Wandering with a Purpose

Author: therosywanderer (Page 1 of 12)

Race Recap: 2022 Raleigh City of Oaks Marathon

The City of Oaks Marathon is held in Raleigh, NC. The 2022 event was on Sunday, November 6. This event has something for all distances – 5K, 10K, half, and full marathon. Originally, I signed up for the half marathon but when Coach Twiggs put a 26-mile training run on my schedule, I felt like I needed to get a medal for my efforts. I went back and forth for a long time on whether I should sign up for this race. I had a lot of fears:

  1. It’s a lot of pressure to run a marathon. To just do one “for training” was something I could not get my mind around.
  2. City of Oaks is not a large race like a world major or Disney. I’m a back-of-the-pack runner, so this was really nerve-wracking to be alone or maybe not even finish.
  3. The race only had a 6-hour limit. My current PR for the marathon is 5:57, so that is barely squeaking in. I would be really upset with myself if I didn’t finish, and this limit added a whole lot more pressure than it just being a marathon.

After my successful 23-mile training run, I decided to be brave and just got for it. I changed my half marathon registration to the full, and then the pressure was really on to do it. If I could stick to my prescribed training pace of 13:15, I would finish under the 6-hour limit, but also earn a PR with a time around 5:47.

Logistics

The race logistics and communication were my two biggest complaints about this race. I don’t know if I was extra nervous because of the fact that it was a marathon or because travel was required. I lived in Raleigh for many years, so I shouldn’t be nervous about that, but I know that I was.

Packet Pickup

They offered to mail your race bib to your house instead of going to packet pick up. This was an extra $6.99, which is a nice option, but sometimes I like to go to packet pickup just to see what it is. They continued to mail about the deadline, but they never communicated when and where packet pickup would be. When I emailed to inquire about this, they said they weren’t sure and would communicate details later. Well, that makes it difficult to plan!

Ultimately, I decided to have it mailed to my house. This is nice because I got a picture of Churchill with a bib, even though he wasn’t there to tell me good luck for the race.

Packet pickup ended up being at a local school until 6 pm or something, so it was good that I had it mailed to me.

Parking

Another issue I had with logistics was with parking. The race started and ended in downtown Raleigh, but they communicated 3 parking areas that were between 0.3 and 0.7 miles away from the start. Some of the areas were street parking, which I scoped out the day prior. I didn’t feel confident at all that I would be able to find a parking spot, and this stressed me out a lot. I’m not great at driving, let alone in cities. Luckily, I drove through downtown from my Airbnb to those spaces and found a paid parking spot just down the street from the finish line. This ended up working perfectly, so I wish their communication would say there was paid parking in different lots downtown.

The Course

Alll of the City of Oaks courses lap each other and turn off at various points, but they all pass some of the big sites of Raleigh like the NC State Capitol on Fayetteville Street. Something I really liked about this marathon course is that the breakaway from the half and full happened at mile 8 where the full went straight onto a greenway and the half turned around at the end of Hillsborough St. Mentally, as a marathoner, that was a lot easier to process than seeing the half marathon run to the finish line when you had to turn off and do 13.1 miles more. The Charlotte Marathon is set up this way, and I think that would make for a really hard mental game.

The other thing to note about this course is that the Raleigh course is really hilly. If you’re doing the half and shorter distances, you have a few hills, but it isn’t anything too much if you live in the Piedmont area of NC, since that is just your normal. The full marathon, on the other hand, had some HUGE hills on the greenway. I remember running down one around mile 10 or so thinking this is going to be really hard to go back around. We were around mile 21 when we had to go back up that section, but that wasn’t the only one!

The Race

The Start

The City of Oaks Marathon races started at 7 am. I left my Airbnb around 5:30 am, not sure about what I would do with parking. This would give me enough time to fumble around and figure something out. I had my hydration pack full with no-flavor Tailwind, a few Ucann gels, and some graham crackers to eat before. The time change happened that morning, so I had an extra hour to prep for the race. I was incredibly nervous, so I was trying to find ways to calm myself down.

The weather was also not looking good. It was warm (I think around 74 in the morning) and the air was THICK! I made sure to pack S-Caps and Salt Tabs to help, but I knew this would make the day that much harder. I was sweating just standing around waiting for the race to start because of the humidity – this was not a good sign! You can even see the haze in this picture from the humidity. I was scared this was going to turn into 2020 WDW Marathon again, and that was NOT something I wanted to repeat – especially on a smaller race when I was already expected to struggle.

