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Running For More…

The personal blog and website of Kristen Cincotta

Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

DetermiNation

Saturday, October 26th, 2013

Sometimes, in both life and running, it is about reaching new highs and achieving personal bests. And sometimes, it’s just about putting one foot in front of the other and getting through the commitments we have made for ourselves. It is about the DetermiNation to see the thing through.

Ready!

Ready!

Tomorrow is the Atlanta Marathon 10 Miler. I am running it to raise money for the American Cancer Society through their DetermiNation mini-series program. I called my fundraiser the #Run4Results because I am inspired by the great results that the ACS has had in the fight against cancer to try to achieve the best results I can. As with all of my races, I am going to run it to the best of my ability in the moment. But that “best” will be far from my personal best.

In the last few miles of the AllState 13.1 Half Marathon earlier this month, I started to develop a twinge on the outside of my right knee. That twinge grew into a full blown IT band problem on my only other long run between then and now (a 9 miler two weeks ago). I haven’t been able to run more than 2.5 miles since then without it hurting immensely. Making matters worse, I learned on that rather awful 9 mile run that running through the knee pain caused me to alter my gait in a way that re-aggravated the left ankle injury that I never let properly heal in July. I spent over a week after that long run alternating between a seriously aching knee and a seriously aching ankle.

Since then, I have taken it VERY easy with my running. I have run only three times, and never more than three miles at a time, for a total of less than nine miles in two weeks. Even with that easy schedule, I’m still hurting. So tomorrow when I toe the starting line, I know that I will be running headlong into a painful situation. And I am going to do it anyways.

I am not required to run this race tomorrow. In fact, the smart thing to do would be to skip it altogether. But I made a promise to myself and to all of my supporters in my #Run4Results fundraiser that I would run this race and I want to live up to that promise.

In the last year, I have watched as some of my nearest and dearest have continued to fulfill their obligations while facing much more significant challenges than a sore knee and ankle. I have watched my mom face every new cancer treatment and every new setback with a resolute determination to just keep fighting. I watched my father-in-law face his own cancer diagnosis and treatments with a stoic steadfastness that is inspiring. I watched the running community come together and resolve to keep racing in the face of the Boston Marathon bombings. I watched my friend Julie struggle through an endless battle with plantar fasciitis to complete as many miles as possible during the Boston 3 Day this summer. And just this week, I have watched that same friend say good-bye to her mother after her sudden passing, something that shook all of us who know Julie and her mom Pat to our core. Watching Julie persevere in the face of a pain I can only imagine has been inspiring and has made my injuries seem downright trivial.

So, in honor of my loved ones, I will attempt to do as they have done. I will keep fighting. I will be steadfast in my determination. I will resolve to make it to the finish line. I will persevere and I will reach the finish line. This will not be my best run. In fact, it may very well be my worst. But without a doubt, it will be one of my most meaningful races.

If you would like to support me in my #Run4Results fundraising efforts, you can still make a donation to the American Cancer Society in my name at the link below. I am less than $100 shy of my goal of raising $1000. Please consider making a donation in whatever amount is right for you and helping me reach my goal. More importantly, your donation will help so very many others as they persevere through their personal fights with cancer to achieve their goals, something far more important than my race tomorrow.

ACS Determination Logo 2

Please click on the image above to visit my fundraising page and make your donation!

Monday Motivation

Monday, October 21st, 2013

“Anyone can dabble, but once you’ve made that commitment, your blood has that particular thing in it, and it’s very hard for people to stop you.”

~ Bill Cosby

Committed to my goal - running on the beach while on vacation in Cancun!

Committed to my goal – running on the beach while on vacation in Cancun!

Committed to each other! Congrats James and Yinyin!

Committed to each other! Congrats James and Yinyin!

Announcements!

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

Even though I am STILL furloughed from my job as a research Fellow at the CDC, my advocacy and fundraising work never stops. I finally sent out my #Run4Results fundraising letters and they have worked like gangbusters – I’m less than $170 away from reaching my goal with two and half weeks still to go before the Atlanta Marathon 10 Miler. I’ve also been easing back into training following the AllState 13.1 Half Marathon this past weekend. And I am starting to put some pieces in place for the future, including a few fun announcements!

