Thursday, May 28, 2009

Four Races in Five Days - May 21-25th, 2009

RFR Corporate Challenge - May 21st
Weston Memorial Day Weekend 5K - May 23rd

May 24th

I have run 3 races in a weekend a few times in the past, but I'm not sure that I've ever taken on 4 races in 5 days. My left leg (ITB and calf) were still a little tight since my marathon, but all blisters have healed and nothing hurt. I didn't expect to race all the races, but hadn't decided which ones to take easy yet.

RFR 5K Walk/Run

The first race was the RFR Corporate Challenge 5k on Thursday evening. There some pressure to run well in this race since some of my co-workers had a spreadsheet setup with every one's expected finish time. I was listed to be the 2nd female to finish behind Amanda who is in her early 20s! Allison was also expected to run close to my pace and I knew that our order could go either way. I can accept being beaten, especially by a friend or co-worker, but always want to push myself to run the best that I can.

We all gathered at the town center by the registration area. I have been working with / coaching a co-worker, Charles, who was not used to running on the roads. I was looking forward to seeing how he would do in the race. I had been going on lunch time training runs with him on hilly routes to get him used to running hills. I was also wondering how Tom would do since he had been struggling with side stitches in his training runs.

It was a hot and muggy night and I had forgotten to bring my water bottle. However, I didn't think much of it since it was only a 5k race. We all lined up for the start and the gun went off. I immediately see Allison take off and pass a lot of people to take a quick lead for our women. She was also ahead of Steve, which surprised me. I tried to catch up to her, but got stuck in a crowd. After a few minutes I had lost the crowd, but still wasn't able to join her. She was way up ahead of me and I saw that I was running a 7:10 pace at the time. At this point I realized that I was really thirsty and wished that I had my water bottle. I ended up spending the entire race dealing with dry mouth and difficulty swallowing due to bad allergies. However, on a positive note, my legs felt good and the first mile seemed to fly by. At the end of mile one I could see Allison, Steve and Jim a little ahead of me. My goal for now was to keep them all in my sights.

I was able to close the gap a little on the large hill that was in the beginning of the second mile. Amanda caught up to me at that point, but then backed off a little. I finally caught up to Jim, but he then surged ahead and caught up to Allison. I gained some more ground on the downhill, but was still quite a bit back from Allison. On the last turn before the finish I caught up to Jim who encouraged me to go for it. I turned it on and sprinted out the final stretch to finish about one second behind Allison. Jim then finished shortly behind me and Amamda shortly behind him. Amanda had also struggled with bad allergies, especially on 5th street in mile 2.

Despite still feeling very thirsty I decided to go back out to see how Charles and Tom were doing. I was happy to see Charles coming into sight before I got to the corner of the home stretch. I told him in was doing really well and that he could now sprint it out to the end. I was amazed at how fast he went. He flew by and passed a bunch of people and finished very strong. I was so proud! I then went back and cheered for Vivian and pretty soon saw Tom coming down that stretch. He also looked good and strong and finished with a kick. I went out a few more times to encourage a few others and then went to meet the group.

For our men's group Brian came in first followed by Tom L and then Steve.

Some of the group headed to Bobby Valentine's while Vivian, Charles, Tom and I stuck around for the awards. We didn't expect to get an award since we were told that the only category was best 3 finishers overall and some of our fastest guys weren't available for this race. However, they started calling out winners in the female divisions. We were the first place team for masters (over 40) women - myself, Christine and Claudia. We then received second place team for open women - Allison, Amanda and Vivian. I also took first place individual for masters women. Vivian and I was very happily surprised to have done so well. We were now dying to get to Bobby V's to show off all our awards to the guys in the group. My friend, Jeanette, and her husband, Tony, also joined us for dinner.

My GPS splits:

Mile 1: 7:24
Mile 2: 8:09
Mile 3: 7:18
Final .08: :31 (6:32 pace)
Finish time: 23:23
Average Pace: 7:36
Listed race pace based on 5k distance: 7:33


Commonfund group photo:

Jim and Tiffany

Allison, Jim, Tiffany and Keith

Brian and Ethan

Tom and Charles

Vivian with Women's Open award bag

Me with my individual masters award bag

Me and Vivian with all 3 awards bags

Vivian, Tom and Charles

Weston Memorial Day 5K Road Race

Race number two was the Weston Memorial Day run on Saturday morning. My heart wasn't into this race because I didn't know of anyone who was going to be running it. The race is also somewhat hilly and it was a warm and muggy morning. However, it didn't take me long to see George. I also saw Dawn beforehand and she asked me about wearing an ipod. I had not seen anything stating that ipods were not allowed so we both opted to use ours. Shortly after that I saw a sign on the door of the school that had the no-ipod symbol on it. I went back to my car to return mine and passed Dawn who had just put hers back in her car also. I lined up at the start line with George and they announced that ipods were not allowed on the course and that they would hold them for the runners until they finished. At this time some people turned theirs in and others tucked them away - to use later. A woman next to me put her headphones in her fanny pack and indicated that she would still wear them despite the rules.

George usually runs at a mid-eight minute mile pace and I considered running this pace with him to have this be an easier race for me. However, we both ended up running at about a 7:40 pace for the first mile. Right after we passed the mile mark the women with the fanny pack had her driver's license and a credit card fly out of the pack. Several of us tried to let her know that, but her music was too loud so she didn't hear us. More than a quarter of a mile later when we were running along side her we let her know. She was concerned at first, but when we told her that a lady in her driveway at mile one might have picked them up for her she continued running. Then at the halfway point Jim was taking bib numbers of those with headphones to disqualify them, but at this point the lady's fanny pack was moved to the front and was blocking her bib number.

George opted to back off shortly after we passed Jim and I continued to try to keep up the same pace. The course was tough with some hills and I knew that there was a hill towards the end heading back into the school. However, the hills weren't especially steep and my legs felt really good. I was able to maintain a steady pace and finished strong.

My GPS splits:

Mile 1: 7:42
Mile 2: 7:34
Mile 3: 7:46
Final .11: :56 (6:37 pace)
Finish time: 23:58
Average Pace: 7:38
Listed race pace based on 5k distance: 7:45

George and his friend

Andie, Paul, Ronnie and their friends

Andie, Paul and I


Bridgeport Hospital Home Run5K Run, Walk & Wheelchair Race and a Children's Fun Run

Race number 3 was the Bridgeport Home Run 5k. I was really looking forward to this race. This would be Tom' second race of the season and I knew that Kellie, Jeanette, George and many other friends would be there. The race is run on a flat and scenic course that runs through Seaside Park in Bridgeport and ends on the warning track of Harbor Yard baseball stadium. The weather was nice and cool with a gentle breeze.

Kellie was hoping to get her average pace down below an 8 minute mile so I was planning to run most of the race with her. I was thinking that the pace would be just a little easier than all out, but pretty close to it. Marty had written 2 races in 2 days on my bib, which I thought was a nice personal touch.

I also saw Sue, who is a new running friend that I met at the April Fool's race in Easton recently. Kellie's friend, Heather, was also there with her husband and kids. Her husband was signed up for the 5k race and the kids were signed up for their first kids race. Brian F was also there and I gave him a hard time for not being in touch with me since I ran in the NJ marathon last month.

We lined up near the front of the pack and were shortly on our way. Kellie and I ran side by side at about a 7:40 pace in the beginning. This was faster than I expected, but Kellie seemed to be comfortable with it so we stuck to it. At one point George ran up to us and joked around about whether or not we were aware that it was actually a "race"! He then backed off and let us go. Jim G was along side us for much of the first mile and then he started to pull ahead a little. At about 1 and a half miles in I saw Sue up ahead and was thinking about whether or not I would be able to catch her later in the race, but she looked very comfortable in her pace and didn't seem like she was going to slow down. I mentioned her to Kellie and she encouraged me to go for it after the 2 mile mark. However, Jim was behind her and I knew I'd have to catch him first. I wasn't totally confident about how much I could push it and didn't want to crash and burn at the end so I just picked up the pace a little without trying to go all out. I knew at this point that Kellie easily had her sub 8-minute mile pace accomplished.

