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

ECSC 5k – Race Recap

“Light tomorrow with today.” ~Elizabeth Barrett Browning

This morning I lined up for a 5k knowing I’m not in racing condition, knowing that I’ve struggled all summer to find space in my runs, and knowing that 3 miles now feels like a long run. I know all of this, yet I was excited. The timing of this race just felt right. I was ready to test my new running philosophy: accept where I am at today.

But old habits die hard. I did my best not to speculate about finish times, to analyze the few runs I have worn my garmin on this summer to predict my outcome, or to stress that a PR wasn’t a possibility (24:50 for those of you who are curious, 7:59 pace). I only let my brain wander as far as setting a few loose goals for the race outside of enjoying myself and pushing myself on the course.

A perfect day – 27:xx, 8:59 pace (I am well aware that I ran this pace for 10 miles in April. Another true test of my new running philosophy. Could my ego let go?)

A solid run – Low 9s

Crap that sucked – anything over 9:20

I lined up next to a few friends and told them that who ever was having a solid day running was required to run.

Laura and I stuck together for Mile 1. I had previously told her my plan was to hit a 9 minute mile. At some point she kindly told me that if a 9 minute mile was my pace, I was running way too fast. We slowed down, chatted, and had some fun.

Mile 1 – 8:28

In mile 2 I encouraged Laura to go ahead. My stomach was telling me to slow down, but I knew I was in a good spot if I could just hang on. Panicking mid-race has been my weakness this year. When I saw 8:28 on my watch and my stomach started to rumble, I felt panic taking over. My focus quickly become to sit in a pocket that felt comfortable. Don’t panic. Relax. Don’t panic. Relax.

Mile 2 – 9:35 (I may have got a little too comfortable this mile)

Mile 3 was about hanging on. My hip flexors are tight lately. I like to lead with my pelvis when I run. Instead of focusing on the miles or the finish line, I focused on my body. I did my best to keep my hips under me. I did my best to keep my upper body relax.

Mile 3 – 9:16

In the final stretch I found a familiar face. Teresa, the overall female winner today, came back to run me in. She helped squeeze out the last bit of energy I had left in my legs. She reminded me to lift my knees and to use my arms. She took over my thinking since my brain had shut off.

Final stretch – 6:58 pace

Official Finish time: 28:00, 9:02 pace

Finish line fun with some great friends
Finish line fun with some great friends

Am I happy with this run? You bet!

It’s no secret my ego has been attached to my running ability for some time. It’s so easy to get caught up in the race to run further or to run faster. I got stuck in a place that let the pace on a race clock determine my level of success. Today that ego didn’t show up. I hope it’s squashed for good. I ran each mile as best I could. I have happily accepted exactly where I am at right now, not last year, not last month, but today! Coming to terms with this has been hard. My ego put up a good fight. But man, it feels good to kick that ego to the curb. It feels good to enjoy the run!

Today’s run was perfect! It makes me really excited about the fall races I have coming up!

Cheers to a very happy start!
Cheers to a very happy start!

A Sneak Peek at the EQUI-KIDS Cross Country 5k

When I was asked if I wanted to take a sneak peek at the EQUI-KIDS cross country 5k course, I couldn’t say no. The race is Saturday, May 10th, and I’m not so secretly hoping I can place in my age group (30-39 year old) so I can walk away with a winning ribbon. While the ribbon makes my adolescent self giddy, it’s my heart that couldn’t say no to this race. EQUI-KIDS is so much for than a race. It’s a place of hope and growth. It’s a place of love. While I plan on pouring my heart onto the course in a little under two weeks, EQUI-KIDS has already poured its heart into the community for twenty-five years.

“Founded in 1989, EQUI-KIDS Therapeutic Riding Program has grown to become one of the largest Premier Accredited therapeutic riding programs in the country benefiting the special needs community. We provide equine-assisted activities to a diverse group of riders each week and our programs offer support to individuals with disabilities such as Down syndrome, autism, multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy, amputation, mental and physical disabilities, attention deficit disorder and more. EQUI-KIDS has made a life-changing difference in the lives of hundreds of special needs individuals in Hampton Roads.”

The view at the start of the run
The view at the start of the run

When I was in 8th grade, I signed up for my first horseback riding lesson. As I learned more about horses and grew as a rider, something shifted inside of me. It takes confidence to sit on top of a horse. It takes courage to ask a horse to trot down a trail with nothing between you and the ground but a thousand pound animal. As a teenager, it transformed me. As a healthy child, I had these opportunities in my aspects of my life. I played volleyball. I ran track. I acted on stage in my high school theater. All of these things I took for granted. Because I am physically able, success and accomplishment is always up to me. The kids at EQUI-KIDS don’t have the same luxury. They can’t just sign up to play a sport. There aren’t many opportunities for them to feel self-pride. They are limited, but EQUI-KIDS removes this barrier for them. It gives them this gift. EQUI-KIDS gives its participates hope. It gives them self-pride. Many of the participants are bound to a wheel chair. Sitting on top of a horse is often the only time they get out of their wheel chair. EQUI-KIDS gives its participants a chance to feel their heart come to life.

