Hot Chocolate Run 5k 2013 race recap

Yeah, it's been almost a month since I run this race, and I'm finally getting around to writing about it! This was seriously the best race I've ever run, both in terms of PR (yeah, I totally smashed my previous one) and in terms of sheer fun. I loved running this race last year, but I think I love it even more after this year.

HCR 2013 mug art

We arrived at the start an hour before the race began. Parked the car, hung out indoors, ate my dates. Dates = best fuel ever before a run. I haven't had a bad experience with them and they really, really help me. I felt good.

About 10 minutes before the start, I made my way to the corrals. Last year I lined up at the 11:45 marker; this year, I lined up at 9:15. Such a huge difference from last year! I wondered if I could beat my PR from the Jingle Bell Run a few weeks prior. I felt strong, felt good, so I decided to stick with my pacing and see what happened. I did remember a hill near the end, which caused me apprehension.

At 10, we started! I made sure to look for my family, and as I ran by, I noticed my sister brought her fancy pants camera and tripod to take pictures of me as I ran by! I beamed at them as I ran by. As I made my way up the first hill, I listened to bands playing, people cheering, and general encouragement from fellow runners around me. I love running with a ton of people, and more importantly, I love running at the same pace as the people around me!

Starting the race!
Here we go!

As I ran, I thought about how quickly I'd finish this race. My family decided to wait indoors for me until the time they figured I'd finish, which they assumed would be around 30 minutes. Well, I wanted to show them! 30 minutes? Pshaw. I can do better than that. So, I picked up the pace. Oh, it sucked running much faster than usual up the two huge hills near the end of the race, but I knew I could do it.

Finally, I came to the last turn! I looked at my watch and saw 27:xx. I really picked it up then, just to see if I could finish under 28 minutes, which would have been a HUGE PR for me. Alas, sub 28 wasn't in the cards for me, but a pretty damn awesome time of 28:15 was.

Starting the HCR 2013
Another start pic because I finished way sooner than my family expected.

Yeah, 28:15. I totally smashed my previous PR by almost a minute and a half. I couldn't believe it, and neither could my family! Apparently none of them expected I'd finish so quickly, so they didn't have time to take pictures! Oh well, I'm pretty happy with the ones taken at the start!

This is my favorite race. I love running it every year and I love that my family comes to watch! Plus, it doesn't hurt to run your best race ever, either...

2013 Turkey Trot 5k race recap

Last year, I started a new Thanksgiving tradition - running a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning! I ran it proudly and felt so happy that I got up and ran in freezing cold temperatures. So, this Thanksgiving, I ran it again. I loved the feeling of running first thing in the morning so I could spend the rest of the day relaxing and preparing for Thanksgiving dinner.

I woke up a little later than I wanted and immediately ate my typical pre-race breakfast of oatmeal with mixed berries and chocolate chips. I downed lots of water to make up for the beer I drank the previous evening. Yeah, like that's going to help. I put on my running clothes - three layers of shirts, two socks on each foot, and my hat and mittens - and walked my way to the start. Yep, it was cold.

Turkey Trot 2013 scenery
Cold, November morning scenery.

After picking up my bib, I walked to the start line. About 2500 people ran this race, big enough for the organizers to provide pace signs for people to line up with. I lined up with the 9:00 - 10:00 minute mile sign, thinking about how much faster I am now than I was last year when I ran this race. I kept myself warm and listened to the conversations around me, mainly about the frigid temperatures and how they earned their dinners after running this race!

Immediately I knew this wouldn't be my race when I was stuck behind large crowds of people clearly not running 9:00 - 10:00 minute miles. I spent the first half mile hovering at about an 11:00 mile pace only because I couldn't get around the people in front of me. I just wanted to have fun, so I didn't mind much.

Around mile 2 I started feeling really, really bad. My chest ached and I almost felt sick. I had finished mile 1 in about 10:20, which isn't my fastest mile by a long shot, but picking up the pace for mile 2 felt absolutely horrible. I tried thinking about happy, good things, but my mind kept on going back to "Holy crap. I just want this to be over. This sucks." Yeah. This really wasn't my race. I finished mile 2 in about 10:00.