1. I have started a team for the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Atlanta Walk!

The Making Strides walk is on October 26th (the day before the 10 Miler!) and will take place at Centennial Olympic Park. Because I am still working on my #Run4Results fundraiser, I won’t be actively fundraising for this walk (although you can donate here if you are so inclined). Instead, I want to encourage as many people as possible to join my team and walk with me. It is $25 to register (or $35 on race day), with all of the money going to fund ACS’s breast cancer initiatives. It’s also only a walk, and a relatively short one at that – no running involved. My team is currently named “3 Day Tweeps” although I may change it once I see who will be walking with me. Clicking on the icon below will bring you to my team page where you can find all of the information about the event and sign up!

ACS Making Strides Logo

Click on the image above to join my team!

2. I have a new role on the Komen Atlanta Race for the Cure planning committee!

Because I will almost definitely be out of town the weekend of the Komen Atlanta Race for the Cure (May 10th, 2014!), I won’t be able to serve as Safety Chair again this year. Instead, I will be taking on a MUCH bigger role that is entirely pre-race: I’m going to be serving as the Participant Recruitment/Teams Chair! After seeing the numbers that we had turn out for our race last year compared to what other (smaller) cities were turning out, the staff at Komen Atlanta (including the new Executive Director Cati Stone) and the members of the Race planning committee realized that we can and should be seeing much, much higher participation levels. One of the main things that I realized during my stint on the committee last year was that one area where we could do much better was in recruiting more participation from other runners here in Atlanta. I also feel like we need to do more outreach to both the Komen Atlanta grantee organizations and to the local participants in the Breast Cancer 3 Day. So I took some of my ideas to Cati (a fellow runner and 3 Day walker), who was already looking to shake things up around our Race for next year. It turns out that she was already thinking of many of the same types of activities that I was to try to drive up our registration levels, both for teams and for individuals. So starting later this winter, and big time next spring, I will be hustling my butt all over Atlanta to get as many people as possible to take part in our Race. I am a little intimidated to actually find myself in a position to put my money where my mouth is (so to speak… ), but I’m even more excited about it. Our Race has been good in the past. This year, we’re going to make it GREAT.

Komen Atlanta Logo

 

3. I am going to be one of the inaugural Ambassadors for the Atlanta Track Club!

In a stroke of fortuitous timing, after I got home from meeting with Cati at the Komen Atlanta offices earlier this week, I found a wonderful email sitting in my inbox inviting me (and about 40 other people) to be part of the Atlanta Track Club‘s inaugural Ambassadors program. With as much volunteering and yammering on about them as I do, this position is a natural fit for me. I’ll be receiving some communications training and promotional materials to distribute and will be representing the ATC at approximately 4-6 race expos, health fairs, group runs, and similar events over the course of next year (the program will be starting in January). Seeings as I was already looking to do more outreach to the running community in Atlanta through my new Komen Atlanta Race for the Cure position, this Ambassador program is an AWESOME opportunity. I’ll be building connections through my ATC work that I can then use in my Komen Atlanta work – all the while promoting TWO fabulous organizations that I feel passionately about. WIN-WIN!

ATC New Logo

 

So that’s some of what I’ve been working on during my work furlough. As I’m sure you can tell, I’m downright GIDDY over these opportunities. But, before I can really dive into Race recruiting and promoting ATC, I need to keep my eyes on my first priority – meeting my #Run4Results fundraising goals and preparing for the Atlanta Marathon 10-Miler. Coming up in the next few days will be a three part series of posts on my final preparations for the AllState 13.1 Half Marathon and my race recap as well as a few posts about the great work of the American Cancer Society. I’ll also be posting some information about the upcoming Atlanta 3 Day for those that will be here in town and maybe even a hint about MY 3 Day plans for next year. For now though, if you would like to support me in my #Run4Results fundraiser, you can do so by clicking on the DetermiNation image below. Thanks for all your support!!

ACS Determination Logo 2

Please click on the image above to visit my fundraising page and make your donation!

 

Monday Motivation

Monday, October 7th, 2013

“Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all, confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.”

~ Marie Curie

13.1 Finishers Picture

 

Yesterday, perseverance carried me to the finish line of my second half marathon. Today, and in the days and weeks ahead, it will carry me to the successful completion of my #Run4Results fundraiser for the American Cancer Society!

Some Pre-Race Thoughts and a Change in Fundraising Plans

Saturday, October 5th, 2013

13.1 packet pick up

Ready to complete my #ATLChallenge at the 13.1 Half Marathon!

The AllState 13.1 Atlanta Half Marathon is tomorrow morning. Almost twelve hours from now exactly. I’m ready for this race. I’ve been training hard for this race since July and my hard work has already been paying off. I beat my previous 10 mile PR by eight minutes two weeks ago and I notched my first sub-28 minute 5K last weekend (besting my PR from April by a whopping 35 seconds). Other than an unfortunate bee sting (and subsequent allergic reaction) on one of my last runs earlier this week, I am physically ready.

I took advantage of my current furlough status and headed to packet pick-up early yesterday. Mike and I swung by Dick’s and Big Peach earlier today to pick up some last minute things that we needed for the race. We have plotted out our game plan for getting to the race start on time tomorrow morning and I’ve studied the course map to plan my fueling strategy. I am ready.

But yet, I feel completely, totally NOT ready. The sole reason that I feel not ready for this race tomorrow morning is because I haven’t done one big thing that I promised myself and all of you that I would do: I haven’t met my #Run4Results fundraising goal for the American Cancer Society. I don’t just mean that I haven’t hit my $1000 goal. I mean, I haven’t done all of the things I laid out in this post to give my fundraiser the best chance of success. A big part of that was unavoidable – I was without a functional computer for 10 days and I’m still fighting with properly re-establishing our WiFi network here at home. Fighting with all of that has left me without the time or energy to sit down and write my fundraising letters. So they haven’t gotten done. I’ve also been trying to take advantage of my unplanned “vacation” from work and take care of a bunch of tasks and errands that have been lagging for awhile now. As a result, I haven’t really re-started my fundraising efforts and my fundraising totals have remained stagnant for weeks. Just thinking about it is bringing me down and putting a damper on my enthusiasm for the race tomorrow morning.

I have enough experience as a runner now to know that carrying this heavy mental load with me for 13.1 miles will only make my performance suffer. So tonight, I’m choosing to let it go. Not forever, but for the next 24 hours. For the next 24 hours, I’m going to focus on running my best half-marathon and cheering on Mike as he finishes his first half. I’m going to celebrate our (hopefully) successful finishes and let myself relax and recover post-race. I am ready for this race and I am going to give it everything I have.

And then, starting on Monday morning (if I’m still furloughed) or Monday night (if I’m not), I will resume my fundraising efforts. I chose to make the 13.1 Half Marathon my “goal race” for my #Run4Results fundraiser, which means that I can choose a different race if I want to as well. So I am doing just that. I will be running the Atlanta Marathon 10 Miler on October 27th. And I will toe that starting line knowing that I have given my best effort to reaching my fundraising goals on behalf of American Cancer Society. I would LOVE to run that race in an ACS DetermiNation race bib that I earned through my fundraising efforts. But more importantly, I want to run that race knowing that with the help of my friends and family, I have done everything that I can to help the fight against cancer in my own small way.

My fundraising will resume in earnest on Monday and will continue for three weeks. For tonight, I will simply remind you that you can make a donation in support of my efforts by clicking the image at the bottom of this post. And then, I will settle in for a carb-tastic dinner and an early bedtime. I’ve got a half marathon to run in the morning, after all.

 

ACS Determination Logo 2

Please click on the image above to visit my fundraising page and make your donation!

I’m Back!

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

Hi everyone!

First and foremost – MASSIVE apologies for going dark for the last week and a half. After the Atlanta Track Club Singleton 10 Miler race, I came home all set to spend the rest of the day doing two things: taking a nap and writing fundraising letters for my #Run4Results fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. Unfortunately, while I was napping, the battery in my computer ran completely down. And despite all of my best efforts, I couldn’t wake it up again. It was totally, completely dead. It turns out that on top of a number of small tics that my computer had developed over the years (I couldn’t drag and drop or right click, my battery was warped… ), my logic board was FRIED. Without a logic board, there was no using my computer. So, after three trips to the Apple Store, off my computer went to get new logic board and overall internal clean up. After a stressful week and a half, I finally got my baby back today, just about good as new!

Unfortunately, with my computer in the shop, I didn’t have many options for blogging or doing much on the internet besides monitoring my social media feeds on my phone. The only other computer in our house is my husband’s work laptop and understandably, he wasn’t comfortable with me using that machine beyond what was absolutely necessary. So I was relegated to doing all of my “computing” via iPhone – NOT ideal. It was very limiting and unfortunately, really put a cramp in my ability to run my fundraiser the way I had planned to.

