Memorial Scholarship 5k

Race recap on a Wednesday?  Yup!  The Tidewater Strider’s Memorial Scholarship 5k is held on the fourth Tuesday of July at 6:30pm.  It was in 2016 and has been each year in 1982.  Since this would be my second workout of the day there wasn’t any sort of goal.  I planned on having some fun and supporting a great organization while getting my legs moving again after a tough morning on the track.

The Memorial Scholarship 5k course runs through the gorgeous Norfolk Botanical Garden to complete the group’s Summer Series.  The series is a group run at the garden each Tuesday evening in Julymemorial scholarship 5k featuring a poker run, a relay and a guess your finish outing.  On this year’s very hot and very humid evening over 200 people came out to run the annual event, including a bunch of my Team RWB buddies.  It was great to catch up with them as the sky clouded up (yay!) and it started to feel like rain.  Everyone was rooting for some to cool things off.  Unfortunately, we never got it.

On the bright side, I did get to warm up on some nicely shaded paths.  With five miles to rack up between a warm up, the race and a cool down I was happy to jog a bit extra before racing to enjoy the scenery.  The start lined up around 6:25 and we took off right on time.  Things were a bit crowded for the first half mile then loosened up nicely.  My legs were grumpy grumpy from a hard morning workout and the humidity didn’t help but I felt surprisingly good past Mile 1.  Not concerned about my time, I was running all of the curves wide to pick up as much mileage as possible to credit towards my five mile goal.

There were a few non-racers strolling through the beautiful gardens along with Pokemon Go hunters sharing the paths with us as the course wove through the park’s paved trails.  Two bridge crossing and one teeny tiny hill greeted us on the otherwise flat course and before I knew it I had passed the Mile 2 marker.  My legs were moving decently but lacked the power and turnover I had left on the track.  I took the final 1000M on cruise with plenty of running room, crossing the finish line in 22:32.  Not a great time for me but decent considering it was a second workout of the day on a hot and muggy one with my heavy shoes on.  I did win my Memorial Scholarship 5k age group!  Post race there were tons of raffles, pizzas, watermelons and beers.  I won zero raffles.  I did enjoy the food and drink while hanging out with a ton of run buddies to make up for it.

Racing in the evening was tough for me, especially after working out hard in the morning, but definitely effective.  It left me feeling positive about my training and made me realize I can push harder than I think I can.  I might even be figuring out how to race the 5k distance!

Meredith

Have you ever raced in the evening?  Did you like it?

Less Sugar, More Plants

We’ve all heard it.  We’ve all thought about it.  Some of us have even tried it.  Paleo, vegetarian, vegan, raw.  The idea of eating less sugar, less processed food and downing more plants and clean food.  It sounds easy but the truth is it isn’t.  Changing your diet is hard.more plants

I tried paleo and it didn’t work for me.  I had a lot of trouble meeting my caloric needs and felt tired/grumpy/cruddy without carbs.  I also tried going dairy-less for ten days.  Not only was I seriously craving some cheese, I didn’t notice any difference at all in my digestion and energy levels.  Lactose intolerant I am not.  Vegetarian lasted about three whole days for me.  Soda was never a factor, nor was coffee.  I’ve been a water drinker with the occasional apple or orange juice, protein shake, glass of milk or chocolate milk, sports drink and boozy treat (maybe more than occasional with those) for as long as I can remember.

So while I won’t be going paleo or vegan any time soon and don’t need to kick a caffeine habit, I am trying to clean up my eating.  With part of my Unbeatable Mind training focusing on nutrition and goals to PR at several distances this fall cleaning up my eating is something I’ve finally committed to.  My first step was to add more plants to all of my meals by making it easier to do so.  I spend meal prep time more plantschopping veggies for cooking, salads and snack time.  This one ended up looking like the Italian flag but I’m enjoying preparing more food because it makes me think harder about what I’m actually fueling my workouts with.  It also makes healthy snacking more convenient when all I have to do is reach in the fridge.

As a bonus, think I picked the best time of year to add more plants to my fridge.  So many fruits and veggies are in season that finding a few tasty ingredients to top my salad is easy.  I know all of the additional fiber is helping my body clean out toxins while the vitamins and minerals keep my insides functioning at their peak.  I’m excited to see what eating more plants and less sugar does for my performance as race season approaches.

