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Fifth Avenue Mile Race Recap & Long Run Disaster

I know you all have been worried the last few days, wondering how I would fare in this extremely important one-mile race that occurred yesterday. 😉

Rest assured, my friends, all is well!

The race went really well and it was a ton of fun! My co-workers and I got together about a half-hour early before our heat began (we raced in the media heat) to do some dynamic stretching and just chat about stuff that didn’t revolve around work. Then we ventured down to the corrals, where we realized there were awards for best team outfits, etc! We had no idea! Unfortunately, we came unprepared for these fun categories, but we’re already prepping for next year. At least we had “Team Fitness” rockin’ on our sleeves. We looked pretty nifty, if I do say so myself.

I called out for advice on this race and basically a lot of people just told me to relax, have fun and run fast. Noted.

I also tried my best to follow this outline from Jess, which proved to be really helpful.

Going into the race, my plan was to run the:

  •  First 400 meters at 85% effort
  • Second 400 meters at 75% effort to catch my breath
  • Third 400 meters at 100% effort….just run.
  • Final 400 meters at 110% effort…aka run like the wind, bullseye!

However, I didn’t follow the plan exactly. Oops.

Our heat was small because it was only the media organizations racing, and somehow I found myself at the very front toeing the starting line. I have never been able to actually toe the starting line before a race, making me one of the first people to pounce when the horn sounds. Standing on that line caused a lot of excitement and pressure. I wanted to run hard and I wanted to run fast. Soon, the horn blasted and I flew!

Before I knew it, we hit the quarter-mile mark and when I looked at my Garmin, I was pacing a 4:00-minute mile –woooooahhhhh Sam, simmer down. You cannot run that fast for very long. At all. So I reigned it in quite a bit until I was running at about a 7:00-minute mile. Phew.

Once I hit the half-way point, all bets were off. I kicked it up into high gear, tagging one of my teammates (who’s faster than me and actually does speed workouts) so I would forget about time and just run. The final quarter-mile arrived and I gave it everything I had. I angled my head down a little more, pumped my arms as much as I could, and sprinted. I planted my foot on the finish line at 7:19.

This race was a completely different experience for me, but it was so fun. My body kept trying to tell me to calm down so that I could run for a long time, but then my mind was screaming, “You’re almost done! Motivate yo booty!” So I think I landed somewhere in between, but closer to the motivate yo booty realm. After all, I haven’t ever run a mile that fast before. I think if I had followed the race plan closer, I would’ve run faster, but I’m not complaining 🙂

Running the race with all of my co-workers made it even more fun. We’re all passionate about fitness and well, we’re all just a lot of fun, so it was great hanging out with them for a little while outside of work. Yay for Team FITNESS!

I was supposed to high-tail it out of there right away to head upstate to my parent’s house, but Dustin ended up being called into work and knew he wouldn’t get out until at least 12:30. My race was over by 9:00a.m., so that meant more time for running! I decided to finish my long run, especially because I needed to log some miles after being sick for two days.

The first 4.5 miles went great. I maintained a steady 9:10 pace in Central Park and although my legs felt tight, they felt strong. Then I ventured out to see what was going on with the race, and it all went downhill from there. I was jogging on the cobblestone because the racers were on the pavement (not fun) and out of nowhere, a little dog pounced and latched onto my right thigh! I was shocked and screamed, but luckily the dog didn’t pierce my skin. There’s a lovely hole in my favorite capri pants though now. I was extremely irritated though because the dog’s owner, who watched it all happen, didn’t even ask me if I was alright! She saw me, yanked on the dog’s leash, and high-tailed it out of there. I find that to be incredibly rude and inconsiderate. Am I overreacting?

I ended up running back toward the Met, which makes me happy. I can’t help but think of Gossip Girl every time I see it. Does that show off my generation, or what? 🙂

Anyway, after the dog bite, my stomach went into crap-mode. Literally. (Sorry if I’m sharing too much) For the last 3.5 miles, I ended up stopping at three porta-potties, and running with an insanely painful side stitch. My pace slowed way down, but I was determined to finish. My splits weren’t fantastic, but at that point I didn’t care. I just wanted to be done.

I think my problems were with fueling, so I’ll be making some adjustments on the next long run to see how I fare. I’ve never had a bad long run before, so I’m glad that I now know I can power through it. I was also happy to know that I could immediately slurp down this delicious smoothie in a bowl.

Raspberries, cocoa powder, peanut butter and almond milk. Yum.

