Norfolk Harbor Half Marathon

“The more I pushed myself in running, the more I discovered the weaknesses of my mind. These were the same dragons lurking in my life. To compete is to voluntarily come into contact with your dragons so you can learn to slay them.” ~Lauren Fleshman

After watching my husband, my parents, and my son compete in the Norfolk Harbor 5k and 1 mile race on Saturday, I felt completely overwhelmed. All the race nerves I didn’t feel the entire week flooded my body.

Watching my husband set another new PR (and inching closer and closer to my very own5k PR) filled me with motivation. Nearly a year ago, he was overjoyed by 10+ minute miles. On Saturday he ran in the low 8s. Seeing my dad smile as he crossed the finish line for the very first time in a sport he taught me to love validated everything I’ve been chasing. Seeing my moms joy as she ran reminded me why I love this sport. Witnessing the fight in Cole as he out kicked another boy for 2nd place fueled my competitive fire.

befunky-collage

As we left the race on Saturday morning, the motivation and surge of joy was quickly replaced by nerves. On Saturday I was a spectator. On Sunday it was my turn to compete. Having committed to competing (against myself) early this season, I knew there was only one goal to chase. Would Sunday be the day that I finally broke 2 hours in the half marathon distance?

I wanted it.

I was confident.

And when the nerves settled, I was ready.

I read Lauren Fleshman’s quote later in the afternoon on Saturday, and I wanted to shout out “Yes!”. I am competing (against myself) because this is how I always become a better version of myself. It was time to line up beside myself to see what work needed to be done.

There is no point in rehashing all my failed attempts at breaking the 2 hour mark on race day. I can tell you about every race. I can tell you when I fell apart. I can tell you what was going on in my life that left a void in my race day strategy. I can tell you what work I needed to do, and I can tell you what work I’ve done since each of those races. But none of that matters. Not really.

All that mattered was Sunday and the two hours and three minutes and ten seconds it took to get from the start line to the finish line.

I didn’t break two hours, but I won this race. In those 123minutes and nine seconds, I realized I’ve made it. I never let the dragons join me on the race course. When my ankle started hurting during the first mile, I thought “not today”. Today my ankle will not hurt. When my hip buckled at mile 10, I thought “not today”. My hip will not hurt today. When a doubt about my ability crept in, I thought “not today”.

I ran strong.

I felt in control.

I fought back when the wind knocked me over.

When the miles got tough, I kept going.

I finally didn’t fall apart in a half marathon.

I finally fought for my race regardless of time.

15135852_10154051167053240_8993549061058380995_n

Crossing the finish line was the exact opposite of what it’s intended to be. I am no where near finished. The finish line was my welcome home mat. The finish line delivered so much more than a finish time. I finished with the same group of friends I’ve been running with all season. Our team (J&A Racing and #team9ja) ran strong because we ran together. I finished fully aware that I gave my all to race day. I finished with a renewed sense of confidence in my own ability. I finished eager for so much more.

“A glimpse is enough to initiate the awakening process, which is irreversible.” ~Eckhart Tolle

15192544_10154052514893240_5108236149683453290_n

And if you’re curious, here is what my race looked like according to numbers:

8:56

9:15

9:12

9:07

9:05

9:02

9:13

9:12

9:20

9:26

9:25

9:22

9:11

Final push 9:01 pace (.4 miles according to my garmin)

Official Time: 2:03:09

Stay tuned. There is so much more to come. 

 

Crawlin Crab Weekend – Crushing and Conquering

This won’t be a typical race recap. There truly are no words that can capture the magic of this weekend, but I’m going to try anyways.

Wednesday evening when I had about given up on running for the week (because it just felt impossible to make it work) I asked both boys to go for an evening run with me. To my surprise, both said yes. Cole put on his running shoes, and Chet got in the stroller. While my husband made dinner, we ran 2.5 stress free miles. I was shocked that Cole only need to take one walk break during the entire run.

A seed was planted.

My husband was already racing Saturday. There was a kid’s 1k offered after his 5k. Both boys enthusiastically said they wanted to run.

