Category Archives: 5K

Back to Basics

Yesterday the doctor confirmed what I’d already known (and have known) for months years now: I am very anemic. While this is information that concerned doctors have been warning me about since the age of 16, it’s usually something I ignore like the stubborn idiot that I am. For example, it’s probably not good to be gasping for breath after climbing one flight of stairs, or blacking out whenever you stand up at work. Believe it or not these are symptoms that I’ve learned to live with over the years, and even laugh at. However, once my running became affected, I decided to start taking better care of myself. According to the doctor, my current hemoglobin level is 7. A normal level is 12. As he put it, I’m running on a half-empty tank of gas.

It’s no secret my race times have drastically slowed in the past year. I used to blame my accident (that whole getting hit by a car thing), but now I’m not so sure. I think it’s more of a combination of health, too many long distance races, running alone, and abandoning speed work and strength training. I’ve been unhappy lately with my slow running and that ever-increasing number on the scale, so it is no wonder that this article I read resonated with me so well:

Crossing the Finish Line 25 Pounds Lighter

In the above article, the author talks about how years of running marathons and eating as though she could justify every empty calorie lead to a steady weight gain, and slower race times. She took charge of her health and running progress by training for a mile race (yes, one singular mile), eating cleaner, and training with weights. Obviously, training for shorter distances means more sprinting and speed work, which we all know burns more fat. She lost the weight and beat her mile goal as well.

I was completely inspired by her progress. Why had I been treating marathons as the be-all-end-all of race distances? A fast 5K, and even mile, takes lots of hard work and training as well. Also, there’s no way I’m ever going to get faster running slow, long, distances every weekend. I made a goal then and there to train hard for a 5K. My 5Ks lately have been disastrous, with average times around 29 minutes. I’m thinking a realistic yet challenging goal would be sub-26 minutes. I’ll be following this plan by Hal Higdon to get myself there, as well as incorporating more weights in my week, oh and taking my iron pills like a good girl:

Hal Higdon’s Advanced 5K Plan

Being the impatient and impulsive creature that I am, I decided to start working towards this goal NOW, instead of waiting until next spring/summer when there are literally 50 5Ks any given weekend. Thanks to RunMichigan.com, I was able to not only find a winter 5K that’s exactly 8 weeks from now, but also a mile race in Milford on November 28th as well! Granted, both are marketed as more “fun” races, but I’ll be having fun kicking so much ass. You know what else is fun about smaller distances? Smaller registration fees! I’m sure my boyfriend is happy to hear that.

But Laura! Don’t you have two winter marathons to train for as well? Yes, unfortunately. I figure I can train for both by still doing a long run on the weekend, but not killing myself mileage-wise during the week. Hopefully the extra speed work will contribute to faster marathon times as well.

I’m excited for a new and refreshing running goal. If all goes well I can work towards a 5K PR in 2016, and get back that running mojo that once allowed me to run a 50-minute 10K on a 85 degree day in August (I still can’t believe I did that!!). Also, if I sign up for any more full marathons for 2016 you have my permission to stab me repeatedly.

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2014 Year in Review: Numbers and Math and a Preview of 2015

My father is a numbers guy and that has always bugged me. Whenever I mention a social gathering/race/whatever I’ve just attended, his first question is always “How many people were there?” When I point out that sorry, I wasn’t aware I was supposed to be counting, he starts throwing out estimates. “Were there about 20? More than 30?” It gets on my nerves for the simple fact that my brain isn’t wired that way. Numbers are my enemy. I’m a known generous tipper because of my inability to do simple math in my head. I would suck on the Price is Right because fuck if I know what a broom is supposed to cost. The only time I obsess about numbers, however, is in relation to my training. Here is what my 2014 looked like in numbers. My dad would be proud.

In 2014 I completed 2,198 miles:

I ran 1,794 miles

I biked 375 mile

I swam 28 miles

I ran 2 marathons with a PR of 4:29:10 (which included at least 5 potty breaks)

I ran these marathons in 2 new states (scratch Utah and Indiana off the long list!)

