Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Cotton Row Run 10K 2012 Race Recap

I had to really think about whether or not to run Cotton Row this year.  I wanted to because I love this race. I love competing in my own city with people from all over.  I sort of feel like we are showing off our city for them.  Many local people run this race as their first 10K, and I love hearing about their experiences with their first 10K after the race.  My team, the Fleet Feet Racing Team, always wears our new uniforms for Cotton Row.  It is exciting seeing all of my teammates out on the course, since most of us try to run it (which is not the case with the smaller races).  This year, we all have the word "Huntsville" going down our backs.  Even more reason to love racing in Cotton Row--representing my city!  And, of course, I think it is a wonderful way to get together and celebrate Memorial Day.  There are songs, speeches, and prayers at the beginning of each race that really bring home the meaning of Memorial Day to the crowds.

I didn't want to do Cotton Row because my right shin has been bothering me.  It was just a little sore, but I didn't want to overdo anything six days before the marathon (Minneapolis Marathon June 3).  Rick said he only felt comfortable racing a 5K that close, and it made me second guess my choice too.  I figured I should have a goal race, and they both couldn't be goal races.  Also, I had taken three days off from running and was just not sure if I had a fast 10K in me.  I decided to give it a try and hoped I wouldn't regret it.

The Race
I am really wishing I could say that I got the PR I wanted, but I did not.  My miles (according to my watch) were 6:14, 6:47, 7:09, 7:02, 6:28, and 8:01 (for 1.2 miles).  My official finish time was 41:41, putting me 1st in my age group after the top ten women were pulled out, and I was 14th woman overall (I was seeded 17th).  We had a deep field for this race--much deeper than last year--so I was pleased to still finish pretty high up there.

Miles 3 and 4 have a big hill called Mountainwood in them (you hit Mile 3 on the hill).  That is why they are slower times.  I am really pleased that I was able to bring Mile 5 back down to a 6:28.  It shows that I was still trying to stay in the race.  I think this is a PR for this race for me, and it is better than my time last year.

Mile 1
Rick and the kids were cheering in the 5th mile.  I saw them sitting on a wall with the kids' preschool director between them!  They love Ms. Rosemary.  My son was shouting,"You got this!  Let's go!"  It was such an encouragement for me to see and hear them all!  Rick took some great pictures for me and many other runners too.

Mile 5--seeing my family and friend!

The kids cheering with their preschool director, Ms. Rosemary

The embarrassing part of this race for me was at the end.  I was sprinting to the finish, and I heard the crowd just erupt with applause.  I thought, "Wow, all for me?" like maybe they could see how hard I was trying.  No.  It was for the three men that passed me in the last few yards to the finish!  In the picture below, you can see one of the men has just passed me and another (okay, so it was a 10 year old boy and not a man!!!) is about to pass me.  Not the best way to finish a race!

Photo by James Hurley

After the 10K, Rick did the 5K and the kids did the 1 mile with us.  Rick was 6th overall in the 5K with a time of 18:38.  In the mile, our son broke 10 minutes for the first time (9:45 or so--ran with Rick), and our daughter got 11:47.  It was another fun morning for the entire family!

Family photo

Rick (center) and Marty Clark in the 5K

I shared my medal with my daughter.  She loved wearing it!

One last picture.  Local running "superstar" Josh Whitehead (left) and Jamie Burnam are below.  Josh is a really nice, modest guy who wins most of our local races.  He always finishes with a smile and says, "That was fun!" when he is done.  Today, I got into a conversation with him about his American flag shorts.  He had changed into them after running the 10K and before he won the 5K event.  He proudly noted they were even "Made in the USA!"  I thought they were a great choice for today!  Congrats, Josh, and all of the runners who finished today!
Josh and Jamie

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Cotton Row Run Volunteering

Cotton Row Run volunteering has been a family event for three years now.  That's right!  Even at two and three, my kids were able to "help" stuff packets for the Cotton Row Run.  See here to read about how my two year old daughter and I stuffed packets with safety pins--she counting out two and me counting the other two (since she was too little to easily count out four in her small hands).  Last year, I remember the food provided for the volunteers kept them occupied for a lot of the time, and I don't remember them helping very much.

I really think it's okay for preschool age children to just come out and watch us doing the volunteering.  I think it teaches them that we value running and we want to support it.  It probably also teaches them that someone has to stuff their packets for them.  It teaches them gratitude for others' service to them, even in the small ways.  But this year (at ages five and four), my kids both really actually helped out.  It was a milestone in our family, and one that I want to remember.

We went to packet stuffing around noon last Sunday after church.  The kids hadn't had lunch, but we knew there would be food there.  We also figured that, since it began at 10 a.m., some people would be leaving when we got there.  We knew there would still be plenty for us to do.  We'd also decided that once the kids started acting up (or even acting tired from the long morning at church), that we'd have to go home.

The kids settled down with their snacks, and we got to work stuffing packets.  Some may find repetitive tasks like this to be boring, but I have discovered that I really enjoy the routine.  We walked slowly around the tables, grabbing one of each item, and putting them into the packets.  I enjoyed finding ways to stuff packets faster, like by repeating the line I'd just done before the next person made it around to that side of the table.  I like being efficient!

After the kids got done eating, I asked my daughter if she wanted to stuff safety pins into the packets.  This is usually a separate job done before the paper items get added to the packets.  The lady who was doing the job (I think her name was Jessica) was so sweet and welcoming to my daughter.  She took time showing her how to count the pins and place them in the envelopes and showed her where to place the completed envelopes.  My daughter settled right in to that job.  Every so often, Jessica would have my daughter bring the envelopes with the pins to one of the tables.  My daughter loved that part of her job.  She would bound up to the tables with great pride in the stack she carried.  She loved it when one guy would say, "More already?  Thank you!!!"  The whole room seemed filled with such positive energy, with people all helping and complimenting each other.

My son wanted a job too, so I had him pull coupons off of one of those notepad-thingies.  He took his job so seriously, carefully peeling each bit of glue off of each coupon until he had done them all.  It must've taken him thirty minutes, but he stuck with it.  He then got busy helping to stuff the packets.  He came with me around the table and fumbled with the forms patiently . This was a little too hard for him, so he eventually got recruited by that nice man at the end of one of the tables to help put the stuffed packets into boxes and fold down the envelope tabs.

We stayed, all happily working at our jobs, until 3:00 p.m.!  This seems like a victory for me.  We were able to volunteer, to show our kids the importance of helping out, and to help our kids feel confident in their abilities of helping too (thanks to the other kindly volunteers).  It is moments like these that make me proud of my family and proud of our city's running community too.

Good luck to everyone at Cotton Row tomorrow, and Happy Memorial Day!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Mother's Day 2012

The similarity of these pictures caught my eye.  They both sum up motherhood so well for me--the joy and the hardship.  In the first picture, I am celebrating Mother's Day 2012 with my first ever breakfast in bed.  In the bottom picture, I am trying to get some sleep with a newborn in one arm, a 14 month old next to the bed, and a doggie at my feet.  It seemed so hard at the time, but, oh, how I miss those days now!!!

Mother's Day 2012

September 2007
Look for a marathon training update soon.  Yea for the taper!!!  And maybe a Cotton Row Run race report too?  Not sure I am running Cotton Row yet.  It's a long story.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Run Through the Roses 2012 Race Recap

I picked up my packet at Bob Jones High School the night before the race.  It was 6:30 p.m. or so when I went over there with my daughter.  I ended up volunteering for packet pick up for the the remaining hour and a half.  My daughter helped me by handing out tattoos and scoring the free goodies for us from the other booths--chapstick, hand sanitizer, and sunscreen!  Nice!  We later found out that the tattoos were supposed to be 50 cents each, and we hadn't been charging anyone.  Oops!

I was worn out from getting everything ready for the garage sale that day, but I still hydrated and went to bed at a good time to be ready for the race.  On Saturday morning, I headed over to the race at 6:15 a.m. for a 7:00 start.  I parked in a nearby church parking lot (the one recommended by the race director) so that I could leave after running the race and not have to stay for the 5K at 9:00.  I did a short warm up and hit the bathrooms.  

The Race
Right before the race, I started to have doubts that a sub 42:00 was possible on this course for me.  So I decided to aim for sub 7:00's.  I knew that would be a challenge on the last 2 miles, since those were hilly.

Mile 1 6:08
The first mile (along Hughes Road) seemed to go very easily and wasn't a struggle at all.  I knew it was too fast--a 6:08--but that is the way I always start races.  It was fun to be running the course in the road and not on the sidewalk this time!  I was right behind the lead runners and was first female for this mile.  I passed and did some flip-flopping with a guy who said he read my blog the day before!  I guess he was searching for RTTR and he found my blog, but he didn't say.  I wasn't really able to carry on a good conversation with him since I was running hard!  
Mile 2 6:20
Mile 2 went on Old Madison Pike and then Wall Triana.  I felt great through this mile too.  I started thinking, "Oh, wow, I am running a 5K PR right now!"  But that's not too smart when you are racing a 10K.  Oh well.
Mile 3 6:38
During this mile, I saw my friend's husband, Jason, just stop right after Mile 2.  He had been in front of me up until then.  I think I said, "Hang in there, man" as I passed him.  I hoped he was okay (and later found out he was).  I think this was the mile where I started feeling the girl who was right behind me really closing in and pushing hard!  She passed me somewhere in this mile, I think.  
Mile 4 6:41
I started feeling tired in this mile, but I kept pushing.  I could still see the first place girl right in front of me.  Also in this mile, I noticed a blister forming on my left heel, something very unusual for me.  It was the pretty new racing flats doing that.  Ouch!
Mile 5 6:56
This mile had a long gradual hill--Old Madison Pike (you pass Dublin Park on your left) and then into the neighborhoods along Crestview Drive.  I was so glad to have the Garmin, and I used it to keep myself below that 7:00 pace I wanted.
Mile 6 6:59
Here is where I knew I was probably going to have a second place finish, as long as I held on.  I pushed hard up the steepest hill of the race--Eastview.  And I FLEW down it, bringing the mile's pace down from a 7:20 to a 6:59 (just under a 7:00--I am very goal-driven and have often said that you will rise to wherever you set your bar--I should've set mine higher!!)
Last .2 (Garmin .24) 5:41 pace

Official Time 40:59 (6:37 pace)
 4th Overall 
2nd Female

I heard lots of cheering as I finished the race.  The first place girl was super nice and came over to congratulate me and to thank me for setting a good pace at the start.  We ended up doing a cool down together with my friend, Julia, after she finished fourth female.

I talked to several people at the finish, including a guy who had stayed with me almost all of the Rocket City marathon I paced in 2011 and several other friends.  I headed home shortly after that, and Julia picked up my award (Fleet Feet gift card).  I also got a finisher's decal that says "I survived the Eastview Beast."  Very cool!  

I think my Madison group represented well out there today.  In addition to Julia and me, there were two other girls from our group running the race (Jane and Jan) and one other girl volunteering (Madelyn).  It was so nice to have a Madison race!

I exceeded my expectations for this race.  I would have been happy with a sub 7:00 pace.  I ended up with a 6:37 pace, only 16 seconds away from my old PR (and that was on a much easier course!).  I beat my old time on this course from 2 years ago (44:30) by over 3 1/2 minutes!   I have a lot of confidence in my ability to break my old 10K PR (40:43) and my 5K PR also this season if I have a couple of good opportunities to race in between my marathon training.

Katie (2nd) and Julia (4th)

Garmin data

Picture from Jane Reneau
Finisher's decal

Friday, May 4, 2012

Run Through The Roses 10K

Tomorrow at 7 a.m. is the 2nd Run Through the Roses, or better known for me as "The Mad Dash Between A Garage Sale and A Soccer Game."  Really, I do have a garage sale (supposed to be getting ready for it now, urg!) and a soccer game for my son all during the same morning.  

This race was supposed to be held last year but was cancelled after the tornadoes came through.  Everyone is excited to be able to have it this year, and the organizer even carried over our entries from last year to this year.  They've added a 5K for the first time.  

Our community does a great job preparing for the race.  Neighbors plant knock-out roses all along the course in their yards, and the city plants some too.  Here are the ones in front of the Madison Fire Station.  I managed to snap this picture on the way home from Wal-Mart and on the way to tutoring.  "Why are you taking a picture, Mommy?" was heard from the backseat!

Knock-out roses on the course of the RTTR