Thankfully, all of that is now behind me. Given that I am currently furloughed from my job due to the government shut down, it looks like I’m going to be able to spend some time this week getting “caught up”. First priority, of course, is sending out those fundraising letters. I’m also going to write up my training from the past two weeks (which has been going pretty well!) as well as an overall September running recap. Time permitting, I will also be writing one large post on ACS and why I chose them for my fundraiser. I had intended to make those posts a series, but I think with my condensed timeline before the AllState 13.1 Half Marathon this coming Sunday, one post will have to suffice. Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t write something for Breast Cancer Awareness Month which officially kicks off today. So look for that too.

I think that covers everything from my end. Again, apologies for disappearing into the internet ether and probably more importantly, extra emphatic apologies to anyone who had to endure my broken computer-related crankiness over the last couple of weeks. All in the past now!

Thanks for sticking with me!

ACS Determination Logo 2

Please click on the image above to visit my fundraising page and make your donation!

Half Marathon Training – Week 6

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

This is part of my weekly series tracking my training for the AllState 13.1 Half Marathon. To read the rest of my training posts, please click here.

I’ve officially reached the halfway point of this training cycle – Week 6 is done!

Week 6 was not an easy week for me. Most of my runs were what I call “just get it done” runs. My heart wasn’t really in it and I didn’t necessarily enjoy my runs this week. Physically, I was fine, save for what are turning into chronically achy ankles. But mentally, I was a mess, for two separate reasons.

Selfie with Mike before the Run for the Park 5k!

Selfie with Mike before the Run for the Park 5k!

First, I have been stressed out and cranky for over a week and it didn’t really click with me until Wednesday night after yoga why (all that deep breathing DOES clear the mind!). What I finally figured out while I was laying in Shavasana at the end of class was that I’m currently feeling very frustrated with my lack of ability to control my own time and to use it the way that I want to.  I’m enjoying a relatively quiet stretch at work after completing two enormous tasks that have been consuming me for the last six months. In my past life as a graduate student, slow time at work always meant that I had more free time to do the things I want to do outside of work – run, blog, fundraise, etc. I would bang out my work in lab and then head home. But now with this whole “real” job thing, I don’t have that freedom anymore. I’m at my desk for eight hours every day, whether I have eight hours of things that need to be done that day or not. It’s a whole new thing for me to adjust to. I’m honestly surprised this hasn’t been a frustration for me before this, but like I said, I’ve been REALLY busy at work almost since I started. I’m still not over the stress of not being able to use every hour in my day the way I would prefer to use it, but at least I can recognize that that’s the reason I feel tense and try to let it go. Oooooooohhhhhmmmmmm.

Second, I did something this weekend that I almost never let myself do – I compared myself to other runners. And of course, I immediately became discouraged. The truth is I’m not a strong runner. I don’t have the right body type for it, I have weak hips, and I’ve never been an endurance athlete. My sports growing up were gymnastics and softball, coupled with decades of dance classes. Strength, muscle control, agility, and quickness were and are my bread and butter. But endurance? Never my thing. Running isn’t a thing that will ever be easy for me.  But I LOVE my self image when I think of myself as a runner. I love taking part in races and I love seeing that even though I’m not great at running, I AM getting better. I just have to work extra hard for it. So, as I followed the #NuunHTC ladies as they tackled the Hood 2 Coast 200-mile relay, I couldn’t help but want to be them one day. And when I realized that my average paces are almost two minutes per mile slower than all of them, I was a little heartbroken. I had a decent little 5k race on Saturday morning (with PERFECT negative splits to boot) and yet all I could think was how hard I had to work just to run a 29:41. I lost sight of my own successes this year (Lots of PRs! Lots of sub-30 min 5ks!) because I was too focused on what other people were accomplishing. So I was in a mental funk for a good part of this past week from that too.

So that was what I was thinking about as trained this week. I was stressed and down on myself and questioning if it was even worth to get up before dawn to get in my runs before work. Truthfully, I brought a little bit of that with me into this new week that started yesterday. And then I read this fabulous post from Jes at rUnladylike.com who just took part in the Hood to Coast relay and I was forcefully reminded that even though I may not finish my miles as quickly as others, my miles are the same as everyone else’s miles. My ten mile long run this past week was still TEN MILES. I also bring something else unique to my running that many others don’t – a cause that I care about., deeply. So going forward this week, not only am I re-embracing my training for the Allstate 13.1 Atlanta Half, I’m going to focus on the truly valuable parts of running that make me happy. That includes FINALLY kicking off my American Cancer Society fundraiser. I signed up for the DetermiNation mini-team yesterday and as soon as I have my fundraising page set up, I’ll post the link here. My commitment to this fundraiser is going to be the motivation that propels me through the second half of this training cycle and all the way to the starting line in October!

