When I first starting writing this blog, back when it was still hosted over on Blogger, I was using it primarily to keep my Breast Cancer 3 Day supporters informed about my ongoing training and fundraising efforts. In 2010, I expanded it a little bit and started talking about some additional breast cancer advocacy events that I was taking part in. Most of these events were centered around various walks in the Atlanta area (Relay for Life, Race for the Cure, Breast Cancer Network of Strength Walk to Empower), making the Kristen Walks blog title very fitting. However, around that same time, I started to get more into running, with the dual goals of running both that year’s Race for the Cure and the Peachtree Road Race. In the time since then, I have become quite an avid runner, taking part in numerous “competitive” and “fun run” type races, almost to the point where I might have to change the name of my blog!
As I’ve gotten more involved in the Atlanta running community, the running that I’m doing these days often has nothing to do with my cancer advocacy efforts. In order to keep everything here on the actual “Kristen Walks” blog portion of my website relatively on topic, I decided to sequester my running “stuff” on this website under the “Kristen Runs” tab at the top of the page. Over there, you can find my racing plans for this year, recent and past results, links to some useful running resources around the web that I’ve found, and of course, my running photo albums. However, as I’m about to head into a series of races that are focused more on fundraising (and just plain FUN!) and less on actual racing, I thought this would be a good time for a (relatively) brief recap of my 2012 running season so far!
2012 Race Results To Date: The “Competitive” 5K Season
My first four races this year were generally smaller, non-fundraising events, most of which were put on by the Atlanta Track Club (ATC) as part of their Grand Prix series of races. Because of that, I’ve been thinking of this stretch as my “competitive” 5K season, focusing primarily on rebuilding strength and stamina in my legs after a long, stagnant period while I was writing my dissertation last fall and improving my personal times. I’m certainly no speed demon and I’ve never entered a race with the goal being to beat anyone but myself, but I’ve entered each of these first four races with specific goals I wanted to accomplish for myself. Thanks to a solid training plan and some hard work, I’m proud to say that I’ve hit all of my early running goals, setting me up for a really fun spring and summer of racing.
Race #1: ATC Resolution Run 5K:
Goal: Set a baseline 5K performance to build on in 2012.
This ATC Grand Prix race took place bright and early on New Year’s Day. My running through the fall and early winter had been sporadic at best and non-existent at worst, so I had zero expectations for this race. I just wanted to give it my best effort and use that as a baseline going forward. I ran this race with my fellow #RunningBadass2012 (our “team” nickname) Julie and my husband Mike. I wasn’t totally pumped about my 34:34 final time, but as I said, I knew I had to start somewhere. The accomplishment here was starting the new year on a positive, healthy note and setting my baseline. Only faster times from here on out!
Race #2: ATC Hearts and Soles 5K:
Goals: Run the whole race, with no walking breaks. Improve my time from the Resolution Run.
This race took place on February 11th and had a fun Valentine’s theme. I had just gotten home from a wonderful 10-day vacation with my mom the weekend before and while I did get in some miles on the “track” on my cruise ship, I was a little concerned about how I was going to fare in this race. It was also FREEZING cold and drizzling rain as we waited for the race to start. So for me, the biggest goal here was to simply run the whole thing and hope that translated into a faster time than at the Resolution Run. Running a full three mile race was a HUGE goal of mine last year and it took a solid three months of training to achieve it. I was really eager to get back to that stage for this race. Julie and our third #RunningBadass2012 Kate had similar goals for this race as well. So, in the spirit of the race, I threw my heart into it, gutted out the full 3.1 miles without walking and was rewarded with a 33:08 final time. Things are looking up!
Race #3: JLA ShamRock ‘n’ Roll 5K:
Goal: Beat my time from this same race last year (so, sub-32:26).