Meredith

Have you added more plants to your meals?  Are you paleo or vegetarian?  Why?

Allen Stone Memorial 5k

Saturday morning I raced the 17th Annual Allen Stone Memorial 5k.  I blogged about how excited I was to race in my new shoes last week and I was happy with how things turned out.

I could tell the second I walked out the door into a humid morning it wasn’t going to be a banner day.  I hadn’t had a full recovery day in 10 days and my legs were pretty tired.  My new shoes settled right onto my feet as I jogged an easy mile to get moving.  One of the allen stone memorial 5kthings that didn’t help my performance was that between the portions of my warm up I had a big break.  This race is full of tradition, including a reading of the names of special operations service men who have died in the line of duty, the national anthem, and three parachuters floating down with the flag.  After stretching and relaxing through that I finished with 800M of pick-ups to get my turnover and heart rate going.

Soaked in sweat with my heart pumping and legs feeling lighter but not fresh we snapped a Team RWB photo.  Then I was off to the Allen Stone Memorial 5k start line.  I knew the crowd was competitive and settled into the third row of runners figuring that would be roughly my speed.  I went out of the gate too fast for the first 400M, especially on the humid allen stone memorial 5kmorning, but was thankful the sun stayed hidden as I ran through the first mile.  I had a girl right next to me through the turn around then pulled away in the second mile.

Coming into the final kilometer I choked.  Not crapped out on performing but actually choked.  Some sticky spit got stuck in my throat with no water in sight and I slowed to attempt clearing my throat without making things worse.  It kind of worked so I picked it back up for the last half mile.  Set on cruise, the girl who had been neck-in-neck with me at the race’s start came on strong in the final 20M and we finished with a sprint over the line.

I ended up finishing in 21:40, averaging 6:59 miles.  Not the time I thought I had run when I crossed the Allen Stone Memorial 5k finish line, it was actually a few seconds faster.  I immediately grabbed some water to finally get my throat clear, collected my medal and waited for results with a bunch of friends.  I found out I had won my age group then jogged a cool down mile that took long enough to miss my award being presented.  I got a fancy handled mason jar with the Allen Stone Memorial 5k logo on it to match my medal and then called it a day.

I was happy to get a solid workout in, have success with my new shoes and still have something left for the next day’s long run.  With two more weeks in my base phase, I’m excited to see what I can do when the weather’s cooler, my legs are fresher and my weeks aren’t packed with miles this fall.

Meredith

How do you decide if a race was successful?  What training phase are you in right now?

New Running Shoes + Racing Weekend

I got new running shoes!  Actually, I got them a while ago but I just took them out of the box today.  My brand spankin’ new, shiny and clean Saucony Kinvara 7s went out for the first time this morning and I’m happy to say all six easy miles went very well.  Since they will likely be my fall PR goal race shoes for several events, it’s never too soon to make sure we click.

I’ve been rotating between Brooks PureFlow 4s and Saucony ProGrid Ride 5‘s (this is the closest I could find) for the last year and before that had multiple pairs of the ProGrid 4s and 5s I  new running shoeswould move around.  The PureFlow came into play when I wanted to get away from the ProGrid’s 8mm drop for speed work and racing.  I still do some recovery and long runs in the 8mm drop shoes but am mostly just waiting for them to wear out before all of my shoes are 4mm offsets.  When one finally kicked the pavement, only the PureFlow 5 was available to replace it.  I found the PureFlow 5’s toe box to be tighter than the 4 and didn’t think they were nearly as comfortable.  Definitely open to trying Saucony’s 4mm drop road shoe, I slid these on and immediately knew I’d found my new running shoes.  They’re not as cushioned as the Rides and have a stiffer sole than the PureFlows but after two or so miles they loosened right up and felt great today.  I also like the tougher sole of the Sauconys compared to the Brooks and feel they last longer with the surfaces I consistently run on.

I’ll continue to train and race in my PureFlow 4s until they’re kaput but am excited to race the Allen Stone Memorial 5k in my new running shoes this weekend.  It’s run 100% on the brutally hard Virginia Beach Boardwalk’s cement that can chew shoes up and spit them out quickly.  It should be a fairly competitive event, there’s even a chance of rain, and I’m looking forward to seeing how my new running shoes and I get along when I try to push the speed.

