February 29, 2016

Leap Year 4-Miler (Night of the Glow) race report

Well, today was the second "annual" Leap Year 4-Miler race. I ran the inaugural race in 2012, and I was really excited to run it again. It happened to be at the perfect time in my 10K schedule to use as a tune-up race and hopefully see if I'm on pace to hit my 10K goal in April.

As I mentioned yesterday, my goals were:

"A" goal: If I have a REALLY good race, I could probably do sub-31:00 (7:45/mi).
"B" goal: Take 4 minutes off of my last Leap Day time, for 31:15 (7:49/mi)
"C" goal: A sub-8 pace, for a time of sub-32:00.
"D" goal: Just finish.

To spoil the ending, I will tell you that I did, in fact, reach ONE of those goals ;)

Nathan (my younger brother) said he would pace me, and I really liked that idea. Having a pacer makes it much easier to focus on the race, because then I wouldn't have to worry about looking at my watch all the time. I just had to keep up with Nathan, and I'd hit my goal. I told him that I wanted to aim for 7:45 on the first mile, and then see how I was feeling. If I was feeling good, I could try another at that pace; if not, then I could scale it back to 7:55. And just go from there.

Kendall (Nathan's girlfriend) picked up my packet a couple of days ago, so I didn't have to get there early, which was nice. I dropped the kids off at my friend Andrea's, who was kind enough to watch them, and then I went to Willow Metropark for the race. I met Nathan there, and then at 6:00, I did a warm-up (the race start was at 6:30). I ran about 1.5 miles very easy, and did a few strides and stretches. I felt pretty good, other than a stomachache that I'd had all day. 

My stomach felt like it had a pit in it all day today, and I ate more than normal, thinking it would make my stomach feel better. For dinner, I made what I thought would be a good pre-race meal: a sandwich with peanut butter, banana, and honey. It ended up feeling like lead in my stomach, but I ate it three hours before the race, so I figured there was time to digest.

Anyway, the race was a little late starting. Nathan and I stuck together at the start, and then when we crossed the starting line, my only goal was to keep up with him. I told him not to let me start too fast (something I always do), and at first, I felt like we were going so slow! But after a half mile, I was really feeling the pace, and it certainly didn't feel slow. I didn't look at my watch at all, because I just didn't want to know.

From the very beginning of the run, I just didn't feel right. Normally, when I do speed work, my legs feel springy and light (on a good day, anyway); but today, they felt clumsy and heavy. And my stomach--ugh. The pit was just getting deeper, and soon, it was all I could think about. Once I let that negativity get into my mind, I just started thinking that today wasn't my day. It just wasn't going to happen.

My first mile was 7:45 on the nose, which is what I planned, but I knew I had to slow down. I told Nathan I'd try to run 7:55 for the next one, but in my mind, I wasn't sure if I could even do another mile, let alone three. I felt really bad about it. I told Nathan that I would try to make it to mile two, but I couldn't do more than that. There was just no way. We hit mile two at exactly 7:55--seriously, Nathan is a ridiculously accurate pacer--and a few steps later, I just crashed. I slowed and spent the next five minutes trying to catch my breath. Those two miles felt much harder than they should have!

The last half mile of the race was extremely windy, and I was glad that I was no longer aiming for a time goal at that point. The wind was so strong it took my breath away. I crossed the finish line in 34:15, exactly two minutes faster than my time in 2012. So, I hit my "D" goal, which was just to finish. Hey, at least it was a course PR ;)

I felt really bad, like I completely let Nathan down, even though he kept insisting that it was okay. He said he knows I have a 10K PR in me, and today just wasn't my day. That's exactly what I would tell someone in my situation, but it's hard to believe it when it's about me, if that makes sense.

As I drove home, I was totally beating myself up about the whole thing. I kept wondering if I could have made it if I had kept trying, but honest to God, I don't think I could have today. Looking at my stats now, I am kind of stunned--my heart rate got up to 209! The only time I've seen it in the 200's is when there is a problem with the monitor; but that's always obvious from a lot of spikes and dips. This one looks pretty accurate:

Crash and burn at mile two 

I'm completely torn when I think about how this race went. I was pretty confident going into it that I would do well, based on my 5K time from the beginning of this month. Now, however, I'm questioning everything about my training and whether or not I can hit my 10K goal in April. But, here is what I know:

I know that people have bad runs sometimes, and bad races.
I know that I'm not going to hit my goal at every race. If I do, then my goals are too easy.
I know that I did try my best, and I didn't finish the race thinking that I could have done better.
I know that my speed has improved dramatically over the past four months.
I know that I still have six more weeks until my 10K, so plenty of time to work on it.
I know that I was not feeling my best going into the race today, so it just may have not been my day.
And again, I know that people have bad runs sometimes. It's a fact of running life.

