This Sums Up The Last Two Years Very Nicely

18 Apr

Race Recap: 2014 OUC Orlando Half Marathon

31 Dec

I knew that I needed to sign up for a half marathon to keep me somewhat running on the regular. My half marathon race requirements for the fall were simple: race has to be local and inexpensive (less than $75). Lucky for me the OUC Orlando Half Marathon is both. I registered early back in September and used a discount code that was in one of my race packets so the race was only $65. And on race morning, I rolled out of bed and had less than five miles to travel to the start of the race, with a slight detour to pick up my friend, Beth.

We got there early and parked alongside one of the downtown streets. I wished my husband good luck and he took off for a warmup, as serious runners do. Beth and I are not quite so serious and instead walked to the start. Along that walk I realized that I had forgotten my water bottle in the car, but my husband took off with the car keys. Instantly I panicked… I train with a water bottle in my hand and am used to sipping as I run. It was an unusually hot day for December and I knew it would be harder than usual to wait for each water stop. But I didn’t have much choice at that point so we carried on to the start line.

As always, the start was crowded, but not so crowded that there’s a need for runner corrals. That’s one of the reasons I like this race, it’s big but not too big.

All of the people.

All of the people.

We settled in to wait for the start. I passed the time by trying to lock in and keep a GPS location on my Garmin. We joked that we could always borrow Beth’s husband’s gold watch instead (like we had to do after a Garmin malfunction left us sans watch during the Chicago Marathon). Thankfully such measures were not needed.

Beth and I ready to run 13.1

Beth and I ready to run 13.1

Our training leading up to the half was rocky: both Beth and I had traveled for work more than usual during the past couple of months and had missed quite a few training runs. Consequently our longest training run had been ten miles. I knew it was going to be tough, and with the heat and no water bottle I knew this race would have an extra level of “fun” attached to it.

Around mile nine, I was started to feel the effects of the heat from the sun in the cloudless skies. Temps were well on their way to the 81 degree high of the day and I was getting angry. Then I saw this:

Did you say cold?? Okay, fine.

Did you say cold?? Okay, fine.

I’ve learned a valuable lesson in life: If someone offers you a free, cold beer, take it. Even if you’re running a race. It might just be the coldest drink you get on the course. I learned this lesson running the Flying Pig Marathon and didn’t hesitate to grab a cup.

When someone offers you free beer, you take it.

When someone offers you free beer, you take it.

The cold beer was like sweet nectar from the heavens. I was temporarily distracted from the hell that was the half marathon. Unfortunately, that only lasted for a short while. Around mile 10 Beth and I celebrated only having a 5k left. We also cursed that we still had a 5k left. We ran in silence and forced ourselves to keep fueling up with peanut M&Ms and pretzels (it works!). Thankfully I had accepted a water bottle from a complete stranger somewhere along the course, so I had plenty of water to keep me hydrated. Also, this is probably a good place for me to remind you that taking food or drink from strangers isn’t the smartest thing to do. However, I don’t know about you, but when I run anything over 10 miles, my brain usually goes to mush. This totally explains all the free pretzels I took during the Chicago Marathon.

We ran on and I remember the heat getting worse. I was legitimately concerned that I would puke or pass out or both. When Beth mentioned that she was scared she was going to puke, I didn’t say a word even though I felt exactly the same way. I was scared that just trying to say it would have me blowing chunks. Instead, I told myself to keep putting one foot in front of the other. WE… WERE… ALMOST… DONE.

Finally, we rounded the corner from Rosalind Avenue to the final stretch on Robinson Street. Seeing the finish line always puts a pep in my step and I have to be careful not to push too hard too soon. It would be a shame to run out of steam right before actually crossing the finish line. :)

Alas, both Beth and I crossed the finish line. She captured this pic of me trying to breathe again with my medal.

13.1 done.

13.1 done.

I looked down and saw our time: 2:41:08. I can’t complain.

Not my best, but not my worst!

Not my best, but not my worst!

We walked like zombies to gather important rewards: chocolate milk and beer. Kudos to Track Shack for making sure both were available!

Chocolate milk never tasted so good.

Chocolate milk never tasted so good.

Don't let the cup fool you. This was Mich Ultra.

Don’t let the cup fool you. This was Mich Ultra.

Afterwards we found my husband, who had run into some friends. They captured this awesome picture of him on the final stretch.

My husband finishing strong

My husband finishing strong

Yep, his bionic foot held up just fine. But he agreed that the sun had been brutal. Hence, his topless running. :)

This was my third time running the OUC Orlando Half Marathon (you can read about the first two times here and here) and I always like running it. It’s a local, hometown race that won’t burn a hole in your wallet like some of our more famous Disney races do. Plus, it’s easy for friends and family to come out and cheer you on. If I’m not busy next year, I’ll definitely keep this race in mind.

Race Stats:

  • Time: 2:41:08
  • Distance: 13.1 mi.
  • Avg. Pace: 12:10/mi.