Mile 3 felt much better, though not 100% better. I was able to keep it together much easier the last part of the race, and I picked up my pace. I finished mile 3 in about 9:50. I felt so happy to round the corner to the finish!

As I crossed the finish I looked at my watch - 31:17. Not my best, but certainly not my worst. Others didn't have such a great race either, judging by the vomit I observed right after the finish line. I don't think I've ever seen so much vomit after a race!

Me after the race
Me, post-race.

Even though my race didn't go as hoped, I'm not too upset over it. I'm happy that I once again woke up at the crack of dawn to run a race at 8:30am in November, and I'm happy I finished with a decent time. And, well, I PRed just 5 days prior to this race, so I wasn't looking to beat my time again. I am looking to run sub 30-minute 5ks more consistently, but that will come with time. Right now, I'm happy with how my race went and look forward to getting faster in the future!

(And, next time, I'm not going to drink beer the night before a race. Hello, dehydration!)

Jingle Bell 5k race recap!

So, guess what I did on Saturday?

That's right, I ran a sub-30 minute 5k!!! I ran the Jingle Bell 5k here in Portsmouth and crossed the finish line at 29:27, beating my previous PR by 40 seconds. Awesome.

I'm not sure what else to say about this race, except that it was small, about 160 people total, and the start wasn't timed. Besides that, this race wasn't anything out of the ordinary. I've run this same route around Portsmouth for a few other 5ks - this may seem boring, but honestly? I love the familarity of it.

I'm pretty happy I finally broke the 30 minute mark. I knew I could do it.

(I know. Shortest entry ever. I need to get back on track with writing here again.)

Autumn sewing

I love to sew.

Bag I sewed
Bags are the best.

I've dabbled in sewing here and there, but I've never spent quality time with it. I'll set up my machine, make a little bag or quilt something small, and I'll put the machine away for another 7-8 months. Knitting will always be my first love, of course, and spinning my second, but I've learned you can't have too many loves. So, sewing, you will now be third in my list of crafts I love.

Inside of bag
Inside sneak peek!

I kind of winged it with this pattern, finding a picture of the shape I wanted, then figuring out measurements and such on my own. I originally made this bag with two straps, but I changed it to one when I got home from my sewing day with my friends. I'm also pretty happy to have used up some fat quarters I bought in Kentucky waaaaaaaay back in 2007! Louisville has great quilt shops.

Blue socks
Socks!

See that awesome knitting project in the bag? I'm knitting a pair of socks for Ted, also a pattern I'm making up as I go. It's a version of the Charade socks, only I cast on 72 stitches to make it fit a man's foot. I'm not sure what I'll do for the heel yet, but I have a few more inches left on the leg before I get there, so I'm sure I'll think of something. So far, I'm digging the striping pattern so far, and I think Ted will like them too.

I love making things.

(Also, side note: happiest of birthdays to my awesome sister, who turns 30 today! And, to my kickass friend Linda, who is one of the best people ever! All the birthdays!)

Endpaper mitts

Hey, look! A post that's not about running!

These are the best mitts ever.
These are the best mitts ever.

I've wanted to knit my own pair of Endpaper Mitts for years. In 2011, I finally figured out a color combination when I received a skein of rainbow Mini Mochi fingering weight yarn during a yankee swap. Add a skein of white yarn to really show off the rainbow-ness of the Mochi? Yes. I was sold.

I knit these bad boys faster than anything else I've ever knit. Seriously. I went from none to done in two weeks. For me, the slowest knitter ever, finishing anything in two weeks is an exercise in futility. I think I just liked the pretty rainbow color changes as I knit.

Look at me!
Look at me!

This project forced me to learn a new cast on method - the Italian tubular cast-on. As a left-hander who also knits left-handed, new techniques can be a little... hard to learn. Thankfully I came across a video showing how to do this cast on as a left hander, and I'm eternally grateful because there is NO WAY I could have done this without a video. Yikes.

The left mitt.
The left mitt.

Also, one mitt ended up larger than the other because I switched up my stranding method after finishing the first one. Since the difference isn't really noticable, I won't redo them. I'm too happy with them to ever want to frog them, anyway! Now, I just need to block them...

