The running community is awesome. Runners are so supportive of each other at every level it’s amazing. One of the best way many of us give back to the community that supports us so much is by volunteering at a race, or more, each year. I try to pitch in at least a few times during race season and will be at the Wicked 10k expo tomorrow for four fun hours of packet pickup.
I regularly volunteer at EquiKids and it is unbelievably rewarding to see riders progress over time. While handing out some t-shirts or race numbers doesn’t quite have the same impact, it is important. Without runners ready to not only race but help the race directors out, many of us wouldn’t be able to afford to participate. Paying someone for volunteering would skyrocket the costs of putting on an event. That would, of course, be passed on to the runners and I’m pretty sure most of our race related pocket books aren’t overflowing.
With a wide variety of volunteering choices available to those who want to give back, opportunities abound. I typically choose to help out the day before the race with packet pickup or set up. This makes it easy to run the race myself or be there for the athletes I coach. It also doesn’t hurt that I can often fit it in during the middle of the day. Other options include Start Line, bag check, Finish Line, course marshals and water stops. There’s something that will fit any schedule limitation you can think of. No excuses!
Volunteering at a race is something everyone who runs one should consider. It’s the perfect chance to give back to the community that gives you so much. You might even meet your new best runner friend.
What’s your favorite spot for race volunteering?
This past Saturday I ran the Virginia Beach edition of Joggin For Frogmen. I participated last year when the 5k race was held on conjunction with Crossfit’s 31 Heroes workout and had a blast. Exclusively benefiting the Navy SEAL Foundation, it’s a great cause I was happy to support again. The 2016 event was slightly different, held later in the year and on its own but still fabulous.
The location and running surface were also different than in 2015. The race took place at the Military Aviation Museum, a really amazing museum, and over a cross country course covered in grass. I race on dirt/grass once a year and rarely train on it so I knew I’d be facing a challenge. To make things even more fun, there was a little bit of rain Friday night to wet the grass and 20+ mile an hour winds to battle.
The turnout was great with roughly 500 runners supporting the Joggin for Frogmen cause on a chilly and windy morning. After the opening ceremonies, including a rendition of the nation anthem during no one knelt, the race was off at 9am. I planned to run hard without pushing too much since this was my first serious workout in three weeks. Especially over the uncertain surface, injury was not tops on my list. I settled into the headwind for the first half mile taking it easy at about a 7:30 pace. The second half mile had a tailwind and I picked up to right around 7:10 pace. I was feeling good starting Mile 2 when I saw the very long stretch I’d be running into that 20mph wind. I hunkered down, repeatedly pulling my visor back onto my head against gusts and just kept my feet moving.
My pace dropped to way over 8 minutes as I tried to take it easy fighting the wind. I’d have that friendly tailwind back for the last 1200M and hoped to be able to take advantage of it. As expected the tailwind wasn’t quite as helpful as the headwind was harmful but I did have a strong finish with the last 800M at 7:02 pace. Crossing the line in 24:15 after loosing that minute fighting the wind was fine with me. I got in a really good workout on strange turf in rough weather. I also managed to finish 3rd in my age group.
It might not have been one of my fastest 5k times ever but it was one of the most fun. I performed decently and did actually manage to enjoy the entire run.
How do you get back into harder workouts after a break?
When I started running again last week, I didn’t actually do much. I jogged and played without ever even thinking about accelerating. But this week, this week I decided to go back to work. Nothing too crazy. I wasn’t aiming to prevent tired legs since I do have a race this weekend, the Joggin’ for Frogmen 5k, and I’d like to finish in a reasonable time.
Do I really think I lost that much fitness after 18 days without a workout that got my heart rate above 60% of max? No. My head and attitude are doing just fine. I do have tired legs, however. Maybe I dove back in with too much enthusiasm? Probably. I hit deadlifts Monday and might have gone a little too hard on Tuesday’s long intervals. A very easy thirty minute run filled Wednesday’s schedule since my hamstrings were not happy to be back at work. There was more light lifting on Thursday and an easy 4 x 400M Friday morning.
Definitely not my usual 5k race week plan and my tired legs prove it. I’m rolling and resting tonight then just going to get out and have fun tomorrow. I’ll be with my Team RWB friends and racing on wet grass (assuming it rains tonight like the weather guessers say it will). It will also be 55 degrees with 20+ mile an hour winds on a course that covers an airport runway and large grassy fields after a week spent training on roads with temps in the 70s. Definitely focusing on the fun this time.
I have a few more weeks before marathon training kicks off and I hope this event is a highlight. Tired legs are expected when I step up my miles, intensity and strength training so I’ll try to enjoy them while they’re fresh.
How do you bounce back from tired legs?
This is my very first WIAW (What I Ate Wednesday) post and to be honest it’s only one meal. I threw some things in my fridge together for dinner, making it up as I went along. I’ve shared some recipes before but not since I’ve cleaned up my eating and started to really pay close attention to what I’m putting in my body. So I guess this is really a recipe post that happens to be on a Wednesday.
Grabbing a few things in my kitchen, I put together a quinoa, flounder, pico de gallo meal that was clean, healthy and filling. It was very simple and took about 20 minutes to prepare. After starting one cup of quinoa with water on the stove, I seasoned the flounder with crushed red pepper and lime. I let the quinoa boil and fish marinate while I chopped onion, tomato and home grown cilantro for pico de gallo. This was my first time making pico de gallo and I was excited to use ingredients I had grown myself. My dicing skills will definitely benefit from some practice!
I started to pan fry my flounder as the quinoa was finishing and it only took 4 minutes to be ready. When I pan fry, I use a big wok or frying pan and extra virgin olive oil. I prefer that over a cooking spray since it’s a healthier choice. Once the fish was to temperature, I took it off heat and let it rest for a minute. I served the fish over quinoa with a massive side of pico and two slices of lime. It turned out hotter than I expected but was very tasty and filling.
I really enjoy the cleanness of simple recipes like this. They’re easy to make with fresh, good for you ingredients and are practically impossible to mess up.
What’s your favorite WIAW? How often do you share recipes or meals?
I’m running again! Not hard and not far but it’s happening. I did an easy 3 miler on Wednesday and really stretched things with a 30 minute jog, one 30 second pick-up included, this morning. It feels good to be back out there.
Part of what got me running again was the addition of new shoes to the closet. One of the reasons my Wineglass performance was so sub-par was the age of my shoes. I held on to them for too long and paid heavily. When I got home, I threw out every pair of runners I had that were questionable and trotted right over the find something new. My old Ride 5s were gone so I picked up the latest model, Saucony’s Ride 9. It’s been so long since I ran in a new pair of cushioned shoes they felt amazing during our first run together (today’s 30 min jaunt). I like the 8mm drop of this pair for recovery and easy days to give my chronically tight Achilles and calves a break.
I also picked up a pair of Zealot ISO 2s. They’re a super cushioned 4mm drop shoe and something I’m totally unfamiliar with. I ran in them for my first run back because I was excited for something new. Even though they’re the same size as my Ride 9s they feel a little bit tighter but not comfortably so, more of a hugging feeling on my narrow foot. The thing I noticed most was how disconnected I felt from the ground. All that cushion definitely doesn’t help me feel what’s under my feet. I’m looking forward to seeing how we work together during harder training.
The final addition was a pair of New Balance Zante V2s. A brand and drop (6mm) I’ve never run in before, it’s a complete experiment. Of course, my trusty Kinvara’s are still in the mix. I haven’t chosen a shoe for the Joggin’ for Frogmen 5k next Saturday. Last year it was run on a paved road course while this year we’ll be tackling a grassy cross country course at the Military Aviation Museum. With little training to go on it should be a fun one. Very low pressure. The museum is a really neat place and I’m excited for a race I promise to have fun at.
What are your favorite shoes? How do you ease back into running again after a break?
This past weekend we went camping. Doug, Jordy and I packed up for Natural Bridge, Virginia and made the roughly four hour drive Saturday morning. We stopped at a packed Blue Mountain Brewery for a tasty lunch then made our way to the campground. The plan was to camp Saturday night and check out Natural Bridge on Sunday morning.
I’m not much of a camper, really, so I wasn’t exactly sure what we were getting into. We ended up having a nice little dirt pad for our tent with water and electric. Not the roughing it I expected but just fine with me. It felt good to be in the fresh mountain air without all the distractions and noise of home for a while. The night was cool and quite breezy but fuzzy dog kept the tent toasty until sunshine showed up to light a very peaceful quiet morning.
After breakfast and packing up, we drove over to Natural Bridge State Park. It was early enough that we had beaten the crowds and the crisp morning was absolutely perfect for a walk through the woods. Natural Bridge is home to lots of history and definitely worth a visit.
