Sunday, May 17, 2015

On the Run: DEFF Unity Run 5K 2015

Three weeks ago I ran my first competitive race this season and did fairly well. I hadn't had a pacing plan, however, and was already looking forward to my next chance to run a faster race with even or negative splits.  

Just a few days later I received an email attachment at work about a 5K in Dearborn, just a mile and a half from my house.  The race was the DEFF Unity run, hosted by the three high schools in the school district - Dearborn High, Edsel Ford, and Fordson (DEFF).  The event is sponsored by the Anti-Bullying, Peer-to-Peer, and Diversity teams at the three schools. Proceeds for the event funded an annual Dearborn Public Schools Student Leadership Diversity Summit and a scholarship for students involved in the programs sponsoring the event.  It sounded like a great cause in my school district, the race was close to home, and I was looking for another chance to run a 5K.  Perfect!   I convinced Brian to run the race, too.

On race morning, I ran to the start for my warm-up (1.5 miles).  There were several events that morning - a 1-mile race for elementary students, a 2-mile race for middle schoolers, and 2 5K races (adult and high school age).  Ours didn't start until 10:30 so I was able to sleep in.  I hadn't gotten any information about the course beforehand and assumed it would be through the neighborhoods around Ford Field where the race started.  Well, we all know what happens when you assume.

The race was not on the roads at all.  Unbeknownst to us, Brian and I had just signed up for a trail race, which we found out at the grassy start line as the course was being explained to us.  I looked down at my Fasttwitch racing flats and thought, "Oh sh*t."  And then I laughed.  Because I had to.  Pacing plan went out the window.  This was my first trail race in almost two years.  Anything could happen.  Time to just go with it and have fun!

With an "On your mark, get set, GO!" we were off.  We started off on the grass, instructed to keep picnic tables to our left and the Rouge River to our right.  The beginning of the race was in Ford Field Park.  I was leading through the park until we hit the Rouge River Trail.  At this point I was passed by Don, another teacher in the district.  I was relieved to have someone to follow, considering I had no idea where we were going and the course wasn't all that well marked.  About a mile in I was itching to pass but the trail is narrow and I didn't see an opportunity to make my move.  

As we neared the halfway point we were instructed by a volunteer to turn left.  Don was still in the lead.  Suddenly we ran into another runner who'd been behind us.  We'd gone the wrong way!  We were in the turn-around loop so we just turned around and ran the other way.  This put me in the lead and allowed me to pick up the pace.  I knew where I was going this time, so that helped, as well.

As I exited the trail back into the park, I almost went the wrong way again.  At the last second two young volunteers noticed me (they'd just been lolly-gagging around instead of paying attention) and pointed me in the right direction.  From there the course took me up a steep grassy hill where I slowed down because there were no markings as to where to go next.  This is where Don caught up and passed me.  I chased him across the top of the hill to where the flags were (I didn't see them!).  Then it was down the hill, up and down a smaller hill (at this point I passed him again), and across a grassy stretch to the finish.  

After finishing, I cheered on the rest of the racers (of which there were only 18 total - it was a tiny race!).  Brian finished his first trail race in 27:29 and loved it.  One of the best parts is that the Rouge River Trail is just a mile and a half from our house and we didn't even know it was there!  Even though it wasn't what we expected for our race that day in some ways it was even better!




Get Ready / Mayer Hawthorne
Rattlesnake / St. Vincent
I Love It / Icona Pop
Cadillac, Cadillac / Train
The Feast and the Famine / Foo Fighters
Runaway Baby / Bruno Mars
Sabatoge / Beastie Boys

*I wouldn't normally listen to music for a trail race.  I didn't know it was a trail race and then when I realized it was the field was so small I figured it would be okay.

I actually received the wrong medal.  The back of mine says "One Mile Walk".  My first OA award and it was wrong.  (So just don't turn it over!)

After we got our awards I headed to the Rouge River Gateway Trail (paved) for the rest of my long run.  I needed another 6 miles to get 10 total for the day.  It was really hot by then but much of the trail is shaded, so that helped.  I usually prefer to run earlier in the day but wanted fresh legs for the race.  Had I known it was a trail race, however, I may have planned things a bit differently.

Brian and I had a lot of fun with this race.  Hopefully next year - year 3 - they will make some improvements.  More volunteers on the course and/or better markings would be a huge help.  I got off course a few times!  (True, I am known for getting lost in races but still...)  Dearborn schools publicized the race within the schools but not much to runners outside of the district.  The trail is beautiful - like a mini, no-frills Flirt with Dirt - so hopefully next year it will attract more runners.  I offered to help and will do so again next year.

In the meantime, Brian and I will have to get back to the River Rouge Trail this summer to take a break from the pavement - especially since it's right in our own backyard!

For anyone familiar with the Dearborn area, you can see where the Rouge River Trail is located.  I only ran on a small portion of it for the race but will run the whole loop this summer.

