Your First 5k

With so many local fundraisers choosing to have a 5k (3.1 miles), it is easy to wonder if it is a distance that even a non-runner could do. Indeed, many walkathons are about that length and can be covered in about an hour if walking a 20MM pace.

If covering the distance of an organized 5k is your goal, it is good to do some prep-work before the day of the event.

Get clearance from a physician before undertaking any strenuous physical activity. Even if you ran a marathon 5 years ago, your body has changed and it is time for a physical again anyway.

Get some workout clothes and, most important, running shoes. Choose clothes that won’t chafe, wick away sweat, and allow freedom of movement. Synthetic material are much better for running than cotton.

It is best you can get fitted for running shoes at a running store. Go in the afternoon or evening when your feet tend to be larger than in the morning. A running shoe is typically fitted at least a size larger than street shoe size.

Even people who consider themselves to be “in pretty good shape” will want to go out and put in some miles. If you are sedentary, it is even more important and will want to have a graduated training plan like Couch to 5k.

Many training plans take 3 months to allow time for tendons, joints, cardio-vascular and other physical systems of the body to get in shape for covering the distance without doing harm to yourself.

Sign Up
Choose a race that you have enough time to train for. Make certain it is one you will be comfortable participating in. Some 5ks are small local races that allow people to run with their dogs or push their babies in strollers. Some races are very large and will require that you know your projected finish time so you will enter the correct corral at the start of the race. Some races are only for women and some races have age restrictions or require parental permission. Some are very walker friendly while others have time limits and close down the course after a certain amount of time. Some have aid stations and plenty of access to toilets, others do not.

Some races allow you to sign up online and the earlier you commit, the lower the fee. Most online sign-ups close before race day but many races will still have registration open at packet pick-up (see below in BEFORE THE RACE) or even the day of the race.

Know the course before you go so you can train for it.

Have a plan for keeping hydrated, proper fuel and running on the terrain and elevation changes that your chosen 5k course will have.

Running on a treadmill is nothing like running outside. Running laps on a track is nothing like a hilly trail race.

If you are training with Gatorade, find out if the race only offers water (or nothing at all).

Along with knowing the course and preparing your body, there are a few things that will make your first 5k much less stressful. When you have a question that you can’t find the answer for, email the race director well before race day.

Packet Pick-Up
Many races have a time the day before and/or the day of for picking up race bibs, timing chips and other promotional swag. Stay aware of the time(s) and location(s) of packet pick up. Some are in conjunction with health and fitness expos where you can look at/shop for cool running stuff.Standard_Bib

Don’t plan on wearing or using anything new you pick up at the expo or in your packet. If you have trained in a tech fabric shirt and the race is giving out cotton t-shirts, you could have a very unpleasant race if you choose to wear/use anything new. Save the new hydration pack, Gu fuel or racing flats for sometime after you have tried them out in training. Best rule of thumb – “Nothing New on Race Day.”

If you are running with a group or friends, not all races allow you to pick up other runners’ packets. Some allow it but require a photocopy of their ID.

Packet pick up is a great time to ask any last minute questions you have come up with:
Where is the best place for spectators to safely watch the race?
Where along the course are the aid stations?
Where will there be access to restrooms/port-a-pots?
What signage will there be along the course?
Is the course closed to traffic?
Will there be volunteers directing runners at turns or police stpping traffic at intersections?
Will there be pace corrals?
Any questions you have about…

Hopefully when you signed up you were put on an email list that sends out race updates. If not, or if you are signing up at the last minute, know where you are going and what time the race starts.

The bigger the race, the more difficult the parking. Allow plenty of time to find the parking and get from there to the start line. Some races have very specific places the ask runners to park (or NOT to park). Some end to end races have a shuttle that will either take you from parking near the finish to the start line or back to the parking at the start line after the finish. Some races require parking passes that are either printed online or given out at packet pick up.

The farther away parking is, the more careful you will have to plan what you are taking with you and what you are leaving in the car.

Night Before
You will know the weather by this point and can choose what running clothes will best suit you in the race. Lay out your entire running outfit, including race bib and something to carry car keys/phone if you will have them so that nothing is missing when you put it on the next day or pack it to change fore the race. #flatrunnerC_LdfAAXcAELEnt.jpg

If it is going to rain, include a large garbage bag to wear over your clothes as you stand in the corral and wait for the start. You can take it off and toss it off of the race course just as you start.

Try to get a good night’s sleep the couple of nights before the race. If you are nervous and can’t rest the night before, at least you will have gotten a good rest the night before that.

Eat healthfully and choose things that you know have not given you Gastro/Intestinal issues in the past. Don’t eat/drink anything new unless you have a system that never has any GI issues. Nerves can also play a factor so choose wisely.

Nothing New on Race Day Nothing New on Race Day Nothing New on Race Day Nothing New on Race Day

Get Moving
Get up in time to allow your bodily functions to get moving. Have coffee unless you haven’t trained with it or find that it makes you have to pee a lot. Have a good poop before getting to the race if you can. Calf stretches can help for some of those who have a hard time getting their bowels in gear.

