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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Race Recap: Hot Chocolate 15K

The chocolate-tastic medal
The 2014 Hot Chocolate 15K/5K took place Sunday, November 16 in Columbus, Ohio. Sunday morning was cold: 30 degrees, overcast, and gray.

Trying to stay warm before the race.
Before the race / Logistics / Boring stuff
The event organizers advised participants to arrive by 6:30am to avoid road closures and secure parking in the garage ($5! What a steal!), so we woke up at 5:15. Correction: Alex woke up at 5:15 while I stayed in bed for another 10 minutes. We both had our goodies lined up the night before, so getting ready didn’t take too long. I had my toast and peanut butter and we left the house at 6:15. I thank the Columbus Gods that we live so close to downtown.

Traffic was a little backed up when we arrived to the Arena District, but we were able to get into a garage within 5 to 10 minutes. Alex’s wave started at 7:30 (he was in Group A of Wave 1: aka the fast people), so we stayed in the car until 7:00. It was so cold we both added another layer while waiting in line for a porta-potty. There were so many bathrooms to choose from, we waited only 5 minutes.

Our original plan included checking one bag at gear check (under his number), walking to the start line, watching him take off, and then I’d wander around for 30 minutes until my wave began. What really happened: we shivered and hunkered down, I walked him to the start line so he could keep his fleece on for just a bit longer, I took his fleece and shoved it in the gear check bag, we said goodbye and good luck, he walked away… and I lost him. I could NOT find him! I stood on a wall and searched the A corral to no avail. At this point I was still freezing and had to go to the bathroom. Pro tip: if you run a Hot Chocolate 15k/5k and there are tons of bathrooms, wait until Wave 1 is lined up and you’ll have the pick of the litter! No lines!

A post race photo with different head gear.
His wave started and I began the countdown to my own (8:05). I waited in front of the gear check until 7:50 to strip off my fleece, check our gear, and head to the start line. It spit snow for a bit, but mellowed out. The weather was overcast, it was still hella cold, and I knew it would all be okay once I started running!

What I wore
Even though the temperature was 30, with the clouds it felt cooler so I dressed for 20 degrees. My gear: knee-high socks, running tights, sports bra, double layer tank top (tucked in the bottom layer), long sleeve shirt, 3/4 zip up with thumb holes, gloves, light ear warmer, and a free fleece ear warmer I planned to chuck, but never did because it was so freaking cold. I removed the gloves around mile 4.5 and pushed up my sleeves a bit later.

The race
I was in the H corral, the first group in Wave 2. I was pretty pissed when I first saw Alex and I were in separate waves. After all, the whole point of signing up for the same event was that he wouldn’t have to stand around for 90 minutes waiting for me; he’d be running and collecting swag for at least part of that time. In the end, being in the front of Wave 2 was pretty awesome. Everyone was moderately paced so I didn’t feel rushed.

We set off, weaving through downtown on a gradual 100 ft incline. I couldn’t feel my feet. Seriously, they were numb. I didn’t regain feeling until mile 2. And it felt like there was something stuck to the bottom of my left shoe, so I scraped it along the ground a few times. I knew if I stopped I’d lose my mojo and get cold again, so I kept running. I remember thinking I might trip with my jelly legs, but I didn’t. (Oh yeah! Alex had already finished his race and came to watch me take off. He’s so fast. He finished 49th out of 6,600+ people, 7th in his age group, and he didn't train.)

Mile 1 went pretty fast and we came up to a treat stop around 1.5. A volunteer handed me a heaping handful of giant chocolate chips. I guess I didn’t read the course summary, because I looked at her and said “what is that?!” and she, of course, responded, “chocolate!” Duh! I ate a few, but it was early so I had to toss the others on the ground.

The course and elevation.
I wasn’t surprised when people walked. Wave 1 was out of the way for the first mile or two, but I knew my corral contained at least 50% 5K participants and a lot of 5K people tend to walk after the first mile (at large races like this one). I didn’t have to dodge as much as normal, so again I was thankful for the wave start. When the 5K people split off, I still found myself dodging 15K walkers. To be fair, some of them signed up as walkers and were placed at the tail end of Wave 1, but others were from my corral (or behind) and had sprinted the first two miles, only to walk the rest. It sounds like I’m judging, but really I was thinking, “dang, they have to walk 7 more miles. That's so faaaarrr.”

