Tannenbaum 10k 2014 (Race Recap)

Last Sunday, I ran my last race of the year – the Tannenbaum 10k.

Since I’ve already had a great year of progression, I didn’t really have high hopes for this race. Back in April, I ran a 48:38 on a net downhill 10K course and I’m not going to lie – I was WORKING during those last kilometers. It was not pretty. I heard that the Tannenbaum 10k was flat, but there was chance it would be windy… and cold. The night before the race, my coach gave me my race plan: start out at 4:50-4:55/km pace, drop to 4:45, and then go nuts at the 2.5km to go mark.


Course map. I found that the km markers were completely in sync with my Garmin auto km splits. Pretty impressive!

I figured if I followed his plan, I’d end up somewhere around the 47:30 range. I wasn’t sure how achievable that would be, but whatever! The season was over and it couldn’t hurt to try. He warned me that it could be windy on the way out, but that meant we’d have a nice tailwind to help us on the way back.

Time goals aside, I had a few other goals for this race:

  • Work on pacing by starting off conservatively and finishing strong.
  • Run by FEEL, not by my Garmin
  • Run my own race without getting distracted by the crowd
  • Have fun

KM Splits:
(1) 4:41 (2) 4:46  (3) 4:48  (4) 4:44 (5) 4:39 
(6) 4:44  (7) 4:42  (8) 4:47  (9) 4:45  (10) 4:35

As soon as the race started, I put my head down and tried to ignore the runners around me. I learned from STWM, that I needed to work on starting conservatively (without being too conservative) and trying not to get caught up in everyone around me in case they were all running faster than I should be. I tried to listen to what my “internal GPS” wanted me to do. After seeing my first km split (4:41), I was worried I had gone out too fast so I consciously tried to slow down for the next one – but not by too much… adjusting pace by seconds is not something I am good at. When my second split came in at 4:46, I felt satisfied with my pace and that was the last time I looked at my watch until after I crossed the Finish line. I told myself to trust that my body would tell me how fast to run and focused on staying in the moment (and enjoying myself).


So cold you could see your breath while you ran.

At around 5k, I decided that I was feeling pretty good still, so I tried to pick up the pace a little. But that’s where the wind showed up. It wasn’t anything major, but it was just enough to make me question how well I’d be able to run with it. Since I wasn’t looking at my watch, I wasn’t sure if I was going faster, slower, or maintaining my pace at this point. It felt like I was going faster, but maybe that had to do with the fact that it was the second half of the race and my body was starting to tire. I bumped into Mike around the 7km mark and he ran beside me for a bit. When I saw the 8km mark, I tried to pick it up a little, but again, I had no idea if I was actually running faster, or if I was just working harder to maintain my pace. When I saw the 9km mark, Mike took off to meet me again at the Finish line and I tried to drop my pace again.

My official chip time was 47:12.

Side story – I had been running near the 47 min pace bunny (elf?) for most of the race, but I wasn’t too concerned about keeping up. Since I was expecting to run slower than 47 min, I was worried trying to keep up would come back to haunt me later. Somewhere around the turnaround, he disappeared and although I didn’t remember passing him, I thought maybe I did and wasn’t paying attention. So, what kept me through for the rest of the race was staying ahead of the pace bunny. I thought, maybe, just maybe, I could get something in the 46 minute range, even if that was 46:59 since I was feeling pretty fresh in the second half. I kept saying to myself in the last km “just hold on… I can’t believe you managed to pass the bunny! Woo hoo! Surprise pb!”. But then I saw the clock time and I had a nice dose of reality. LOL. No, Alison. Apparently, despite being in front of the bunny (I think???), it wasn’t enough… this time.

I’m happy with how this race went. I didn’t really train specifically for it, so I was going off of residual fitness from my half-marathon in the Fall. I’m grateful that I managed to retain a little bit of fitness. I hope it’s a sign for more (faster) things to come in the new year. I’m also happy that I managed to race based on feel and finished feeling a million times better than I did at the end of TYS10K.

Oh yeah, and I had a ton of fun! A lot of my team mates came out to race or cheer, as well as a lot of the running community that I’ve come to know over the last few years. The race had an awesome atmosphere and was incredibly well organized considering its smaller size. I had a lot of fun.

Before this year, I used to be a slave to my watch. I probably checked the pace on my watch during a race more than I kept my eyes on the road. This year I took it to the other extreme and developed a fear of checking my pace in the middle of a race because whatever I saw would psyche me out. I ran a lot of races blind of pace, either because I ran with a pacer or because I was too nervous to check my watch. Next year, I feel ready to race somewhere in the middle by combining running by feel and double checking my pace every so often to use as a guide. I’m really excited.