If it is a later race or you need to have a breakfast, only eat what has settled well for you in past training.

Allow Plenty of Time
Head out allowing time to get yourself near the start line in time to warm up. Most training programs start each run with a warm-up and some even stretching, make sure you allow time for this on race day.

Plan to Meet Up
Before you split up with friends or family, especially if it is a big race, have a predetermined place to meet after the race. Even if you plan to run together, the crush of the crowd can make it hard to just wait by the finish line and find each other after the race. Some races only allow runners in certain areas after the finish line so choose a spot that it clear enough to find and accessible to everyone who is planning on meeting up afterward.

Before the Gun
Take time to warm up for 10-20 minutes, jog around to see where the port-o-pots are, do the approach to the finish line if it is a loop course, shake out the jitters.

Make sure your bib is visible and on the layer you intend to race in (don’t pin it to a warm up jacket that you intend to toss to a friend in a half of a mile). If there is a section of your bib that will need to be torn off at the finish line, do not pin that section down. If the race is bib chip timed, don’t fold your bib. If race is timed with a shoe chip, have it securely attached or laced onto your shoe.

When they call you to the start line (the larger the race, the earlier the call) find your pace corral (larger races) or get yourself at least halfway back of the pack (smaller races). Don’t be intimidated nor over confidant by who is around you. You are all going to make it to the same finish line and you have to focus on your own race. DO NOT STAND AT THE START LINE.

It is hard to hear announcements when you are lined up to race, even if they are using loud speakers. Middle/back of the pack runners have a lot of runners in front of them to follow and, if you did your homework, you know about the course and the signage and aid stations and road crossings. You are ready even if you can’t hear the race director thanking all of the sponsors so don’t fret.

In a large race, you might hear the gun or air horn go of and not move at all. The race has started but you are so far back in the pack, elbow to elbow with other runners, you don’t even budge for a few seconds. Then when you do start moving, it is barley a shuffling walk. It can take you a full minute or more to even get to the start line where you cross a sensor and/or start your watch.

Even in smaller races it will take you a few seconds to get into a jog or running stride. Be patient and don’t be stressed about passing people, things will open up soon enough. Look at it as blessing that the other runners are keeping you from letting the excitement of the race let you go off too fast at first.

While in the crush, try to stay aware of the small section of road coming up in front of you. If there is a runner with a dog on a leash or stroller that might trip you up, look for a way to navigate around them without cutting others off. Unlike when training on a lonely bike path, no need to call out “on your left” to everyone you pass. You may even find it necessary to cut a bit off course on a grassy shoulder early in the race. Try to watch the footing and listen if runners are calling out about hazards ahead.

Hitting Your Stride
As the pack starts to loosen up and you find your regular running stride it will be easier to relax a little and remember all of the things that worked for you in training. If you find you are going to fast, back off the pace and drop your hands to loosen up a little. If you are back of the pack and see everyone out distancing you, know that it is a long race and you will pass some of them later when they burn out, trust me, you will. You do you, your race, your pace.

If you run with music know that some races don’t allow earbuds. If they do, it is still a good idea to consider wearing only one so that you can hear any race directions, if other runners are warning of an oncoming car on a course that isn’t closed to traffic, or the cheers of the good folks who have come out to lend support.

Try to thank course volunteers or even folks cheering. It make you feel good and they feel good too.

Navigating Aid Stations
It helps to know when to expect aid stations so you can anticipate them. Many people running a 5k don’t need any hydration nor fuel but it helps to know where they are so you can avoid getting slowed by them if you don’t require hydration. If you aren’t going to get a cup of water to drink or pour on your head, stay clear of the tables and volunteers and allow anyone who needs clear access to the water. This will keep you from having to come up short because the person whose heels you were on needs a cup of water and is slowing to get some.

If you do need water or gatorade, remember to “drink to thirst.” Listen carefully as you approach the aid station to hear if they are calling out “water” or “gatorade.” Also, slow a bit but don’t stop as you approach as to not put on the brakes right in front of someone running in right behind you.

The best idea is not to go to the very first volunteer/table but shoot a bit ahead if there are multiple volunteers/tables. It becomes less congested toward the farther end of the aid station. Just be careful you are getting what you want in a cup. Pouring gatorade over your head is not going to be pleasant if you were expecting water.

cups-of-gatoraideYou have listened, heard the call of “water” and have your sights set on a volunteer somewhat down the table. They are holding out a little cup and you want to try to make eye contact as you keep moving toward them. Even if you plan on slowing to walk when you drink, you want to clear out of this area as quickly and carefully as possible. Hold you hand out toward them as you approach (like loosely pointing), stick your index finger INTO the cup as you take it and the rest of your hand will follow through and take the outside of the cup. Keep moving without tipping the cup. This also works if it is just a table of cups but no volunteer handing it off.

