Wednesday, June 19, 2019

St. Augustine Trip/The National & Courtney Barnett

This summer, we don't have a big trip planned. Unlike last year, when Scott and Robby's wedding took us to the PNW, we didn't have a big excuse to travel but we did have some reasons to stay local.

The biggest reason is my sister's wedding this summer, but that'll be a post for a different time.

Our first "local" adventure for the summer was five hours away. Sometime in the spring, a friend alerted me that one of my all-time favorite bands, The National, would be touring in St. Augustine. This is about a five hour trip for us, but Matt and I literally never go to concerts (I think the last one I went to was in 2006?) and we have friends up that way, so it felt like it had to happen.

I eventually was able to twist Matt's arm and we booked the tickets and sprang for a nice hotel. The concert was on a Monday. We drove up to Sarasota Friday to see our dads for Father's Day, then left early Saturday morning to St. Augustine.

The first part of the weekend we dedicated to seeing Mark and Shane. Mark's entire family was at their beach house for Father's Day/Mark's birthday, so it was a boisterous, fun time. We're talking loads of little kiddos and the best Italian/Argentinian hospitality.
I managed a run on Sunday morning; despite living in Florida, I've never actually run on the beach before. I always run along it on pavement. I decided, though, to give beach running a try, as the sand seemed pretty packed and the sunrise was unbeatable over the ocean. I will say it was a lot tougher than I expected, but I enjoyed it a lot!
Matt also got some surfing in, which he can't usually do on our coast because the Gulf has smaller waves than the Atlantic.
After a huge family-style dinner and birthday celebration, we headed out to our hotel. Here's a video of Mark's incredibly dangerous and amazing birthday candle:
Monday, we spent the day walking around the Old Town part of St. Augustine. The city is the oldest continuously inhabited European-established city in the US. The history is pretty interesting (the museums don't sugarcoat the treatment of the Timucua by the Spanish colonists) and the atmosphere and architecture are beautiful. St. Augustine is also home to the country's oldest still-standing wooden school house, which I always think is some fun trivia.
At the Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest & largest masonry fort in the US.
After touring around, we got ready for the concert, grabbed some dinner, and headed to the St. Augustine Amphitheatre. We had plenty of time to find our seats and get comfortable before Courtney Barnett opened. Matt and I really like her music, and I have to say I was blown away by her live performance. I hadn't even realized she was opening until the day before, so it was a treat to see her!
Courtney Barnett! She played for about 45 minutes.
The rest of the concert was incredible. The National is one of those bands that gets to the heart of human nature through both their sound and lyrics. Matt Berninger (the lead singer) came out into the audience a few times, climbing pretty far up into the stands. I didn't get very many photos because I was trying to just enjoy myself and take it all in; I pretty much took one when they first came out and then a couple little videos.
The National takes the stage!

Although they didn't play Matt's favorite song of theirs, they did play quite a few of mine, and I admit I teared up during Bloodbuzz Ohio.

The set list
For the last song of their encore, Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks, they played the instrumental while the audience sang, urged on by Berninger. It was so, so beautiful.

I don't know why we don't attend more concerts. Hearing songs I love as they are filled with raw, pure energy straight from the band directly to my ears? What's better? And there is just nothing quite like singing your heart out with the band to music that means something to you...surrounded by strangers also singing their hearts out.

I am hoping to make concerts a more frequent thing, because it was 100% worth the trip and an experience I'll remember forever.


Monday, June 3, 2019

Walk with Pride, Run for Equality 5k

A couple weeks ago, whoever manages social media for Run for the Bling (Bling Running Events) planted a seed in my brain that I just couldn't uproot. Like, full kudos to them, because they absolutely convinced me to run this 5k that I otherwise wouldn't have known about!
Now THIS is some A+ marketing!
After my disappointing race the previous Saturday at the SUP & Run 5k, I couldn't shake the idea that another 5k for a cause I care passionately about was just what I needed. I was honest with myself; the hope of placing or somehow having a redemption race was alluring, but I also knew I wasn't in any better shape than the previous weekend and this was another 8am start.

Still, my logical brain was outvoted by my lizard brain, and I convinced Matt to race with me by using the same tactics as the race organizer: "It would be easy for you to place!" I wheedled. "Only 65 people are registered!"
Race morning!
So the morning of June 1, the first day of Pride Month, found us up early and making the long drive down to Eagle Lakes Community Park in Naples. It was stormy during our drive, but sunny at the venue. I knew we were in for another hot one. However, my mindset was very different. For some reason, I just felt very positive about the race and my worry about not "performing" had abated.

