This morning I joined with my Athens Road Runners group to run for Meg. Meg Menzies was tragically killed by a drunk driver on a morning run earlier this week. I finished 6.2 miles with positive thoughts in her honor. The Facebook event created for Meg’s Miles describes it like this:
This Saturday, January 18, 2014, no matter what your distance, no matter where you live, run for Meg. Take in the fresh air, be aware of your surroundings, keep your headphones on low, feel the heaviness in your lungs, the soreness in your legs, and be grateful for it–for all of it. The sweat, the pain, the wind, the cold…everything. Be grateful for that moment.
I read that statement multiple times. I read it slowly and I read it fast. On our cold run today I was better aware of my surroundings and grateful for my ability to run. Very grateful.
As I reflect on 2013, I am very appreciative of the Wednesday morning 5:30 am track workouts with Athens Road Runners. I know this might sound painful if you are not a morning person, but there is something special about meeting this community every week early in the morning at the track. Since starting this weekly workout, Wednesdays have become one of my favorite days of the week; I am up early and usually feel great all day after pushing my limits at the track (runner’s high anyone?). Speed workouts are an important addition to every runner’s training, and I encourage you to try it if you have not yet! I am not in Athens this week so I got Coach Al to email me the workout. It was not as much fun without the group but I did it on my own Wednesday morning to celebrate turning 24 and now I am sharing it with you, give it a try sometime in the next week! (or on your next birthday, if you want to make it your birthday workout too!)
“I was thinking about you this morning …Happy early birthday! We are going to do 3 individual miles after a mile warm up. The concept is to drop down the time with each progression. So you want to run the first one at about 75% effort then rest a good 3 – 4 minutes then the 2nd one about a 85 – 90% effort rest 3 -4 minutes than the last one give it what you have left. Then a good cool down. I really want to start working y’all into a tempo run per week. Tempo is defined as an effort that is just difficult enough without being race pace…I like to call it barely a talking pace…kind of like a one word answer pace if that makes sense. A good tempo workout would be about 3 m iles or 20 minute sat that pace. This workout for tomorrow is designed to start zeroing in on that desired tempo pace.” – Al Jeffers.
I did this workout on a straight mile-long sidewalk near my house and here are my results:
Mile 1 – 7:44
Mile 2 – 7:55 (into the wind)
Mile 3 – 7:21
As you can see, I went a little faster on the first mile than Al suggested, but still was able to give everything on mile 3. These are great times for me, and I never knew how fast I could be until I started working out with Coach Al and Athens Road Runners members at the track. Oh and fast is a relative term, different for every runner. Let me know how it goes if you try this workout! And if you live in Athens I highly recommend joining Athens Road Runners for 2014 :)
On Thanksgiving Day I ran the Greensboro Gobbler with my dad and brother. This was my second time running the race. It has become a family tradition that I am really excited about.
2012 Greensboro Gobbler
Last year, the Greensboro Gobbler was part of the start of my interest in running and races. I did a Color Run and the Greensboro Gobbler all in one week and was hooked.
I thought that the course would be 2 loops around Country Park like last year, but it was a new course. Temperatures were freezing and we jogged from the car to the race start, arriving 1 minute before time to go. It was probably good that we got there right on time, because we did not stand around in the freezing temperatures for very long at all.
There were so many people in the race this year! The course was very crowded. We spent the whole first mile weaving around walkers and runners. Next year the organizers should consider corrals or at least encouraging walkers to start at the back. With the new course they were able to accept more registrants. At least 2732 people signed up (the most ever), and 1886 finished the race. The cold temperatures might have kept some of the registrants away.
2013 Greensboro Gobbler
I ran most of the race with my dad and brother. This is the one 5K my brother does every year, and he still beat me! The last mile was very hard, and I’m proud of my finishing time and the chance to run with my family.
My offical time was 26:23, not a PR but over 3 minutes faster than my 2012 time, 29:49. It was cold outside but I warmed up quick, learning in the future not to wear cold-gear Under Armor even for races on very cold days.
Did you participate in a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day this year? How was it?
On October 20, 2013, I finished the Athens Half Marathon (AthHalf) with a time of 1:58:57. I am still searching for the right words and emotions to describe the experience. Running a half marathon was on my “some day I will bucket list” until earlier this year when I made it a reality and signed up in April.
Running the half marathon distance was a mental and physical challenge for me. I posted last week about having three goals and ultimately decided to give it my all and try for sub-2. I felt confident on race weekend after encouragement from running friends that I could do it. Committing to a Hal Higdon plan and training for about a year with Athens Road Runners also prepared me to work hard in this race!
Thoughts about the course: Athens is hilly! Usually when people ask me about Athens my response includes something about the hills. The hills are especially salient because I am a runner. I know I can run on Milledge and Prince and it will be flat, but anywhere else and I encounter the infamous Athens hills.
Athens Road Runners group runs trained on most of the course so I knew what to expect. The course starts out mostly flat for the first five miles, but once you get to Gran Ellen and “Zoo Rd” you encounter the first tough hill. The hardest part of the race for me was on River Rd at the 10th mile. The race organizers set up “bands for every mile” but there was no band and no spectators along River Rd. It was a really long stretch (about a mile) without any excitement. It is a steep incline to get up to E. Campus Rd behind Sanford and I walked through the water stop to give myself a break.
I did not expect the last mile to be so tough. The route crossed the bridge by Sanford Stadium, turned right at Memorial Hall – and there were more hills! Then we turned left and went up a very painful hill at Baldwin. The course was pretty manageable for the hilly town of Athens (but the last mile was not nice!) The race ends running through Sanford Stadium and around the hedges which was an awesome experience!
The best part about this half marathon experience was my training partner, Evan. It is much easier to stick to a plan when you have someone to go on all of the training runs with you. I do not think I could have found a more perfect running partner. Evan is just as competitive as I am and not only committed to every day on the training plan but patient enough to wait on mornings when I woke up late or overslept. Plus, I do not want to run alone and in the dark at 6 am so I really appreciate Evan’s company! He basically dragged me along during the race and is the reason I was able to run a sub 2-hour half! I am impressed by his improvement and commitment and appreciate everything he has done to help my running. Thanks Evan!
So what is next? I want to run more! Running is still my activity of choice for reflection, personal health, wellness, and taking a break from work and school. I already signed up to run the 2014 Cooper River Bridge Run. I am also looking into running more half marathons. And maybe a marathon one day? What races do you recommend?