If you want to slow and drink after the aid station, move to the side (many runners hold up their free hand to show runners behind them that they are slowing) and drink your hydration. There are typically garbage cans for cups just after a station. You don’t have to put the cup in the can but do crumple it and get it well off the course by tossing it.

If you want to keep running or jogging with your cup after you clear the aid station, pinch the cup so you can control how much liquid is coming out and you will be less likely to spill it or breathe it in as you run. Again, crumple the cup and toss it well off the race course so that no one trips on it after you. Leaving it as close to the aid station is advisable to ease clean up.

Finally, not everyone cares to keep the course clean of cups so be very careful not to trip on cups after aid stations.

Racing Etiquette
Number one has to be to follow the rules of the race event. Even if you are used to running with your dear dog, if the race says no dogs/strollers/headphones, don’t do it.

Register for the race rather than just hopping in and “banditing the race.” It took a lot to organize and your entry fee covers the fact that the roads are closed to runners even if you don’t take anything from an aid station. Same goes for friends who want to run a section with you. The course support is there for registered runners and it gets confusing and dangerous when kids join in and they aren’t registered.

Try not to pee or poop anywhere other than the designated restrooms and port-o-pots. It is super unsanitary.

Walkers should start back of the pack.

When you train on your own, it is less of a big deal if you sniff and spit snot on the road but will matter a great deal with a lot of other runners just off your elbow. Noses run when most of us exercise outdoors and a farmer blow or snot rocket is a hard thing to pull off in a race. Using a kleenex is pretty problematic, especially in the rain, so it is best to just try to be aware of who is around you and where they are when you have to “hawk and spit.”

Listen to officials and police. Stay aware of course direction.

If it is a multi-loop race, stay to the side as faster and lead runners pass you on their advanced laps.

As mentioned in navigating an aid station, if you have to slow or stop, raise your hand to alert runners behind you and move to the side of the course. Step off the course if you have to stop for any reason (like tying your shoe).

The Finish
You have been making your way through the race, following the course markers, Seen the mile and kilometer markers and you know you are going to make it to the end.

Maybe there have been photographers along the race course, some will have them only at the finish line. Frequently, the photographer will make race photos available online for viewing (lo resolutions) or purchasing (high resolution). The only easy way to find any photos taken of yourself is to make sure your bib number is clearly visible. It is by bib number that race photos are sorted.

Having you bib number visible is also important near the finish for very large races so that they know you are a registered runner and not banditing the race. Some races they might try to pull you off the course before the finish line if your number isn’t showing. Don’t look down at your watch at the finish line unless you want your race photo to look that way.

Well before the finish line, sometimes before even half way, many folks will shout out, “Almost there!” Don’t believe them until you can see the finish line ahead of you.

Some larger races, you can hear the cheers of the crown a mile or so even before the finish line depending on how the course loops around. Just keep running you race the way you trained to make the whole distance.finish

Even if there isn’t a course photographer, have a great time crossing that finish line. You worked hard for it. Even if you are the very last runner (who gets the heartfelt cheers of the spectators AND all the other runners) you have all run the same distance and this is your moment. Run, walk, wheeling a chair or hobble on crutches, you did it!

YOU did it, not your kids, not your sweety or besty. Make sure they know it is not ok to cross the finish line with you.

Soak up the moment but when crossing the finish line, keep moving as to not clog the chute. Cross all the sensors and keep moving. If your bib has a tear off section that race volunteers are taking, allow them access to it and then keep moving.

Recovering from the big event can help determine how fondly you remember the accomplishment of a lifetime.

Refueling and Rehydrating
You’ve crossed that finish line and there are tables of fruit and granola bars and water bottles and chocolate milk. Even if you aren’t hungry right after you finish, grab a nibble or 2 for when you start feeling better and definitely a bottle of water.

What you DON’T want to do is also grab something for your kids or spouse. They may have been real troupers coming out to cheer you at your race but this food is for the runners who have yet to come in. If they need a special treat, give them one later. Tell them they have to run the race to get race food.

Sadly, because not everyone thinks of the runners yet to come or the race just didn’t get enough food, occasionally post race food (and sometime water from aid stations!!) is gone for the back of the pack runners. If you know that you might be in the position or cannot eat any of the typical post race food, have something for yourself in the car.

Try to eat something with carbohydrates and protein within a half of an hour after the race. Also be hydrating so that your urine is flowing in a lemonade color when you urinate.

Post Race Maintenance
Walk around for 10-20 minutes after your race to cool down and allow your heart rate to return to normal. If you require medical attention for any reason, seek out someone who is working with the race and ask if there is a med tent.

If you have far to drive afterward, take a moment to stretch out before you hop into the car. Also take breaks on your drive to walk and stretch and your recover will be much faster.

A shower and a good meal is essential after a 5k. Take care of anything that might have gone awry, hot pavement can cause a blister even in a 5k. Take it easy on yourself, this was a first for you.

