Freedom Run Race Recap

Get comfy…this is a long one.

This 4th of July weekend I ran the Freedom Run here in Reno. The race featured both a 5k and a 10k option, I chose the latter. Me running this race was no accident, it took a lot of strategic planning to pick this race. I am running the 2nd half of the San Francisco Marathon on the 31st of this month, and I wanted do to a tune up race. I’ve never done a tune up race before, but I was reading all about it online and it sounded like a good idea since my past few race results have been less than stellar and I wanted to know where I was at as far as running shape. I chose this race because it was almost 4 weeks out from my goal race and I read that a 10k is the perfect tune up race distance for a half. Plus the race started at 7:00am, I could beat the heat.
At packet pick up they asked if I wanted to purchase some raffle tickets. I took a look at the prizes and there were some pretty incredible ones. Hotel stays, massages, full vacations, etc. I told them I never win anything, but since it was for a good cause, I bought 5 of them for $20. More on the raffle tickets later.

I had this perfect plan to execute this race day exactly how I had planned to execute my half marathon race day later this month. The race started at 7:00am so I woke up at 4:45am to start the eating and digestion process. I planned to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but I realized that my husband bought “Oat Fiber Bread”.  I learned the hard way that me, fiber and racing do not get along. So, I ate Spaghetti O’s instead (so far not to plan). I always take some sort caffeine 45-30 minutes prior to a race, so I followed that protocol as well. I got to the race about 20 minutes before it was to start. When I arrived, volunteers were still setting up tables (this should have been my first clue). I started with a brisk 5 minute walk and transitioned into a 5 minute jog. I then completed by entire dynamic warm-up routine. My legs had an extra spring in them and I knew this was going to be a great race day.

 I found one of my running buddies and we started to chat. He mentioned that it was a small turn out at the race, I looked around and got excited. There were maybe 20 people standing around (this should have been my second clue), Maybe I could come in top 3 females. After a few minutes, I looked at my watch and it was 6:58am. I knew 3 others running this race and none of them were here yet (and this should have been clue number 3). I thought maybe something happened and they weren’t going to be racing, but I thought it odd that all 3 of them wouldn’t show up. Plus it was 2 minutes until the start and no one was gathering us up, in fact they were still hooking up the sound system. At about 7:05am, I really started wondering when we were going to start. At 7am, it was already 72 degrees out and I wanted to get going before it got too hot. I knew this was a small local race, but come on. At 7:15am, my running buddy approached the race director and asked him when we would be starting, his reply, 8am (as my sister says, I got chumped)! I was completely flabbergasted (I love that word). I threw a mini (and private temper tantrum) and huffed all the way to my phone to check the email they sent out in regards to the race, because I knew for a fact it started at 7am (read with absolute haughtiness). I pulled up the email and read “you can pick up your packet at the race starting at 7:00am”…wait…what…”pick up your packet” at 7:00am??? Wow, was I really that dense. All I saw originally was “race starting at 7:00am”. I couldn’t believe I was so off, but at least I wasn’t the only one, me and the other 20 folks all thought it started at 7.
For the next 35ish minutes I stood around and spoke to the other apparently clueless racers. More and more people started showing up, including my 3 other friends. I once again went through my dynamic warm up and warmup jog. However, because of the standing in one spot for the last hour, my legs were no longer springy. It fact they felt like lead. The temperature had risen to 80 degrees and I didn’t bring any extra caffeine with me. So, there went my perfect execution.
The race started at about 8:02am. This course was pretty much out and back, starting at a park, with the first half of the course being slightly uphill (about 125ft gain). I slogged my way through the first 3 miles, my legs never loosening up and my breath out of control. I tried not to look at my watch too much as I’d rather race by feel. When we got to the turnaround point I looked at my watch and saw we had hit 2.75 miles. Now, I’m no mathematician, but I don’t think 2.75 plus 2.75 equals 6.2. I got a little worried and then a little happy that I wouldn’t have to suffer through an entire 10k. --Side note, on the way back a lovely volunteer thought it would be a great idea to walk the course smoking a cigarette. Just what I wanted smoke to fill my gasping lungs. I arrived back at the park, feeling miserable, heavy and hot, I kept looking for the point at which we would enter the park. Finally, I saw the point, I assumed we would be going back the same way we went out, but I was wrong. We circle the park for about a mile. This means I spent the next mile staring at the finish line having no idea when we would be turning to make that final dash to the finish. I am mentally week. So in all honesty, I gave up mentally, I was ready to be done. I slowed my pace and just wanted to get it done with. Finally, there was the finish line and I was allowed to run through it. Normally, I give it my all and leave nothing out on the course, not this time. I maintained my pace and crossed.
This race definitely did not go to plan. It did not give me the confidence to run a great half in less than a month. My finish time was 51:16, I was really hoping for a 50:xx, and I wouldn’t have felt super bad about the 51:16, if it had been a true 10k, but it turned out to be 5.95 miles. Had it been a true 10k, my actual time would have been 53:xx. Not good.