Office photo!
Running down High Street is a nice overview of Columbus, but meeehhhhh— I’ve lived here for years and downtown to campus runs are played out. Around mile 4 we turned into the Ohio State campus. I think that was after a strawberry marshmallow pit stop. (I didn’t take any other snacks during the run as I had a gel planned for the 10k mark.) There were also plenty of water / Gatorade stops, but I had my water bottle.    

This part of the run was boring. Alex and I participated in a bunch of runs around OSU last year and we live pretty close to campus, so I’m over it. The longest stretch was after the water stop on John Herrick Drive until Fifth Avenue. It was during this concretey / windy stretch I lost a little steam and decided to eat my gel. It was a flavor/brand I’d never had before (Honey Stinger Acai Pomegranate), but it was fine. Everything was fine.

Partial whomp whomp
Here’s the part that was not fine: My GPS. I turned on mile and pace alerts. My miles were off, but that usually happens in a race, so I got over it. By the end it said I’d run 9.6 miles instead of 9.3. I didn’t swing wide and didn’t have to dodge too many people, and according to a few others, the course was long (I wish they’d take that into account in official results, but whatever). The problem was my pace alerts. Apparently, I'd it set to read my overall pace and not split pace. It must have been set like this for the Loveland Half, but because I was so consistent with my speed I didn’t notice. Unfortunately, I ran a few slow miles near the end of this race. I could tell they were slow and easy, but when my pace was announced as 9:47 I was content. HAD I KNOWN I was really running 10:01, 9:59, and 9:58 – dragging down my overall pace – I would have picked it up a bit. So, this is my one regret: setting my pace alerts incorrectly. My goal time was 1:35… but deep down 1:30. I think I could have shaved off at least a minute with accurate pace alerts. C’est la vie!

Back to the run: I texted Alex at mile 8 to prep him for my arrival… then felt like it took a really long time to get to mile marker 9. (It did. I just checked my text message time stamps and there was a twelve minute gap between my messages for miles 8 and 9. Noooope.) I chugged into the final uphill and when it shifted into a downhill towards the finish, I picked up my pace a teeny tiny bit. Alex said I need to work on sprinting in. Well, if I had a ton of energy to sprint in I would consider my run a failure. At this stage in my training, I don’t have that much extra energy to spare. Maybe next year, dude!
Not sprinting into the finish. (Spoiler alert)
I crossed the finish line, collected my medal, and met up with Alex before going to the other side of the park for the chocolate.

Truth bomb: Alex and I signed up for the race for the swag. He ran the 5K, so he didn’t get a medal, but the fleece-lined zip-up (lady version modeled below) and gear bag more than made up for it. In the end, we didn’t feel like there was much swag after the race. Sure, you got a “fondue pot” (plastic, non microwavable), snacks, and hot chocolate, but I suppose we’re spoiled and accustomed to grabbing useful items at the end of a race (head wrap, pens, granola bars, bagels…)– basically not sugar, sugar, sugar. I realize Alex and I are probably in a minority here. We’re not big sugary dessert people.

A selfie with my hoodie (& PJs) the night before
[HEY I just realized we both got shafted out of a hat! I had a promo code for a free hat and the expo girl didn't grab it for us even though our bibs were clearly marked!]

After I ate a portion of my sugar, we headed back to the car… and then went to Panera for soup and HEAT. I took a hot bath when we arrived home and it was luxurious. A little later in the day we went to a bar and got a late brunch (breakfast tacos). A nice little Sunday!

Stats and final thoughts
While I achieved my goal of finishing under 1:35, this was my first 15K and I ran it at my best half marathon pace. I was not as tired as I should have been at the end and I'm sad that my official time online claims my pace was 10:05. In retrospect, I could have trimmed 10 seconds off my goal mile pace. A sign of positive progress: I did much better in this race vs. the Scioto Miles 10 Miler. And let's be real, I'm complaining about my time, but 3-4 months ago I was running 10-11 minute miles during long races and stopping to walk.

Things I've learned: The Loveland Half was my running aha moment. Now that I know I can run 13.1 at a moderate pace, I can't let myself walk. I'm allowed to back off my speed, but as long as I keep running, I'm good to go. Another thing: I may ditch my water bottle on large organized runs. It could be nice to run without the weight, but I do like having control of my water supply, and avoiding pile-ups... we'll see what happens next year.