PROS:

  • Local Orlando race
  • Easy for your friends and family to come cheer you on
  • Easy, flat course
  • Nice, long-sleeved tech shirts
  • Track Shack always puts on a good race

CONS:

  • There are stretches of shared roads with vehicles (seemed like more than usual this year)
  • The middle of the course is not the most scenic of routes
  • Bumpy, brick roads for much of the course (watch your feet people!)

What’s your favorite hometown race? 

Race Recap: 2014 Seniors First Turkey Trot 5k

30 Dec

My “oh crap the year is almost over” goal is to finish my race recaps for 2014 before 2015 comes along. With only a day and a half left to go, I figured now was a good time to get started.

In 2007, my husband (who at the time was my boyfriend of just a couple of months) talked me into signing up for my first 5k ever. It was a tradition for him and his dad to run the Seniors First Turkey Trot and he wanted me to join them. He had (and still does have) a charming smile that gets me to say yes to things that I don’t necessarily want to do, so I of course hesitantly joined them. Seven years later, I set off to run my seventh consecutive Turkey Trot.

I’ve said this before, but running a race on Thanksgiving morning is an awesome way to start the day. The energy at the race is contagious and continues with you throughout the day. Also, it helps relieve some of that pumpkin pie guilt. :)

This year was especially exciting because my husband has been injured and unable to run the last couple of years. He finally came back with what we like to call a bionic foot (he had surgery and has been rehabbing it) and it was great to have him there.

Headed to the Turkey Trot.

Headed to the Turkey Trot with my husband and father-in-law

I haven’t exactly been working on my speed this year, but managed to maintain an average 10:20 pace. When I crossed that finish line, I was spent. That’s how I know I gave it my best shot.

By the way, I pushed myself by playing a little fun game during the race: Pick an indian or pilgrim or turkey (someone is bound to be dressed like them) and chase them down during the 5k. Once you catch them, pick a new “turkey” to catch. It totally kept me pushing myself.

My 5k time

My 5k time

On a side note, I saw a lot of runners trip on the brick roads and fall. Due to the beautiful (yet bumpy) brick roads downtown Orlando is known for, I see this happen often during any downtown Orlando races. If you’re not used to running on roads like this, it helps to watch the ground about 5 to 10 feet in front of you while running (if you look directly down you’ll likely still fall).

After the race, we headed over to one of my favorite Orlando coffee shops, Drunken Monkey Coffee Bar, for some hot coffee and breakfast sandwiches. My favorite (and quite indulgent) coffee drink is their Mojo Jojo. Let’s just say it includes coffee, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla and cinnamon and makes a delicious post-race treat! The three of us enjoyed some relaxed time together before a fun day spent with the rest of my family.

Post-race breakfast at Drunken Monkey

Post-race breakfast at Drunken Monkey

I will, of course, run this race again next year.

Race Stats:

  • Distance: 5k
  • Time: 32:41
  • Avg. Pace: 10:20/mi.

PROS:

  • You can bring the whole family (Many people walk the 5k)
  • Great scenic course around downtown Orlando and Lake Eola
  • Great way to start your Thanksgiving Day holiday
  • Untimed race means you can enjoy yourself and not worry about getting a PR

CONS:

  • “Walkers” don’t always start at the back of the race like suggested so you can end up weaving around them a lot
  • Crowded – not the sort of race you try to PR at
  • Untimed race so there’s no proof if you do PR
  • Bumpy brick roads

Do you have a favorite race that you run every year?

The Rest of 2014 Races

22 Oct Orlando_Half_Logo

After overcommitting myself to training for the Chicago Marathon last year and working on my MBA, I decided to take it easy this year. It was that or clone myself. That said, after running this past weekend’s U Can Finish 5-miler 4.5 miler I only have two confirmed races for the rest of the year. That, and I have to somehow make it through this semester.

Orlando_Half_Logo

OUC Orlando Half Marathon

I needed a half marathon to at least get me out of bed in the mornings. I wrestled back and forth between running this half because D is running it. This will be his first half marathon since he injured his foot a couple of years ago and had to get surgery so I wanted to be able to cheer him on. But… I also LOVE this local race. Finally I decided to run the race and instead recruit family and friends to come cheer him on. I’ve run this race twice before (read about the races here and here) and look forward to running it again this year. You can register for the race here.

Turkey_Trot_logo

Seniors First Turkey Trot 5k

This year will mark my seventh year in a row running this Thanksgiving morning race. It’s always a great way to start the day and I look forward to running this with friends and family. You can register for this race here.

What races do you have on deck for the rest of 2014? 

Race Recap: U Can Finish 5 Miler

20 Oct

Or can you?

No. You can’t. Which is ironic given the name of the race.

In case you’re wondering why you can’t finish, it’s mainly because the course wasn’t actually five miles in distance. It was closer to four and half miles. Seriously. Check out my Garmin at the end of the race:

Not quite 5 miles.

Not quite 5 miles.

But I digress. Let me start at the beginning.

