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Tardy: Troy Monster Madness Dash 5K Recap

November 5, 2009

Okay, it’s time.
I’ve put it off long enough. My second 5K is fewer days away than my first 5K is days ago- perhaps its time for me to post my recap?

I think so.

I feel like I was counting down the days until the Troy Monster Madness Dash 5K Run/Walk for just about a decade. I had first thought about running the race last spring, when I saw the bulletin board for the Capital District YMCA 5K Series in the YMCA I was attending for some “pre-wedding workouts”. The series includes six different 5K races, each in a different city in the NY State Capital District.

The Troy Monster Madness Dash 5K is the 5th in the series. I already had plans for the first weekend 5K in Albany. The second, in Glenville, was to be hosted the weekend of my Bachelorette Celebration in Denton, the third race, in Saratoga was WAY TOO CLOSE to the wedding date for me to assume I wouldn’t have other things to do that weekend (I am a procrastinator, and I’m not afraid to admit it.) And the forth race, in Guilderland, was the weekend following the planned wedding, and therefore was reserved for our Honeymoon. So the Troy Monster Madness Dash 5K was it, I decided.

The week after making this decision, I leisurely walked 3.1 miles from my office building to the Schenectady YMCA in about 50 minutes, and decided that even if I couldn’t run the entire thing, as long as I came in under 50 minutes, I would be happy. I was set on the Halloween race.

It didn’t occur to me until writing this post that after the wedding was cancelled, I should have signed up for the Saratoga and Guilderland 5Ks. Why didn’t I think about this until now? Oh, well. I digress.

I had been “training” since last spring, but I didn’t start REALLY focusing on my running until the week of the break-up. With no centerpiece flowers to make, no wedding decisions to finalize, no relationship to nurture, and no friends in the area, I suddenly found myself with a lot of time on my hands. And for the first time in a long time, I honestly asked myself what I wanted.

A few days after the relationship ended, my dad came to town. He had business meetings in NYC the following week, so he graciously changed his flight arrangements, came to Albany, and was my Superhero. He helped me put my life back together. And he spoiled me a bit. ( also- I think he gave my mom some sanity- I know she had a hard time being in Texas while I was in New York dealing with my broken heart alone- dad coming to the rescue seemed to calm her down a bit, I think.)

When he was in town, we stayed at a hotel nearby. One night, while watching Entourage in the room, I remember talking to Laura via text about how much I respected her new found love for running, and how I really wanted to follow in her footsteps. She had inspired me. And I was ready. But I didn’t know where to start.

Laura told me to go run as long as I could, and to keep track of how many minutes I could run before I stopped, and let her know, and we could make a running plan together. I had my very own running coach.

I changed into my gym clothes, laced up my sneakers, grabbed a bottle of water and headed down to the fitness center of the hotel. I turned Ace of Cakes on the television (because, really, what better to work out to than the food network 😉 ), and I warmed up on a treadmill. I walked for ten minutes, then restarted the timer on the treadmill.

And I took off. I ran for 7 minutes, and managed to get to .55 of a mile. Wow. That wasn’t bad at all. I recovered for a few minutes, and then ran for 7 more minutes. Then recovered again. Then ran for 7 more minutes before cooling down. And I knew what I wanted. I finally asked myself what I honestly wanted, and I finally had an answer. I wanted to be a runner.

Not long after, I started the ever popular Couch-to-5K training program, but it didn’t last long. After the third week, I just started running my own interval plan. The longest I’ve ever run without stopping is just over 2 miles. Still to this day, I have run an entire 3.1 miles- and for a while this was a struggle for my ego- but eventually I realized that it’s okay for me to go at my own pace. What I need is to go at my own pace.

And so I continued to run (and walk and run again) and time myself. I noticed that sometimes, the days I do short intervals I finish 3 miles in a lot less time. When I run 2 miles, recover and run the remainder, I come in after 40 minutes. Yet, one day, I decided to 1 minute splits of running and walking, and made it to the finish line in just under 29 minutes. Apparently, my speedy run is a lot speedier than I anticipated.

But, my goal still remains to run 3.1 miles straight. Even if that’s something I have to work towards for a while, I know I will get there eventually.

Then Heather Said, “Yeah- but what’s the point?”

Oh- you came here to read my recap of my first race ever and I STILL haven’t gotten there? Sorry about that. I’m a bit long winded.

Ok- so my first race was last Saturday. By the time Friday came around I was so excited that my first race was only a day away. At work, I felt extremely giddy, and giggled whenever I thought about my crossing the finish line the next morning. A few times of thinking about the race and the training and the decision to “become a runner” made me tear up a bit. I was emotional. At work. On Friday. [is this normal?]

Friday night, I got ready for my race.
I made a yummy broccoli pasta dinner and spent my evening at home, relaxing, sipping tea and trying to calm myself down. I was definitely fending off butterflies most of the evening.

I made a few operation beautiful notes to wear, one on my pre-race zip up hoodie, and one on my costume. Here is the photo of the one I had on my hoodie, along with a stack of papers I brought along with me to the race.