Saturday – Crawlin Crab 5k

The boys and I arrived at race just before the 5k kicked off. We were ready to cheer. My husband has had quite a transformation over the past six months. He’s lost nearly 40 lbs, and his fitness level has sky rocketed. Last weekend we ran a trail 5k in Richmond, and he set a PR. I had no doubt he’d do the same on Saturday (and I was nervous he would beat my summer 5k time).

It didn’t take long for the lead runner to make his way to the finish line. Soon I saw friends. Our good friend Jon ran his first race ever, and showed up sooner than I ever anticipated. Just behind him was my husband. Right on Christian’s heels was Debbie (the woman responsible for his huge transformation!). As much as I was cheering for him, I was also cheering for her to pass him. He’s already surpassed everyone’s expectations,  I need to be able to hang on to one last bragging right. It was a show down to the finish line, and Debbie walked away the winner by one second. I’m sure a rematch is coming soon!

Christian’s Finish: 27:21 (8:48 minute mile)


As much as we compete, as much as I like winning, to say I’m proud is an understatement. Watching my husband come back to life over the past six months has been the greatest gift to our marriage. (Now he just needs to slow down or I need to get faster! or he’s becoming my pacer!)

Saturday – Kids Kilometer

The kids race started after the 5k finished. Cole toed the line in the front of the pack, and Chet and I stayed near the back. Given Cole’s running history, I knew he had a chance to be in the front of the race. It’s almost time for him to advance to 5k races, and the boy can run.

As Chet and I made our way down the course, I could see Cole in front of us. He was about ten kids back. The next time I saw him, he came around a corner in first place. The tears came falling out of my eyes instantaneously as Chet and I cheered for him to RUN! I absolutely loved that he was in the lead, but I loved it even more that I saw him thriving. It wasn’t too long ago that Cole was a little boy walking and crying his way through the shamrock final mile. It wasn’t too long ago that he shut down any time he was in the spotlight. It wasn’t too long ago that he didn’t see his own potential. Saturday was different. Saturday he thrived. Saturday he pushed himself. Cole conquered himself during Saturday’s run.

And Chet! Saturday was his first race. He loved wearing a race bib. He loved the start line. As we ran down the course, he held my hand and said Mama this is so much fun. He held my hand the whole way until he saw the finish line. When it finally came into view, he took off and ran so fast! As soon as we crossed the line, I scooped him up and covered him with hugs and kiss.


This mama couldn’t be more proud of her boys! It was the perfect family weekend!

Cole’s Finish Time: 4:20 (6:59 minute mile)

Chet’s Finish TIme: 6:25 (10:19 minute mile)

Sunday – Crawlin Crab Half Marathon

Sunday was a race like no other. A few weeks ago one of my dearest friends was diagnosed with Lymphoma. This girl is a fighter. She always has been. Now that she has cancer, her fight is on fire. As one big “F You” to cancer, she committed to still running the half marathon regardless of the fact that she’s receiving chemotherapy. She also decided it was time to debut her beautiful bald head.

A few days before the race, she texted me her bib number. It was hard to digest that a girl who was supposed to be pacing the 1:52 pace group was being forced to slow. She told me she was supposed to crush this race. In that moment we decided to redefine crush. Crushing the race was no longer about race times or placing. It became about having fun and enjoying every mile. Redefining crush became about drinking orange crushes on the course.

My husband jumped into action. We got my mother in law to babysit so Christian could provide bike support. We hit up the liquor store for the appropriate ingredients. Christian provided us an orange crush break at miles 4, 8, 10 and 12.


As we made our way down the final hill towards the finish line, our friend’s husband was holding a #teamkaren sign. Our pack of friends was lined up around the last corner. I felt her happiness. I felt her strength. I felt her accomplishment. As we made our way down the finish line chute, I told her to take it all it. It was all for her. Every cheer and every teammate, they were all for her.


Official Finish Time: 2:26 including 7 minutes of Orange Crushing!

Sunday’s finish line was the epitome of crushing a race! It wasn’t the 64ozs of orange crushes we consumed (with a little help from our friends). It was Karen. It was her determination to take ownership of her life and her diagnosis.

