Saturday, March 26

Race Report: Bayou Hills 10k

Last weekend, the day before our wedding, my (then) fiancé and I ran the Bayou Hills 10k. Given that it was wedding weekend, we ran this as a recreational run (and as training for an upcoming half marathon) rather than "racing" it. The route is definitely not a "fast" course anyway with plenty of twists, turns, and hills. While the total elevation never reaches more than 128 feet above sea level (this is coastal Florida, after all), there is also not a single quarter mile that is even remotely flat.

That said, the Bayou Hills 10k was one of those friendly, small, community races that reminds us that not every race is a NYC Marathon behemoth (nearly 45,000 runners) and not every race sells out in a few brief hours (like Boston). Locally, a week before this race the McGuire's 5k brought more than 11,000 runners out onto the streets of Pensacola. Bayou Hills was about one tenth that size. The course was never crowded. The water stations were well-placed. The finish line had plenty of the expected goodies (bananas, oranges, rice & beans, water, and beer). And perhaps nicest of all, an announcer congratulated almost all finishers by name as they crossed the finish line.

My fiancé crossed the finish line hand-in-hand, took a few photos, and ran off to the rest of our wedding weekend responsibilities. It was a good race for our "last run as single people."

Saturday, March 12

Race Report: McGuire's St. Patrick's Day 5k (and party)

This weekend was supposed to be a 14-mile long run in preparation for an upcoming 13.1.

However, the buzz about the McGuire's Prediction Run 5k convinced me to re-arrange my schedule.

After all, how could I miss the nation's largest "prediction run" right in my own backyard? And to sweeten the deal, the 5k is followed by a huge party with all of the traditional post-race fare, plus free beer, rootbeer floats, a smorgasbord of food, and a live band playing Irish drinking songs...

It's like some creative genius took all of my favorite things in life and rolled them into a single morning. Where do I sign up?

So at 6am I woke up, knocked back a cup of coffee, and put in my long-run miles for the day. After round one of the day's running, I stopped at home to change into a bright green shirt, grab my green beads (holdovers from last week's Mardi Gras), and hit the road again. I arrived at the starting line too late to have any of the pre-race breakfast, but that suits me just fine. Experience has taught me that any breakfast before a race winds up... well... staying at the race.

The starting line was the only low point in the 5k festivities. More than 11,000 (yes ELEVEN THOUSAND) runners converged onto a section of roadway less than one city-block long, and spilled over into parking lots, onto the lawns of local businesses... it was chaos! Fortunately almost everyone was in good spirits.

Almost everyone...

Just as the cannon went off to signal the start of the "race" (and I use that term loosely here), a gentleman (term also used loosely) started thwacking my shoulder and trying to push me aside. It reminded me of a triathlon swim start - with all the flying elbows - and I stood my ground, telling him first (in my best Southern California huff) "Um, dude. Like we're not all trying to get through, too?" When he persisted in pushing, I turned to him and laughed "Look, if you think you're going to run fast today, you came to the wrooooong place." At which point, the other green-clad runners nearby laughed and joined in, telling this over-eager newbie to cool his jets.

Because, seriously, who is going to break away from a pack this thick?

And the pack stayed thick for all 3.1 miles.

Because it was a prediction run, there were no watches allowed and no clock over the Finish line. I have no idea how I did.

Or maybe I should rephrase.

I am certain I didn't run my fastest 5k ever.

As I heard one runner say to another in the finish chute "you don't PR in a race like this!"

But I am equally certain that I had a helluva a lot of fun.

Sometimes it's good to take a step back from track workouts and long runs, and just run because it's fun.

Wednesday, March 2

I knew I ran for a reason!

Is it just me, or do you love when news breaks that proves running is good for you?

I get almost as much giddy "See! I told you so!" pleasure out of reading about the health benefits of running as I do from passing people in the finish chute at a race. Today's news is no exception: Apparently running is the Fountain of Youth. (And Juan Ponce de Leon was looking for the mythical fountain in Florida! How wrong was he? Ha!)

In new research, Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky found that mice who exercised the equivalent of three 10k runs each week showed almost no signs of aging, long after their sedentary peers had perished from age-related causes.

I'll add this to the long list of reasons to love running.