Wednesday, April 17, 2019

2019 Strawberry Strut 10K

When registration opened a few months back for this year's Wine & Dine Half Marathon in Walt Disney World, I realized that I did not currently own a "good" proof of time to submit for corral placement. My options were: a 10 mile trail run that I ran while I had the great lung plague, a handful of Rock n Roll races I didn't run to my full potential because I stopped to take pictures along the way, and the Princess Half Marathon weekend races which I definitely didn't run to my full potential! My previous "good" 10K time expired by 2 days for the cutoff for Wine & Dine. Whomp whomp.

This left me in a dilemma.  Should I submit the best proof of time from one those races or try to find a 10K that I could really run and try my hardest to get a better time? Once I decided on the later option, another dilemma arose. Races with mileage higher than a 5K don't really exist in the south past March because it's just getting too hot (they are definitely few and far between).

So, I spent an afternoon searching everywhere between Houston, north Louisiana, New Orleans...anywhere I could find that would work on a weekend when Jason was also off of work. Somehow (miraculously), the stars aligned and that's when I found the Strawberry Strut 10K in Ponchatoula, Louisiana (about 2 1/2 hours from home). I even loved how the timing worked out for this race to be on a Sunday morning, that way we could take Brayden to the church's Easter egg hunt before leaving for Ponchatoula. (More on the Easter egg hunt later.)

A crazy freak storm passed through the night before the race which left the temperatures incredibly chilly on the morning of the race. Guess what? We were NOT prepared!! Luckily, I had a pair of capri tights with me as well as a jacket, but poor Jason didn't have anything. Instead, he decided to wear jeans since he was planning on walking the 5K with Brayden. Whoops.

Our hotel was a short 5 minute drive to the start line, and we arrived in plenty of time to pick up our packets. We weren't sure we would receive official race t-shirts since we registered after the cutoff, but the shirts were in our packets! Yay!

We hung out in the car for a while and as usual, I looked up my previous 10K PR. I'd mentioned in a blog post last fall that I figured that 10K time was "it" for me and I'd never be able to reach that one again. After saying my thoughts out loud, Jason's response was "you never know"! How right he was!

We made our way to the start line, the National Anthem played, and before I knew it, we were off!

I was not sure how I would feel for this race since I pushed myself so hard the previous day. I realized during this race just how much of a difference the weather makes. With this race (as opposed to the day before with warm temps and humidity), I was able to push myself without my lungs burning! I also tried to stick as close to an 8 minute per mile pace as possible. I knew if I could do that, I would PR.

This race was also much easier for me to run when compared to the 5K the day before. It's truly amazing how much of a difference the weather makes!

By mile 4, I knew I needed water. I'd passed all the previous water stops and wanted to make sure I took a cup this time. In my head, I figured out that I was about 3 minutes ahead of my PR, so I decided if I grabbed a cup and walked for 20 seconds or so, I'd be ok.

That water break was just what I needed and I was able to find my groove once again.

As I approached the finish line, I spotted Jason and Brayden. I later learned that they'd taken a wrong turn (where the 10K and the 5K split...whoops) before realizing their mistake and turning around, so they technically did a little more than a 5K! 

Anyway, after crossing the finish line, I officially held a new 10K PR (by a minute and some change) and could NOT believe it! These PR's (from the 5K the day before and this 10K) were pre-baby PR's from 4-5 years ago! I didn't want to pinch myself for fear of waking up from a dream!!

After catching my breath for a second, I turned around and snapped this picture of Jason and Brayden crossing the finish line!

...and there it is! My new 10K PR!

My watch also told me that I ran the 5K portion of this race faster than I ran the 5K the day before! What?! 

Brayden wanted to wear "dad's medal", so of course we let him! I can't wait until he starts earning his own (apart from his few Disney ones)!

The post-race treat was strawberry shortcake and ya' was SO GOOD!

We waited around for a few minutes to catch our breath and enjoy some strawberry shortcake when we heard the awards being called. I knew I had a decent time (for me) but definitely didn't think I placed! It's hard to tell these things when a course doesn't loop on itself, which this one did not.

Much to my surprise (again), I placed 2nd in my age group!! I seriously could not believe it!

What a weekend!

If you're ever thinking about heading over to Ponchatoula to run the Strawberry Strut, you should! They had adequate water stops along the course, the course was nice and flat, the medals and shirts are precious, and the strawberry shortcake after the race was a unique offering and it was delicious, too! After the race, you can head over to the Strawberry Festival and enjoy the rest of your day (like we did)!

Have you ever surprised yourself with a race PR?

Monday, April 15, 2019

2019 Warrior 5K

Happy Monday! It's been a LONG time since I blogged on a Monday, but it's a holiday week and I wanted to hit the ground rolling after having an amazing weekend in the world of running!

As I mentioned in my spring race plans post, this past weekend was filled with running adventures. It all began on Saturday with a local 5K at the high school where I graduated, followed by a road trip to Ponchatoula Louisiana for a 10K and the strawberry festival. (More on that in a later post!)

On Saturday morning, the weather was iffy. Lots of rain, wind, tornado warnings, etc. Thankfully, it all held off and our events (the 5K and an Easter egg hunt) were able to go off as planned! This race also wasn't set to start until 9 a.m., which I thought was odd and kind of late for a race, especially one in April in the south. This 5K was the kickoff to an all-day event, so once I saw the schedule, it made more sense as to the timing of it all.

As I mentioned, this race was at the school where I graduated, so it was fun being back and seeing all of the memories and familiar faces. This school is actually preK3-12, so I spent a LOT of years there. When I walked in the front door, I heard my Spanish name "ROSITA" (long story) and my Spanish 2 teacher was there to greet me with a big hug. It was so much fun seeing her again! (Y'all, it's been almost 20 years since I graduated!)

My sweet dad came along as my race support while Jason took Brayden to our church's Easter egg hunt (and I met up with them later).

Being back in the gym where I spent SO much time was so weird!

They even kept our poster with our softball winnings! I was on the 1999 & 2000 teams!

After a little opening ceremony, it was time to begin the race. Thankfully, the race director is a runner and knew we were ready to get going, so we only stayed in the opening cerremonies for a short amount of time.

This race was small and once they called "GO" I quickly realized that I was in the lead. What. The. Heck. I had read about all of the roads to turn on, but wasn't sure I could remember them. Thankfully, the course was well marked and I was able to follow the signs just right!

After finding my groove, I just kept focusing on moving forward. It was warm and humid and I was running fast (for me). My first mile clocked in at a 7:47 and I knew I couldn't keep that up all three miles. I also had a guy on my heels and I didn't want him to pass me. This course was not closed either, so the cars on the road made me a little nervous.

I did grab a cup of water at two of the water stops, but I kept running while drinking the water (which was kind of a mistake). I also kept willing for it to rain so I could cool off a bit! Unfortunately, it never did.

As we passed the 3.1 mile mark, the guy that was behind me passed me (of course) and went on to cross the finish line just a few steps ahead of me.

After he turned around, I realized who he was and made a joke about it. I work with his dad! Small world, huh?

I seriously gave this race all I had. My lungs were burning and I just couldn't go anymore. Even though I didn't cross in first, I still placed as first female and received a certificate towards a pair of shoes from our local running store! (This was our 2nd annual Warrior 5K and I also placed as first female last year!)

After grabbing a bottle of water and saying goodbye to everyone, my dad and I set out for our church and the Easter egg hunt.

On the way there, I was talking about my PR and mentioned that I didn't come anywhere close to it, even though I felt like I was running fast (for me). My dad asked if I was I looked it up and much to my surprise, I DID 14 second with an average pace of 8:02 per mile!

I could not believe it! Having a PR at a race held by my school is extra special to me, so this one means just that much more, especially since my previous PR was from 2015 (and pre-baby)!

It was a great start to the weekend and I couldn't wait to see what the rest of it had in store (more great running things to come so stay tuned)!

Have you ever had that nostalgic return-to-your-high-school kind of feeling?

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