Final time: 1:34:06
I’m going to use Map My Run here and claim my pace was 9:47/mile. Again, a few friends confirmed the course ran long, but I'm still upset with myself for allowing miles over 9:50.

Mile splits 
1 mi 09:36 min/mi
2 mi 09:48 min/mi
3 mi 09:33 min/mi
4 mi 09:48 min/mi
5 mi 09:44 min/mi
6 mi 10:01 min/mi (booooooo)
7 mi 09:51 min/mi
8 mi 09:59 min/mi (nooooo)
9 mi 09:58 min/mi (whyyyyy)
9.6 mi  09:16 min/mi

Overall:  2,235 / 5,426 (41%)
Female:  1,408/4,063 (34%)
F 30-34:  224/626   (35%)

Up Next
Powell Turkey Trot 4 Miler on Thanksgiving and the Santa Race in Gahanna on December 6. Alex could probably win an overall or age group award in both runs!

Monday, November 03, 2014

Books of October 2014

October is over! What happened?! My month included TWO work trips to Dallas (and an overnight, unplanned stopover in Charlotte), lots of craft beer, an Ohio State football game vs. Rutgers (Welcome to the Big 10, guys!), a weekend trip to Cincinnati, a killer Halloween party, a 5K PR, and a half marathon PR.

Unlike September, I read REAL books in October and I stopped listening to audiobooks. I needed a break and switched to podcasts... and then, silence. In fact, my two PRs were completed without any audio narration. Just me, my thoughts, and heavy breathing.

Currently, I'm wrapping up Amy Poehler's Yes Please and getting ready to plow through six library books that came in at the same time. (Luckily, a few of those are graphic novels.)

Let's have a look at October's books:

Finished October 3, 2014
by Kristin Newman

Review: 4 / 5 
I won this book in a Goodreads First Reads Giveaway. Probably my favorite win to date. Better than expected. It was nice to read a memoir written by an actual writer. 

I was afraid this would go one of two ways: 1. Preachy: "I am so much better than my married friends with children. Not only can I do whatever I want, but I don't have to worry about gross kids. Ew" or 2. Sad: "I do these great things, but I am soooo lonely and single!!" Luckily, it avoided those clich├ęs. 

Newman seems like a very well-adjusted and self-aware woman. She is a relatable narrator with an enviable job that allows ample time off for world travel. While I wish there was a bit more advice about feeling safe when traveling alone, her stories kept me entertained and built upon one another in a logical manner. I'd definitely read another book by Newman. 

Read October 8, 2014
by Daniel Abraham (Adapter), Tommy Patterson (Artist), George R.R. Martin

Review: 5 / 5 
Nice to read this after watching Season 1. I was able to follow the characters and history pretty well on the show, but this was a helpful review before beginning Season 2. 

As always, I loved the making of section at the end. The fact that it included the editor, adaptor, illustrator, and mentions of the author was pretty awesome. I'm excited to read the next one because they teased more behind the scenes info. I'll probably hold off until the end of season 2 as there may be some spoilers... [I have since finished season 2.]

Finished October 8, 2014
by Gary Paulsen

Review: 4.5 – 5 / 5 
I'm a sucker for Hatchet, the Brian books, and woodland survival. I'm not sure I'd actually want to be stranded alone in the woods for days/weeks/months, but I enjoy reading books like this and giving myself a false sense of security (superiority) in regard to my potential (inevitable) survival. 

Gary Paulsen is a wild dude. He has lived many lives with crazy experiences and this only scratches the surface. 

If there is some type of apocalypse that does not affect woodland creatures, I will carry this book as my Bible.

Finished October 18, 2014
by Tasha Alexander 

Review: 4.5 – 5 / 5 
I started and finished this on one of my Texas trips. I'm a sucker for the historical mysteries found in Tasha Alexander's Lady Emily series. I adore classic books from 1810-1910 and while these are new, they keep me immersed in my favorite century. 

I devoured this until the "bad guy" reveal. It was perhaps one of my favorite Lady Emily mysteries because of the back and forth between past and present, the location, and the characters she met along the way, including Donata. I'm pretty bummed by the strange side plot at the end, but I'm sure Emily and Colin will make it work... Right? (Ugh.) 