Your first 5k was everything and more than you had ever hoped or maybe you didn’t run the whole way as you hoped.

Next Time
Take what you experienced and think on it a bit. The thrill of the finish line can cloud the miles of discomfort so signing up for a full marathon that night is not a good idea. Give the whole experience some perspective.

If you didn’t complete the race as quickly as you felt you should have, it is easy to call it “sour grapes” and write off running all together. If you have people in your life that put you down for not even being able to: run the whole way, at least run a 10 minute mile, finish a 5k – forget what they say. Running is for you and just by trying you have completed more than many. Congratulate yourself for all you DID do.

After some time you may want to try another race. Maybe an easier course. Perhaps it went so well you want to check out a 10k training plan. There is always a chance that it was hard work and you need to think a while before you undertake something like a 5k again. Hopefully you can take away the best parts of the experience and empower yourself to keep trying and doing amazing and healthful things for yourself.


Early 2017

When the running blog takes a backseat it doesn’t mean we aren’t running and racing. We have been enjoying running in central Pennsylvania since DAY 1 of this year by starting with the Cat’s Crawl 5k. There were sections of black ice along the hilly course in Mifflinburg, PA. Thank goodness it was held during the day instead of  New Year’s Eve the way it had been last year. That didn’t keep me, Terri, from falling hard on a patch of ice by the port-o-pots right before the race. Bloody knee and all, I ran just fine and avoided the shadows where any more ice might be on the course. The day was sunny and very pretty and we enjoy the finishers etched glasses they have. A sad trend we have noticed in some races though, finishers goodies are being given at the beginning of races when we sign in. I dunno about you but that little trinket at the end it something I keep in mind as I run. When they hand it to us at the beginning, we look at each other as we walk the swag back to the car and say, “Well, we got the goody without running the race. Want to just go home?”

Of course we never just ditch the race because running is the thing we enjoy most. The races are just goals that keep us headed in a direction rather than over all fitness. When a race is on the books in the dead of winter, it makes it so much harder to blow off a run if it is cold or bad weather. When there is a tangible reason to train, we find a way to put in the miles instead of rolling over in the dark of the morning when the blankets are warm and inviting.2017-01-07 19.05.53

We didn’t get t-shirts for the Cat’s Crawl 5k because we signed up for the race the morning of. They were out of shirts all together. It was pretty2017-02-11 09.45.03.jpg late when we signed up for the Sweetheart 5k but did score long sleeved race shirts (in our sizes even). This was a race in downtown State College and we ran through familiar neighborhoods. Being a Valentine’s Day themed race, we dressed up in our Love Bandits costumes and ran together.

The best part for me was to run by the office where I had surgery on my leg last November. I had a painful cyst removed from my leg that set my training back for months. It was a very frustrating winter of limited running and I was, yet again, reminded how much running means to me. You miss something most when it is taken away.

March was dedicated to finally building back mileage for our Spring races. Jim was injury free all Spring and was training for a 15k and I took another hard fall with serious road rash as I trained for a 19k.

2017-04-08 10.18.03

April allowed Jim to continue to streak the Business and Professional Women’s Wellness 5k (now in their 7th year) and it was a great race for both of us. Jim got 3rd place in his age group and I got 1st. The best thing for me was that I beat my time from last year by about 15 seconds. Not my course best but I knew then that my fitness level was returning even though my surgery set me back this winter.2017-04-25 11.56.09

That incentive kept me working hard to improve my pace from last year. I had been adapting the old Couch to 5k run/walk intervals to run/jog intervals. After a warm up mile, I did the April race with a ratio of running hard for 3 minutes then jog for 1:30 then run hard for 5 minutes and jog for 2:30. I did a couple of sets of those then pushed as hard as I could until the finish line. Between pushing hard, still carrying extra weight from over the past couple of year and then wearing dead shoes I really injured the metatarsal area of my left foot. What was to be a regular 4 miler had me come up short and almost not able to walk after 3 miles.

2017-05-06 09.11.35This nixed not only the 15k for me but I was too injured to come back in time for the 19k. Jim’s training was spot on. He tapered just a bit before the Mastodon Challenge 15k and was able to clobber hills and pass dozens of other runners in the last few miles. He was very pleased with how he felt during the run and how he recovered afterward. This was the last race Jim has on the books this year but he is back to running and had a great 8 miler this past weekend.

My injury didn’t even allow me to switch to the 5k option at the Mastodon Challenge series. I was careful all of the following week and got in some pain free miles. The Right to Run allowed me to switch from the 19k to the 5k and I was able to run it with our dear friend Rosalie. She too, had to switch from the 19k as she was nursing a Baker’s Cyst 2017-05-12-16-10-14.jpgbehind her right knee. Uphills were problematic for both of us so, the night before the race, Jim and I took a drive along the course to see how bad it would be. As we cut through one neighborhood, we drove past the Elizabeth Cady Stanton House, HQ for the Women’s Suffrage movement (thus the 19k distance for the 19th amendment of our country’s constitution). What luck we had driving by right then as we saw the inspirational Kathrine Switzer speaking to a group from Girls on the Run. Jim practically slammed on the breaks and breathlessly said, “Is that Kathrine Switzer? No. It couldn’t be.” I assured him that it could be because she was scheduled to give local talks and be at the finish line. We sat there in our car and stared like the running geeks we are as she shared her story with the young girls and their coaches. It was the highlight of our evening.