Miles 1 – 8

Since this is a smaller race (I think about 770 registered and 565 finished the full marathon), they don’t have start corrals. Everyone (all distances except the 5K) started at the same time. There was a beautiful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, then we were off. Well over 2,000 people registered for the half (1,700 finished) and 1,220 registered for the 10K. Imagine almost 4,000 all at the same time going down a city street. It was absolute madness! Topple that with me trying to run/walk (I placed myself towards the back, but then a lot of people came late), and it was a fiasco.

I wanted to make sure to start my intervals from the beginning because I was doing the full and needed to conserve my energy. I had to run through the first 1 or 2 walk breaks but eventually was able to get off on the side to walk. Originally, I started at 20:30, but I had to back off because I was going much faster than my 13:15 goal pace; my first 5K was under 12:00/mile!

I backed my intervals down to 15:30 to try to slow down. One or two people told me “thank you” for raising my arm to signal my walk break, as I think I was the only one run/walking at that point of the race.

It was really fun to run through downtown Raleigh to see all of my old sights. A lot of my downtown experience was the bar scene, so running a marathon is quite a difference! I even ran past the Junior League of Raleigh building where my Junior League career started, which was a fun surprise. It’s funny, one of my favorite things to do is to visit and tour state capitol buildings. North Carolina is one I need to do. Not only have I lived in NC longer than any other state, but I actually lived in the capital city for 6 years! So typical, isn’t it?

Even though I changed my interval, I was still running under 13-minute miles at the 8-mile mark. I don’t understand because running this interval is much slower when I’m at home.

Miles 8 – 22

Half/Full Split

The second section of the marathon was most of the race and all marathoners. I marked this off at where the half and full marathon split and the marathoners spend the entire time on the greenway. It was really hot and humid at this time. My goal was to stay strong on my 15:30 intervals for the whole race, which was okay at this point, but I couldn’t believe I still had 18 miles to go.

Mile 10

The greenway was really nice, and the noise of Hillsborough Street faded away. Little did I realize how many large hills were waiting for us! I was able to zone out here, just run, and say hi to some fellow runners while commenting on the weather. I started to struggle and chose to only walk around the halfway point. Since I did 10 miles with a power walk the day before for Mock Dopey 1, I figured if I could pull off 14-minute miles I could still finish under the 6-hour time limit. Just focus on putting one foot in front of the other. I also finished my whole hydration pack of Tailwind at this point – on top of taking water at every water stop! This was going to be really hard.

It was a really scenic view, which was really nice because of the colors of the trees. Everyone was struggling at this point. Around this point, I also saw the leaders coming back down. They were looking strong, but even the fast people were walking and looking hot.

turn around

This greenway took you up until around mile 15.5 or something, which was close to North Hills. I can’t believe that I was able to run from downtown to North Hills; seems like such a far distance! When I turned back around, I saw that I wasn’t the last person and tried to cheer people along. I had started passing people at this point because it was such a struggle. According to the race results, from the halfway point to mile 20, I moved up 29 places and I was just power walking. That’s how bad it was.

There were people with medics, too. One I saw was a half marathoner on Hillsborough St. with an IV. Another girl I saw on the greenway was flush white on the ground. I kept telling myself, just be safe and be steady. This is a training run and there is never a need to push yourself that hard.

The hills were killer. Mile 20-22 was 170 ft of elevation gain, which was quite steep. Writing it, it doesn’t seem like it should be that bad, but it was awful! My pace slowed to a slow walk where I was clocking over 15-minute miles. I was definitely feeling it!

mile 22

Mile 23 – Finish

mile 25

It felt like forever, but eventually, we got off the greenway and back onto Hillsborough Street. We did a weird out-and-back then were really back onto the road to get us back downhill. While 3 miles doesn’t seem like a lot compared to doing 26, these last 3.2 miles were killer. I was so, so tired. Miles 24 to the end were downhill, but I was still walking. I was trying to stay with my power walk, but I was so hot and so dirty. It was hard having an empty pack, and I hadn’t had electrolytes or calories since mile 13. I was too scared to take any of the electrolyte drinks they had on the course because of what happened at the 2021 Chicago Marathon. Maybe it would have helped, but I didn’t want to chance not being able to finish.

When I saw the 25-mile marker, I tried to run, but I couldn’t sustain my intervals. I had to just power walk. Some of the people around me were able to speed up and add in some running intervals. I was so impressed with them! I desperately wanted to, but I couldn’t. It was one girl’s first marathon, and she was doing amazing!

Eventually, we got back downtown, and I knew we were close. We crossed over Glenwood where we started, and it was just a little bit. I tried to press on and turned the final corner. There it was – the finish line! It was straight ahead and the clocked showed around 5:57 – I could finish in under 6 hours! It took everything I had but I powered in at the end. That short speed burst clocked in at less than a 12:00 mile, I think. But I finished!

The Finish

City of Oaks Finisher

My official final time was 5:57:38. It is hard to believe that I had finished my fourth marathon, and I finished it at a race where I was so nervous. The City of Oaks Marathon is the kind of race that good runners sign up for and for people who really like marathons – but I did it! I snuck in just under the time limit, and I couldn’t be happier.

This was my third fastest marathon, but that was okay. It probably had the second worst conditions, outside of the 2020 WDW Marathon. There is a lot that I can do to improve, but I had even more to be proud of. It was a challenge for me to sign up, but I did it, and I stuck it out through the conditions, and I changed course so that I could finish. The race party was over and the race food was gone, but it was okay. I earned my cool spinner medal and gained a lot of confidence – more motivation to do better the next time.

City of Oaks Spinner Medal

Up Next

This was the first of three marathons that I have coming up. Dopey 2023 training is coming to an end, but there are still a lot of miles to go. Next month, I will do the Kiawah Island Marathon, which I am less nervous about because there is a 6.5-hour limit. Then, I will cap off my training season with Dopey 2023 in January – what I have been working towards!

If I can accomplish all of these, I am going to apply for the bronze level of Marathon Maniacs. I haven’t been able to say that yet, but if I can do 3 marathons in 90 days, I might as well. I’m not sure if I’ll do it again, but you just never know!

2023 Dopey Training Week 19: Mock Dopey 1

This was part of one of the most awful weeks of my life. On Friday 10/28, my little sister, Shadow, passed away unexpectedly when she was getting her teeth cleaned. That was in the midst of Churchill having strokes, from which he passed away on 11/2. I’m absolutely heartbroken.

This week also concluded with my first Mock Dopey. At least it gave me a good amount of time to run my blues away…except I’m still very sad. So here are the details for October 29 – November 6; training week 19.

Monday

I didn’t do much besides work and be with Churchill.

Tuesday

Today was my tempo run. Churchill fell asleep on the couch, so I went off for my 3-mile run and then worked on my computer next to him for the rest of the day. The run helped clear my head a little bit, but I really wanted to get back to him.

My best boy

 Wednesday

This was a terrible day. I did not do any exercises since Churchill had another stroke after going outside at 4:45 am. I made an appointment at the vet, and unfortunately, had to make the decision to put him down this day. I didn’t think it would be this fast, but he was really hurting and having strokes more often. I miss him so much. I held him almost the whole day, and I wouldn’t have had his last day any other way. I love you and miss you so much, Churchill. You are my best boy.

Thursday

Today was the start of my first Mock Dopey. My very grateful that I had so much running ahead of me. Today I did my normal 30-45 minute run, but I cried a lot. It helped me to get out and run, but I was really sad.

Friday

Today I had 5 miles scheduled. I did a run/walk combination but took it really slow. I did 15:30 intervals which got me around a 13:30 pace for the whole 5 miles. again, it was good for me to get out. Running is really a positive addition to my life, and it helps in a number of different ways.

Saturday

Day 3 of Mock Dopey had me at 10 miles. Coach recommends walking this, so I was back and forth between whether to listen to him or to do a slow run/walk like I did yesterday. Once I got started, power walking was feeling really good, so I just kept going with it. In the end, I finished with a 14:02 pace just walking, which made me very happy. This keeps me well ahead of the balloon ladies at that point!

My focus was on recovery when I got home, so I did a lot of massaging with my Hyperice massage gun. I was very nervous about the marathon tomorrow. Eventually, I left to go to Raleigh. I went to Mellow Mushroom for pizza as a pre-race dinner then to my Airbnb for the night. I was very, very nervous…

Raleigh Marathon Finish

Sunday

Of all of the races I’ve signed up for, I’ve never been so scared or nervous for a race. The City of Oaks Marathon takes place in Raleigh, NC. You can read a full race recap here. I won’t go into too many details on this page, but I did finish! Even though it was hot and humid conditions, I even finished under the 6-hour limit by just a couple of minutes. It was a rough day, but I got it done! Finished my first Mock Dopey, and I couldn’t be happier.

Next week is a recovery week except that I have the Charlotte Marathon relay planned. It will make for a fun day. This week was one of the hardest of my life, and I am glad I had some running goals to move me forward and keep me going. I love you so much, Churchill.

