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Chasing a 5k PR

I have chased the same goal for 14 years. If this goal was a person, she would be a high school freshman. I was high school freshman when I set this goal.

This goal isn’t lofty, I’m not trying to defeat a dark wizard or destroy a planet killer. The goal I have been literally chasing has been a sub 20 minute 5k. I would be overjoyed with a 19:59.

In high school, sub 20 was what the fast girls ran. In my head, that is the time you had to have to run in college. It was a goal that seemed a bit unattainable, at first I was just trying to finish a 5k. Shorter distance races came easier to me. I fell in love with the 800 meters in track and as much as I enjoyed cross country, I looked forward to track. There I could be speedy and show-off my finishing kick. I focused on it and I don’t regret it. I finished my high school career with a 5k pr somewhere in the low 22s to high 21s (is it bad that my memory can’t recall that PR?) running 25-35 miles a week. My 800 meter PR was lowered in my final race in high school but it was still a long shot to run in college.

I was a walk-on to my college cross country and track team. I remember sitting in my college coach’s office with my mother making a hard sell about myself and leaving with the relief that I had made the team. My mileage was upped, long runs were taken seriously, we raced nearly every weekend and my 5k times dropped. I bounced around distances racing everything from the 4x400m to the 3k steeplechase.  I left college with a PR in a cross country 5k of a low 21 to high 20 (I just googled and the best I can tell is some between 20:45 to a 21:09). I never raced a 5k on the track.

I had a bit of an unusual senior year of college, I landed an internship with Runner’s World my last semester and did not race my senior track season. Runner’s World was a running geeks paradise. I worked on running articles, ran with my bosses every day during lunch (they were quick, I believe they were all training for Boston) and eating healthy organic meals from the Rodale cafeteria. I upped my long run mileage and raced quite a bit. I was alone in a small Stars Hollow type of town, so Saturday mornings I would go race locally. It was during this time, I ran a 20:20 5k during a four-mile race.  It was during this race, I achieved my PR. That was six years ago.

I didn’t stop racing (you can read about some of that here) but I’ve not trained specifically for a 5k. After turning 29 this summer, I decided I needed to truly attempt breaking that old PR. I signed up with an online coach (ekiden) and most recently raced a 30:36 for 4 miles at a local turkey trot. My next race will be at the end of January and the goal is 7 minute pace.

Until next time,

Cara

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The Summer of Fun Run Comes to a Close

“The difference between a jogger and a runner is an entry blank.”

George A. Sheehan

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It is hard to believe that it has been six years since I have graduated college and even harder to believe that it has taken me just as long to figure out what it means to be a post-collegiate runner. Running is my exercise of choice and so much more. As I struggled to keep a consistent training schedule and set realistic goals, I was liking it less and less. I didn’t look forward to racing because I was just going to be let down.

This summer, I decided I was just going to race, not worry about times and just enjoy being out there with a group of people striving. It helped to have great running friends who recruited to these numerous races. Quite frankly, I ran so many fun ones that if I was thinking with a time goal, I might not have ever run. The list includes: a glow in the dark 10k, the PAW-louse 5k ( I borrowed a dog), a duathlon (pro tip: don’t use a bike you have never ridden) and a few low-key races that made me just feel better about myself including a mile time trial and a 10k.

But by far the craziest race I did this summer was this past weekend’s Ragnar Trail Tetons race. 15 miles, 3 legs and lots of elevation gain was in store for each participant. My team was awesome, mostly strangers that all knew the team captain but not really anyone else. Our team captain kicked major booty organizing and being the supreme queen of all e-mails. I barely had to lift a finger to be involved. Travel started Wednesday night when four of us left Moscow to get to Tetons and likely the most dramatic event was a bear ran away from us while we were driving. We camped and finished up the rest of the travel on Thursday. I could spend many sentences on the beauty and the varied terrain the trip took us through but I’m not a poet. We arrived Thursday night, signed in and got prepared for our 8:40 a.m. start.