I ran 6 half marathons with a PR of 1:50:10

I ran 3 of those halfs as a pace group leader

I ran 1 half marathon through 2 countries (I heart you Detroit International Half Marathon)

I finished 1 half marathon holding the hand of the man I love

I ran 6 5Ks with a PR of 23:47

I entered 3 sprint triathlons and successfully completed 1 (damned open water anxiety)

I missed out on 3 races I registered for due to being hit by 1 car

I peed in the woods 2 times

I pooped my pants 1 time

And on that final (brown) note, I will end the data. I’m very proud of my accomplishments in 2014, even though it ended on a frustrating note with inexplicably slower speeds, including a 10K I ran in 1:01. Ouch. I’ve been going out for shorter runs lately and trying to really push myself and I’m happy to say there is still some speed hidden inside of me, I just have to work for it.

Though I’m already registered for two marathons in 2015, including the Skyline Chili 4-Way at the Flying Pig in Cincinnati (that’s a 5K, 10K, and full marathon all in one weekend), my main goal is to run less in the coming year. I feel like a lot of my training runs lately have been for the wrong reasons, whether to prove that I’m tough or to be like the cool kids who run 50+ miles a week. Running less will also give me time to swim more, which will help me achieve my main goal of 2015: swim an open water 5K. Right now the idea sounds ridiculous and I’ve been afraid of telling people for fear of being laughed out of the room. Really? The same girl who couldn’t finish 750 meters in a sprint triathlon is going to finish 5,000?! What can I say, I love an impossible challenge (unless it involves math). I love how strong swimming makes me feel and though I have a long way to go, I’m willing to put in the effort. I see many more group swims with the FAST Masters Swimmers in the coming months.

The past year was thrilling and difficult and exciting and terrifying and shitty and wonderful and I can’t wait for the adventures and life experiences the new year brings.

 

 

 

 

 

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Racing and Pacing and Beer Chasing

RACING

Hey, didn’t I run a marathon recently?

Officially it’s been a little over two weeks since I ran the Salt Lake City Marathon, though it feels like ages ago. You can probably tell by my reluctance to write a recap that the race didn’t go quite as well as planned (the other reason being my master procrastination skills). My official finish time was 4:29:02, which is officially a 30-second PR, but I was hardly in a celebratory mood after finishing this marathon. My run was plagued by stomach issues so severe that I had to stop FIVE TIMES to use the port-a-johns. Every stop I saw my goal time slipping further and further away, and I even thought about quitting. However, in the midst of my despair, I thought about how I was getting that medal whether I finished in four hours or six hours, and to stop acting like such a sore loser. I had trained in below freezing wind chills and through personal turmoil, so I wasn’t going to let a “crappy run” (see what I did there!) ruin a good time. And in the end, I did have a great time running Salt Lake City. The course was beautiful, the weather was perfect, and I had some of my best friends there to cheer me on. Life was truly good that day.

My next marathon will be a return to Charlevoix on June 21st. I’ve been cutting back on sugar, which I believe to be the culprit of my crappy experience (I did it again!). Nothing but plain bagels before long runs from now on, and absolutely NO CAFFEINATED GU! I’ll be experimenting a lot with pre-long run nutrition in the next month, which will hopefully get me closer to my goal of breaking four hours.

PACING

A few months back a message was posted to the Your Pace or Mine forum asking for volunteer pacers for the Let’s Move Half Marathon in Mt. Clemens. Though it was a week after my marathon, I knew I would have no issue pacing the 2:20 group and happily volunteered my novice services. I figured it would be a fun new running experience, plus I get to run a half marathon AND get a medal for FREE! I had a blast with my pacing partner, telling horrible jokes and feeling kind of like a badass when people marveled at my ability to run a half a week after a full marathon. I can’t wait for more pacing opportunities in the future, as my race addiction is quite expensive. Below is a picture that captures the sheer joy a free race will bring:

I am ever so white.