Great Bay 5k race recap

I recall thinking, after running the Great Island 5k two weeks ago, that I'd need to postpone my dreams of a sub-30 minute 5k to 2014, as no way could I run a fast (for me) 5k so soon after my ankle healing.

After yesterday's race, that goal is alive and well.

I awoke yesterday morning to below freezing temperatures. 28 degrees? Really? I pulled on a pair of tights I haven't worn since the early spring and added a long sleeved shirt, and brought along my brand new Great Island 5k hat to keep myself warm before the race.

Great Bay 5k!
Ready for some fall racing!

The race started just after 9am, and while I felt cold when I started, I didn't feel terrible. I didn't feel terrible during the entire race, honestly. I kept at a steady pace of about 9:50 for the first two miles, and picked it up to about a 9:20 pace for the last mile. I couldn't believe how good I felt during the race, especially since I haven't been training and I sure haven't been running very consistently the last month and a half.

As I rounded the corner to the finish, I noticed my time and realized I could possibly finish the 5k in under 30 minutes. With the last .1 of a mile to go, I sped up, hoping to reach my goal. Even though I felt tired, I seriously hauled toward the finish.

I finished the race, and I glanced at my watch.

30:07.

It wasn't sub 30, but it was a new PR. I looked again in disbelief. After my 34 minute 5k just two weeks ago, I finish this one in 30? I couldn't believe it.

Great Bay 5k splits
My splits.

I'm signed up for two more 5ks before the end of the year. I am so close to a sub-30 5k. I can do this.

Great Island 5k race recap

Great Island 5k
I love running in the fall.

First 5k since July? Check. First 5k since my injury? Double check. First time I've run more than 2 miles since September 17th? Yes. Triple check.

Today I ran the Great Island 5k in New Castle, NH. Some of my training runs take place on the road from Portsmouth to New Castle, so I'm familiar with some of the roads through this tiny town.

Great Island 5k - Portsmouth
Portsmouth scenery.

I stressed out about this race today, because I only started running again last Sunday. I ran only twice this past week - Sunday and Tuesday, and I only ran about 20 minutes each day to ease back into running. So, yeah. Wasn't sure how today would go.

Of course, I was fine. I got to the race 10 minutes before start time, lined up, ran, finished. Enjoyed the beautiful ocean views and inhaled sweet salt air. I ran a very slow 34:22, my slowest 5k time this year, but my ankle didn't bother me. That's what counts, and that's what rocked.

What wasn't so great? The walk to and from the race itself! I walked from my apartment to the start, and, well, it's a 3 mile walk. So, yeah. 3 mile walk to the race, the 3.1 mile race, then another 3 mile walk back home. 9 miles may not be much for some people, but I, not having trained to travel 9 miles by foot, am feeling it now. Beer and knitting? To the rescue!

Great Island 5k - fall colors
Bright fall leaves!

Though I wasn't exactly a speed demon today, I enjoyed this race so much. This is my first time running a race in the fall, before the leaves fall off the trees, so I appreciated the beauty as I ran. Plus, I always love seeing families running together! This race didn't feel super competitive, and I enjoyed taking it easy.

I'm happy about today.

Hot Chocolate Run 2012 Race Recap!

So, I've had a pretty exciting past few days - I finish NaNoWriMo, then I run a 5k, and not only any 5k, but a 5k with hot chocolate at the end!

Hot Chocolate Run 2012 mug art

This past autumn, my sister told me about the Hot Chocolate Run for Safe Passage, an annual run in Northampton, Massachusetts, to benefit Safe Passage, an organization addressing domestic violence in the county in which I grew up. The run sounded attractive to me - who doesn't like hot chcoolate? - but I wasn't sure how well I'd be running, especially in December. My sister kept on talking about it, and the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to do it, so last month, I signed up! (To ready myself, I also signed up for a Turkey Trot here in New Hampshire to practice, and I did pretty well there, too. Surprise, I ran another 5k a week and a half ago!)

I'm going to be honest. I haven't been running as much as I should. After my 5k in May, I majorly slacked on running multiple times a day. I enjoy running, but I haven't become committed enough to it that I'm doing it on a regular basis. I want this to change, and running more often will be a huge goal of mine in 2013. I'm working on putting my goals / resolutions together, and running will be a major part of them.

