2015 Jane Neely 5K – RACE RECAP!

I did not have high hopes going into this race. Originally, this was going to be a goal race and I wanted to put some serious effort into the training. Then, of course, life happened. It took me longer than I thought to get back to it after the marathon, I implemented a new type of training (heart rate), running in the humidity is tough, and I was sick for about a week right before the race. Have I listed enough excuses yet??  Let me throw in one more for good measure; I hardly did any speed work!
In an email to Jen, I told her that there was a good chance this race would be a “shit show”. She told me to have a little faith, and that the week and a half I lost might be a good thing and my legs would be well rested. *Spoiler Alert* Luckily, she was right and I managed to pull out a brand new PR by about 2 minutes!!

Wilbur helping me get ready for the race. He's got his Game Face On. Or maybe that's his Put-Me-Down-Before-I-Cut-You face. Not sure.

Wilbur helping me get ready for the race. He’s got his Game Face On. Or maybe that’s his Put-Me-Down-Before-I-Cut-You face. Not sure.

I ran this race last year and really enjoyed it. It’s super close to home (takes place at Kiwanis Park in Shaler Twp), small, low key and the course is flatish. It’s an out and back with the slightest grade for a little more than a mile that you can’t see but you can feel. THEN at the end there is a monster climb that goes straight up. It’s not as bad as the Frigid 5 hill but it’s still a beast and “that shit’s just mean“.
Courtesy of Google Maps - this is the start of THE hill. The picture doesn't do it justice.

Courtesy of Google Maps – this is the start of THE hill. The picture doesn’t do it justice.

Courtesy of Google Maps - this is the start of THE hill.  The picture doesn't do it justice.

This is part two of THE hill. It levels off for about half a second and then you have this last steep little climb.

The race course was a little different from last year. Last year, we walked DOWN the beastly hill and started on Little Pine Creek Road, ran out, turned around and came back then climbed the beast and finished in the outfield of the baseball field at Kiwanis Park. Thanks to all of the rain, though, the field was way too muddy so the finish was moved behind the park to the parking lot of the elementary school next door. They also moved the start line so that it was in the parking lot right in front of the finish line. So not only did we have to run UP the beast at the end, we had to run DOWN the beast at the start. Normally a downhill start is awesome but this is a STEEP downhill and I lack basic coordination skills so I was worried about tripping and face-planting on the new, slick asphalt.

My goal for this race was to stay in particular heart rate zone (180-188 bpm), and while my average HR was 188, I was sitting at my max (192) for at least a mile and on the last hill I hit 200 at one point. Oops.

The race itself was pretty uneventful. It wasn’t hot out (about 66*) but omg the humidity! It was about 96% at the start and it just felt…soupy.  Once I got down the massive hill (and didn’t fall. YAY!) I started to cruise while keeping an eye on my heart rate. I got into my zone pretty quickly and remember thinking that it was hard. Not impossible, but maintaining that would be difficult. I pushed those thoughts aside and tried to stay focused. The first mile went by really quickly and I made it a point to NOT look at my watch. A few weeks ago, I took away the pace field and replaced it with heart rate, but my watch will still show each mile time for about 10 or 15 seconds. I didn’t want to know what the time was – if it was too slow, I would have been pissed and if it was too fast I would have panicked. Not long after the first mile, I hit my max heart rate. This is where I went off my plan because according to the rules, I should have slowed down or walked to get the heart rate down but that just wasn’t happening. In the back of my mind, I also remembered that you could adjust your heart rate if it was super humid so I used that as my justification. 188+5 = 193 = I’m still OK.
Just after mile 2 though, I started to feel it. I knew that I was slowing a bit but my heart rate was still at max but I didn’t care. Even with the pace field gone, I could do enough basic math to tell that I was going to PR if I didn’t slow down. BUT I still had the hill at the end, and that could make or break me. Then I started the internal battle – slow down a little now, to save some for the end vs eff it, just go and worry about the hill when you get there. This battle went on for a bit, and before I knew it…I was at the hill. So I never did pick a side because I was too busy trying to pick the side. Say what?! I put my head down and just went for it. I passed two people on the climb up, and did a little internal cheer. I had been leapfrogging with one girl for almost half a mile, so to cruise past them was kind of satisfying. Actually. It was a lot satisfying. A half mile before, I came up on this girl who was walking, and right before I passed her she looked back, saw me, and started to run again. Then she would get a little bit ahead of me, and walk until I caught up with her. Then she would run again. This gets annoying, and I don’t know if I’m reading too much into it but it kind of feels like it’s  “oh, I can’t let HER pass me“, because I kind of look like a baby sasquatch lumbering along, and they can’t let the short, chubby girl pass them?! I don’t know maybe it’s nothing but when it happens every time, I start to get a little self conscious. *Side note. I looked up the results and she was only 15 or 16. So I feel a little bad getting mad, but it still irritates me.  Once I got up the hill into the parking lot, it leveled off, so I was able to take a deep breath and kick it to the finish to make sure that the girl from the hill didn’t catch me at the end. 26:05, 8:25 pace 5th place age group. Not.too.shabby.


At least 5 minutes after I finished and my heart rate was still high.

My watch registered the course as short – 2.99, but my friend’s said 3.1 on the nose so I’m thinking that my Garmin is just off. Seeing that shortened distance gives me mixed feelings though. Even though my friends that also ran this race assured me that the course distance was right on their watches, I can’t help but feel that I didn’t actually run 3.1, which means my time isn’t actually correct, even though it matches the gun time perfectly (there is no chip timing in this race). I still would have PRd, but it almost feels like I cheated. Then again, if my watch had come up as 3.2 miles I would have been pissed that it was long and that I missed a PR so….who knows.
If there aren't Eat N Park smiley cookies at the finish line, it's NOT a Pittsburgh race ;-)

If there aren’t Eat N Park smiley cookies at the finish line, it’s NOT a Pittsburgh race 😉

My friend also ran this race and finished 3rd in her age group with a 25:15 finish time! We were both a little jealous that the Brentwood 5K had beer at the finish line and this race didn’t so…we brought our own! We enjoyed a much deserved cold one as we popped the hatch of my car and cheered on the other finishers!

Beer from America's oldest brewery seemed appropriate for the 4th!

Beer from America’s oldest brewery seemed appropriate for the 4th!

I’m really happy with this finish time (even with the distance discrepancy), and I’m pretty sure that I would not have been able to do this had I been doing it on my own, rather than with the heart rate monitor. I would have seen an 8:07 mile, freaked, and slowed waaaaaaaaaaay down. This method is really giving me the confidence that I need to reach my full potential and I am really excited to see what I can do. There is lots to do before October but I am ready to WORK!
Did you race on the 4th? How’d ya do?

NVHM Training Week 5 –

I looked at the calendar this week and realized that it is just over a month until race day. Normally this might send me into a panic thinking that I need to work harder or that I won’t be ready, but honestly I’m feeling really good about my training so far! There are a few things to work out, but that’s what these last few weeks are for and I’m excited to tackle them! This was a really solid 21 mile week, with a huge 5K PR on Saturday!

I am a firm believe that the best way to start a new week of training is with a rest day, so on Monday I did just that! It was also my birthday, so a rest day was definitely necessary. I got flowers to delivered to my office from my Mom:

Seriously, how pretty are they??

Seriously, how pretty are they??

And I stayed super classy with dinner from Qdoba – I had a BOGO birthday coupon so this was an obvious choice.

I will admit, this was a little bittersweet – while it was a wonderful day, I was really missing my stepdad. I missed the birthday text from him and the phone call and how we would have gone to our usual place for dinner and drinks….but enough of that.