Meredith

How often do you buy new running shoes?  Do you stick with a favorite brand or swap out?

East Coast Run Project + Goal Setting

In the first week of Unbeatable Mind training I filled out a form that featured both three month and eighteen month goals along with the steps I would take to accomplish them.  One of those goals was to launch my new running enterprise, East Coast Run Project.  I’m really excited about it and can’t wait to help more runners reach their goals each year.

Here’s a little more about what East Coast Run Project is:

East Coast Run Project is the ideal training program for any athlete looking to improve their running skills.  Whether you’re working towards a BQ or running the bases more efficiently, ECRP will help you achieve your dreams.  Using a completely customized individual plan based east coast run projecton your specific goals East Coast Run Project will guide you to success.  Key elements of each plan include sport specific training, strength training, mobility work and building mental toughness.  With a focus on hard work and understanding the value of each workout session, ECRP is the guidance you need to reach any running goal you have.

That’s what I’m excited about.  Supporting people who are willing to work hard and know that not every day is what you expect but continue to fight for their dreams.  Getting the Project launched was a challenge for me.  I am a list person.  I make a list each morning of what I need to accomplish for the day and love seeing all the things I’ve crossed off by dinner.  East Coast Run Project was on my list for quite a while.  I struggled with getting organized, figuring out what I wanted the brand to look like and how I would balance it with my personal training clients and blogging.  Something as simple as writing down the specific steps I would take to launch ECRP got me quickly to where I felt comfortable putting this new brand out in the world.

Meredith

I’d love for you to check out the East Coast Run Project website, follow on Twitter and ‘like’ on Facebook.  Thanks!!!

Red White and Boom Half Marathon

I checked off State #20, Minnesota, with July 4th’s Red White and Boom Half Marathon in Minneapolis.  It was my first visit to the city and I really had a good time.  This was a check-in race with no goal other than to push it a little bit here and there while having a good time.  After receiving an email with a heat warning Doug, who was running the 5k, and I were greatly relieved to see it was issued for a morning expected to be 64 degrees and 75% humid.  Temperatures 10-25 degrees below our current normal running weather were a welcome sight.  The humidity would be easy to handle and I knew I could stick with my plan.red white and boom half marathon

We arrived mid-morning on Sunday and went straight to the hotel gym for a shakeout session before checking out the Twins at Target Field.  The city was quiet, clean, friendly and had a park full of fun red white and boom half marathoncharacters to hang with.  After the game we had dinner at the hotel and hit the hay early.  Race start was 6:30 local time so it was nice to get up at what felt like a regular weekend time (7:30) to go for a run.  I downed a plain bagel and water breakfast then walked the short distance to race day packet pick-up.

The cool-ish morning was indeed humid but nothing unmanageable.  I quickly and easily nabbed my packet, checked my gear and set off for a warm up.  After my mile, I knew Red White and Boom would be the big improvement over last year’s summer half in Chicago I expected.  The weather was better, my training was more on track and I felt positive about it.

The start corrals were fairly crowded on a narrow road but after a solid national anthem for America’s birthday we were off right on time.  Things stayed traffic filled for a few minutes and around the 2k mark I started wondering when it would loosen up.  The course started to loosen in to the Mile 3 mark and by 8k there was plenty of running room for the rest of the race.  At that point I was glad to be able to take tangents and play with my pacing more after walking through a water stop around Mile 5.

I expected a climb before Mile 6 that had been on the course map but I didn’t notice anything too serious before 10k.  There were a few short, steep climbs and some longer slow ones but as a whole the race didn’t feel very hilly when I was on it.  Apparently it was because my Garmin told me I picked up 300 feet of elevation gain over the Red White and Boom Half Marathon.  In spite of the hills a large portion of the course was covered with shade and very peaceful.  I spent most of the race’s first half telling myself to slow down without actually doing it.  I tired to use uphills to really back off and was somewhat successful at doing that.  I wanted to come in somewhere between 1:40 and 1:45, more towards the latter, without leaving too much out red white and boom half marathonthere.  I hit the Mile 10 timer at 1:18+ knowing I was about a minute behind the official clock.  Perfect!