Our team due to injury and other circumstances was widdled down to five runners, we knew we would not get an official time but we believe it worked out better in the end for us. We were able to finish a bit earlier and there wasn’t so much waiting. My first leg took me 5 miles across a ridge with two climbs and since I did it in daylight, the views really struck me. I kept it below 12-minute pace and was able not to get too light headed with the elevation. I spent the rest of the morning watching our legs come and go and getting all the recon I could. I was able to roll really well on my 3-mile leg, keeping it around 10-minute pace,  with the slowest mile being the first (the climb was killer). I was off to sleep and wait for the crazy 7-mile leg. The 7-mile leg was to the top of the ski lift with around 2,000 ft of elevation gain and the downhill on the “sticks and stones” trail was very technical plus well, there could be bears.

After dinner and a nap, I dressed in my multiple layers (temperatures had dropped into the upper 30s) and put on my pack with my bear bell to wait to start my leg. With sequins, glowsticks and sparkly tights, I started my last leg at 9:30. It was dark and if our first runner hadn’t given me a small flashlight to use on top of having my headlamp, I would not have been in a good spot. I started the power hike to the top, I maintained sub 20-minute miles as I followed the headlamps to the top of the 3.5-mile climb and was thankful to reach the top. As I made my way down, I could hear a flurry of f-bombs from numerous places and just tried to watch my feet. I was able to run with a few other runners but by the time I reached my last mile, I was alone and the thoughts of bears filled my head. I started to sing songs from Alexander Hamilton to just fill the air. Luckily, my bear spray was never used. I finished the run in about 16:11 pace. My team finished at about 4 a.m. The exhaustion, happiness and pride that overcame us was hard to express being wrapped in blankets but we had a great time. Will we do it again? Likely, but we might have to forget a bit first.

During this summer, I hit a milestone in age- I turned 29. I have decided to make one last go at my 5k PR. This week, I’m sitting down to write out a plan but be sure to follow me here and on Twitter (@carabyrd) to see how it goes.

Cara

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What is in your post run survival kit?

After 15 years of running, I have learned quite few facts about my running habits. The first, I’m not a morning runner unless I’m doing two a days or the heat is unbearable.  Secondly, I will succumb to work fatigue. The solution was right in front of me, run at lunch.

But I had one big concern: without a shower at work, I don’t want to smell.

After searching Amazon and the web, I came up with my post run survival kit that will keep me fresh and clean.

So what is in this magical kit? Let me tell you:

  • Action Wipes:  These are almost as good as a shower. One wipe can clean all 5’1 of me. They are so good, I sometimes forget I haven’t taken a shower.
  • Not your Mother’s dry shampoo:  A good dry shampoo can go a long way in restyling your hair and drying up any sweat.
  • Deodorant: I have so many tiny deodorants from multiple race packets.
  • Back-up make-up: You know you have, the eyeliner that isn’t your favorite color or the blush that just has bit more left. Throw it in a bag in case you need touch-up. Or go bare face, you are who you are with or without mascara.
  • Hair supplies: I bring bobbie pins, hair ties and sometimes a headband. A messy bun can look chic and a power pony can always work.

This kit has saved me in other situations too including sudden downpours. I have also found that after a lunch time run, I’m more productive and a bit more focused.

So tell me, what else would you put in your post run survival kit?

Cara
@carabyrd

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Race Report: Palouse 100k Relay + Glow Run

 

I always was the first kid to jump a fence, do a rope course or generally enter the unknown. This character trait led me to volunteering to do perhaps the hardest run of my life. I volunteered to run leg six of the Palouse 100k relay.  Let me just give you a visual.

That is an elevation gain of around 1700 ft.