Did you run the Fifth Avenue Mile? How was it? And how do you deal with bad long runs? 

Race Bibs Are Exciting

I know I’ve only officially participated in two races in my running career thus far, so maybe it’s still newbie-syndrome washing over me, but I get all giddy inside every single time I pick up a race bib.

I don’t know what it is, but every time I see my name attached to a race number, a cheesy grin instantly spreads across my face and I get super excited immediately.

See?

Giddy.

I picked up my bib for the Fifth Avenue Mile race and it made me realize that I am legitimately racing one mile at 8:45am on Saturday.

One. Mile.

What the eff?

This baffles me. I don’t even remember the last time I ran only one mile. It had to have been sometime in high school, when we had to run it timed for gym class. Because I really don’t think it’s happened since then. Even when I was recovering from my ACL reconstruction surgery, I did more than one mile at a time. I think my absolute minimum for the last five years has been 1.5 miles.

My race wall is growing, slowly but surely.

So what the heck am I doing? How am I going to race this correctly? I don’t do very much speed work (bad, I know), so I’m clueless here. When should I go steady? When should I run fast? When should I run so hard that I want to just fall on my face because that will hurt less than the pain in my legs? And how will I know if I’ve started to do that too soon? Will I actually fall on my face? Ouch. That would really hurt.

These are only a few of the thoughts racing (<–pun!) through my head about Saturday morning’s activities. I really want to do well because I’m racing it with a team of co-workers, so I don’t want them to be disappointed in my time. I also don’t want to be the last one to finish because, well, I’m competitive and being last stings.

So I’m calling out to you people. If you have any advice, any advice at all, please comment below and tell me how I can achieve my best possible time on this one-mile race. I promise I will read every single word carefully and take every snippet of wisdom into careful consideration.

Are you running the Fifth Avenue Mile on Saturday? Or any race? I know a certain sweaty blogger, cough *Ali* cough, will be kicking major asphalt in the Hamptons this weekend. 

FITNESS Mind, Body, Spirit Games Race Recap

What better way is there to kick off a Saturday than with a race in Central Park?

How about hanging out with my co-workers at FITNESS, my Biggest Loser ladies, Hannah and Olivia (and her husband Ben!), and finally meeting my man, Bob Harper!

I’d say that’s a pretty awesome morning. We even snagged a shot of Bob laughing because some lady decided to cut right in front of us as a bunch of press people were taking our photo.

Isn’t he a cutie?! I sure think so. He’s even cuter in person than he is on the show.

So I hung out with them all morning, right up until 9:50 when my race was about to start! Then me and the fashion girls Marla and Argy scooted off to our corral, and editor Bethany met up with us too! After a few words from our fabulous editor-in-chief Betty Wong, we were off and running!

And run I did. I was determined to set a PR — well, it was impossible not to because I haven’t officially signed up for a 4-mile race before, just ran in them at school without signing up…shhh. But that’s beside the point. The point is that I ran my little heart out while professing my love for Ali and sweat.

© Erica Sara Designs

Why this picture is now on the Internet at least twice, I don’t know. I should have smiled. But I guess this is my game face. Blech.

The first two miles flew by and I was clocking good speed (for me) on the trusty Garmin. The rolling hills came on mile three, but some good tunes and awesome spectators kept me groovin’ along. I had three people yell to me, “Nice shirt, we love Ali!” during mile three. Guess I’m not the only fan 😉

I kept my pace consistently between 8:45- and 9-minute miles, only dropping down to 9:15 once or twice on a hill. I’m proud of that because I usually maintain around 9:30. There’s just something about races that really keeps the legs pumping. The race was 4.1 miles long and I officially crossed the finish line at 36:41! Here are my splits according to Garmin:

  • Mile 1 –> 9:07
  • Mile 2 –> 8:58
  • Mile 3 –> 9:06
  • Mile 4 –> 8:55
  • Mile 5 (.1) –> :42

Dustin met me after the race and we hung out with the gang some more, then headed down to Union Square to run a few errands. We picked up some goodies at the farmer’s market and I loved seeing all the fall stuff out for sale! Return of the pumpkins…

Libby is convinced she’s going to force me to like them. Stay tuned on that one.

Then I was starving, so Dustin and I found a new-to-us pub to grab some sandwiches. Once we were seated at Heartland Brewery, I knew exactly what I wanted.


The Cajun Crab Cake Sandwich was dee-li-cious ! Especially the sweet potato fries. Dustin doesn’t like them, so I don’t have them very often. Man, they were good. Dustin really liked the decor, and he had a perfect view of the Yankees game. That makes him a happy camper.

After a shower and cat nap, I’m ready to cook some more grub. Dustin’s currently at the grocery store getting stuff for us to cook meatloaf, and then we’ll settle in to watch the Syracuse football game. Go Orange!

Did anyone else run the MBS race this morning? Send me links to your recaps! And what celebrity have you always wanted to meet? Seriously, Bob was at the top of my list!

First Race = Complete!

Best. Weekend. Ever.

Best. Race. Ever.

I’m pretty much on cloud nine right now.

I probably should've flipped the blanket out. Oops!

The MORE/FITNESS half-marathon today in Central Park really was phenomenal. It was well-organized, clearly marked and stress-free. Not to mention the weather was absolutely gorgeous! Perfect running weather for a perfect first half.

But let’s rewind a bit.

I woke up bright and early this morning at 5:00 to fuel up for the race and give myself plenty of time to go to the bathroom before jetting off to the starting line.

I'm more excited than I look, I swear.

For breakfast, I gnawed on half of a huge cinnamon-raisin bagel with peanut butter and a sliced banana on top. Yum! I enjoyed some water on the side, as I’m not a coffee-drinker. I spent the rest of the morning getting ready, catching up on blogs and having fun with my camera.

What's she looking at?

Alright, I'll be serious.

Oh, and if you’re wondering what I’m wearing, I realized this morning that it’s all Nike: my sneaks are Nike LunarGlide +2’s, and all of my clothing is Nike — sports bra, T-shirt, long-sleeved top, capris and socks. Maybe they’ll sponsor me next time?

Anyway, Nina and I headed out to grab the N train to Central Park, then made our way to my grey corral. Before parting ways, we made sure everyone had their necessary belongings, including the sign she made me!

Isn't she cute?

Standing around all of the people with cameras prompted a quick pre-race photo shoot outside of the corral.

My lucky number 9 in the bib!

Nina gave me a quick hug goodbye and good luck, then made her way out to mile three, where we planned on seeing each other first. I moved into the corral and waited for the gun to sound. Before I knew it, we were off and running!

The first few miles zoomed by and I saw Nina at mile three sooner than I expected. I planned on walking a little around mile five, but never needed to. In fact, I didn’t walk at all! I ran the entire race, stopping briefly to chug down water three times at the water stations. I haven’t mastered the “run while drinking” trick yet — I tried it at the first stop, but ended up dumping nearly the entire thing down the front of my shirt. Whoops!

I had one ear bud in to listen to my iPod, but ended up zoning out a lot. Occasionally, I tuned into a song I really enjoyed, but I spent most of the race paying attention to how awesome my body felt and soaking in the scenery. Seriously, running in Central Park is amazing.

I'm on the right in the black capris and black top!

I drank water for most of the race, choosing Gatorade only twice because it made my stomach feel a little funky. I popped in a Clif shot blok at mile six and another one right before mile 12. Once I saw that 12-mile marker, I high-tailed it to the end. I finished my last mile at a 9:10 pace, crossing the finish line at 2:16:02! I finished in 3,725th place out of more than 10,000 runners, and 378th out of my age group of 20-24-year-old women 🙂

Own it.

They gave me this awesome medal at the end, too.

I rocked this race, yo.

Close up action.

And the other side.

Just so you know, I met all three of the goals that I set for myself when I signed up for this race:

  1. Train the best you can without getting an injury.
  2. Finish the race.
  3. Cross the finish line before 2:30:00.

Yay!

The sponsors had a festival at the end of the race, so I met up with Nina there and roamed around the various tents in an attempt to shake out the pain that hit my legs after I stopped running.

Love this girl!

I also met up with my old boss, FITNESS editor-in-chief Betty Wong, and chatted about the race for a bit.

Betty = amazing.

By then I was starving, so Nina and I headed out and grabbed some lunch at a random diner. I can’t remember the name, but I had a Santa Fe wrap: grilled chicken, roasted peppers and veggies on a whole wheat wrap.

It hit the spot.

I was craving something sweet after, so Nina and I searched for a Pinkberry for some fro-yo. Instead, we stumbled upon a 16 Handles. I’ve heard great things about this place, so we opted for it instead. We were impressed! I had a medium mix of peanut butter, chocolate and berry medley with an assortment of fruit, brownie bites and Reese’s Pieces on top.

Mine's the bigger one, of course.

It hit the spot.

Now I’m back at Nina’s apartment, relaxing for another hour or so before I have to catch a bus back to upstate New York. I’m still on cloud nine, so I’m not sure how much homework I’m going to get finished. But hey, at least I have a shiny medal. Don’t be surprised if I sport it all week long.

Did anyone else run the race this weekend? What did you think?

Conquering the Long Run

I have completed all of my long runs!

According to my training plan, I complete a long run every Saturday, starting at five miles and tacking on a mile about every week. This Saturday I ran my final long run of 11 miles before my half-marathon — it’s less than two weeks away!

The major downside of training during winter while living in Oswego is the inability to run much outside. The harsh winter winds and freezing temperatures don’t allow for a safe (or successful) long run. I tried it a few times, but didn’t run as far or as well as I would’ve liked to because I was constantly avoiding snow piles and ice patches.

It's a bit difficult to run with this going on.

As a result, most of my training was spent indoors on the treadmill. While it’s definitely much better than nothing, running on the treadmill is nothing like hitting the pavement outdoors. I knew it would be an adjustment, but I didn’t realize how much until I started running outside while on vacation in Key West. It took me a few miles to hit my usual pace and the wind was definitely a factor I didn’t have to focus on before.

I knew I would have to complete at least one long run outside so that I wasn’t completely unprepared on race day. Well, I’m glad that I had to do 11 miles while I was at home because I don’t think I could have gone somewhere else for better preparation. Oppenheim, do you realize how many hills you have?!

For your entertainment, below are some of the thoughts that ran through my head after each mile marker.

Miles 1 & 2: Easy peasy. Keep this up and you’ll be golden.

Mile 3: Wow, after only a few hills, this mile is almost completely downhill. Lovin’ it.

At this point I turned around and headed back toward my house to hit another route after six miles.

Mile 4: Oh yeah, if it’s all downhill one way, it’s all uphill the other way. Holy crap, my legs are burning.

Mile 5: Whyyy is it still uphill? And where did this wind come from? Worst. Mile. Ever.

Mile 6: Phew, this is mostly straightaways and downhill. Wow, my legs feel good.

This is where I turned down another route to get some more scenery in. It’s also where I hit my stride and my breathing completely became second nature. I’ve heard about “hitting your stride” before, but it’s never happened to me before. Post about that to come soon!

Mile 7 & 8: I can’t wait to blog about this. My legs feel awesome. Man, I can’t wait for dinner tonight.

Here I look up and see nothing but a long, winding incline.

Mile 9: Crap. Oh, crap. Why do I keep finding mile-long hills. Why does Oppenheim have so many hills? And why are there so many dogs out without leashes?!

I turned around and headed back for home.

Mile 10: Only two more miles left. Just keep running, just keep running (said in Dory’s voice from “Finding Nemo”).

Mile 11: Final mile. Push, Samantha. I can’t wait for some food after this. Mmmm, foooooood.

I finished in 1:49:46, which is basically exactly on target for the pace I want to maintain on race day. My goal is simply to finish the race, but ideally I would like to finish within 2:30:00. If I keep up this pace of about 10 minutes per mile, I’ll definitely be able to accomplish it.

There was still one mile left until I got home, so I used it as a cool-down and walked the whole way back. I thought about running part of it, but my right hip really started bothering me so I nixed that idea. No point in overexerting myself and putting myself at risk for injury so close to the race!

So what have I learned about completing long runs?

  1. Take it one mile at a time. If things get really hard, focus on one step at a time. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Tackling 11 miles is a lot more feasible to me mentally when I only try to do a mile at a time.
  2. Relax. When the going gets tough, a lot of people tense up naturally. Do your best to keep your shoulders relaxed and your hands loose.
  3. Make sure you swing your arms back and forth. This sounds simple, but females naturally tend to swing their arms across their bodies without even realizing it. This forces your body to work harder, tuckering you out sooner.
  4. Regulate your breathing. For me, my breath feels most natural when I take two breaths in, then two breaths out. Try to maintain a regular pattern to help your body relax into a groove.
  5. Distract yourself. Whether it’s with music, a running partner, or other things that you have to get done, sometimes it’s best to focus on anything but what you’re actually doing. I like to zone out to music or random thoughts so I’m not focusing on the pain in my legs.

What lessons have you learned from long runs, or exercising in general? Do you prefer the treadmills or the great outdoors?