My legs were feeling good and my time was right around where I wanted to be, if not a bit fast.  My skin, however, was not so hot.  Around Mile 9 I had started to notice a less than lovely feeling around the chest band of my sports bra.  By the time I found medical at Mile 10, I was having some serious chaffing action and since I wasn’t in any kind of hurry stopped to get some tape.  After struggling to find the end of the roll, I stuck on a big strip and took off for the final Red, White and Boom 5k about 90 seconds later.  A few more slightly rolling hills sent me through the final water stop past Mile 11 then into an easy long down hill finish across Stone Arch Bridge.

I finished in 1:43.37 feeling good.  I ran for the most part right on plan and hit my goal range in spite of walking through three water stops and taking a 90 second break to tape myself up.  The race had great red white and boom half marathonswag including logoed pint glasses and Brooks brand tech t-shirts at packet pick-up for all runners then nice Red, White and Boom finisher medals along with red, white and blue ice pops, bottled water, chocolate milk, snacks and Cliff Bars in the finisher chute.

The race left me feeling really good about where my training is heading into the end of my base phase.  It was a solid run at a great event on a humid morning with more hills than I’ll face for a while.  If you have the chance to tackle the Red White and Boom Half Marathon, I’d take it!

Meredith

Fit Friday: Yoga for Runners

I used to think yoga was boring.  And, honestly, it can be.  Recently I’ve stepped up my yoga game as part of my Unbeatable Mind training and taking it seriously has helped me get more from my practice as well as start to enjoy it.  I’ll always be a runner but a little something else never hurt.  Here are some of the big benefits of yoga for runners.

Strength – Yoga can make you stronger.  Without looking like a body builder or becoming muscle bound and losing your ability to move quickly, practicing yoga will help strengthen every muscle and bone group you have.  Because yoga never uses one muscle group independently of another you get more bang for your buck with each pose than you would sitting in a gym’s machine.  Increased strength in the core, arms and legs means better endurance, more efficiency and faster race times.yoga for runners

Mobility – Look at the hip extension of an elite marathoner moving at race pace.  Now look at yours.  Mobility, or the ability to move a join through a full range of motion, is incredibly important.  The more your hip can open the faster you’ll get where you’re going.  Yoga for runners improves mobility at all joints, increasing ease of movement, reducing stiffness and potentially erasing some of those regular aches and pains you have before warming up.

Prevent Injury – A big benefit of yoga for runners is getting muscle groups to lengthen and strengthen in balance.  When doing downward dog, my arms, wrists, lats and deltoids are strengthening while my hamstrings, calves and Achilles are stretching to create stability in that position.  This helps eliminate the muscle imbalances created by pounding pavement for miles and miles each week that eventually lead to injuries.

Improved Breathing – If you can’t breathe, running gets really hard very quickly.  Hello, speed work in humidity!  Adding some yoga for runners to your regular routine will help increase lung capacity and teach you how to breathe properly using your diaphragm.  Filling your lungs completely instead of breathing shallowly and quickly means more oxygen gets to working muscles and more toxic carbon dioxide is removed, keeping your heart and stress rates lower.  Better breathing means better running!

Whether you use it to warm up, stretch out or as a cross training workout all alone, there’s lots of good information on yoga for runners here.

Meredith

What are your favorite yoga for runners poses?  How often do you practice?

Summer Half Race Week

It’s my Summer Half Race Week and I have no idea what’s coming my way.  Training has been going well but I’m only in my base phase so I haven’t logged many race pace miles.  Definitely not anything over five in a row.  While I won’t be looking to PR or even come close, I am summer halfexpecting to out do last years summer half, Rock n Roll Chicago, which wasn’t pretty.  The weather was warm and humid, the course threw me a big curve towards the end and I hadn’t tapered at all.

That’s how I know my 2016 Summer Half will be different.  It’s off to Minnesota for the Red, White and Boom Half Marathon in Minneapolis with a better attitude on hopefully fresher legs and ‘a here goes nothing, let’s just get some miles in’ approach.  It will be state #20 and half number five for this year.  Since the race is next Monday I planned a down week for this week (25 miles) so I could kick off next week’s heavy training load with a nice long run to get a bunch of miles checked off.  That means I’ll be toeing the line after a seven day ‘taper’ and should signal a decent performance.