Tuesday is usually my easy/recovery day, but since I was registered for the ZooZilla 5K on Saturday (my hill day) I decided to tackle a few rollers over 4 miles. As usual I started out too fast, and was really struggling by the end. I still managed a 10:45 pace, but I was holding on for dear life over the last mile.  The weather was absolutely gorgeous though, and I was soaking up what would most likely be the last 70+ degree day for a looooong time!  4 miles/10:43 pace.


Wednesday was another rest day (can you tell that I love these??). I took a trip out to my mom’s house to take care of the wiener dogs while she worked late. This was also a strength day, which I knocked out first thing in the AM (while I caught up on Revenge – getting sooooo good!). I’m really working to make this strength training a habit and I feel like it’s already paying off.



Thursday, lol. Usually my speed day, but I emailed Jennifer and asked her opinion: since we were running a 5K Saturday I should probably not do speed work and just go for an easy 4 miler, right? Right. Except, I’m an airhead and by the time I got home I completely forgot about this strategy and went for a 4 mile tempo run.  Derp. Seriously, it didn’t even register until I was already done running.  It was a pretty solid run though. I’ve been pretty consistent with these runs lately, and I’m thinking it’s time to take the next step and add another mile to these workouts. For some reason, the thought of a 5 mile run with 3 at tempo pace scares me. I just have to tell myself it’s one more mile, and I can do anything for a mile. Temps were chilly (about 45*), but I was still able to wear shorts (yay!) and rocked out a pretty solid time.  4 miles/10:32 pace

Good Stuff

Good Stuff

Friday was a strength day, and I took it easy-ish. For any of the leg work I just did body weight squats and reverse lunges so that my legs wouldn’t be sore for Saturday. I took Friday evening nice and easy, and just hung out on the couch with the kitties, Tall One and some Chinese take out. Maybe not the best pre race dinner, but it was delicious!  I made sure to hydrate up and go to bed early – I was so tired I fell asleep on the couch by 9!

Saturday RACE DAY! A few things that didn’t make it into my recap:

  • I was seriously in the zone for this race. I don’t know when it happened, but at some point I realized I didn’t even hear my music as I was running. It was weird, but in a good way.
  • Even waiting for the race to start, I wasn’t sure that I could maintain a sub 10:15 pace. Once I was running, though, I never once doubted my ability to maintain pace.
  • I’ve been practicing fast finishes at the end of my runs and that paid off in a big way. Fast being relative, of course, but I always try to pick it up for the last .10-.25 miles of every run. Some days I don’t have much left to give, some days I do, but either way it’s working.
  • My previous PR, set in July, was 31:21; yesterday I ran 28:10. Hills really are speedwork in disguise.
  • I have totally changed my mind regarding 5Ks. They are freaking awesome.

Sunday is long run day, and I always look forward to these! I was also soooo excited for Daylight Saving Time – yay for an extra hour of sleep! Unfortunately, the cats didn’t set their internal clocks back and were up at 5 AM for breakfast. And then went back to sleep 20 minutes later.

The plan called for 10, but after a hard effort on Saturday I wasn’t sure if I would get all of those miles in. I decided yesterday that if my legs were tired or hurting I would call it quits and not risk injury. Luckily, these legs were feeling really fresh and I was able to knock out 10 miles at an 11:10 pace. It was a beautiful morning, but cold and REALLY WINDY! A few times the gusts were so strong that I was knocked a few steps backwards. Around mile 8 I started to get tired – this is also when the wind got wicked strong. I stopped a couple of times to try to take a picture of the wind which sounds hilariously stupid as I type it out. My ponytail was getting whipped across my face, and there were little leaf tornadoes everywhere.

My splits ends were scratching my face. Seriously uncomfortable.  Also, I will be calling the salon for an appointment ASAP

My splits ends were scratching my face. Seriously uncomfortable. Also, I will be calling the salon for an appointment ASAP

The sun did come out right at the end though and made for a beautiful fall picture!



My pace suffered a little bit at the end thanks to me stopping constantly to take pictures. Oh well…totally worth it!