2023 Dopey Training Week 15: Oct 3 – 9

This was a low-mileage training week after running last week’s 23 miles, and I am appreciative of that! There wasn’t a lot to report about this week, but I do feel like I am getting better.

Monday

I hate how many weeks I don’t do yoga, but this was another one to add to the list. I know it would be helpful and valuable, and then I just can’t get myself to do it! It just seems so boring. I did sneak in a very short walk.

Tuesday

Today was tempo day, and I did a 3.5-mile run followed by lower body strength exercises. My tempo run was about 2 miles and at 11:22 pace with 60/30 intervals. Not too bad, and I felt really good after getting out for a run.

My exercises range from lunges, calf raises, single-leg deadlifts, and crunches.

Wednesday

Churchill couldn’t wake up on Thursday. He was still sleeping with his tongue out when I carried him downstairs!

In the morning I walked 1.64 miles, then I went to dinner for a neighborhood meeting and walked about 0.8 miles each way to dinner, which was nice.

Thursday

Today was drill day, and I was really really sluggish. I kept intervals at 30/30 and hovered around a 13:00 pace for the entirety. I was able to do my cadence drills, but really bad counts, and some acceleration gliders. Then I just continued on at 30/30. I did a few strength exercises, but I just felt sluggish.

Friday

I just couldn’t get myself going in the morning. I ended up doing some things to catch up at home and didn’t get out for a walk in the morning or the evening.

Boulder Dash Cup

Saturday

Today was the Boulder Dash 5 Mile race! You can read a full recap here, but I had a lot of fun running through the quarry. My fueling was okay since I was able to have peanut butter toast beforehand and not get sick, but I should have brought my water bottle. Most importantly, I felt steady during the run, which is what I am aiming for!

Sunday

The weather is absolutely beautiful! I went for a long walk (about four miles) with my neighbor, and it was nice to have the company and get my legs moving. I can understand the importance of cross-training, but it is something I am not doing enough of or doing good quality.

Race Recap: 2022 Boulder Dash

Boulder Dash Flat Runner

Overview

This was the first year of the “Boulder Dash.” Typically, the Six Pack Series ends in Rocktoberfest Half Marathon, but that was discontinued this year for a new mystery event. When it was announced, I wasn’t sure what to think about it. It was definitely different, but I wanted to give it a shot.

The race took place at 8:30 am on October 8, 2022, at the Martin Marietta quarry and was billed as a unique racing experience. They have hosted similar events at other quarries, and I think the company uses this as a marketing opportunity. This was a run during Dopey Training Week 15 which was a down week for mileage.

The Course

2022 Boulder Dash Course Map

This was a course like no other. The Martin Marrietta quarry in north Charlotte that I didn’t even know was there. Being that I have never been to a quarry, I wasn’t sure what to think. I knew we were going to go down a mile into a “hole” and have to come up, so it would be a strenuous five miles. I didn’t think about it, but we ran on gravel the whole time. In thinking about my 2023 goals, I want to try a trail race, and I feel like this was a good transition into this type of change.

The race had two options. First was a 5K that ran around the hole. The second (which I did) was the 5K plus descending a mile into the quarry and then making your way back up a mile to return to the 5K course.

The Race

Start Line Finish Line

There were fewer participants doing this race than the others in the six pack series, which I expected because of the course. But of the people there – they were fast! These were serious people. I don’t know how many people did the 5K only but only 75 did the 5 mile course. It was a beauitful morning! We couldn’t have had a better day, especially since they were calling for rain earlier in the week (but they are always calling for rain in Charlotte).

The emcee started the race, and we were off. They told us to follow the white truck for the 5-miler and the silver truck for the 5K. I’m way too slow for such things, so I had no idea how that happened. My biggest complaint about the race was the lack of signage. While there was definitely a path, there were many opportunities to get loss. I’m not sure if I missed part of it because at one point some of us split thinking we were going into the quarry, but then we met up with people later only to find a sign that split the 5-miler away. I’m not sure what that was, and there is no way to know since we were following people and GPS was off.

There was a lot of cool equipment in the quarry
The race was getting started, and the view looked like we were in for a treat!

Going into the quarry was very easy. I ran down the whole way because frankly, I couldn’t get my legs to stop. It took a while, but once we were down, we ran on the bottom until a sign told us to turn around. There was a really pretty pond at the bottom, too.

On my way down…
At the bottom of the quarry! Now it was time to go up!