We had seen a couple of short hills that seemed like Rosalie and I could tackle if we listened to our bodies. We agreed that we would walk if we needed and it was ok for one or the other of us to go ahead if needed. Race morning was a little drizzly but that didn’t dampen our reunion. Jim snapped photos of us hugging and catching up before taking our jackets to the finish line as it was an end to end course.

Neither of our injuries gave us much problem but I was shocked at just how quickly I had lost my speed. Rosalie kept an easy pace and wonderful conversation as I pushed myself to keep up. It was so worth it, I finished with my fastest 5k time in well over a year holding the hand of my dear friend overhead as we crossed the line.2017-05-13 09.55.05

Kathrine Switzer and her 261 Fearless organization were at the expo near the finish line. She was such a pleasure to chat with, as was her 261 Fearless  club representative. Kathrine signed our race bibs then was off to hang medals around the neck of the 19k finishes.

That brings us to date. I am recovering well and inspired by the pace I was able to keep. I have one more 5k in June then, like Jim, have no planned races. In August, I will be attending a workshop at the Center for Cartoon Studies as I continue to work on my graphic novel, You Run Like a Girl.

All of those crazy little running comics that you see on this blog are just the tip of the iceberg. I am writing/drawing a book that will cover my life as a runner and highlight US women running legends during the decades of my life. It will also include real life experiences of other women as they ran as girls. It is an exciting topic and I am passionate about it.


Rough sketches of US women’s running legends for You Run Like a Girl. Can you spot Kathrine?

Color Me Rad, Color Me Theory

A week has passed since Terri and I ran the Color Me Rad 5K near Pittsburgh at the First Niagara Pavilion in Burgettstown. We were entered in the 1:20 p.m. wave of runners, but since the run was in an area we were unfamiliar with, we left at 7:00 a.m. to give us plenty of time to get there and be able to scope out the course.

Early morning Pittsburgh.

Early morning Pittsburgh.

Being a bit of a color-nerd, I wanted to do this run since it combines color and running, and it seemed like it would be a lot of fun. Color Me Rad runs are not timed so there is no pressure running against a clock. Seeing photos of past events with runners splattered and coated with colored color starch inspired me to find a location near to us and sign up.

From their FAQ page: “Color Me Rad is loosely based off of the Hindu Festival of Colors, otherwise known as, Holi. Just as you usher in a new year of radness in your life by signing up for Color Me Rad, Hindus usher in a new season, spring. The festive colors used are a sign of winter’s end and springs new beginnings.” I am glad winter is over, spring certainly has been filled with new beginnings, and this run seemed like a good way to celebrate before the wheel of the year turns to summer.

Pittsburgh was still pretty mellow as we drove through it early Sunday morning. By the time we made it to the parking area of First Niagara Pavilion, there were folks leaving from earlier waves of running. We could also see a bit of the course from our car and could take in the young and old, in all phases of fitness, move uphill in a rainbow of colors. Folks seemed to be having fun with it all. It was great to see the multitude of color-transformed runner’s clothes and costumes.

Runner in the blue shirt to the right is not too colorful.

Runner in the blue shirt to the right is not too colorful.

I was struck though by many of the medium-blue souvenir Color Me Rad shirts, and the color-nerd in me thought what a poor choice they were to wear in an event like this one. Most of these shirts ended up looking like a mix of brownish baby-food color, a few areas of splotches of vibrant color, with patches of blue shirt showing through. See, basic color theory, as well as years of my elementary school art class disasters, has that when you combine all primary colors together in roughly equal parts, they will make brown. So the bright magenta and yellow corn starch on the blue shirt is asking for disaster, and when you toss in orange, green, and purple too, well, it ends up with wonderful earth tones, but created with a lot of fun.

We checked in, got our racing bibs, sunglasses, extra color packets, and temporary tattoos and then went back to the car to get ready.

Terri coined the term “color vulture” to describe our scouring for half-empty to almost empty plastic baggies of color. Decorating each other with the remnants of powders, we combined this with picking up the discarded baggies and taking them to trash cans.

The people who put on the run made sure that the crowds were having fun by tossing color packets into the masses, having quick contests to win extra color packets, playing lots of music, and even emptying a converted color-filled fire extinguisher into the throng.

Our BEFORE shot showcasing our clean white Crayola Posse shirts that Terri made.

Our BEFORE shot showcasing our clean white Crayola Posse shirts that Terri made.

We used a disposable camera to capture photos along the course so that we wouldn’t ruin our good camera with the fine silt of corn starch.

The beginning of the run had us weave through an area of rough terrain made up of quarter- to fist-sized chunks of what looked like pumice. The footing was not good, so we took our time so to not twist an ankle. Later, the course was on sections of blacktop and loose gravel. We could see any upcoming color stations, and could plan on how we would run through these to either maximize our getting doused in color (purple station) to running quickly down the center to avoid too much of a color (orange and green stations).

Running together, we could comment on the costumes, little kids, and other runners shirts. One team’s shirts had “Lost in Pace” using the font from the TV/movie “Lost in Space.” Terri made our team “Crayola Posse” shirts, and we heard a few comments on these as we made our way through the crowd.

Our AFTER shot with more runners in the background.

Our AFTER shot with more runners in the background.

The run ended in a huge cloud of magenta, and we just grinned together.

We made our way back to the car to clean-up as best as we could, change clothes, and then start our way back home. The colored corn starch did not rinse off very well with just water, and I am not sure what the patrons and employees at the Indian restaurant Udipi Cafe thought of us when we entered. Our waiter and a family behind us asked if we were at the Color Me Rad run, so at least some of them knew about it.

So, all in all, though I wish there it was a constant shower of color plumes throughout the 5K, it was spaced out nicely. Runners had fun, money raised went to a good cause, and we came away looking a heck of a lot more colorful than when we arrived. Juggling colors during a run like this can be a challenge, so my advice is to wear white for maximum effect of color, wear sunscreen, plot your course strategy, and have a good time!

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Some Days You’re the Shark

Some Days You’re the Shark
I have mentioned a motivation we have while running races (Nittany Valley Half and Red Baron Half) how you can reel in your shark, being a like a sucker fish remora. This past weekend, Jimmy-the eye and I learned that we had been sharks!RudolphRomp2

We had reason to travel to Carlisle this past weekend and scoped out a festive race to participate in. We chose the Rudolph’s Romp 5k in Middletown. It was a fast course that had quite a few turns in it so I never expected to PR again at 25:33. That busted my best by over a minute! Jim came in 12 seconds before me so we were able to both see each other cross the finish line.

I scoped the finishers and saw I came in before any other women my age or older. Excitedly, Jim hustled to the car to get the camera in case I received an award after all of the runners were in. Just as I was walking away from the ordered list of finishers, I was approached by a tall and slender woman who said she had been trying to catch me, congratulated me on my finish and asked my time. I realized she must be in my age group, asked her time (20 seconds after me) and told her than any other day she would have caught me. I also told her that it was an honor to have her say that to me. I had been her shark!

Jim must have been held up getting the camera so I found him chatting with a fellow parked near our car. This turned out to be Jim’s remora who cheerfully accosted him with, “How old are you!?” Jim and I had passed him right in the final 1/2 mile and he was worried that Jim was in the 70+ group and then felt that he should just pretty much give up if he, “… was being passed by a woman in a skirt.” HA! The life of a shark is a new one for us.

goodbye running streakRudolphRomp1

My running streak (#RWRunStReak) paid the price for my speedy race. I felt my left achilles starting to get pretty sore near the end of the race. By the end of the day, I could tell I was hurt more than superficially. The next morning(s) confirmed it, I only ran about a mile each time but could tell that the recovery I had gained overnight wasn’t enough to start running again the next morning. I could probably heal very slowly and keep the streak alive but I think a day or so off will expedite the process and I can enjoy a night run to see the holiday lights more easily.

This morning was the first time in a month I haven’t run at least a mile. It feels odd since I had gotten into the habit but I can tell my leg will heal much more quickly this way. It is less sore than tight even now. The streak did teach me that I might be able to add a day of running the next time I am training for a specific race. Instead of believing that I absolutely need a day off in between every run day, I now know that I can have a low mileage/intensity day added in as long s I am not nursing an injury.

Poe’s Nevermore Half Marathon®

I shared how my imagination can wander during longer runs and how I created a local race called Poe’s Nevermore Half Marathon®. I was planning how the Boy Scout Camp could accommodate runners near the start line, exactly where there would be water stops and aid stations and how the toilets at Poe Paddy State Park are conveniently placed for the finish. I was even toying with the design of the finisher’s medal and how it should probably be near Hallowe’en, maybe even at night. Thus my mind wanders as I run.Nevermore_sm

Last week, Jim sent me a couple of images via email and my first thought was, “Darn! Someone beat me to it!” It was a logo for a race so much like mine that I knew I could never use the name without seeming like a blatant copy-cat. Jim then took the super cool design and used Photoshop to put it on my hat and shirt and made it look like I was finishing my planned course at Poe Paddy. The man is a wiz with Photoshop and it was very cute of him to make it look like it was my own.

It was then I realized that it was NOT an existing race, Jim had created the whole logo just for me! I love how he does things like that to thrill me and make me laugh. He really got me that time and I love it!

Who wants to do this race and get a shirt like that!?NevermoreShirt_OL_sm

Season’s Splendor

Autumn is such a beautiful time of year. Nature’s colors and annual harvest of produce are a feast for the eyes. It was so gratifying to be able to take an afternoon last week to hike Nittany Mountain. It has been a couple of years since I was able to and that made it a very special outing for me. I biked to the trail head, hiked to the top and committed to the entire white loop of trails that treated me to a couple of vistas. The leaves were close to peak but because it was a weekday I ran in to very few other hikers. The solitude on Nittany was an added bonus before I biked home.

Although artichokes are not a vegetable of autumn, I got a couple on sale at our local grocery outlet. I quickly steamed them and served them with a Creamy Vegan Dipping Sauce that doubled as a salad dressing. This was delightful recipe I found for one of the warmer days last week.

Jim and I ran a local race last weekend called the Clearfield Pumpkin Run 5k. It started early on a super chilly morning. but we both had a really enjoyable time. We didn’t run together and I saw Jim speeding ahead before I settled into the groove. This was my first race since my full marathon last month. The course had a mile loop through downtown Clearfield where they were also having a fall festival. Then we ran along the river and cut across a bridge. The next couple of miles were in very pretty residential areas. Finally we cut back across the bridge to the finish line and I met up with Jim to walk a bit and “cool down.”

We always like to try to stay and cheer the award winners but it was still quite chilly. I saw that I had won first place in my age group so I found a place to stand in the sun and happily waited to receive my cute medal. They also gave some awards to people who ran carrying pumpkins for the whole race, that was a lot of fun.

The day before had also been chilly and our lunch was full of colors of the season and a pumpkin-like squash was one of them. I steamed some butternut squash and brussels sprouts and blended a little hoisin sauce in with them. That and a side of rice warmed our bellies and tickled our taste buds.

Autumn frequently makes me feel nostalgic for some reason. On our return trip from Clearfield we stopped at a cute diner in Philipsburg that was like trip down memory lane. We made a stop at the Retro Eatery specifically for their veggie burger, the Ritchie Valen Burger. As far as I know, Ritchie Valens wasn’t a vegetarian but all of the menu items are named after famous icons of the 1950’s. This burger was a homemade, super thick, black bean cake grilled on both sides, nestled in a thick soft bun and topped with lettuce, tomato, and guacamole. We got ours without the cheese it normally comes with but it was a quite a hearty sandwich without it. Clearly a front runner in the race for the Pennsyltucky Veggie Awards – Best Veggie Burger of 2012.

We also ordered some extra appetizers to go along with them. We got the sample Somewhere Over the Rainbow Platter (choice of 3 apps) and tried the French Fried Zucchini Sticks, Fried Green Beans and Rocky Graziano deep-fried cauliflower. Each of these normally comes with ranch or cheese dips but we opted for good ol’ ketchup for ours.

The Retro Eatery opened spring of 2011 and seems to have a steady clientel. It doesn’t have that greasy diner smell that you might expect. The interior of the dining and public areas are all bright and very clean. We enjoyed the free Wifi, loved the pinball machine and jukebox and thought it was cute they had Loony Tunes on one of the 4 tvs.

The service was prompt, appropriately friendly and most helpful. When we ordered the sample platter, we had originally chosen fries as one of the choices. She let us know that, just in case we were thinking of getting burgers that they all came with fries. Thank you very much, we WERE getting burgers and changed our order to include the cauliflower instead. She also checked back and asked if we were enjoying the platter and we assured her that it was fun to try a few of 3 different things instead of full orders of all three. She agreed and shared that she felt a full order of the green beans is sometimes a but “waxy” for her. Like I said, appropriate comments and very helpful.

So much to enjoy this autumn, we hope you are enjoying the beauty and bounty of this season too.

Long & Winding Road

From January, the road I have traveled has taken me to a bit of a graduation. This is the weekend I participate in an 8k run. A personal journal I have kept has shown my progress in endurance, overall fitness and 5″ smaller waistline.

January 3 – Today I have a lot of unrealized hopes. I am striving to bring back a more healthy way of life and adding more exercise has always been helpful.

January 4 – I found a guideline that might suit my needs, Couch to 5K. It is in line with a goal that I have never dared set for myself but always though it might feel very satisfying to achieve, to run in a 5k race maybe even in Puxsutawney. I will at least be moving toward running 5k and I hope I can keep in mind that even if I fail I am still getting some exercise.

January 5 – Man, I have looked at all of the 5k races and I am so not any of those people. I can’t go that fast even though I know I have just started. All I can hope is that general fitness will be a strong enough goal for me, it’s so nebulous.

January 7 – Nothing feels too good on a morning where the cats force you to get up hours before you are ready. I am a little stiff and sore.

January 8 – My run in the snow was a slow and tricky, terrible unsatisfying. I may have kept up a better pace for parts of the run but it was snowing and footing was slick almost everywhere. About halfway, my right groin muscle started to hurt. That slowed me down for the rest of the trip.