However, I still did fine on race day. Ted came to cheer me on, of course, as did my mother, sister, brother in law, and niece! It wasn't too chilly, maybe in the mid to upper 30s, but I felt warm enough in a short sleeved shirt, warm long sleeved shirt, and waterproof jacket. I DO need to buy better pants, as the ones I wore I bought maybe 7 years ago to go to the gym back in the day. I so need a running pants upgrade.

I started waaaaay in the back, around the 11:45 minute mile pace cards. I hope one day I can line up closer to the start! I couldn't really hear the race begin from where I stood, but my family stood right at the start / finish and took great pictures.

Hot Chocolate Run 2012 - runners

Ted took the above picture of the start. The guy in the red with the insect looking helmet (someone tells me this guy's dressed up like Deadmaus - yeah, I'm officially old...) came in second place!

I finally got to the start four minutes after the race began. Then, I ran! I was amazed at all the people lining the streets. I hit a huge hill right at the start but it wasn't an issue. At the top of the hill a high school band played, cheering us on! the amount of people floored me. 5,500 people raced that day, far more than in either of the other races I ran.

I ran and ran and ran, and hit mile 1 without having to stop to walk! I've been able to run the entire first mile in every race I've participated in, but can't ever do it when I'm training on my own. I conk out after four minutes. Must be adrenaline.

Hot Chocolate Run 2012 - view from the run

The stretch between mile 1 and mile 2 felt the longest, but I still pressed onward. I didn't stop to walk for long at all, maybe about 30-45 seconds, and started booking it again. We were running through a residential neighborhood and a house played the Rocky theme song to pump us up. It worked, and I kept on going!

Mile 2 brought us through Smith College and a few big hills! I ran them for the most part, only stopping to walk for about 15 seconds each time. A few people around me started telling others around them that "after the hills, it's all downhill from here", which made me giggle. Running's the only time when saying things are all downhill from here is a good thing!

Hot Chocolate Run 2012 - costumes

My family saw so many people wearing cool costumes while watching people finish. They saw this couple wearing full on polar bear and penguin suits! They must have been so hot!

Hot Chocolate Run 2012 - Tuba

They also spotted this guy running with a tuba around him. I can't even imagine. Looks like he was actually playing it, too, which is even more impressive. (And yes, all these people finished before me...)

Hot Chocolate Run 2012 - Tuba close up

He was having so much fun!

Sure enough, the last part of the course was ALL downhill. I loved it. As we drew closer to the end, more people lined the streets and music played! Feeling confident and happy, I picked up my pace a little bit as I rounded the corner to the finish.

Hot Chocolate Run 2012 - finishing

I saw my family waiting for me right before I crossed the finish line, so I smiled and waved to them before I booked it to the end! In previous races I haven't felt so hot when I got to the end, but I felt GREAT this day. I crossed the finish line with a huge smile on my face. Crossing the finish line's the best. feeling. ever.

I made my way through the massive crowds to get my hot chocolate. Once I procured the sweet, delicious liquid, I made my way back to my family. I checked the race results while I finished my hot chocolate, and I did about as well as I had done in my two previous 5ks: I finished in 35:35 with a pace of 11:28. I've finished all three of the 5ks I've run in about 35 minutes, so I'm really hoping to improve on that time once I start running more often. Still, I'm proud of myself for still doing a decent job, even without really training much.

I loved this race and hope to go out to western MA next year and do it again!

NaNoWriMo 2012!!!

So, guess who's doing NaNoWriMo this year after taking a three year break?

Nanowrimo 2012!

That's right! I've broken out one of my two NaNoWriMo shirts, found a rockin' text editor (I'm LOVING byword for writing!), and banged out my 2000+ words for the day! I'm pretty pumped! Exclamation points!!!

I've been doing NaNoWriMo since 2002, and I've finished in 2003, 2006, and 2008. I've written and finished in Bloomington and South Bend, Indiana, and this time I'm looking to finish a novel in New Hampshire! As you can tell, I'm very excited about the prospect!

I am hoping to keep either this blog or my twitter updated with my progress, but I may be too busy writing to keep up with things.

For any of my fellow NaNo-ers, good luck! You can do it!