When in doubt, race it out

Hiiiii!!!!

Well, I certainly relished my post-marathon BQ recovery, lol!! It was a nice rest, but at the same time my lack of running was because …I was a little sad…

I know, you’re probably thinking: Helly–what the hell?! YOU BOSTON QUALIFIED!!!

3:29:33 BQ — Hells to the yeah!!

But the post-marathon blues are for real, my friends. I had worked for this goal for a long time and now … nothing.

Of course, I knew I needed to rest after my big race. Yet, even after a couple of weeks of no running, getting back into the swing of things was rough. I’m big on plans, routine, consistency…and because I didn’t have anything to work towards, running for fun took a lot of effort.

I truly enjoy the training process. That, for me, is fun.

The post-marathon blues hit its peak two weekends ago when I was supposed to pace 2:00 at Phoenix’s Pride Run Half Marathon. I went to packet pick-up excited, thinking maybe this is what I needed to get back into the groove of things.

But because I had done very little running up to that point, I was really nervous. The night before, I half heartedly set out my gear on the kitchen table. When my alarm went off early the next morning, I wondered why…

I was out the door just after 5 a.m. (it was a super early start time of 6:30)–plenty of time for the drive to the race. But as I was going along the freeway mentally checking off the list, I realized I’d forgotten my bib on the kitchen table!! I had snagged the pace stick that was right next to it, but not the bib!! I debated going back or continuing to the race and seeing if I could find the race director or someone to help me. I finally decided to turn back thinking I’d banked enough time by having left early….I underestimated traffic and closures in downtown Phoenix however, and when I was close to the start, I wasn’t close enough with no parking around. I parked somewhere, anywhere (likely illegal) and thought maybe I could run to the start–but a mile in, I had no idea where I was…or where the start was…I walked back to my car, defeated, knowing I was about to DNS and let the race director and everyone else down.

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I sulked for the next couple of days, wondering how I could get myself out of this funk I was in. I had another race, a 5k, the following weekend–one in which last year I PR’d. I knew that with my lack of running, bettering last year’s time was out of the question.

But it’s such a great race, and for such a great cause. The Diamondbacks Race Against Cancer is a 5k my two friends from high school promote in memory of their daughter who passed away from DIPG, a very rare form of cancer that currently has no cure. She would be the same age as my daughter.

So even if a PR was unlikely, I knew this race would be one that could lift my spirits up–I was running for Gianna.

Saturday found me with some of my Moms Run This Town friends and I was happy to have some of my favorite people around. I was excited, regardless of what the outcome might be. Ashley, my BQ training buddy was with me, and I knew I would try to hang on to her as long as I could. Unlike me, she had been running and was in much better post-marathon/post-BQ shape (having won a 5 miler the week before!). I knew I wouldn’t be able to hang on for long, but I loved having her there to push me.

Me and Ash twinning in red

 

And we were off!! I wasn’t sure what pace I would hold and went in with zero plan. I knew that I’d pretty much positive split the race and didn’t care. It felt good feeling the racing rush, the racing pain.

First mile– 6:51. Yeeah, whoa. No.

Second mile–7:04. I said good-bye to Ashley as she went on with her speedy self…

Third mile–7:13. I knew I had a PR chance if I pushed on this last mile and it took every ounce of will power to do it. I thought of Gianna’s parents–whose strength I admire so much. I hugged them at the start, but couldn’t bring myself to say anything…

Point one–6:01. A girl sped passed me just after the third mile and I had her within reach nearing the finish line. I knew I had a little left in me so I surged right passed her telling myself to make it hurt

My last second surge somehow made it on T.V.

I couldn’t believe I PR’d!!! You know how people say they didn’t expect to do well in a race and you’re like…yeah right…

Well, honest to goodness, I had NO idea I’d be able to pull this off!! But beyond having beat last year’s time, I’m happy to feel again those feelings that make me want to run.

Last year and this year

Sometimes you need a race with ZERO expectations, and bunch of awesome friends, to get you back on your feet ❤

We all ran away with a PR!!

 

–Have you experienced the post-race blues?

–Is it easy for you to run with no training plan?

–How do you get yourself out of a running funk?

–Ever unexpectedly PR?

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DBacks Race Against Cancer 5k: A Meaningful PR

I signed up for the Diamondbacks Race Against Cancer 5k sort of on a whim. A high school classmate posted on Facebook how her and her husband participated in it last year as part of a fundraiser/awareness for their daughter battling a rare type of cancer (DIPG). I remember when she shared that original post, the one where her daughter was present.

She wasn’t at this years.

For the 9 months or so that Gianna fought cancer, she did so with strength that I could never imagine. At 5 years-old, no little girl or boy should have to go through what she did. Her mom chronicled Gianna’s fight through her Facebook page, and there were times that I just couldn’t bear to see the posts. I would get so angry at the unfairness, so sad that there is so little treatment and research for what she was fighting.

Gianna the Warrior Princess

About two weeks ago or so, Gianna’s mom said they’d be back at the 5k event as part of the opening ceremony for the family fun walk portion of the race. She said they were organizing a team and that anyone who wanted to participate could join them. So I signed up knowing that the race would be done in Gianna’s memory.

The race is pretty popular and when I arrived, I didn’t think I’d be able to find Gianna’s mom. But as I was walking to the porta-potties, I spotted her. I gave her a big hug but I couldn’t say much.

I saw her again at the race start and when they announced why the parents were there, the tears began to flow.

