15th Bilmore Kiwanis 15k Classic

This is the race that introduced me to and motivated me to run. Albeit the first time I ran it, I did the 5k. Last year, due to the recently added Antler Hill Village, the race took place on the trails of the NC Arboretum. While the trails were fun, it hurt the Kiwanis association since very few people ran the race last year. I think what makes it such a big race is that it takes place on the ground of Biltmore Estate. While visitors and Twelve Month Passholders can hike the Biltmore Estate trails, the roads are off limits which makes this race pretty unique. No one can practice on the course.

Now this is not the race for crowds of spectators. Race entry provides the runners with a ticket to the grounds but not the Biltmore House. Spectators need to purchase tickets as well. As a result there are only volunteers on the course. Runners gather at the end to cheer each other. But what the course lacks in spectators it makes up in beauty. 8000 acres of unspoiled and well managed land, pasture, and forest along with a 250 rooms historic mansion are part of the course.Fellow runners Eve and Bart made a great video that shows most of the course (exception made of the loop behind the parking lot since the runners take it in reverse from the parking lot shuttles).

This year the race was sold out. 567 people finished the 15k and and 232 for the 5k. My husband’s sister and brother in law were supposed to run the race, but unfortunately due to a last minute trip to Canada they had to cancel. But my husband did join me to be my official photographer…

The race start was in Antler Hill Village. Because it is an area people tour there was no port-a-potties but real bathrooms instead and the lines weren’t bad. The 15k started about 5 minutes before the 5k. Chips were embedded in the bib which made things easy. The first mile was easy and flat following the river. However because there is no pace group it was crowded. It took me a good thirty seconds to pass the start line and I felt like a mouse trying to get out of a labyrinth by dodging many, many runners to find my pace.

We turned left going towards the Deerpark which also meant a light uphill. I came across a girl from my running group which was fun. I also passed my former HR director so I slowed down a little to chat with her and then went up my way. The hills didn’t bother me much. I have to say that after a 7600 ft of elevation change marathon I see hills with a different perspective.

Past the Deerpark it was downhill again toward the Welcome Center (mile 3). Then we took a right up the approach road. 3 miles of meandering beautiful road. We went by many rhododendrons in bloom. I have seen that road many times by car but to be on foot was a real treat. This is also where I passed most of my fellow runners (thank you hill training). I did started to have a side stitch on my right side but I managed to keep it under control. We went by the additional parking lot and a back road that I’ve seen used by shuttles. There was a little surprise uphill there but I knew the reward was close: the Biltmore House.  Oh what a treat it was to run by the Lady on the Hill, seeing the Blue Ridge Mountains in the back!

After the Biltmore House we ran around the Walled Garden (mile 6), barely getting a glimpse at the summer flowers then it was down to the Bass Pond. At that point the side stitch started bothering me more. I really had to work on my breathing to keep myself from walking. I’ve learned that embracing the pain works better for me. I just try to accept it and somehow it seems easier to deal with.

We were back on flat grounds after the Bass Pond. We still had to make our way to the Lagoon (where the 5k turnaround was) and speed to the finish. Until then my left leg had been fine. I could feel the shadow of my injury but it was not bothering me. But in that last mile and a half the pain suddenly flared. I went through several spasms going through my knee where I honestly thought it would buckle under me. I could have stopped but I decided to just grit my teeth through it and make it to the finish line. My stupid competitive self wanted to finish under 1:20 pain or no pain. I did have to slow down however and was passed by a few girls.

On the last 1/2 mile I came across my husband who was sitting under a tree and enjoying the view of the runners. He managed to get a picture of me sprinting to the finish.

The finish line is at the top of a small uphill. I could hear some of my colleagues cheering me. I finished right behind another runner that I almost caught up with. I had a moment of shock looking at the clock when I saw that it said 1:10 but I quickly realized that was the 5k clock and that I had finished in just over 1:15. No wonder my knee was hurting, I definitely pushed that one!

As soon as I started not feeling so good. I thought I might throw up, so I sat down for a few seconds and that was enough to make me feel better. However, if my stomach settled, my knee did not. It hurt to walk. I limped back to the finish line to cheer fellow runners and then signed up for a post-race massage which only helped mildly.

We then proceeded to check the results. Turns out that I finished in 1:14:58 chip time. I was beyond thrilled. This was my secret goal, the goal I would have had if I had not been injured. My husband then asked me if I had placed. I wasn’t sure as I knew a lot of ladies were ahead of me. But I went back and looked through the list and thought that I could be and if so might be 3rd of my age group. The bad news to that was that we were hungry and now had to wait for the results. And yes I was 3rd of my age group.

