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In September I ran 3 races:  The Chicago Half Marathon (Chicago, IL), The Autumn Rock n’ Run 5K (Orlando, FL) and the Miracle Miles 15K (Orlando, FL).  Today, I want to discuss my experience in each race, my goals, what I learned from each race and what I’m doing to meet my goals.

The Chicago Half Marathon September 9, 2012:  Finished 1:41:35/44 out of 1,295 in age group/193 out of 6,815 females/1003 out of 12,105 overall

My goal for running the Chicago Half Marathon was to finish around my PR of 1:39:41 (May, 2012).  I was pleased with finishing a little over 2 minutes over my PR – I had some IT Band pain that ran in to my knee throughout miles 5 and 6 and I know I slowed down during those 2 miles.  I am confident I would have PR’d if it weren’t for that pain.  After 2 disappointing half marathon times before this one (North Shore Half Marathon: 1:49:40 and the Chicago Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon: 1:53:07) I was so happy that I finally made it back to that range.  I prepped for the Chicago Half marathon by eating perfect for a runner, stretching more and keeping up with my training runs the week of the race.  The weather was also perfect which also helps.

The Autumn Rock n’ Run 5K September 15, 2012:  Finished 22:36/5 out of 151 in my age group/34 out of 996 females/152 out of 1,705 overall

My goal for this 5K was to PR – my PR is 21:23 (April, 2012).  It was very disappointing because I thought I had done much better.  I was pushing it but I felt fairly well through the whole race.  I finished 22:09 in my previous 5K and I was tight, sore and the entire race was uncomfortable.  I was very surprised that I finished slower at this one.  5Ks seem to be a little more tough for me.  You don’t have time to warm up so you have to get a good mile in beforehand, which I did not do.  If you start slow, there is little to no time to make it up.  You have to start strong and finish strong in a 5K.  I started incorporating speed training twice per week to improve my time.  I do a Tempo run on Tuesdays and repeat sprints on Thursday.

The 14th Annual Miracle Miles 15K September 22, 2012:  Finished 1:10:58/7 out of 188 in my age group/31 out of 920 females/134 out of 1,678 overall

My goal for this race was to finish between 1:08:00-1:10:00; I had only run 1 other 15K in my life and that was my first race after having my son and taking a full year off of racing so I really had nothing to compare my time to.  I was pleased but not thrilled with my time.  My shoe came untied and I had to stop to tie it just as I was getting my comfortably fast pace and getting “in the zone”.  That definitely slowed me down along with my IT band pain coming back at mile 8 and making the last 1.3 miles pretty difficult.  It was hot and humid as well – I don’t run to my full potential when it’s hot and humid.  I am hoping my speed training will help me with my next 15K (Chicago Hot Chocolate 15k November 4, 2012).  I know the temperature will be ideal for running.  I also switched to a slightly more supportive shoe to help with my IT Band as well as working on my flexibility.

I ran 3 races in September 2012 and for the conditions, I feel I had fairly successful races.  On average, I finish in the top 3% in my age group and in my overall gender group and in the top 8% in the overall group.  I am working and training harder, the temperature should be improving in Orlando and hopefully working on my flexibility and getting a more supportive shoe will all help me improve my time and ultimately get me a 1st place win in my age group again.

Next Race:  U Can Finish 5 Miler October 14, 2012

Set goals for yourself, work towards them, keep improving and keep running!

XOXO The Glam Runner

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Anyone who considers themselves a runner has had this question asked of them at least once…”why do you run”? Followed by, “it’s so boring”, “you’re going to ruin your knees”,” that can’t be good for your body” etc. The truth is, running is not only one of the best exercises for your heart and cardiovascular system but it’s the fastest, most effective way to burn calories and lose weight! Running is hard. Running is hard on your body, it tests your endurance and it tests your mind. Believe it or not running is a very mental activity; more times than not, your mind will give out before your legs. Sometimes when I’m exhausted and running a 5 miler I literally can’t get through that last mile but then the next day I could run 15 miles no problem. It’s a mind game and you have to learn to overcome it with positive thoughts.

I recently shared my story as to why I run on Keri’s Runway (www.kerisrunway.com a fun supportive and inspiring website for runners, fitness enthusiasts and fashionistas); I also wanted to share it in my blog. I started working out about 9 years ago when I moved to Orlando from Chicago. I didn’t know anyone or have anything to do so I joined a gym and really got in to fitness and I’ve been a fitness enthusiast ever since. I worked out with a personal trainer for a long time; I was in to lifting weights at the time with a little bit of elliptical and a spin class once per week for cardio. My fitness goals were very unhealthy and superficial. I was only worried about being skinny and having “abs of steal”. I worked out like crazy always comparing myself to unrealistic airbrushed women and feeling like I failed at my fitness goals miserably. I would cut back on carbs, feel weak then binge later and feel even worse about myself than I did before. I started adding in more cardio and started running on the treadmill for about 30 minutes every other day. It was uncomfortable and painful but I still did it. This whole cycle of me working out like a crazy person and not meeting my “fitness goals” went on for years until around New Year’s Resolution time going in to 2009 I decided to sign up for the 2009 Disney Princess Half Marathon. I had friends who had run half marathons and I liked the idea of taking 3 months to train then actually do something.

I started training and my long runs were painful! Every Sunday I’d do my long runs, increase mileage and be more sore than I can ever remember feeling. I trained for 3 whole months, ran the 2009 Disney Princess Half Marathon and finished in 2 hours 3 minutes! I LOVED it! I was hooked – I started looking for the next one which was the 2009 Chicago Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon (1:54:23) then the 2009 Las Vegas Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon (1:47:04) with a few 5Ks in between. My time improved every time and I felt so accomplished every time I crossed that finish line – something I’ve never felt before with my previous fitness goals. I ran the 2010 Disney full Marathon, 2010 Disney Princess Half Marathon, 2010 Minneapolis full Marathon, 2010 Chicago Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon, 2010 Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon with some 5Ks and 10Ks in between until I took a year off to have my son. My previous PR in a half marathon (my favorite distance to run) was the 2010 Disney Princess Half Marathon: 1:44:55. I won 1st in my age group in a 10K and always placed in the to 10 in every single 5K I had ever done. As I said, I felt so accomplished! I was actually good at running – who knew?

My first race back after having my son was the 2011 Chicago Hot Chocolate 15K. Training for that race felt like training for my first half marathon – I was also 15 pounds overweight and completely out of shape while training for that one. I ended up finishing in 1:24:27 and I felt great after the race! My time was nowhere near what I could do but great for my first race in over a year and being overweight. I couldn’t wait until my next race – the Orlando OUC Half Marathon – I finished in 1:54:38 which was right around my previous average time. I was back – but not quite. The holiday got to me and my training slacked for the 2012 Disney World Half Marathon, I finished with my worst time on record. I was so upset with myself and I got that old sense of failure again. It was a horrible feeling and I decided to kick it up, drop my weight for good and train hard for the 2012 Disney Princess Half Marathon. I lost the weight by then and finished that one in 1:47:42 which was my 3rd best half marathon time ever. I officially felt like I was back and ended up qualifying for the Half Marathon Fanatics for completing 3 half marathons within 90 days. Since then I ran a 10K, four 5Ks a 10 miler, a 15K and 4 half marathons! I met my goal of running a half marathon in the 1 hour 30 minute range – I finished the 2012 First Midwest Bank Southwest Half Marathon in 1:39:41 which got me 3rd place in my age group and is still my PR so far! In all the smaller local races (5, 10 and 15Ks) I have never placed lower than 7th on my age group and even won 1st in my age group in the Run for the Trees 5K. I would say my running goals are going well even though I still get angry when I don’t PR – it’s just the determination in me.

I have a number of races left in 2012 and I just started training for speed by adding Tempo runs and repeat days 2 weeks ago. I have more running goals in mind and I am having so much fun working towards them. If I did that well without speed training in the past, what am I capable of now? Placing overall in a 5K? Place in another larger half marathon? Qualify to run Boston? The possibilities are limitless!

The reason why I run is because I’m working towards a positive, healthy non superficial fitness goal. It’s good for my heart, good for my body and soul. I love running! No matter what you choose to do for fitness, make sure it is positive and healthy and don’t be afraid to try something new. You never know where your talents may lie.

XOXO The Glam Runner