The ascent was a challenge – the whole point of the race. I was amazed at how many people I saw being able to run up all of it or most of it. I tried to run a little bit, but I think I was making better progress speed walking. It was hard, and that’s all there was to it!

It’s hard to see the incline, but that just goes up and up and up!

Eventually, I made it up and back onto the 5K course. I tried to resume my 60 second run / 30 second walk intervals, but it took me a while to get my heart rate down. Eventually, I was able to resume my intervals and kept steady until the end.

There were many MM employees volunteering to help with the event and tell people which way to go. At one point, a man mentioned that there was a lookout if we went off the course slightly. I took him up on it and got the below picture. It was a really beautiful view! That was what we had to go down and back up! You can see the people in the distance making their way back up.

Beautiful view from the top of the quarry

The rest of the 5K was gravel roads and nothing to specific to mention. You have to be careful running on gravel since you could turn an ankle easily.

2022 Boulder Dash Cup

The Finish

Even though I finished 5/5 in my division, I was really proud of myself. My final time was 56:00 for a hard 5-mile course. I got my final cup as my medal and completed my challenge. Even though it was a hard course, I felt really strong at the end and was pleased. I’m starting to feel like my training is paying off and that I’m getting better.

Displaying my cup with some cool equipment

There was a lot of cool equipment at the end of the race. I got my picture in front of one of them – a three year old boy would know what it is called, but I’m not sure!

Looking Forward

Going forward I have some big races coming up – Cannonball Half, City of Oaks Marathon, Kiawah Mararthon, and then Dopey 2023!

Running is a great release and is something I really enjoy doing. For some weird reason, I love it. I’m glad that I’ve taken time this year to dive deeper into a hobby that I enjoy for what it is. Even if I’m not really good, I do love it, and that’s what’s important. The Six Pack Series allowed me to experience some of the most popular local races that happen (almost) annually in Charlotte. It was neat to feel like I was a part of the Charlotte running community, which is right in my backyard.

2022 Six Pack Series Cups
All of my cups from the Six Pack Series Displayed

Read my race recaps from the other races:

Race Recap: 2022 Lake Norman 15K

Lake Norman 15K Run Flat

Overview

This was my second time running the Novant Health Lake Norman 15K in Cornelius, NC. I really like this course because of the distance but also because it has some pretty views of Lake Norman. This is the fifth race in the Run Charlotte Six Pack series. It took place on Sunday, September 25, 2022.

The Course

The course has been the same for a few years. It starts at a shopping center in Cornelius and goes on Jetton Rd. down a Penninselua in Lake Norman. There are beautiful houses to look at and views of the water. Some of the houses look different than last year, and I swear they are larger! There are a few that are smaller, and I wish I could buy to have a cottage on the lake.

Overall, the course has steady rolling hills like you find throughout Charlotte. It’s not an easy course, but it’s a nice course. There is a killer hill around mile 7 that always gets me.

Lake Norman 15K Start Line

The Race

It was a beautiful morning! Last year, it was still hot and humid. This year, was a bit chilly and a great day for a run. I think this really helped make a difference for me. My goal was to do this run and maintain my marathon pace for the entire course. It’s hard to walk at the beginning of a race, but I knew I needed to do it to conserve my energy. Jeff Galloway and Coach Twiggs say that is key to finishing a race strong. I think I ran through the first couple of walk breaks because it was just too busy, but eventually, I found my spot.

I felt like I did the full race steady at my 60/30 interval, but my pacing shows otherwise. You can see something happened at mile 4 (was it a hill?) and mile 7 I know was a huge hill! I am proud that I finished my last 2+ miles at a steady mid-11 pace.

Lake Views

Fueling

My other main goal of this race was hydration. I’ve really struggled with fueling for long runs. My 20-mile run the week before was awful. Everything about it after mile 14 was horrific, and I think a lot of that is due to fueling (or lack thereof). Many runners in Customized Training recommend Tailwind. I was hesistant because I feel like 1. it is marketed for ultra runners, and I am no where close to that, and 2. it creates so much more in terms of logistics. It would be nice to be the kind of person who puts their shoes on and goes out the door then run for miles, but I’m just not.

This was my first race using my hydration vest. I measured out the mL/ounces that were needed based on a 9 mile run (about 3/4 full), then I added about 1 scoop of Tailwind/24 ounces as instructed, which was one single use pack from the running store. It worked really well, and I didn’t feel nauseous at all! I think that was the other reason I was steady. This was probably the first time I was fueled in a race. I didn’t have anything else, but I also didn’t drink all of my Tailwind. According to the instructions, I should have drank all of it to get the proper fueling, but I still had half of it left at the end.

