Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Race Recap: 2013 Northwest Raspberry Festival 5K

Call me an addict, but the minute I booked my ticket to Washington to study for the bar in a nice quiet, rural place, I also looked up local races. Nothing crazy like a half marathon, but I figured the shot of endorphins a nice 5K or 10K would give me would be worth the break from studying.

When I saw the Northwest Raspberry Festival 5K Fun Run and Walk, I added it to my race calendar and got psyched for a fun race. Honestly I didn't think I had it in me to PR by myself. When I ran my first 5K in December, I had the fabulous Abby pacing me, and there were so many times during that race I thought I was going to pass out or give up. Could I possibly run even faster than that without someone keeping me going? Probably not. 

While seeing the Ragnar Relay runners on Friday left me feeling race-inspired, I didn't actually wake up Saturday wanting to run. I haven't been getting much sleep lately so another hour sounded heavenly. (Combination anxiety and studying equals poor sleep. It's all the bar exam's fault -- think I have a tort claim against the bar for intentional infliction of emotional distress? Haha, law joke, not funny, I know... delirious rambling will stop, I promise).

Still, I told Coach Jess I'd be running it, and she'd given me a race plan and everything, so I hauled my ass out of bed and got ready. I'd also put together a kickass 5K playlist that I wanted to try out, so clearly I had to run it.

I love local races so much. I hadn't registered beforehand and arrived there at 8:15, thinking I was a bit late to register since registration "closed" at 8:45. Um... this is what I arrived to see. Everyone ended up coming right at 8:45! I didn't mind the extra time, however, since I used it to run a mile warm-up and listen to my "Race Psych-Up" playlist.

A few things I've learned -- first, warming up for short races is essential. I used to think that a warm-up before a short race would waste my energy or strength, but that's not true at all. Instead, it warms up your muscles (hence the term warm-up) and gets them primed for speed. Plus, Coach Jess hasn't steered me wrong yet, so when I had a 15 minute warm-up, I set out to get it down (it ended up being about 12 minutes).

I find that the first mile or so of any run typically feels hard for me, but my body settles down after that. By doing a warm-up, you get that out of the way and your body is ready to race!

The second thing I've learned: I'm truly in love with my current fueling. I used to have a normal-sized breakfast before short races, meaning a piece of whole wheat toast, peanut butter, and a banana. It often left me feeling full while running the race, which isn't ideal for a short distance.

Now, I've switched to my normal, everyday run fueling -- half a Picky Bar for a distance under 6 miles (AKA an hour) and a full Picky Bar for anything more than that. The fueling felt perfect for a 9 AM 5K!

I finished my short loop warm-up, waved at my mom and sister who came to cheer me on, then headed to the start line. At precisely 9:00 AM (seriously, check my Garmin!), we lined up for the "ready, set, go!"

The first mile seemed effortless. I checked my watch to see where in the mile we were and was shocked to see a pace in the 7's! Since my watch can be so inaccurate in the first quarter mile, I ignored it. Jess's plan was for me to run 85% for mile 1, 90% for mile 2, 95% for 2/3 of mile 3, and 100% for the last bit. Gauging what 85% was seemed difficult when the pace felt so effortless, so I just held on and figured I'd see what happened.

A few men passed me in that first mile, and one young girl, but I didn't want to blow myself up so I didn't try to catch up. Plus, I knew there were only three or four women ahead of me at that point, so I made it my goal not to let any other women pass me.

When the first mile beeped and I saw 7:49, I was shocked and delighted -- I figured as long as I didn't completely crash in the next two miles, I could definitely PR, but I think that I let myself pull back a bit in the second mile because I was worried I'd crash. It clocked in at 8:20. I knew I could have pushed a bit harder, so as soon as I hit 2.00, I started pumping my arms faster to try to speed up.

It helped that in the third mile, I saw the girl who had initially passed me. I flashed her a big smile and thumbs up as I passed, and she shouted good job as I surged ahead. I was actually racing?? This felt awesome.

Until I ran up the short incline leading back to the finish line. It was the last quarter mile and at that point my legs were about ready to give out. Still, I saw the third woman ahead of me and pushed hard, trying to catch up. Apparently she had more in the tank than I did, since what turned out to be a 13 year-old took off when she saw me, leaving me dry heaving in the chute with a 7:54 mile 3 and 6:32 pace for the last .05 miles. I high fived the girl for being freaking amazing after I'd bent over a trash can and confirmed that I was not, in fact, going to puke before 10 AM on a Saturday morning. If I dry heaved at the finish line, I think I ran the 5K right?

(Yes, I think the course was a bit short, since my Garmin read 3.05. I generally trust the course over my Garmin, but for a casual race like this, I'm guessing that the course probably was a bit under 3.1)

Still, this race was a huge PR for me! My splits were: (1) 7:49, (2) 8:20, (3) 7:54, (.05) 6:32 for a 7:59 average pace. For context, I had trouble running a 7:30 timed mile back in February.

Sparkly Soul headband, Oiselle Winona Tank and Diamond Roga Shorts, Saucony Kinvara 4's, and Nike sports bra (I think it's this one)

Post-PR -- can you tell how happy I am? I hadn't heard about my place yet -- I just honestly couldn't believe that I was able to push myself so hard without anyone running with me.

I think a huge part of it was the competitive element. In a NYC race, there are thousands of people. I'm lucky to be in the top half! But when I knew I was racing for a top 10 finish? I was able to push myself so much harder. I could set my sights on one woman to "pick off" then move on to the next, rather than being surrounded by a sea of runners. That difference felt incredibly important for such a short race.

What made this PR extra sweet?

Coming in first in my age group (19-29 women) and fourth woman overall. Ecstatic is an understatement.

Seriously, local races are the best!! This was such a great confidence booster before I take some time to focus on bar studying. Jess's concentration on easy effort mileage is making me a lot stronger (more to say about this) and still keeping my legs fresh enough to run 14 miles Sunday, 4 miles Tuesday, 15 miles Wednesday, and a huge 5K PR on Saturday.

So excited for post-bar return to intense training, and for exciting things to come this fall!!

2B Drink Winner

Congratulations to Heather, the winner of the 2B drinks giveaway! Ironically, when I announced the giveaway, I also mentioned what an awesome hill repeat partner Heather had been. I guess it was good karma since the random.org pulled up Heather's name Saturday when I ran the numbers!

Clearly people should run with me then play the lottery. Congrats, Heather! Email me and I'll put you in contact with 2B Drinks :)

Tell me something awesome that happened to you recently, whether running-related or not. Did it give you confidence in another area of your life?

What are your thoughts on easy-paced mileage -- love it or hate it?


  1. Awesome job, Jen! Congrats on a PR, plus fourth overall and first in your AG! It's so rewarding and endorphin-inducing to see training pay off during a race. Ride that high! Oh, and dry heaving is a sure sign you pushed yourself; my coaches would be impressed. ;)

  2. Congrats on a great race. Getting a first place in your age group is fabulous! I learned from your post that a warm up is critical and I have always "saved" my energy for 5l's by only stretching. On Saturday I will warmup before my 5k! Thanks for the tip.

  3. HUGE Congrats on the race giving you a virtual high five!!!! You are rocking this training!!! I agree about the warm up - I've always thought people were nuts and would tire myself out with one but not the case. Easy mileage is a love/hate when I am set to go easy all of a sudden my legs want to GO and need to remember to rein it in for the more challenging workouts.

  4. Congrats on an awesome race!! You're inspiring me to (possibly) try another 5k...

    And I never win anything! Woooo!

  5. Beth @RxBethOnTheRunJuly 23, 2013 at 12:58 PM

    Absolutely amazing, Jen! I'm so proud of you! You are SO FAST! Congratulations!!!!!

  6. Awesome PR Jen!! What an accomplishment!

  7. Congrats on the win! I'm so glad I found your blog. We seem to have a lot in common :) I'm also from WA and ran the Ragnar this past weekend. I'm going to be a 3L. Yay, Law! haha Good luck on the bar! I'm sure you'll pass :D