Finished October 21, 2014
by Stephen King 

Review: 3 / 5 
Overall, this was an intriguing story but poorly executed (for a Stephen King novel). It wasn't terrible, but it definitely felt like his early work and was a little grimy. That may have been intentional, but it read like a teenage boy's idea of tough guys in the future. 

Again, the story is solid - especially now that dystopian novels are all the rage - but something was missing. I cannot imagine Arnold in the title role and I'm sure the movie is terrible, but I'll watch it. [I have it checked out from the library right now...] 

Finished October 27, 2014
by Sarah Dessen

Review: 4 / 5 
Another enjoyable $1 find. It was a relief to get away from the popular-mean-girl or hopeless-geek-girl narrators found in my most recent YA selections. I didn't roll my eyes once! Ruby started out a little gritty; definitely messy. Where The Impossible Knife of Memory (Laurie Halse Anderson) got a little blahhhh as it went on (I did not care about the characters), I thought this novel did a nice job of "keeping it real" while providing a realistic portrayal of Ruby's evolving outlook on life. 

I would love to see this as a movie. I think that uptight lady from Breaking Bad would make an interesting Cora (even if she's at least 5 years too old).

[I've been told countless times to read Sarah Dessen and this is my second novel of hers. I enjoyed this so much more than the other (Just Listen). It felt nice to read something I didn't want to put down!]

Read October 29, 2014
by John Green

Review: 3 / 5 
This was released as a perk for donating to Project for Awesome. It was marked as a "sneak peek" but it's definitely not from John Green's next book (whatever that will be). The Space is short, quick, and full of soccer. It was pretty entertaining, but there wasn't much plot that could go past a short story, so it feels a little unfair to give this a higher rating than his full books. The Cat and the Mouse is a "story" from when he was 5 and was absolutely space-filler. Also, the vocabulary seemed a bit advanced for a 5 year old... even if it is John Green. 

Read October 29, 2014
by Jodi Picoult

Review: 4 / 5 
I've never read a Jodi Picoult book, so when I saw this short story for free in the Kindle store I thought I'd give it a shot. I see why JP is so popular. The story was easy to read, but very well done. Short and sweet. In fact, I loved the mystery and the main character so much and I am upset it ended when it did! I'm a little perturbed it didn't have a real ending. Perhaps it will be wrapped up in her next novel (even though Serenity isn't the main character). 

By the way, the excerpt from her next book (Leaving Time) was intriguing. I may read a full JP book soon.... 
- - - - - - - -

For the most part, these reviews were ripped from my Goodreads. 

What did you read in October? 
What are you reading now? 

What I'm looking forward to: Finishing Yes Please, reading both Rookie Yearbooks Two and Three, and finally getting back to House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. (I haven't read it for two months! Perhaps my goal should be finished it before the end of 2014...?) 

See more Book of the Month features. And, as always, be my friend on Goodreads!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Random things I want

I've been shopping for myself a bit, and as the holiday season approaches (relax, I'm talking about my birthday, not Christmas) it's that time of year where I add lots of little things to my Pinterest or Amazon wishlist. Here are a few interesting things:


1. Hooray Sports tank top Look Human - $27
2. Forest Friends Book of Stickers Amazon - $5.39
3. Southwestern-Patterned Fringed Scarf Forever 21 - $12.80
4. KittenTexting Gloves Kohl's - $6.00
5. Unicorns are Jerks coloring book Amazon - $6.96

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Race Recap: Loveland Half Marathon

This is a stock photo, but I swear the trail looked like this. 
The Loveland Half Marathon took place Sunday, October 19, 2014 at 8:00am. [The course]

Grouchy
Last week was the worst. (Well, the worst for minor issues that aren't important. Long story coming. Brace yourself.) I had a work trip to Dallas Tuesday thru Thursday. Unfortunately, we didn't have our normal direct flights and besides adding 2-3 hours each way, our homebound connecting flight through Charlotte was cancelled at 10pm Thursday. An airline worker clicked and clacked away to get us hotel rooms and new flights, so we grabbed a shuttle to the hotel and ate mac and cheese pizza with beer for dinner. The next day (Friday) we did a little walking tour of the area and ended up at a local brewery. While that was lovely, we wanted to be home. And of course, when we got to the airport for our rescheduled flight the line for security was ridiculous AND (!!) our boarding passes didn't work at the gate. We had to wait for everyone else to board and only two out of our group of three were able to go home. I got bumped up to first class, but in that seat where you can't keep your bags with you.

