Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sparkle extravaganza (I mean River Ramble) race recap

We sparkled and shimmered all along the river today in the River Ramble Fall Classic 10k, coming in 2nd out of three teams. We had a great time dressing up in our skirts and applying glitter gel to our faces and glitter spray to our hair. We definitely had the most character and personality on the course!
Team Blood, Sweat, and Sparkle

Two of my team members also set personal records in the 10k and won age category prizes!

Here is how the race went for me:

Even though we were running our own paces, we decided to line up together as a team near the front of the pack, since there were hundreds of runners and no chip timing. Starting in the front may or may not have been to my advantage. I can't tell if I burned myself out by going out too fast or if I would have set myself a slower pace if I hadn't had the momentum from everyone else.

In any case, when we started, we ran 0.2 miles through the parking lot to the hill that takes us out to the road. I kept a light but brisk pace through the parking lot and just tried to take it easy but keep the pace going up the hill. Then I tried to remind myself to use the slight decline to my advantage and let gravity do its thing.

I tried to keep at a steady, quick pace, and I got to the 1 mile mark at 8:08 minutes. I thought that I usually go out a little faster, but I knew that if I held that, I was still on pace for my goal time. I was feeling tired though, and the balls of my feet down to my toes were totally numb. It's hard to describe running without feeling your toes, and I can just say that it is very uncomfortable, especially when you know you're continually pounding on those spots. Around this time I also started getting the dreaded cramps, and I don't mean the lactic-acid kind.  Still, I kept on my pace, and it seemed like no time before we got to the 5k turnaround. Alas, what an easy race the 5k must have been! Even with my frozen toes, I think I could have turned out a time around 25:30 on that course.

But I was running the 10k, so I kept going straight beyond the turnaround, and it wasn't long before the hills started. These were not nearly as unforgiving as the hills that I usually run on, so I should have flown up them, but I did not perform as well as I expected I would. When I found myself plodding, I picked up my knees and lightened my step, but I was much more tired than I should have been. I continued to fade as I got closer to the turnaround point, and more and more people passed me. I can't say that's not disheartening, but I flashed my sparkle skirt (well, it did its own flashing) and kept going, trying to pass people on the downhills.

I played leap frog with a couple of people until they either drew ahead or fell behind, and I found myself in a no-man's land with no other runners around me for the last 2 or 2.5 miles. At this time, I tried to do the math to see if my top goal was anywhere near attainable and settled on trying to finish in under 55 minutes. My time at the turnaround was about a minute and a half slower than it should have been if I wanted to match my PR.

After passing the 5k turnaround, I tried to use the flats there to my advantage and speed up a little. I got excited when I could see the parking lot. There was one slight incline left, and I jogged up it, hoping that maybe I'd get a burst of speed and somehow be able to pass the guy up ahead of me. I dropped my hand-held bottle of Gatorade next to a road sign where I'd be able to pick it up later  and immediately felt lighter and freer. I crested the hill and started to coast down towards the parking lot. I heard someone coming up behind me, and that spurred me on just enough. I opened up my stride and made for the finish line.

The last stretch is deceivingly long. I was told to smile for cameras, so I held back a bit instead of going for the usual power sprint (and accompanying photos of flailing limbs and ridiculous grimaces). I heard someone say that my skirt was flying, and one of the race volunteers said that even though I was the last of my team to finish, I was still fast, and they were all waiting to cheer me on. And they were!
That skirt is flying!
I finished in 55:26, which is a little disappointing, considering I had been improving so much and know that I was capable of at least 53:52 on that course, but it's something to beat in the future. I have to remember that my first goal in this race was to have a great time running in our sparkly skirts. I wanted us to bring a lot of fun to this race and have a blast, and we did! We all left with such a great feeling and are already planning on continuing our weekly groups runs. There's even talk of signing up together for a half marathon in the spring! And I think that our enthusiasm extended out to a lot of other people today. One or two people actually thanked me for dressing up!

After cheering on many other 10k runners, we got some refreshments and stuck around for the awards ceremony, where two of our girls won 2nd and 3rd place in the 30-39 year age group! Way to go!!! What is even more impressive (and a little frustrating) is that the friend who placed 2nd was only a second or two behind 1st place in that age group. Believe me, when we do this next year, she's going for 1st!

After individual awards were given, every member of Team Blood Sweat and Sparkle was awarded a River Ramble mug for 2nd place in the team competition! Go team!!
Celebrating with 2nd-place mugs

This was a great race that was very well organized, even though it was in its first year. The weather was beautiful, and everyone I saw had a great time. The location was also awesome. After everyone else left, I took my unfinished breakfast (more on proper - and un-proper - nutrition in a later post?) down to the boat launch and sat down and finished it while looking across the river. It's a beautiful spot, which is why I'm getting married just a few miles downstream from there next September...! You can't beat the view of the river and mountains behind them.

