Tag Archives: equikids

2015 EquiKids Cross Country 5k

My second race week in a row featured the 2015 EquiKids Cross Country 5k.  It was their 13th annual event, my fourth time participating and Doug and Jordy’s third time tackling the 1 Mile Run with the Hounds.  I look forward to the spring for this run each year because it’s fun for the whole family.  Plus, getting Jordy out there to race is always good for a few laughs.

My race weekend began with volunteering at packet pick-up for a few hours Friday then a nacho dinner at the Green Parrot.  I got a good night’s sleep and woke up ready to rock the trails Saturday morning.  Outside my window, the ground was covered with heavy fog after Friday night’s light rain and I immediately knew it would be humid out there on the double loop trail course.  I wasn’t too concerned about mud, the EquiKids team does a great job getting the trails ready.  It wasn’t raining and there was a cloud cover which meant the humidity would stick around for a while but there have definitely been less favorable conditions to fight through in previous years.

We arrived at EquiKids about an hour before the 5k start.  Doug and I socialized while Jordy made a few new friends and enjoyed exploring.  I started my warm up 30 minutes before the race with some stretching and mobility work then jogged one easy 800 and a second with three strides.  My legs felt good, though not as fresh as I would have liked, lined up at the Start for announcements, ready to work.  I had been a bit concerned after the previous week’s messiness and was relieved to feel almost back to normal.  Before I knew it, we were off.

I held my pace steady as the usual start too fast crowd sprinted by me and entered the first lap in the woods realizing I definitely would have benefited from a longer warm-up.  The shorter the race, the longer the warm-up, but I failed to follow through on this occasion.  Oops.  The trails were edged by a few barely muddy spots and the expected humidity was in full force.  It took my heart rate a little longer than usual to settle down into racing mode with the thicker air and by the 1 Mile mark I finally felt ready to get in gear.

Unfortunately, my watch did not.  I had trouble with it giving my accurate timing information when running through the woods (I know this is not a 9:10 mile…) and since I don’t run on dirt often, it was hard for me to nail down my desired pace.  I gradually passed the too fast starters as my legs and heart settled in, all warmed up now.  Popping back out of the woods on Lap 1, my watch got a better signal and I maintained my 7:15 pace until hitting the soft dirt again for Lap 2.

Thanks to the course design, I counted four ladies in front of me before reentering the woods.  I vowed to not let myself be passed and was happy to stay in my position.  Sticking with my pace helped me pick off two lades in front of me after the Mile 2 sign and I was on the edge of passing a third past the 2.5 mile mark when a left turn stopped us both in our tracks as we avoided colliding with one of the awesome Team Hoyt participants.  We both took off again and I gained a few meters on her as we entered the final stretch.  I knew I was in position to place in my age group, or even overall, as I eased into the Finish Line while she kicked to pass me in the final 50 meters.2015 equikids cross country 5k

I finished the 2015 EquiKids Cross Country 5k as third female overall and was happy with the end result even if I wasn’t much faster than last year.  My legs felt decent but I hadn’t warmed up enough and was still coming back from Prairie Fire.  The humidity also impacted my performance, especially coupled with the too short warm-up.  Now I know I need a longer 5k warm-up!

A few minutes later, Doug and Jordy lined up to take on the 1 Mile Run with the Hounds.  They beat last year’s time by a good margin and Jordy celebrated by laying down in the dirt.  The post race party and awards were filled with pizza, lettuce wraps, raffles, beer, water, friends and adorable dogs.  I can’t wait for the 2016 event!

Meredith

Do you race on trails?  Why or why not?

2014 EquiKids 5K and Run with the Hounds

2014 marked the third straight year Doug, Jordy and I participated in the EquiKids 5K and One Mile Run with the Hounds.  I love this event not only because it’s family friendly, but also because it supports one of my favorite charities.

Volunteering at EquiKids is one the most rewarding experiences I have on a regular basis, and supporting the riders in lessons and in the barn is always fun.  The staff, my fellow volunteers and riders are all amazing people with huge hearts that make the EquiKids family one you’re 2014 equikids 5khappy to be a part of.  Being a part of the EquiKids family makes running, and doggie dashing, on the second Sunday in May a can’t miss, incredibly fun event each year.