The Finish

Last year I struggled for the last 3 or 4 miles; I was so tired going up Jetton Rd. This time, I was steady. Or that was, until “How Far I’ll Go” came on in the final 0.75 miles. I was moving, seeing how far I could go…but it was too fast! I had to recover with a walk for a bit and was then able to resume my 60/30 intervals. Eventually, I was back in the shopping center knowing the finish line was just around the corner.

I earned a new 15K PR (1:46:09) and was very pleased. It only beat last year’s time by 23 seconds, but I was steady. Last year I went out fast and flamed out. If I can learn to be steady, then I can accomplish a lot more as a runner and improve my stamina.

The other thing I’ve learned is the importance of post-fueling. I purchased a Tailwind recovery drink and had that after the race as well. Courtney, a nutritionist I heard it on a podcast, said that sometimes you have to force yourself to get it down, but it is really important for your muscles to recover. I never do this because I’m not hungry, but I do think it made me not so hungry later in the day.

Anyway, it was a good day at the lake, and I got the fifth of my six cups. Only one more race of the series to go!

2023 Dopey Training Week 9: August 22 – 28

Another week of training, which was a down week in terms of mileage, but racing is back again this week! This gave me some new motivation to keep me going.

Monday

Oh Mondays…yeah, I was lazy again. Sigh.

Tuesday

My normal tempo day. I tried to hit a mid-10-minute pace with a 45/15 ratio, but I only hit 11:27 for my tempo potion. I tried to do this as a variation of the 90/30 the website calls for, but I am still slower than its prediction.

On the call, I asked Coach Twiggs his opinion, and he told me to try a 2-minute / 30-second ratio.

Wednesday

I walked 1.6 miles for 25 minutes and did a 10-minute HITT workout on Apple Fitness. It was a fine workout, but nothing special.

Thursday

On top of my cadence drills and acceleration gliders, I tried coach’s suggestion of a 2 min/30 sec. pace and I was able to hit 10:37 pace, so I was thrilled! I got in 3.7 miles overall for the day, but this gave me some confidence for race day. I was a bit tired, but I was sure this would help. My 5K PR was around a 10:30 pace, so if I could do that and a little, a PR would be very achievable. I even got my lunges, step ups, and deadlifts in after the run.

Friday

Another very lazy day…

Saturday

Today was the big day – the Yiasou Greek Festival 5K! Read a full recap here, but I did a great job today. I set a new 5K PR, and I am very confident I can continue to get better in the future.

When I got home, I did a 20-minute HIIT workout since I was feeling so good.

Sunday

Today was my first time trying water running. I bought a flotation device a couple of weeks ago and finally got to try it out. This is something Coach recommends. I had 45-minutes of cross-training on the schedule and decided to do this. It was really hard to get the hang of and didn’t really feel like I was “running.” I didn’t feel tired, just kind of bored. When I got out of the pool though…yeah, my legs felt like jello. It was a good workout, and I was glad that I did it.

Training Takeaways

It’s hard to believe we are 9 weeks into Dopey training. Next week is a big week for me with Around the Crown 10K, but it also closes the first phase of my Dopey training. After that, things get more serious with longer distances and trying to get better endurance – kicked off by a 20-mile run! That’s the longest I trained when I did Chicago in 2021, so whew! Training is getting real!

Race Recap: 2022 Yiasou Greek Festival 5K

Going into this weekend, I was really excited for a race. I kept thinking how fun it is for races to be back on the calendar after a very hot and humid summer. And while the humidity and heat aren’t gone, we have had enough days below 100 and cool mornings to know it will be here soon. Those were my thoughts until I selected my shirt to wear for the race – the American 4-Miler shirt I got last month. Oops, yes, that was in the summer on a very hot and humid morning.

Race Background

Anyway, this morning (August 27) was the fourth race of the Charlotte Six-Pack Series called the Yiasou Greek Festival 5K. This was my first time doing this race, but I had heard a lot of good things about it over the years. People like this race because it is flat (not a common thing in Charlotte) and the Greek Fest is a lot of fun. I didn’t realize until the day before that Greek Fest is actually going to be September 10-11, this year, so I wouldn’t get to go to the festival after the race.

I picked up my bib at the Run for Your Life store in University. The lady there told me that the race used to be before the festival, but it was really hard to set up for the festival with roads closed for the race. Oh yes, that makes a lot of sense. They did give us two tickets to attend the festival, so I may check that out in a few weekends.

The Course

This race starts at the Greek Orthodox Church on East Blvd. and runs around the Dilworth area. I love this area, so I knew it would be a good race. The houses there are adorable, and it’s covered with trees, so we should get some good shade.

It is essentially two loops of the area (which is how it can be so flat!) around the church.

The Race

The race started at 7:30 am in front of the church. The sun was coming out, but it wasn’t fully out. The weather was nice (I think about 21 degrees Celcius or 70 degrees F). It was a bit humid but was a really nice morning for a race. The DJ was playing “Let’s Get It Started in Here,” and we were off.

My goal for the race was to run 2 minutes / walk 30 seconds, which was Coach Twigg’s suggestion. Based on my most recent Magic Mile time, I should do a 5K at 9:14/mile, but I just don’t see that happening. My goal was to PR the race (beating my Hot Chocolate 5K record of 32:45), but I was really nervous about being able to do that. I wanted to do the 2 min/30 steady and just feel strong. Around the Crown is next weekend, and I really want to do a good job there.

There isn’t much to say about the actual run since it kind of ran together. I opted to listen to music since it would only be about 30 minutes, and I needed to get my feet moving. I started running and ran through my first walk break because the path was so congested. Eventually, I made some space for my walk break and was able to sustain that pattern the whole time. There was supposed to be a water stop at mile 1.5, but it was really before mile 2. I was quite thirsty and very grateful for the volunteers and that cup! By the time I got to mile 2, I was feeling really tired, but I knew to keep pushing since I just had a mile to go. It’s so different running a 5K compared to longer distances.

The sun was out, and I was really sweaty by the second mile. I think it was really humid since it wasn’t really that hot. After the race, I checked the dew point, which was 70 F, so I think that’s what did it.

The Finish

Regardless, I kept trucking and was feeling okay. Finally, I got to the end and could see the finish line in the distance. I wanted to keep going, but I had to take a couple of extra walk breaks to recover. I think I was running too fast, even though I kept telling myself to be steady.

Greek Fest Finisher Cup

Eventually, I was able to cross the finish line with a final sprint in the last 0.1 miles at an 8:56 pace to finish with an official time of 31:47! A new PR! My splits were 10:08, 10:12, and 10:25; proof that I was getting tired and slowing down. I was so happy when I crossed the finish line! I think a sub-30 is definitely a possibility if I continue my training.

The finish line celebration was fun. I grabbed my cup (their replacement for a medal this year) and some water. After recovering with my water and taking some pictures, I scouted out a banana and then a King of Pop popsicle. This is a local popsicle vendor that is delicious! This is what should be served after all races instead of beer! (I think that comment could earn me a lot of hate, but hey, I like the idea.)

Takeaways

This was a fun, local race. It is small, but a very manageable event. I watched as some runners finished up around the 45-minute mark. I love these events because people of all types and backgrounds can do it, but they are out there doing it. It just makes me happy that there is a community and businesses that hosts these events. There were several families out cheering for us as we passed their houses, too. Thanks for all of the support!

2023 Dopey Training Week 7: August 8 – 14

How have we completed 7 weeks of training for 2023 Dopey?

Monday

Monday was a very lazy day. I didn’t do anything besides recover from my weekend travels for Pelotonia and get ready for the week. Not an excuse since I should have done yoga, but I just couldn’t focus…that’s always my excuse!

Tuesday

Today is tempo day. I did 3 miles in 39 minutes, and I am just frustrated with my tempo runs. I do the 90/30 combination, but I don’t hit my paces. My tempo portion was at 11:15 pace. My Magic Mile says that I should be able to run a 10K at a 10:19 pace, and I am nowhere near that! With the Around the Crown 10K coming up, I don’t think I’ll be able to do it. I really want to PR that pace, so I need to figure out what to do.

Wednesday

I’m really upset with myself for not losing weight. I keep trying and then not doing things right. Starting today, I am going to try to make sure I fast at least 12 hours a day every day. I shouldn’t eat after 7 pm most days. I’m also going to try to be more cautious of my food selection, but my first goal is to incorporate a fasting part of my day. Some days, I can do more when I don’t have a run in the morning.

For today’s cross-training, I walked around the neighborhood. I didn’t do a second workout in the evening.

Thursday

Thursday is drill day! On our running call this week or last week, someone says they do 80+ for their cadence! I struggled to get to 45 today, and I just can’t understand how they can do that. I’m going to keep trying, but I am definitely missing something.

