Sunday, April 22, 2007

Holy Hills!!! - My 5-mile Race Report

***Warning: Long post! You may want to make a trip to the bathroom first. LOL.***

Hi everyone! I know it's been a while, but I've been busy! I'm still recovering from the wedding...more about that later!

First, I just ran my longest race to date - 5 miles! It was held at the Valley Forge Park, which is a historic Civil War military base (something to do with George Washington - don't ask!!!).

Disclaimer: What you are about to read is NOT recommended for anybody!

Days before the race: This week I did my LSD run on Monday (10 miles!!!), then did an easy 5 miler on Thursday. I felt great after the 10 miler, but after the 5-miler last Thursday the outside side of my left foot was hurting! Before this, I've been having problems with the same foot, but on the inside, right below the big foot. This stems from being fitted for the wrong type of shoes (long story - a tale to be told another time if anybody's interested). I bought another pair of shoes that is better suited and my big toe was getting better, but still a little bit tender. On Thursday, I must have been too conscious of the big toe so I was landing on the other side of my foot. Hence, my foot issue. It doesn't seem like anything is broken, more like strained muscles, so I've been icing, elevating, & taking ibuprofen for the past couple of days. It was still hurting yesterday, and I was seriously thinking of bagging the race. It must have looked funny to see me sort of limping yesterday when I picked up my race packet.

This morning before the race: Foot feels better. It was still hurting, but I can at least walk/run on it. I was still contemplating about bagging the race at this point. But I went ahead with my normal pre-race routine. I got dressed, ate a light breakfast, pinned my bib #, put on my Garmin, etc. Despite the pain, I knew that if I didn't do the race, I was going to regret it. So off I went! I got to the race in good time, but there were already a lot of people there. It was still kind of chilly, so I wore a jacket and a windbreaker pants over my shorts. As soon as I got at the designated parking lot, I took off my outer layer, sprayed some sunscreen, took my car keys, and hid my bag in the trunk of my car. The runners then had to take the shuttle to the park where the race was being held. While at the shuttle, I watched someone put on the chip timer. This is my first race with a chip timer, so I didn't know how to put it on before today, LOL.

I must have arrived at the park 45 minutes before the start time so I had plenty of time to relax, stretch, and take a bathroom break. Before the start, we were led through some yoga warm-up routine which was interesting. I have already warmed-up at this point so I was partly following them.

The race: I lined up somewhere in the middle, but not way back. This is the largest race I have ever run in with 1200 runners, so I didn't want to be all the way back which could take longer to cross the starting line. I kind of felt wierd standing there waiting for the start of the race. Everybody seemed to know someone, while I didn't know anybody! The woman I normally race with only trained for 5Ks and she absolutely refuse to run on hills. But as soon as the gun shot, I was off and I completely forgot about it.

I was conscious of my foot the whole time. However, I was already resolved to have fun and not think about the finish time and to run as pain-free as possible. Honestly, I would have been happy if I finished in an hour. I started off at an easy & relaxed pace. I was expecting to be running at a pace of 11-12 min/miles, but when I glanced at my Garmin I was running at a 10 min/mile and the pace still felt easy. The beginning of the first mile was fairly flat and very scenic. There was a hill towards the second part of the first mile, which I thought was very challenging. But, I kept my pace controlled and was able to overcome the hill with no problems. I was actually passing a lot of people at this time, and a lot of people was slowing down to walk. However, I got passed by someone wearing a shark costume, LOL.

Although the first hill was harder than expected, it was the big hill at mile 2 that was worrying me. On the elevation chart, the mile-1 hill looked nothing compared to the mile-2 hill. Oh man, the hill at mile-2 was CRAZY HIGH! You could see it from afar, and I started getting butterflies in my stomach. But I trudged along and just prayed for the best. When I got to the bottom of the hill, the path narrows down and then you have to make a sharp right to climb up the hill. From the bottom, this hill looked almost vertical! I kept on running, again keeping my pace controlled. I read signs like "Almost There!", "Water stops ahead!", and "Fast course ahead!". Surprisingly, once the uphill was done it didn't feel too bad and I was actually passing a lot of people. As a matter of fact, I thought the downhill was a lot harder since it was putting a lot more pressure on my foot.

There were water stops after the big hill, which was the half-way mark of the course. Normally, I don't take drinks during runs less than 6 miles. However, since I wanted to take it easy on my foot, I decided to walk through the water stops to take a drink. I realized then that I have to work on my drinking technique since most of the water ended up all over my shirt than in my mouth, LOL.

The course was pretty uneventful after that. It was fairly flat until the last half mile, where it just dived down. Boy, was my foot feeling it! The last .2 miles was flat though and you could see the finish straight ahead so I just gunned it.

