The green streets of Baltimore {Kelly St. Patrick’s Day 5K Recap}

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Pretty intense right!?

This was my second year running the Kelly St. Patrick’s Day 5k put on by the very best place ever, Charm City Run, and just like the last time I did this race (in 2014), there was so much green out there that I felt like everything else I looked at for the rest of the day had a green tint to it. Or that could have been the shot of Jameson I did at the finish line party. I’ve been pretending to be Irish a lot this week.

Anyway, this is one of those odd races that starts in the middle of the afternoon, but I have to admit that I was thankful for the extra sleep what with the time change and everything. My friend Suzanne showed up at my house mid-morning and we went to a local diner for a breakfast that I instantly regretted eating as soon as we got downtown and started warming up. Luckily we were early enough that I had a bit of time to digest my eggs and toast before the 1:15 start.

I already didn’t have much of a goal for the race when I got there, but after some rain moved through and my heel was giving me some issues, I decided that this one was mostly just going to be for fun. The first half mile or so is exclusively downhill and the street was VERY slick. As we waited for the air horn I discussed with people around me – some of whom appeared to already be pretty drunk and no offense, but I just don’t see the fun in running any kind of distance when you’re drunk – how stepping on manhole covers just then could lead to broken ankles. We heard the National Anthem and then we were off!

I’m not going to lie; as nice as that downhill start is it is also somewhat frustrating because literally 5,000 people run this race and Charles Street is super narrow right there. And EVERYONE wants to be in the front regardless of whether they are runners or walkers. I had better luck this time, but it was still a slow-go for a bit as I nearly tripped over groups of friends that were walking together.

The course is downhill to flat-ish, from Charles Street to Key Highway – which probably means nothing to most of the people who read my blog – then turns back toward downtown and ends at the Power Plant Live complex and an ENORMOUS green party (pictured above). I found a nice, comfortable pace for pretty much the whole thing and enjoyed the actual race part much more than before because I took the time to check out my surroundings. My favorite part was people watching after the turn around point…it’s like a huge party in the street and I could tell that everyone was having a blast. One of my least favorite things is whatever the heck happened with my GPS. I don’t know if it freaks out because of all the big buildings or if I’m really running longer than a 5K, but my distance has been longer both years I ran this race. And this year my first mile clocked in at around 5:55. I know mile 1 was my fastest, but I am fairly certain that it wasn’t 5-minute mile fast!

Even though I wasn’t killing myself, I still bested my 2014 time by about 30 seconds.

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My official chip time was 22:26. I took some green beads that a girl handed me at the finish line and it was time to find my friends and party!

This race is VERY popular and I saw many people that I knew. Because I didn’t have Betty last weekend I could actually hang out for awhile and man was it FUN! Live bands, a nice spread of snacks, beer (of course), and lots and lots of happy runners.

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I especially love how thrilled we look as compared to the miserable looking people behind us. My friend Jarrod’s watch also told him that he had run a sub-6 first mile. We like to think it’s true.

I remember being sort of grumpy after this one in the past – maybe because my dumba$$ decided that wearing a wool kilt would be a cool idea which it was NOT –  but after a MUCH better experience this time around I will definitely be signing up for this race next year. Charm City really is tops at organizing big events like this. Small annoyances aside, it really couldn’t have been a better day, despite the pouring rain that moved through as the party came to a close.

Did you run a St. Patrick’s Day race this year? How did it go? How do you feel about getting drunk before running?

I hope everyone had a very lucky day yesterday and that you all have a fantastic weekend!

xo,

Salt

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How to Run 5K like an Athlete {Guest Post}

I don’t know if this is so much of a secret on here or not, but I absolutely LOVE the 5K distance. I also think that it gets sort of a bad rap sometimes. Because it’s a shorter race I’ve heard people snub it as “easier” and while it is a great place to start for people who want to tackle their first race, I can tell you from experience that there have only been two race distances where I have overexerted myself to near-vomit level…the marathon and the 5K. Both so challenging, but in completely different ways. 

Today’s guest post has some helpful tips for runners of all levels who want to prepare for their first 5K or shoot for a new PR!


Training for a 5K run requires motivation, dedication and a lot of hard work. Whether you are a seasoned runner with several races already under your belt or a complete novice, the journey to 5K fitness can be every bit as rewarding as the race itself. If you approach the big race with the attitude of a professional athlete, you’re likely to perform like one on the day.

Preparing for a 5K run involves far more than jogging three times a week; it should be a complete programme of health, fitness, nutrition and lifestyle changes. Athletes have to sacrifice many of their favourite foods and social activities in order to perform on race day, and you will need to do the same if you’re going to put in an athlete’s performance when the big day arrives.

Adopt the following four strategies in order to fine-tune your body for the challenge that lies ahead.