Holly Jolly Fun Run – 5K Race Recap

There’s something to be said for last minute races. It seems to work for me when it comes to 5ks, anyway.

At the beginning of this year, I set a few goals for myself and PBing at the 5K distance was at the top of the list. I found a bunch of local races in the area and signed up myself up to keep me motivated throughout the Winter. It took me 4 races before I finally squeaked out an 8 second PB at a race I signed up for at the last second. Then I ran a horrible summer race that made me feel like I fell backwards and left a bad taste in my mouth. So I tucked away my 5K goals and focused the rest of my summer on training for a Fall half-marathon.

As soon as my half-marathon was over, I came across the Holly Jolly Fun Run 5K. The route looked pretty good – fairly downhill and I know the area well. I just didn’t know if I wanted to bother with trying to race a 5K again – I hate them! They hate me. Usually my entire 5km race experience is a 5 km hate fest. But, the season was over. I already completed my goal race, and so I registered the Wednesday before the race and decided to give it a go.

The prettiest course map I’ve ever seen.

There was no pre-race day prep. I did my usual trail run on Saturday morning, but took it a little more easy than I normally do. I had a burrito for dinner, drank beer, and ate chocolate. I woke up the next morning and had my usual smoothie breakfast (without yogurt) and tried to drink as much water as I could.

Mike planned his long run around me (love him) and did 5km on his own before joining me for a 6km warm up to the start line. At this point I was feeling nervous. I’m a “comfy” runner. And with the changing weather, I had no idea what to wear. Another reminder that I really need to lay out my clothes the night before. Apparently, I never learn.

Since I struggle with 5K races, I thought going for around 23:30 would be a decent time goal to aim for.  But then my coach emailed me and told me to shoot for low or sub 23 “if it was nice out”. I looked up what the average pace for that would be and felt intimidated. It just seemed out of my realm of ability. But, after a pep talk from Mike and my friend Eric, I decided to just go for it.

The race

KM Splits: (1) 4:42 (2) 4:35 (3) 4:28 (4) 4:31 (5) 4:24

The race was pretty uneventful, aside from the fact that I felt strong from start to finish. I was pretty nervous during the warm up because I felt kind of tired and out of shape, but I’ve come to accept this as the norm for warm ups before races.

I started out at what felt like a conservative pace and was happy to see a 4:42 on my watch when it beeped at the 1km mark. That was the last time I checked my pace, I’ve realized that I tend to get hung up on pace and end up wasting a lot of energy worrying about it. Eric convinced me to run the race based on feel: “comfortably hard” and “a little hard to breath but can still hang on”. When we hit University Ave, I tried to pick up the pace a little, without feeling like I was going all out. Whenever I caught myself losing focus and getting distracted, I tried to snap myself out of it and stay in the moment. This race was scheduled half an hour before the Santa Claus parade so families were lined up along the entire route and kids came out to high-five us runners as we passed by. I had a ton of fun and high-fived as many kids as I could. The whole thing went by really fast, actually.


This guy wore a Santa beard and therefore received millions of cheers from little kids. Which means I got to feed off the energy of their cheering even though none of them were actually for me. (Also, Santa beat me).

I saw Mike somewhere around the last 500m and he ran with me for a bit. He tried to motivate me, but I was blasting music so loud in my ears that I couldn’t really hear what he was saying. Actually, I bumped into my friends Wing (who had a massive PB – read her recap here) and Sam near the end as well but couldn’t hear them, either. I was totally in my own zone, which is a first for me when it comes to running races. I’ve also realized that I panic (practically hyperventilate) at the sound of my heavy breathing, so my band-aid solution for now is to drown out the sound of with music so that I don’t get tempted to give up mid-race. It seems to be working for now, so I’m just going with it to help build up my confidence.

Mike and I discussed the route briefly during the warm up, and I was mentally prepared to run about 1.5km after we turned off University Ave (the main street on the course). As I was running down University, I kept telling myself to leave something in the tank for after we turned off it. Except, as soon as we turned off University, I saw the Finish line and realized I had severely miscalculated how much I still had to go. Oops. It was my fault for not knowing the course better, and I do regret not going harder in the last (actual) km as I could have. But honestly, I’m happy with how the race went so I don’t really regret much at all. I felt strong the entire time, and never hit that “pain train” zone where I feel an overwhelming urge to give up and walk to the Finish.

My official chip time was 22:40.

Like I said, I’m really happy with how this race turned out. At the beginning of this year, I thought I was doomed to hover in the 24 minute mark and it was annoying me. I started to think that 5Ks were just not my distance and I was about to give up on them entirely. But you know what? 5Ks have their place, and I’m totally game to do this all over again next year.


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