As I approached the finish line, I was excited to see that the clock time was 49:something. I ended up finishing in 50:08 (chip time 49:31). Don't know what my Garmin time was since I forgot to stop it after I crossed the finish line, LOL. Nevertheless, that's a pace of just under 10 min/mile!!!! In my practice runs, the earliest I have finished is a little bit over 51 minutes. And, my practice runs were never this hilly! Can you imagine how I would have done if my foot was okay?!?

There was an expo around the finish area, with tons of food & freebies. There were water, Gatorade, bananas, Carrboom gels, packets of Biofreeze, energy bars, free water bottle, and tons of food from Panera bread!

I also met some nice people from the Runner's World forum. They call these types of meeting "FEs", which means forum encounter. There appears to be a number of forumites/runners in the greater Philly area.

I also saw someone from work. This girl just started running - it appears I have inspired her, LOL. However, the most she have run is 3 miles, and just barely, on the treadmill. She wanted to do the 5-miles run, but I kind of discouraged her since she really hasn't been consistently running and I didn't want her to get injured. So she ended up just doing the 3 mile walk. It didn't look like she had too much fun, but I recommended that she do a couple of 5Ks first before she tackle the Valley Forge 5-miler. The walkers took a different route, and she is therefore not aware of the hills we had to go through.

Overall, the race was fun. I finished strong and I wasn't even hurting at the end of the race. Inspite of the hills, there's something about this race that made it bearable. Don't know what it is. So I'm looking forward to doing this race again next year. Hopefully, injury-free. And I do admit that what I did - running through (some) pain - is probably not the smartest thing to do! I've gone crazy I guess!

Next up: The Broad Street Run in 2 weeks - 10 miles! (Lord help me!)


As if this post couldn't get any longer... (LOL)

The wedding went really well! Everything went really smoothly, from the rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, wedding, & reception. The rehearsal dinner was awesome - everybody was commenting on how good the food was! The wedding went on without a glitch. The weather was supposed to be cloudy with a chance of rain, but turned out nice and sunny all day. You all have to remember this was the day before the big Noreaster, so we lucked out big time! The reception was awesome as well! The food was awesome and it looked like everybody had a great time, judging by how many were actually on the dance floor most of the night. It was so fun that the photographer, videographer, and DJ stayed an extra half an hour since they were having a great time themselves! The only glitch was that our table (groom's family) ended up at the back of the room. It turned out that the reception hall made a mistake (switched the table label), but my new SIL apologized that night about that. No harm done! We were hardly in our table anyways. :-)

Here's a picture of the bridal party in the limo. The wedding just got done and we were on our way to the reception hall. I don't have any other pictures since I left my camera in the suite at the reception hall. Sorry! I'll try to get more pictures when I go back to my parents house in a couple of weeks.

By the way, I'm the 2nd one on the left. :P

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Update before the wedding

First, thank you all for your kind words on my last post! I really appreciate it and it makes me more motivated moving forward!

Well, it's less than a week before my brother's wedding. I am officially on vacation! Woohoo!!! Lots of preparation to do before the wedding and all so I'm going to be very busy! My mom's been running around like a headless chicken. She's been on a cleaning frenzy...have to make the house presentable for the relatives staying over. I swear, they must have vacumed the whole house at least twice already just today!!!!

My workouts are still going great. Eating is not perfect, but not too crazy. Running is going great! In fact, I just ran 9 miles last Sunday. My training schedule is telling me to do 9 miles, but was actually gunning for 10. Unfortunately, because of Easter I did not get to run this weekend until late Sunday night, so it was the dreadmill for me. Man, was it torture! It was an hour and a half of pure hell! I think I could have gone 10 miles if it was outside. But, oh well!

Two weekends from now, I'm supposed to be running a 5-miles race. But I'm scared of the hills on this race. The first two miles are crazy uphill! I just have to play it by ear, I guess.

That's about it! Let the craziness of the wedding begin! I'll make sure to post some pictures when I get the chance.


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Before and After

I just realized that I just passed my 2 years anniversary of converting to this healthy & fit lifestyle. Well, I don't have the exact date, but I know it's like beginning of March 2005.

Some of you who have followed my blog for a while that what got me moving is some mean comments from some "well-meaning" relatives who laughingly told me to my face how fat I got. Well, although it stung at the time, I am now thankful I went through that painful experience. As they say, what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger.

In honor of my anniversary, I thought I'd post my before & after pictures. Even fully clothed, the difference is very apparent. So here goes....

(busting out of a size 8, almost a size 10!!!!)

(size 0 BABY!!!!)