So, even though I felt bad about it immediately after the race, now that I've given it some thought and wrote it out here, I am going to continue my training and just chalk this up to experience! 


  1. Looking at your stats, while you didn't do as well as you hoped, you were in the top 10% of every category. That's awesome. Don't beat yourself up about it.

    The only thing that is concerning is that your heart rate was running so high. Maybe your HR monitor is off, but that seems way out of the norm for your fitness level.

  2. Katie, did you notice that you were 4th in your age group!!! It may have felt crummy, but you still excelled. Just keep perspective for your sanity!!!

    1. Totally agree with this! It's still an awesome time, a PR, and your pace for the race is still incredible! I think you did amazing, given the conditions. :)

  3. Thanks for sharing! It shows how real you are and it's actually really motivating. If you were constantly perfect you wouldn't be so relatable. Well done my dear!

  4. Good days and bad days, swings and roundabouts...
    Last weekend I bailed at 19km during a marathon where nothing was going right, including a gale force head wind! This weekend I ran a half, and equalled my PB.
    Last weekend I was a failure, who was just faking this running thing, and this weekend I was a champion! (even if just in my own mind!)

  5. Keep you chin up! We all have bad races/days! Keep on keeping on! Training is a work in progress. You can do it!

  6. We all have bad runs/races. The problem for me is that I can't really predict what I do that contributes to a good/bad day. So it sucks that you weren't feeling your best on a race day. That's what stings. If it was just any other normal day that resulted in a bad run - no big deal right? It's amazing how some days my legs feel like lead and others I feel like a machine. I wish I could predict those feelings. Or at least know how to "make" the good days happen.

  7. Do you think it could have been the time, too? I know running in the evening when I am used to running in the morning or the opposite, does weird stuff to my body.
    Sorry you struggled in the end. That last half mile into the wind was incredibly brutal!

  8. I agree with Running Meg...the time of the run vs the time I normally train totally messes me up. I know it's lame. I think you are also being too rough on yourself. 4th in your age group is AWESOME! You could also be fighting something with that high of a heart rate. Keep thinking positive!

  9. You had lots of things going against you...your stomach, the wind, the time of day. I think it's amazing that you even finished feeling the way you did. I might have used that as an excuse to just not do it. And your place?? You did great! I hope you can chalk this one up to experience and not let it get you down.

    As they say for musicians...if the dress rehearsal stinks, the performance will be great. :)

  10. I was thinking the same thing as Running Meg - that maybe it was because the race was in the evening. By that time of the day, no matter how easy I've taken things that day, I'm just tired! You still did a great job, so congrats on the finish!

  11. It just sounds like the odds were against you for the race. You rocked a 5K at an amazing pace don't let this one bad one discourage you! I've been there some days our bodies just aren't having it when it comes to running. Onward and upward keep that 10K goal in sight!

  12. I'm sorry that this wasn't the race you were hoping to have, but thank-you for writing about it so honestly. I'm a back of the pack run/walker and don't really set up a lot of goals for myself, but my 14 year old daughter runs to place. It helps me to help her when I read about another fast runner who doesn't always meet their top goal. I've gotten much better at knowing what to say to her when she doesn't have a great race. I want her to keep running and enjoying it and your great perspective really helps me understand the runner mentality.

  13. I ran the race, but much slower. I was happy to just finish. :D

    FYI - A great run to do in Michigan is the Mackinac Island run in mid September. If you have never done this run, I promise that you will love it.

  14. It's a sign that you need to fuel better. Your body needs protein, fruit and vegetables, not processed, sugary stuff. Yes, I know, you're not a clean eater, your blog is called Runs for COOKIES, you have a sweet tooth and bla bla bla. But your BODY, the only one you'll ever have, is giving you signals that you should start taking this seriously. You're not fooling anyone but yourself by thinking that your diet and your running goals are compatible.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. I commented, but then realised I was feeding the troll. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVnJMhvEtCc

  15. Oh I just loved this post. Not the fact you didn't achieve all the goals you wanted to, but how you were able to reflect upon it & see the positives despite being pissed off. It's difficult to do. Nathan did a great job as a pacer & a supporter :)

    Also, I see you came 4th in your age group - awesome! Think back to 2009 Katie; imagine if you'd told her you would run a 4 mile race 7 years later & come 4th in your age group. I bet you'd never believe it was possible :)

  16. Thanks for writing about this - we all have bad runs and bad races and even though we know that it's so easy to take it personally and question yourself. It's good for me to be reminded that even people like you, who is much more dedicated and way faster a runner than me, have bad experiences on race day too. And I hope it goes without saying to ignore the anonymous moron above re: food. You know what works for you and as others have pointed out your time was still really good. You are such an inspiration. Kate

  17. Well, we all have bad days. And, as long as we are doing what we should-- it's perfectly alright in my opinion.
    You have been idolised by many & God knows how many of us got the inspiration to start losing weight from your story.
    So, thnsk you on behalf of everyone who has reached his goal or is near his goal because of your blog����
    Take care and keep shining.

  18. Yikes!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That heart rate is crazy high! But I think that just means listen to your body and don't stress about stuff! If you don't get it this time, there will be another time! I did a 5k on Sunday and I finally PR'd for the first time in 18 months. I took 40 something seconds off my time, lol. I took it down 38:10. I've lost so much weight since then, and run so many miles, it is crazy to me my time never improves. But I am really excited I took those seconds off! I am so consistently in the 40's with 5ks. So 30's is amazing! I'm just going to keep trying. So keep trying! And I think your track record is long and solid enough to indicate that you probably just had an off day. Tummy troubles, an end of the day race instead of being in the morning, and a funny dinner- that's all enough to eff you up. Let it go. You'll get another chance. Promise. :)

    I did finally blog my first Half Marathon. Which catches me up to all of the back blogging I had to do which MEANS you can now check in every couple days and I will be hitting the publish button on all of my break up horrors. Also, Daniel and I just started talking again. So the drama shall continue for months down the line. Joy. Sigh. Nobody saw that coming.

  19. You did awesome!!! I am so bummed that your Instagram account with the calorie counts is now private. I found it so very helpful and inspiring. I do respect your right to privacy, just disappointed that such a helpful site is gone.

    1. If you request me, I'll add you. I was having a really bad day yesterday (not food-related, just in general) and when I read the comment about my food, I just had a knee jerk reaction to remove all the followers and delete the account. After thinking about it, I changed my mind, and it was too late! All my photos are still there, though.

    2. Hi Katie,
      I appreciate you're sensitive about your diet.
      However, while you can eat 1200 calories of whatever and still lose weight, I think it's undisputed that nutrition affects athletic performance - so I disagree with people calling the person commenting above an idiot or a troll.

      I notice huge differences in my performance when I eat a balanced diet of whole foods, and avoid processed/salty food and tons of white sugar.
      I wouldn't notice if my only goal was to lose weight.

      While the poster may not have been tactful, I think there is a valid point there.

      You may not want to change the way you eat, and that's fine, but you may have to accept that as a result, some running goals might be out of reach.

      Anyway, it sure is possible to have an off day, or that you're getting sick or something - but that gut ache throughout the race indicates that you might have been better off eating something a little less fatty and salty.

      I enjoy your blog, I hope what I have said doesn't upset you.

    3. Thank you! I don't get upset by comments that are worded tactfully, like yours is, so I appreciate that :) I just want to clarify that I don't eat just 1200 calories--I would starve only eating that! I also have low blood pressure, and my cardiologist wants me to get in a lot of sodium. I actually don't feel good when my sodium intake is low. I appreciate your opinion! But I am very happy with how my training has paid off. I've improved a LOT over the last three months :)

    4. Dude,she eats like 1900 calories! LOL Anybody who actually follows her account would know that! That's silly. And who cares what anybody else eats anyway. Everybody should really only be worried about themselves. That person is a busy body! Mind your own! My mother lives on heavy cream and butter and steak... Would I eat that way? No. Does it work for her? Apparently. It's not my body though, so I mind my own business. All I would do by criticizing her would upset her and alienate our relationship, which accomplishes nothing, which is silly and unproductive!

      Katie I super appreciate how real you are and honest you are with your diet. I started losing weight both watching you waffle in 2014 and seeing my friend eat a mix of unhealthy and healthy foods- but just being accountable for what she DID eat! Just log everything. No matter what it is. If you eat a donut, log it. Or burn it off. Trying to be perfect or only eating salad never worked for me! Being real and reasonable did. If eating a perfectly balanced diet works for one person- awesome! Go you! Totally doesn't work for me. I need treats.


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