Do you enjoy running or racing on trails?

Sunday, May 3, 2015

On the Run: Run with the Cops 5K 2015

In my post last week for the Martian 10k, I wrote about the importance of taking the time to run for others.  Coming back from an injury, it's been nice to ease back into racing by running for fun with friends.  No pressure.  I've also needed more time to work on my speed work safely under the guidance of Coach Terra.

With two weeks of speed work under my belt, I decided it was time to test out the hamstring with a 5K race.  The last few races I'd run with or for others; this one was for myself.  Run with the Cops was a 2015 target race for RUNdetroit Flight Club and RUNdetroit was sponsoring the event.  What better place for my first "official" race of the season?

The race was on Belle Isle.  I parked near the Casino, which ended up being about a mile from the start.  That was perfect because I needed to get a mile warm-up in before the race.  The race was staged in cute little village area outside of the zoo.  Because it was Run with the Cops, the Detroit Police Department was there with horses, cars, and a bomb squad.  It was pretty cool to have all that there before and after the race.  Had I remembered to bring my phone I would have taken some photos!

The 10K race started at 9:30, followed by the 5K at 9:45.  This gave me enough time to do my run drills and be good and warmed up before the race.  I didn't have a pacing plan because I hadn't raced a 5K since, um, March 2014 I think (Mustache Dache doesn't count since I in bad shape post-marathon).  And that was when I was healthy and in my best Boston shape.  I knew I wasn't going to be anywhere near that so I wanted to just go out and see what I could do today.

Want to know what I did?  I ran like a kid in my first race!  I went balls to the wall from the start and slowed down with each mile.  My splits were 6:34, 6:48, 7:00.  Hardly the racing strategy of the pros.  Or anyone who knows anything about racing.  HA!

I was able to keep close to the front of the pack for most of the race.  Around the halfway point I chicked one of the dudes (Captain America - so that felt pretty good).  When I hit mile 2 I finally passed another guy I'd been chasing down for some time.  He'd been running strong so I knew I would have to push the pace to maintain my lead.  I was confident I'd beaten him - until I hit the 3 mile marker and I heard footsteps behind me.  I glanced over my shoulder and there he was!  Seriously??  This guy was good.  He slowly but surely took the lead and that lead steadily grew.  We rounded a corner, turning left into the final stretch to the finish.  Suddenly he had this kick like I've never seen and left me in his dust.  What a finish!  I gave it my all and finished strong - 2rd female and 5th overall.  

Oh happy day - a RUNdetroit gift certificate!

Although my pacing wasn't well-planned, I was happy with my overall time.  Only 1:03 to shave off and I'll be down to my PR.  More speed work to be done - at consistent paces!

I really enjoyed Run with the Cops.  While Belle Isle isn't my favorite place for long races, I think it's great for a 5K or 10K.  The other races I've done have started at the Casino but this started outside the zoo.  It was fun to run the loop starting at a different point.  All the participants were nice and relaxed at the start and very encouraging at the end.  The race supports the For a Day Foundation.  I always love a good race that supports a charity.  
After the race I hung out for a bit while other runners and walkers finished both the 5K and 10K.  There were some sweet old-school jams playing that totally made my day.  Seriously, how can you not love a race that plays MC Hammer at the finish line??  After the rest of RUNdetroit Flight Club finished I picked up a water and banana from a friendly volunteer and then ran my mile cool-down back to the car.  

I recommend this race and hope I'm able to do it again next year!

I didn't get any photos at the race so Brian took my picture when I got home.  I couldn't be happier to be back to racing!



CLIF Shot (Vanilla)

Violent Shiver / Benjamin Booker
I've Had It Up to Here / Weezer
Shake It Off / Taylor Swift
The Innocent / Mayor Hawthorne
50 Ways to Say Goodbye / Train
Dancing Shoes / Arctic Monkeys
Man / Neko Case

Sunday, April 26, 2015

On the Run: Martian Invasion of Races 10K 2015

I've been running Martian races since 2010, when I stupidly signed up for my first half marathon the day before the event, lack of training be damned.  Since that race I've come a long way and learned many lessons on my journey (some lessons were more painful than others!).  

As I'm coming back from a long and painful hamstring injury, I'm experience running and racing in a whole new light.  It was with a heavy heart that I made my decision not to go to Boston this year.  As much as I wanted to be a part of the experience again - run the race I'd been planning on since requalifying there last year - I knew my body was not ready for it.  Why risk reinjury?  Why run the race and not enjoy it because I was miserable?  Brian and I talked about going to Boston for race weekend but in my heart I knew that would have been hard for me.  In the end we decided to stay home.

When I made the decision to stay in Dearborn I also did two other things: I signed up for the Martian 10K and got the Girls Running Club started again at my school.  Another teacher and I coach the 4th-5th grade girls to help them log 25 miles in the weeks leading up to the Martian Kids Marathon.  Then on race day, they run their final 1.2.  If I was going to be home I was going to make the most of it!

