Run for the Troops 2018 RACE RECAP

Hello again!

I know it’s been a while, so let’s catch up on a few things before I dive into the recap of the 5k I ran on Sunday.

  1. I got to watch the Boston Marathon and saw Des Linden run by. As crazy and cold as the marathon was, it was also magical. I’m so glad I had a group of friends to spectate with (and an apartment to run inside and warm up in between cheering). Boston Marathon 2018
  2. I’ve had a bit of a career switch again. While I don’t want to get into the details, I’m happy about it and think it’ll be for the best.
  3. After getting some much needed rest after Hyannis, I am back to training and feel great! My last few weeks have been around 30-35 miles per week and I think I’m laying a solid foundation for Chicago (October 7th).

Ok! Now, let’s dive into this weekend.

The Run for the Troops race is one of my mom’s favorites and we’ve been doing it for several years now. The week before, I had gone back and read my race recap from it in 2015 and I was cracking up. In it, I write “I knew I wanted to push the pace, so I wished my mom good luck and went to stand with the 8-minute mile section. Mile 1 – 7:55. I was quite happy to look down at my watch to see this split after the first mile…” I ended up running a 23:34, which is an average of 7:35/mile, and at the time it was a PR (though I had broken it since then).

Considering I ran Mile 22 of Hyannis in a 7:53, I was pretty dang confident “pushing the pace” was no longer an 8 minute mile. But honestly, I hadn’t raced a 5k in so long that I didn’t know what I was capable of. I tentatively thought I should go out at a 7:20 and push the pace from there, but in the end I just decided to run by feel.

We got there early and my mom and I picked up our bibs. I went outside to warm up on a little paved track next to the Andover Senior Center. We cut it a little closer than I wanted with walking around trying to find the bib pick-up so I only had time for a 1.75 mile warm-up and a few quick drills. After all my hamstring issues, I don’t like to skimp on the warm-up for a hard effort.

Right before 9, I headed to the start and made sure I got a good spot towards the front. It’s a pretty popular 5k and can get congested so I wanted to make sure I had the room to open up my stride without dodging walkers and kids. Right on time, we were off!

The course is pretty rolling and right in the first mile, we were going up a gradual uphill. As expected, everyone took off at an insane pace and people were flying by me. I was running around 6:50ish pace early in the mile and told myself to rein it in and just focus on running my race.

Run for the Troops 5k Course MapI knew I was running the first mile faster than I had originally planned on, but my coach had told me that mile 1 should be “manageable”. I honestly felt like I was managing fine. It was a fast pace but I felt strong. I hit Mile 1 in 7:03.

Ok, so a little fast. But I was still feeling relatively good-ish. Mile 2 had more small rolling hills and I focused on my arm drive to power up. At this point, I was starting to pass some folks who had gone out too fast and that was just the mental boost I needed. Around 2.5, I spotted another woman I recognized from the Good Times Series 5ks – I ran those races every week during the summer of 2015 and this lady had beat me EVERY TIME in those. She wasn’t too far ahead so I focused on maintaining my pace and keeping an eye on her. We must have been the only women near each other at this point in the race because at one point, a friend called out hi to her and said that there was one “right behind” (ME)! Mile 2 was a 7:13. Again, I was almost surprised to see this split, but I had come this far, so I wanted to close out the race right.

Mile 3 was where I had to really step up my mental game. I had been creeping up on the Good Times Series lady and eventually I was passing her. I threw down a surge and passed as authoritatively as I could so that she wouldn’t try to come with me. But then I also had the fear that she would pass me before the end. I thought a lot about Deena Kastor’s new book which I had just finished reading. She talked a lot about positive mindset and self-talk, and I tried to implement every one of her tricks. There were a couple of brutal hills in the last mile, and by the last one, I was starting to feel a little grumpy (and vaguely tempted to walk).

Run for the Troops 5k elevation profileAnd that was when I realized, this is it. This is the mental moment where you can check out and run comfortably, or you can continue to push until you taste blood in the back of your throat (her words, not mine). So I grinded up that hill and tried to take advantage on the downhill. Mile 3 – 7:01 (I definitely think this would have been sub-7 if there hadn’t been that brutal hill).

Finally, I could hear the music and see the turn-off into the parking lot where the race was finishing. Whipping around the corner, I could hear someone shout “5th female”! Which was such a cool feeling. I’m not usually that close to the front and it just made me feel like such a badass. The Good Times Series lady never passed me and I crossed the finish line in 22:02.

