Sunday, October 8, 2023

Half Marathon #56 - MO' Cowbell

I am obviously way behind on my blogging, but I completed half marathon #57 on Sunday, October 1st.  I had started training with the Big River Running training team this summer but got thrown off course by a week long illness and then too many weekends out of town or with overnight visitors.  I knew that I still wanted to do MO' Cowbell because I love the course and it's so walker-friendly, so I ended up run/walking the first couple miles and then completely walked the remaining mileage.  It was warm this year, but still a beautiful day.  

I always highly recommend this race for many reasons including:

  • Start/finish line is easy to get to and near several hotels
  • Expo is also easy to get to and easy to get through quickly
  • Plenty of delicious and unique restaurants near the expo and the start/finish line
  • VIP option with separate porta potties, bag check, food (Chris' Cakes catering, Bike Stop Cafe pre-race caffeine and pastries), and beer but you can also partake in the other post race food
  • Post race food included bananas, breakfast bars, salty snacks like popcorn and chips, chocolate milk, and beer
  • Pacers for the half and full marathon
  • Swag this year included a hooded sweatshirt, sticker for your distance, a cowbell, drawstring bag, and a finisher's medal for your distance
Here are a couple pictures from this year's race:

Sunday, June 11, 2023

The Big Run 5K Training Program Review

I remember overhearing two colleagues talking and one of them mentioned that she was sore because she had just started a 5k training program through Fleet Feet - St. Louis.  The other colleague remembered that I ran and recommended that she talk to me about her soreness.  As I overheard the conversation pretending to not pay attention, I wondered if my sore colleague was shocked that I "ran" or not.  I still don't look like a runner, I may never look the way that I think a true runner should, but I had been working my way through the You Can Run program through Peloton in preparation for summer races.  The Peloton program was going ok, but I just wasn't all that motivated yet.  Within a few days of the conversation I overheard, my sore colleague approached me and started telling me all about the 5k training program she had started on April 11th.  I had seen the email from Fleet Feet about the program but I thought "why would I pay $100 for a 5k training program" and I just deleted the email without a second thought.  But when my colleague described it to me, I was suddenly interested.  Maybe I needed the accountability of meeting a group for a run on Saturdays and a track workout on Tuesdays because I wasn't forcing myself to do those runs on my own.  The benefit of this particular program was that it was training for The Big Run 5k on June 7th, which was a race that I had already registered for AND the best part was that they were still allowing people to enroll several weeks into the program at a discounted rate.  Since I am somewhat frugal, I waited until the price went down to $52 and I registered on May 10th.  Here is a description of the program from the Fleet Feet website:

The Big Run 5K Training Program program is a learn to walk, run/walk or run program designed for the true beginner.  During this 8-week program, participants are surrounded by a team of dedicated, motivated people all working toward the goal of becoming healthy and strong. By the time they cross the finish line of The Big Run 5K, team members will have learned the importance of proper form, stretching, hydration, and nutrition - all the tools needed to maintain their new fitness routine.

In addition to the accountability of two group runs a week and the discounted price, I also loved that the weekend long runs rotated between three parks that were all near my home.  Within a day of registration I received several emails with information about the training schedule, coaching assignments, and other useful websites.  I was all set!

My first group run was on May 13th and even though the mileage that day was two miles, I was as nervous as I was at the start line of my last marathon.  Maybe it was because my colleague had been in this training program since the beginning and she was now in the same pace group as I was.  Maybe it was because I am an introvert and joining this group meant meeting a lot of new people. I don't know what made me nervous but I did end up having a great time!  My pace group was great (some talkers and some quiet runners like myself), the pace physically felt good, the distance was completely comfortable, our pace group leaders were very upbeat and helpful, and the Fleet Feet staff were very welcoming and answered all of my questions.  

Each week leading up to the Tuesday track workout and the Saturday long run, we received a reminder email with detailed instructions about the upcoming run.  In addition to the two group runs, the training schedule also included one run on our own plus suggested workouts for the other days.  I find it very helpful to have a schedule and have someone else telling me exactly what to run and when.  Since I joined the training program halfway through, I only made it to a few Saturday long runs and two Tuesday track workouts but in that short amount of time, I felt really connected to my group and the program.  Now that The Big Run 5k is over and the training program has concluded, I am left feeling sad but also so grateful that my colleague talked me into joining.  I feel more motivated now to continue running on my own and am really trying to stay in the same pace and run/walk interval that we trained in.  

Thank you Fleet Feet - St. Louis for allowing people to join the program late (even half way through) AND at a discounted rate.  I had a blast and I feel ready to continue running 5k's this summer.