Adopt a 5K training plan that works for you

Too many people dive straight into a rigorous 5K training plan that was originally designed for seasoned athletes. At best, this course of action could lead to a lot of pain and disappointment; at worst, it could lead to serious injury.

Recognise from the outset what your strengths and weakness are, and give yourself enough time to gradually work on them. A Kiqplan coaching app, for instance, can help you in this regard, as it takes your personal information and activity data and designs a workout and nutrition programme tailored to your needs.

During long periods of exercise, you might experience pain or discomfort in very specific areas of your body, including in your hamstrings, calves and hip flexors. You should therefore develop a series of stretches designed to keep you supple and pain-free in those areas.

Condition your body for the challenge ahead

The average 5K race involves the use of your aerobic system for around 80 percent of a race and your anaerobic system for around 20 percent of the race. Anaerobic activity involves very high intensity activity that leaves you out of breath and experience a build-up of lactic acid in your muscles. You will therefore need a training plan that develops both areas of your respiratory fitness.

Your training regime should include at least two ‘even speed’ runs every week. This is a session in which you should maintain a steady speed and exertion level throughout your run. You should also be performing ‘interval training’ two or three times per week, which involves five minutes of ‘steady speed’ running followed by a minute of intense activity – such as sprinting.

Try to dedicate a day to sprinting every week. Towards the end of your programme, you should be combining high-intensity running with distance. This might include running for a mile at a speed faster than you’re used to, resting for five minutes, and then completing another mile.

Fuel your body fully for training sessions

High-intensity training requires high levels of fat and carbohydrates. However, your body will probably already have sufficient stores of fat, so you should try to fuel your body with good carbohydrates as much as possible. Eating the normal recommended daily allowance of fat – around 20 percent of your daily calorie allowance – should be sufficient.

Good carbohydrates include whole wheat, whole grain and nuts. Brown toast, peanut butter, bananas and granola are all great foods for breakfast, as they provide energy that can be gradually unlocked throughout your morning training sessions. Other foods to load up on include lean meat, fibre-rich vegetables such as spinach, low-fat milk and egg whites.

Remember: this is not the time to diet. If you’re taking on a rigorous training regime, your body will naturally require more fuel.

Source the right equipment

The most important items of equipment you will need to prepare for a 5K run are running shoes. Rather than simply buy the cheapest pair of running shoes at your local sportswear store, visit a specialist running retailer, who will measure and assess your feet. For instance, you may be an over or underpronator, which could mean that a specific type of shoe will enhance your performance and keep your feet in food condition.

Decide on clothes you feel comfortable running in, but dress appropriately for the weather. And if you’re starting to get bored, don’t be afraid to plug yourself into your favourite tunes for some much-needed motivation.

Training for a 5K run should begin at least 12 weeks before the event. And if you want to compete like an athlete, you will need to take every aspect of your health, well-being and fitness very seriously indeed.


 

How do you feel about the 5K distance? Any tips of your own that you would like to share?

I hope everyone has a fabulous Tuesday!!

xo,

Salt

One Delicious Race Recap {Fit Foodie 2015!}

SUCH a great weekend…where do I even start?

First of all, I had been looking forward to hanging with some of my favorite gals. I was lucky enough to have been picked for the second year in a row to be an Ambassador for the Fit Foodie 5K and I was in VERY good company: Courtney, Erika, and Amy would be re-joining me along with Mar and Kathryn, who I was excited to finally meet!

Also…man did I need a break from regular life for a weekend. I hadn’t run a 5K since January and was feeling really pumped up about racing. There’s just something about 5Ks that I love. Then I was feeling pretty pumped up about eating a bunch of yummy food.

We headed out at around 2pm Friday, got checked in to the hotel an hour and change later and went over to the upscale Mosaic District, which was the same venue for Fit Foodie as last year. The packet pickup which was easy as pie and staffed by a bunch of friendly, helpful people, was conveniently located in the most dangerous store on the planet, aka: Target. Somehow I managed to get out of there spending a grand total of NO DOLLARS. I don’t think that has ever happened to me before in my life.

After that major success, we killed some time window shopping before heading over to the VIP party, which was held at celebrity chef RJ Cooper’s restaurant, GypsySoul.

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The wine (Prosecco for me!) was flowing and the small plates were quite delicious. Especially the shrimp in some kind of salsa shown in the left hand pic. OMG.

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The tomato soup—which I ate sans bacon because I’m a weirdo who hates bacon—was also good, but the spoon they gave us to eat it with was dollhouse-sized. I ended up drinking it like a shot. Better that than vodka, I guess.

Speaking of vodka, they had some signature cocktails as well. I did not sample them because I’m not a vodka drinker, but they seemed to be popular with everyone else.

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Love these gorgeous ladies!

We wrapped up at the party fairly early because as good as the apps were, we were ready to throw down on a great big dinner back near the hotel and I wanted to rest up for my 5:45 wake up. Not before taking another delicious gift bag of Sartori cheeses with me though! There is currently enough cheese in my fridge to last me until 2016.

The 5K this year was scheduled to start at 7:30 am, which usually would be a great way to beat the summer heat, but by the time my alarm went off the air was already thick with 100% HUMIDITY. I arrived back to the Mosaic District and quickly found my fellow Ambassadors. Just like last year, the emcee was doing a great job getting everyone involved in some pre-race warmups.

I opted for a quick half mile run to get my legs ready. While I was out there, I passed the mile 3 sign…and the most rancid, gag-worthy smelling dumpster I think I’ve ever encountered in my life. I made a point to warn my friends to not breathe in the hot garbage when they saw that sign.

Last year as a last minute decision, they had opted to do a wave start. Although it seemed that just as many people were running this year, they let everyone go all at once, which as I’m sure you can imagine caused a bit of a traffic jam. I was able to maneuver through it pretty quickly though and caught up with the lead group of runners. There was only one girl up ahead of me and I kept my eye on her, trying to match her pace.Pretty soon my watch was beeping the end of mile 1, although there was no mile 1 marker in sight…

…until nearly a quarter mile later? Who the heck had marked this course?

To further complicate things, after another half mile we ran past the mile 3 marker when clearly it was NOT mile 3. Apparently we would be traveling this particular stretch of road twice, which meant DOUBLE the hot garbage smell that I mentioned earlier. Then we had to continue on past the finish line—which I hate—and we were right back to where we started and then traveling on a different street. My watch beeped mile 2, but I never did see the sign for it. We were definitely going the right way because it was clearly marked with arrows and course marshals, but overall the setup was just really, really strange.

During the third mile, leader girl started to pull away and while I was still feeling pretty good, it was like trying to breathe inside a sponge out there and I just didn’t have the energy to go after her. I hung with a few guys that were running near me and soon we were meeting back up with the runners who were about to make their first pass of the horrible dumpster. At that point I knew I was almost done so as soon as my watch beeped for mile 3 I gave it everything I had. My finish time was good for second place female and 5th overall:

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And my splits:

Mile 1: 6:34
Mile 2: 6:47
Mile 3: 6:49
.1: 6:14

I. FELT. AH-MAZING.

You know what would have been even more amazing though? If someone had handed me some water when I came across the finish line rather than just looking at me. Come on, guys.

I liked the way they had things set up this year. The finished line emptied right into the Finisher’s Village where there were food and swag booths set up and of course the wine garden, sponsored by Cupcake wines (some of my FAVORITES!) I exchanged some happy words and high fives with the guys I had been running with and made a quick trip over to where my car was parked in the Target garage to grab my bag and sunglasses. Then back to the finish line to find everyone and taste some yummy eats and drink some yummy drinks. Never mind that it was only 8 am.

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Just like last year, it was a fun, party atmosphere—as you might be able to tell from the above ridiculous picture—despite the intense humidity and rain that fell briefly. Soon they would start calling people up to receive awards. I totally missed the memo on this and didn’t realize that I had been announced until they were on to the age group winners. I quickly rushed up, collected my medal and a photographer snapped my sweaty picture, which I’m sure was just lovely.

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I had already visited all the tents and collected everything I needed, so I bid farewell to my fellow Ambassadors and made my way to the same place I always have to go directly following a race.

That would be Starbucks.

Venti tiramisu latte in hand, it was back to the hotel for a shower and the remainder of the day was spent shopping and being a tourist in DC. It was exactly the vacation that I needed.

Sunday I was scheduled to attend a pure barre/yoga class aaaaaand I’m so sorry, but I managed to sleep right through my alarm and missed the whole thing. Epic fail, I know, but I haven’t been getting nearly enough sleep lately and my body needed it.

So what did I think of this event? There were definitely some interesting changes this year, some of which were better than last such as the organization of the Finisher’s Village. The sponsors and acts of kindness were top notch and many thanks to Cooking Light & Health magazines, Rove, Sartori, the American Diabetes Association, and Pure Canadian Maple Syrup for the love!

The 5K itself was okay and the course definitely had some issues that I think need to be worked out before next year, such as the odd placement of the mile markers. It was nice to see that the area where runners had to cross over each other last year had been revised so we didn’t have to go through that again, but it was a bit awkward having to meet up with a big group right as I was trying to finish out my race. Water at the end would have been really nice too.

And the dumpster. Twice. Let’s not have that again please.

Thank you, Fit Foodie, for a fun weekend!!!

If there’s a round 3 next year, count me in.

xo,

Salt