Monday, March 31, 2014

Titon Trot 5K

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This weekend, I ran my fourth race of the month. It was the Titan Trot 5K Trail Race and proceeds benefited a local school.

I love trail races. We don't have too many local trail races, so it's a treat to get to race a trail.

Saturday morning was a monsoon. It started raining Friday night and it didn't stop until the race ended Saturday morning. The longer we ran, the harder the rain came down.

I'm not a huge fan of running in the rain, but I don't like to miss races, so I just threw on a hat and ran. My sweet husband met me at the finish line with a towel. I was able to change into the race t-shirt after I ran, but had forgotten to pack extra shoes and shorts.

The race followed along the cross country course of a school. It started on the football field and wound around the woods. It was so muddy.

I didn't get as fast of a start as I normally do. There were a lot of younger kids/teenagers running and they flew off at the start. It took me a minute or two to get around them because once we got in the woods, the trail was narrow.

I felt great during the run. The past few weeks have been very abnormal for me. I've dealt with a sinus infection and was in the ER with a kidney stone last Monday, so I wasn't feeling quite 100 percent on Saturday. (This is coming from the girl that's rarely sick, doesn't go to the doctor and won't take medicine unless she has to.) I told my husband I didn't think I'd push it.

You can't tell, but it's pouring rain.

My goal for the race was to finish in 22 minutes or less given the torrential rain, muddy course and the way I felt. I finished in 21:39 (6:59 pace). I was the first female and fourth overall.

Do you like to race trails?

How do you feel about running in the rain?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Why I Love to Run

If you're a runner, you'll understand what I'm talking about. If you're a want-to-be runner, you will, too.

I hate to run. 

Have you ever heard those words or said them before? It's no secret that I love to run. I think it's puzzling for people who don't run though. 

Why would anyone want to spend time everyday pounding the pavement or treadmill, getting sweaty and hot and training for something that could be months away and will more than likely result in just a little medal?

To some, this is insane, but to runners, it's a part of life.

I really do love to run. I'm not kidding. I really love it.

I've run for over fifteen years on a pretty consistent basis. I've raced for about two years. It's addictive.

Before I discovered racing, I ran three or four times a week and I would run anywhere from two to four miles each time I ran. I didn't run anywhere near as fast as I run now (we're talking a 28 minute 5K from an old exercise log I have that dates back six or so years ago), but I still loved to run. 

I grew up in the country, so running for me was mostly on dirt roads and around fields. I think that's why I love trail races today. I didn't run for time necessarily, but I loved the freeing feeling of running outside in the beautiful countryside. 

A little over two years ago, I ran my first race. It was a local 5K. I ran it in 23:58. I was first in my age group and third female overall. After that race, I was hooked.

I really started training after that race. I wanted to be faster and felt like I could be. My 5K PR today is 19:48. That's four minutes and ten seconds faster than my first race. 

For me, running is part of my life. It's not something I do occasionally, on a whim or after I've eaten one too many cups of froyo. It's as natural as taking a shower each morning.

I love to run because it makes me feel good. I love the way I feel after a run whether it's a fast one-miler because that's all I have time to squeeze in on a hectic morning or after I've run seven or eight miles just because it's nice outside.

I love to run because it's good for me. Exercise is good for us, we all know that. I like treating my body well and running is one way I can do that.

I love to run because it makes me look better. There. I said it. Allow me to be vain for a minute: I think the effects of running are good for the way my body looks. I think we all want to look good for our significant other and while chocolate sure does taste good, it doesn't quite have the same effects as running does.

I love to run because it sets a good example for my kids. My husband and I are both active and feel that it's important that the boys see us participating in sports and staying active. I don't want them to have a sedentary lifestyle, so why should I model that for them? (The same goes with the things we eat and do in our free time in front of them. There's always time to veg out and catch up on shows after bedtime!). Thankfully, they both love playing sports and our oldest even ran a 2K with me last year (one of the proudest moments of my life!).

I love to run because it's my stress relief. There's nothing that relieves stress like pounding the pavement. I'm fortunate in that I don't get stressed too easily, but running does keep me sane. We all have little (or big) stressors in our lives and this is a great way to forget about them. Often, if something is bothering me, I'll have a totally different (and usually better) perspective on it after a run.

I love to run because it's great me time and gives me relaxation. I don't require a lot of me time, but I do need some. In my job, I interact with people all-day long and I constantly have people in and out of my office. And I have to think and plan and analyze all day. While I adore this, I also need some time away where I don't have to think. Running gives me that me time and allows my brain to turn off for a few miles. I don't like being away from my husband and kids (who does?), so I'm not one of these women who has a regular night out. When I'm running, I feel like I'm taking care of myself and getting some me time in, so it's really a great combination.

I love to run because it makes me a better wife and mom. I know that may sound crazy, but taking care of yourself is important. My husband and our boys are my world and naturally, I want to be my best for them. Being my best for them means taking care of myself. I am a pro (I think) when it comes to not letting running interfere with our lives. Yes, I do run when everyone is awake sometimes and obviously when I race, they're there, but for the most part, I plan my running around what we're doing. Most days, that means I'm running on our treadmill while the boys are sleeping soundly, I run at lunch or I run while they're playing a video game with my husband. Life/running balance is really important to me. I don't want my kids to remember me running out the door first thing in the morning or when I get home at night. I want them to remember me running in the door to play.

Those are just a few of the reasons I love to run. I can certainly see why people may think running is boring and may hate it - there are days when I don't want to run - but as we all know, you can always start to love something. Many runners have a love/hate relationship with the sport and I get that. But those days when you lace up your shoes and go out the door not really wanting to run sometimes turn into the best runs ever and it's in those moments that I totally and completely can't imagine not loving to run.

Do you love to run or do you have a love/hate relationship with it?

Friday, March 21, 2014

My Favorite Running Gear

I'm linking up with The Lady Okie and Sunshine to the Square Inch today and talking about my favorite running gear. 

As any runner knows, the most important piece of gear is your pair of shoes. About three years ago, I bought my first pair of Brooks and I haven't looked back. While my first pair were an Adrenaline GTS model, after I began racing about two and a half years ago, I switched to Books' lightweight line, the Pure Project. I run in Brooks PureCadence. I'm on my fourth pair of these (I think). I tend to pronate when I run, so I need some stability, but I like a lightweight shoe. The PureCadence is a great fit for me. I've heard rave reviews from other runners who run in different models of the Pure line and they love theirs as well.

I live in the sunny south, so the majority of my running with the exception of winter time, is done outside in the heat and humidity. I like to run in tank tops. Most of my tops are some type of Nike dri-fit. I prefer the Racer tank. I have quite a few dri-fit t-shirts as wells for those days that it's slightly cool or to use as another layer in the cold. I also have a few Reebok Dri Fit tanks that fit as well as Nike, but are slightly less expensive.

I am very loyal to my Nike Tempo running shorts. With the exception of a few pairs of monogrammed shorts from Old Navy (their brand is great) and another brightly patterned pair I picked up at Dick's Sporting Goods, all of my running shorts are Nike Tempos. I just love them.

Almost as important as the type of shoes you run in is the type sock you wear. I doubt it will surprise you that I run in Nike socks. I like Nike's dri-fit no-show socks. I also like the no-show socks from Finish Line. It's their in-house brand and in my opinion, they are as good as Nike's. Mine have a little more cushion than my Nike socks and I like to wear those when I'm doing a longer run.

As far as other gear is concerned, I have a pair of compression socks that I like to wear after some longer runs. I bought these Red Lion Neon Glide compression socks from last year and love them. I didn't want to spend $45 or more on compression socks since I wasn't sure if I would like them and because I'm not a half marathoner (typically) or a marathoner and I don't feel the need for compressions socks running 5Ks and 10Ks. I will say that buying these socks is about the best $15 I've spent on non-essential gear. I wore them after my half last year and wear them around after 7-8 milers. I don't run in them though.

Finally, I don't ever race without my Garmin. Kevin gave me a Garmin Forerunner 110 for Valentine's Day a few years ago and I love it. If you're interested in purely time, distance and pace, I'd suggest this model. It also comes with a heart rate monitor. 

What are your running must-have items?

Running Smiles

Running Smiles. "Why that name?" you may ask. Two reasons: I love running and I love smiling. And running makes me smile.

I've always been active. I started running consistently when I was a teenager, so I've been at it for almost fifteen years now. In late 2011, I ran a 5K for fun. That first 5K got me hooked on racing and since then, I've run more 5K's and 10K's than I can count with a half marathon thrown in there, too.

My favorite distances to race are the 5K and 10K. I like to go fast! You can find me racing most Saturdays in the Spring and Fall.

Healthy living is extremely important to me. I believe in treating my body well and in being a good example for our boys.

I live in beautiful South Carolina with my sweet husband and our two precious boys. I work full-time as a director of marketing and pr. In my spare time, you can find me cheering on our boys at soccer and t-ball, soaking up the sun with my husband and filling our days with fun. Oh yeah, you just might see me running, too!