I am ever so white.

BEER CHASING

This past Friday I ran ANOTHER FREE RACE thanks to the kind people in the Southeast Michigan Runners Facebook group. The race was the Hightail to Ale 5K held at the Atwater Brewery in Detroit. Full disclosure: I am not a fan of Atwater Beer. I had tried their IPA in the past and it was pretty gross. However, my favorite kind of beer is always FREE, so I was excited to run a 5K that gave you not only a free beer, but also a pint glass, shirt, and bottle-opener medal! Add in a nice jaunt along Detroit’s Riverfront, and this race was pretty much perfect. Despite hosting over 4,000 runners I was able to PR according to my watch, though my name is mysteriously absent from the official results. Hmm. Oh well, it was a fun Friday night race and I got to see a lot of familiar faces. Metro Detroit truly has a tight running community.  And as for my free beer, I tried the Dirty Blonde. It was…okay.

My next race will be the Fifth Third Riverbank Run in Grand Rapids, my first time doing this famous 25K! Speaking of beer, a stop to Founders will be absolutely necessary. After that, I’m giving racing a rest until Charlevoix. I think my body and wallet will be grateful.

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A Paczki PR and my Dirty Little Secret

Last month I looked forward to March for some hopeful relief from our harsh winter and my even more stressful personal life. I’m happy to report that the personal life forecast for now looks bright and sunny; however, the temperatures outside aren’t revealing even a hint of spring. In fact, we’re supposed to be hit with six inches of snow tonight, because how dare we start to enjoy clear sidewalks that aren’t out to kill us.

Two events have occurred in March that were milestones of sorts; one I’m proud of, the other, well, I’m not even sure why I’m revealing it to the internets.

On March first I ran the Paczki 5K in Hamtramck, MI for the second year in a row. It was the first time I warmed up before a 5K with two slow miles and it seems to have paid off. I finished in 24 minutes flat, which is a 25 second 5K PR for me. I’m excited to see what I can do later on in the year with more speed work and in temperatures that don’t freeze my fingers. Here’s some photographic evidence of my happy race:

Jazz Hands!

Of course, I celebrated after the race with a beer, a mimosa, and even indulged in the Detroit delicacy known as Chicken and Waffles.

My second milestone has no photographic evidence, and you’ll thank me. Yesterday was a rare beautiful day in the 50’s, so I raced home after work to get in a long run. I was hoping for 8-9 miles and drank a new blend of sports drink. It had been mixed a few days prior and I guess this stuff isn’t really supposed to be sitting around for too long, because once it hit my stomach, it didn’t want to sit around there too long either. My first few miles I felt great. I was running 8 minute miles with no effort, which for me is a very fast training run pace. After the second mile, however, something evil started brewing in my stomach. This is not something I’m unaccustomed to having a finicky digestive system so I decided to run through it for at least another mile. I wasn’t going to waste this gorgeous weather! After mile three my stomach started cramping up so bad I decided my best bet was to head home. Good decision. I was less than a block from home when a stomach cramp so severe made me bend over in pain, and as I did, an unspeakable horror occurred:

I shit my pants.

You read that right. I should clarify that it was more of a “shart”, but any amount of poop leaving your body uncontrollably is not something you want happening as a healthy adult. I was mortified. I looked around to make sure nobody saw the look of panic on my face and waddled home. Thank God I was wearing black pants. I ended up being sick all night and needless to say I won’t be sampling that sports drink again any time soon. Why am I sharing this information? Because why not, that’s why. I can’t be the only one this has happened to, but just in case, I’m heading over to the courthouse right now to petition a name change. In the meantime, stay safe out there everyone! May your injuries be few and your bowels controlled.