This entire weekend was filled with inspiration. It was filled with hope. It was a reminder to fight for yourself, your goals, and your dreams. It was a reminder that family and friends matter the most. It was a reminder that the only way to crush a race (or life) is to conquer yourself.

Crawlin Crab Weekend – you will always be my favorite!

Chasing the 5k: Virginia Beach Rock n Roll 5k

“When there is nothing left to lose, we find the true self—the self that is whole, the self that is enough, the self that no longer looks to others for definition, or completion, or anything but companionship on the journey.” ~Elizabeth Lesser, Broken Open

My 5k personal best was set in November of 2013. I ran a 24:50 in the middle of marathon training. I fought hard for every second on the race clock. This summer I wanted a new PR. I wanted to prove I had become stronger than I was three years ago. 

My quest started in May. All summer I chased the clock. 

Official Results:

ODU Big Blue – 26:44

CXB Lowrent – 25:56

Corporate 5k – 26:52

Summer Series (pushing Chet) – 33:22

Allen Stone – 27:01

Rock n Roll 5k – 26:24


Along the way, I realized how subjective the race clock can be. Some courses are short (CXB Lowrent). Some courses are long (Corporate 5k). Some races are hot and humid. Others are windy. Some days my legs feel great. Other days they feel like cement. 

Chasing the race clock is a gamble. It’s a roll of the dice. What will be delivered on race day? 

I can tell you the details of every race above. I can tell you what races felt amazing and which races felt heavy. I can tell you what races I loved and which ones I survived, and none of that has anything to do with the race clock. 

Two years ago I sat across from the coach of my training team at a coffee shop. I was debating if I should join the team again. I was a little burnt out. I was a little guarded. I was a little deflated by running. I was cautious. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to be surrounded by a team. In that conversation I referenced an article I had read that resonate with me. In that article Elite Runner Lauren Kleppin commented on her performance at the New York City Marathon. 

I was hoping to be an inspiration! I definitely survived, but I wanted to thrive.” ~Lauren Kleppin

I was stuck in survival mode, and I wanted to thrive on the race course and in life. He promised to change that. 

Two years later that coach and my training team flooded both the course and the sidelines of today’s race. At mile two I was greeted by a sea of cheers. I was reminded of how much I love this journey. 


I thrived on the race course today. I found my sweet spot. I pushed hard.  I silenced the doubts in my head. I ran harder when I wanted to quit. And I smiled the entire way. 

The journey hasn’t been easy. I’ve made progress and I’ve had setbacks. I’ve doubt myself and I’ve had runs that feel like anything is possible. It’s a constant tug of war between surviving and thriving. My 5k PR is still three years old, but I know that I’m stronger today than I was then. 

Today thriving is winning. 


I started the summer chasing the race clock, and I’m ending the summer feeling alive. There isn’t a time on a clock that can measure that feeling.

Today’s race:

Mile 1 – 8:09

Mile 2 – 8:20

Mile 3 – 8:41

Final push – 8:22

Age group – 5/199

Female – 23/961

Overall – 112/1520

While I’m incredibly proud of these numbers, I’m most proud of the road I’m on. I’m proud of my progress, and I’m excited about my potential. I’m proud of the team I call family. 

I’m proud I didn’t give up. 

Today thriving is winning. Thriving is winning because I quit trying to prove that I’m faster or stronger. Thriving is winning because friendship and team mean more than PRs. 

I can’t think of a better way to end summer!

Race Recap: Allen Stone 5k

“For me, running is both exercise and a metaphor. Running day after day, piling up the races, bit by bit I raise the bar, and by clearing each level I elevate myself. At least that’s why I’ve put in the effort day after day: to raise my own level. I’m no great runner, by any means. I’m at an ordinary – or perhaps more like mediocre – level. But that’s not the point. The point is whether or not I improved over yesterday. In long-distance running the only opponent you have to beat is yourself, the way you used to be.” ~Haruki Murakami


The truth is I’ve been in a bit of a funk the past few weeks – a summer fog. It happens every summer. I wilt. My head and heart struggle. I feel slightly disengaged and slightly overwhelmed. I can’t tell you what causes is it, but I can tell you it’s become way too familiar when the summer heat becomes prevelant. 

The only thing I know to do is to move through it. 