Saturday I spent 8 (fun) hours celebrating and watching OSU football (from the highest, coldest, and wettest seat in the stadium) only to have to ride an hour and a half to Cincinnati that night to check into another hotel in preparation for the race. Over five days I'd spent four nights in three different hotels away from my dog and bed, which made me VERY grouchy. In fact, I yelled at Alex for who knows what and it led to a mild freak out in which I said the race could one of two ways: great because I would finally be alone without any responsibilities or terrible as I would die on the trail from stress.

Guess what? It went really well!

Stylish lady. Spoiler alert: this is after.
Checking in + what I wore 
The race was advertised as "no frills" and it cost $38 with a Labor Day coupon code (!!!). I was a little worried it would feel disorganized based on Facebook comments from past races. I did not have any issues before, during, or after the race. My only complaint is super minor: I wish we had race-specific bibs. Instead, our bibs advertised their next race, the Undead 5k. While I'm sure that race is lovely, when you run a half marathon you want to be rewarded with as much crap that says 13.1 as possible. ;)

We got there around 6:30am. I was freaking out because I wanted to be there earlier, but it was fine. We found a killer parking spot steps from the finish line and were able to keep warm in the car after I picked up my bib and timing chip. The volunteers were mostly high schoolers and they were so cheerful for that early in the morning.

It was really cold: about 40 degrees. I'm not quite ready for chilly fall weather (let alone winter-like temperatures) so I layered up a bit more than necessary, but it worked out in the end. I wore gloves, capris, a tank top, a long sleeve shirt, and a free breast cancer awareness buff (Yowie) I got at the OSU game. I usually adhere to "nothing new on race day" but I wore the buff throughout the game, so I figured it was safe. In the end, I removed my gloves around mile 2 or 3 and tucked them into my waistband and I rolled up my sleeves after mile 5, but overall I chose a good ensemble. This outfit generator helped me a lot last winter.

The beginning
The start of the race went well considering there were no pace corrals and a fairly large crowd. I'm assuming the race director was the one giving us instructions with a bullhorn. Regardless, Bullhorn Guy did a great job getting everyone to line up by speed and warning us of the few narrow points along the course.

Once we set off I spotted people going at a moderate pace and latched on. I started Map My Run before crossing the timer strip, but I didn't switch on my podcasts as I normally do. Here's a pet peeve of mine: people running a race with music and no headphones. Who wants to hear your crappy music? (Hint: I don't.)

The first few miles of this course were HILLY. I suppose if you're from Cincinnati or Colorado these hills would seem small, but as I've mentioned before, my area of Columbus is pretty flat so any hill –no matter how small– is a workout. So, I'm truckin' along behind these moderately paced runners and my first mile is 10:22. Not bad - that would keep me ahead of my Cap City finish, or right on target if I need to walk later. But you know what? Deep down I felt like I could go faster. And on hills, if I amped myself up and chugged I felt better than keeping slow and steady. So, I suppose I started to run a little faster. It wasn't easy, but I didn't feel like dying.

About mile 1.5 some guy was at the top of a hill and said "you're done with the big ones! It's flat from here out!" At mile 2 a woman said something similar (after we'd finished a hill and could see another on the horizon.) While they were obviously a bunch of liars, I appreciated the sentiment. Around mile 3 there was a steep downhill. I felt like I was sprinting (with control). I ended up passing some people and set into the stride I would (somehow) maintain for the rest of the race.


Before I signed up for the half, I mapped the elevation so I knew it would even out around mile 5. After the steep downhill at 3, Map My Run kept telling me my splits were under 10 min/mile. There was a little voice inside that thought maybe I couldn't maintain that pace, but another voice won out:  it was the "trust your body" / "run what you feel" voice. I read a blog post last year from a woman who said when she stopped using GPS and started listening to her body, she started getting PRs. Obviously, I was feeling good, so I wanted to roll with it.

The middle to the end
Honestly, I can't tell you to much about this race. I didn't have my normal inner turmoil or desire to walk. Yeah, if someone said, "Hey we're not timing you and Map My Run stopped working and this isn't a race anymore" I probably would have walked, but as soon as I hit the bike trail at mile 5 and realized how fast I was going (relative to previous half marathons) and how good I felt (relative to every run ever) I knew I would try to run the whole thing, no matter what.

Turning onto the bike path was cool because it was a straight shot and very pretty. Fall colors abound and a river on the side made for a scenic vista. Earlier that morning I was pretty bummed I wasn't at the Columbus Marathon with everyone else. By mile 2 I knew I'd made the right decision. I prefer nature and quiet to asphalt and crowds.

Anyway, the leaders had already made it to the turnaround and were running by. They were roughly four miles ahead. The first woman was around 8th place and got a lot of cheers from the runners around me. Everyone was doing a great job staying two wide and it reminded me of Saturday training runs. Mentally, I pretended we were training and stayed with the group. I used bursts of energy to pass a few times and was constantly surprised every time my mile pace was announced. I was maintaining about a 9:45 pace! And somewhere along that straightaway, before the turn at mile 7, I thought, "if I keep this up, I can get a PR. If I decide to walk I will always wonder what could have been. This is the best I've felt and I have to keep it up." (Only it sounded less like a Hallmark movie.)

I was breathing hard after mile 8. Normally I think, "Oh my God there are still 5 miles left" but on Sunday I changed that to "Five miles? I can do that!" And with every mile I thought about the remaining time in ten minute chunks. And, you know, running at a quicker pace made those miles go a heck of a lot faster. (duh)

I took this photo before mile 10. I was behind that guy for a while. (Thanks for setting a good pace, guy.)
At 11.75 I texted Alex to let him know I was getting close. Inside I was thinking about the remaining miles. I wasn't maxed out. I was tired and I'm sure I was a freaky-breather someone had to get away from, but I was truckin.' Alex texted back, "Wow! You're flying!"

The last half mile was strange because I could neither see nor hear the finish line. I kept looking at my phone and the tenths of a mile ticked up until we arrived at the trail end and I could see the arch over the finish line. I sped up and breathed even heavier, but I didn't quite sprint in. In fact, I was passed by another girl... but whatever. When I came towards the line I saw 2:09 on the clock and Alex off to the side whooping and I knew I'd done a great job!

Final [random] thoughts
I didn't listen to any music, audiobooks, or podcasts!

Near the end I wondered if I would run another half. I figured I would finish under 2:15 and possibly under 2:10, but could I do that again? Should I quit while I'm ahead? But... I RAN 13.1 miles! All of it! It helped that my 12 mile training run went so well. It was easy and I knew I could keep going. After finishing this half I also felt like I could keep running for at least a few more miles. Which makes me wonder, can I get even faster....? Could I break 2 hours (next year)? Before you ask, I have no desire to run a marathon.

Obviously it was a good day. Those don't come around often, so maybe having a craptastically stressful week helped?

Mile splits 
1 mi        10:22 min/mi
2 mi        10:29 min/mi
3 mi          9:45 min/mi
4 mi          9:39 min/mi
5 mi          9:37 min/mi
6 mi          9:48 min/mi
7 mi          9:39 min/mi
8 mi          9:47 min/mi
9 mi          9:32 min/mi
10 mi        9:52 min/mi
11 mi        9:40 min/mi
12 mi        9:41 min/mi
13 mi        9:39 min/mi
13.2 mi     8:19 min/mi

Final time: 2:08:52!
By comparison, my previous PR at Cap City was 2:19. Second goal of 2014 accomplished!

Overall: 247/463 (53%)
Females 30-39: 19/47 (40%) 

No longer grouchy and mean.
Up next
Hot Chocolate 15k on November 16 followed by the Powell Turkey Trot 4 Miler on Thanksgiving. My half marathon training is officially over until December, but I'll probably write up a nice training year summary instead of cramming it into this post.

See other race recaps here.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Race Recap: Maria's Miles 3 Miler

The crowd was 1,000 deep.

Maria's Miles took place Saturday, October 11 at 10:00am in Italian Village (a little neighborhood just north of downtown Columbus). The run was marketed as a 3 miler, but I wanted to use it as a chance to accomplish one of my goals for 2014: run a 5k with an under 9-minute mile pace. [Note: From here out I'm going to round up and call this a 5K because Map My Run said it was 3.09 miles.]

Alex joined me for our first 5K together since Valentine's Day and his first event in six months. Alex had one "training" run under his belt and guess what? (spoiler alert) He placed fourth. Yes, 4TH. Can you imagine being naturally good at something and NOT taking advantage of it?

Anyway...

The Race
This was the inaugural Maria's Miles. If you aren't from Columbus, or familiar with Maria's Message you can read a bit more here. The event is a run/walk and served as a lead-in to the yearly Italian Festival. Alex and I have never attended the Italian Fest, so it was fun to finally take part.

After a few words from Maria's family and the national anthem, we set off. Alex and I intentionally lined up near the front (we're in the picture above!) because a majority of the field would be walking. He took off. I could see him for a few blocks, but then he was gone.

Whoopsie.
I started fast, but not too fast. I knew I was definitely under 10 minutes per mile, but wasn't sure if I was under 9. I didn't have my phone GPS, just a normal watch clocking my time. Around six tenths of a mile we passed the starting line and shortly after that, just before going under the highway, I totally bit it.

Yes, I fell.

I found myself suddenly on the ground, breaking the fall with my left hand, right elbow, and both knees. So strange for many reasons, but first: prior to the race Alex said, "Watch out for stuff in the road!" Second, I did not trip on anything. And I didn't realize I'd fallen until I was down on the ground. It went something like this: Oh I'm tripping. -- I'm ok, lalala -- Wait I'm on the ground?!-- Ack, get up this is embarrassing! In all, it lasted about 15 seconds. I got up immediately - it didn't occur to me to stop to assess the damage. I said something like, "that was weird." to the nice man next to me and kept running. He was supportive and remarked, "that's the problem with running on the road!"

So, that happened around seventh tenths of a mile... Only 2.3 to go!

When I crossed mile marker 1 my watch said 8:24! Sweet! But, obviously, my hand and legs were pulsing with pain. Also, I was starting to get tired. Unlike past runs (you know, the ones where I have 10 more miles to go), I didn't allow myself to walk because if I walk after 1 flippin' mile how on earth can I expect to run an entire half marathon? (Running really is mental. I need to remember this.) At mile 2 we headed uphill. It sucked and people started to walk, but I stuck it out. I knew I was slowing down, but mile 2's time was 17 something... still headed towards my goal pace.

When we hooked around Goodale Park the grossest sounding man was hot on my trail. He was literally groaning "ughhhhh," gasping, and coughing. It was disgusting. So, I let him pass. About a half mile from the end a woman (my age!) came prancing behind me breathing as if she'd left her inhaler at home. It was so incredibly loud that I began to internalize and echo her rapid breathing. Once again, I had to take a step back and let her pass.

But the end was near. Despite my fall, I wasn't feeling too terrible, just tired from running quicker than normal. I didn't feel like I was running very fast, but I knew I was keeping an okay pace. I wasn't sure if I would achieve my goal, but I was happy I'd kept running after my fall.

Map My Run gave me a slightly different pace from the chip timer.
I crossed the line at 26:31. At the time I didn't know my pace and I quickly forgot to care when Alex saw me and asked, "What happened to your leg?!" I finally looked down at my legs to inspect the damage. I had no idea I was bleeding! The entire time I thought only the palm of my left hand was scratched.

Final results online show my pace was 8:33/mile! Wooooo!! One 2014 goal accomplished!

Overall: 72/808 (8%) 
Age Group: 5/114 (!!!)

Post race goodies included water, bananas, chocolate milk, and subs. The event shirts were super soft. I ran in mine, which was a little bizarre for me because I rarely run in t-shirts, but it was comfortable and seemed to breath well. We left shortly after eating our subs so Alex could do some side work, but were able to enjoy part of the Italian Festival (I even got some free popcorn from a woman that pitied my wound). 1,000 participants for the first year is impressive and I could see it becoming an even larger event in the future.

Some things I did differently during this run: ran faster (ha!), wore a t-shirt, wore sunglasses (forgot to put them in the gear check), no music/no audiobooks, no phone, no GPS, no water bottle ... so, really, I did a lot differently. Maybe that's why I fell? ;)

Up next: Loveland Half Marathon. (Next week!!) I'm not sure what to expect, but no matter; at least I know all of this half marathon training has helped knock :30 seconds off my 5K mile pace.

See all race recaps here.
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