Monday, November 16, 2015

Race Recap: Hot Chocolate 15K

This race was honestly NOT on my radar. Three years ago, I ran the Hot Chocolate 5K as my first-ever race (it was my "graduation race" from the Couch-to-5K program).  A few weeks ago, after I ran the Donut 5K Run with Molly, she mentioned that she thought I should run the Hot Chocolate 5K with her and pace her to another PR.  Later that week, a few other friends mentioned that they were doing the 15K.  I looked at my training schedule, and sure enough, I had 10 miles on the schedule.  A 15K is 9.3 miles... hmm... the higher-than-usual price of $72 was a turn-off, but when someone on my local Moms Run This Town Facebook page posted a $10 coupon code, I registered before I could second-guess my decision.  

And I am so glad I did--this race was awesome!  Best swag and post-race food, hands down.  All of the runners in both the 5K and 15K got a sweet jacket.  It really is an incredible jacket--that's what we paid for, though.  

The blue zipper one is the woman's jacket
Also, the 15K finishers got a really nice medal.  

And everyone who raced got a big finisher's mug with hot chocolate, dippable chocolate and treats to dip (banana, rice krispy treat, cookies, marshmallow and pretzels).  Definitely my kind of post-race food LOL!

I had a hard time deciding how exactly to run this race.  I had plenty of options.  I knew people running anywhere from a 7:45 to a 10:00/mile pace.  I didn't want to truly "race", of course--I haven't trained to race at all yet.  Amy and I agreed to run together, have fun, and make it a good training run.  We figured we'd run at around an 8:30-8:45 pace.  I really should've known that would never happen... neither of us are good at controlling pace in a race situation!

Amy picked me up at 5:50, as the race organizers recommended we arrive downtown to park by 6 AM.  We figured 6:15 would be fine, and it was honestly plenty early.  We ended up sitting in the car until 7:00 to stay warm!  It was actually the perfect day for a run, with temps in the low to mid 30's at race start, and not a drop of rain (or snow!) to be seen.  By the time the race started at 7:30, the Ohio sun had risen and it made for a gorgeous day to race.  

We headed to the porta-potties after we left Amy's car, and then straight to the starting line.  Hot Chocolate does corrals (thank goodness, with 15,000 runners!) as well as two wave starts. We were in Wave 1, Corral A, and it actually wasn't too crowded at all.  Amy and I looked pretty awesome in our throw-aways, I have to say ;)  

I freaking love this picture!

Tamara and Jon found us in the corral immediately, and we hung out with them for the 10 minutes or so that we had until it was go time!

Amy, Tamara and me with her friend Kayla, right before race start!

The first mile or so was really crowded, and things didn't really thin out until the 5K'ers turned off at mile 2.5.  Amy and I ran into several friends during this time--Dani, Felicia, and my new friend Megan are a few who I remember seeing.  Everything felt pretty easy during the first three miles, although we did have a bit of trouble with pace during mile 3.  Our watches both lost satellite reception, so we didn't know our true pace.  It ended up being our fastest mile on accident, but we slowed down after that. 

Our friend Lynn captured this shot as she was cheering at mile 3.5!

Throughout the race, Amy and I both kept checking in with each other, making sure that we felt good.  We both are so very in tune to our bodies after a spring/summer full of injuries.  I, unfortunately, did not feel good.  My heel had been tight when the race started, despite stretching and a ton of massage before the race while we were in the car.  I kept thinking it would warm up and feel better, like it usually does... alas, this was not the case.  In fact, as the race went on, it went from mildly annoying to a bit painful.  By the time we hit mile 6ish, it was a level 5 or 6 on a scale of 1 to 10.  I was able to block it out by telling myself that a) it was "just" plantar fasciitis, which was fine to run through, and b) focusing on Amy's stomach issues, which started at around mile 6.5.  You just never know how a GU is going to affect your body, and Amy's fuel at 5 miles definitely didn't settle well for her.  I could tell she was not feeling great when I started to pull ahead a teeny bit and she didn't respond by pulling even with me as she usually does.  The plan was to stick together, and I really didn't need to go any faster than we were already going, so I relaxed a bit and tried to chat as much as I good at a semi-uncomfortable pace of about 8 minutes per mile.

It was great to see the finish arch at the bottom of a downhill (I HATE it when races finish going UPhill!).  Amy and I sprinted in and crossed at the exact same time, of course :)  I felt great in every way possible, except for my stupid heel.  It just felt awful. I couldn't wait to get my shoe off and massage it.  We saw a few friends and then headed over to the Finisher's Tent to get our yummy treats.  

I didn't run with my phone, so no shots of the deliciousness--this stock photo will have to do!

We met up with Amy's daughter Teagan, who had raced the 5K with her friend, but didn't stay much longer after that, as we were both getting really cold (sweat dries fast!).  Breakfast at a local Westerville diner (The Pancake House) was the perfect end to our morning, although by that time my own stomach had started its revolt against the GU I had taken during the race.  That didn't stop me from enjoying my omelette and toast, though!

All in all, I was super happy with this race.  Our splits were 8:29, 8:11, 7:47, 8:08, 8:07, 8:00, 8:01, 8:05, 8:01, and 2:55 for the final 0.4 (a 7:13 pace), for an overall time of 1:15:42.   We both placed in the top 25 in our age group out of several hundred runners (not a goal but still pretty cool, considering this truly wasn't a "race" for us).  The pace didn't feel terribly hard; we were both able to talk throughout the race to each other and others on the course.  The only real negative was my heel, but boy, was it a big negative.  After I got home, I massaged it, iced it, and soaked it in Epsom Salt.  Nothing seemed to help.  It just HURT.  It never got loose, and never really lessened.  My friend Steph brought over her Strassberg sock, which is a semi-torture device to be worn when a runner is sleeping to help with plantar fasciitis.  I was excited to wake up this morning, hoping after a night in the sock that I'd feel 100% again.  Nope--zero relief.  It was then that I started thinking that maybe this was NOT plantar fasciitis.  Typically it warms up quickly when I start walking around in the morning, and when I wear my Oofos sandals it always feels good.  Not so much today.  I made an emergency appointment with my chiropractor this afternoon to see if he could work any magic. His diagnosis: NOT plantar fasciitis.  I knew it!  The pain is in my lower heel, and not at all in the upper heel or arch of my foot.  Right now, we are thinking I have a mysterious syndrome called "heel fat pad".  It's a lot like PF... here's a video explaining the difference between the two.

Tonight I did the taping recommended in the video, and I'm happy to say that it worked like a charm.  Even though in the video, the doctor says you can run and workout once it's taped, I am going to be a super-smarty-pants and wait until Thursday when I see my sports med doctor to do anything; I want him to verify the diagnosis.  I'm hoping this is nothing more than a tiny blip on my running plan leading up to marathon training starting in just three weeks.  I've worked so hard to rehab and be smart for the past several months... I need for this to just go away, please and thank you!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Races and PF and Ironmans, OH MY!

A not-so-quick recap of the past 25 days... during which the following occured, listed in no particular order:

  • My son and I ran in our second race together
  • I paced my friend Molly to a big 5K PR
  • I entered the world of plantar fascitis
  • I registered for a half Ironman

Yes, just your typical 25 days, right?  In a word, not so much!

Race recaps first...

On October 25, my son Joey and I ran in his second-ever race, the OSU 4-miler.  This has been a race that I've been dying to do ever since its inaugural year in 2013.  That year, I ended up signing up for a half marathon the day before it, so I sold my bib to a friend's husband.  Last year, the race was a month before my marathon, and I didn't see the point in paying $50 to run an easy four miles in the midst of high mileage weeks.  This year, I volunteered at a couple of M3S events to earn free race entries for Joey and myself.  

Pre-race selfie

It was so very worth it!  This race has become the largest 4-miler in the country, with 15,000 entrants!  Joey and I had a great time running together.  I'm amazed at how he can rock out four miles with literally zero training.  

Kicking some booty at around mile 3...
This time, I decided to start us just a bit faster than last time.  Joey responded perfectly, and I still had to hold him back most of the race!  Our splits were 10:24, 9:55, 9:32, and 8:24, although his final split was about 7 seconds faster than mine, as he took off at the end and I couldn't keep up with the little speedster!  He PR'ed by over two minutes, which is even crazier when you consider his first race was only 3.7 miles and this one was almost exactly 4.   

Approaching the stadium during the final mile!
Moving right along, six days later I ran in the 2nd annual Donut Run 5K with my friend Molly.  She had convinced me a few weeks ago to register.  I don't typical do expensive 5K's, and this was was $40 when I registered... but the prospect of donut holes at the water stops and a half-dozen of the city's finest donuts waiting for me at the end was alluring enough to convince me! 

Oh the sweet yumminess...

I wanted 8 miles for my long run this weekend, so I headed down to the race early and did five solo miles before meeting up with Molly.  She was with her friend Sharon, and they were both hoping to go under 28 minutes.  Molly's PR was a 28:24.  I knew from a few runs that we'd done together, as well as training side-by-side at Power Train Fitness in Westerville, that she was definitely capable of a much faster race.  I promised we'd start out at an easier pace in the low- to mid-9's and progressively get faster.  The problem was that I had just finished five progressive miles myself, and my fifth mile was an 8:14.  I have trouble slowing down once I've sped up... which is why our first mile was an 8:43.  Molly was still in a conversational mode after the second mile (8:35), so I continued to press the pace.  Our final mile was a 8:09.  Molly confessed to me as we headed toward the finish that she felt like she was going to throw up.  I knew I had done my job as a pacer!  Final time: 25:57, a crazy-awesome PR for her!  As for me, I relished in the knowledge that a) I had helped Molly achieve a time she didn't feel she had in her, and b) I felt amazing relaxed doing it.  My legs are finally coming back!

Sharon, Molly and I after the race!
Rewind back a couple of weeks... on October 16th, I had a short 4-mile training run with some friends in Westerville.  I wore my Mizuno Paradoxes, which I'd been rotating in on runs for the past few weeks.  This was the 6th time I'd worn them.  I hadn't fallen in love with them, but really wanted to, so I kept giving them chances... well, that was dumb.  I should have known better.  Occasionally after a run in them, my heel would hurt.  Not awful, and not for more than a day.  This day, things were different.  My heel hurt as soon as we stopped running.  And the pain didn't let up.  It wasn't an actual pain though.. more of a tightness in my arch that went up into my heel.  I quickly googled the two words that happen to be the most common running injury known to man: plantar fasciitis (affectionately known as PF to runners).  I knew after reading the description that I was a member of a club I had never wanted to be a part of.  Since then, I have shipped back those horrible shoes and began a regime of massage (both with my hands and rolling on a racquetball), icing by rolling my foot on a frozen water bottle, and using KT tape for additional support.  I also have found my Oofos sandals to be the most amazing relief yet.  I thought I loved them before I experienced PF... and now I know they are a new level of nirvana.  Fortunately, PF is not really an "injury", but a condition.  One can run through it... my foot tends to warm up after about 2-3 miles, and from that point I feel great. I have heard it can go away as quickly as it comes on, and I am confident that with continuing my routine as well as having my chiropractor work on it weekly, I will battle it into submission.

Time for the most exciting news... after many rumors in the spring and summer, Ironman announced in early October that they would be using the nearby suburb of Delaware, Ohio for a half-Ironman competition on August 21, 2016.  A half-Ironman consists of a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride, and a 13.1-mile run, for a total of 70.3 miles of racing.  Having only raced one (VERY short) triathlon, I wasn't sure if I was up for the daunting task of racing such a large distance.  Peer pressure encouragement from many friends led me to obtaining an early entry to the race, and then to pushing the "register" button on October 18th.  I am still in semi-shock, but I am more excited than anything!  This weekend my parents loaned me money to purchase a road bike that will actually fit me correctly (my borrowed bike from my dear friend Carolyn was great, but was also a few sizes too small!). 

My gorgeous new-to-me ride!
The only thing left to do now is to start training!  I am planning on swimming weekly this winter and spring, and hope to fit in biking as much as I can, but not on a set schedule until the Glass City marathon is over in late April.  I will have 18 weeks before I enter the waters of Delaware Lake for the big race, so this summer will be a fun one, that's for sure!

The last few weeks have been good, running-wise.  I've worked up to 16-20 miles per week.  I have my first double-digit run since June coming up on Sunday.  I feel like I'm ready for it, after running 8 miles on two different occasions.  In a few weeks I will add in a 4th day of running each week, and in just five weeks, on December 7, marathon training officially begins!