But before I get much further, let me give you a quick synopsis of the Palouse 100k Relay. The Relay is 10 legs starting and ending in Pullman, WA. For the past two years, I have been part of the Beer Chasers 1 team and our primary goals are to have fun, drink and beat team two. Last year, we ended up being second overall in the mixed category (at least four women). We start at 7:30 a.m. and typically get done around eight hours and some change later. This year, we had a few new legs but we were just as ready to have fun and run. My running partner, Alexiss, and I had scouted our legs (six and seven) the week before. I averaged around 11 minute miles.  I knew it was going to be rough but not quite as rough as it turned out to be.

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We had distanced ourselves from the rest of the teams that had started at 7: 30 a.m. (there was a second heat that was for the faster teams, we had been originally placed in this heat but had begged to be move to be in the same heat as beer chasers 2). My teammates were killing it, looking strong and surviving the warm day. By the time my leg started, it was us and one other team. For the first two miles,  I felt great maintaining a sub ten pace but quickly I began to unravel and became a game of run until you see the next truck.  By the time I hit the fourth mile of my six miles I would run that day, the other team was long gone. My mind was just focused on finishing and not frying. My average mile pace had dropped between 12 and 13 minute miles.

This isn’t some great story about how I dropped some fast miles and came back to catch the other team. Instead, I toughed it out, put one foot in front of the other and finished. It wasn’t easy and I’m not exactly happy with but I did it. I quickly negotiated to run another leg next year. I handed off the rubber chicken and Alexiss kicked some major butt and made up ground. We slowly ate into the time of the first place team but sadly finished seven minutes behind. Two teams from the second heat also finished in front (one less than a minute) but it was all good in the end. We won most spirited and had plenty of laughs along the way. It was a great way to kick off the summer racing season.

WP_20160430_20_37_00_ProIn fact, this past weekend I ran a 52:24 for a 10k and felt great.  It was fundraiser and not officially timed but we got free beer and a glow in the dark shirt. I ran pretty consistently and felt like I could have pushed a little harder at the end. My fastest mile was 8:03 and slowest was 8:53 but that mile had a pretty good hill in the middle.  Next up in a duathlon in June (two mile run- 10 mile ride- two mile run) which will be a first for me.

-Cara Hawkins -Jedlicka
@carabyrd

 

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Have you given up?

Cultural norms define that the start of year is the perfect time to start on new goals. It is the reason that gyms advertise and cut prices at the start of the year. It is why suddenly, you can’t seem to find a treadmill or a bench to work-out on. Now, that we are in the middle of January, the gyms have emptied and the trails are clear. Many have given up on their resolutions.

But why?

Maybe I can answer this question. I never made a formal list of resolutions but in my mind, I had a few that I wanted to accomplish and I already have broken in the first few weeks of the new year:

Less Sugar– I am a sugar addict, I can’t just eat one cookie or one piece of candy. Within a week of coming back from vacation to work, I had already broken down and had basically eaten all the sugar within sight.

Less Caffeine- I have reached the point where I need 2 cups of coffee in the morning to get going-one at home and one at work-typically before 9 a.m.  My plan was to cut down to one a day but again halfway through the work week-I needed the caffeine crutch.

Less Beer- My plan was to only drink at beer chasers (a drinking group with a running problem) but I drink socially ( a six pack of beer will sit in my fridge for a good 3 months without being touched) and thus when I have 3-4 social events in a week I got way off track.

Weight work 3x a week- Mostly, this one I just never started.

give up

Now, I could just give up completely on these goals or I can rally. The issue I have with New year’s resolutions is that they set the arbitrary date to start a new goal and if you haven’t made progress towards within the first month-well it feels like you failed. Earlier this week, I was listening to a podcast and they made a good point-you don’t have to wait until the new year to start a new goal. I’m taking it one step further, you can restart on your goals everyday. Just because you fail one day, doesn’t mean you need to give up.

So why do people give up so quickly? I would suggest it is cultural norms equating one misstep as failure.

I’m going to restart my goals and rally.