The Allen Stone 5k was the race I was looking forward to all summer. It was supposed to be the finish line after an intense focus on speed for twelve weeks. The training plan I created (with the help of Run Less Run Faster) is still taped to my fridge without one workout completed. 

Life has seasons, and I knew this wasn’t my season to focus on training. I’ve run when I’ve felt like it. I’ve slept in. I’ve taken afternoon naps. I’ve prioritized strength training over running miles. I know this is what I needed. I know this will reward me in the fall. 

But today was race day. I almost didn’t sign up because I knew it wouldn’t be the race I had envisioned. On Thursday I finally signed up. The only way to combat my summer blues is to move through it. I’d feel worse if I didn’t show up. 

“This is not the moment to wilt into the underbrush of your insecurities. You’ve earned the right to grow.” ~Cheryl Strayed

I had one goal for this race: fight. 

After walking in my last 5k, that wasn’t an option. Regardless of pace, I needed to fight for my potential. 

Mile 1: 8:18

This mile felt like it lasted forever. The fog I’ve been feeling followed me on to the race course. My quiet mantra for the rest of the race emerged: fight for it. Don’t give in. Fight to hang on. 

Mile 2: 8:48

Mile 3: 9:02

Final kick: 7:15 pace

The race felt overwhelmingly quiet. I ran by myself for most of the race. While I looked for someone to race, I seemed to be stuck in no mans land the whole race. 

Official finish: 27:02, 4th in my age group


The finish line was neither disappointing or satisfying. While I’m proud of my ability to hang on when I just wasn’t feeling it, I’m more than ready for this fog to move on. I’m ready for my next season. 

It’s only July, and I’m already craving fall temperatures and running. 

I’ll keep plugging away. I’ll keeping pushing through. Because I’m determined to not get stuck in this middle. 

I’ve got my eyes on another 5k before our fall training team kicks off Harbor Lights Half Marathon training on August 16th. One more race to help build a solid foundation for fall. 

CXB Low Rent 5k – Race Recap

Simply put, I loved this race. I loved the course. I loved the neighborhood feel. I loved the camaraderie. I loved the start and finish at Commonwealth Brewing. 

And I loved my approach. 

I went into this race wanting a PR. The last two 5ks have left me satisfied, but this race I wanted more. I was going to go after that dusty 5k. Sub 8 pace or bust. 

Bust won this race. The story is probably told best in numbers. 

Mile 1 – 7:55

Mile 2 – 8:38

Mile 3 – 9:07

Final push – 6:49 pace

Walk breaks – 3

Official Results – 5k, 25:56, 8:21 average pace

Bust may have won this race over a personal best, but I’m walking away the real winner. 

I went for it. I finished with my 2nd best 5k time, and I walked 3 times. Normally I’d be mad at those walk breaks. Not this time. This time all I see and feel is potential. I just needed to clean up my race, and I’ll come home with a new gold star. 

It’s in me. I have a personal best and so much more ready for me to claim it. 

Next up: Allen Stone 5k on July 16th (unless I get impatient) 

ODU Big Blue 5k – Trust my Legs 

“Life isn’t as serious as my mind makes it out to be.” ~Eckhart Tolle 

As soon as the Shamrock Half Marathon was over, I was ready to switch gears. My body was pretty banged up after the race, so I happily entered into recovery mode. I made a plan to aim for a 5k PR (current PR: 24:50) for the summer. My plan is simple: less running, more strength training. When it became clear that my right side from my hip down to my foot wasn’t happy about running, I turned all my energy to my new found love: my gym. For the past two weeks, I have attended class every day Monday through Friday, and I’m becoming slightly addicted. 

Evofit has been my greatest surprise in my fitness journey. I’ve never felt comfortable in a gym. Weights have always intimidated me. I’ve never felt strong. While I’ve tip toed into this new space over the past few months, the past two weeks I’ve dove in head first. 

 

working out beside my hubby
 
I signed up for the ODU Big Blue 5k as part of Evofit. As race day approached, I was incredibly nervous. Since April 1st, I’ve run twice. The first run was a disaster. The second run was nice and easy to prove that I could breathe while running. My running fitness seemed to be slipping further and further away. 