It wasn’t as humid this morning, which made my run much better than it has been. Overall, I felt great and got in 3.7 miles and listened to the Rise and Run podcast, which I just love! I was going to do a strength exercise when I got home, but I had to get to work. I did get in a set of lunges and step-ups.

Friday

Watched RezRuns videos, which made me really happy. His videos are really entertaining and motivating – just what I need to nerd out on training with no one to talk to. My rule is that I need to do something productive like stretch or strength exercises while I watch them.

I wish I would have known about all of these people back in 2017 who were training and running these races I was attending. There are some really fun, passionate people out there, and they are part of the runDisney community.

Saturday

“I forgot the world could feel like this!” When I looked at the weather Saturday morning, I was in shock! 18 degrees C. It has been 23 degrees with humidity in the morning. Walking outside, what insane. I forgot how the world could feel. I almost debated wearing pants to go on my run. It was GLORIOUS!

After taking the dogs out and doing my Miracle Morning, I did some warm-up exercises and headed out. Today was an easy 5 miles with a Magic Mile. This would be my fourth MM. Each one has improved from the other, but after getting an 8:58 on my last one, I didn’t think I could improve anymore. My goal was to be around 9 minutes and not gain too much time. I’ve been gaining weight, so I was scared it would be a lot higher.

My first 1.4 miles was a slow 30/30 warm-up on my way to my “track.” Then it was time for my MM. I have to run just over 3 times around the “track,” and I add a walk break halfway around and then when I pass the start. I was tired, and it was hard, but I did it in 8:40! It must have been the weather because I have no idea how I did it. I was so happy!

I finished the remaining miles at a 30/30 pace. It was so nice to be outside, and I didn’t want it to end. Hopefully, more of this weather is coming to me in the future.

Sunday

I took a small walk today, but nothing big. I mean to do some strength and yoga, but I didn’t end up doing it.

2023 Dopey Training Week 5/6: July 25 – Aug. 7

This is a catch-up post because I didn’t write during these two weeks of training. Not sure why, but it just slipped my mind.

Training Week 5: July 25 – 31

This week was hot. It was just humid and hot. My Tuesday and Thursday runs were lackluster. I felt slow and sluggish, but I got both runs done. I didn’t do anything on Monday, Wednesday, or Friday – just pure laziness.

On Saturday, I did a 16-mile “run.” Since my weekday runs were not great, I knew I wouldn’t be able to run the full 16. Instead of doing a run/walk pattern, I opted to speed walk the full distance. This helped keep my confidence high and not get discouraged like on my 14-mile run. The other change I made was to do loops where my house was in the middle. I first did 6 miles, and then I stopped at home to get some Nuun and a wet rag. Then I went out for another 6 miles before stopping at home again. Then I went out for my final four miles. Those breaks helped a lot. I did the full distance in 4:06 which averaged a 15:23/pace. Well above any goal pace, but Coach said it’s training and walking is beneficial. I was below a 15-minute pace until mile 7 – then it keep increasing. At mile 11, I was over a 16-minute pace. I didn’t feel great, but I was happy to be done. It was just so hot.

Training Week 6: August 1 – 7

Monday I did get in a 10-minute yoga session – but that was all. Didn’t even close my green ring! My two maintenance runs this week were okay. Tuesday I did a 3.2-mile tempo run which averaged a 12:31 pace. My tempo portion was only at 11:51, which really made me mad. Thursday I got in 4 miles on my drill day. Wednesday, I did my final bike ride before Pelotonia and completed 4.5 miles. I felt ready to go since a bike ride doesn’t feel like a lot of work…

The big highlight of the week was going to Columbus for 2022 Pelotonia! On Friday, I drove to Columbus for the event. On my way, I finally stopped to tour the West Virginia State Capital in Charleston. It was nice to get some walking in during a road trip, especially by seeing something that I find really exciting. I love to tour state capitol buildings. I’ve been traveling on I-77 between North Carolina and Ohio my whole life. I’ve always seen the beautiful gold dome of the WV capitol building but have never stopped to actually see it. I’m so glad I finally toured it!

Pelotonia was quite something! I have a full recap here, but a high-level summary is that it’s an event to raise money for cancer research. It was my first time riding 20 miles. Read about my takeaways in the recap because I definitely learned a lot!

Takeaways

These past two weeks really got away from me. I’m not sure if it’s the summer heat, but I was really sluggish and unmotivated. Pelotonia was a great experience, and I am really glad I got to do this with my brother. Now, it’s on to training week 7!

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