Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Race Report: Birmingham AIDS Outreach Magic City 5k - September 27, 2015 (22:47, new PR)

I decided last-minute to run a local 5k on Sunday evening.  It was within walking distance of my home, and my son was napping soundly when same-day registration started, so I figured...why not?

I told you guys about running this same race back in 2014.  It's the only recent 5k I have run, so I guess it's my PR?  The 2014 course was a bit short, but I ran an 8:05 average pace and got an official time of 23:43.  I wasn't running with much of a purpose back then.  I was averaging about 20 miles a week and being careful not to exhaust or dehydrate myself (breastfeeding a big toddler, living in Alabama, etc.).  I figured I would do it again a year later and see what happened.

I love Birmingham AIDS Outreach and the work they do in our community.  HIV/AIDS is a very real threat in this part of the country, where the shocking rate of new infections reflects a growing drug problem and a serious lack of education and resources.  People living with HIV/AIDS are forced into the shadows, and the charities often don't get the same support as "sexier" ones for childhood cancer, breast cancer, etc.  What I'm saying is...I was happy to give them my $20 registration fee, put on my lucky taco cat shirt, and sort of kick the tires and see where I am with my training.

Taco Cats.

This was an evening race, and I decided to run it day-of, so I didn't do anything in particular to prepare.  I had my typical Sunday egg breakfast with the family, a slice of pizza and some hot cocoa for lunch, and drank a half gallon of water in the first half of the day.  (I realize this sounds like a terrible lunch, but in my defense it was homemade vegetarian pizza covered with CSA veggies, and I made the cocoa myself with whole milk, Dutched cocoa powder, and raw cane sugar.  Do you forgive me?)  I never have stomach problems while running (KNOCK ON WOOD) so I usually eat whatever before races, and just make sure I eat enough calories/carbs.

I jogged over to the park about an hour beforehand and registered.  This year, there were no numbered bibs or timing clock.  The Outreach decided to offer a cash prize to the #1 male and #1 female, so that was all they were tracking.  I sort of had it in my head that I might win the $100 prize, because some of these smaller charity races get a pretty small turnout.  Last year, my 23:47 was good enough for second female.  I know.  I decided that if that happened, I would 1) feel embarrassed, and 2) donate the money back to the Outreach, or maybe 3) donate the money at the Planned Parenthood booth.

I chatted with some of my friends at the Integrity Alabama booth and stole and ate some of their hard candy.  I ran about two miles to warm up and shake things out.  I noticed my insanely fast (like Olympic hopeful fast) track club friend Elena jogging around, so I immediately put aside any thoughts of the sweet, sweet ca$h money, haha!

The race started in a crazy way...someone just said, "okay" and blew an air horn.  The runners were like, "WHAT? NOW??!"  At least I was ready.  My first two mile splits were 7:15 and 7:28.  The course was unremarkable, just a lollipop through downtown on roads I run all the time.  At .4 miles in, a little (like 8-year-old) kid running next to me asked me "how much longer?" and I told him 2.7 miles more.  He was so pissed!

At around 2.6 miles, we crossed back through the people doing the AIDS walk, and I couldn't see where the other runners were going.  Someone said, "you're done!" but I kept running a bit until my watch said 3.1 miles.  My watch time was 22:47, but I crossed the finish line around 21:20 (which would have been an AMAZING 5k time if it had been accurate hah).  I think the last mile was around 6:28 pace but I'm relying on Strava and my watch for that.  I was the third female and like ninth overall I think.  Small race. 

I haven't really been doing speed work, and the 5k isn't really my thing, so I had a good race.  It was nice to drop the hammer and do a speedy run.  After the race, I jogged a bit and then went home and ate a bunch of German food with a pumpkin beer.  Win/win. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Workouts - September 21, 2015

It's time for another workouts update!  This has been another great week.  I am seeing improvements to both speed and endurance, and I hope it's mostly hard work (but thinking it might be the SLIGHT drop in temperature we have had).  Either way, I'll take it!

Pre-long run banana selfie.  #banelfie?

I have been successful in putting on some weight, after realizing that I had let things slip more than I intended.  I've done this by increasing the weight and decreasing the reps on some of my weights workouts, eating more complex carbs, and making sure not to skip meals.  As I mentioned previously, most of my diet-focused efforts are now being documented on the Hardly Awesome Instagram account.

This week had another great Birmingham Track Club social run, so I've got some photos of that.  On to the recap!

Monday:  6 @ 9:24 on the treadmill, nice and relaxed.  I did this week's treadmill runs very early, baby monitor balanced on the display console, while we were on a quick beach trip.

Tuesday:  6.4 @ 9:19 on the treadmill.  I just ran for exactly an hour at a nice aerobic pace.  Gotta build up that base.

Wednesday:  3 @ 7:57 on the treadmill.  Sometimes I like to grind out some treadmill miles at a nice clip.  As always, I did not stop or pause the treadmill at all during the run.  It puts hair on your chest, haha.

Thursday:  7.4 @ 8:46 around downtown.

Friday:  Just a lower body weights circuit and a traditional bench press workout.  Most of you will roll your eyes at this, but I can bench in the powerlifting racks, because I am finally strong enough to bench the bar (45+ pounds).  I know.  You would think I would have more upper body strength from swimming, but I find that my chest is weak.

Saturday:  11 @ 8:35, at the track club social.  I decided to go out with the lead group and see how long I could hang.  It went...okay.