While technically this race did have a charity component (raising money for the Junior League of Atlanta), I didn’t enter it for that reason and therefore, didn’t think of it as a charity race. Rather, for the second year in a row, Mike’s office sponsored a small team and I ran this race alongside them. Last year, this race came up on the calendar towards the end of my Women on the Move training group and I had high expectations to run the whole thing, only to be defeated by an unexpected large hill in the middle of the course. This year, I was armed with knowledge about the course and together with my success at Hearts and Soles, I knew that this was going to be a good race for me – and it was! I felt strong throughout the race and was thrilled to cross the finish line in 32:00 flat, knocking a full 26 seconds off my time from last year!
Race #4: ATC Atlanta Women’s 5K:
Goal: Set a new 5K PR, which I set at this same race last year (so, sub-31:22).
This is the first time I’ve ever entered a race solely focused on setting a PR and as soon as I vocalized to Mike that that was my goal, I got really nervous about actually being able to hit it. Running sub-31 minutes meant close to (or under) 10 minute miles for the whole race, which was faster than I had been training. But I had felt really strong on my training runs and at JLA, I was familiar with (and LOVED) this course, and I really wanted to see if I could hit that PR knowing that it’s going to be awhile before I run another competitive 5K. I set off with my fellow #RunningBadasses2012, steadily increased my pace over the course of the race, blasted through the finish line at a dead sprint and was THRILLED with my 30:19 PR!!
Over the course of these three months, I’ve managed to drop 4 minutes and 15 seconds from my 5K time, something that I’m incredibly proud of. My fellow #RunningBadasses2012 have likewise seen similar improvements in their times, making our “partnership” successful all around! So, with my new PR in my back pocket, it’s time to look forward to the next three months of running: new distances, new challenges, and maybe a chance at a new 10K PR as well.
Oh, and in addition to my own races, I’ve also volunteered at two additional races this winter/early spring: the inaugural Intown 10K and the Publix Georgia Marathon. I’ve started compiling my photos from my various race volunteering experiences in this album, in case you’re curious.
What’s Next for 2012: Charity Race Season!
While I do have at least one other competitive race on my calendar between now and July (the ATC Father’s Day 4-miler in June), it’s time for me to get focused on the real reason that I started running again: to help raise money for cancer charities, especially those focused on breast cancer and especially breast cancer research. For me, the Charity Race Season is marked with a series of races where having fun and doing good is far more important than running fast. The first of these “fun runs” (and in this case, it really was insanely fun!) took place last weekend: The Color Run!! This 5K road race wasn’t a fundraising event per se, but it did raise money for one of my favorite local causes, the Children’s Hospital of Atlanta (or CHOA). A number of my friends who are new to running/exclusively walkers also did this “run” with me as part of Team Twitter ATL which made it all the more fun! Being super familiar with the route around Piedmont Park (where I run almost every day), I chose to jog between the color stations and then wait for my teammates to run through each of the color stations together. As a result, I was able to get a ton of great pictures both out on the course and at the big color party at the finish line. It was a really fabulous way to spend the morning and it was the perfect way to kick off Charity Race Season!
Now that most of the colors have been washed out of my hair, I’m starting to look ahead to the rest of my charity race schedule this spring and early summer. Namely, the charity races I’ll be running this “season” are:
(3) the Peachtree Road Race (July 4th), the world’s largest 10K road race, which I’m running this year to benefit a cancer charity that is still TBD while I’m still setting things up over on Crowd Rise.
For each of these races, I WILL be actively fundraising. Because these events all overlap, I’m actually going to be fundraising for all three of my selected charities simultaneously, with a specific fundraising goal for each one and a larger goal to encompass all three events. I’ll be going into more detail about why these charities/events and how you can donate in my next blog post, so keep reading!
And that, I think, wraps up my running recap for 2012 to date! I’m going to continue updating the Kristen Runs pages over the next few months and I’ll be writing up official training, fundraising and race recap posts for each of my charity races as well. I’m getting really excited for this stage of my race calendar and even more excited to be sharing my progress with my blog readers again!