That is, of course, assuming the weather is friendly.  Humidity won’t serve me well and after three straight days of travel before race morning (five in the car Friday to Philly for a baseball game, five in the car Saturday home, an early flight Sunday), I hope I’ll be hydrated and rested enough to give my summer half the best I can.  No matter what, this race will be a good test of where my training is and needs to go moving towards my goal races in the fall.

Meredith

Do you have a favorite summer half marathon?  Which one and why?

Fit Friday: Summer Running Tips

Summer is here and if you’re looking to race this fall, you’re likely training through some heat, humidity and sunlight.  Summer running is serious business, especially for those looking to rock marathons or hit a PR early in the fall.  Training hard when it’s hot can have benefits when things cool back down but it can also be dangerous.  Here are five ways to stay safe while still summer runninggetting a good session in during hot summer workouts.

Stay hydrated.  Staying hydrated doesn’t mean just drinking water.  In fact, too much plain old water can become a problem sooner than you think.  That’s because when we sweat we lose plenty of salt, too.  Having a sports drink, salt tab or other form of electrolyte with you for any outdoor workout is a must.  Put water bottles out along your route or choose one with accessible fountains, sinks or friends who’ll cheer you on.

Slow down.  Your body is dealing with enough when it’s hot out.  Adding the stress of a hard track workout doesn’t help.  Don’t worry about your goal pace or how long it takes you to get there.  Run by effort when it’s warm and give your body time to adjust to the season change over a few weeks.  Then you’re clear to step up the intensity for short times as long as you feel up to it.

Dress lightly.  Have a sports bra you love but kept covered up all winter?  Show it off!  Wear as little clothing as you can get away with.  If you are going to wear an entire outfit, go for light colors and sweat wicking fabrics.  Try to remember the Body Glide, too.  A hat or visor along with sunglasses is always recommended and a good layer of sunblock put on 10 minutes before you head out can’t do anything but help.

Change your schedule.  It’s cooler in the morning and evening than it is at noon or 3pm.  Try to get your run in when there’s plenty of shade as the sun comes up or goes down.  Check out different routes at different times of day to see where you’re offered the most coverage.  You might even want to hit the trails.  If you’re schedule just can’t adjust, don’t be afraid to stay inside and tackle a treadmill workout.

Know the signs.  Pay attention to what your body tells you.  No workout is worth the risk of serious hurting yourself.  Lightheadedness, dizziness, cramping and not sweating anymore are all possible signs of a heat related injury.  Especially on low humidity, breezy days, summer running can sneak up on you and it’s even more important to be aware of what’s going on inside your body.

Meredith

How do you deal with summer running?  Do you like it or hate it?

Unbeatable Mind + Slowing Down

Last week I kicked off a year long journey with Unbeatable Mind.  Founded by Mark Divine, a former Navy SEAL Commander, I’m excited to dive more deeply into some of the principles I read about in his The Way of the SEAL and Unbeatable Mind books.  Mark has years of Unbeatable Mind's Profile Photocorporate, military, yoga and leadership experience from which he has created the Unbeatable Mind program.  The ultimate goal is to ‘forge resiliency and mental toughness to succeed at an elite level.’  Dedicated to helping individuals reach their full potential by discovering themselves, the Unbeatable Mind community is a place where everyone wants to grow into a stronger, kinder, happier person.  And who wouldn’t want that?!

I’m looking to hit some big goals in the next 6-12 months (buy a house, PR the marathon, launch a new business project) and believe the things I learn will only help me reach each of those goals faster.  The beginning of my Unbeatable Mind learning was a bit of an overload because I tried to soak in as much as I could as quickly as possible but I’ve relaxed and reorganized.  I have twelve months to slow down and soak it all in, making sure I get as much as I can from both the program and myself.

I’ve also slowed down my long runs.  It’s been awfully warm the last few and after some hydration issues two weeks ago, I spend most of the miles telling myself to ‘slow down’.  I’ve also scouted out routes that are as shaded as possible in the morning or evening so no matter when I’m hitting the road I have at least some kind of relief.  I’m not sure what to expect at Red, White and Boom because of not having done any hard tempo runs in a while but with the race coming in the middle of my base phase, I’ll be OK with whatever happens.

Meredith

Have you read Unbeatable Mind?  How do you cope with summer heat?