The award is pretty cool, a piece of clay with the Biltmore House on it. I’m a little worried about breaking it but I think it will look great on the Christmas tree. Although I might change the ribbon color to something more cheerful. It is in any case a huge improvement from last year’s award which could have been from any events. It definitely made a difference for them to have a sold out race.

2012 Award

As soon as I grabbed my reward we headed to the hotel above Antler Hill Village: The Inn on Biltmore Estate. Our plan was to eat breakfast there so we had left the car at the top of the hill. Had I anticipated the state of my leg I would have parked at the bottom. I literally limped my way up. I freshened up and changed into the race shirt. It isn’t a tech shirt but is at least in a woman’s size and turned out to be a very light and comfy cotton shirt. The only thing is that the red color wasn’t the most flattering with my post-race complexion but thankfully I don’t race everyday. We then got sited outside on the Dining Room patio.

On the Dining Room Patio at the Inn on Biltmore Estate

Both Hubby and I ordered the Oscar Crab Egg Benedict. It was amazing. Think poached eggs on top of crab cakes, served with fingerlings potatoes, asparagus and roasted tomatoes. The perfect post race meal. The temperature was perfect outside and the view amazing.

Oscar Crab Egg Benedict

Once home I started stretching and icing my leg. Three days of no running and stretching later it feels a lot better. I’m definitely hoping to run this race again.

Oh and remember my big news about Asheville getting a marathon? Well turns out we are getting two! There was a flyer at the race pick up announcing a Marathon on Biltmore Estate (website to go live June 1st) coming up March 3rd 2013!!! Now the question is how much are they going to charge for those because I can’t see myself being able to afford two marathons in the same year.

Learning From the Marathon

I learned a few things running my first marathon, things I hope to remember next time I run one. Oh yes because the first thing I learned from the marathon is that I like it. Yes some miles were tough but I very much want to run another one.

The Training Plan

I decided early on not to be too concerned about my pace while training. I ran by feel instead. Oh I’m sure I ran some workouts too fast and some too slow but overall I did great and I don’t regret my choice at all. Now if I was trying to break a certain time then I may want to look at my times a little more, if only afterward to learn from it.

The Taper:

I frankly enjoyed it. It was good to give a rest to my body and have more time for myself. I’m glad I followed the training plan for it.

Carb Loading:

It’s impossible for me to carb load according to what I found I’m supposed to do. I simply can not ingest 400g of carbs a day. I did however get a lot of snacks that I munched on for the last two days prior to the race. Kashi’s oatmeal dark chocolate cookies, homemade trail mix, pretzels, etc. It worked out great.  I choose to cut off dairy a few days ahead. I missed it,  but I think that was a good thing for me to skip it prior to the race.

Pre-Race meal

I think I’d rather have a homemade meal before a race since it’s easier to control. I feel that I should have practiced a little more on what works best and kept a log of pre-long run dinners. I’d love to avoid an other porta potty break during a marathon (downhill didn’t help either). I think a little more plain food would have been better. I had pasta alla vodka which I think contained cream, that wasn’t my best decision.

Banana, bagel and almond butter worked out great in the morning

Race Fueling and Hydrating:

I think I did good when it comes to hydration. I didn’t care much for the electrolytes drinks when came the time. I was very thankful I had my hand held bottle with me. I could drink when I wanted and refill it at the aid stations. I learned that I can’t rely on meeting my husband on the course and it’s best to have everything I need with me.

Fueling I didn’t do so well. I’m terrible at eating gels when I should. I never eat as many as advised on the packaging. I did good for the first half, starting around 45 minutes and taking a sip every 20-3omns. But after mile 15 I just forgot to take some. I don’t know if I need to set myself reminders or practice taking them better during training race. I do think however that 1)I like Clif gels better than GU.  2)I do better sipping a little gel at a time rather than a whole packet at once. I am honestly surprised I did as well as I did with the little fuel I had during the race.

My the end of the race I was craving sliced oranges and icy cold water.

Chaffing

It will happen. I used a natural version of body glide. Most of my body part were fine. Some light chaffing on the lower back but nothing that I even noticed or felt until a few days later, so the SkinFood Topical Nourishment worked. I did experience some chaffing from a poorly designed seam on my sports bra. I could feel it at the beginning so I knew it would be a problem. Somehow my body tuned it off and I only realized it at the very end.

Post-Race Fueling and Stretching

Having my husband bring me a smoothie was one of the best post-run fuel idea I had. It was easy to drink and I know helped with the good protein/carb ratio.

Making use of the massage table is a must. I’m also glad I mostly followed my usual cool off/stretch routine.

Post-Race legs

Overall they felt good. However after 20 minutes of walking, during the first two days after the race, I had to sit down. It’s good to know your limits.

