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Posts Tagged ‘racing tips’

X-Country 30K

Sunday, November 17th, 2013

I had to run this race again this year despite it being only one week after the Random Acts of Giving Marathon since I came so close to the course record last year!  When I justify to others why I have to run certain races, it’s really more to convince myself than anyone else.

The Overall Female record is 2:28:15 and the Masters Female record is 2:34:37.  Last year I was only 39 so not eligible for the Masters record just yet.  The X-Country 30K is a gorgeous trail run at Alafia River State Park in Lithia, Florida.  There is a section of the course that you run twice so when you exit the sandy section and trail near the restrooms, pavilions, and finish area the first time you take a right so you can go do the second loop, and then the second time you run straight to the finish.  Last year was a cool day, perfect for a long race like this.  It was my first time running the 30K and I was on course record pace when I exited the trail the second time only to have the volunteer send me to the right AGAIN.  I ran about a half mile in the wrong direction before I decided that this was ridiculous and wrong so I headed to the finish line as the overall female winner.  I ran over 19.5 miles and my average pace was faster than the Overall Female course record pace but because I had run longer than 18.6 miles (30K), my finish time was 2:33:20, slower than the record.  I was so frustrated by this experience at first but after filling out the finish card, getting a drink, and walking around a bit, I realized that the volunteer who sent me the wrong way made a mistake.  We are human and we make mistakes sometimes.  I should have known the course.  I still won the race and a very cool trophy but vowed to return in 2013 to go after that course record!

2013 rolls around and now I am 40 so I had a shot at both the overall and masters records.  I was very excited about this!  I knew the course so there would be no mistakes heading to the finish line.  A very hot day and being sick thwarted my course record attempts.  But I still enjoyed the beautiful cross country course and won the race.  The woman who was in the lead dropped out around 12 miles.  Not sure if the heat got to her or something else.  I felt bad for her but it reminded me of a quote from a newspaper article from my high school cross country days:  “Sometimes even good runners need a little luck.”  Source:  Original 1987 article by Gregory Kerstetter

As I exited the trail to head to the finish, a volunteer asked me as I whizzed by if I was 30K and heading to the finish.  All I could manage to blurt out was “FINISH!”  They weren’t going to make me run more than 30K this year!  Ha ha!

This is a tough race for volunteers since there’s a marathon, 30K, and half marathon all using the same trails.  I definitely do not expect volunteers to keep track of everyone, which race they are in, and which loop they are on.  I am just very glad I knew the course this year.  TampaRaces.com puts on some great races and definitely THE best trail races I have run.  Next year I am hoping for cooler temperatures for the X-Country 30K as I once again attempt an overall or masters record.


Forgetful bliss

Saturday, July 30th, 2011

I couldn’t agree more with Frank Shorter, 1972 Olympic marathon gold medalist:  “You have to forget your last marathon before you try another.  Your mind can’t know what’s coming.”  I have not felt the inspiration to blog and to be honest, have not really felt it in my running since that last post about Boston either.

One thing that triggered my inspiration to write was delivered by the mail carrier this week:  2011 Boston Marathon Racers’ Record Book and certificate of completion with my official time and place.  Results on the web specifically state that they are unofficial until we receive this book and certificate in the mail.  The B.A.A. is clever.  They know that whether you had a good or bad race at Boston, the experience and the memories are the good things that we remember.  By mid July, enough time has passed since the race so we forget how much it may have hurt.  Now we have this record of wonderful memories, results, photos, and that certificate.

And to be honest, I have forgotten how painful my last 4 miles at Boston were.  I mean, I know they hurt, but it’s not a vivid memory where I can practically still feel that pain.  In May, I was still feeling it.  But now, I just think about how I can better prepare for the next one.  Yes, there will be a next one.  I guess that’s the thing about runners.  We just can’t stop trying to attain those P.R.s or reach whatever other goals we may set.

I have reviewed my training for Boston and have made notes about what to do differently when training for my next marathon in November.  The marathon is such a major life event.  Even if you are just running it for “fun” or running it with someone and helping to pace them, you still have hours, months, and many, many miles to devote to it.  Marathon training, adequate sleep, and proper nutrition are all demands that end up taking time away from family, friends, work, school, and social life.  When race day rolls around, I often think about all the time devoted to the training.  That coupled with the pain during the race make me swear off marathons!  Then enough time passes and I seem to be signing up for that next one.  When will I learn?  ;)

Get inspired!

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

A good friend gave me the DVD “Spirit of the Marathon” and I finally got around to watching it.  It’s funny because I watched it yesterday afternoon after I returned home from racing the 1500 meters.  I had lost my real interest in marathons.  I had a good run back in 1995 through 2001 when I ran a dozen marathons in some pretty cool places like Monaco, Paris, Boston, Hartford, Orlando (Disney), Tampa (Hops), and San Diego.  In 1998 I set my marathon PR of 3:18:05 and haven’t been concerned with trying to better it.

A combination of realizing I no longer have the fresh, speedy legs of an 18 year old (see 5/16/2010 blog entry about 1500 meter race) and being truly moved by the movie “Spirit of the Marathon,” made me seriously start thinking about doing more marathons.  If you have not seen this movie, I highly recommend it.  I don’t know if yesterday afternoon was the perfect storm of fatigue, emotion, and post race mellow or what, but I felt a strong emotional reaction when I watched that movie.  Wow. 

If I had known how good it was, I guess I would have watched it a lot sooner.  As I said, though, I had lost my passion for the marathon so it was not a high priority to watch a movie about it.

I guess our running lives go through cycles just like our lives do.  Hobbies and interests change as do jobs, friends, where we call home, favorite foods, and just about anything else.  I think because I was injured so frequently in college, I wanted more than anything to run marathons as soon as my final track season was finished.  I wanted to escape the 3 competitive seasons per year (cross country, indoor track, outdoor track) and all the cross training I was doing during my injured times.  I was sick of the pain of the short distances.

My goal ever since high school was to one day run the Boston Marathon.  That was a long term goal.  I was lucky to run Boston three times and will be back there in 2011.  My first marathon was Jacksonville 1995 where I missed qualifying by 8 minutes.  My second attempt was Disney 1997 where I reached the goal and then ran Boston in April 1997 followed by Hartford in the fall.  Disney 1998 was my PR then ran Boston again and the inaugural San Diego Rock ‘n Roll in June 1998.  Three marathons in six months – I would not recommend that.  In 1999 I ran Paris in April then Hartford again in October.  In 2000 I ran the Hops (now Gasparilla) Marathon in December then Boston again in 2001.  Then I was off to Monaco for ten months to get my MBA at International University of Monaco.  There were not many races near Monaco or the south of France so when I heard about the Monaco Marathon in November 2001 I signed up (in September) and tried to get ready for it the best I could on such short notice.  After that, I was really done with marathons…

Until the fall of 2009 when I started feeling like I was actually in good shape again so signed up for Disney 2010.  That was by far the coldest marathon ever for me and the most painful because of that cold.  So my return to the marathon was not a welcoming one.  I did qualify for Boston and will run it 2011…but will that be my last?

I guess I have to see how Boston 2011 goes and how it feels to run a marathon in normal weather conditions.  I mean, I am not asking for perfect or ideal weather conditions, just not below freezing is all I ask.  Once I experience a more “normal” marathon, then I will be able to decide if I want to do more.

Although “Spirit of the Marathon” truly inspired me and right now I think I do want to run more marathons and try some cities I have not run, like Chicago, I need to wait and see how the next one feels before I decide or sign up for anything.

I am excited that these marathon thoughts have crept back in though.  I really am.

The right running movie or running book can really inspire you.  The stories are about other people, but as a runner, I can relate and bond with the characters in the story and feel that emotion.  It can be powerful.  Your next inspiration might be on the bookshelf or DVD shelf.

Get your butt kicked

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

Today I ran the 1500 meters in an open track meet.  This is something I have not done since 1995.  I raced with Di and Amanda from the high school track team I coach.  I rarely go “head to head” in competition with the teenagers I coach but today was the exception.  Di beat me by a couple of seconds in our 1500 meter time trial a week and a half ago but I still thought I might have a chance today – meet conditions, adrenaline, competition, and all that good stuff.  I mean, I am a COMPETITOR!  ;)

My finishing kick is not what it used to be so I knew I had to run the first three laps a little faster.  Comparing the time trial to today’s race, I ran the first lap one second faster, the second lap one second faster, the third lap two seconds faster, and the last lap two seconds slower than the time trial.  While my overall race time was two seconds faster than the trial my legs just had nothing left on that last lap.  As predicted, Di flew by me with a little over 200 meters to go.  I thought I might be able to close a little of the gap in the last 100 but no luck.  She ran a perfectly executed race.

As I walked around out of breath after crossing the finish line I thought about how I had no speed left in these 36 year old legs!  Di beat me in a race.  It’s official.

I was a little down for a short time.  Very short.  The trip to the track meet was so much fun with my husband, Di, Amanda, and Taylor.  It’s hard to feel down with such a wonderful group of people.  Between the car ride, name that tune, and lunch my spirits were quickly lifted.

Today helped me make a decision.  I was going to see how I did in today’s 1500 meters before deciding about running in the 1500 at the Sunshine State Games and the Southeast Sports Festival later this summer.  With the lack of speed I felt today, I knew that the only way to get some of that speed back would be to do lots of speed work and strength training.

If there is one thing I have learned since my injury plagued days of running in college, it is LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!  That is the best advice I can offer to anyone.  So based on how my hamstring has felt after my short, fast speed sessions of the past few weeks, I know that my track days are behind me.  I will not race the 1500 this summer.

Instead I will stick to my original plan of racing a few key races between now and the final Picnic Island of the summer (July 9).  I will then take a short break and start working towards my three big races – Daytona Beach Half Marathon in October, Disney Half Marathon in January, and then the Boston Marathon in April…of course racing some shorter stuff along the way.

So sometimes it is good to get your butt kicked to help you realize what PRs might be behind you and which ones are still ahead of you.

Me leading the first 3 laps of the 1500


Check out Di’s smile/smirk as she gives me the “nice race” shake


This Cramp’s Not Gonna Break My Stride

Monday, December 7th, 2009


When I sat down to write this tip about overcoming side stitches and cramps, the song “Break My Stride” by Matthew Wilder popped in my head, hence the cheesy title of this entry.


Yesterday I ran the Brandon Half Marathon and was feeling pretty great for the first several miles.  I went out at my usual conservative pace so that I could run negative splits.  This happened to be about 7:25 mile pace for me on this cold Sunday morning.  After a few miles I felt it was time to pick up the pace and dropped down to 7:00-7:15 pace and around mile 6 or 7 I felt a cramp in my right side.


A long time ago I learned an interesting tip for overcoming side stitches.  I rarely ever get cramps like this so I immediately thought it was from the Gatorade.  At the last water stop before the cramp, I had debated about drinking Gatorade or just sticking with water; this internal debate was caused by an interesting book I am reading but that is a whole other topic.


Anyway, I grabbed a cup of Gatorade and water at that aid station and took a sip of both.  I believe that was my only sip of Gatorade the whole race.  Overall I took in a lot less fluid than I normally do in a half marathon.  But, back on topic here – the cramp.


My cramp was on the right side so every time my left foot hit the ground, I exhaled.  This caused a dramatic change in my normal breathing pattern.  I was exhaling every time the left foot hit the ground so it was very shallow breathing but I tried to force the air out each time.  I continued this for maybe 20-30 steps then took a big exhale, blowing all the air out which resulted in a nice big inhale.  The whole process did not take much time at all, but after this change in my breathing, the cramp was totally gone.


I was so delighted that it worked and I was able to finish the race nice and strong with negative splits.


I am not saying this technique will work every time or for every person, but it’s worth trying.  The main thing is to change up your breathing pattern and try to get your diaphragm to relax in order to get rid of cramps.  If this does not work, you can always try massaging the area with your fingers, stretching, bending over, slowing down, speeding up, or whatever works, really.


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