During the course of our adventurous Friday, Doug and I were able to squeeze picking our packets up at Running Etc in on our way to the Oceanfront Spring Crawl Volunteer Appreciation Party.  It was really fast and easy, and since we had registered early enough to be two of the first 200 and, as a perk, received awesome tech shirts instead of cotton.  Skipping to Race Day, Doug, Jordy and I got ready with breakfast and running gear, then piled into the car for our drive to the farm.  I fueled up with my usual GPS E2 on the way, feeling good and ready to go.

The farm is usually fairly quiet when I arrive on my normal Tuesday afternoon, then fills up as the day moves on with activity and laughter from volunteers and riders alike.  On Race Day, however, the farm bustles with runners instead of riders.  It’s awesome to see all of the people, most of whom don’t regularly get out to the facility, support the program.  As we pulled into the farm, we were pointed from one helpful volunteer to the next as we reached our parking spot in the grass.  Surrounded by other SUVs, all of the sedans were being parked in the dressage 2014 equikids 5karena.  I thought this was a great idea, a good way to prevent someone from getting stuck or digging up the grounds.

We had arrived early enough to have plenty of time for every member of our party to use the restroom, or grass, walk around a bit and stash the fruit salad I had made for the Volunteer Appreciation Picnic in a fridge.  In addition to the facilities regular restrooms, additional Port-a-Potties were installed for the day’s affairs and provided plenty of line free locations for everyone.  After a quick trip to the Volunteer Lounge’s restroom, I ran a short warm up while the little ones were trucking adorably through their Half Mile Pony Run.  During this short warm up I started to notice the humidity and wished I was wearing shorts.  Oh, well, no time to change.  A big group start, I hovered near the front as the 2014 EquiKids 5K participants lined up, listened to a few announcements and got ready to go.

The race went off as soon as everyone was in order, which was actually a little before the scheduled 8:20 Start Time.  No lines at the toilets and an early start?  It’s almost unheard of.  I faced a bit of traffic at the Start with the start-fast-then-faders around me and some of the quicker runners having started behind me, but it sorted out by the time we hit the woods for our first lap.  Twisting and turning as guided by volunteers through the woods, I was impressed with the levelness of the debris-free trails.  There were small pockets of not-quite-mud that were easily avoidable and I felt good passing the Mile 1 mark.

A water stop somewhere between Mile 1 and Mile 2 was very well manned with volunteers sporting their EquiKids t-shirts and it was great to see familiar faces cheering me on as I ran my first loop through the woods.  Leaving the woods at the halfway point, I noticed the air was moving again.  It had been still and humid in the woods but I didn’t realize it until I was out of them the first time.  Not looking forward to Lap 2.  I picked up my pace after my watch beeped for Mile 1.5 and raced my way back into the woods with my sights on picking off two ladies I could see in front of me.

I caught one of the women at the Mile 2 mark as I kicked up one more gear to finish my last mile.  I didn’t have the kick I wanted and my legs felt a bit heavy, probably because of a combination of cocktails Friday evening and the dirt course.  All of Mile 2 was in the woods and it was hotter, more still and more humid that the last trip.  Popping out of the woods just before the Mile 3 mark felt awesome and I passed the second woman I’d been chasing just before rounding the final turn.  I ran hard, but still managed to smile, for the last 0.2 miles and crossed 2014 Equikids 5kthe 2014 EquiKids 5K Finish Line with a chip time of 24:17.

I met up with Doug and Jordy who were getting ready for their own race, chomped on a banana and drank an ice-cold bottled water.  Watching the final 5K participants cross the line, I stretched out, cooled down and put on dry socks.  Next thing I knew, dogs were pulling their people off the Start line and the One Mile Run with the Hounds was on.  Doug and Jordy did a great job, taking two minutes off of last year’s time with the help of Jordy’s now repaired CCL tendon.2014 equikids 5k

After the boys crossed the Finish Line, we munched pizza, drank a few tasty adult sodas and socializing with fellow dog owners, runners and EquiKids volunteers while waiting for the results and Award Ceremony.  My chip time put me in 30th place overall and second in the 30-39 age group.  While it wasn’t exactly the pace or race I wanted to turn in, I was happy to have a good run, especially on the dirt and mud and hit my goal of placing in my age group.  And yes, I also know the margaritas and adult sodas I had Friday night didn’t help me out any.  The Awards Ceremony went smoothly as both humans and canines hammed it up for 2014 equikids 5kthe camera and I happily headed to the podium to receive my medal.

