Corporate Cup 10K Recap

Several years ago I learned that there was a running club at work, so I joined the email list. Aside from running on one of the corporate teams for the Brooksie Way Half Marathon a few years ago, I haven’t really participated. When I received the initial email about this year’s upcoming Corporate Cup Relays, I was definitely interested. I had been interested in the past, but always had something else going on that day. This year, I decided to make it a priority. I have to admit that aside from representing GM, one of the biggest draws was the cool Chevy Running Club shirt!

I love this shirt

I love this shirt

The Chevy logo on the back

The Chevy logo on the back

The Corporate Cup Relays started back in 1987 and take place at Southfield Lathrup High School in Lathrup Village, MI. This year’s event occurred on Saturday, June 20. The event includes 5K and 10K road races, a 5K walk, field events (like long jump, high jump and shot put), and track relays. Teams are divided into three divisions based on the size of the company. Division I includes companies with 10,000 employees or more (GM, Ford, and FCA – formerly known as Chrysler), Division II ranges from 1,000-10,000 people (Autoliv, Valassis, Shinola, and ThyssenKrupp), and Division III has less than 1,000 people (AVL, Nissan, Takata). Teams also raise money for charities, which included the Dearborn Animal Shelter and the Special Olympics.

I have been able to improve my 5K and half marathon times by quite a bit over the years, but my best 10K time was from back in 2011. I rarely race the distance and it’s always kind of tortured me. Maybe that’s because I’ve never specifically targeted my training for a 10K. I decided to sign up for the Corporate Cup’s 10K road race to see if I could finally reach my potential and improve my time. After the Glass City Half Marathon on April 26, I had about eight weeks to prepare for this race.

Based on my time at Glass City and my 5K PR, Greg McMillan’s calculator said I should be capable of running a 7:12 pace for a 10K. McMillan’s calculator has been incredibly accurate for me when I train appropriately. I wasn’t sure what kind of workouts I should do, so I searched for 10K training plans and found McMillan’s eight-week plan. I was worried that it might be a bit ambitious for me, but I wanted to give it a shot. I didn’t follow the plan 100% since I needed to ease back into training after the half marathon, plus I threw in another 10K race a couple weeks before the Corporate Cup. I stuck to the plan for the most part though. When I successfully pulled off some of the harder workouts at 10K pace, it gave my confidence a huge boost. Maybe I could master the 10K after all!

Despite running some solid workouts, I was still pretty nervous about actually pulling it off on race day. The 10K was the first event of the day, starting at 7:45. It was a beautiful morning and the course was flat, so I hoped for the best. I knew I should be able to improve my 10K time, and I also aimed to place first in my age group. The scoring for the Corporate Cup’s 10K is based on age and gender, so the goal was to rack up age group wins. Other events included all divisions, but the 10K was just for Division I – GM (Chevy), Ford, and FCA. Between the three companies, 151 people participated. I was lucky that Matt was willing to come out and take photos during the 10K, and he got some awesome action shots.

Waiting for the start of the 10K

Waiting for the start of the 10K

The 10K started and finished on the track, with neighborhood roads making up the majority of the course.

Starting on the track

Starting on the track

It was fun to see a bunch of people I knew from work and talk about running with them. I’m sure many of us hadn’t realized before that we shared a love for running. It was also fun to encourage people in Chevy/GM shirts out on the course since we were pulling for each other as a team. Lathrup Village was a great place to run, with peaceful neighborhood roads and nice houses for distraction.

The 10K route

The 10K route

I was still smiley because this was early on!

I was still smiley because this was early on!

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Enough people ran this race to always have someone fairly close by. That always helps keep me going. When my pace slowed down by the third mile, I worried that I was starting to fall apart. I sped back up though, and I felt pretty good the whole time. In the past, I’ve almost always felt miserable when I’ve raced 10Ks. Running 10K-specific workouts during training sure made a big difference. By the time I hit the track for the final 300 meters, I was feeling pretty drained, but I still had enough energy for a final push.

Finishing strong

Finishing strong

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I had no idea how I had placed, but I knew I had a new PR! My official time was 45:16, shaving over 30 seconds off my time from my “practice” 10K on a difficult Mackinac Island course a couple weeks earlier, and nearly a minute and a half off my 2011 PR.

My splits

My splits

McMillan’s calculator had estimated that I was capable of a 7:12 pace, and I hit 7:13 – pretty close! Someone gave out small cartons of chocolate milk as we exited the track, and the GM tent had bagels, cookies, and some other snacks.

I went back to the track to cheer for teammates and took a few cell phone photos. It was definitely a friendly and supportive environment.

Lots of people in blue shirts cheering on GM finishers

Lots of people in blue shirts cheering on GM finishers

I couldn’t resist taking a picture of this Chrysler dog prior to the 5K.

Representing Chrysler!

Representing Chrysler!

Some of the 10K runners also participated in the 5K, but I gave everything I had and was done for the day. I enjoyed watching the start of the 5K run.

