Fifth Third River Bank 25K

I’ve mentioned before how I am someone that has to sign up for something in order for me to fully commit myself to training, and doing it right. Well after my first half marathon, I kind of fell off the running bandwagon and really didn’t do much running. I think I had convinced myself that it was okay since I had been training for 3 months straight to take a little break from it. Well a few days turned into a week, which turned into a month, which then turned into I can’t remember the last time I ran.  I was falling into a slump again of making excuses to not get to the gym. It was definitely time to empty my wallet a bit and sign up for another race.

I always get really excited when looking at race schedules, it’s like Christmas morning for me looking at all of the sites and seeing the different themes! Plus I’ll find any excuse to wear a tutu 🙂 As I was looking I figured I would start off and find a 10k or something small, and then find a half marathon again to train for.  I knew traveling wasn’t an option, so it had to be close. I was looking for something in May or during the summer, preferably once I was done with school. Then I saw one for Grand Rapids, and noticed it was a 5k and 25k. I had to think for a second on what distance a 25k even was (social workers do not enjoy math!), once I realized it was only about 2.5 miles more than my furthest distance, I signed up for the challenge! I mean it was only a little bit further than the half marathon, plus it was at the end of May and since it was December when I signed up, I had plenty of time to train 🙂

I searched for awhile on the internet for different training plans, and I found one that fit perfectly for the distance and for my schedule. The one I used was http://www.worldvision.org/resources.nsf/main/twv-25k-training-program/$file/25k-Training-Program.pdf Since it was only a thirteen week training plan, I still had some time before training officially started after signing up. So I tried to hit the gym more, and I began incorporating some of my P90X videos in to get some strength training in on my arms and legs.

Training in the winter can be pretty difficult if you’re a Michigander. As long as you have the proper clothing and protection, it can be done. But if you’re a baby like me and I hate being cold, sometimes the treadmill seems more appealing. The first couple of weeks I spent in the gym, but once it was consistently above 20 and the sun was shining more, I began training outside.

Training this time around felt easier, I felt lighter and quicker on my feet. I think it was easier too as I had trained once and I could learn from my mistakes. I went out and bought some proper training gear, and running clothing that was more suitable. I just felt like a part of the running community this time around. I had experience and I knew what I was doing. I felt like a runner.

About midway through my training, I, along with millions of other runners and individuals worldwide became heartbroken and speechless as the news broke about the Boston Marathon bombing. I immediately became glued to my television and phone, as I have a brother in Boston and knew individuals who were running or spectating that day. Thankfully everyone that I knew was okay and safe. I was in absolute awe watching news reports of people running in pure terror and chaos through the streets, trying to find their loved ones and then get to a point of safety. Watching those individuals who stood by the injured and the fallen and those, including my brother (yes I am a proud sister) who is a Doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital, who ran to the scenes of the bombing to offer any medical assistance that they could. Being just a citizen watching from states away, I couldn’t imagine how those runners and their loved ones were feeling that day. The Boston Marathon is such a monumental run and event for our country, and for something so tragic to happen during such a time of honor, reward and celebration, it impacts everyone.

As a few days passed, the running community really took charge and there were thousands of fundraisers, events, and donations being held and sent to Boston to help. On April 17th of 2013, they held a “Run For Boston” day, and asked all runners to recognize Boston as they put their miles in, and to wear Boston colors. I convinced my boyfriend to put in the 3 miles with me. It was amazing to see all of the photos and stories that were being sent in from across the country. I can’t remember the total number of participants or miles that were totaled after that day, but I do remember being amazed and blessed to be part of a such a wonderful community of people who share the same passion, and who use that passion to help others.

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Jordan and I after our “We Run for Boston” 3 miler 🙂

Majority of races following the events added on funds for participants to donate money, or asked runners to wear Boston colors. Although our race didn’t have anything specific going towards Boston Marathon, myself and those that I was running the Fifth Third with still wanted to do something. We ordered shirts to run the race in from a site that had all of the proceeds going towards those that were injured during the bombing. The shirts arrived just in time for the race.

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Since this race was taking place in Grand Rapids, I was unable to go to packet pick-up the night before. Since the other runners were family or close friends from back home, they were able to pick up all of our packets. My brother and his girlfriend were flying in from Boston to run with us. Myself and Jenna were running the 25k, and my brother Chris, my brother Brandon and our good friend Cami were running the 10k. Brandon and Jenna literally made it right before we left that morning, as they had some flight delays. After everyone put their shirts and bibs on, we headed out in a hurry!!

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But we still made it with about half an hour to spare before the start of the race. My mom, Jordan and my little brother Michael were cheering all of us on from the sidelines. I was really excited to be sharing the race and day with some of the most important people in my life. It was a blast driving there and just spending time before the race together.

After taking a shot of caffeine and using the bathroom about twenty times. It was time for the 10k participants to line up. We were able to watch Brandon, Chris and Cami off. This was Cami’s longest distance, Brandon and Chris’s first 10k, and my first 25k; so today was important for all of us. Shortly after it was time for the 25k participants to line up.

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Jenna and I before getting in line!

Race day was actually pretty cold. In fact, colder than expected. But we do live in Michigan so you get kind of used to it. Before I knew runners were starting to walk towards the start line. Now let it be known that Jenna definitely more experienced in the running department, and I knew that she was going to be running at a faster pace than what I had been training at. But I figured since race day I always run a bit faster, I would try and stick it out with her. I felt great, and when Jenna told me we were running at about an 8:30 pace, I was shocked. That’s about a minute and a half faster than my pace, and considering I was feeling really good, I decided to stick with it. I ran the first nine miles with her at that pace and was definitely ahead of schedule. I tried to text Jordan and let him know where we were at since I think he was pacing me at 10:00 miles (since this is one of Michigan’s biggest race events, our spectators decided to hold the fort down at the finish line and not meet us at any of the spectator spots). Once we approached mile 9, which is where the hills set in, I knew I had to slow down. My legs were starting to cramp, and I wanted to be able to run the entire thing without stopping. I motioned for her to go on ahead and had to tell my brain it was okay to slow down.

I think in the moment of the race, it’s really hard to do the right thing sometimes. Endorphin’s kick in and you go in with all of these expectations and goals, and sometimes it really just doesn’t work out that way. I have learned to listen to my body, and to do what’s necessary to cross the finish line. Especially since I was warned that miles 8 though 12 were all up hill, I had to tone it down.

Now I’m going to lie, I was hurting. Bad. I normally use hills to push myself so I can coast downhill, but these hills were giant. Literally, I felt like I was climbing Mount Everest with the amount of pain I was feeling in my legs. I just had to keep telling myself “mind over matter” and “only a little bit longer and it’s smooth sailing!”. Thankfully once the hills were over I was able to pick it up a bit. I still was struggling, and at about the 10 mile marker I realized that I had not packed any form of fueling. In fact, I didn’t even plan on bringing any fuel. Definitely not the smartest thing, but I used that as an excuse to challenge myself to get through the 15.5 miles without using a “pick me up”.

This course was super scenic for being in downtown Grand Rapids, and one of my favorite courses. Towards the end it was all within the city, so there were more spectators and people cheering you on which definitely helped my cause. I texted Jordan when I crossed the 15 mile marker so they could start watching out for me. Once I turned the corner and saw the finish line, I picked my pace up. I actually remember getting a little teary eyed, but I honestly think it was because I was so excited to be done. I was in pain, and needed fuel bad. As I passed the bleachers I saw my family, and that definitely felt great. Thankfully Jordan snapped a picture of me about to cross the finish line. I crossed at 2 hours, 28 minutes and 37 seconds. My RunKeeper was right on and was at 15.5 when I crossed the finish line, I swear by that app 🙂

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After crossing, my legs felt like complete Jello. I don’t know how I didn’t collapse, but I managed to find Jenna. She was helping a fatigued runner with getting water and what not, such a sweetheart that girl is! We went to meet my family and congratulate everyone. I was excited to hear that Brandon and Chris crossed the finish line together, I think they both felt they could have prepared or trained better then they did, but they finished and that’s the important part. Cami crossed without stopping, and I was super excited for her! I know she was nervous going into it, but she rocked it like always!

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The runners! (Brandon, Jenna, myself, Cami and Chris)

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My # 1 supporter. Not sure what I’d do without him 🙂

The best part about this race? The beer tent! They have a post part with beverages, and a free beer ticket for runners, as well as Buffalo wild wings and entertainment. I wasn’t able to enjoy the post party as much as I would have liked to. I didn’t walk or stay warm like I should have following the run, or bring a change of dry clothes. The mixture of me being sweaty along with it being cold led me to feel really fatigued and have a severe case of the teeth chatters! But I managed to at least get my beverage down 🙂

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Cami and I in the beer tent 🙂

We didn’t stay long as I was ready to get in a warm vehicle and go home and take a long nap…. but before leaving, I thought I saw a familiar face. Me, being the creeper that I am, noticed a tall guy that looked just like Misha’s boyfriend Kyle. I hadn’t met him yet and wasn’t aware he was in Michigan (he too lives in Texas), but that didn’t stop me from having Cami shout Kyle over towards his direction. Sure enough, it was him. We obviously had to snap a picture and send it to Mish 🙂 He had some family running in the race, so as fate would have it we just happened to cross paths! About time.

IMG_3352This race was one to remember. I learned a lot about training, fueling and taking care of myself before and after the race. I definitely will be implementing these lessons into future training and races. Regardless though, I met my goal of crossing the finish line without stopping, I was able to run this race with family and friends, and I got a free beer out of it! I’d say it was a successful day 🙂 Minus the part about not being able to walk back to the car…. thank goodness my boyfriends legs were working!

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I decided to order the finishers shirt that they had for sale at the expo prior to the race. Definitely a good decision and worth the extra money!

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