Oh right, I’m supposed to be telling you about the actual miles that I ran and all of that. Let’s do this relatively quickly, since that I was a pretty lengthy “intro”!

Monday

Rest day!

Tuesday

4.57 miles before work + lower body weights after work

Same recorded mileage as last Tuesday, but not because I’m a consistency machine. The rain and drizzle from the previous weekend was still sticking around and I didn’t want to ruin my new phone so this is the mapped mileage of my 4.5 mile route. Also, I know it helps, but I hate the jelly legs feeling the day after lower body strength day.

Wednesday

3.96 miles before work

This was supposed to be a 40 minute tempo, which is usually about 4 miles for me. However, it was STILL rainy in the morning, so I couldn’t take my phone. Without my RunKeeper app, I didn’t have any way to track my pace, so I didn’t really worry about giving it that extra effort that a true tempo demands. I was also SUPER grumpy during this run in particular and somehow felt worse post-run than I did before it started. In fact, I felt so grouchy that I decided to wear one of my Sparkly Soul headbands to work in an attempt to cheer myself up. It only partly worked.

I also went to Core Fusion yoga at Atlantic Station after work, which was where I had my “revelation” that I mentioned above. Unrelated yoga thing: during said Shavasana, the instructor gave me a posture correction. I didn’t think that was a posture you could actually do wrong, but I apparently it is.

[For the non-yogis, Shavasana is the last pose of every yoga class where you just lay quietly on your mat. It is VERY relaxing.]

Thursday

5.03 miles before work

Five miles is A LOT for me to get in before work. This was the peak of my “is this really worth it???” mental funk. At least I still finished my planned miles!

Friday

Much needed rest!

Saturday

Raced in the Adams Realty Run for the Park 5k, the race associated with the Grant Park Summer Shade Festival

This was a last minute addition to our “festival race series”. Grant Park is one of our favorite parks in Atlanta and we ultimately decided that we just couldn’t skip this one, especially since it benefitted the park conservancy. Plus, we got tickets for free beers for finishing. Can’t argue with that!

As for the race itself, it went well. As I said, I finished in 29:41, which is a little slower than I’d like but a great improvement from the ATC Jog Days 5k two weeks ago. I started this race on the slow side and I’m not really sure why. I kept pushing through though and was able to log progressively faster miles. As I mentioned above, I ended up with perfect negative splits, something I don’t do often:

Mile 1: 9:47

Mile 2: 9:27

Mile 3: 9:08

Mile 0.1: 8:44

I need to remember how to do that for future races!

Sunday

9.93 miles with Mike

Sunday Long Run Day! I felt great through the first six miles or so and then my leg muscles started to reflect my mental state – they felt heavy. But I trudged on and, with some excellent motivating from Mike, was able to finish all ten miles.

So that was my week. It wasn’t easy, but I got through it. Thankfully, I have vacation days I have to use by the end of September so I have some free days coming up this week. In fact, I don’t have to work another five day week for the next FOUR weeks. Hopefully I’ll be able to use that time to catch up on some things outside of the office and get back on top of my game, both mentally and physically. Plus, I’ve got that new fundraiser to focus on starting this week. Things are looking up again!

Total Planned Miles: 26.5

Total Completed Miles: 26.59 

Total Cross Training workouts: 2/3 – never got around to my second strength workout. Planning to make it up this week though! 

 

Monday Motivation

Monday, August 5th, 2013

“Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.”

~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Happy Anniversary to my wonderful husband Mike!

Thanks for helping me chase my dreams for all of these years!

 

2013 Mid-Year Check In Part 2: Goals Update

Saturday, July 20th, 2013

While you’re here, please click over and read the first part of my mid-year update on my running!

Back at the beginning of the year, I set a number of goals for myself for my running, my fundraising, and breast cancer advocacy in general. Then I finally got around to blogging about those goals at the beginning of March. Today, in the interest of public accountability, I’m going to write a bit about my progress (or lack thereof) on each of my goals.

Celebrating after completing my first half marathon in March!