With the Awards Ceremony wrapped up, the indoor arena began to clear out and we moved tables to prepare for the Volunteer Picnic.  It was nice to sit down and relax with my fellow volunteers, and Jordy definitely enjoyed his share of the widely varied, delicious offerings of the pot luck buffet.  A successful day in the books for all three of us, I picked up my Volunteer Appreciation Gift (this awesome, thick beach towel) then met Doug and Jordy at the car.

Meredith

Do you work with any charities?  How often do you run on cross country courses?

The Special Story of Two AJs

ESPN loves a feel good story.  Last night, during the Allstate Sugar Bowl, they shared the special story of two gentlemen named AJ who call the University of Alabama home.  AJ McCarron is a national title winning college quarterback with NFL hopes and stunner of a girlfriend.  AJ Starr is an assistant equipment manager for the team AJ McCarron leads, but also a student dealing with Cerebral Palsy and struggling to find his way in a new place.special story of two AJs  Their chance 2012 encounter and ensuing relationship is a heartwarming tale of friendship and football.

I won’t spill the beans and tell you exactly how this special story goes, (you can check it out here) but I will tell you it’s a doozy.  I’m not one to harp on social or political issues on this blog, it’s about running (mostly), but this special story hit close to home.  Working with the same special needs children at EquiKids week in and week out, you really get to know them.  Each one has a story, a personality and moods just like everyone else.  Sure, they might shake a little bit more or not be able to tell us why they’re throwing a fit, but they’re no less human than you or I.  They are smart, aware and emotional, whether they express it like you do or not.  It’s the acceptance these amazing people find at EquiKids that makes them overjoyed to come ride each week, and sometimes the moments they spend on the back of a horse are the lone bright spot in a participant’s weekly routine.equikids horseshow

The same bright spot EquiKids provides, Starr has found in the Alabama locker room.  He enrolled at the University and watched football practice through the fence while simultaneously considering leaving school for a lack of friends.  Listening to Starr talk about how badly he was searching for acceptance in a place he where he thought he could “start fresh…[where] maybe [his] different wouldn’t matter” is demoralizing.  His physical shortcomings are hard enough to deal with, to heap upon that ostracism and emotional pain certainly doesn’t seem fair.  It was a bus stop brush between two young men named AJ that gave McCarron the opportunity to help Starr discover just what he was looking for, and goes to show that with the right opportunity and support, a physically limited, non-athlete can be just as integral to a winning season as the superstar quarterback.

Starr summed it up nicely.  “Someone who’s there for you no matter what”, he says of being a friend in ESPN’s interview.  Both AJs are proud to call each other ‘friend’ and will be welcome in the Crimson Tide locker room for years to come.  Their special story has certainly brought happiness to one another’s lives and I know the students at EquiKids have made mine better.

Meredith

Do you spend time with anyone who has special needs?

October!

It’s October first and with 4 days until Race Day, I hope it means decent running weather is here to stay for a while.  The weather was very nice yesterday when I did my usual Race Week Monday 30 minute tempo run, but the run could have been better.  My legs were a little beat up from Sunday’s 90 minute outing and I struggled to really get the pace I wanted.  I finished it up feeling OK and after a big post-run stretch, I was ready to go this morning for my Race Week Strength Training.

A gorgeous morning on the sand kicked off October’s Beach Boot Camp and knowing I wasn’t going to lift very heavy no matter what, there wasn’t anything I didn’t particularly want to see on the board this morning.  Walking into the gym, I was pumped to go, and when I saw a short and sweet WOD that involved hang cleans, front squats, v ups and, everyone’s favorite, burpees, I was overjoyed.  Unlike Double Unders, Snatches and Overhead Squats, I actually like doing cleans and don’t mind Front Squats at all.  Excited for the workout, it took until I started to warm up for me to realize my hips were unexpectedly tight.  Luckily, with a short WOD on the table, there was plenty of time to get them loose.  Once my co-WODers and I were all good and warmed up, it was time to go.  With my light Race Week weight, I breezed through the workout in under 5 minutes and immediately got back together with a band to help my hips and hamstrings out.

Tomorrow rolls on with October’s first long run and I’m still on the fence as to whether or not to drop Friday’s short fast run.  I’ll make the final decision on that after I move around a bit on Thursday.  Hopefully changing my Race Week Training Schedule won’t be a problem for a short hard race, but I am concerned about adding a long run to my normal routine.  I’m not sure how much of a difference two miles Friday would really make, especially since I’m doing speed work on Thursday, too, and with an abnormal long run on Wednesday of Race Week, I’m leaning towards dropping it and taking two days of rest.