When we turned for home, we discovered what a mess things were back at the ranch. Even though Matthew was a tropical storm by the time it hit Virginia Beach Saturday night 12 inches of rain fell in 24 hours with wind gusts over 80mph. There were massive power outages and serious flooding. We hadn’t left town to intentionally avoid weather but it ended up that way.
So, we went from camping with power to home without. No flooding though! It actually worked out we weren’t there to open the fridge and freezer a bunch. The freezer pulled through fine with only a few veggies, leftovers and milk getting trashed. All in all it could have been much worse. One thing about a 24+ hour power outage? It lets you know how dependent you are on technology.
While camping was tons of fun I still haven’t bounced back from my time off. Running just isn’t on my radar right now. I’ll go out for an easy jog before week’s end then go from there.
Do you go camping? How often?
I’m taking some time off after last weekend’s meltdown. A pair of down weeks with little scheduling were already planned but I’m taking them exceptionally seriously this time around. I’m focused on getting the fun I lost in the last month back before marathon training kicks off in five weeks.
That adventure is starting with two light, light, light weeks. I’ve done little more than yoga, biking around town and some random sets of body weight work like squats, pull-ups and push-ups the past few days. I honestly haven’t felt like running. At all. I’ve enjoyed extra time during the day to relax or get things done but I do expect ‘no workout madness’ to set in soon. I’ll step it up with a light Crossfit workout or easy run next week if I feel like it. I might even run hard if I want to.
I do have to get back to running at some point. I’ll want to. Part of that incentive are races I have scheduled in the coming weeks. All are before marathon training kicks off and should be fun. I’d like to place overall (third last year) at Joggin’ for Frogmen in three weeks but if not, oh well. Two short weeks after that is the Monumental Half Marathon in Indianapolis. I’ll be going for the PR I missed in New York at Monumental. Stranger things have happened! Two weeks after that is the Norfolk Harbor 5k (third last year). With two weeks off and unstructured training I’m not counting on being in tip top shape for any of those events.
Having fun is the most important things about these three races. I need to enjoy whatever training I do for them. Actually running the races has to be pleasant. Having the same success as last year isn’t important. My priority is heading into a long marathon cycle with a smile on my face.
How do you spend time off from running? How often?
Last weekend I ran my goal race. My 2016 Wineglass Half Marathon race was a disaster. I loved the event itself but my running featured a total meltdown that I’m actually glad I had. For race day specifics, check out my review on BibRave!
The race day schedule did not really suit me but I succeeded at not letting it get to me. I took a mandatory shuttle 15 minutes to the start then hung out for an hour in a gym before warming up. I’m a get up and go type so this definitely put a cramp in my eating, sleeping, relaxing, game ready routine. After gear check and potty, I warmed up and toed the line ready to rock 13.1 miles.
I had worked hard all summer and was looking forward to nailing this race. I felt good. My legs were fresh while my head was in the right place coming off my congestion. I had an excellent first seven miles on pace to hit my PR goal but my body felt all wrong. I was working much harder than I should have been and it felt way more difficult to maintain my desired pace than I had expected. When I hit Mile 8 slightly behind my goal pace with already fried legs my head started to get the better of me. The source of my pain turned out to be my shoes. They were old and I hadn’t run in them in quite some time, saving them for this race. Big mistake. But I’m not going to blame a bad race on shoes.
What really pushed me over the edge was a gentleman I had been running with for a few miles saying “aren’t these views amazing?” just as I noticed I was behind goal pace. My response: “What views?” That’s when the meltdown began. My entire body hurt with 8k to go. There was some hip pain I had never had before bothering my left side. So I quit. I wasn’t having fun. I was totally miserable. Yes, I was disappointed to have a bad race, sad I was going to miss my goal but I was also in pain and pushing for no reason. I took a deep breath, stopped and looked over to the mountains. Actually stood still for 30 seconds. Starting again, I jogged the rest of the race. I spent time looking around, cheering for other runners and chatting with water stop volunteers.
No one is paying me to run these races (except when I’m a pacer). It’s supposed to be fun. Somewhere along the way this fall I lost that. Turned out this race wasn’t about hitting or not hitting a PR for me. It was a total reality check that I desperately needed. Running is fun and I have to get back there. I’m taking a week away from running, rewriting my upcoming months of marathon training, buying all new shoes (more on that later), backing off my aggressive run 50 states schedule and focusing on having fun.
Have you ever had a meltdown during a race? What did you learn from it?