Thursday, December 22, 2011

Tentative 2012 Races!

I put together a list of races that I'd like to do for 2012. The list is tentative, mostly depending on money and how my saving for the Chicago Marathon in October is going. But hopefully by this time next year, I will have completed not only a 5k and the 4.748 mile (let's just call it an 8k) Thanksgiving/Manchester Road Race, but also a 10k (or 2), a half marathon (or 2!), and a marathon!

This is what I've got so far:

January - ?

February - ?

O'Hartford 5k, Hartford, CT - 3/18/2012

Simsbury River Run 10k, Simsbury, CT - 4/29/2012

East Granby Ridge Run 5k, East Granby, CT - 5/19/2012

Amica Iron Horse 1/2 Marathon, Simsbury, CT - 6/3/2012

July - ?

Old Wethersfield 10k, Wethersfield, CT - 8/26/2012

Surftown Half Marathon, Misquamicut State Beach, Westerly, RI - 9/16/2012

CHICAGO MARATHON! Chicago, IL - 10/7/2012
Chester College Family Weekend 5k, Chester, NH (Depends on the date)

Manchester Road Race 4.748 miles, Manchester, CT - 11/22/2012

Hot Chocolate Run for Safe Passage 5k, Northampton, MA - 12/2/2012

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Be proud of your achievements!

It feels like it's been forever since I've blogged! I've thought about what to write for about a week or so now, but just couldn't get any of my thoughts to really make sense. When I went out for my run last night, I tried to work on this. I came to the conclusion that it is much easier to write about a horrible experience and things that I need to change than it is to give myself credit for actually having a good running experience! To be totally honest, I've had 3 REALLY GOOD experiences lately! It almost seems ridiculous that I haven't written about any of them!

The last race I wrote about was the 4th of July 5k in Enfield. Ugh. What horrible memories. That is definitely one that I WILL NOT be doing again! I didn't participate in any races in August (it was rescheduled due to Hurricane Irene) or September (I think because of our vacation?). The next race I took part in was the 2nd Annual Chester College 5k in Chester, NH. This is where my niece Siara goes to school. My sister (Siara's mom), Rich and I decided we were all going to do this. It would be my sister's 2nd 5k, my 5th, and who can keep track of Rich at this point! I found it a little difficult to plan for a race that was such a distance away. It takes a little over 2 hours to get there, but we obviously left some extra time to allow for any traffic, etc. Hydration is usually one of my biggest issues, and it's hard to drink enough that you're hydrated, but then be in a car for 2 hours! My sister and I had taken a drive up to the school to visit Siara a week before the race and while we were up there we took a drive of the course. Wow! This was going to be hilly! We were determined though! Then a few days before the race I looked online and the course had changed from the previous years' course, so it was going to be a complete surprise when we actually ran it! There were actually only 67 of us who participated. This was by far the smallest race I've done! It was an out and back, which I kind of liked. I knew as I was going out for a mile and a half what the next mile and a half would be like. I really wanted to come in under 50 minutes, as my PR at this point was 56:48. More than anything I just wanted to get a new PR. I'd had so many disasterous experiences up until this point that I just really needed to have a positive one. I didn't even care that I was the last person anymore. I'd been last before, and it had pissed me off, but I knew that I was doing something special and beneficial, both for me and for others, at that race. In the end, as I came in last...

Chester College Family Weekend 5k - 10/22/11 - 52:54 PR!

I kept up with my original goal of doing one race per month on November 24th. Rich, Ralph and I signed up to do the 75th Annual Manchester Road Race on Thanksgiving! This race is a huge deal, and very closeby! At this point, I think the biggest race I had done was with a couple thousand people at the O'Hartford 5k back in March. This race had a cap of 15,000 people!! It was going to be crazy!!

Also, up until this point the most I had done was 3.1 miles. This race was going to be 4.748 miles! And not 4.748 flat miles - 4.748 hilly miles!! The whole thing isn't actually hilly, but it takes place on 4 different streets in a big square, and the 2nd street is a HUGE hill! I'm not exaggerating. It was comforting to know that after I battled that hill it was all downhill and straight from there. A lot of people dress up for this one. I was mostly concerned with making sure I'd be warm enough because I really just wanted to finish the damn thing! Rich and Ralph dressed up though:

There were so many people that the start line was backed up for what seemed like forever! We parked at Ralph's place and walked down to the start line from there. Again, THERE WERE SO MANY PEOPLE! Racers, spectators, animals, kids, strollers, costumes, props - just so much going on!! We were stuck somewhere on the side as they sang the National Anthem and couldn't get through if our lives had depended on it! As the gun was about to go off, we snuck under a side barricade that someone held up for us, somewhere around the 35ish minute finish mark. I couldn't drive that route in 35 minutes let alone think about running it in that time! It surprisingly only took me about 2 and a half minutes to cross the start line, but after I'd gone under the barricade I had no idea where Rich and Ralph were anymore. I knew I was going to have to walk most of the 2nd street, so I told myself that no matter what, I had to continue to run the entire length of the 1st street, no matter how bad I wanted to quit! I didn't let myself down either - and it felt good! The hill on the other hand DID NOT feel good! It was horrible!! My calves hurt, and I was actually starting to feel hot, even though it was somewhere in the 30's out! I just kept telling myself that I would do so much better after I got to the top of that street though! Another motivating factor was that when I had reached the 1st mile split I was around a 16 minute mile, which for me is AWESOME! As I got to the top of the hill, I felt really accomplished! I still had about half the race to go, but I knew that the hardest part was over. I continued on by alternating running and walking, playing more mind games with myself. As I mentioned earlier, there were a ton of spectators, and it wasn't just at the start line. The spectators lined the entire race course! It feels so good to have so many people out there clapping and cheering for you! And it was kind of nice to be one of the slower ones and having had started towards the front - everyone was passing me and I could check out all the cool costumes! I must add that the race definitely had it's share of assholes. The pushing in the first third of the race or so was horrible. I got elbowed so many times, unnecessarily. Yes, it was crowded, but you know going into it that with 15,000 people you are not going to have a terrific race! I was really worried about some of the kids that were running, thinking that they might get trampled! It was a big drunk race also. People running with beers, carrying coolers of jello shots, people HAMMERED on the sidelines - at 10am!! It really got to me somewhere around mile 3 1/2 when some guy around 30 years old yelled out that we "needed to work on our running so we wouldn't be so slow next year". I yelled back at him, "MAYBE NEXT YEAR YOU'LL GET OUT AND DO IT INSTEAD OF YELLING FROM THE SIDELINES!" It just goes back to that old saying, "if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all." Anyway... I tried to keep positive! When I got to the 3 mile mark, I had noticed that I was right on time with what my PR was at the last 5k, so I was happy with that. I was pretty tired as I got around 3-3 1/2. I'd run, I'd walk, I'd run, I'd walk. I also tried to give high 5's to all the kids on the sidelines who had their hands out. I hope that maybe in some small way I can inspire at least one kid to take up running in the future! I also played a game with myself that for every kid that had his hand stuck out, that I would high 5 them, and then I would run a little bit. No matter how tired my legs felt. If I gave a high 5, I would run. And I did. And before I knew it, that 4.748 miles didn't even seem as long as it really was! As I turned back down Main Street, I knew that Rich and Ralph would be somewhere on the sides waiting for me to pass. My 3 goals before I started the race were to 1. Finish! 2. Finish under 1:40, and 3. Finish under 1:30. As I came down the last little bit, I passed the guys and gave them both high 5's and I finished in...

75th Annual Manchester Road Race (4.748 miles) - 11/24/11: 1:22:57 PR!

The last one I'm going to write about here is the 5k that Rich, Mandy, and I just did on December 4th. It was the Hot Chocolate Run in Northatmpton, MA to benefit Safe Passage. Rich did this one last year and it was CRAZY! It was the biggest race I had seen at that point. I remember how freezing cold it was as I waited for him and was so thankful that he was a fast runner :) It was the first run that had gotten him back into running. I remember him telling me last year that I had to do that one with him this year. At that time I had no idea where I'd be after the surgery the following month, and the hills in NoHo scared me so much that I never thought I'd be able to do that! This year was all about doing new things (AND SUCCEEDING!) so I signed up for it and really wasn't THAT scared, especially after I knew the hill that I would be battling at that Manchester race :) I liked the cause that this race supported also. Safe Passage is an organization that helps women and children effected by domestic violence:

They increased the capacity from 5,000 to 5,500 for this year, with a separate start time for walkers and for runners. We wanted to wear some crazy costumes for this one as it's another big costumed event, but time and money became an issue. We threw together some cool outfits though:

This photo is deceiving though. It looks like Rich was the most dressed out of all of us. He was actually the least dressed - he ran in his Santa hat and Santa shorts! The organization hasn't posted their photos yet, but when they do, I'm sure they'll have a pic or two of Rich running shirtless (in 30ish degree weather!), and I'll be sure to add it!

I again wanted to try to come in under 50 minutes, but I really just wanted to give it my best shot. Like I said, NoHo is pretty hilly. The race starts out with a short, very steep, hill right in front of you. Once you get to the top, it's flat for a good portion. I was again pretty happy when I got to the 1st mile mark and I was around 16 minutes. I had a shot at coming in under 50 if I kept that up, but I knew that I'd have more hills ahead of me. I was a little disappointed with some of the organization of the race. The trailing car and the trailing police car weren't actually "trailing" - they passeed those of us at the end and stayed in front of about 20-30 of us, which I thought was rather unsafe. It's tough to try to do your best at a run when you not only have to worry about form and pains and the normal running stuff, but also cars driving past you when you're not facing them because of how the race route is designed! The course was also very scarce for supporters/spectators except at the start/finish line. I kept my headphones on pretty much the entire time. I did pretty decent for the 2nd mile and geared up for the last mile where the other 2 hills were. Ugh. It's one thing to have hills at the beginning of a race and be done with them, and another to have the hills at the end of the race! They were pretty killer, at least for me. But because I knew the route ahead of time, it was comforting to know that once I got up and over them I would be golden! I got to the top somewhere around 48 minutes, but didn't have enough in me to finish it out in 2 minutes. The calves were tired, cars were going by at this point so we had to run (against opposite foot traffic) on the sidewalk, and I had to RUN THROUGH A BAND! I can only imagine what I looked like going down that huge hill that we had to run up at the start, but the band took up the whole length of the side street! I ran through part of it, over to the side, jumped up onto the sidewalk, down off the sidewalk, and booked it down through that finish line!

Despite the hills and some of the disorganization that came with being one of the slower people, it was actually a pretty cool race! Mandy actually KILLED her previous PR! Rich kicked ass, as usual :) And he told me when we got back home later that it meant a lot to him that I did that race with him this year :) As for me...

8th Annual Hot Chocolate 5k - 12/4/11: 51:45.69 PR!