Notice how my mom went through a weight loss too?
The before picture was taken during my Philippines trip. I posted the after picture before, which was taken during my Vegas/Grand Canyon trip last October. Looking at my before picture now, can't say I really blame my relatives for telling it like it is. LOL.
I've come a loooong way, don't you think? I'm proud to say that it's been 2 years and I'm still going strong!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

My Third 5K!!!!

So I ran a 5K race this morning. It's this fun race where headphones, baby strollers, or dog on a leash are a MUST! Baby stroller & dog on a leash are definitely out for me, so I was in the headphones category.

I didn't have any lofty expectations for this race. My best 5K race result going into this race was 30:09. Eventually, my goal was to run a sub-30 5K race. I wasn't expecting to meet that goal at all for this race because my recent runs have been more for endurance, so they were REALLY SLOW but long (minimum 5 miles). Also due to injuries, I haven't been doing any speedwork. Not even for HIIT. Another thing, I've been training for a 10-mile race so this run was just extra.

I had two goals coming into this race: 1) Have fun, and 2) Run it all the way (I took walking breaks on my previous two 5K races).

The race started at 9 am. I made sure I woke up early enough to eat breakfast - 2 pcs. ww bread toasted w/ nat. PB and tea w/ honey. I can't handle heavy protein right before a run, so the meal was definitely not EFL, but I think I get enough protein from the PB.

Got to the race in good time. Long enough to do a short walk around the park for warm-up, pick up my race packet, and make 2 bathroom trips. Thank goodness the port-a-potties were decent! The weather was not that great but it was manageable. It was slightly chilly (low 40's) but not breezy and the sky looked like it was going to rain at any second. It was cold enough that I couldn't part with my jacket during the race.

The race packet was sweet! We each got a wicking shirt, a New Balance water bottle, a Clif Bar, and 2 packets of Biofreeze (love those!!!). On my previous races, I only got a cotton t-shirt and a bunch of advertisements. Today's race packet was definitely a treat!

At the starting point, I lined up in the middle of the pack with the people, dogs, and baby strollers. Some people had only stuffed dogs, which counted as dog on a leash. Some people had just an empty baby strollers without any kids, some had kids in them, etc. It was really an interesting race. Anyways, the horn sounded and off we went!

There were a lot of near misses during the race. The dogs are worse than kids! They would just stop and squat, veer to the side, and just do unpredictable stuff right in front of you. I was surprised nobody tripped on the leashes! There were definitely a lot of scary moments for me.

My pace was brisk but comfortable. I wasn't going all out or anything. I had my Garmin on, but didn't really check on it. I had it beep every mile so I have an idea at what point in the race I'm at. The race was along a trail right next to a river, so I was enjoying the view. I was also thinking throughout the race about how fast some of the runners are! Despite pushing baby strollers and running with their dogs, many of them still kicked my a$$! It was very humbling, to say the least.

One odd thing happened though. I think I saw someone cheat. The course is basically just straight along the trail then you head back at the half-way point of the 5K. Well, I was heading back to the start/finish line when a woman who was still approaching the the half-way mark turned around prematurely to head back to the start/finish line. At that time, her friend was walking in front of me and I guess she just decided to join him. Nobody said anything and I was too focused on my run, so I just passed them. However, I briefly glanced at them as I was passing them to make sure to make sure they were part of the race, and sure enough they have bib numbers on. Thinking back now, I realized that her bib number was still intact, meaning the small part wasn't ripped off when you finish a race so she didn't finish the race and decided to run some more to join her friend. Honestly though, I don't think she did it maliciously. She wasn't running too fast to begin with (she was in the back of the pack) so she probably decided the heck with it and just headed back.

About .5 miles away from the finish line, I started getting side stitches. I just breathed through it and ignored it and pushed on. I neared the finish line and glanced at the timer and did a double take! It said 28:4-something!!!! Holy cow, was I really running that fast?

So I crossed the finish line, stopped my Garmin, and had my bib ticket taken off. My first thought was maybe the course was way less than 5K. But I checked my Garmin and it said:

28:50 in 3.10 miles!!!!!!!!

I am ecstatic and pleasantly surprised! Maybe all those long distance training runs have paid off! Even in the days where I was doing HIIT and purposely trying to run my fastest 5K on the TM, I never went under 29 minutes!

I didn't hang around too much after the race. Just long enough to eat a Clif Bar and drink water. They had pizza, but my stomach just wasn't into it. Also, it's Palm Sunday so I had to go to church at noon. Besides, the prizes were just given to the top 5 male & female finishers in the headphones, dogs, and baby strollers categories...not by age I knew I wasn't going to win anything.

I checked the official results online this afternoon and my Garmin was dead on! Finished in exactly 28:50!

So I met my two goals coming into the race. I had fun and I ran the race all the way through. Finishing in under 29 minutes is a huge huge bonus!