My husband is running the Track Shack Running Series and this is one of the races in the series. Last week he asked me if I wanted to run this race again (we also ran it back on 10/10/10). After looking over my half marathon training schedule to see if the race would be a good fit and then checking with my trusty training partner Beth, I signed up for the race. And because I am alumni, I saved a couple of bucks on my registration. Score! All three of us are UCF alumni, so it’s always fun to take a jaunt back on campus.

Sunday morning, D, Beth and I set off for the main campus. There were jokes to be made about trying to find an actual current student that was awake since it was eerily quiet near the dorms.

A household united.

A household united.

Beth and I did, however, run into running friends and took the opportunity to catch up. Also, the sunrise was a gorgeous backdrop to the start of the race.

I'm a sucker for sunrises.

I’m a sucker for sunrises.

And did I mention the weather was perfect? Because it was. It was in the 60’s and cool, perfect for a run around our old campus. The race started on time (or at least I didn’t notice it starting late) and Beth and I set off running mile intervals (run one mile, walk one minute, repeat). We were busy reminiscing about our college years as we ran the first couple of miles. However, when we passed the three-mile marker, I noticed that my Garmin didn’t match up. And then when we passed the four-mile marker, Beth pointed out that the last mile seemed to go by too fast. Sure enough, when I checked my Garmin, I had a shorter distance.

We also started to notice that the course was getting confusing. There were cones lining a route, but runners going in a different direction. We noted that having volunteers there would probably help with the confusion. In fact, volunteers on the course seemed to be scarce. We later heard from our friends that they ran the wrong direction and had to turn around. Even with that error, they still didn’t hit five miles.

Also, I also couldn’t help but feel like the race course wasn’t quite taking advantage of the sprawling UCF campus. There were a couple times that we ran down one street just to double back. I’m not a big fan of doubling back unless I’ve lost something.

As we neared the finish line, I knew something was wrong. We weren’t supposed to finish yet! And sure enough, when we passed the finish line my Garmin showed our distance completed to be 4.54 miles. Enter all of the “you can’t finish” jokes you can think of. Oh, the irony!

Race Stats:

  • Distance: 5.00 4.54 mi.
  • Time: 50:46.92
  • Avg Pace: 11:10/mi.

PROS:

  • Get to run around campus without being chased by campus police
  • You’ll PR for sure since there aren’t many 5-mile races … or 4.5-mile races
  • Nostalgic race for UCF alumni
  • You get to see all of the new buildings that weren’t there when you were a student

CONS:

  • The 5-mile race wasn’t actually 5 mile in distance
  • Course was confusing at times
  • Volunteers were scarce
  • Only those that completed the double distance received medals (I saw way too many racers walk up to get a medal only to be turned away… AWKWARD)
  • Not a lot of spectators

FINAL VERDICT: I’m a big fan of Track Shack events, but this one seemed to lack the organization that their other races typically have. Also, I like people to cheer me on and this race didn’t have a lot of that going on. And, like a friend on Facebook said, I paid for five miles and only got four and a half miles. Overall, I probably won’t run this race next year. However, I will consider streaking on campus. :)

Did you run the U Can Finish 5-miler this year? What did you think? 

 

 

 

2013 Me vs. 2014 Me on Running 6 Miles

26 Sep

2013 Me: “We’re only running six miles? Sweet!”

aw_yiss

Image Source

2014 Me: “Whoa… We’re running six miles?!”

Not doing that

 Image Source

Why Runners Should Never Trust People

7 Aug

Two days ago a person almost killed me and my friend Rachelle. This was a person that I trusted to do what was right. I learned a valuable lesson. Never trust people.

Let me start from the beginning. It all started around 6am. My friend and I were a couple of miles into our four-mile run when we approached a four-way stop. As always, we slowed down to see if there were any cars approaching.

We saw the car coming, but it was still slowing down for the full stop. Since the car wasn’t full braked yet and would still have to stop at the stop sign, as you should always do at a stop sign, we thought we had time to cross. Also, by this time we were in the driver’s headlights so surely they could see us, right?

Wrong. Don’t trust people. The driver totally pulled one of these:

clueless

Source

As we were running right in front of her car, the driver shifted from slowing down to pausing to then accelerating. And we did this:

chelsea

Source

And just as she was about to hit us both, she slammed her brakes. I had jumped back and my friend had jumped forward to finish crossing the street. The driver tried to signal me to go ahead and cross in front of her. To which I gave her a look similar to this:

disbelief

Source

There was no way I was going to cross in front of her car. I didn’t trust her. So we went into a stand-off until she finally drove away and I crossed the street.

My friend and I couldn’t believe what had just transpired. How did she not see us? Why didn’t she stop at the stop sign? Why couldn’t we run a 9-minute mile? (Okay, maybe that last question is off topic, but when your life flashes before your eyes you can’t help where your mind goes.)

Tuesday morning I learned my lesson as a runner: Never trust people. Unless they are handing out free pretzels during a marathon. Then, by golly, take all the free pretzels you can get your hands on.

Have you ever been almost hit by a car while running?

 

 

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