Running Goals

  • Sub-30 minutes 5K – DONE. Seven times. Because I’m an overachiever, apparently.
  • 10K PR – DONE. After three years of progressively slower Peachtrees and one promising 10k last fall, I shattered my 10k PR at this year’s Peachtree, dropping my 10k PR from a 1:05:29 to a 1:01:02!
  • Complete two half-marathons – Halfway there! I ran the Publix Georgia Half Marathon on March 17th, a race that is still on my agenda to recap. I’m also still planning to run the AllState 13.1 Half Marathon in October.
  • Complete eight SEVEN Atlanta Track Club Grand Prix races – To date, I’ve finished four ATC Grand Prixes: the Peachtree City 5k in January, the Hearts and Soles 5k in February, the Spring has Sprung 8k in April, and the Dekalb-Decatur 4 Miler in July. I also had every intention of running the Women’s 5k in March that was called off due to lightening at start time. Because the ATC had to cancel that race, the magic number for “completing” the series is now seven races, which means I need to finish three more. Right now, it’s looking like that will be two 5ks in August and the Singleton 10 Miler in September.
  • Volunteer ten times for the Atlanta Track Club – Back in March, I was able to volunteer for the ATC four times in the span of about three weeks. However, due to my work schedule, I haven’t been able to fit in any volunteer opportunities since then. I was hoping to pick up a few more during the Peachtree Expo, but alas, all of the Expo volunteer ops that weren’t during my work hours were taken before I was able to sign up. With two big race expos in the fall (for the Atlanta Marathon and the Thanksgiving Half Marathon), I SHOULD still be able to complete this goal. I just need to be more proactive about signing up early before the shifts I can work get filled by others!
  • Total annual mileage of > 750 miles – I’m doing GREAT with this goal so far. As of July 13th, I was at 420 miles – 56% of the way to 750 miles. Provided my ankle doesn’t act up (it’s feeling much better after a week of rest!), half marathon training starts again tomorrow. 750 miles is easily within reach!

Fundraising Goals

  • Publix GA Half Marathon: Raise at least $1000 for the Upstate Medical University Capital Campaign by March 31st. – DONE. Thanks to the generosity of my friends and family, I actually raised over $1500 during this fundraiser. Details coming in my race recap later this week!
  • Race for the Cure: Raise at least $500 for Komen Atlanta between April 1st and May 31st. – FAIL. I didn’t actually do any fundraising for the Race for the Cure. I wish that I had. I was VERY busy in April and just never made the time. However, I had a great experience as Safety Chair, which I’ll ALSO be recapping later this week, time permitting.
  • Peachtree Road Race: Raise at least $1000 for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation between June 1st and July 31st. – This fundraiser is technically still ongoing, so I can’t say that I missed my goal yet. However, I’ve only raised $155 thus far and I’ve pretty much stopped promoting this fundraiser. If you would still like to donate (which I would greatly appreciate), you can do so here. Otherwise, stay tuned for a “lessons learned” post in early August about why this fundraiser fell apart and what I’m going to do differently the next time around.
  • AllState 13.1 Half Marathon: Raise at least $1000 for the American Cancer Society between September 1st and October 31st. – I’m still planning to do this fundraiser and have high hopes about reaching my goal. In fact, I’m actually hoping to reach at least $1500 to make up for dropping the ball on my BCRF fundraiser.

Advocacy Goals

  • Weekly fundraising updates and monthly training updates here on my blog – Obviously, this hasn’t happened. But hey! Two posts in one week this week. Hopefully, this will be the start of some more regular updates. Regular blogging will also probably help with some of my fundraising goals as well!
  • At least two blog posts per month not related to my races or fundraising to continue to spread the word about the need for more cancer research funding and how everyone can get involved. – Again, this hasn’t happened. See above.
  • Volunteer with Komen Atlanta or other local cancer not-for-profits at least six times this year (beyond my Race for the Cure and Community Grants commitments). – In all honesty, I kind of forgot I set this goal for myself. So far, I’ve only been able to volunteer with Komen Atlanta once outside of my Race for the Cure and Community Grants committee work. However, there are a lot of “cancer awareness” observances and events in September and October, so you can expect to hear about some more volunteer work then.

So that wraps up where I’m at with my goals for 2013 – still plugging away and relentlessly optimistic, as always!

How are you doing with your goals for 2013? Do you have any tips for successfully sticking with your goals?

2013 Mid-Year Check In Part 1: Racing Recap

Monday, July 15th, 2013

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!