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Random Thoughts: March Madness Edition

ImageMarch has been a month of personal records for the Rum Runner, in both the 5K and Half-Marathon (26:00 and 2:01:36 respectively). I should have recapped those races but frankly I just don’t feel like it. The thought of another race recap bores the hell out of me. My mind is more sporadic which leads us to yet another edition of Random Thoughts:

1) Randy and I leave for Utah on Easter Sunday to visit our favorite couple ever, Tracy and Charlie. Tracy and I met in college when we became roommates. We spent many a drunken night making fun of The Dog Whisperer and the rest is history. We’ll be visiting Moab for some hiking and mule riding and spend the rest of our time Sister-Wifing around Salt Lake City. I can’t wait!

2) I just bought a six-month unlimited yoga package at my favorite studio. I really hope to get my money’s worth and be able to contort into a pretzel by the end of September.

3) My morning routine could use an overhaul. Right now it consists of abusing the Snooze button, jumping out of bed way too late, tripping over cats, screaming about having nothing to wear, and rushing out the door still half asleep. Now that the weather is nicer I want to make a new tradition of getting up earlier to run two miles every morning. Just two easy miles to awake my mind and body and start the day off right.

4) Saturday morning me and some Your Pace or Mine buddies will be running the 16 mile training run held by the Lake Orion Hansons. I don’t have 16 miles on my schedule but I’m going rogue and doing it anyway! YOU AREN’T THE BOSS OF ME HAL HIGDON!

5) I’ve been craving really strong coffee lately. I’ve been drinking it black, which I never do. I’ve also been craving really good microbrews and I’ve never been a huge beer drinker. My friend joked that my strange cravings could mean I was pregnant, though I think most people would agree that coffee and beer are horrible pregnancy cravings. By the way, I’m definitely not preggo. CHEERS!

What are everyone’s spring plans? Any races on the horizon? Any babies in the oven? Oh my that sounded terrible. You know what I meant.

 

 

 

 

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Paczkis and Undies: A Run-tastic Saturday

Andrea, the Zebra Hat and I at Cupid's Undie Run

Andrea, the Zebra Hat and I at Cupid’s Undie Run

To loosely quote Ernest Hemingway, if people did half the things sober they said they would do while drunk, they would probably quit drinking. The idea of running a mile through Detroit in my underwear was one such idea that struck me as logical one tipsy Saturday night. The Cupid’s Undie Run was the aforementioned race, and when I woke up the next day after registering, I was flooded with regret. Oh well, body issues be damned! This race was for charity afterall, and I was determined to have fun.

A few weeks later I learned of a 5K in Hamtramck the same morning of the Cupid’s Undie Run, the Paczki 5K. Each finisher was promised a paczki and a beer. To tell you the truth, I was more excited about the free beer than the paczki. For those of you who are not aware, paczkis are polish donuts traditionally eaten on Fat Tuesday. They sinfully pack 600-800 calories each. They are a big deal in Detroit, though I view them as nothing more than glorified jelly donuts (though the custard ones are pretty damn good). Since the Paczki 5K was at 10:00am and the Cupid’s Run at 2:30, I could logistically do both races. I registered and looked forward to a Run-Tastic Saturday in Detroit!

Paczki 5K

The temperature on race day morning was below 20 degrees, but it was a beautiful sunny day with no wind. I met up with my buddies Mary Beth and Cara Jo and we danced to warm-up while waiting for the race to begin. The course had some icy spots, but otherwise it was flat and clear. I ran without music and my watch and enjoyed the volunteers, spectators, and scenery. It always brings a smile to my face when residents camp out on their front porches to cheer runners.

I finished the race in 27:31, technically a PR, but only by 10 seconds. Oh well, I was happy nonetheless! The free beer was especially delicious; something about drinking before 11:00am just makes beer that much more enjoyable. Afterwards I joined Mary Beth, Cara Jo, and some of their friends for brunch, which consisted of more mimosas than food. I was having such a blast it was difficult to leave, but there was more running to be done…

The Cupid’s Undie Run

I met my friend Andrea at Cheli’s Chili Bar, the race headquarters. We immediatley said “to hell with it” and stripped down to our bras and boxer shorts. Andrea had bought us beads to wear and temporary tatoos. I brought nothing to the party, except the sight of my awesome zebra-head hat.

