Saturday, May 30, 2015

On the Run: Wins for Warriors 9K 2015

Last Monday was Memorial Day and I was lucky to have a 4-day weekend away from work!  Brian and I really made the most of it - family wedding Friday night, RUNdetroit group run and Avalon on Saturday morning plus more family time later.  Sunday we went to a Tigers game followed by dinner at Green Dot Stables.  That alone would have made for an amazing weekend.

But it wasn't over yet!  Monday was the Wins for Warriors 9K.  There were several other Memorial Day races but we chose this one for a few reasons.  First of all, it was at Comerica Park.  Brian was excited about the opportunity to finish at home plate.  It was also a charity race benefiting veteran's mental health services, something I believe is overlooked and under-supported.  Plus the race was in Detroit, one of my favorite places to run.  I was looking forward to a new route through some of my favorite places.  

Wins for Warriors 9K Course Map
After we signed up we found out a few of our friends from RUNdetroit Flight Club also were running, as well.  Wahoo!  On race day we met at the store at 8am and carpooled to the park.  Packet pickup was super easy because the race was very small (only 349 participants).  The shirts were cool but unfortunately there weren't any smalls.  I'm not sure they even ordered them!  I'm glad Brian likes his because now he has two.

While we were waiting for the race to start, we took lots of photos.  

This is the best one - it showed up on several Facebook pages and Instagram feeds (such as Opportunity Detroit and Wins for Warriors).

One great thing about having the race at Comerica Park is that we were able to use the restrooms in the park.  ALL THE RESTROOMS!  Plus real sinks, hand dryers, and drinking fountains.  It was a dream.  

Before the race started there was an opening ceremony and then Justin Verlander did a video countdown on the big screen.  I was up at the front talking to people and didn't realize the countdown was going.  As the gun went off, I started my Garmin but had to fumble to turn up the volume on my iPod, clip it on my shorts, and find my gum - all while running.  By the third turn around the stadium I was settled in.  

I wasn't sure what pace I was going to be able to run.  I'd only raced one 5K road race since coming back.  My speed work has been 7:05 pace so I thought I'd start out there and see where things went.  I was a bit nervous but trying not to let it get it to my head.  Once I got to the Riverwalk I thought I'd be fine.

A bunch of guys had passed me right out of the gate but after a mile I was able to catch up and pass 2 of them.  Another guy with a RUNdetroit shirt caught up to me.  We were kinda going back and forth but not exactly on pace with each other.  Since the race was so small there wasn't really anyone to follow - just one guy in a red tank top way ahead in the distance.  It was a little lonely.  I was grateful for the fishermen and walkers out on the Riverwalk.

Just before the halfway point, a guy caught up to me.  We both told each other good job.  Then he said, "Hey I'm not trying to pass you."  (I thought, dude it's a race.  Isn't that the point?  haha!)  "I just need someone to pace with."  I was really grateful because it was at that point that my brain was kicking in and telling me that it was getting hard.  Not my legs but my head.  I needed company.  His name was Matt.  We ended up running the rest of the race together, chatting the whole time.  I was especially grateful when there wasn't a course marshall at a turn after the Riverwalk and we didn't know where to go.  (Thank you random spectators!)  And again when I felt like I was bonking out close to the 5 mile marker.  (Turns out that mile 5 was my slowest mile - probably the wind and nearly getting lost didn't help either!)  Had Matt not been running with me I wouldn't have enjoyed the race as much as I did.  I kept my pace even at the end to finish strong while he gave a huge kick to fly across the finish line!  

After crossing the finish line we were ushered down a tunnel onto the field level.  I ran down with Matt, the guy in the RUNdetroit shirt, and a couple of other guys who'd finished before us.   We got to run around the whole warning track to get our medals.  After that we were allowed to hang out down there as long as we wanted - sit in the stands, play in the dugout.  It was really cool.  

After everyone was done we took more pictures.  It was raining by that point so we headed up to get snacks and check results.  I finished 1st female and 7th overall!  There was going to be an awards ceremony at 11:00 (which seemed a long time after a 9:00 race start) but they let me take my award early.

Fox news was there reporting.  Check out this video clip to see a little more about the race.  Watch closely and you'll see me receiving my medal inside the stadium!

The snacks were good - water, perfect bananas, bagels, Whole Foods granola bars, and cookies (not everything vegan but my friends can vouch for their deliciousness).  There were several veterans' organizations with tables.  All in all it was a fun race - great course, perfect location, and friendly people.  Hopefully next year more volunteers will show up for course marshalling and they will have small tee shirts. I will definitely do this one again.  I had a hard time with fund raising (Running in my underwear?  Easy to fundraise!  Veteran's mental health?  Crickets.) but maybe next year I can generate a little more interest.  




My Hero / Foo Fighters
A Long Time / Mayer Hawthorne
Digital Witness / St. Vincent
Lazaretto / Jack White
Crawling to the USA / Elvis Costello
Kids in America / The Muffs
Sixteen Saltines / Jack White
Run Right Back / The Black Keys
Water Fountain / tUnE-yArDs
The Feast and the Famine / Foo Fighters
Gotta Get Away / The Black Keys
Felt / Garbage

Verlander's Instagram from the race.  That's me at the front!  The bad*ss guy on the far right won with a 5:08 pace.  He said he was going to "take it easy".

Did you run a race on Memorial Day?  Tell me about it!

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