Before going to bed, I started to get really nervous that I was going to forget something REALLY important in the morning. So I brought out my folding table and left myself some reminders:

I headed to bed quite early, and my excitement was not letting me fall asleep easily. I remember trying to count backwards from 100 about a dozen times before I finally was in deep slumber.

When my alarm sounded, I jumped right out of bed! No snooze button for me! I got ready, made breakfast, and triple checked my post it note to-do list, and then I headed off.

When I arrived at the Troy YMCA, I checked in and got my race number. Being the Monster Madness Dash, we were encouraged to dress up. My boss, Jen, helped me come up with this super easy to run in costume, a baseball player. Of course, the way I roll was to be there an hour before race time. Apparently, this is when a lot of “serious runners” check in as well. I took note that my baseball costume was sure unique, because everyone else I saw was either dressed in a runner costume, or a ymca staff member costume. Not very original, guys. But, I tried not to care too much that I didn’t get the matching costume memo;

And here is my Operation Beautiful note that I wore on my costume. I got the idea for “you are stronger than you think” from Ange, who wore a note like it to her half marathon. I thought it was such an encouraging mantra for other racers to read!

One of the women, Shannon, whom I started the race with took a photo with my Operation Beautiful sign and sent it to Caitlin for the blog. I was pretty excited to see it show up on Sunday Morning 🙂

Thankfully, a bit closer to race time, more runners in costumes showed up. Unthankfully, I didn’t get any photos.

The night before the race I had put a call for advice out on Twitter. A lot of people told me to make sure to start out SLOWLY- I have read a lot about the anxiousness for the race causing runners to start out super fast and then burn out before long, and I wanted to make sure not to do that. Also- Alex reminded me to HAVE FUN and that was on the top of my race priority list. This being my first race and on an unfamiliar course, I was aiming for a time of sub 40 minutes.

Right before the race started, I positioned myself towards the back of the runners. I talked to a few ladies who were also running their first races, and several who were also planning to do intervals.

When we took off across the starting line, I tried to run as slowly as possible. This lasted about three minutes. Soon, I could not hold it back, so I picked up the pace, just a little bit. Soon after, I found my groove, and carried on at a pace I was comfortable with.

The course was REALLY hilly. We ran near and on a golf course, and the uphills were killer. There was one major incline that seemed to go on FOREVER. Of course, this meant there were also some major downhills that definitely helped my time. I made sure to remember what Kath had said about making her strides long to take advantage of the down hills, and I tried to use my long legs to my benefit.

I took a few walking breaks throughout the race, mostly while I was taking drinks of water. After last week’s self peptalk, I was okay with walking when I needed to, and made sure not to be discouraged and pick my running right back up as soon as I caught my breath.

At the 3 mile mark [i’m assuming] a girl was yelling out our places as we passed her. When she pointed to me, she yelled “121!”. I noticed a good number of people between me and the finish line, and I realized that now was the time to not hold ANYTHING back- and I started SPRINTING. I’m quite certain I was running faster than I have in the last year. I ended up passing 9 people! Here I am much later, at the finish line.

I ended up coming in 112th place with a time of 33:49- So much better than my 40 minute goal!

My next race is this Sunday in Boston. Laura, Stef and I are running the Luv2Run Boston 5K – and once again, I am super excited, but this time for a bunch of different reasons!

This will be the first time I am running with people I know. And I don’t just mean “running a race”, I mean running in general. I am looking forward to enjoying the running experience with two of my favorite people!

Not only is this my second race ever, it’s also in Massachusetts, which means that after Sunday, I am one state closer to my “Race in all 50 states” fitness bucket list goal! [only 48 more to go! 😉 ]

I am determined to meet a goal. I haven’t decided yet which goal I am going to aim to complete. I am either going to try and run the entire way or beat my time of 33:49. I think I could definitely beat my time fairly easily. Also, I think running with Laura and Stef will help me to run for longer than I am able to on my own. (I am quite sure that the reason I can’t run 3 miles without stopping yet is purely mental.)

Do you guys have any suggestions on which one I should aim for?

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point permalink
    November 5, 2009 12:51 pm

    kay so, i definitely have cried at many races. i dont cry as much as i used to (which is kind of sad in itself) but i KNOW i will cry at my marathon and likely at one of the half's i'm doing soon if i break my 2 hour goal. so yes.. you're normal. also, 33 minutes is like, INSANELY awesome. seriously! you rocked that race!!!and lastly, i think it is strange that they had someone calling out your 'position' as opposed to your time. i've NEVER seen this happen! so odd. yay, heatherthen caitlin said… you rock!

  2. Amanda (Two Boos Who Eat) permalink
    November 5, 2009 12:55 pm

    Looks like you did awesome Heather! That's fantastic. I am planning on signing up for my first 5k pretty soon and I will definitely take what you said to heart.

  3. Julie @savvyeats permalink
    November 5, 2009 2:46 pm

    Congrats on your awesome first 5K! And good luck on the second one 🙂

  4. Angela permalink
    November 6, 2009 4:50 pm

    Congrats on your race Heather! If it was me I would try to beat your last time. Listen to your body and if you need a short walking break do so. Here is an interesting article on why it can be good for you:


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