5K runners

5K runners

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The 5K walk began five minutes later. It’s always fun to see the truly competitive walkers, who somehow manage to walk a 5K faster than many can run one. The GM guy in the front of the following photo won with a time of 22:18!

5K walkers

5K walkers

I stuck around long enough to see the first 5K runners finish, but left soon after. Although it would have been fun to watch the other events, the track events didn’t start until noon and were scheduled to run until 4:00.

A few days later I found out I was the 5th female overall and had placed first in my age group! That helped my team, who wanted three first place age group finishes for the women. Although the Chevy team had three top women, Ford did as well. Ford’s fastest woman placed 7th while Chevy’s was 18th, so Ford took the win in the 10K Women category.

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Ford took the overall win for Division I in the Corporate Cup, and Chevy placed second. I really enjoyed this race and the whole experience, and hope to participate again in the future.

Happy with my new PR and a successful 10K!

Happy with my new PR and a successful 10K!

– Janet

Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography

Mackinac Island Lilac Festival 10K Recap

In both 2011 and 2013, Matt and I really enjoyed running across the Mackinac Bridge during the Memorial Day weekend. Although we’ve been to Mackinac Island several times, we’ve never actually run on the island. We finally made that happen on Saturday, June 6 when we ran the Mackinac Island Lilac Festival 10K.

If you’re not familiar with Mackinac Island, it is located in Lake Huron between Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas. Aside from the awesome fudge, the main charm of the island is that it does not allow cars. Bikes and horse-drawn buggies are the main modes of transportation.

Just under a four-hour drive for us, it’s a perfect weekend getaway. We left after work on Friday and made it to our hotel in Mackinaw City by 9:30 that night. Although we’d like to stay on the island one of these days, Mackinaw City is nice as well and offers more reasonable rates.

On the morning of the race, we caught the first ferry to the island at 7:30. Ferries were scheduled to leave every half hour, and we wanted to play it safe in case the boats filled up. The bottom of the boat was full, leaving us to sit up top in the open air. It was a beautiful morning, but it was no warmer than 50 degrees. Factor in the wind chill of the moving boat and it was pretty chilly. I was distracted by a nice view of the Mackinac Bridge at first, but then it was a long, cold 15-minute trip to the island. I think it took about 45 minutes for one of my fingers to thaw.

The Mackinac Bridge

The Mackinac Bridge

Approaching the island

Approaching the island

Arriving so early allowed us to see the island in a way we hadn’t before. It was very peaceful before the bikes, horses, and swarms of people hit the streets. I really love the old-fashioned vibe of the island.
A calm street before all of the tourists (and runners) arrived

A calm street before all of the tourists (and runners) arrived

From the ferry docks, we walked a half mile to the school for the packet pickup. With such beautiful sights along the way, we enjoyed the walk.
A nice boardwalk along the water

A nice boardwalk along the water

A beautiful morning for the run

A beautiful morning for the run

Because so few people live on the island year-round, only one school building is needed for all of the kids in grades K-12. The packet pickup took place in the gym, and we hung out on the bleachers there for an hour or so since the race didn’t start until 9:30.
Mackinac Island Public School

Mackinac Island Public School

As we got closer to the start time, Matt and I headed out for a warm up. Like many other people, we posed for a picture together first.

The Mackinac Bridge is off in the distance behind us

The Mackinac Bridge is off in the distance behind us

After warming up, we ran back into the front of the crowd, giving us prime placement for the start. Between the runners and walkers, over 800 people participated. The start was in front of the Windemere Hotel, about a quarter mile from the school.

Gathering before the start of the race

Gathering before the start of the race

The race started out running through town, but it seems like we turned out of the main part of town in no time. Just over half a mile into the race we hit “the hill.” I was aware of the hill when I signed up for the race and knew it would definitely affect my time. Being aware of it didn’t make it any easier though! I started to huff and puff as I worked up the first part of the hill. I looked to the top and told myself I could do it. However, I didn’t realize that the part of the hill I could see at that moment was only the beginning. After a left turn, I could see that we had even more to climb. It was pretty rough. The hill was a mile long and beat me up pretty good.

The course elevation

The course elevation

Once we got past the hill, I started to enjoy the course again. It sure helped to hit a downhill segment next! We spent about half of the race running through Mackinac Island State Park, where the paved paths feature lots of trees and shade. We ran past the small airport’s runway as well, then came back around to the road that runs along the shore. I was excited to run along the water and enjoy the view. Trees lining the road separated us from the water at first, but soon enough the view opened up. However, no trees meant no protection from the wind. We ran right into the wind for the last couple miles, and that really made me struggle.

A satellite view of where we ran

A satellite view of where we ran

I didn’t have much left in me by the end. Nonetheless, I had a new PR of 45:52! I haven’t raced many 10Ks, and my old PR was several years old. My 5K and half marathon times had improved quite a bit in that time, so I knew I was due to improve my 10K time as well. This winter I made it a goal to finally “fix” my time. Starting in May, I concentrated on 10K pace workouts, something I’d never really done. With my target 10K race coming a couple weeks later, this race was kind of a practice to see how things were going. I had improved my time by 45 seconds or so despite the hill, so I knew I could do even better on a more forgiving course.