Cara

@carabyrd 

 

 

 

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A short ode to hill repeats

hill

Hill repeats are speedwork in disguise
Driving knees and long strides
Make for quick feet and strong thighs
Over pavement the runner glides
Taking on harder climbs

I have always felt like summer and hill repeats pair perfectly together. I am sure this stems from training for cross country for eight summers and hill repeats are the perfect way to slowly edge into speedwork. Running hills will develop the leg muscles – particularly the quadriceps, hamstrings and calf muscles – which ultimately get your body ready for the intensity of speedwork. My fondest memory of this work-out was my high school coach having to load us up on a bus and drive 15-2o minutes out to find a hill. One of our favorites was Cowman’s which is a hill in a middle of cow pasture on the outskirts of my hometown. It was a sharp climb that made your calf muscles burn but we knew that we would never see a climb like that in a race.

Even in the flattest areas, you can find a hill. Another favorite hill repeat place of my high school coach was an underside of an overpass. Into college, I would do hill repeats in the summer on that overpass blaring Red Hot Chili Peppers the whole way.

Most recently, I had an urge to find a hill and climb. I relied on an old favorite 10x 30 seconds hill repeats with a jog down. I was able to go a bit further each time and afterwards, I knew I deserved my beer.

Where is your favorite hill? Do you incorporate hill work into your training plan?

Cara
@carabyrd

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Gym Life

untitledI have to admit, I am really enjoying going to the gym. It took me awhile to get into a rhythm while there but now I really look forward to the burn I feel after. I am still looking for new workouts and new ways to change it up but the pattern stays the same. I do whatever focus I want then after I run. For example, I’ll do a lot of core workouts then run for a few miles. Leg day and run 1 mile, arms and run. Hence the pattern.

At first I wanted to do nothing but core workouts because I love it so much. Then I wanted to do core even on other days too. Now I realize I just can’t do that to myself and I need to give my body that rest. When I first started to switch it up I really felt a difference the next day. I was really surprised at how sore my muscles were from using them a different way. It made me really excited to know that it would improve my running. Just the other day while working my arms I received the best compliment. Someone tapped me on the shoulder and asked what workout I had just done and what body part it worked. I was so flattered that someone was asking me for workout tips. I must be doing something right. I know I’m no expert but it was still nice to be noticed.

On a side note, possibly relating to pushing myself into a rhythm. I ran a 5K a few weeks ago and it was absolutely freezing. It was a night race that involved glow sticks and a very windy course. When I got there I thought to myself ‘What the heck was I thinking?’ But once I started running I was surprised at how my body was adjusting to the temperature and the wind. My time was a little slower but nothing that wouldn’t be normal in those conditions. I was actually very happy with my results considering the conditions. I cant wait until the weather warms up and I can really see how the hard work in the gym will pay off on the outdoor trail.

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My favorite podcasts to run to besides Serial

brevardPodcasts seem to be all the rage since Serial went viral ( if you haven’t listened to Serial, it a podcast that is an investigation into the 1999 Murder of Hae Min Lee in Baltimore and is worth a listen). I discovered in college that podcasts are perfect for lonesome runs especially long ones. Often times, you can find me listening to a few at work. So here is my list of my favorite podcasts.

This American Life– This is the quintessential podcast and I would be surprised if you haven’t heard it once. For an hour, Ira Glass and his crew explore a theme typically in three to four acts. It’s mostly true stories of everyday people, though not always.  I adore this podcast so much that I went and saw Ira live. You should also check out Fred Armisen’s impression here.

SModcast-This podcast is the opposite of This American Life. A stoned Kevin Smith, known for Clerks, Dogma, Mallrats and Tusk, joins his friend Scott Mosier and the two meander around in a hilarious conversation for an hour plus. This is the podcast for super long runs. I can’t even describe how funny this podcast is except maybe to say that I have stopped a time or two because I was laughing so hard.