All week was a mental battle. Am I healthy enough to run? Can I let my ego go and run hard regardless of pace? My biggest fear was that hard effort would result in a slow (for me) pace. 

Race morning arrived, and I was still battling my ego. The last thing I wanted from this race was to walk away disappointed. I laid on my couch (thanks to a 10:30am start time) and had to will myself to get ready. As I put on my Evofit tank top, I reminded myself I owe it to myself and to everyone who supports me to run hard. Pace doesn’t matter. It’s an outcome, but effort I can control. 

My one and only goal: run hard. 

 

Evofit Family
 
I know I’m not in PR shape so that was never part of my thought process. I had hoped I would run 8s. I really didn’t want to be slower than shamrock. I really really wanted my body to feel engaged. 

As I lined up in corral two I found two teammates from J&A Racing that I knew would have a good day. We all agreed that a great day would be under 27 minutes, but would be happy with 28 minutes. None of us wanted to see above 30 (and in my moments of doubt, I thought this could be my reality). 

Janet pulled us out fast. Stay with her. Breath. Relax. It’s a 5k. It should feel fast. Don’t look at your garmin. Today isn’t about pace. It’s about effort. You’re working hard. 

Mile 1: 8:28

Relax. Relax. Don’t panic. Just run. Get to mile 2. 

Mile 2: 8:23

Get to the water stop. Drink. Move. Relax. Relax. Relax. 

Mile 3: 8:48

Holy crap this is hard. 

Final push: 8:18 pace 

Official Results: 26:44, average pace 8:37

 

Finishing on the 50 yard line of the football field
 
Today’s course covered 3.1 miles around my college campus. While I expected to take a walk down memory lane, I don’t remember any of the course with the exception of the fountain. I was so focused on running and remaining relaxed, I don’t think I looked up more than once or twice. 

Once again race day delivered exactly what I needed. While I have a few physical goals I’d like to meet by end of summer, my mental game has been on point this year. As someone who has mentally struggled with racing for a good two years, I can’t help but smile. Knowing I brought my best (even relucantly) gives me a nice dose of confidence that I can preform on race day even if everything isn’t ideal. My legs know how to run. My heads back in the game. It’s time to start trusting them. 

A 26:44 5k and a strong mental game is the perfect kick off to a summer of speed and strength. 

 

#runawayweekend

 

Chet and Christian joined me on race day too. Chet was thrilled to see a football field. When I asked him what he thought of my race, he responded in true Chet fashion: everyone beat you. You came in last.  Another lesson learned. Next time I’m making Chet stay to watch the real last finisher. 

 

Chet Monster
 
Actual results:

Overall: 295 of 1960

Female: 76 of 1146

Female age group: 14 of 150

Focused and Free, Shamrock Half Marathon 2016 

In a million ways yesterday was a perfect race. I ran to my potential based on what race day had to offer.  I felt strong and engaged. Mentally I found my sweet spot. 

In one way yesterday’s race fell a little flat. The race clock doesn’t match my potential. 

The story of the race clock goes back long before this race. My quest for a sub 2 hour half marathon started two and a half years ago. At the crawlin crab half marathon in 2013 (Read it here). I lined up ready to break two hours. I failed miserably. When my miles started to fall off pace a few miles into the race, I threw in the towel. I quit, and I finished the race feeling miserable about my ability. 

My second focused attempt at breaking two hours was at the Flying Pirate Half Marathon (Read it here), I showed up more than ready. Again I failed miserably. When my paces fell off, I gave up on the race. I gave up on myself. 

A few injuries, a few marathons, and a few life changes have happened over the last two and a half years, but the one thing that has remained consistent was my quest for sub 2. My training runs resulted in sub 2 13.1 miles, but it’s never translated to race day. This year felt like a no brainer. I showed up at the start line with three goals in my head:

A Goal: 8:xx pace overall 

B Goal: Sub 2 

C Goal: Do not give up on my race. 

For most, the C goal would have been a PR. For most there would be a drastic difference between Goal B and C but for me, it’s what I needed. My head tends to be all or nothing. I knew if I saw sub 2 fading away, my biggest challenge would be to keep my head in the game. Could I fight for a finish that had nothing to do with the time clock? 

Sunday delivered a day that was the perfect test of my strength. A Nor’easter by the name of Winter Storm Regis showed up on the first day of spring. It poured until about half way into the race. The winds fought back with gusts averaging 35mph. This was the day we were given to run, and I embraced it. Everyone was running the same race. 

I started the race with a few of the runners from our training team and the 2 hour pacers. For the first 4 miles I sat comfortably at the back of the pack (note to self: race day pace groups are not for me). There was way too much nervous energy and anticipation in the large pace group for me to feel comfortable settling into my own run. I could feel everyone’s emotions but my own. 

8:56, 9:18, 9:14, 9:16

By mile 5 I knew I needed to let the group go. I was using too much energy to stay attached to their pacing signs. I also needed to adjust my sock since my foot had started to bleed. I used the waterstop to adjust both my sock and my place on the race course. 

9:49

I let the pacers go knowing they would come back to me when the wind was at my back. I kept running north embracing the wind, and I finally felt myself mentally settle. 

9:19

Fort story can be a beast. The winds blow hard, and there were many times I felt myself stumble. I focused on the little things for the next three miles. Get to the water stop. Find the lighthouse. Get off the base. Go see my husband. 

9:20

9:34

9:44

I didn’t look at my watch once during the race for many reasons, but I knew this race was a race that wouldn’t be defined by the race clock. I knew I needed to focus on my C Goal. I needed to fight for my finish regardless of time. I needed to fight just for me. 

As I made the turn back on to Atlantic Avenue, I knew Christian would be there. Having just mentally conquered the hardest part of the course, I was overwhelmed with emotion. I was proud of me. I knew at this point the 2 hour group wasn’t coming back to me. No excuses. No reasons to quit. I arrived to Christian a puddle of tears. I mumbled a quick “I’m okay,” and I kept running. He biked beside me for a block or two. He updated me on my friends. I then sent him on his way to the final turn. I needed to own my mental space on this run. I needed this race to belong to me. 

9:09

9:36

10:13 

I ran as fast as my legs would let. After a long stretch of focusing on one block at a time, I made it to the boardwalk. The finish line was waiting for me. 

Focused and free, I fully embraced the last mile of this race. As the finish line got closer and closer, my sweet friend Catrina popped out with open arms ready to support me. It was the best surprise of the day, and I welcomed a congratulatory embrace. 

Without a doubt, I had just finished one of my best mental races. 

Official finish time – 2:04:03

“Ask nothing from your running, and you’ll get more than you ever imagined!” ~Christophet McDougall

  

Virginia Distance Series 100k Relay

“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.” ~Herman Melville

Round and round we ran. On Sunday, I joined forces with three badass ladies to make up Team NoPainNoChampagne at the Virginia Distance Series 100k Relay. For 62 miles, we ran loops on a 2.3 mile path around a golf course. The day started well before dawn, and it got colder and windier as the day got later. 

 

Team NoPainNoChampagne
 
This race had nothing to do with paces. It had nothing to do with finish times. It wasn’t about winning or losing. It was about heart. It was about finding mental strength to endure hours of sitting in the cold and running on repeat for almost nine hours. 

Muscles warmed up, and they got tight again. Mentally I tuned in, and I tuned out again. Every single time I thought my body was done giving its all, I kept going because never once was I alone on the course. There were seven relay teams, and dozens of runners individually conquering 50k (31ish miles) and 100k (62ish miles) on their own. Witnessing a local rockstar runner complete her first 100k at a lightening pace of 8:45 minute miles made it impossible to not give it my all. 

Every time I passed an individual runner, I offered words of encouragement. I was truly amazed and inspired. Every time I was passed by some of the most impressive runners I know, I received praise. Regardless of time and pace, we all were running the same race with the same heart. 

There was a pulse and an energy in the air. You could feel it. Every time I ran a loop and approached the aid station/handoff, I knew I’d be created by cheers of support. 

coming into the exchange
  
As I finished the 27th lap for our team, my three amazing friends joined me on the course. We all ran to the finish line together. Not long after we finished, the first 100k individual runner finished. Then our very own local rockstar finished her final lap. Cheering her into the finish line brought tears to my eyes. 

 

To the finish
 
I needed Sunday’s run more than I realized. I needed to tune into my own strength more than I realized. I needed to feel the pulse, the heartbeat and the connection of our running community more than I realized. It’s never about running. It’s about giving and receiving. It’s about supporting. It’s about feeling supported. 

Sunday was a day for my record book. My tired and heavy legs carried me to the finish line where I was welcome and embraced by three amazing teammates and equally amazing friends who collectively exude ever quality I admire. 

2016 is a year to do more of the things that just feel good. The Virginia Distance Series puts a big check next to that objective for the year. 

 

Pain: Check. Champagne: Check
 
My portion of the run:

16.4 miles with an average pace of 9:03 per mile. 

Surf-n-Santa 5 miler

I was nervous going into this race, and I was over the moon excited too. After a season of getting my head straight about running, this was the first race I would be testing my new approach. Could I run strong and stay mentally engaged? While Chicago was a blast, it was far from a strong race. My nerves were quickly squashed by my excitement. This race our family was mixing it up. Instead of joining me on the race course as race support, Christian was running his first race EVER! He was RUNNING! Even though he wouldn’t let me run with him, he was still joining me on the race course. 

Papa ready to run
If having my husband on the course wasn’t excitement enough, this was my first run back as a member (and pacer!) of the Shamrock Training Team. I was proud to put my team shirt on for this race knowing I’d have a few dozen teammates to encourage along the course. As the 9:00 pacer for the team, I wanted this race to solidify my ability to execute that pace. 

 

#holdtherope
 
A few days prior to the race, Jerry called to make sure I was in the right place mentally for this race. He laid out my race strategy, refused to give me a time goal, and reminded me over and over again to have fun. 

The plan: run comfortable for the first three miles. When we turned off the boardwalk just at mile 3, I needed to focus on passing people. Finish strong. Strong, solid, consistent, HAPPY effort! 

The race: I held my race plan close to my heart. I wanted nothing more than to execute the plan Jerry gave me. (He’s been so patient with my lack of mental confidence. I wanted to show him my gratitude with this race.) 

Miles 1-3: I focused on staying in my comfort zone. I felt strong, but I wasn’t pushing. When I felt my legs starting to pull, I reeled myself back in. Be patient is what I told myself over and over again. 

8:59, 8:58, 8:56

I’m getting good at running photography

Mile 4: As we turned off the boardwalk, I knew it was time pick it up. If my confidence lacked anywhere in this race it was mile 4. I already felt strong. I was so nervous I would fade if I started to pick it up already. The last thing I wanted to happen in this race was a weak finish. Instead of going for it, I tentatively picked up my pace. 

8:51

Mile 5: By this point, we were on the final stretch towards the finish line. Standing next to mile marker 4 was a very nice police officer who looked me straight in the eyes, and said time to run. You’ve got this Kristy. For the first time, I opened up, and I ran. This mile felt AMAZING! I simply focused on passing people. My legs had so much to give. 

8:11 

I’ve never felt stronger in a race as I did yesterday. Every muscle felt engaged. My posture felt strong. My only regret is that I didn’t open up and run sooner, but that’s all part of the process. I’m learning to trust my strength, my ability, and discomfort. 

As soon as I crossed the finish line, I grabbed my medal and rushed to be a spectator. I knew Christian wouldn’t be far behind me. Watching him cross the finish line quickly made me forget that I had even run. He was all smiles, and he executed perfect negative splits as well. To say I’m proud is an understatement. 

 

finish line high

The rest of the evening was spent celebrating before we had to rush back home to wrap presents for our family Christmas. 

 

PRs for both of us

Official Race Results: 44:07

Lessons learned: I’m stronger than I give myself credit for. This race was a 1:11 faster than the 8k (My latest PR) I ran the weekend before shamrock last spring! Perhaps suffering through all that summer heat was worth it. My starting point for Shamrock training is already ahead of my finishing place last training cycle. Nothing feels better than strong, and I’m so proud of myself for having the courage to begin to find my own strength. 

This race was exactly what I needed. 

A race isnt complete without this guy!