Unfortunately, while my Garmin synced with DailyMile, I can’t get it to upload onto my Garmin Activities page to see my splits. Bummer!

All in all, this was a fantastic week and I think I will be riding this PR high for a few more days. I do need to start paying better attention to my daily nutrition – I think the reason some of my weekday runs have been such a struggle is due to what I’m eating (and not eating)! As I get closer to race day, and my workload increases this will make a huge difference!


ZooZilla 5K – RECAP

Wow! Where to start? Jennifer mentioned this race to me a few weeks ago and I decided why not? It sounded like a lot of fun and I haven’t run a race since July! I’m a touch out of practice with race morning routines and such, and since NVHM is just over a month away this would be perfect. It’s also pretty challenging with a steep climb up One Wild Place, and all of the little rollers throughout the zoo – perfect practice for my upcoming half.  We’d been emailing back and forth all week about our goals for this race and even just this morning I still wasn’t 100% sure what they were.  But, moving on. Get comfy…I’m kind of wordy when it comes to recapping things. Especially *spoiler alert* good things!!!


Since I was just treating this race as a practice I wasn’t nervous at all and got a pretty good nights sleep. I did wake up every hour after1 AM to make sure I didn’t miss my alarm though. I finally woke up at about 5 and got started with some coffee,a little water, and a cinnamon raisin bagel with peanut butter.  I normally wouldn’t eat that much before a 5K, but I was already hungry and knew that the race didn’t start for another 3 hours so I figured it would be A-OK.  One of the things I need to figure out  is my race day nutrition and this was a good step!  I checked the weather before I got dressed, and my app said that it was 43 degrees and no rain so I decided to wear shorts and a jacket. Imagine my surprise when I walked out to my car and it was raining. This is why I have trust issues. Honestly, I wasn’t that upset…I kind of like running in the rain. I find it very calming!

Jennifer and I met just after 7 to pick up our shirts and timing chips and then we sat in the toasty car until about 15 minutes before the race was scheduled to start. Somehow I think we both kind of decided that we were really going to do for it this morning, give it our all and not leave anything behind on the course. We’d try to stick together as long as possible, but if either felt good we were free to go ahead. Before I knew it, it was time to leave the warm car and heated seats. We did a quick warmup job through the parking lot (a first for me – I’ve never done any kind of warmup before a race. Maybe I should start…), and made our way to the start. As we were doing this, I was eyeing up the hill we would soon be running and was a touch nervous. I quickly pushed those thoughts aside and started reiterating my positive thoughts.

We stood in the start area for a few minutes, and without any warning…we were OFF!!

Mile 1 – 9:19 min/mile: Jennifer led the way, bobbing and weaving through the crowd so we could find some space. I seriously credit her with our great start because otherwise I probably would’ve gotten stuck behind a group and not been able to get into a good rhythm. I’m working on this new theory that I run better when I don’t stare at my Garmin every .0005 seconds, but I couldn’t help but look down and I saw that we were running close to a 9 min. mile.  The first mile is really just a big loop through the parking lot, and through some of the construction that is going on (and was a mud pit thanks to all of the rain lately).

Mile 2 10:01 min/mile: I didn’t say anything to Jennifer as we started up the mountain that is One Wild Place, but we were still running side by side and feeling good. This hill is the kind of giant that just.keeps.going. There is no end in sight. About halfway up, I lost Jennifer as I was doing some bobbing and weaving of my own and when I tried to look behind me I nearly fell. Face planting the pavement didn’t sound ideal at that point, so I just kept trucking and hoped that she wouldn’t hate me for being a klutz.  I kept waiting for the top of the hill, and it wasn’t coming. Finally the turnaround appeared and there is a nice little downhill to give your legs a break. As I was going down, I passed Jennifer who was looking really strong! This is when I started to think that today was going to be a good day for both of us! The turn into the zoo is a short, steep little hill. From here you start to run the perimeter of the zoo, which is a lot of little rollers. When my watch beeped I looked down and saw a 10:01 min. mile and was really happy considering the beast that we just climbed!