We had plenty of time to use the bathrooms and get ready. There were only 46 participants there for the actual race (there was a virtual option), and the smaller crowd further helped my mindset. The start was very casual; we all lined up, there was an informal sort of countdown, and then we went!

The beginning of the route looped us around a small lake in the park. I could see Matt at the head of the line, clearly in second place overall. It was already hot and sunny for the first half mile, but then we hit some shade, and enjoyed the shade on and off for the rest of the route.
If any race called for a rainbow, it was this one!
Around mile 1.5 I stopped to take a photo of a very apropos rainbow. I caught up with the girl in front of me and we chatted a bit and ended up kind of leap-frogging each other for the duration of the race. Around mile 1.8 I took my first short walk break; my first mile had been much faster than anticipated and I felt I had banked some time.

At this point, my legs and body were just tired. I was hot and feeling complacent, but in a good way. In a whatever happens happens, I'm out here enjoying myself kind of way. I took a couple more walk breaks in the second mile.

My impromptu running buddy pulled ahead with a definitive lead at some point, and I just kept trucking along. By the last half mile, I felt there was a real danger that I might puke, but there was one more woman I wanted to overtake and I had a view of the finish line, so walking wasn't an option.
When I rounded the finish, the clock read 29:53. I knew I didn't have it in me to get that sub-30, but it was a close thing.
I managed to cross in 30:12, which was faster than SUP & Run but still not quite where I like my 5ks. Maybe this is just my summer pace!
Matt had already finished; he told me he had finished 2nd overall and the guy in front of him was so far ahead he didn't even try to catch him. He also said he took a wrong turn and came back, warned people about the wrong turn, and still finished 2nd. (He wasn't the only one to miss the turn. I guess that's the danger of being ahead of the pack!)
I pretty much collapsed in the shade after my finish, lying flat on my back while my body just poured sweat. It was definitely one of the most unpleasant finishes I've ever had.
Just before they announced awards, I scoped out the results list and suspected I may have placed 3rd in my AG.
They did awards after most everyone had finished. Because they announced men's age groups first in 3-2-1 order, my name was called right after Matt's, and I heard someone in the crowd say, "That must be his wife!" Yes, the Kearneys brought it today!
My leap-frogging friend was 2nd in our AG and I didn't even feel a little bad about it; in fact, I felt really happy that we had run some of the race together and that she'd had a good day. I was feeling very magnanimous.
Although my time still wasn't where I like my race times to be, I was (ironically) pretty happy with my overall pace. There's apparently been a disconnect in my head regarding sub-30 times and paces, and seeing a solidly sub-10 overall pace mollified me. I have come to terms with my current summer fitness level and don't feel bad about walking, especially because the heat we're having is utterly ridiculous right now. I did what I could, managed to place, and supported a great cause.

Next year, I hope this race grows a bit (this was its first year) to further the cause. If it can expand without outgrowing its venue, that would be the best of both worlds!


Tuesday, May 28, 2019

SUP & Run 5k, 2019

This race was not the race I wanted, but it was kind of the race I expected.

While I wouldn't say I didn't train for this race, I will say that I wasn't nearly as invested as I have been in the past. Hot weather came on suddenly this month, and for some reason I just couldn't get myself to run more than twice a week leading up to race day. I did a few track workouts but my regular easy runs felt tough all month. I've been happy with my running, but my heart wasn't in the race.
May's training log. Spoiler alert for this race's outcome.
Still, we like to do this race yearly. Matt likes changing it up with the SUP and run, and it gives us an excuse to go visit our parents over the long weekend.

I knew from the start this was going to be a not-good (I don't want to say bad) race. This year, the race doubled in size, but the route (which is narrow and bottlenecked) didn't change. The race organizers actually set up starting zones based on paces, but most of the runners clearly had no idea what the giant numbered signs were for, because although I lined up between the 8 and 9, I was stuck behind people barely keeping an 11-minute pace.
The crowd at the start.
The worst of the narrow path opens up a bit about a mile in. I wasted a lot of energy getting around slower runners and some groups running three-across with their friends. By the time I hit the half-mile mark, I knew all the stop-and-go was going to cost me in energy and time.

Besides that, the route was (as always) completely shadeless and in full sun. This race starts at 8am, which is too damn late for a Florida 5k in the summer, but last year we got lucky with a cloudy sky. This year, not so much. In fact, after finishing, I checked the temperatures and saw it was nearing 100F. (It hit 100 while awards were being announced.) I am simply not built to run in that kind of heat and full sun exposure. My heart rate was way too high and I just couldn't catch my breath.
So, I walked at mile 2. I felt myself totally give up. I knew a decent time was out of the question so it felt like...why even bother? The truth is, I'm more disappointed in how I handled my attitude during the race than anything else. But like I said, my heart wasn't in it, I didn't feel invested, and it's really hard to finish a race you don't even want to be doing when the weather's against you, too.
Around mile 2, when I resigned myself to walk, I considered just not finishing. That's how bleak my mood was; I've NEVER DNF'd before.
I had to take a second walk break kind of near the end (around 2.8). As we came around the penultimate turn - a fairly sharp right - some guy elbowed me and completely threw me off my final dig. I'm sure it was an accident, but I was already in such a pissy mood and thoroughly not enjoying myself...I basically snarled at him. At that point, I didn't even want to try for a final sprint. I just wanted it to be over.

Here's an incredibly blurry screenshot from the finishing video:
I was surprised to see Matt's dad and stepmom at the finish line. They both commented they thought they had missed me because it took me longer than expected. I had to go grab the Cannon to get some pictures of Matt's paddle, so I didn't have time to hang out with them, or to process my finish at all.
It's frustrating to see that if I had managed to hold off walking, I may have  managed to scrape a sub-30.
Matt did really well. He placed first in his age group for the combo category, finishing 8th overall. I caught some good pictures of him from the bridge.
When I finally was able to find my official results, I was unsurprised to see that I'd run one of my slowest 5k in years. I finished 12th in my age group out of 29.

I know we all have days like this, and I know one mediocre 5k doesn't define me as a runner or really mean anything for my future races. It was an off day mentally and physically, and I have to take it in stride.
Not a cloud in the freaking sky!
Still, it kind of stinks that a race I usually really enjoy is now going to be tainted with this memory. It is what it is...but I'm still coming to terms with what it is. This will be a good lesson someday, and it's important to me that I document the bad along with the good; right now, I am really trying to reflect on what went wrong and what I can do better next time.


Tuesday, May 14, 2019

5k Prep

It looks like this blog may become a race-report blog, and considering how rarely I'm racing these days, I guess we can look forward to quarterly updates.

Last I wrote, I ran the Fast & the Furriest on very little training and shocked myself with my performance. Today I'm writing under similar circumstances.

When I ran F&F, I was already signed up for the Sup & Run 5k, but having over six weeks to prepare, I wasn't feeling a sense of urgency in training. As usual, April/May have been hard to run through. We're getting summer weather, complete with rainstorms, high heat and humidity, and tons of pollen. Add in end-of-year exhaustion and it's a perfect storm for waylaid training.
Still, I've done alright. My fellow CRTs and I have taken on a May challenge where we do 25 each of squats, pushups, and core exercises every day in our office around lunchtime. It's not much, but it's been a good influence to have them focused on this with me, it's broken up my days nicely, and it's keeping all of us motivated to eat a little healthier throughout the day.

I've managed to keep a fairly light schedule of two runs a week and have been easy on myself as far as heat acclimation goes. I've gotten at least one rainy run in, which reminded me that my legs actually can be fast when the weather cooperates, and just yesterday I tackled an interval workout (quarter mile repeats) that went really well.
I love creating workouts for my watch now that I have my new Garmin. Setting a goal pace for my intervals has been incredibly rewarding; I tend to sprint my first few repeats much too fast and burn out by the end. Using the workout function on my Vivoactive kept me within pace and allowed me to complete the full workout at peak performance. (I set my intervals between 8:50-9:00, not going for anything too gutsy, and ran them around 8:45, so it was a success!)
Anyway, all this is to say that I haven't been working incredibly hard for this race, but I haven't been slacking entirely. I'm not running well in the heat yet, so I'm planning to run conservatively, but based on my past 5ks I feel like I'll probably surprise and please myself.
There are a couple weeks to go until race day. Until then, I plan to just keep on keeping on.


Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Fast & the Furriest 5k, 2019

When I say I went into this race undertrained, I'm not exaggerating. Since A1A, I've only run roughly one to two times a week. At first this was due to recovery. Then it was because of track season. Those few runs building up to this race were generally under 3 miles and fairly slow, although I did a few 3-milers closer to race day and sprinkled a little bit of speed work in.
That's right, I did a total of just 6 runs in the month before race day.
Basically, I mean it when I say I was thinking this race was going to be a disaster. That I'd struggle the entire time. I didn't anticipate having a good race, but I thought maybe I could have a good run.
I met Michelle and Shelagh at Hammond Stadium (the Twins spring training stadium) around 7am. The race was scheduled for 7:30, which left us plenty of time to get our packets, use the bathroom, and take a few pictures.
My plan for the race was just to keep it low-key. I wanted to run at a slow-and-steady pace, assuming I'd be able to complete the race without walking if I stuck to a 10-minute mile. My paces have been slower than that lately, so I wasn't sure I'd be able to. My usual goal of running sub-30 minutes felt like a stretch, and while of course I wanted to reach that goal, I honestly didn't think I had it in me. I also was kind of resolved not to really try.

For the first time in years, sub-30 felt like a pipe dream, and I didn't want to risk injury by pushing myself past what I was capable of with so little training.

Anyway, we lined up at the start. Shelagh had a very specific time goal based on her race last year. She also wanted to win her age group. Michelle and I started behind her, since we weren't aiming for a competitive race.
In the first half mile or so, I was running too fast and having trouble modulating my pace. When I tried too hard to slow down, my shins hurt. But eventually I settled into a pace that felt pretty good, around the 9:40s, and my first mile ended up averaging 9:15.

With some major cushion on the time now, I settled in and just tried to run steady. I didn't have to play any mind games with myself because I was so entirely goal-less, and in a way this was one of the easiest 5ks I've ever run. (Don't get me wrong - it was hot and I was working hard, but it felt mentally easy.)

Around mile 1.5, I started giving myself little pep talks. Halfway there. C'mon girl, nice and steady. This isn't so bad. It's only three miles. At some points I slowed down, and at others I really picked up the speed; I was ignoring my watch so I really just let my legs do whatever they wanted.
In 5ks, I tend to hit the wall around mile 2.6, and this time was no different. I recognized the spot where I'd walked last year as I came up on it this year. But knowing I'd generally kept a slower pace, I convinced myself to just slow down my run and not walk at all. Again, the lack of pressure of a goal-free race really worked in my favor mentally.

The clock at the finish line was all zeroes when I crossed, so I wasn't sure of my exact time until I saw the printed results. My time was literally the same as last year's!
I did move up from 9th to 6th, though!
Honestly, I was surprised to see the time. I wasn't keeping a close eye on my watch; I knew from the first mile that I'd likely run better than I expected to and that I might even squeak in under 30 minutes, but I absolutely did not expect to run anything like I did last year.
(Shelagh pointed out later that last year this was my first real race back and I had trained for it. Who knows how I'd have run it if I'd put in some training?!)
I found Shelagh, who had absolutely destroyed her time goal (and did it without a watch!), then waited for Michelle to finish.
After Michelle crossed, we hung out a bit until, finally, we saw them printing results and went to look. Shelagh had placed first in her AG (6th woman overall!), so we knew we had to stay for awards.
She was very embarrassed and didn't want her picture taken, so of course I had to share it on the blog.
Afterward, we went our separate ways. I felt really good. I posted a couple weeks ago on Instagram that a perk of being a "veteran" runner is that you can slack off quite a bit and still pick up where you left off fairly easily. I think this race was a good example of that; in the past, I never could have gone into a 5k so poorly trained. Now, though, my basic level of fitness seems to rest a little higher, which is nice.
That said, it's really time for the slacking to stop. I have one more week of track (including the championships) and then I can devote more time to my own running again. I can't wait. It's time!


Tuesday, March 26, 2019

5k Season

After A1A, I took a much-needed break. It felt really good to focus on track & field and push my own "training" to the side. I've done a couple challenging runs in the last few weeks, mostly playing with speed work again and running the bridge, but I haven't actually been running.
Stretching after running the bridge for the first time in AGES!
That changes now. Track & field has a few more weeks to go; our first regional meet is Wednesday, the second is next Tuesday, and depending on if any of our kiddos qualify for championships, the season may end there.

Monday I finally laced up and went for a run in the neighborhood where I do most of my training. After A1A I was bored with it, but it felt really nice to be back on familiar ground. My legs and body felt good, too, despite the warmer weather; I think I am just ready to be back.
So you know what that means! Springtime in Florida isn't exactly race season, but there are still a handful of half marathons and 10ks out there well into May. I prefer to stick to short distances once it starts to heat up, though.

I've already signed up for the Fast and the Furriest 5k (which I've run a few times in the past (last year with Shelagh and Allison) and the Sup 'n Run 5k, which I've also run a few times. As usual, Matt will be supping and running that one. Shelagh is running F&F again, too.

I'm looking forward to having some familiar 5ks on my calendar. I think it's what I need  right now. I'd like to find a third between the two (F&F is coming up in early April and S&R is in late May). I'll keep my eyes open for one.

I may even consider planning a 2019-2020 race calendar. Right now I'm still in a different mindset when it comes to running/training/racing, the result of my surgeries and time off, but I'd like to be in good enough running shape that if a longer fall race piques my interest I can jump in and run it without too much hassle.

I guess we'll see! For now, I've got these two to keep me occupied.