My splits

My splits

As my splits show, I was all over the place when it came to pacing. I flew along pretty good for the first half mile, but the hill slowed me down a lot after that. The hill continued into the second mile, but that’s when it leveled out a bit and the downhill started. The third mile was all downhill, so I felt great! I settled into a more reasonable (but probably too fast) pace by the fourth mile, then I hit the wind and gradually fell apart over the last couple miles. Still, I was happy with my time, finished first in my age group, and was the fourth female overall! Matt was third in his age group, so both of us earned a cool plaque.

Posing with the age group award

Posing with the age group award

Matt displaying the medal

Matt displaying the medal

I love how the medal shows our route through the island

I love how the medal shows our route through the island

The tech race shirt and medal

The tech race shirt and medal

The post-race treats included bottles of water, fruit, and granola bars. We wanted to spend some time on the island after the race, so we cleaned up a little bit in the school’s small locker rooms before they got too crowded with other people doing the same. It was nice that we could collect our awards without waiting for a ceremony. Though the temperature was great for running, it was a bit on the cool side for walking. Still, the sun was shining and the island looked beautiful. We took in the typical sights of people riding bikes and horse buggies roaming the streets. We did actually come across a few buggies during the race and had to make room for them!

White picket fences, beautiful homes, no cars...such a cool environment

White picket fences, beautiful homes, no cars…such a cool environment

Horses are everywhere

Horses are everywhere

With only a granola bar each to refuel after the race, we were starving in no time. We grabbed lunch then walked through town a little bit more, browsing through the t-shirt shops. Of course we had to get some fudge too. Sanders had fun flavors like dreamsicle, bumpy cake, and salted caramel fudge.

Great fudge selections (and other treats) at Sanders

Great fudge selections (and other treats) at Sanders

Eventually we’d had enough of the shops and I kept shivering in the cool breeze, so we headed back to Mackinaw City. I was happy to get a seat in the bottom of the ferry on the way back instead of freezing in the open air again.

After showering and resting in the hotel room for a bit, we grabbed dinner and walked around the stores in Mackinaw City. The city itself has plenty of stores with t-shirts, fudge, taffy, ice cream, and other treats. When we got back to the hotel for good that night, my legs were extremely restless between the race and all of the walking.

We had a 10-mile run on our marathon training schedule the next morning but knew we probably wouldn’t go that long. We ended up running six miles along the North Central State Trail. We’ve stayed at the same hotel a couple times in the past, and I was always intrigued by the trail that starts right outside the hotel. I was excited to finally check it out this time. The rail to trail runs 62 miles between Mackinaw City and Gaylord. It’s paved for a brief stretch in Mackinaw City, then turns to crushed limestone. If you go far enough south, you can catch glimpses of Lake Huron. We could see resorts and campgrounds through the trees for the first mile, then we kind of grew tired of the long straightaways. I think our legs had had enough for the weekend. Still, it was a nice trail and perfect that it was right next to our hotel.

The Mackinaw City trailhead for the North Central State Trail

The Mackinaw City trailhead for the North Central State Trail

A nice tree-lined rail to trail

A nice tree-lined rail to trail

Overall, it was a great weekend getaway. It was fun to finally run around the island, and the race gave us a good excuse to refuel with plenty of fudge and salt water taffy!

– Janet

Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography

Glass City Half Marathon Recap

I am happy to report that the Glass City Half Marathon, my goal race for the spring, was everything I had hoped for. The weather was great for running, the course was scenic, and I hit my goal of running sub-1:40 for a new PR!

Matt and I looked at a number of races before deciding to run Glass City in Toledo, Ohio. Ultimately, I liked that it was somewhat close to home, the flat course would allow me to push for a new PR, and it fell fairly early in the spring – April 26th. I wanted to get a half marathon in early so I could really concentrate on triathlon training a bit more before that season begins. In addition, our friend Jeff had great things to say in his recap at DetroitRunner.com when he ran the race a few years ago, so I was sold.

Toledo is an hour and a half south of us, so we decided to drive down the day before and stay overnight so we could hit the expo. Plus, leaving the house at 4:30am on race day did not sound appealing! The race begins and ends on the campus of the University of Toledo. The expo took place in Savage Hall Arena and had plenty of exhibitors to browse through. I always enjoy a good expo, and Matt and I found some nice cotton t-shirts sold by Dave’s Running.

Shirts from Dave's Running at the expo.

Shirts from Dave’s Running at the expo.

Shirts we bought at the expo.

Shirts we bought at the expo.

The expo.

The expo.

The official race shirts. Different cuts and colors for men and women.

The official race shirts. Different cuts and colors for men and women.

We’ve found that Buffalo Wild Wings usually works for us the night before a race, so we hit one for an early dinner then headed to our hotel. The weather was going to be a bit cool compared to recent temperatures, so we agonized over what to wear the next morning. We watched a Red Wings game then went to bed early, but neither of us got the greatest sleep. I think I woke up pretty much every hour. Luckily, I felt fine in the morning.