Mile 3 8:16 (?!?!?!) min/mile: At some point after mile 2 (I think near the bear exhibits), you actually get into the zoo wrap and around some of the exhibits. The lions and tigers were out which made this crazy cat lady happy – the tiger was really into the race…that or he was just hungry and eying one of us up for breakfast. Either way, fun to see! Somewhere during the mile, I glanced down at my watch at saw that I was hovering close to a 9 min/mile again. I was still feeling really good so I just kept focusing on my breathing and somehow I started passing a few people and my pace just kept dropping (major milestone, because normally I’m the one getting passed)!!! After one more quick uphill (by the snow leopard), it is mercifully all downhill from here. You get to go back down One Wild Place, and I really tried to open my stride up and make up some of the time I lost when I going up. I was able to pick it up quite a bit, and continued to pass a few more people on the downhill. We went back through the construction mud pit, and as we rounded the parking lot I saw the finish line flags. I looked at my watch and saw the pace, saw the time and realized I was going to PR BIG TIME.

.08 6:32 min/mile: I really started to haul ass once I saw the finish line. I just kept flapping my little T-Rex arms, and before I knew I crossed the finish line with a brand shiny new PR of  28:10 (official time) which is a 9:05 pace!!!! The only thing that bums me out is that my watch registered short 😦 . I know it’s not a huge discrepancy and it would have only added a few seconds onto my time, but still. Aside from that, I was pumped!! I circled back to look for Jennifer and saw her just in time to cruise in to huge PR of her own!

That's right. Just a couple of sub 30 5Kers here!!!!

That’s right. Just a couple of sub 30 5Kers here!!!!

Also, that 28:09 finish time was good enough for top 10 in my age group and Jennifer finished 7th in her age group! We pretty much crushed it today.

Social media is pretty awesome, and kind of made me feel like a rock star today with all of the congratulations that were sent our way! I think this one from Kristy sums it up perfectly though:

Could not have said it better myself!

Could not have said it better myself!

It is SO satisfying to see that all of the work I’ve been doing is paying off! This is exactly what I needed in my training – validation that I’m on the right track and  a great confidence builder as I head into my last month of half marathon training!

Major congrats to Jennifer who got her sub 30 on a tough course, and for motivating me to give it my all this morning!

I’ll leave you with this gem from my Instagram page!


Run for Your Life 5K RECAP

Wahoo! My first ever race recap! I went back and forth over whether or not I was going to run this. First I wasn’t, then I was, then I wasn’t sure then about 2 weeks ago I finally decided that  I would run . I didn’t leave myself much time to prepare, speed wise, so I just concentrated on my normal once a week speed day and trying to incorporate some fast finishes into most runs.  I have 0 pictures from this race – since it was so close to home, The Tall One didn’t need to chauffeur me around so he wasn’t there to be my photographer and I wasn’t going to start asking random strangers to take my picture “for the blog”.

I should stop here and mention…I really don’t like 5Ks. I’m not sure why, though.  Maybe it’s because they feel like they’re over before it even gets started (that’s what she said). And, being perfectly honest (because that’s what you do with internet strangers friends) a bigger reason would be….they make me feel slow. I’m always so hesitant to enter them because I’m worried that I’ll be one of the last runners to cross the line, and certainly one of the last in my age group. I know that’s a stupid reason to not like them, but, I’m a very self conscious person. Anyway, I decided the hell with it and I was going to do it. It’s time to stop being a 10 year old and change my outlook on them. 

I ran the Jane Neely Run For your Life 5K at Kiwanis Park, in Shaler Township. The race started at 8:30, and I needed to be there around 7:45 to register. I live about 5 minutes away from the venue so it was a wonderful change of pace from half/full marathons (where waking up at 3:45 is the norm) to be able to wake up late, *we’re talking almost 6 AM here, people….that’s big!* enjoy my coffee and english muffin with peanut butter.

