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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,


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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?


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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


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A short ode to hill repeats


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?


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Race Report: CDA Half Marathon

WP_20150523_13_59_56_ProCouer d’ Alene is a resort town in the panhandle of Idaho and is unexpectedly breath-taking. Last December, when it was cold and icy, it seemed like the perfect place to run a half-marathon. On Sunday, I was very happy that I had picked it. The weather was perfect, the course not too hilly (a little uneven) and not too big of a crowd. It felt very comfortable.

It has been such a long time since I have walked away from a race satisfied. This lack of satisfaction is due mostly, I believe, to having my PRs five years in the past. I approached this race differently, I really just wanted sub 10:00 minute pace then I trained. Setting reasonable goals and holding myself accountable for the work led to a 2:07.44 for 13.2 miles  I’m still striving for that sub 2:00 but this was a good starting point.

I have to give my sister quite a bit of credit for this time. She is great at keeping pace and frequently warned me when I cda mara3started to push pace a bit too much in the earlier miles. I had not originally thought we would run together but having someone to laugh with for most the race helps.  I had long forgotten how much fun it is to race with someone else. She did allude this is likely her first and last half marathon but I might be able to convince her to run a 10k.

cdamarathon2I wish I had my splits for this half but I had a button on my Garmin jam on the way back from CDA and the splits were deleted.  I did hit halfway in 55:27.34. You can tell I slowed on the second half. I think a few more long runs over 11 miles could help. I know my 11th mile was slow clocking in at 11:12 before bouncing back. Next up in 10k in 2 weeks.

-Cara Hawkins-Jedlicka


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Looking to past lessons

Comparison is a killer and in my experience, it has been even harder comparing my current self to my past self. I’ve been blissfully ignoring that past self until recently when she has been speaking up a bit more. I was complaining to my husband how hard running was these day and how I dreamed of sub 9 pace when my past self piped up, “You use to take running much more seriously”. I had to agree, this isn’t new ground for me and I needed to remember what worked for me.

pastRunning in a Group-The easiest way to run faster and further is connecting to the right running group. From middle school to college, this running group was predefined for me. I knew what runners to gauge myself against and who was willing to work. These days, schedules get in the way and I get intimidated by faster runners. But, I’m running with a group (Beer Chasers) every Wednesday and I’m actively looking for a group for Saturday mornings.

Nutrition- “Hello, My name is Cara Hawkins-Jedlicka and I’m addicted to sugar”. I use to avoid eating sweets and only treated myself periodically. I use to also drink so much water!  I’m working on the sugar intake and have began to drink more water (and less coffee).

Consistency-I ran everyday eventually working myself up to 80 mile weeks. I got into a period of letting myself off the hook way to easily (I’m too tired, I’m hungry etc.). I’ve gotten back into a routine of running and typically kick myself out the door. I have built in a floating rest day so that I have a little room to breathe.

Knowing when to push-I was letting myself off the hook while I was running too-walk breaks,less repeats and cutting runs short were becoming routine. There needs to be a point when you just have to struggle through a run and not take the easy way out. Overcoming the challenge is better than not accepting it.

Just remembering these items has helped my running. I’m putting my legs to the test for the first time this weekend as part of a 100k relay. Wish me luck! Cara @carabyrd

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Key lime energy balls

I get hungry everyday at 3:00 and if I could I would eat a snickers. I began to bring clif bars everyday to silence my stomach until my evening work out but that began to be a bit expensive. I scoured Pinterest and found this great recipe for Lemon Coconut energy balls. Even better, I had just received a ninja chopper as a wedding gift. After I conquered the lemon version and tested them for those 3:00 hunger pains, I decided to change up the recipe a bit. I adore key lime anything and  replacing lemon with lime juice seemed to be the place to start. I also decided to use many items I already had in my pantry.  I’m going to warn you I’m no food blogger.

Key lime Energy BallsWP_20150201_12_31_17_Pro

-1 cup of pitted dates
– 1/2 cup of lime juice
– 1/4 cup of Sunflower seeds (no shell)
-1/3 cup of pecans
-1 cup of shredded coconut
– 1/4 cup of graham cracker crumbs
-A dash of cinnamon
-Mini cupcake liners

1. In a food processor or chopper, chop the pecans and sunflower seeds. Place these aside in a bowl.
2. In the food processor or chopper, chop the half the dates with 1/4 cup of lime juice and then repeat with the remainder.
3. Add 1/2 cup of the coconut, the cinnamon and the pecan/sunflower mix back into the chopper with the prunes and lime juice and pulse to mix together.
4. Take the mixture and roll into 1 inch balls (or if you are like me use your 1 inch baller) then roll in the remaining 1/2 cup of coconut and 1/4 cup of graham cracker crumbs.Place in the mini cupcake liners and store in Tupperware in the fridge. These should last about a week if you don’t eat them all first.

WP_20150201_12_51_22_ProThe next time I write, I’ll have a new last name (eek!)

As always, comment and share your recipes. You can always reach me on twitter as @carabyrd


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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.


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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.

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Gravity has taken better women than me

This is not a blog about falling or inertia. No, this is about cross-training. So to understand me a bit better let me get one fact out of the way, I have no hand/foot eye coordination. I was fast but never great at ball sports so when it comes to cross training I tend to like to stick to cardio classes. Spin class is my go to cross training activity in the winter and cycling when the weather is nicer. The second fact you should know is that I have little to none upper body strength. I despised weight room days in college and was by far the worst part of track.

But when I looked through the classes that University of Idaho offers, I was drawn to the class “gravity” mostly due to the name. I secretly hoped that it would be Cirque du Soleil like. The description of the class is “Dynamic workout on the GTS, designed to provide group strength training that be individualized to each participants fitness levels-without sacrificing technique, variety, challenge & importantly ‘fun'”. This to me sounded like a class that I could do and not be over my head.

WP_20141118_18_23_05_ProI will admit I was little nervous going to class especially when I saw the instructor who looked like he could lift two me over his head and the machine looked a bit like a torture device. As I settled in on the sliding board on the machine, I just prayed I could keep up. I had not nothing to be too nervous about, the class focused on glutes (which I have covered) and abs (also, I’m still pretty strong there). Luckily, the machine made it easy for you to use your own body weight which helped quite a bit. We did end up doing pull-ups and I’m super sore from it today. The instructor was much scarier looking than his personality. He was great with showing me how to adjust the machine. And I was only a little disappointed that it wasn’t like Cirque de Soleil.

I’m going to keep exploring classes in order to become stronger (though I am running tonight). What are some classes that help you with your running?