Once I got to the turn to enter into the ballpark Marty was there to encourage me. He told me this was great training for the last .2 of a mile in my upcoming Steamtown marathon that would help me to qualify for Boston. That made me smile and gave me an extra kick for the end. I picked up the pace and sprinted the last stretch. I was not able to catch Jim or Sue, but did finish very close behind them. Kellie then finished shortly after that. George, Jeanette and Tom came in shortly behind us.

We hung out on the bleachers for a while after the race. Kellie got a massage from Tony and we just sat around and chatted. I looked around for Sue, but she had left already. We stuck around for the awards ceremony and Sue had won a trophy for 3rd place in our division. I picked up the trophy for her and wrote to her later that evening to tell her that I had it.

My GPS splits:

Mile 1: 7:43
Mile 2: 7:46
Mile 3: 7:31
Final .11: :42 (6:17 pace)
Finish time: 23:43
Average Pace: 7:37
Listed race pace based on 5k distance: 7:40


Tom, Me, George, Kellie and Jeanette


Start - Photo by Heather

Me in the pink (Boston Buildup) shirt - Photo by Heather

Kellie posing for the camera - photo by Heather

Jeanette in the pink (Boston Buildup) shirt - Photo by Heather
Her husband is in the grey shirt crossing the line.

Tony giving Kellie a massage

Jeanette and Tom after the race

Jeanette, George and Tom

Tom, Brian and Larry

Maria and Petra (they ran 3 races in 3 days)


Race number 4 was the Jim Fixx 5 Miler in Greenwich. I was dreading this race because it is a tough hilly race to run in the heat and especially as the last race of a 4 race weekend. However, I was looking forward to it because of the challenge of it and I knew that I would see some other friends here. I also have great respect for the late Jim Fixx.

When I got to the race I saw Roy, Mike T, John G, Luis, Bob G and Maria and Petra. I made sure to tell Luis that the race was 5 miles since in most races he tells me afterwards that he gets confused as to the distance and that messes up his pacing. It was nice and cool early in the morning, but it was rapidly warming up. I lined up with John G, who had run in the Vermont marathon relay the day before. His team came in second in his division behind some younger men. They did improve on their time significantly from the prior year and were happy with their performance. I wasn't sure how John and I would run after running hard the day before.

The beginning of the race is a short downhill section and John G went out ahead of me. I was amazed that he was running a pace in the low 7s. I kept close to him and shortly after the hill I caught up to him. I wore my ipod for this race since I didn't see anything saying that they were banned. I always take great pride in keeping the volume very low so that I can be safe and hear what is going on around me. I passed the test with flying colors - I was able to hear John's nice soothing breathing sounds as I ran along side him.

At the one mile mark he realized that he was going faster than he expccted so he slowed it down a little. I haven't run the course for a few years so I couldn't remember where the hills were, but knew there were quite a few of them. The run through Bruce Park and nice and had some shade, but shortly after that we started to hit some of the hills and lost the shade. At one point I was struggling going up a hill and was considering walking up it. I figured that I'd run hard in every race this weekend and deserved a break, but then I looked down and saw the number 68 spray painted on a drain cover. I looked down at my bib and saw that my bib number was 68. That was all the motivation I needed - I decided that this was my hill and instead of walking it I would take it strong and get it over with quickly. As I charged up the hill a guy turned to me as I was about to pass him (and several others) and he made a comment that I was running the hill very well. I told him that it was my hill and I continued on at that pace. Shortly after that we had a nice little downhill section, followed by another hill. Another guy said that I was running well and I asked him if the hills were over yet. He chuckled and said that he didn't want to answer that question and then said that it's because there were more hills to come before we made it to the top of Greenwich Avenue for the downhill section. I felt better knowing what I was up against and continue on happily.

When I finally got towards the top of the last hill I saw Luis up ahead. Again, I knew it was him because of his calves. I said hi as I came up alongside him and he said he wondered where I was. He thought that I had been ahead of him the whole time. I thought that catching him here was a good sign that I was going to beat him, but as soon as we turned onto Greenwich Ave he took off down the hill. I felt very tired and was struggling to keep close to him. I wanted to go a little faster, but was afraid that I wouldn't have anything left for the last part leading to the track and then the lap around the track. The piece leading to the track was shorter than I thought and the finish line was much earlier on the track than I rememebered. As soon as I saw where the finish line was I took off on an all out sprint and passed by a few people and managed to finish one second behind Luis. I congratulated Luis and introduced myself to his wife who was waiting for him at the finish. I was very happy with my performance in this race and greatly improved my time over the other two years that I ran it.

This turned out to be a really good weekend of racing. I ran consistently in every race and was always close to running by best times. I had so much fun and am very glad that I took on this challenge. I have also looked at the calendar and see that I have another 4 race weekend coming up along with a few other weekends with 2 races.

My GPS splits:
Mile 1: 7:34
Mile 2: 8:08
Mile 3: 7:54
Mile 4: 8:34
Mile 5: 7:21
Finish time: 39:31
Average Pace: 7:54


Roy and John

Mike, Bob G, Doug G and Jenn G (plus one to be named later!)

Bob, Mike, Doug, Jenn and Kate

John G

John G

Maria and Petra

Me, John and Ikuko after the race

John G, me and Bob ( I wore my ultrabrit shirt especially for John G)

Me and Ikuko wearing our New Jersey marathon hats

Roy, John and Ikuko

Roy and Rob

Me and my bib hanging over the cover that was spray painted with my number on it on 'my hill'.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Accelerate Your Life 5K - May 17th, 2009

I woke up on Sunday morning to the sound of the rain. The forecast had said that it would be cool with some showers. By the time I got to the race the rain had stopped and it was just a little chilly and windy. I chatted with John and Bob while we waited for others to arrive. Karen and Jim thanked me for promoting the race on facebook, not that it did much good since we was still only had 39 runners. A little later Kellie arrived so we took some pictures and then went out for a quick jog to warm-up. When we got back Jeanette joined us and we dropped off our top layers and headed to the start line.

The first mile was mostly downhill, the middle was mostly flat with a few small hills and then there was a hill before the last turn for the finish. My left leg was still tight from the marathon, especially my hamstring, but the easy downhill start allowed me to relax and let it stretch out a little. John was by my side briefly in the beginning and then I could hear the soothing sound of his breathing behind me for the next half mile or so. After that I pushed ahead a little and saw who I thought to be Luis up ahead (see my Spring Equinox race report). I was eventually able to catch up to him and he said he thought it was me coming up behind him. I told him that I thought I recognized him by his calves! We ran side by side for a little while and I was wondering if I could keep up with him until the end, but I ended up being able to pull ahead. For such a short race I was surprised that I was struggling and constantly looking for that final hill so that I could get to the home stretch. I did pass several guys in the last mile or so and ran pretty hard on that hill. Once the hill was over I knew that I could keep pushing to the end. I managed to finish strong and was very happy with my time.

Also see Luis' race report

Mile One: 7:30
Mile Two: 7:42
Mile Three: 7:52
Last .10: :40 (6:42)
= 23:45
7:40 average pace

Once I finished I cheered for Luis, Kellie, Bob, John, Dawn and Jeanette. We then all had drinks, bagels and chatted until it was time for the awards. I chatted with Luis for a while who told me that he thought is was a 5 mile race! Kellie placed first in her age group and won a gift certificate to Runner Roost. Way to go Kellie!

Bob and John


Kate and Kellie

Kellie and Kate

To be used for next year's t-shirt design! ;o)

Bag 'O Bagels from LizSue Bagels

Jeanette, Kellie and John

Jim being reflective!

Luis (in the middle)

Kellie claiming her prize 'money'