EQUI-KIDS is all about heart. It was founded on a love for the children it helps, and it is sustained by people who donated out of love. The race on May 10th supports all the programs EQUI-KIDS offers. The entire day will be a fun-filled event for friends,family and even your dog.

Run beside horse pastures
Run beside horse pastures

Cross Country 5k

  • Winds through the wooded trails and around the property of EQUI-KIDS’ 92 acres
  • Awards given to top 3 males and top 3 females in age groups

Run with the Hounds

  • Run with your dog on a 1 mile course
  • Awards given to first place overall and first dog in weight classes

Pony Run for the Kids

  • Children 12 and under
  • Every runner receives a goodie bag
  • Awards given to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd overall
Run through the woods
Run through the woods

Come out on May 10th and run or walk the 5k. Bring your dog and run a mile. Bring your kids and let them run beside the horse pastures. I plan on racing the 5k with my heart. I have the luxury of healthy legs that carry me for miles. On May 10th, I will be using my legs to give the gift of accomplishment to other children in my community. When the races are over, stick around. Hoffman Brewing, Lagomar Pizza, and Just Cupcakes are supporting the race afterparty!

You can sign up online here.

This organization and this race mean a lot to me. They promote love, and I’d love to share their love with you. For a chance to win an entry into the Cross Country 5k, share this post on your facebook page and comment below (or on facebook). Where do you feel a sense of accomplishment in your life? Winner will be announced on Monday Morning on the Breath of Sunshine Facebook Page

Ready for raceday
Ready for raceday

Race for Breath 5k Race Report

Last Wednesday I sat on my couch enjoy the runner’s high I had earned on an 18 mile training run that morning. I got a message from my friend Lesleyanne (The Beachy Runner) asking if I was running the Race for Breath 5k on Saturday.

• A Race for Breath? Isn’t my name Breath of Sunshine? I was meant to run this race.
• For the first time in a long time, I didn’t have a long run scheduled this weekend. I had just finished it for the week.
• I know I need more race experience.
• I have never run a 5k, so why not.

I hopped online and registered.

Friday afternoon my coach called to give me some pointers on how to run a 5k. Having zero race experience at this distance, I needed all the help I could get. I didn’t want to get stuck in my marathon stride for only 3 miles. If I got to the finish line feeling like I should run 23 more miles, I knew I’d be pissed at myself. During our conversation, he asked what I really wanted during the race. I very meekly answered by suggesting that I’d love to see a 7 on my watch for one mile.

My race strategy became run like hell.

Race morning I warmed up. I stretched my hip. I found Lesleyanne, and we lined up a few rows of people behind the start line. Off we went.

I knew I needed to go out hard. I need to get my hips open. Lesleyanne is a faster runner than me so I let her pull me out to the front of the pack. I quickly fell into a rhythm. I was running stride for stride with two other women: red shirt girl and blonde ponytail. (That’s what I named them during the race.)

Blonde pony tail quickly took the lead in our pack of three. She pulled ahead. At the turn around point, she was well ahead of red shirt girl and me. Red shirt girl and I kept going back and forth. She would pull ahead. I’d catch up. I’d pull ahead. She’d catch up. She was a strong runner, and I kept telling myself if I could stay with her I would finish proud. Around mile 2 we both passed Blonde pony tail. Red shirt girl was slowly pulling away from me, but blonde pony tail never got back in the mix.

On the verge of feeling like death, I caught sight of the mile 3 marker. With only 3.1 miles on the course, I knew I had to pull out everything I had left. I focused on my arm movement and passed red shirt girl in the final stretch.

I crossed the finish line just under 25 minutes. A sub 25 minute 5k. Once I collected myself, I couldn’t stop smiling.

Christian and Chet were waiting for me. Lesleyanne waited for me too. This was the first race I’ve ever run were I didn’t have the energy to smile and wave to them as I made my way to the finish line. All 3 miles hurt, and I loved every second of it.

Being in a scenario where I was actually racing the runners around me changed my mindset during my run too. I was unaware of my pace. There was no time for thinking. It was all about doing and moving forward. It was about staying in the mix.

I’m hooked. It was a completely different experience from running long distance, and I loved it. I loved the energy of the race. I love the constant push.

Final results:

Finish time 24:50

7:57 pace garmin time (7:59 race clock)

4th female out of 74 in my age group (30-39)

10th female overall (275+ females)

After the race, I met Red shirt girl. She approached me to thank me for the race. And (gasp!) she said she tried to stay with me the whole race bc I was a strong runner. Never in my life did I think (or do I think) those words would (do) apply to me. It’s perhaps one of the best compliments I could receive especially from someone I paced myself off of because I could tell she was a strong runner. I know not all competition is friendly, but I loved racing with these ladies. I also love that we could celebrate each other post race.

Lesleyanne finished the race with a 2nd place age group win too!

This race, the momentum I’m building, are all lining up perfectly. This race showed me that I can fight for what I want. I have a competitive fire inside me. I can actually run. I very timidly wanted a 7 minute mile during my race. I finished with a 7:57 paced 5k.

Tomorrow I run my last long training run before Richmond: 20 miles.

13 days until race day.

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