Our hotel was 15 minutes from the campus, which meant leaving before 6am for a 7am start. We aimed to park in the same lot we used for the expo, but the traffic backup was ridiculous. I’m glad we brought a map with the parking options so we could go to plan B. After a short walk from the parking lot, we stopped so Matt could get a picture with the Pink Panther, mascot of sponsor Owens Corning.

Matt with the Pink Panther.

Matt with the Pink Panther.

It was a beautiful, clear morning, but it was cold. It was 37 degrees at the start, which was actually great for running, but a bit cool for standing around. We were able to stay warm in the arena, and they opened the upstairs area that had a bunch of bathrooms. I realized we didn’t have much extra time and rushed down to the gear check, then got in a quick jog around the parking lot to warm up. By the time we got to the corral, it was so packed that we couldn’t get in. The marathon had somewhere around 1,000 people and the half marathon had just under 3,000, with everyone starting at once. We found the opening to the “B” corral, which is where we belonged, then hung out by the gate to get in.

The start.

The start.

As we were about to start, people bunched together more and we were able to get in the corral. Just after 7am, we were off! It took about a minute for us to cross the starting line. I had trained for a 7:35 pace, and figured I’d aim for a 7:50 pace for the first mile. That did not happen. It was SO congested at the start. I tried to weave around people at the edge of the street, but it was too crowded. I kind of freaked out when I realized I was at a 9:00 pace half a mile into the race! I was able to get around some people enough to drop my pace to 8:11 for the first mile. Not exactly what I had planned, so I’d have to make up for it throughout the race. It thinned out enough after that for me to run a little more comfortably. The first six miles or so took us through some beautiful neighborhoods. The streets were lined with trees and the houses were really nice.

A view from Google Maps that shows what some of the route looked like.

A view from Google Maps that shows what some of the route looked like.

Aside from some fairly insignificant hills through the neighborhoods, it was all paved, flat, and fast. Spectators were scattered throughout the course, and I especially enjoyed seeing a couple of bulldogs with awesome underbites, and a couple of little superheroes next to an adult dressed as Gumby. A short portion of the race took us through Wildwood Metropark, which connected us to the University Parks bike trail about eight miles into the race. It was around that time when the half marathoners broke off from the marathoners. That’s also when I decided to pick up the pace. I was averaging somewhere around 7:38 pace and knew I needed to step it up a little bit if I wanted to hit my goal. I ate a few Honey Stinger Chews around the 5th and 10th miles to fuel, and a hydration belt with a 21 oz. bottle of GU Brew kept me from stopping at aid stations. I ran the 9th mile in 7:31 and stayed at or below that pace for the rest of the race. I think a little hill slowed me down a bit in the 12th mile and I worried that slight stomach cramping could become an issue as I dropped my pace, but luckily it faded. Somehow I dropped to 5K pace by the last mile! I guess that helped make up for the slow start.

One of the perks of this race was a finish in the Glass Bowl Stadium. After running 13 miles on the pavement, it was kind of a shock to hit the stadium’s turf. I was so distracted by thinking about the lack of traction and trying to sprint to the finish that I didn’t pay much attention to my surroundings at that point. I finished in 1:39:43, which was good for a new PR by a minute, and I hit my goal of running sub-1:40!

Results.

Here are my Garmin splits:

Garmin splits.

I think it’s pretty interesting that even though my pace fluctuated throughout the run, I actually managed to hit the 7:35 goal pace I’d been aiming for. That made me especially happy! I’ve found that it’s a great feeling to have enough gas left in the tank to really pick it up at the end and finish strong. It took me a few minutes to catch my breath after I finished, then I looked at the Find My Friends app on my phone to see how Matt was doing. Training hadn’t gone as planned for him, so the race was kind of like a long training run for him. I managed to catch a shot of him flying along right before the finish line.

Matt finishing strong!

Matt finishing strong!

We got our medals and spent a bit of time taking in the atmosphere of the stadium.

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Glass Bowl Stadium

Glass Bowl Stadium

The final stretch before the stadium finish.

The final stretch before the stadium finish.

A photo together after the race.

A photo together after the race.

Since it was a bit cool out, we went to the gear check to get our stuff before checking out the food. We realized we had to backtrack to get our finisher’s mugs.

A glass mug to go along with "glass city."

A glass mug to go along with “Glass City.”

After walking around the stadium, watching finishers, and going to gear check, the food line had grown pretty long. It was worth the wait though – they had pizza, breadsticks, cinnamon bread, pretzels, Twizzlers, cookies, and other stuff. Once we made it through that line we waited for a while in the beer line. Each bib came with two free beer tickets. It seemed kind of funny to have all that food and the beer around 9am, but I was okay with it!

We ran into our friend Alexis who had to drop from the full marathon (see her blog about it here), so she and her friend Karly had walked the 5K. It was nice to see them and catch up even though things hadn’t gone as they planned. After chatting for a bit, we made the trek home.