January 15 – I am totally chuffed to have done so much better on my run today. I was a little exerted but didn’t have the same feeling of having pushed way too hard.

January 17 – I suppose I did my best yesterday going out to a restaurant for the first in a while. We had a lovely sit down Indian meal with Tim & JJ. The best part was reconnecting with two very good souls who nourished me in ways that not many friends can do. Tim and JJ are good people with positive attitudes who keep things in perspective.

January 20 – My right ankle had been feeling just a little sore so I tried to keep aware of it. It was when I was trying to make certain that I was running on my toes instead of flat footed that I rolled over on it a bit and fell.

January 21 – Thinking back on yesterday, I am really pleased with the groove I got into for my last mile or so. It’s pretty cool to know I can be moving at a slow jog for a couple 5 minute stretches. This program may be building endurance and I like that.

January 29 – This winter has just been brutally cold. How do people with no resources for gym memberships or workout equipment stay in shape in such cold and long winters? I know that isn’t why old folks move to Florida or they would all be fit. This apartment is just too small to run around in (no internal steps) and I can never see spending money on a huge treadmill.

February 5 – My breathing was good and I joked with a woman taking a smoke break about the impending snow. That took me to 23:00 before I started away from Walmart and across the lots. The program was complete after the 20 minutes but I had gotten into my head that I think 10 minute intervals if paced properly might be the best for me. I kept the pace really controlled and 30 minutes found me at College Gardens, proof that I was going much slower.

February 12 – The roads are icy and it’s bitter cold so I decided to check out the Rec Hall indoor track. All went pretty well and I got my 30 minutes in a day early. I also got a blister on my small toe but it will heal.

February 18 – I tried on some running shoes at Dick’s and have a better idea of what type of shoe suits my running style. I supinate (or underpronate) by running on the outside of my foot. I have always had a certain amount of natural turnout which was encouraged by dancing. Because of this I tend to run on the outside of my foot and do not roll into it’s center.

February 19 – I decided to run 5k to try out some shoes I have been breaking in around the house. I even peeped in at the guys doing construction on the new location of Nature’s Pantry to finish off the 5k with a little hill out of their lot. Who would have EVER thought I would just run 5k to try out some shoes. I am shocked, thrilled and in slight awe of myself. What I have accomplished and at the ease is nothing short of amazing to me.

February 25 – January 4th I started the C25K 9 week program and today I ran 8k (over an hour) nonstop. My pace wasn’t fast nor was my 5k split time but I am proud of how far I have come.

March 5 – Not a good morning. Cats were as terrible as always all night and I never got back to sleep. I only made it 5k before deciding that my hurt foot/ankle/calf was only going to get worse. I hope a weekend of rest will allow it to get back to longer distances on Monday.

March 10 – I think I am going to try the 3.3 mile loop of Big Hollow Rd near Services Rd today just before meeting Jim for lunch. The small band of rain will have cleared by then and it should be a little warmer. I will be warmed from biking in so hopefully that will build up my stamina too. I am not certain if I should try to go any farther than that or not. I have to bike home too and don’t want to hurt my ankle.

March 12 – It was breezy and drizzly but the temperature was above 45° so it wasn’t too bad. My pace was really slow but I still made 8k in about an hour. I made it home (almost 10k) in an hour and 23 minutes.

March 19 – Last day of winter and I mixed it up a little. I had Jim leave my bike at my 8k mark to transition to about 3 miles of biking afterward. It would push the cardio but not the muscular skeletal as much.
I let out a little whoop and drew the attention of big ol’ goofy Curt who came over to talk while I got ready to bike. I took some water and Vitamin Drink and stretched a bit before heading to Trout Road and home via Gerald St. I was more fatigued on the hills than I would have expected so it’s a good thing to practice now and then.

March 25 – Did a late morning final 8k before I start backing off my distance this coming week. It was my personal best. It got warm when the sun came out. I can’t imagine running when it’s 70° – ugh!

March 27 – I geared back my run this morning to roughly 5k – 36-ish minutes. I ran the gravel road at Fisherman’s Paradise out and back with Jim doing his W6D1 program.

Cold morning but beautiful. No loose dogs. I started with my left shoe too tightly tied and stopped about 2:30 minutes into my run to retie it. I stopped and restarted my watch. That foot was crampy again for the whole first mile and the ankle hurt after the 5k. I am icing it now.

April 1 – My final 5k and workout before race day on Saturday landed me a good personal best.

Unfortunately I started off way too fast and had to back off the whole run. I need to remember to calm down and pace myself better if I want to make it 8k.

April 2 – I am up early and have a headache from being excited about the coming weekend. I chose the all women’s run for it’s dynamic and the fact it is a walk/run. No shame if I have to walk any part of the way although I haven’t walked any 8k I have done in quite a while.

I am a little worried about not having a goal to work toward after this weekend. I will do my best to try to look back and see what I have accomplished, enjoy continued better health and hope to maintain a good balance.