I truly believe if the race would have started at 7:00am, it would have been a better race for me. But standing completely still for an hour, did not help my legs any. Next time I’ll pay better attention to those emails

Remember those raffle tickets I mentioned earlier, I didn’t win anything, but I do remember them saying you had to be present to win. I stayed around the race talking to my friends and I noticed the volunteers packing everything up and I say a prize that hadn’t been claimed. I walked up and asked one of the volunteers that since no one had claimed it and I had raffle tickets could they pull tickets until the got to mine. The volunteer shrugged and handed me the prize. SCORE!!! It was a $20 gift card to Reno eNVy (a local clothing store). When I got home, I looked in the bag only to discover it was completely empty save a bit of confetti. Hm, not so “score” after all. Chumped again!

Official race stats:
Overall Time: 51:16
Pace: 8:16
Gender Place: 8/25

Overall Place: 27/54


Month in Review - March

The majority of this month I have been trying to rehab my hamstring strain. Which made most of the month one big rest "day", with one of the lowest mileage months since I started running. I I really spent a lot of time reflecting on my past running and thought about why I am always getting injured. I have concluded it's because all I ever do is run. I don't lift weights or cross train. I honestly barely even walk, thanks to my sit down job (I did just get a stand-up desk, yay!).  I took a big step in correcting what I believe to be my achilles heel when it comes to running and I am giving personal coaching a try. I received a personal and customized training plan from Jason at Strength Running. With this new training plan, Jason has me incorporating running specific strength workouts into my training. A lot of the strength workouts include strengthening my hips, glutes and abs. I am about 3 weeks into including the strength workouts, but I have been unable to actually start the running part of the plan because of my injury (it is slowly getting better).  They say it takes about 6 weeks to see the effect of strength training, so I hope to be come a stronger, less injury prone runner in the near future. 

Total Miles: 58.2
Peak weekly mileage: 2/29-3/6 (26.2mi)
Longest Run: 8.0mi
Average Pace: 10:30min/mi
Races: 1
Leprechaun Race 5k 3/13/16 (25:43)

Lesson(s) learned:
  • If all you ever do is run and absolutely nothing else, you're bound to get injured.
Plans for April:
My main goal is to continue rehabbing my hamstring and to remain injury free in other areas. I want to be able to start the customized training plan that I got. The training plan is for my goal race this year, The San Francisco Marathon. I will be running the half marathon, more specifically the "2nd half marathon". I will be volunteering for the first time a race and I'm kind of looking forward to giving back.

Upcoming April Races: 0

How did your training go in March?
What are your plans for April?


Is running injury free possible?