This was a great experience all around. I’m especially thrilled that everything came together and I nailed my goal. Hal Higdon’s Advanced training program worked wonders for me once again. I stuck to the plan for the most part, but opted to run five days per week instead of six. On either Mondays or Wednesdays, I dropped the short, easy run and rode the bike or rested instead. Fridays were supposed to be rest days, but that’s usually when I did a long bike ride. I also added a swim most Saturday mornings before my runs. I did two 14-mile runs, and my weekly mileage maxed out at 37 miles two weeks before the race. I will probably continue to use Higdon’s plans in the future because they’ve worked so well for me.

Up next – back to triathlon training while also concentrating on 10K speed for a race in late June. Marathon training starts up in June as well, so it’s going to be a busy summer!

– Janet
Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography

Wake the Bear 5K Recap

On Saturday, April 18th, Matt and I went to Flushing, MI to run the Wake the Bear 5K. While browsing through races on RunMichigan.com, I came across this race. The idea behind the race is to wake the bear from hibernation after a long winter. My interest was sparked immediately when I saw an image of the bear. I hoped it would be featured on the race shirt, and luckily it was.

With the race featuring a bear like this, I couldn't resist.

With the race featuring a bear like this, I couldn’t resist.

Although the bear got my attention, we also liked that the race would benefit the Bread for Life Organization, which feeds kids in the Flushing area. Plus, the website said the course would go through Flushing Park, running over bridges, through the woods, and along the river.

I had a 3-mile pace run on my training schedule for the day, so it was perfect timing. Our current goal race is the Glass City Half Marathon, the weekend after this race. That meant I really shouldn’t race this all-out. I knew I’d be tempted to run faster than the half marathon pace my schedule called for, so I hoped to settle somewhere in between – maybe around a 7:15 pace.

Flushing is northwest of Flint, and about an hour’s drive for us. With an 8:00 am start, we left the house just after 6:00 am…pretty rough on a Saturday morning! It was a beautiful morning though and the perfect day to race. It was sunny and around 50 degrees when the race started. The race started and finished at Holy Cross Lutheran Church, and they had a DJ playing music to keep us entertained while we waited. They also had a bear mascot, so of course I had to get a photo with him.

The friendly bear.

The friendly bear.

Matt and I ran an easy mile to warm up first. This race featured both a 5K and 10K, and the 10K runners started first. It was a fairly small group.

10K runners waiting to start.

10K runners waiting to start.

About 10 minutes later, the 5K started. First, we had to roar to “wake the bear,” haha. With a gun start, Matt and I started at the very front. As we took off, I tried to stay disciplined with my pace. Since I’m training for triathlon season right now too, I rode 17 miles on the bike the night before. Tired legs helped keep me from taking off too fast! The first mile felt pretty easy at a 7:22 pace, so I was okay with speeding up a bit more after that. We ran along neighborhood roads, and I kept wondering when we’d get to the park to see the bridges, woods, and river the website had mentioned. I realized later that only the 10K runners got to run through the park. I believe this race has only been a 10K in the past, and this was the first year for the 5K. Although I’m interested in seeing the park, the flat neighborhood course was good enough. I’m usually distracted by the pain of running fast during 5Ks anyway! I sped up to a 7:13 pace for the second mile, then pushed harder for the last mile. I was breathing pretty heavy by the end, which makes sense when I realized that I ran the last mile in 6:59. My finish time of 21:42 was good enough to place as the first woman and fifth overall! Matt had finished just before me and was second in his age group.

My splits.

My splits.

We both had the course a little short, with my Garmin saying I ran 3.02 rather than 3.1 With a 7:11 average pace, I ran just a bit faster than my 7:15 goal pace. We had a ton of great food to choose from after the race. I was just interested in the cookies, and ate enough of those to negate any calories I burned in the race!

Apples, bananas, bagels...and a ton of cookies!

Apples, bananas, bagels…and a ton of cookies!

Since Matt and I had done so well, we stuck around for the awards. We waited at least an hour before the awards ceremony began. I was excited to place as the first female, but more excited that the bear was featured on the award that I received. I was glad that it was featured on Matt’s medal as well.

My super cool award.

My super cool award.

Matt and his age group award.

Matt and his age group award.

A closer look at Matt's medal.

A closer look at Matt’s medal.

It was a fun race and obviously a pretty solid one for both of us!

– Janet

Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography

In Training Mode

I haven’t updated the blog much lately, but I’ve been working hard. Aside from running the Auto Show Shuffle 5K in January, I’ve been in pure training mode all winter. During the winter, I turn to two outdoor running spots – Stony Creek Metropark and Oakland University. Stony’s six-mile path gets cleared and salted throughout the winter, and OU does a great job clearing the sidewalks. Another nice thing about OU is the fact that it is so well-lit, so I can get away with running there during the dark evenings in the dead of winter.