Recovery week

That would be my other failure (first one was fueling during the race). It’s not because you feel good that your legs have recovered. Recovery week is not the time to try out a new trail, especially not a technical one. I feel very stupid because my first two recovery runs went very well, so I was a lot more careless on my third and the result is injury. Lesson learned: no new trail (easy smooth trails are ok), no new shoes post race. I think I would have been better off logging a few more miles on my old trail shoes while my legs recovered.

What lessons do you take from race running? Any wisdom to share?

 

 

The Fear of No Running

What is it with us runners? Why is it that if we can’t run for say two days we feel we’ll never run again?” That all our hard work to get to that level will go down the drain? I can have my feet off skis for two years and not worry about it. But take them off the trails and it seems like it’s the end of the world. I guess they are right when they say it’s an addiction.

I didn’t run for three days to give my legs a rest. It seemed like an awfully long time. I went for  a run on Monday since my legs felt better. After a mile or two that had changed. My 5 mile run turned into 3 and a half or so. I felt pain pretty much from my hip to my ankle along the iliotibial band. So here I am, less than two weeks away from a 15k and looking at taking several days of rest instead of training.  It’s frustrating. But what choices do I have?

Option 1: Run through the pain and likely be unable to finish the 15k.

Option 2: Rest, Ice, Stretch but run little and hope I can run the 15k.

It’s hard in my mind. I doubt myself. Can I finish a 15k if I only run 3-9 miles for three weeks in a row? But then I have to remind myself. I did run a marathon two weeks ago. My body can do this. My body needs the rest. My iliotibial band will likely thank me.

 

Post Marathon Recovery

We’re now a little over ten days after the marathon and I’m still supposed to be in recovery mode. It’s both relaxing and weird to have such  low weekly mileage. I’ve been attempting to follow the McMillan Running recovery program. And yes, attempting because I’m not always doing such a good job at it.

I remember when I first looked at it, before the marathon, I was just thinking there was no way I would only run 20 minutes right? Ha! I quickly found out that past 20 minutes of walking in the first few day, my muscle hurt. I should probably say that I was also crazy enough to go back to Mill Mountain and the true summit of Roanoke Mountain the afternoon of the race. Yes I went on a mini hike the same day I ran 26.2 miles. Did it hurt? A little. Do I regret it? Nope, it poured the next day and I would have missed it altogether.

But I did avoid to run until 3 days after. My first run was scheduled for 20 minutes and that is exactly what I did. I was completely ok with it. I wasn’t hurting per say, just sore and fine with taking it easy. The next run after that was an easy one too, on trails with my new trail shoes, perfect. Both were around a 9:30 pace. But not the third…

Nope, I made the mistake to pick a trail run which while short turned out far more technical than I expected. While on the trails I had a blast. Jumping up and down, walking where needed, speeding where I could. My average pace 10:14. Once would think that’s taking it easy, but it really doesn’t take into account the trail itself. I almost twisted my ankle a few times and my husband actual sprained his. While I felt fine at first I realized all the ankle twisting had actually pulled on the knee. It’s not a make you want to stop running feel, but I definitely did something. I’ve been stretching it and it’s getting better, but looking back I think that trail was a mistake. My muscles were better but still weakened by the marathon. I should have stuck to easy known trails.

I still probably run too fast on most of my runs, but I just can’t help myself. It’s hard not to when you feel good.

Recovery Week 1: 12.36mi

 Day  Run  Miles  Time  Pace
04/29/12
3.66
00:28:40
07:49
04/28/12
3.48
00:35:37
10:14
04/26/12
Untitled (Trail)
3.05
00:28:50
09:27
04/24/12
2.17
00:20:26
09:24

I’m slowly going to continue to increase my mileage. I miss the long runs. I miss the trails too. Plus I need to start getting my body back for the Biltmore Kiwanis 15k on May 20th.

Now I just need to resist signing up for another marathon. I’d love to run another one but with some recent car repairs it would not be a sound financial decision.

Resuming Training After a Break

I found this great information on <u>Runner’s World Complete Book of Women’s Running</u> and thought I would share. When I was side lined in October, it was one of those things I wish I had known. We all get hurt, get sick or have to take a break at some point. It’s hard when you are a dedicated runner, but harder is this fear of not being able to run again or even how to ease back into it.

So here is a simple set of rules to follow based on how much time was taken off running.

  • 1 week off: Resume at previous distance
  • 2 weeks off: Resume at half of previous distance
  • 3 weeks off: Resume at one quarter of the previous distance
  • 4 weeks off or more: Start from scratch with the alternate walk/run.

It may seem hard to cut back, but ultimately your body will thank you. And remember that even if you start over, you will likely catch up much faster than a true beginner.