Gianna’s mama in white

I gathered myself together because moments later, the race started and we were off.

There were no corrals but I positioned myself in the front. There were a lot of little kids who wanted to start right at the front but I didn’t mind because they were so excited. It was cool to see a lot of adults make room for them instead of grumbling that they were in the way (as I’ve seen in other races).

I ran unplugged, as I wanted to focus solely on Gianna’s bright spirit. I was running in her memory and wanted to be free of distraction.

My goal was also to PR. I didn’t know if I had it in me, but I was willing to try. At my first track workout last Wednesday with my coach, I did two 2Ks at 7:30ish pace, and it hadn’t felt too bad. So for the 5k, I wanted to shoot for a 7:15 first mile and then negative split.

When the first mile beeped 7:03 I thought I’d blown it. Way too fast and there was no way I could negative split with that as my starting point. But I didn’t let myself get too down or count myself out. I would simply continue to try and keep it under 7:15.

Mile two–7:18.

I was sooooo bummed. I really wanted to keep it under 7:15 and I felt like I was running fast (I mean, I was, but I thought it felt faster than 7:18, lol). I also thought that my secret long-shot mini goal of seeing a 6 was gone. If I hadn’t done it in the too fast first mile, there was no way I’d be able to have a six-minute-something mile 3

Well, wouldn’t you know it, my third mile was 6:57!!!! You have no idea how I freaked out when I saw that. And then I saw that I was very close to getting under 22 minutes so I ran the fastest I think I ever have in a race…

Sub 6 minute mile for 30 seconds!! Whoa!!

And finally entered the 21 minute 5k club!!!!

6th Female Overall, 2nd Age Group–I’ll be presented my award at an upcoming baseball game!

When you finished, runners/walkers were able to take a victory lap inside the Diamondbacks stadium. I don’t go to baseball games often (as you can tell by my Instagram, I’m more of a basketball girl 😉 ) but it was fun to see it in a way I’ve never seen it.

In the dugout–Put me in coach!

When I was done, I called my husband and told him how bittersweet this PR was. I was happy, but I was sad.

I was there because a little girl wasn’t.

It’s easy sometimes to avoid sad things, avoid them so that you’re not affected. I chose to be there. I wanted to be. I never met Gianna, but she touched so many lives, and my own, in her short time on earth. I’m a different person, a different mother because of her. Because every time I think of Gianna, I think of my own little girl–and I hug her a little tighter, a little longer…

–Do you know someone affected by cancer? I feel like unfortunately so many of us do…

–Do you have a meaningful PR?

 

Brand Spankin’ New 5k PR!! And First Female Overall!!

Wow. Just, wow. I ran a 5k on Thanksgiving that I had no idea I had in me. I won the whole damn thing (for the girls, anyway) and have never ran so fast in my life.

Ahhhhh!!!!!

Ahhhhh!!!!!

So the past 3-4 years, since I started “running” running, my husband and I have done our local town’s Turkey Trot 5k. Even though I know the course/streets very well since I grew up on them and could run them in my sleep, this race always kills me. Always.

The first mile is downhill and half of the 2nd and half of the 3rd are on an long, gradual incline that just does me in every. single. time.

This graph makes it look worse but this is what it feels like, LOL

This graph makes it look worse but this is what it feels like, LOL

To put in perspective–the first time I ran this race was back in 2013 and I finished in 25:44, a PR at the time. As time passed, I PR’d on other 5k courses (down to 23:40) but in 2014 and 2015 I couldn’t beat my 2013 time on that dang Turkey Trot course!!

Anyway, going into the race my goal was to beat my course PR. But, my brother really wanted me to beat his course PR–24:30. I was okay with simply getting sub 25 but my brother was pretty insistent on me beating his time. So, I decided to shoot for that thinking it would be a pretty sweet win if I made it.

I had a really good run under my belt going in. The Tuesday before I had done a 5 mile run with my husband. But like, really with my husband. At his pace. Whenever we run together, he slows down to accommodate me, but on Tuesday, I was feeling it (and really, I wanted to actually run with him, lol) and he didn’t have to slow down all that much.

5 miles–8:20, 8;04, 7:45, 7:35, 7:23

So having done that run and feeling pretty good, I was confident I could get the time my brother wanted me to get.

5k First mile–7:14

Yeah…..like I said, it’s downhill and I worried that I’d blown it going so fast. Especially knowing I had the dreaded uphill coming my way.

5k Second mile–7:32

Holy crap, I couldn’t believe it. I remember climbing up (it really is such a subtle incline but it feels mountainous) and telling myself to push, push, push!!! I saw a girl up ahead start walking and that fueled me. I sought to catch and pass her and that helped me speed up on that uphill. When I did pass her, I told her to join me, but she was done.

As I approached the third mile, I saw that that girl I’d passed was the only girl in front of me!!! I was the first female at that point!

5k Third mile–7:25

No way was I gonna lose this chance. We got into the park to do the final loop and I just gunned it. I told myself to run as fast as I could, fast where it hurt. I told myself to make it hurt.

5k point one–5:50 pace

And I was the first female overall!!!! I have no idea where the young cross country girls were (the overall male was a 16 year-old cross country runner) but I’m glad as hell they sat this one out 😀

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I won this cool plate and my picture was taken for our local paper and I felt like such a badass, haha!!!

I may never win another race, but I’m so proud and happy I won my town’s 5k (and their last one, unfortunately).

–Have you ever won a race?

–Does your town have a popular race?

–How was your Thanksgiving, Americans?