Stony Creek Metropark

Stony Creek Metropark

A bridge near Stony Creek Metropark

A bridge near Stony Creek Metropark

Oakland University's campus

Oakland University’s campus

Although I get outside for most of my weekend long runs and the occasional weekday run during the winter, I turn into a treadmill warrior for the most part. I think the treadmill time has been very beneficial. My hips bugged me pretty regularly all fall, but they’ve been a non-issue this winter. Surviving the treadmill has also made me mentally tough. If I can keep myself going through 11 miles on the treadmill (which I did on an especially ugly mid-January day), I can do anything, right? Having so much control over my pace has also allowed me to get in some really solid speedwork and cutdown tempo runs.

My goals throughout the winter were to maintain enough running fitness to jump into half marathon training at any time and to build a base for triathlon season. Since February, I’ve been good about swimming at least a mile once a week. I could stand to get into the pool more often though. I’ve been good about building my cycling base – an area that was a bit lacking last year. I peaked with a 30-mile ride one time before an Olympic tri last year, but I’ve tried to get in a long ride of 30-35 miles nearly every week since late January. The additional time on the bike has introduced me to the joys of chafing, as well as feeling awfully squirmy after I’ve downed two bottles of water! I’m also getting some use out of our DVD collection.

I have a list of potential triathlons to sign up for, but haven’t decided on any yet. I feel like I’ll be more prepared for the Olympic distance this year. I’m still not sure I’m interested in pursuing the 70.3 distance…yet. 56 miles on the bike is pretty daunting when I’ve peaked at 35 miles. Running is still my main love, so if I start to enjoy the bike more, maybe then I’ll think about it.

I HAVE officially signed up for a couple of running races though. After debating between a lot of great spring races, Matt and I finally chose the Glass City Half Marathon in Toledo at the end of April. It’s flat and fast, goes through a metropark and along a bike trail, and finishes in the University of Toledo Stadium.

Glass City will be the goal spring race

Glass City will be the goal spring race

Training has been going well, so I’ll see if I can beat my PR of 1:40:46. Maybe even go sub-1:40? I’ve been loosely following Higdon’s Advanced plan. Rather than running six days per week, I’ve been running five so I can get on the bike too. My typical week of training has looked like this:

  • Monday – Bike 10-15 miles, run 3 easy.
  • Tuesday – Run 7 miles total, speedwork day. Workouts like 6×800 at 5K pace, 4×1600 at 10K pace, etc.
  • Wednesday – Rest or bike.
  • Thursday – Run 6-7 miles total, typically a cutdown tempo on the treadmill. Start slow, increase the pace each quarter mile until I get to 10K pace, then slow down each quarter mile.
  • Friday – Bike 25-35 miles.
  • Saturday – Swim 1 mile, run on the treadmill. Either easy or a half marathon pace run. Warm up a mile, then run up to 5 miles at pace.
  • Sunday – Long run. I’ve run 13 miles a couple times and should peak around 14-15.

We also made an even bigger decision recently – we’re ready to try a second marathon. Matt’s first was the Bayshore Marathon in Traverse City in 2012, and my first was Grand Rapids in 2013. We had seriously talked about running the Disney Marathon at the beginning of 2016. With thoughts of trying the Goofy Challenge (a half on Saturday followed by a full on Sunday), I thought maybe it would be wise to get a little more marathon experience before attempting something crazy like that. Pretty quickly, we decided on the Twin Cities Marathon.

Marathon #2!

Marathon #2!

It’s one that Matt has been interested in, and I’m definitely on board. Matt has family in Minnesota, and we’ve really enjoyed our trips to Minneapolis. It’s billed as “the most beautiful urban marathon in America.” I’ll probably start training in June, so there’s still some time before it will really sink in. I’m excited to give the marathon a second attempt!

In the meantime, Glass City is a month away so that’s the main goal right now. Then, hopefully some 5Ks and onto triathlon season!

– Janet
Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography

Auto Show Shuffle 5K Recap

This recap is a bit belated, but Matt and I enjoyed running the Auto Show Shuffle 5K on Saturday, January 17th. The race took place in downtown Detroit on the opening day of the North American International Auto Show. Aside from a triathlon on Belle Isle, I’ve never run in Detroit and thought this race would be a great chance to change that.

I always wait until the last minute to sign up for races during the winter to avoid slippery surfaces and other miserable conditions. When I saw that we were going to have a “heat wave” and warm up into the 30s the day of the race, I decided to go for it. I didn’t think about how the warmth would arrive by mid-afternoon, so it was actually pretty cold for the 8:30 start. We’re used to it though, so it just meant lots of layers. Despite the cold, it was a beautiful morning.

A view of the Detroit River (and Canada) from the riverfront.

A view of the Detroit River (and Canada) from the riverfront.

I was able to pick up our packets at the New Balance store in Troy a couple days before the race, so it was one less thing to do the morning of the race. We received long sleeve tech shirts. It’s not what I typically think of as technical because the heavier material of the shirt isn’t really good for wicking sweat. I might not wear it while I run, but I do really like the shirt.

The long sleeve race shirt.

The long sleeve race shirt.

The race started and finished in front of GM’s Renaissance Center – probably the most identifiable feature of Detroit’s skyline.

The RenCen.

The RenCen.