Run for the Troops 5k

I was indeed 5th female, and 3rd in my age group. I was also a good 1 minute and 30 seconds faster than when I ran it in 2015. It’s moments like these that are why I love running so gosh darn much. There’s nothing like good old race results for looking at how far you’ve come from when you started. And you know I’m coming for that sub 22 minute 5k!

Post race starbucksNo medals at the race this year so we got some Starbucks to celebrate with instead. 🙂

So overall, a really fun day and it’s got me feeling even more excited for the other races I have coming up! May is going to be a busy month with the Harpoon 5-Miler on the 20th followed by the Run to Remember Half on the 27th. Can’t wait to run those and keep cruisin’ towards Chicago!


Run For the Troops 5k

Happy Tuesday!

As promised, today I’m sharing the full story of Sunday’s record-setting 5k. 🙂 After my mom and I missed our last 5k due to the snowy weather and dangerous road conditions, I was VERY excited to be finally running a race. The temps were forecast to be in the 60’s with zero chance of snow. It was still a bit cool in the morning and I ended up running the race wearing my sweatshirt.

Run for the Troops 5k, Andover MA | 2 Generations RunningThis race specifically benefits the charity Homes for Our Troops, an organization that helps design and build houses for injured veterans. At 8:45 there was a little ceremony honoring all the veterans who were present (there were a lot!), and then we went to line up at the start.

Run for the Troops 5k | 2 Generations RunningIt was a little crowded at the start, but I was happy there were signs for 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 minute-miles, so we were able to seed ourselves to help things run a little more smoothly. I knew I wanted to push the pace, so I wished my mom good luck and went to stand with the 8-minute mile section.

The 6 and 7-minute seeds were started first, and then 90 seconds later… we were off! It was still a bit crowded at the start (I suspect some people may have seeded themselves according to a pace they would like to run, rather than what they were capable of running, but oh well.) The course began with a steady incline, but my adrenaline was flowing and everyone  was running fast, so I handled the first hill no problem. There was a band playing at the top of the hill and I would have liked to slow down, just to listen a little more, but I was focused on maintaining my pace.

Mile 1 – 7:55

I was quite happy to look down at my watch to see this split after the first mile, especially since the timing clocks on the course weren’t reflecting my true time since I had started in the second wave, 90 seconds after the first wave. Mile 2 was tougher than the first mile though. There were more hills and I was beginning to feel tired. I spotted a girl passing me who looked to be around my age and vowed to try to stay with her. I had my watch set to show me my current pace and knew I had slowed down a little, but was still doing a pretty good job running fast.

Mile 2 – 8:15

It was after mile 2 that I thought to myself, “Hey, this might end up being close to my PR!” I’m not really great at doing math while running, but I was pretty sure that if I could just run another sub 8-minute mile, that I could possibly beat it. And the course finally cut me a break on this mile – it was mostly downhill or flat into the finish. So I lengthened my stride and tried to kick it up a notch, not knowing if my legs would have it in them after the hills. They did. I ended up passing the girl who I had set as my “target”, and continued to run hard, rounding the last corner and coming into the final straightaway which was lined with cheering spectators.

Mile 3 – 7:19

I stopped my Garmin as I crossed the timing mats and was ecstatic to see that my hard running had paid off – I had beat my old PR by about 12 seconds with an official time of 23:34 (avg. 7:35/mile).

Run for the Troops 5k | 2 Generations RunningMy mom crossed the finish line only a few minutes later (although I totally missed her), missing her PR only by a matter of seconds.

We enjoyed our post-race bananas and granola bars while waiting for my dad and brother, who were walking the course.

Run for the troops 5k | 2 Generations RunningAfter meeting up with them,  we all headed home, where my mom and I stretched a little – and then proceeded to go out and run another 6 miles (it was long run day!) With the awesome warm weather we were having, an executive decision was made to run to the closest ice cream stand, because everyone knows ice cream = the perfect refueling food for runners.

We slowed the 6 miles down to around a 9:25/mile pace and thankfully, they didn’t feel too challenging after the speedy 5k my mom and I had just run. Plus, having ice cream to look forward to helped. 🙂

Ice Cream for Runners | 2 Generations RunningPistachio for my mom and Moose Tracks frozen yogurt for me. It was the first ice cream of the season and it was perfection.

So all in all, a pretty awesome day for running! Here’s to hoping the Providence Half goes as well as this race did! Have you gone out for ice cream yet this spring? What are your thoughts on splitting up long runs like this?