I drove to the park, registered and just kind of people watched for the next half hour. The weather was perfect, and I enjoyed the breeze and sunshine as I watched them try to put up this huge hot air balloon that was supposed to mark the finish area. It was going up when we made our way to the start line, but when I got to the finishers area….the balloon was gone. No idea what happened.

There was a DJ playing some super patriotic tunes (Neil Diamond’s Coming to America FTW!), and about 5 minutes before the start they herded us like cattle down a hill to the start line.  I knew this hill would be at the end of the course, but I did NOT realize what a freakin’ mountain it was. All I kept thinking was….holy %$#^ I have to run back UP this beast.

With very little warning, a horn sounded to start the race and we were off!!

I’m familiar with most of the out and back course (except that mountain at the end…just a minor detail), so I knew that while it looked flat, the back part actually has a small gradual incline. Doesn’t look like much, even on the elevation profile, but your legs know it’s there. Or maybe it’s just my weak legs that can sniff out any kind of incline a mile away.

I have no idea what my 5K pace is, so I figured I would just go with what my legs were feeling. I was sort of keeping an eye on my watch, but I wasn’t looking every 10 seconds either.

 Mile 0-1was pretty uneventful; except for the garbage truck that somehow got through the road blocks and nearly took out the first group of runners. And the girl who was maybe 9, 10 tops, that freakin’ smoked me. Just blew right past me, and I don’t think I saw her again. Little stinker 😉  I knew that I was going a little faster than I expected, but it felt sustainable so I didn’t stress. I also reminded myself Mount Everest waiting for us at the end, and to save a little gas.  Pace – 9:22

Mile 1-2 I was still feeling pretty good. I backed off the pace just a touch – again, I was thinking about the hill to come. We hit the turnaround, I glanced at my watch trying to figure out what my finish time might be. I gave up after a minute – I can barely do math as it is, let alone trying to run and calculate.  The crowd was really thinning out, but I did pass a couple of people including another little kid who kept looking back at me, then sprinting ahead, then walking, then would I would catch up he would take off again. Kind of funny, because I didn’t really care, kind of annoying because it was so obvious.  Pace – 9:45

Mile 2-3 The pace started to slow, semi unintentionally. I saw the time tick into the 10’s, and while I wanted to push more, that damn hill coming up stopped me.  I passed a few more people, and tried to focus on even breathing and keeping a steady pace. Pace: 10:26

Mile 3-3.1  Hits RIGHT at the hill mountain. Seriously, longest .10 miles of my life. I threw all of my knowledge about form out the window, put my head down and just tried to chug up it as best I couldn’t without having a heart attack. JUST when you think you hit the top, it levels out for half a second and then you hit ANOTHER incline. Eff. I didn’t even bother to look at my watch; just kept my head down and kept pumping my little T-Rexa arms. Then you make a sharp turn…and I wasn’t sure where to go. The were no signs pointing out where the finish was…luckily, my crappy hill running form saved me. My head was down and I noticed the arrows spray painted on the road pointing you towards the finish.  There’s one last little bunny hill off the road, into the grass and you’re home free. I tried to sprint across the field, but my legs were still screaming so I’m sure it was more of an awkward Sasquatch-type shuffle. Pace: 10:45

My finish time is 31:21 which I am pretty happy with. It’s a 5 minute PR from my first ever 5K, and it’s within the time I had in my head when I registered. In a strange turn of events, I just happened to check the results page and it turns out I finished 3rd (out of 12) in my age group. There were 124 participants, so obviously it’s super small, and in any other race 31:21 isn’t going to get me anywhere but it still made me smile. Especially since I was convinced I’d finish last in my age group!

I’ll be honest, I’m kind of curious to see what I could do if I really did some 5K specific speed work.  Who knows…maybe there is something to these after all 🙂