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Running For More…

The personal blog and website of Kristen Cincotta

2013 Mid-Year Check In Part 1: Racing Recap

July 15th, 2013 by kscincotta

So, it turns out that finding time to blog while working full time is a little harder than I anticipated. But that’s ok, I love a good challenge. I promise to keep trying to find time to blog if you all promise to keep finding time to read what I write. Deal?

Running in the Publix Georgia Half Marathon!

Back in early March, I wrote about my goals for 2013 which included goals for running, fundraising, and advocacy. One of my advocacy goals was to get back into blogging, including both weekly fundraising updates and monthly training updates. To date, I have written zero of those blog posts. Whoops. So over the course of two posts this week, I’m going to try to get caught up a little on what should have been in those posts. Tonight, I’m going to focus on a general running update for the first half of 2013 and Wednesday night, I’ll have a post up looking specifically at my progress on those goals I posted about in March.

(Update: you can read Part 2 of my mid-year update on my goals for 2013 here!)

But First – A Recap of My Running History To Date

For those who are new, I sort of started running back in the spring of 2010, when I used a Coach to 5K program to train for the Atlanta Race for the Cure and then stretched myself out for the Peachtree Road Race 10k. And then I took a nasty spill on a run and got busy at work (I was still in grad school at the time) and well, I stopped running for about six months. Then I kicked things up again in January 2011 when I realized that writing my dissertation meant A LOT of inside time sitting on my butt. So I signed up for Atlanta Track Club’s Women on the Move 5k training group, which I rolled right into their 10k training group for the Peachtree. I also sprinkled a few other races in there as well. And then after the Peachtree, I realized I had to buckle down or I would never finish my dissertation. So I stopped running again. Ugh.

At the beginning of 2012, I made it my goal to sustain my running throughout the whole year. For the first half of the year, I trained regularly but took a fairly relaxed attitude towards my races. I had fun with friends at the ATC Grand Prix races and the Color Run, walked the Race for the Cure with my family, got muddy in the Warrior Dash, and just generally was laid back about the whole running thing. It was more about running consistently at that point, rather than running better. And you know what? I didn’t get better! I was consistently around the 32 minute mark for my 5Ks and I ran my slowest Peachtree ever that July. And the week after the Peachtree, I ran a particularly miserable 5k as part of the Beltline racing series. And that was when I got fed up with my lack of progress.

After that Beltline race, I starting setting some real goals for myself, starting with my first double digit race mileage – an early fall 10 miler that was part of the ATC Grand Prix series. I put actual speed work on my training schedule, starting running more regularly with the Phidippides running group on Thursday nights, paid attention to my diet and how different foods affected my running, and started mixing in some strength training and yoga. In short, rather than burning out in the fall like I had the previous two years, I kicked things up a notch. And slowly but surely, I started seeing some improvements in my racing – I set a 10k PR that September and beat my goal time in the 10 miler by more than 10 minutes. So, encouraged by my success, I put some big goals on my calendar for 2013…

Racing in 2013 – Suddenly, I’m Speedy!

So that brings us to this year, which has been by far my best running season to date. I continued to build on my hard work and success in the fall and have been shredding my PRs left and right this year. Seriously: I’ve set NINE new PRs so far in 2013. NINE. I’ve set PRs at EVERY distance that I’ve raced this year: 2 miles, 5K (three times!), 4 miles, 8k, 10k, 15k, and half marathon! Granted, a few were because those distances were new for me (2 miles, 8k, 15k, half), but five of them were legitimate, “I’ve never run this fast”, PRs.

Not only have I suddenly become a speedy little mid-packer (because let’s be honest, I’m still not setting land speed records over here… ), but I’m also enjoying running more than ever. I’m getting to know more people in the running community here in Atlanta and look forward to seeing new friends at my races. I don’t feel like I’m stressed out on my runs even though I’m clocking much faster paces even on my training runs. Everything has really been clicking for me this year and I’m optimistic that it will continue this fall. I’ve scaled back on mileage over the last couple months as I’ve focused on building speed going into the Peachtree (always a “benchmark” race for me), but now I’m ready to build distance again as I start training for a fall half marathon and a pair of 10 milers. It should be a fun fall, provided I can stay injury-free!

(Which, well, maybe not. I rolled an ankle on my run last Thursday and then somewhat stubbornly raced an ATC 4 miler on it on Saturday morning because I wanted the Grand Prix finish. I’ve been hobbling around ever since. The pain comes and goes and seems to be the most pronounced when my ankle gets stiff or I try to move side to side. Hopefully, a few days of ice and rest and I’ll be as good as new. But you never know.)

Highlights from the first half of 2013

  • Running my first sub-30 minute 5K in January
  • Finishing my first half-marathon in March
  • Taking part in the Phidippides Boston Tribute Run in April and hearing the stories from our local runners who were there. It was a terrible thing that brought us together but a powerful and meaningful event to be a part of.
  • All those PRs. I mean, seriously.
  • KILLING it at the Peachtree after three straight years of progressively slower finish times

Lowlights from the first half of 2013

  • Losing my racing partner to injuries, twice – Mike had an achilles injury that kept him mostly sidelined through March and is currently dealing with a knee injury that is likely to keep him out through the first part of August.
  • Two DNSs – we bailed on the ATC Resolution Run on January 1st due to amazingly bad weather and then the ATC Women’s 5K was canceled right at race time due to lightening.
  • SO. MUCH. RAIN. I’m pretty sure we’ve only had three race days with blue skies. Craziness.
  • And now this ankle thing. Hopefully it will be short-lived.

Quick and Dirty Race Recaps

FYI: You can find all of my race times on my race results/schedule page here and all of my race pics here. I’m also going to writing some “Race Recap Flashbacks” in the next few days or so in order to properly cover the Publix Georgia Half Marathon back in March, the Atlanta Race for the Cure in May, and the Peachtree.

Race 1: Hot Chocolate 15k (1:36.36)

While I had been targeting this race since last fall, I wasn’t able to secure a number until just over a week before the race. As a result, I hadn’t really properly trained and tapered before this longer race. It turns out that it didn’t matter – the weather was unseasonably warm for January, I loved the course, and I finished quite a bit faster than I was expected. LOVED all that chocolate at the end too, even though the temps were pushing 70 degrees!

Race 2: Peachtree City 5K (29:09)

My first ATC Grand Prix race of the year and definitely one of my best. I was expecting much on this insanely cold morning, and out of nowhere, I FINALLY ran a sub-30 minute 5k. And not only did I run a sub-30 min 5k, I beat it by A LOT. Even though this was a low key, small race, I’m sure I’ll never forget it. This was a major, major milestone for me.

Race 3: Hearts and Soles 5K (29:11)

Second ATC Grand Prix and another wicked cold morning. Came super close to my PR from the previous race which was really encouraging – this race proved that my first sub-30 minute 5k wasn’t just a fluke!

Race 4: Publix Georgia Half Marathon (2:14.10)

I’m going to write a longer recap on this one soon, I PROMISE. But briefly: everything about this race went about as perfectly as I could have hoped for. The weather was great, I ran well throughout, I high-fived a ton of little kids, and I beat my A Time Goal (sub-2:20) in my first ever half-marathon. Add to that a smashing fundraising success and well, it was FABULOUS birthday for me!

Race 5: Northwestern Road to the Final 4 5k (28:47.19)

We had been planning to run the Color Run this weekend and then got shut out because I waited to long for us to register. It actually worked out for the best, though, because we got to run this 5k (which benefitted the American Cancer Society’s Coaches vs Cancer program) instead. As my 3-Day family had lost one of our own the day before, it just felt right to run a charity race like this in her honor. Bridget’s spirit carried me along and I was able to set my second 5k PR of the year.

Race 6: Spring has Sprung 8k (48:13)

After the half marathon in March, I had been hoping to run the 15k distance for this race, my third ATC Grand Prix. However, life intervened a bit and without any longer runs in the book since the half, I decided to scale back and stick with the 8k. Even then, I didn’t have high hopes, so I was pretty pleased with my final time.

