Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Tale of Two 5ks

"It was the best of races; it was the worst of races..." Seriously. This past weekend I raced twice in less than 12 hours and had two completely different experiences.

This past Friday, Matthew and I ran the Race Against Poverty in Chambersburg, PA. This 5k started at 8 pm. So, we ate dinner around 5:45- Chipotle. I had a naked burrito bowl- just rice, black beans, chicken, and mild salsa. I've eaten this probably hundreds of times before- it's one of my favorites!

After dinner, we headed over to enjoy the pre-race festivities. I got to meet up with Amanda- someone that I'd "met" through Team #runDisney. We also got to chat with some mutual friends/colleagues. This race featured a walk, a kid's race, and a lot of vendors/community organizations so there were quite a few people out for the event. A little before 8, they called the runners over to the starting line.

Friends at the pre-race festivities.

All smiles before the race. That'll change soon enough...

We'd heard from friends that this course was flat and fast. Could I PR my 5k again?! Maybe, I thought. After a few announcements, we were off! Matthew quickly ran ahead of me. I tried to settle into a comfortable rhythm and enjoy the race.

The first quarter mile was pretty non-eventful. It was a beautiful night- clear and about 75 degrees. I caught up to Amanda and we tried to grab the elusive mid-run selfie.

Selfies while running are harder than they look!

Then it started- some of the most intense pain I've experienced. It felt like someone was taking a knife and stabbing me repeatedly in the side of my stomach. I immediately started to walk.

After taking a few deep breaths, I started running again. And then the pain started again. If I could have stopped running right then, I would have. In fact, I might have been a little melodramatic on twitter and tweeted about a DNF (Did Not Finish). A little after mile one, I stopped to walk for about three and a half minutes. I knew that my dreams of a PR were shot. Lesson learned- no big meals within three hours of a race.

Luckily, this race went by pretty quickly. It was flat and easy. As I came within the last few hundred yards of the finish, I saw Matthew. He ran in with me- he'd also struggled with stomach pain during the race. I crossed the finish line and looked at the time- 33:56. Even with the amount of walking I had to do and the intense pain, I am still impressed that I was able to finish under 34 minutes. Progress!

The best post-race food in the history of post-race food.

After noshing on some amazingly ripe watermelon, Matthew and I went to catch a late-night showing of Maleficent in 3D. It was somewhere between "meh" and "good." Angelina was phenomenal and I loved how they reworked the story to show an alternate ending. But it wasn't as scary or thrilling as I'd hoped. We finally got home around midnight- we had to get some sleep because we had another 5k in just a few hours!

At 7:00 Saturday morning, we were up and out the door to my first trail 5k, the Charcoal Challenge! I'd found a race that started in a nearby state park- there was a half marathon and 5k offered. Since I've never run on a real trail before, we decided not to push our luck and just do the 5k.

When we got to the state park, the half marathoners were getting ready to start. There were probably about 100 people doing the half. The race director gave them some directions and then they were off! A half hour later, we were doing the same thing. Sheena, the race director, told us to look for the red tape- that would tell us which way to go when we got to a fork in the road/trail. She also let us know that there would be a few places with water bottles on a table for us if needed. This was truly a "no frills" race.

After the announcements, we were off! I felt 100 times better than the night before. I'd had a cup of coffee and an apple that morning and it was just the perfect amount of pre-race food. The first part of this race- roughly the first three quarters of a mile- was on a paved road with a slight incline. Then we turned off the road and went into the woods.

Beautiful morning for a trail run!

In the woods, it got a little trickier. At times, the path was so narrow, that Matthew and I had to run single file. Matthew stayed with me this race since I'd never run a trail before- he's the sweetest! Anyway, there were also lots of rocks and roots along the trail. It was mentally taxing having to constantly look down at my feet to make sure I didn't trip on anything. Road running is mindless; trail running requires much more focus.

Thoroughly enjoying my first trail race.

Gorgeous scenery.

Markers to keep us on the course.
Looking like the hardcore runner he is.

We even got to run near this awesome lake!

After conquering a massive hill, we were finally close to the finish. This race was advertised as "3.1ish" miles and since my cell phone (which was tracking me using Map My Run) didn't get great service, I'm not 100% sure what the actual mileage was. I ended up with 3.24 miles in 41:13. Not too bad. But the best part of the race- both Matthew and I felt great. No more stomach pain- yay!

At the finish, they had lots of post-race goodies including Panera bagels and coffee. We split a bagel and then were on our way. It was a great race and we'll definitely do it again next year.

Later that night we went to a Beatles tribute band concert by The Mahoney Brothers at one of my favorite places, Boordy Vineyards. Long story short- the music was amazing, we drank lots of good wine, and my dad learned how to do the "wobble." Hilarious and super, super fun. All in all, a great weekend :-)

QOTD: Have you ever had to learn something about running or exercise "the hard way" AKA by a bad experience? What was it and how did you adapt moving forward?


  1. I learned the hard way myself no Chipotle before a run. I did that at least 3 times before I figured it out. Sometimes I'm a little slow to learn...

    1. LOL- same here! I really do love Chipotle but I should have known better. Nutrition for nighttime racing has always been difficult for me.

  2. I learned during the Los Angeles Marathon that CrossFit endurance training and the paleo diet are scams. I believed the hype and wandered from traditional training to try them and I was miserable the whole time. Thirteen miles may have been okay, but doing a whole 26.2 under alternative training regimens and diet is a terrible idea.

    1. Wow! I've been hearing some interesting thoughts on CrossFit lately- I've never tried it. Any race where you feel miserable can feel super long- I can't imagine being in pain for the length of a marathon! Kudos to you for finishing anyway :-)

  3. Beautiful pictures on the trail run! Sorry you had the stomach issue! That really takes away from the experience. I don't think I've ever had a bad "learning" experience.. but my friend tried a new Gatorade primer gel right before the half at the 2012 BRF.. she was dragging by mile 3 and almost throwing up by mile 6. Never never try anything new on race day!

    1. I know, I need to follow my gut- literally!

      And yes, the trail race was simply gorgeous!

  4. I had my own fueling issues during my first half, the 2013 Wine & Dine. I had been using Cliff gels with mixed results during training. I had one before the start and planned a second during the race. Around mile 8 my stomach pains started. I was not able to take another gel and had to skip the last water stop. The heat & humidity (I live in Seattle) did not help matters. I have since switched to chews!

    I also learned the "no alcohol before a long run" lesson the hard way. A couple glasses of wine with dinner the night before a long run never bothered me until I hit 9.5 miles. Disaster! I will never do that again and I now love my Powerade!

  5. Sorry you were having stomach issues, but you finished with a great time, still! Congrats on finishing both your 5ks. I enjoy trail running, though I've never done a race on one. I'm looking into a 10 miler in the summer (which might end up being a horrible idea, as summer + me + running don't usually mix too well haha). I love that the one race had watermelon! What a great post-race snack. Sounds like you had a fun weekend, minus the stomach problems.

    One lesson I learned, during my first half marathon, was that you don't have to take the Gatorade/Powerade/water and drink the whole cup at every stop. I ended up getting sick at the turn around, but felt much better after that.

    P.S. What brand are the skirts you wear? Do they come with the shorts, and if not, what kind do you prefer to wear underneath? Looking into getting one...