right out my front door so just embrace them.

Did you know…

Physiologically speaking, hill running…
1) Increases your aerobic capacity that enables you to use less oxygen at increasingly longer distances.
2) Improves your running economy that enables you to use less oxygen to run at a faster pace.
3) Increases your stamina that enables you to run farther at a given pace.
4) Builds strength in your gluteals (buttock), quadriceps (front of thigh), gastrocnemius (upper calf), and soleus (lower calf) muscles.

Biomechanically speaking, hill running…
1) Improves your stride length (from uphill running) and your stride frequency (from downhill running).
2) Increases your ankle flexion that enables you to “pop” off the ground more quickly, so that you can spend less time on the ground and more time in the air.
3) Teaches you how to run relaxed.

-Mindy Solkin

This article has three great hill workouts as well as exercises to strengthen your calves and hamstrings. It’s super important to strengthen these muscles because hill running causes them to fatigue quickly.  (In my opinion, hills cause the entire body to fatigue a little more quickly, but that’s just me.)

I’m actually very thankful that I live right along the course and can do my long runs on these hills.  Not only will it help prepare me physically, but it will also help me mentally.  If I know what to expect, I can run a smarter race.  Here’s to the hills – may I run them, love them, and master them!


My sister cheering me on during the 2009 City of Oaks Marathon. She runs in heels!



Happy Trails and Happy Running,


My 5 Mile Race Recap

I already had a blog planned out for today, but that is going to have to wait until tomorrow. Yesterday I ran my first 5 mile race in my hometown of Roxboro and I feel that it is worth a race recap.

On Friday night I, along with four other girls from my running club, headed to Rougemont (which is right outside of Roxboro) to stay at my sister’s house. She was kind enough to let five girls crash her house out on the farm. Now my sister lives on 20+ acres with three cats, two dogs, and lots of chickens. The complete opposite of what a bunch of girls from Raleigh are use to. When we got there, we took over her kitchen to cook dinner, visited with my cousin and his wife who came to visit, looked at old pictures, and then were thoroughly entertained by Toni’s (my sister) many stories. When my cousin Scott stopped by, he was certain to tell me that he expected me and his brother Dan to win the race. He had his money on us and we better not disappoint. I felt a little pressure.

Dinner with the Run Inspired. girls. Thank you Toni for letting us stay with you!!

By 11:00 we headed off to bed and I set four alarms for the morning. I am not crazy about many things, but being [extremely] early to events is one of my habits. After making my craziness very clear to everyone and that we were leaving by 6:15 am, we all went to bed.

You know that feeling you have the night before a race? You’re nervous, anxious, restless, etc. I was overwhelmed with those feelings, but that is not what kept me, along with everyone else in the house from sleeping. Remember how I said Toni had three cats and two dogs? Well this is how the night went from 11:00 pm to 3:00 am… Dog 1 is sick and Toni has to get up to take him out. Cat 1 jumps on my head. Dog 1 asks to go out again. Dog 2 comes home for the night and starts howling to be let in. Someone goes to the bathroom and Cat 2 tries to open the door. Cat 3 sneaks into the bedroom of the person who went to the bathroom. Dog 1 still can’t sleep so asks to go out again. Toni takes Dog 1 outside and then sleeps on the porch with the dog so he won’t keep bothering us. (What an awesome sister!). Cat 3 asks to be let out of the room he snuck into. Cat 3 then comes to join Cat 1 and sits on top of my head. In other words, nobody got any real sleep. 5:00 am came all too early.

Luckily everyone made it into my car with their bags packed by 6:15am. (If not, I might have left. I really am that crazy about being early.) We jammed out to some Eminem on the way, talked about race goals and strategies, and then pulled up to the start area. When we got there, it was a family affair. My aunt, my cousins, their wives, Mario, my dad, my mom, my sister – everyone was there.

My cousin Scott and Mario – a great support team

I’ve never done a 5 mile race. I don’t even like 5Ks. In my opinion, they are painful. At least with 3.1 miles there is a warm up mile, a don’t think about it mile, and a run all out to the finish mile. With 5 miles, the “don’t think about it miles” are a little longer. My strategy was go out easy the first mile, focus on form and breathing for miles 2 and 3, and then dig deep for those last 2 miles.

When we got to the start line, I looked around at the competition and felt pretty confident about my chances. As soon as the gun went off, my cousin took the lead and never looked back. I also took the lead for the females and when we looped back around in one of the neighborhoods, I saw the next two females were quite a ways behind me. Then I saw that my mile split was 6:40. Opps. A little too fast. Mile 2 had quite a few rolling hills that slowed me down a lot. Like 30 seconds a lot. When we looped around again at another turn around point, I saw that one of the girls was quickly catching up to me. I focused on two things: my breathing and the two men in front of me. If I could just catch up to them and get back to goal pace, I think I’ll be ok. This was mile 3 and once that was done, I could start my last two dig deep miles. One of the benefits of not using my headphones during this race, was I could hear the girl’s footsteps behind me. This turned out to be quite valuable because I could hear if she was still there or if she had faded away. I managed to catch up and past the two guys but that girl was on my heels every step of the way. Mile 4 was a lot faster – 6:30. Ok one last mile and then it’s over.