Race 7: 420Fest 5K (28:32)

This was the first race in our self-styled “Festival” race series. All of the neighborhoods here in Atlanta have street festivals at various times during the year and most of them have some sort of road race as part of the festivities. We made it an unofficial goal to run as many of these festival races as we can this year. This was the first of those races and one I was particularly excited for. This course is very similar to the Atlanta Women’s 5k that was canceled back in March – a course I’ve PRd on twice before. Clearly, this is still my lucky course – I set my third 5k PR this year!

Race 8: The EIS 2 Mile Prediction Run (17:06)

Easily the least traditional race I’ll run this year (it was on a Tuesday night!). This tiny race was part of the CDC’s annual EIS Conference and started as an opportunity for the incoming and renewing EIS officers to get in their physical fitness requirements. For fun, this race was a prediction run, meaning the runner closest to their predicted time wins. Seeing that the course went partially off-road and forgetting I’m running faster this year, I predicted 19 minutes. Then I finished in just over 17 minutes. Whoops.

Race 9: Inman Park Festival Rocket Run 5k (29:39)

This was my 3rd race in eight days, plus I also participated in the Boston Solidarity Run and a charity walk for Lupus awareness in that same time span. So by the time we got to this race (the 2nd of our Festival Runs), I was EXHAUSTED. Plus, this neighborhood is particularly hilly. Mike and I took it fairly during this race. I didn’t PR but I was still able to stay sub-30 minutes. After all of that racing, I considered this a victory.

Race 10: Lauren’s Run 5k (28:55)

This was a charity race benefitting CURE Childhood Cancer. It was also REALLY rainy that morning. I logged my third sub-29 minute 5k of the year and happily headed home to warm up!

Race 11: Atlanta Race for the Cure

I didn’t actually run this race – I was the Safety Chair. I will be recapping my experiences soon though!

Race 12: Virginia-Highlands Summerfest 5k (29:45.9)

The third of our Festival Races. This course was CRAZY hard – hills after hills after hills. This was also our first really hot race of the year, which is actually really late for Atlanta. I was really frustrated by how poorly I ran in this race but felt much better after hearing that other runners struggled just as much. JUST squeaked in under 30 minutes for the seventh time this year.

Race 13: Braves Country Father’s Day 4 Miler (38:17)

After setting PRs at the 2 mile, 5k, and 8k distances this year, I REALLY wanted a 4 mile PR in this race. I also remembered loving this course last year – it ends behind home plate at Turner Field! – so I went into this race with high expectations. I also wanted redemption after my crummy Summerfest race. When I busted across that finish line and saw 38 minutes on the clock, I was STOKED.

Race 14: AJC Peachtree Road Race 10k (1:01:02)

I’m going to do a Race Recap Flashback on this race as well. After three years of progressively slower times in the Peachtree, I didn’t just set a Peachtree PR. I BLEW away my 10k PR, dropping over 4 minutes off my time. It was rainy and muddy and I loved every second of this giant party of a race!

Race 15: Dekalb-Decatur 4 Miler (38:34)

This was the race I ran this past weekend on a sore ankle. My race plan was to run as strongly as I could until my ankle couldn’t do any more and then walk the rest. As it turned out, my ankle held up for the full distance and I only missed my PR by 17 seconds, which was kind of shocking to me. However, my ankle really started to ache shortly after the race ended and it hasn’t been the same since. So while the race turned out great, it probably wasn’t my smartest move. Oh well.

So that’s the first half of 2013, in a nutshell. I had no idea I’d raced 14 times (plus the Race for the Cure and a Lupus walk) already this year until just now. That’s probably a few races more than is ideal but hey – I’ve been on a roll and I haven’t wanted to stop. Hopefully this ankle thing won’t lay me up for too long and I can get back out on the roads soon. Fall half marathon training starts soon!

With my brother-in-law Matt and Mike before the Peachtree!

Don’t forget to check back later this week for part 2 of my mid-year check in – my goals update!

 

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