We had heard about issues exiting the designated parking garage after last year’s race, but we decided to park there anyway. It was cold enough outside that I didn’t want to park somewhere else and walk several blocks, and this specific garage has a skywalk into the RenCen. The RenCen is a beautiful building, and it was nice that we could stay warm in the Wintergarden area both before and after the race.

A beautiful view from inside the RenCen's Wintergarden area.

A beautiful view from inside the RenCen’s Wintergarden area.

To avoid the crowd, we ventured over to the food court restrooms. A woman there glanced at my bib and simply said, “Oooh.” The woman at gear check also commented on my bib. Why? Well, I ended up with number 666. I wasn’t thrilled, but luckily I’m not very superstitious and figured it would keep things interesting!

Matt said I was "Runnin' with the Devil."

Matt said I was “Runnin’ with the Devil.”

As we watched the sun rise over the icy water of the Detroit River, I was really glad we chose to run this race. A brief quarter-mile warm up made me aware that I wasn’t going to be especially speedy. I didn’t have any real goals for this race pace-wise, knowing the cold (and numerous layers) would slow me down. I was just excited to run along the riverfront and take in the scenery.

A picture-perfect morning.

A picture-perfect morning.

Gathering at the start.

Gathering at the start.

As expected, I really enjoyed running along the riverfront. About a mile into the race, we got to the Dequindre Cut – a really nice and wide paved path. I was impressed that the snow had been completely cleared and the path was totally dry. We ran out about half a mile on the path before turning around and heading back along the riverfront. The course was flat, but I didn’t feel like I had much speed in me. The cold air and congestion made it hard to breathe, so I gave it the best effort I could manage. I was surprised to finish in 21:40 – just nine seconds slower than my PR. However, my Garmin had the race a little short.

My splits.

My splits.

A number of people questioned the length of the course on the race’s Facebook page. The course was USATF certified, and the people in charge of the race said that running under several overpasses on the Dequindre Cut could have caused our watches to lose their signals in spots. I’m still a bit skeptical. My watch and the first mile marker were right on (prior to any overpasses), and I ran 7:14. Based on effort, I could feel that I slowed down as the race went on – reflected in my Garmin’s splits. Had the race been an accurate 5K, that meant I would have averaged a 6:59 pace. Starting with a 7:14 mile, I seriously doubt I sped up enough to drop my average to 6:59. Who knows though. I know the watches aren’t always accurate, and it’s fun to think that I was nearly on pace for a PR. I ran this race for the experience rather than aiming for a certain time, so it’s not really a big deal either way.

Matt and I finished within seconds of each other, so we got a few quick pictures outside the RenCen before heading in to get warm. I pulled my face mask down for most of the race, but this is how much we bundled up!

Matt at the end of the race.

Matt at the end of the race.

Not much skin exposed here!

Not much skin exposed here!

A nice medal for all finishers.

A nice medal for all finishers.

I enjoyed hot chocolate and a bagel in the Wintergarden area, and we stuck around for the awards ceremony. Awards were given to the top three men and women overall, and the top three men and women in the masters category. Neither of us were fast enough for those awards, but I was happy that I pulled off third in my age group and Matt placed fourth in his.

Runners gathered in the Wintergarden after the race.

Runners gathered in the Wintergarden after the race.

We hustled to the parking garage as the awards ceremony wrapped up, and I figured that we might beat a good chunk of the crowd. I was wrong. When we got to the parking deck, the cars were backed up for three levels. As I mentioned earlier, I’d heard that it had been a problem in the past. With only one exit open, it was a SLOW go trying to get out of there. Maybe next time it would be worth a hike through the cold from a different parking area to avoid that mess.

Overall, it was a fun experience. I hadn’t raced since October, so it was nice to get back to the race environment. I’m really glad we finally made it downtown for a run. I’d like to do more races downtown, and maybe one of these days we’ll try the Detroit half or full marathon to run even more of the city.

– Janet

Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography

Looking Back at 2014

As the year comes to an end, it’s time to look back and remember the ups and downs. One of my proudest accomplishments was participating in my first Olympic-distance triathlon. It was the one racing-specific goal I had made for the year, and though training didn’t go quite as planned, I still met my goal.

Another fun thing I realized about this year is that I actually received an age group award (anywhere from first to third) for each race I participated in! I don’t put a lot of stock in age group awards because it all depends on how big a race is and who shows up. It’s still kind of fun though and I gathered a cool collection of awards.

2014 age group awards.

2014 age group awards.

Not everything about the year was great though, and the first half was a bit rocky. I started the year still battling an IT band issue caused by my first marathon in October of 2013. I wasn’t able to run more than four miles at a time throughout January. Fortunately, Dr. Erik Barazsu at The Active Fix in Berkley got me back on track. He really took the time to deal with my specific problems while some doctors take a more generic and less individualized approach. I am very thankful I found him and would recommend him to anyone in the Detroit area who may be battling injuries.

Just as I started to feel good about my progress, a car crash at the beginning of March totally derailed everything. A kid driving on a suspended license flew through a stop sign, nailed my car on the passenger side, and messed up my back.

My poor car was totaled.