Now it’s off to spend my Tuesday afternoon with EquiKids and this wonderful October weather has me hoping to play outside for a few more hours.

Meredith

Bloody Sport

It’s Wednesday, which means four workouts down and three to go for the last time this summer.  After the success of my final Tuesday Two a Day until November yesterday, I’ll be dropping down to six workouts per seven days through race season starting next week.  Riding this week’s wave of good work, I was prepared to keep it up with a solid run today, regardless of the weather.  Lucky for me, a cool front rolled in after some storms last night and dropped temperatures down into the mid 70s with humidity less than 50% for the first time since The Great Cool Down.

It was the second day for my new shoes, and after going two for two with wet shoes, socks and feet my last two outdoor sessions, it was extra nice that my they all stayed dry from beginning to end.  On the slate this afternoon was a 50 minute tempo run, and I had set a goal of hitting at least 6.3 miles after my 45 minute tempo run last week left me a little short of where I wanted to be.  A stiff breeze that seemed to change direction just to be in my face all the time was only mildly annoying and it’s amazing what even slightly lower temperatures will do to help keep your heart rate and core temperature under control.  With the great conditions, everything was going swimmingly as I started increasing my pace at minute 15.  By minute 20 my key had started to bouncing around a little bit more than I liked in my pocket, so I stopped to string it through my shoelaces.  No big deal, and off I went again.  It was roughly 30 seconds later I felt the scraping.  My right middle toe was rubbing, pinching and whining, which was rather irritating, so I stopped and readjusted the key/shoelace situation before hitting my peak pace at minute 26 and running on to complete the full 50 minutes without any pain.

The outing was a success and I beat my goal of hitting 6.25 miles.  It almost made me sad to finish, not knowing when another round of beautiful weather will come around.  I was, in spite of my sadness, excited to see how much easier I had it in the gentler climate.  As I walked a little cool down, I thought how nice it was to start reaping the rewards of having recently powered through some tough outings in hot, humid, and altogether cruddy weather.  Only when I slipped off my shoes did I realize I had given more than I thought today.  My right middle toe had left my sock looking like it was in a war zone.  Blood everywhere.  White sock turned red and pink.  I never expected a tiny little toe could bleed so profusely, let alone a toe that didn’t even hurt.  Upon closer examination, I found the entire top side of my middle toe knuckle missing a layer of skin, and while I don’t know what caused it, I know what made it worse.  I will survive my latest running injury, and bleach my bloody sock, knowing I don’t hold it against the run, the shoe or the sock.

A great run in the books, a sock smothered in bleach and a toe bandage in waiting, it’s on to EquiKids this evening and strength training tomorrow.

Meredith

Sunsets and Rest

Race Weekend is here!  I’m feeling ready to turn in a good run and already have my alarm set for 4am tomorrow.

After wrapping up Race Week Training with that 30 minute run yesterday, I still had plenty of energy and my legs felt great.  Race Week leading up to a 5K has fewer miles in it than prepping for a half marathon and Friday afternoon was gorgeous.  We wanted to take advantage of the beautiful Friday evening, and because of the light mileage I had run during the week, I felt OK with our ‘take advantage of a pretty day’ plan.  We put a picnic dinner and a bottle of wine in the cooler backpack, towels, cups and napkins in my trusty EquiKids drawstring backpack, and rode our mountain bikes through the slightly muddy trails at First Landing State Park to enjoy a sunset picnic on the beach before biking back on Shore Drive.  While this may sound like an extra workout, the terrain is fairly flat and at only about 7 miles each way, I knew I’d feel OK today.  Watching the sun go down as the mud dried on our arms and legs, we enjoyed a bottle of Trimbach Gewürztraminer that was a perfect way to end the week and get ready for rest day.

64th SunsetThe Sunset

64th BikeOur bikes, and me.

Rest Day is upon me and it feels great.  A very nice morning teaching on the beach has led to an afternoon of washing the mud from last night out of our shirts and a bunch of lazy.  My legs are feeling race ready, even after the 14 mile bike ride, and all I have left to do is pack my race bag.  Predicted race conditions in Kitty Hawk are 72 degrees with a 30% chance of rain, and both are just fine with me because it means the weather won’t be much of a factor in my performance.  Here goes Fall Season 2013!

Meredith

PS:  I’m not wearing a helmet in the picture because my very small head looks ridiculous in it, but we did both wear helmets and lights while riding.