Friday Five: Five Races I’m Totally Stoked for in 2015

Happy Birthday to ME! And how do I celebrate this fantastic occasion?! By taking my final exam and hitting the road to get to my new home– Maryland! (And post more… I promise I will be more talkative on here once I have my own computer and blazing fast internet… I PROMISE)

It’s Friday… and you know what that means! Linking up with the amazing  MarCynthia, and Courtney  and discussing the topic of the week– the five races I’m looking forward to for 2015!

1. Hot Chocolate 15K Nashville

Check. Done. Amazing. I loved everything about this race–my pace, how my body felt, having Fiance with me, the awesome medal and the fondue. Come on. Fondue. SOLD!

2. Rock and Roll Half Marathon DC

This will be my first Rock and Roll Half. I checked out the elevation chart for this one… and the middle of the race is going to smoke me! But I think the excitement and the runners around me will motivate me!

3. Shamrock 5K, Sole of the City 10K, Charles Street 12 Miler (B3)

I decided the best way to run around my new home is to sign up for three races. Great idea, right? But I’m looking forward to it!

4. King Crab Challenge (Frederick Half, Baltimore 10 Miler, Baltimore Running Festival Half)

I signed up for one three-race challenge. Why not another? These are my favorite distances, so I’m pretty excited about these as well!

5. MCM or Army 10 miler

A girl can dream right? Maybe, just MAYBE, I will make the lottery / get registered before it sells out. We shall see. Shoot for the moon, right?

What races is everyone else doing this year? Any great races in the Baltimore / DC / Philadelphia area that you can recommend?

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Hot Chocolate 15K Nashville

Woo hoo!! I love long weekends! Fiance and I got to do our new Valentine’s Day tradition, which is running a race! We started the tradition last year when we were in Afghanistan and I am glad we had the opportunity this year to run another race together.

Let’s start with the packet pickup. I had to rush from school (about a two hour drive from Huntsville to Nashville) to get to the packet pickup on Thursday night. After being in Huntsville for the past couple months, I have sort of forgotten what it is like to drive in traffic, so I was a little frustrated when I hit the pm rush hour traffic in Nashville. However, I MADE IT and was able to get the bibs and awesome jackets/bag for the 15k.  It was super easy to get the goods, but I was a little frustrated that the packet pickup was in the middle of downtown Nashville. To me, it doesn’t seem logical to have the packet pickup in the middle of the evening rush hour traffic in the congested downtown area. But… I got what I needed and was excited for the race!

Bibs

The race started at 7 am, with a suggested arrival time of 6 am, so we decided to stay near Nashville on Friday night. I picked up fiance from the airport and we made our way up to the city. We stayed in Brentwood, which made for an easy 15 minute drive into the city.  Fiance chose to Longhorn Steakhouse (I think?) for dinner and I ate a delicious salad and TONS of bread for dinner. And soup. Yummy soup.

We got up around 5 am and got ready for the race. It was pretty cold out (in the 20s or 30s I think), so I wore pants and a long sleeve shirt with a headband for the race. And gloves. Definitely needed the gloves.  We got to the parking garage near Bicentennial Park around 5:45 am and sat in the warm car, debating whether or not to wear a jacket.  After discussing it, we decided to just tough it out because we knew that we would start to get hot once we started running.  Shivering… we made our way to our corral for the race around 6:45 am.

Ready for the race

Oh, the corrals… Let’s talk about that. I’ve never really ran in a race in a corral (Manchester Road Race had corrals, but we didn’t have the opportunity to use the… general race area for us!!!) but I had an expectation that people would stick to their corrals.  I noticed that there were a lot of “C” runners that I was passing throughout the race… which leads me to believe that they kind of “corral cheated” and started ahead of where they were supposed to. I only say this because I was at the front of the C corral and… I’m not that fast of a runner. I should not have passed THAT many people. Corral cheating… I guess it comes with the racing territory. I’m not bitter or anything… nope… not at all.

ANYWAY… I absolutely LOVED this race. Sure. There were a lot of little hills, which I didn’t expect (I REALLY need to do a better job of scoping out the elevation maps before a race) but I still loved every aspect of the race. The spectators were great. The scenery was beautiful. The air was cold, but crisp and refreshing. I told fiance to let me hold the pace and not to push it. I had some calf pain last week and didn’t want to hurt myself during this race because I have the Rock and Roll Half coming up in DC. I expected to probably do about a 9:30 pace for this run, but after the hills, I decided to “let myself” run closer to a 10 minute pace. Much to my surprise, I actually ran a 9:18 pace! (I DID stop my garmin for my 2 minute bathroom break, so the overall results have my pace as slower… but for actual RUNNING, I did the 9:18 average).  Fiance told me that I was actually the one leading the pace, even though it felt like he was pushing me / pressuring me / dragging me up the hills. I am very, very happy with this race!

Post Race

And the medal. I LOVE this freaking medal! And the chocolate. SO GOOD. Yes… that’s chocolate on fiance’s lip. Such a cutie. The hot chocolate at the end was awesome and the fondue was also do delicious! We scarfed down the good and then rushed to the car to get home to a warm shower. We spent the rest of the day just hanging around downtown Nashville and soaking in all the live music and delicious adult beverages. I love Nashville and I hope I get an opportunity to hang out around the area again someday.

Time to take a little rest and hopefully just kick back and enjoy this last week of class… And run another race next weekend. It’s only a 5k and I’m mostly doing it for the fun aspect. Fiance won’t be doing this race with me, so I probably won’t push myself as much as I would if he was running with me. I hope everyone had a great weekend!!!

Friday Five: Moments of Love

Happy Friday the 13th!  13 is actually my favorite number… So hopefully that means that today is a great day! I have a busy weekend ahead of me and projects left to complete for class… Almost to the finish line!

DC_linkup

MarCynthia, and Courtney  have posted “love” as the Friday Five link up topic! I’m really excited to share a few moments of love that have touched me through the years.

1. Soaking up some of the last few moments together before I left on my first deployment.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I was able to celebrate her “birthday” with her… Although, on her real birthday I was already in Kuwait.

2. Returning home on leave for the first time to my baby girl!

Iraq Leave

She grew SO MUCH. Deployments are hard…

3. Dressing up on Halloween with the little!

Halloween

(Yes… I am aware how creepy the white rabbit is… But I make sacrifices when committing to a theme!)

4. Fiance is FINALLY BACK FROM AFGHANISTAN!

Fiance is bakc

That’s a REAL SMILE from him… He isn’t really much of a “smiler” but I think he was happy to be back!

5. Moments with these two… My loves! 

My loves

I am so incredibly blessed… Just looking at these moments makes me realize that I really have all that I need in life… Happy Valentine’s Day!

Winter Winds 2 and 4 Mile Road Races Recap

Happy Monday!!! Usually people say that Mondays are the worst… But I personally think of them as a fresh start! Last week was a rough week for me (lots of knowledge crammed into my head) and I am ready to take this week head on (and it’s going to be another tough one)!

This weekend I participated in TWO races (all part of one event). I did the Winter Winds 2 & 4 Mile Road Races here in Huntsville.  The two mile race started at 2:00 and the four mile race started right after at 2:30. Ugh. I absolutely despise running in the afternoon. I’m definitely more of a morning runner… But I made it work.

I had a chia drink for breakfast… went to Mass… had another chia drink and a banana before the race and hoped for the best! I could tell during the 2 mile race that I definitely didn’t have enough fuel for a fast, short race.

The race was a relatively small race.  There were lots of young runners (probably from the cross country / track team of the school that hosted the event).  I expected to do well on the 2 mile and just use the 4 mile as a “cool down” run to finish out the weekend.  I positioned myself near the front of the pack to try to get the best time that I could….

Which didn’t happen for the 2 mile. I has pushing for a 16:00 or so (I had gotten a 16:48 on my PT test and averaged an 8:10 per mile for the 5k… so I figured it was within reach). I really did push myself… but it didn’t go as planned. The main difference between this race and a traditional PT test was the hills.  There were a lot of little hills that I was not expecting. I think the hills slowed my down physically and slowed me down mentally. I pushed hard but got very discouraged as I watched all the younger, more fit women passing me. I ended up finishing at 16:47 and in 4th place for my age group. My heart was HAMMERING and I struggled to catch my breath before the 4 miler. I almost did not do the 4 miler but fiance convinced me to do it as planned–just use the 4 miler as a cool down run. Discouraged but determined, I lined up for the 4 miler.

I positioned myself in the middle of the pack and told myself to just relax and run the pace that felt comfortable. Once we started running, I played a little game that I used to play in Afghanistan with fiance called “Pass one person, don’t let them pass you.” I would find someone in the crowd and pass them… then keep going. I passed them, one by one and made my way up. I ended up finishing 3rd in my age group and at a 9:11 pace! Which was WAY better than I expected!

Race results

Woooo! I also got a gift card? I don’t know how much yet (I have to redeem it still). I have never won anything at a race so this is really exciting for me!

Gift Card

I look forward to the 15k I have coming up… I have decided that I’m better at distances, where I have time to slowly build up my pace and get comfortable.

Friday Five: Fitness Snapshots

It’s another beautiful Friday! Finished my first test of my program management course (missed one–DANG) and am ready for the weekend!  BUT FIRST…

DC_linkup

Mar, Cynthia, and Courtney  have asked fellow bloggers / readers to share their fitness snapshots of the week… but since I’m terrible at taking photographic evidence of my workouts, I will share some fitness snapshots of my racing history.. Starting with my first 5k I ever raced!

1. Valentine’s Day 5k in Afghanistan

Valentines 5k

(Photo courtesy of my awesome Soldiers!)

I decided to do this race because my Soldiers were going to do and.. and I thought “Why not?” I had been running for a while and wanted to see how I would do in an actual race. I was a little scared, but did okay over. My goal was sub-30 min and I believe I got around 28-something (I didn’t log it… sadface).  ALSO, it was the first race I did with the fiance.  We have now made it a tradition to run together for Valentine’s Day. The couple that runs together, stays together? Sure. Let’s go with that!

2. St. Patrick’s Day 15K in Afghanistan

first 15k

Photo courtesy of my awesome Soldiers (again!)

Another race in Afghanistan, alongside my Soldiers.  I STARTED the race with the fiance, but he ditched me to race his boss (he’s WAY faster… so I’m just lucky that he slows himself down to spend some quality running time with me).  This was a really fun race and a good “long run” as part of my training for the upcoming Boston Shadow race.  It was the first time I had run this distance and I was pretty happy with it! I do not remember my time though.  I really need to get better about remembering these things!

3. Boston Marathon Shadow Run in Afghanistan

me and david prerace

(Source )

Pre-race photo of fiance and I.  Don’t worry–I didn’t make him run slowly with me (he beat me by about 20 mins), but I did make him take pictures with me.  I looked so happy and so eager to OWN the race.  I can’t believe I finished this race. I didn’t think I could do it… and my body agreed around mile 21… But there was no way I was NOT going to finish!

Boston ew

(Source )

I look like I’m dying a bit in this picture… and I may have been! I tried to smile, but clearly I need to work on my “race smile”  Just keep going was my motto throughout this race.  Keep moving forward!

me and david boston

And post-race! I was SO HAPPY to have that medal around my neck.// // <meta http-equiv=”refresh” content=”0; URL=/?_fb_noscript=1″ />Kristy Jones.  Averaged a 10:11/mi pace, finishing at 4hrs 27mins. Not bad… I wasn’t even sure I was going to make it in under 5 hours. But I DID! Highlights of the race: (besides NOT DYING)  Multiple high fives with the Easter Bunny, actually RUNNING with the Easter Bunny, talking to the CG while running, and being asked “Do you want a ride” from a van filled with creepy dudes… It was definitely memorable. Post-race, fiance and I just crashed on our office couches. Don’t worry… I still worked! Just… very slowly!

4. Manchester Road Race in Manchester, Connecticut

turkey trop

I really wanted to do a Thanksgiving race and this was the longest race that was close to my fiance’s parent’s house.  So, we signed up, ordered our turkey attire and woke up early to run 4.75 miles!

Turkey trot faces

I had no idea how HUGE this race was until I actually saw it with my own eyes! We took our normal “together” face shot and wrestled our way through the mob for the first two miles. Our time was slower than we wanted, but we finished strong! Next year, hopefully, we will be able to move into the proper corral and not have to fight those runners who are slightly slower than us. It was a GREAT race and I absolutely LOVED all the crowd participation. Everyone would shout “Gobble, Gobble” at us, which was AWESOME!

 5. Jingle Bell 5k in Tacoma, Washington

family christmas 5k

This race was short and quick… had I been running at my normal pace. But, we had my little in tow, so we ran at her pace.  Which was.. about a 13 minute mile. I don’t mind it because I just love running with her! With each race, she runs a little more and walks a little less, so it’s a success for me! We used her competitive spirit to make her go a little faster (she wanted to beat the boys)! She ultimately only wanted to finish because of the candy canes. She literally stopped about 50 feet from the end and said “I’m done!”  Then a passer-by said “But you get candy canes after you finish!”  That changed her mind entirely!

me and little

(With her much-earned candy canes!)

I hope to run similar races with fiance and my little this year as well! Races are so fun to do as a family!

Just Checking In…

Happy First Week of February!

This is definitely my favorite month of the year. So many good things– the Superbowl (usually), Valentine’s Day, a guaranteed long-weekend (President’s Day), and my BIRTHDAY! Unfortunately, I will not be able to celebrate with the Fiance until the weekend following my birthday because I will be finishing up my course here in Huntsville. I’m excited to see what Fiance has planned though… I will let you know!

Random thoughts of the week…

This popped up in my email and my heart was instantly shattered.

fiddy

I won’t be in town when 50 cent and G-Unit are playing!!  The funniest thing about 50 cent is my fiance’s interest in him. Don’t get me wrong, I love my fiance to death, but he isn’t really the “50 cent” type.  He wears polo shirts, studied environmental management and political science in school, and … likes Star Wars (so do I, don’t judge)!  It always cracks me up when I see him singing along to 50 cent! Bummed I couldn’t take him… Maybe next time, 50 Cent

I’ve been trying to eat healthier this week  I have noticed how much of an impact my diet has on my running. Eating crap = me running like crap. Lots of spinach, salad, fruit and healthy soups. However… I have allowed myself to have a small treat each day. I’ve recently discovered a new, delicious treat!

gummy bears

I bought these for my daughter’s Valentine’s Day package and decided to try one for dessert. You know… just to make sure they were good enough for her 😉  … and they’re so good! And they don’t make me feel like crap afterword. Organic gummies FTW!

Here’s where I’m at in my workouts this week:

Monday: Nothing. Monday’s always get me.

Tuesday: Did 3 miles on the treadmill–pushing myself to do each mile a little faster. Sucked and was awesome all at the same time.

Wednesday: 3 mile “warm up” on the treadmill, followed by the Body Power class at the gym. It was a smoker! I used more weight this time and was feeling it! I loved it… and the instructor was awesome.

Hopefully I can keep up the momentum that started on Tuesday… Longish run scheduled for today!

Birmingham Chocolate 5K

Fiancé and I woke up BRIGHT and early on Saturday (early for me is anything before 8am) and made the drive down to Birmingham to take part in the Birmingham Chocolate 5k, a NR Racing event for the Autism Society.  More info here!

When we arrived, it became very clear that it would not be a very large race.  I was immediately excited because it meant that there was a CHANCE for me to actually do well and maybe even beat some people!  Fiance and I got our bibs and ran back to the car to keep warm. Although the weather is pretty “warm” here, I have somewhat acclimated myself to the temperatures and a 35 degree morning felt a little chilly. We pinned ourselves up and waited until the last possible minute to get to the start line.

Then it was time to start! We positioned ourselves near the front to get a better shot at doing well. We learned our lesson from the Zoo Run and didn’t want to get clogged or slowed down. I did the same thing I ALWAYS do at a race–looked around at all the sharply dressed men and women and started to doubt myself. I picked out about 4 women in snazzy, flashy gear and told Fiance that they were all going to beat me. He told me to just RUN and do my best. Which I did!

The race was a two-lap short course around the Hoover Stadium, just south of Birmingham. The website had listed the course as a flat, fast course. It was fast… but there were some hills. Not enough to completely kill me, but I did get slowed down. But the best part… CHOCOLATE every 1/2 mile or so! The participants were given Ghirardelli chocolate squares. After the first pit stop, I wanted to focus on the run and not the chocolate, so I had Fiance pick up my chocolates for me. Totally a great plan!

the good stuff

(Here’s us in the end with some of the goodies–I do NOT recommend the Choco-ola, ew)

My goal for the race was a sub -27:00 5k.  I knew that having Fiance pace me, I would do a lot better than if I was by myself… and it definitely helped. I didn’t really bother to check my garmin–I just followed him closely and tried to keep up. And it paid off! My chip time was messed up, but I took Fiance’s score–we crossed together. I finished with a 25:20!!! WAY better than expected. I ended up being the 3rd place for all females and 1st place for my age group… But there weren’t any awards given for this race. Womp. Womp. But… I feel GREAT knowing how well I did!

Fiance and I post-race:

David finish

finish