After I signed up for my race my friend Megan from RUNdetroit asked me if I would pace her for the race.  I didn't have to think twice!  I love Megan and don't get to run with her often enough.   

Race day dawned bright and beautiful.  And warm.  HOT if you ask those running the marathon and half marathon.  Temps reached into the 70's for the kids race at noon.  One thing I love about Martian is that my house is 1.5 miles from the starting line so I can avoid parking and porta potties, plus get in a nice warm-up run on the way.  Megan came over to run there with Brian and me.  He was running the 5K.  We got to the race with only about 10 minutes to spare - just long enough to meet up with the rest of the RUNdetroit Flight Club group that was running and get a group picture.  Our friend Lee was running the 10K, too, and decided to run with us.  

I really like the 10K course.  I ran the half for 4 years and while it's not bad, it's honestly not that great.  The 10K has you on Hines for just long enough not to get boring.  Before that you see some nice Dearborn homes and the Dearborn Country Club. Afterwards you hit the Rouge Gateway Trail and run through UM-Dearborn campus, which has some nice rolling hills.  Megan, Lee, and I stayed together the whole time.  I entertained them with stories to pass the time.  We got some shoutouts for our RUNdetroit jerseys, which is always fun.  

Megan had two goals and she met her secondary goal.  She finished 3rd in her age group. I was so proud of her!  

After the race we stuck around while the other Flight Club members finished the 10K. I love celebrating their PR's with them!  Then we went to Starbucks to refuel and I headed back to the finish area to check on half marathoners.  At that point my girls were starting to arrive for the Kids Marathon.  For most of them it was their first race ever and they were nervous and excited all at once.  They were asking me so many questions!  When it was go time they went for it!  Some of them a little too fast and they had to walk but they always started up again.  I went back for one of my girls who was struggling.  She was jogging when she could and at the end was able to run it in hard to cross the finish line.  I was so proud of each and every one of my 33 students that completed their race that day!

One pain-free lesson I've learned is this: Sometimes you need to run races for other people.  I ran for Megan and I ran for my girls.  I wasn't in Boston last weekend but I ran with happy legs and a happy heart.  And in the end, shouldn't that be why we all run?



CLIF Shot (Vanilla)

None - Just the sound of my own voice!

Brian ran his first Martian race and finished 4th in his age group.  He got a PR and his first racing award!

Did you run a Martian Race this year?  Tell me about it!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Giveaway Saturday!

Next Saturday, April 25th is the 6th annual Run with the Cops Not From Them race on beautiful Belle Isle. There is a 5k and 10k option.  Come on out to run and bring a friend, too!

If you'd like a chance to win a FREE entry* for either the 5k or 10k, answer the following question: Who do you run with?  Comment below and a random winner will be announced Sunday night.

*Race entry courtesy of RUNdetroit

Monday, April 6, 2015

Face Your Fears

As I stepped outside for my run yesterday morning, my head was full of anxiety.  I was nervous. My stomach was in knots.  This wasn't race day, so what was the big deal?  

I had to do 8 miles, my longest run since October.  I was excited about the distance but nervous because I hadn't run more than 5 on my own since I'd started running again post-PRP.  I've run 20 miles solo so why did 8 seem so daunting?  I guess I've gotten used to running with people in the past 6 weeks - Brian, RUNdetroit group run, Detroit Tough Endurance friends.  Sure I've run by myself a few times but not 8 miles.  

I was also off my routine, having eaten breakfast and drank coffee pre-run instead of the usual post-run Starbucks stop.  Was that causing the knots?  Should I wait to run while it settles?  

What I didn't really want to admit was that the biggest source of my anxiety was actually fear.  Coach Terra wanted me to run 8:00-8:15/mile pace and I was afraid I wouldn't be able to do it.  I was afraid I wouldn't have the endurance to keep that pace for 8 miles. Maybe I'd be huffing and puffing or my hamstring would start to hurt.  I might completely run out of gas and say, "Screw this!"  I might trip and fall, something that happens more than I'd like to admit.  Basically any scenario possible went through my head.  Remember, I hadn't run 8 miles since October.  Anything could happen.

Yes, anything could happen.  Thankfully it was a beautiful sunny morning.  I put on my brightest shoes, one of my favorite shirts, and my sunglasses.  I'd made a special Spring playlist just for the run.  I turned that on, started my Garmin, and I was off.  I easily slipped into my planned pace and I felt at peace.  I ended up having the best run I'd had in a long time.  

Before leaving the house I'd felt a little crabby because I'd been so worried about the run.  I hadn't wanted to fail.  I'd been afraid to fail.  I just needed to have a little more faith. Faith in myself and faith in Coach Terra's plan.  She wouldn't ask me to do something I'm not ready to do.  

Face your fears.  Run at them head on.  Again and again and again.