Anyway, the course was great, everything ran smoothly, and I'm so glad that we were able to put such a quirky team together. It added an element to the race that I don't always see.

I am really looking forward to finishing up my grad school program and having more time to exercise again so I can work on improving my fitness and becoming a fast runner. Watch out, River Ramble - I'm coming back next year, just as sparkly, but faster than ever!

River Ramble 10k goals

Two months ago, the 10k distance was a little daunting. I hadn't been running for months, and I just didn't see myself completing the distance with anything but an agonizingly slow pace. But the River Ramble, which offers both a 5K and 10k distance, only permitted team competition for the 10k. And I wanted to form a team - a team comprised of people wearing sparkly running skirts. So I got my running buddy, her sister, and one other runner together to form Team Blood, Sweat, and Sparkle. We ordered skirts from Team Sparkle, which I had read about on the Chic Runner's blog and set out to train for a 10k.

Initially, my goal was to run faster than 9:30 per mile pace. We mapped out a training route that was hillier than the race course, and on the first time running it, I came in at 58:52. That was 9:28 pace! I revised my goal to be about 55 minutes. The next time I ran that route, I cam in at 57:41 -  9:16 per  mile! I was very excited about doing some long runs and a timed mile to work on both endurance and speed, but I got sick with a cold, and then a secondary infection, so I lost about 2 weeks of training. I got back out as soon as I could, and last Tuesday I ran the race route in an amazing (for me) 53:52. Then it was time to rest and wait until race day. My goals for the race were:

  • Have a great time running in our sparkly skirts! I wanted us to bring a lot of fun to this race and have a blast.
  • My top time goal (aka goal that might be in reach) was to finish in under 53 minutes. That would involve running about a minute faster than in my fastest training run (which I had put pretty much everything onto the table for). 
  • If that wasn't achievable, my next goal was to set a personal best. 
  • My next goal was to finish in under 55 minutes.
  • If I had a pretty stinky race, I hoped to still finish with a pace of under 9 minutes per mile.
So, there you have it!

My next post will be a race recap!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Out of the library and onto the road

Librarian on the Run is on her way to becoming Archivist on the Run. For the past year, I've been back in grad school studying Archival Studies with the hopes of being able to work in a library with a special collection. So I haven't had much time to blog. I initially began this blog in 2008 after I got my master's degree. It was the first time I wasn't in school, and I poured my mental and physical energies into running and writing about it. Now that I've been back in school, the blog has become an afterthought, but I have only 4 more weeks of class left!

In the mean time, I've been keeping up with my running. I had a cyst removed from my neck in July, which stopped all physical activity for that part of the summer, but once I recovered, I jumped into training for the Ride to Read fundraiser for the library. Once I finished that, I got right back into running. I don't think that cycling for the Ride improved my running per se, but it left me at a good fitness level, and my running training started off well. Three weeks after the Ride, I ran a hounds and harriers race with my fiancĂ©'s German shepherd, Anna. 
This was quite an experience! I hadn't practiced running with this leash with her enough, so we had a few kinks to work out at the beginning of the race, when she wanted to sniff every other dog there was - and there were 120 of them! The starting line felt like complete chaos, but everyone was actually very well-behaved. We got into a rhythm after the first mile, and it was quite nice. There were dog bowls at the water stops, and she forgot we were racing and wanted to drink from every single bowl. (After the third bowl, I nudged her to get back to running!) And we came over the finish line at 26:37.  Congrats to Anna on her first 5K!

After Hounds and Harriers, I set my sights on a new goal: The River Ramble Fall Classic 10K. It's organized by the local running store, and the 10K has a team competition. I had heard about Team Sparkle from other bloggers and thought that a sparkly 10K team would be a lot of fun, so I got together my running buddy, her sister, and another library runner to rock the River Ramble in sparkle skirts. We're Team "Blood, Sweat, and Sparkle." I can't wait! We're getting together today (after we all vote - Happy Election Day!) to run the race course so we know what to expect. In fact, I need to start getting ready so I'm not late meeting them... More to come about our awesome sparkle skirts and my goals for the 10k. 

Ride to Read success and recap

Despite my pre-ride jitters, the Ride to Read was a big success. I easily rode the 60 miles and was bursting with energy at the end. I raised over $2,500 for the new library building, and it was an event that brought together the other library branches. The full recap is on the Ride to Read blog here.