My cousin Dan in the lead

All smiles during the first mile

Don’t think, just run.

Right before I get passed and right as I see the hills approaching

I turned the corner for the last mile and I said quite a few bad words out loud. It was downhill, uphill, loop around to go downhill again, and then up one steep ass hill to finish out the race. I guess all that talking took some energy out of me, because that girl straight out passed me. Ok now more bad words and thoughts. I’m going to have to take second. My cousin, who had high expectations of me winning for the females, was going to be disappointed. Mario wouldn’t let this happen. What do I do? I took the downhill as fast as I could, which gave me momentum for the uphill. When we turned around to go back, the girl was still in front of me, but not by too much. I took the downhill again as fast as I could and then prayed that my hill running through Raleigh would pay off. When I say that hill was steep, I am not joking. I felt like I slowed down to a crawl. We were .25 miles from the finish and then the girl started walking! Hooray! This is my chance. I took advantage of the slowed pace to gather my strength. Then I thought to myself, either she is going to start sprinting or you are going to start sprinting. You do NOT want to be the one doing the chasing so go! I took off as fast as I could. I talked myself through through the pain by saying, this is a 300 meter repeat. It sucks and it hurts, but it will be over soon. Mario, my sister, my mom, my cousin, everyone was yelling for me. I couldn’t focus on anything but the finish line. Once I heard my name called out as the first female overall, I was elated. I had won a race and I had done it in my hometown, with so many family and friends present. What made the win even better was my cousin Dan had won the race in 32:37. What a way to make the family proud.

Dan wins!!

YAY! I’m done 🙂

Here are my race results.

Finishing the race first was amazing, but I think my most inspirational moments came after the race. As I was standing by the finish area, another Roxboro native came to me to share her running story. She told me that she had come across my blog on Facebook and has since picked up running. I had inspired her to start running and now she had just finished her first 5 mile race. She was so thankful and I was completely moved. My goal is always to inspire and motivate others, and her words have driven me to do even more. Thank you.

The Run Inspired. girls were amazing yesterday. For some of them, 5 miles was their longest run to date. They all finished in great times and I am so proud. It was a tough course, but they all crossed the finish line with smiling faces. Thank you ladies for making the trip to Roxboro and for participating in this race. You all made the trip way too much fun.

Kayley, Dan’s fiancé, wins 3rd in her age group

Kristy is all smiles

Scott and his wife Jessica

Maria is oh so happy

Emily looks pretty happy too!!

Yay Sara!!

The Talbert Family

Go Team Run Inspired!!!

Congratulations to Emily, Sara, Kristy, Maria, Jordan, Jessica, and Kayley on a great race!! Remember – Be Inspired. Run Inspired. Stay Inspired.

Happy Trails and Happy Running.

Heat Blankets

I’m a big fan of Nissan – Innovation for Endurance.  They work with some pretty amazing athletes, including Ryan Hall, Shalane Flanagan, Kara Goucher, Ryan Lochte, and Chris Horner.  They also make some pretty awesome videos and commercials.  Today, Kara Goucher tweeted this video of her and Shalane Flanagan trying to break the women’s marathon record.  I love these ladies…

The very end of the video gave me the idea for my question today.  What exactly is the point of those silver blankets you are given at the end of the race?

The silver blankets actually come from space, well NASA technology at least. The material used for these blankets has been used on all manned and unmanned missions since the 1960s, and in the 1970s, race organizers started giving them to race finishers.  The point of the blanket is to help regulate body temperature.  Once you have finished running, you are still sweating and it stops being evaporated (because you are no longer running).  Not to mention your clothes are still nice and sweaty. All of this has the potential for a runner to become cold and develop the shivers.  The blanket helps to prevent hypothermia by the airtight foil reducing convection as well as reducing heat loss caused by evaporation of perspiration, moisture or blood.

This shiny blanket is called many different things – mylar blanket, first aid blanket, emergency blanket, thermal blanket or weather blanket.  Many races will print their logo so it can be a pretty cool souvenir to add to your collection.  Need to buy some?  I found this website that will print custom blankets or send you unprinted blankets for $200 per 150.

After my first half marathon I did back in 2004, I kept my blanket because I thought it was pretty cool to have.  Since then, I’m pretty sure all of the others have safely made it in the trash.  They have always served me well though.

Here I am after a marathon in 2009 where it was 40 degrees and pouring down rain the entire time. I was soooooo cold and the blanket was much needed…

Some sisterly love and Mario trying to help me along

Being that it’s 100+ degree in North Carolina right now, I hope I don’t come anywhere near one of those heat blankets.  But I know they will be quite useful during the fall racing season and I’ll be thankful to have one.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,