UnFictional– This is a new one for me and has been perfect for my 30 minute runs. Each episode approaches a subject much like a documentary. The subjects range from man haunted by Montgomery Clift until he writes a script to a man who as an 11 year old survived a plane crash that killed three others.

Freaknomics Radio – Based on a book of the same name, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner explore various problems from economic stand point.

The Moth Radio Hour– When I was in middle school, my English class did a storytelling unit where we had to memorize a story and retell it to elementary school students. This podcast is also all about storytelling. The Moth travels across the country, holds storytelling events and records stories. These stories are much better than anything I ever told.

Sword and Scale– Do you love Law and Order or any show ID? Then you will like this podcast. Sword and Scale is a true crime podcast that will have you sprinting to get home.

Radiolab– This podcast is another you can find on NPR (along with This American Life). Radiolab is a show about curiosity. Where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience. My favorite one is this one about distance running.

-Cara
@Carabyrd

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Baby, its cold outside

Happy 2015! If you are like me, you are likely still asleep (you have to love a good scheduling tool). Typically, blog posts around this time do one of two things; talk about goals or reflect about the previous year but I’m not going to either of those. I have already written a blog about goals and this past year was a bit of a mix bagged.
Instead, let us talk a little bit of subject that has been hitting me hard this week that is running in the cold. By hitting hard, I mean the high was 14 degrees yesterday. I know many of you would scoff and consider this warm but I was born and raised below the Mason Dixon line. Let me put it this way, I own only four pairs of tights. I had no idea fleece lined tights existed until this year.

ColdoutsideWith that being said, cold weather has a negative effect on my running. Mainly, I don’t hydrate enough and I don’t want to run in the cold. I’ve been able to tackle the hydration issue pretty easily but drinking lots of tea. There is nothing quite like a warm cup of tea after a cold run or even during the day. I have also discovered the NUUN makes a pretty warm drink. I stick to the caffeine free teas. I have found that I drink more tea than I did water.

The issue of going out to run in the cold hasn’t exactly been resolved. For Christmas, I asked for lots of layers and warm athletic gear which helps. I also purchased a cheap (like $3.00) drawstring toboggan that allows me to wear it around my nose (see pic). I also received a white reflective vest and a head lamp that helps me navigate night run (will also make Beer Chasers Wednesday night group run heck of a lot nicer). If I’m really not motivated, I stick a few dollars in my pocket to purchase a hot drink on the way home. I will admit I do wimp out sometimes and use the indoor track at the gym. Miles are miles.

What do you do to help your running in the cold months?
I hope everyone is having a great new year! I’m looking forward to getting married and running my first half with a new last name in May.
Cara

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What to do…

Just when I thought ‘hmm I don’t know what to blog about…’ I came across this article that fit perfectly with how I have been feeling. I haven’t been working out as much as I normally do and it’s had me feeling pretty guilty and sad. Now that’s it’s winter my inner bear has kicked in and all I want to do his curl up on the couch and hibernate. The first three paragraphs of the article really nailed it on my exact thoughts. I LOVE running but lately I just haven’t had the motivation to run on the treadmill. This article talks about what to do when you don’t want to run. It made me feel better that there will be times when I need to rest, or when I just need to switch up my routine.

image I did run a 5k race this past weekend. (Which the picture is from, Elizabeth and I always get a pre-race selfie in) It amazes me that even though my work outs have been few and far between my body doesn’t forget how to compete. I worry that cutting back on mileage will Hinder my progress but that wasn’t the case. While running I was trying to focus on negative splits. This is something I haven’t really been good at. I always start out way too fast and burn out half way through. Well, I think I was focusing a little too hard because I had too much energy at the end saved up. My time was still my best this year but I was mad that I probably could have gotten an even better time. But I guess that just means focusing on starting out slow and continually go faster is working. Again, proving to me that even though I may be feeling discouraged, I need to stay positive and be proud of my accomplishments.