There were many model-perfect bodies walking around us in lacy pink undies without a trace of cellulite, so Andrea and I promptly got to work drinking away our shame and inhibitions. The combination of alcohol and the sun made the race suprisingly warm, and we had a blast running and cheering past bewildered spectators. There were many cops along the course, and I can only imagine this was either the greatest or worst assignment of their lives. There were all different shapes and sizes, but the one thing in common was that every single runner was having the time of their lives.

After our mile run Andrea and I went to the club upstairs to drink more and dance our barely-covered asses off. Desite the absense of clothing, there were no creeps to be found. It was oddly freeing being around strangers in nothing but a bra and shorts.

After a recovery meal of cheese tortellini I made my way back home to regail Randy with tales of my Run-Tastic Saturday. Andrea texted me later that night to alert me that a clip of us running had made it onto the news. Yikes! Well, that’s the risk you take running through the streets in your underwear I suppose.

Run-Tastic Saturday was a rousing success. I haven’t had that much fun running and being with friends in a long time. Next race- the Corktown 5K on March 10th, which is without exaggeration my favorite day of the year. Any day that combines running, Jameson, parades, and friends makes me a happy girl.

 

 

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These Colors Do Run

Try explaining the idea of The Color Run to an outsider, I dare you. “Basically it’s a 5K and you wear all white and people squirt colored powder all over you…” When I tried explaining The Color Run to my mother, she gave me a blank and confused stare that I took to mean, “So THIS is the crap in my daughter’s life that’s getting in the way of grand-babies.”

The Color Run in Ypsilanti on June 22nd reunited me with my Warrior Dash partner-in-crime, Christina “Swiss” Herrick, and Andrea Hudak, one of my best friends from high school. Our pre-race preparation consisted of polishing off four carafes of Sangria between four people, on empty stomachs. I have no recollection of dinner afterwards. There are several pictures now posted on Facebook of me making out with a ketchup bottle. Not one of my prouder moments…

I woke up in the morning with less than five hours of sleep and a throat that felt like sandpaper. I chugged a Gatorade but that barely made a dent in my hangover-induced thirst. I put on my tutu and sunglasses and prayed to God that I didn’t contribute to the spraying of color with my own spraying of vomit.

Despite my brown-bag blues, I perked up as soon as we arrived in Ypsilanti. After the horrific news out of Colorado on Friday, seeing a huge crowd of happy, laughing runners made me forget about my lack of faith in humanity and escape to The Color Run Universe. My friends and I took it easy and enjoyed taking pictures and laughing at all the crazy scenery. I loved all the adventurous spirits who rolled around in the excess color on the ground, and enjoyed a good chuckle at a boy who held up a sign reading, “RUN FAST- I JUST FARTED”.

For such a large race, The Color Run was handled efficiently and smoothly. The city of Ypsilanti seemed tickled to have such an event- I overheard one local woman say, “I’m so glad this is happening in Ypsi! Screw Ann Arbor!” There was a huge dance party after the run where we all bared witness to a very sweet marriage proposal.

Though I’m still trying to scrub off the blue tint from the small of my back and armpits, I had a great time at The Color Run. Next time I’d definitely take it easy the night before so I could better enjoy the happy madness around me.  Also, I hate to keep driving home the point that I like to drink (hey, you saw the title of this blog and knew what you were getting into), but it would have been nice if the race was held later in the day and beer was served at the after party, a la Warrior Dash. I wasn’t feeling the party vibe at 9am on a Sunday.

My next racing adventure will be joining up with a running group tomorrow night, The Downtown Runners. They are meeting at Harry’s in Detroit, the best place to grab a drink or two before a Red Wings or Tigers game. Running (and socializing) with strangers is outside my comfort level but I’m still looking forward to it.

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