What is this...a new blog post??? I think this is officially the longest I've gone without a post. I haven't had much to say lately as I have been bit by the injury bug, hard. What do you write on a running blog when you can't run. One of the most frustrating things I've discovered since declaring myself a runner, has been injuries. Since I started running in February 2013, I have had: shin splints, ITBS, a sprained ankle, pulled hamstring (twice), runners knee, and posterior tibial tendinitis. In case you weren't counting, that's 7 injuries in 3 years! That's 2.3333333333 injuries on average per year! That's insane! Each of these injuries have meant time off. Some injuries healed after 2 weeks, others took as long as  months (posterior tibial tendinitis is a nasty thing), and when it comes to running, consistency is key.

My doctor once told me, that he didn't think I was cut out for running. To be honest, I almost believed him. What was I doing wrong, that other runners seemed to be doing right? Didn't Christopher McDougall have this same problem? Do I need to travel to Mexico to find out how to prevent injuries? Inspired by his book Born to Run (but not in the way you think, no barefoot running for me) In November 2014, I set out on my own journey to discover injury free running.

My first stop Phil Maffetone's MAF Training.

I honestly don't know how I came about hearing about this method, I have a couple posts explaining what exactly MAF Training is. Basically, you take 150 minus your age and either add 5 or deduct an additional 5 depending on your running history. This becomes your MAF heart rate and the goal is to never let your heart rate increase over this amount. I devoured the Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing and started drinking the MAF Kool-aid. It was okay, if you don't mind a lot of slow miles. I did decrease my race times across the board and I wasn't injured at all while keeping with the program. However, it gets really (an I mean really) boring training at a slow pace. Not only that, but it was hard always being so dependent on my heart rate monitor. Running wasn't enjoyable anymore. When my heart rate went up running at a slower pace than last week, I would get frustrated, and my heart rate would go up even more. A dog that I couldn't see behind a fence would bark or a car would honk, scaring me, and cause my heart rate to go up. I was honestly kind of miserable.

My next stop was run less. I thought I was victim of the too much, too soon syndrome. I made sure to run every other day to ensure I was rested, if I felt even a small niggle of pain, I would take a few days off. But, it didn't work, because there was always something flaring up, so I was basically always taking days off.

Some time in between, I developed posterior tibial tendinitis, which is just a fancy way of saying my ankle hurt a lot. I couldn't walk or run without pain. I took about 2 months off started in August of 2015 and it wasn't getting any better, so I went to a physical therapist. She worked on it 3x a week for 2 months and suggested I get orthotics and start foam rolling. Well. the orthotics, caused trouble with my knees, and I do believe foam rolling is helpful, it hasn't been helpful enough. Here I am today with another hamstring strain. This one (unlike my previous hamstring strain) wasn't caused by a sudden stopping movement (I was at a full on sprint and came to a stop in one stride), but rather an overuse injury.

So, where is this long post heading to? Well, it's going to what I hope will be my final stop. Even though I've heard this time and time again, I never really believed this piece of advise. I read online once, that runners who only run will eventually get injured. I had tried adding in cycling, and lifting weights a few times a week for a little bit, but I never saw an improvement in race times, so it took a backseat. Well, here I am revisiting it again. Strength training, is going to be my new best friend for this next training cycle. I discovered this website, Strength Running. Now I am a sucker for infomercials, anything I see on TV I swear I need. This may be another one of those, but maybe not. I signed up for a custom training plan by the owner of Strength Running, Jason Fitzgerald, because he specializes in runners who are constantly getting injured. Included in the training plan is a standard core workout and ITB rehab workout. Both of these, like they sound, are all about developing a strong core (abs, glutes, and hips). The plan he made for me is simple. It tells me exactly when to run, exactly what I do to warm up before each run, exactly how fast to run, and exactly what exercises I need to do post-run. Unfortunately, my hamstring started acting up on day one of the training plan, but I have been seeing a PT who thinks I will make a speedy recovery. I am super excited to see if I have finally discovered how to run injury free. I haven't been able to run for more than 2 months injury free since August of 2014. I really want to see my potential, which will only come with running consistently. Fingers Crossed!!!!