My poor car was totaled.

I didn’t run for six weeks. It was a LONG and frustrating six weeks. When I did start back up, it was a very gradual process. As if my back wasn’t enough of a problem, my IT band flared up again. I had to get back to my hip and glute strengthening exercises, and I basically rebuilt my mileage from scratch.

Although I didn’t get to build as much of a base as I would have liked, I was still determined to participate in my second triathlon season. My first tri of the year came in June. It was one I had done last year, and I shaved two and a half minutes off my previous time. That gave my confidence a boost and let me know that I was getting back on track. A sprint tri in July went well, so I decided to go for it and try the Olympic distance in August.

Race for the Border Triathlon on Belle Isle in July.

Race for the Border Triathlon on Belle Isle in July.

The Island Lake Triathlon in Brighton was my third and final tri of the year. It was a challenge, but I made it through knowing that I’d want to tackle the distance again in the future. I am very aware that longer bike rides during training would be beneficial though. One glance at an Olympic-distance training plan made me realize how minimal my training time on the bike had been compared to what it ought to be!

Following tri season, I thought it would be fun to do some shorter running races. I started with the shortest I’ve ever raced – a mile. It was a fun new experience and I really didn’t know how to pace myself. With too much energy left at the end, it left me wanting to race the mile again. I was very happy with 6:25 for my first attempt.

A 5K at the Detroit Zoo in September was next, and it was probably the best I’ve ever felt during a 5K. I ran a strong, consistent race, and for once I didn’t feel like I wanted to die halfway through! I think it’s a race I’ll need to do again in the future.

Run Wild for the Detroit Zoo.

Run Wild for the Detroit Zoo.

I’d hovered just under 22 minutes for the 5K several times, so I was thrilled to finally drop my PR to 21:31 at the Dig ‘Em Dash in Battle Creek.

So many fun mascots.

So many fun mascots.

Coming off some solid races, I was curious to see what I could do at the half marathon distance. I’d been training with the intention to run a half marathon during the fall, but I hadn’t really targeted a specific race. A spur-of-the-moment decision in mid-October led me to run the Wild Life Marathon in Concord, MI. A cool morning on a flat, paved trail was the perfect way to capitalize on a solid training segment, and it led to a big PR (1:40:46).

A new half PR!

A new half PR!

I felt like it was a good way to wrap up my racing for the year, and I have been in maintenance mode since. I’ve been hovering around 30 miles per week of running and around 40 miles per week of biking. I’ve totally slacked off when it comes to swimming and will try to get back into that routine soon.

After the half marathon, I took time to continue troubleshooting my back issues. Months of going to the chiropractor helped, but it didn’t completely fix me. I’m mostly fine, but one area still flares up and aches when I do certain things. I tried going to physical therapy for the first time in October and was pretty disappointed with the experience. I feel like they had me do a bunch of their typical exercises, but they didn’t adjust for my needs when I made no progress. I tried another doctor who thought drugs would be a good fix. I always try to avoid that approach because I think it just masks the problem rather than solving it. I gave it a try though, and took muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatories until they tore my stomach apart so bad I couldn’t handle it anymore. Side effects from drugs always seem to be worse than the original problem for me. I’m very frustrated with the whole medical field and don’t know what to try next. I’ve been getting massages lately and it’s been helpful, but I’m not sure it’s enough to fix the problem. It looks like something I’ll continue to worry about in 2015.

 

Here are some numbers from 2014:

– Nine races, including one mile, one 4K, three 5Ks, one half marathon, and three triathlons.

– 1,003 miles of running. I barely managed to break that 1,000-mile threshold. I was down several hundred miles from 2013 because I did not train for a marathon and because of the IT band / car accident setbacks.

– 1,472 miles of biking. I’m always talking about how I need to bike more if I want to get better at triathlons. Buying a stationary bike for our basement at the end of last year made a huge difference. I biked nearly 1,000 more miles than I did in 2013, but I’m looking to increase that even more in 2015.

– 34 miles of swimming. I was down several miles compared to last year, mostly because I’ve only been in the pool a handful of times since my last triathlon in August. I need to get back into the routine of swimming at least once or twice a week soon.

– 50 times of strength training. Down from 80 times last year. The car accident is partially to blame since weights cause my back issues to flare up, but I’ve been trying to keep up with at least one session per week.

 

Looking forward to 2015, I don’t have any specific goals yet. l’ve been toying with the idea of a spring marathon. I might want to spend the winter and spring really building towards triathlon season though. I know very well that marathon training would cause me to neglect the bike. If not a spring marathon, I’ll probably try to run at least one half and think about a full in the fall. I definitely want to do more Olympic-distance triathlons. I plan to spend a lot more time on the bike and really make sure I get in the long rides. I’ve been riding around 25 miles each weekend lately, and should build even more as I approach tri season. I also need to venture into the world of bike shoes. So far I don’t know a thing about bike shoes, so I need to educate myself.

Even if I don’t have many specific goals at this point, I know I’ll keep working hard and hope for a smoother year of training and racing in 2015!

– Janet

Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography