2015 Wicked Frosty Four – Race Recap

Let’s jump right in, shall we?

This morning I ran the 9th annual (I think) Wicked Frosty Four in Salem, MA. It was my first run and first race of 2015 as well as my last race of the “season” and my last run of the 2014 Holiday Running Streak. And, spoiler alert, it was a good one!

After partying hard w/ burritos and buffy the vampire slayer, I hit the hay around 11:50pm last night. (I know, I know, super lame, who goes to bed at 11:50 on New Year’s Eve?) I set my alarm for 8ish, and then read in bed for a while before having breakfast. Eventually, Jeff asked why I wasn’t getting ready for the race, so I hopped up and got my butt ready to go.

2014-12-21 08.27.14Can I wear my bag to the race?

Because I’m a baby who doesn’t like to drive myself places, Jeff offered to come to the race and cheer me on. I told him he didn’t have to, but I think it was pretty clear that I was overjoyed by this suggestion.

I’ve been excited about the race all week, but about halfway there, I started wondering why I had even signed up. I can’t really explain it, I love running except for the 15 to 20 mins before I go running. In that period of time, I hate it and don’t know why I do it. My less than excited mood lasted all the way until we got there. Then I took off my coat and got out of the car.  Guess what…..that didn’t help! On the walk over to the start line and then waiting for the race to begin, I kept thinking that I just had to get it over with.  A+ for attitude over here!

2015-01-01 09.53.32Hey, at least I smiled for the picture.

And then the race started. I fell into a rhythm pretty much immediately upon crossing the start mat, and my love of running returned.

My plan was to run at a relaxed, but brisk pace. One that felt sustainable, but not easy. The first mile went by fairly quickly. I warmed up within the first quarter mile, and I saw a celebrity! (Did you read the runner’s world article about John Young, who ran the Boston Marathon?….He was in my race!) Before I knew, it my watch buzzed for the first mile. It read 8:28/mile, which I assumed was pretty unlikely, but I was pleasantly surprised when I passed the mile marker not long after (at 8:44 by my watch).

Prior to this point, I assumed that there was no way that I was going to PR today, but after hitting mile one so quickly I started to wonder. I kept up my comfortably hard but relaxed pace and continued on with a “we’ll see what happens” attitude. Much like mile 1, the second mile passed fairly quickly. I did start noticing some hills at this point, but I was still feeling good when I hit the second mile marker at 17:28 min (in case you were wondering, this is exactly 8:44 for the second mile, too..sweet!)

Heading into mile 3, I had officially decided to shoot for a personal best. I continued along with my relaxed but brisk running strategy, but “brisk” was becoming increasingly closer to “hard” as this mile ticked by. We tackled a steep hill in mile three that I run fairly often in my usual runs. (Parts of this course overlap some of my regular routes, but not very much.) It was tough, but it helped that I was familiar with it. Shortly after climbing the hill, I passed the mile 3 marker. This mile was a bit slower at 8:52, but at 26:20, if I could run the last mile in less than 9:38, I would make it.

2014-04-03 18.21.41Most of my runs and races have beautiful ocean views…I’m such a lucky duck.

I took a couple deep breaths, and started mile 4 at a pace that I would call “I think I can run one more mile at this pace” pace. We ran along the ocean, with an icy headwind, and up one more slight hill before coming into the finish. It was tough. “I think I can run one more mile at this pace” pace is slightly painful. Eventually, I turned the last corner and the finish line was in sight. I saw Jeff hanging out on the sidelines, but he wasn’t paying much attention. This made me smile because I knew that what happened was that he wasn’t expecting me so soon.  Honestly, I wasn’t expecting me so soon either!

And then, I was done! I crossed the finish line with an official time of 34:55! My last mile was 8:35, and I had a shiny new PR of over a minute!

Hip Hip Hooray!

Nothing like a surprise personal best to kick off 2015!

Did you run today? Did you race? Have you ever watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Don’t tell me what happens, I’m watching it for the first time and I LOVE IT! 

Thoughts on Racing – Why I Run Races

It must be that time of year where people start waking up from their running hibernation and start getting out to races, because almost all of the running blogs I read have had a race re-cap sometime in the last week or two. Am I the only one who isn’t out running races?

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See? No races here.

 This has prompted me to think about my race schedule for the year, look back on all the races I’ve run, and think about my motivation for signing up for them. All this is too much for me for one post, so I’ll start with….

MOTIVATION:

There are three main reasons I sign up for races:

1. It’s Fun*

2. It’s a holiday

3. To push myself

*The second two aren’t reason enough without the first. I think races should be fun, and I don’t think I should sign up for them otherwise. In the past, there have been occasions when I’ve signed up for a race that I did not think would be fun, but I don’t want to do that anymore. It’s silly. This isn’t to say that every race IS fun; I have certainly done races that turned out not to be fun, but sometimes that just happens. One of my main goals with running is to have fun, so signing up for a race I don’t think is going to be fun, well, that’s just dumb.

Black Cat

“This race is going to be so much fun!”

Sometimes I have different ideas of what’s fun. Sometimes, I think it’s fun to push myself in a race and shoot for a PR. Other times my goal is to go slow enough to chat with my sister and cousin during the Turkey Trot or wear something crazy in the Devil’s Chase. On rare occasions, different goals can overlap, like in last year’s Reindeer Run – where I was able to push myself for a 5k PR while running w/ my husband and wearing a ridiculous Reindeer hat.

However, getting a PR in a holiday race is usually the exception, not the rule. Despite this fact I really do think that holiday races are the most fun races. I’ve come to think that holidays need to be celebrated with road races, and at this point, Thanksgiving would be incomplete without a Turkey Trot. I really find holiday races irresistible. Probably because I get to dress up, and I’m able to convince family members to join me…

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Devil’s Chase 6.66 miles…obviously we will dress as devils.

Thanksgiving Weekend 2009 032

Just a couple of 90’s Bills fans ready for the Turkey Trot

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If cousin Jeremy can’t run this year, the least we can do is put a funny picture of him on our shirts!

With that said, as much fun as holiday races are, I rarely use them as a reason to push myself. However, challenging myself is an awesome part of running, and racing has a role here too. Most of the time, when I sign up for a race “to push myself”, the pushing isn’t the primary goal on race day. If I’m trying to PR, that can be the exception, but mostly my motivation in signing up for longer races is to get myself out and running long distances on a regular basis. I love long runs, but I seem to forget that fact in the 30 min or so before I’m supposed to actually do one. Silly, brain. Once race day comes, I usually have a time goal in mind, but first and foremost, I try to enjoy myself.

When the “push myself” goal relates to a new PR or tough time goal, I need to be careful. Getting a new PR is awesome, and can quickly make a difficult race feel worth it. However, the flip side is that if I’m shooting for a PR and I miss it, the whole race might feel terrible. I want to be better about that as I shoot for my sub-two hour half marathon this year. Last time I tried this, I ended up with a 9 minute PR, but because I didn’t finish in under 2 hours, I was miserable. I thought the whole race was stupid and was disappointed and mad at myself. After that, I took a nice long break from time goals. And, hopefully, I’m better for it. I should never forget that my main motivation is to HAVE FUN.

 What about you? Why do you run races? Are you capable of celebrating a holiday without a race? Do you pressure yourself to PR at every race?