I've been directly uploading my run data from my TomTom watch to my phone via bluetooth.  (Don't ask...I had a failed attempt to upgrade my laptop to Windows 10 and ended up gutting the thing).  Silly me forgot you actually have to CHARGE a GPS watch for it to continue working.  So, my watch died 9.6 miles into this run.  Fortunately, 1) it saved the data for those miles, and 2) I was carrying my phone and switched over to the mobile Strava app.  I was super bummed, though, because this was a fast run for me, and I felt so amazing the entire time, and the watch SNAFU ended up shorting me about a half mile.  Oh well, lesson learned.

My friend Sherri took this photo to share with her Facebook triathlon group :(

Sunday:  Hour-long spinning class and a ton of stretching.

On Saturday, we had a great social run with a group called Black People Run Bike and Swim.  They are just a phenomenal group, and they work to promote healthy habits, accountability, empowerment, and safety in Birmingham.  It was a real honor to run with such talented athletes and hear their views on running as social justice.  I have participated in movements to "take back" the streets, like women's movements on college campuses in the 1990s, or the grassroots Hollaback campaign to end street harassment.  But I have never really approached running as a way to problematize and remedy social inequalities.  It was real food for thought, and I am honored to be part of the city of Birmingham, where so many forward thinking people are working to make a difference.

And, after all of that heavy thinking and hard running, we had some donuts.  It was an amazing morning.

So, 50 strangers in athletic clothing meet on a dark street corner (stop me if you've heard this one)...

I <3 Birmingham runners.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Workouts - September 14, 2015 (way behind schedule!)

Here I am...trying to catch up on my workout posts.

Rise and grind with the Track Club (don't I look excited??!)

Over the past few weeks I have felt very strong, and gotten a lot faster.  I'm trying to figure it out so I can do more of it!  Honestly, I think just more runs, more hills, and more speed are helping me.  Plus, I've had eight solid weeks where my mileage has been in the neighborhood of 30 miles per week.  All about that base, I guess.  (I've said it before, but I am not a high mileage runner.  I like to emphasize strength and consistency over volume.)

Monday: 6 @ 9:02 on my usual downtown loop

Tuesday: 4 @ 8:35 as part of a Track Club social event.  This was an evening run and BOY HOWDY was it hot!  I also ran with the lead group, because I was feeling really rested and fueled up (not like my normal morning zombie self).  It was hilly, it felt good.

Hamming it up, I guess?

Wednesday: 4 @ 9:07 done as a progression on the treadmill.  I followed it up with a traditional power lifting bench press workout and some core and stability work on the BOSU 360.

Thursday: 8.6 @ 9:04 on a super hilly route that took me up and over Red Mountain twice.  In retrospect, this is probably the reason I have seen some marked improvements in strength and speed this week.

Friday: my usual hour-long vinyasa yoga class

Saturday: 11 @ 8:37 with the Track Club Saturday Long Run group.  I absolutely SMASHED this run.  It was incredibly hilly, the weather was cool, I ran with some interesting new people, great conversation, and felt strong and fast the whole time.  I can almost taste the fall running weather we have coming up.

Still waiting for Old Navy to call with the sponsorship offer. 

Sunday: Rest

Totals: 33.7 miles of running, a weight training session, a yoga class, and a partridge in a pear tree.

Only four more Saturday runs before my half marathon in Chattanooga!  And there you have it.  Everyone have a great weekend! 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Workouts - September 7, 2015

Fooled you, huh?  I'm only just now getting a chance to put this past week's workouts up.  The holiday weekend was amaaaaaazing for me, and I got a real chance to unwind and even do a bit of the housework I have been putting off.

Three little bits of news:

1) My husband ran a trail race on Saturday morning, and he won his (tough...30 to 39!) age group, and came in seventh overall.  I am so proud (and jealous) of his natural speed!  More photos down below :)

2) I have started seeing a sports therapist at my chiropractor's office, and he is a very burly Icelandic man who is helping snap my hips back into shape.  I hope this will be the key to breaking out of this injury cycle and the pain I have been having for the past week.

3) I have taken the diet project to an ALL NEW "Hardly Awesome" Instagram account, and you can follow along at

Okay, the workouts!

This week was a weird one.  I skipped out on Saturday's long run, because my hip was hurting.  First skipped run this cycle!  The hip is an old injury, for those of you playing along at home.  I'm just trying to really take care of it.  That gave me just 24.6 miles for the week, but I ran 7ish today and felt good.

Monday:  Rest

Tuesday: 5.1 miles @ 8:28

Wednesday: 6.1 miles @ 9:16, chiropractor and massage (with the aforementioned Icelandic dude)

Thursday: Treadmill tempo.  One mile warmup, 5 miles @ 7:55, chest and shoulders press workout, injury prevention stuff

Friday:  Leg day weights workout, injury prevention stuff, hour-long vinyasa yoga class

Saturday:  Nada.  I volunteered at my husband's trail race, though.
Sunday:  7.5 miles @ 9:16. 

The injury thing:  I made several mistakes this week that I think triggered some more pain.  I did two "faster" runs.  The sports massage on Wednesday was very aggressive and left some of my tendons feeling loose and bruised.  I really bumped up the weight on my squat.  Yoga sucks.  I'm trying to be more careful and not get back in the same situation I was in this spring.  I'll update as things develop, of course.

Now, some more photos: