What a Pleasant Surprise! – Iron County Fair 5K

What a Pleasant Surprise! - Iron County Fair 5K

It’s been a week since the Utah Half and I believe my legs have FINALLY decided to come around to proper function again.  I wasn’t necessarily sore after the Half, maybe a bit stiff for a few days, but nothing compared to other races where I couldn’t lower myself to the toilet without the aid of the wall.  Fatigued?  Oh boy!  My legs wouldn’t move.  After three days of complete rest, I headed out for a recovery run on Wednesday to the deadest of dead legs I’ve had in a LONG time.  They didn’t want to go anywhere and they weren’t about to do anything more than a slow jog.  I guess that is the sure sign that you raced hard.  I’ll take it.  By Saturday, the legs were still a bit tired, but had finally found a bit of their speed.  Boy, was I ever grateful 🙂

Since I’m pretty much headed into the off-season and only have one triathlon race left next weekend, I feel like a great weight has been lifted off my shoulders.  The mental break that has been wonderful.  Everything just seems like it is for fun right now and I absolutely LOVE this time of the year.  The pressure to hit all the paces isn’t all that bad.  Ahhhh………a bit of Fall relief 🙂

My new Altra Family: Adam (black) and Instinct

I came home from the Half last weekend with a brand new pair of Altra Instincts (these are running shoes).  Altra is a new running shoe company and I know a few people involved in its creation.  I’ve been intrigued by their shoes for a few months.  They have created a running shoe with a zero drop heel.  This means that the sole is the same distance off the ground the full length of the shoe.  Most running shoes are built on a 2:1 platform with the heel being twice as high off the ground as the forefoot.  Altra has leveled things out and packaged it in one of the most comfortable running shoes you will ever slip into.  It has an extra-wide toe box that let’s those toes hang out in whatever direction they would like to go.

I’ve been running in my Saucony Kinvara’s since after the Boston Marathon in April.  They have been a great shoe.  I took my time adjusting into them because they also have a minimal heel drop and are very flexible (quite different from what I was use to).  I was actually a bit afraid of the transition worrying that they were going to cause some injures because they were so different from the traditional cushioned shoe I had been running in for years and years.  In the past, I have suffered with different over-use injuries and was hoping that I wasn’t inviting them back with the introduction of the Kinvara’s……..Not in the least…….I was running fast and hard in these shoes and having no problems.  Seeing that, I was sold on the zero drop Altra’s for my next shoe.

On my “meatloaf” run (that is what I like to call those kind of greasy, slow and heavy runs) last Wednesday, I actually was debuting my new Instincts.  They were comfy right out of the box and EVEN SOCKLESS!  I went 6 slow miles and was really happy, at least my feet were really happy…….my legs were still about 3 miles back when my feet finished this run.  I was excited to keep trying out this new “technology”.

My Chacos (I have loved these sandals for 11 years) and Ashly's VERY white leg!

I knew that I needed time to transition into the zero drop platform, so the next time I ran on Saturday, I opted for the Kinvaras and had a great solid run.  I found myself kind of itching to be back in the Altra’s so I hit the St. George Running Center on the way home and bought another pair to replace my trusty Chaco sandals that have finally given up the ghost.  I purchased the Adams which are a super minimal “barefoot”-type shoe.  Think Vibram.  I plan to use these for just daily activities, as I really have no interest in running that minimally.  I really like cushioning 🙂  For the rest of the weekend I traded in and out of the Adams and my soon-to-be-in-the-grave Chacos.  I figured that this off-season was the season of strengthening my running legs 🙂  I’m loving it!

Monday, Labor Day, rolled around and I was planning on a nice and easy 3 miles in the early morning and then a 5K with my cousin’s daughter who had just started running Cross Country this year for Cedar High.  Emily has never been a runner and I’ve been privileged to be a bit of a mentor to her and her new running obsession.  We have been planning on this little Iron County Fair 5K for a few months now.  It was to be Emily’s first 5K and our first opportunity to run together.  I was excited.  Unfortunately, it all fell apart Monday morning when Emily’s band teacher told her that she wasn’t going to be able to march in the parade AND run the 5K.  What?????  Seriously??????  I was bummed and so was she 🙁  I headed to Parowan all by myself……..

I’ve run the Iron County Fair 5K a few times in the past.  It is always small and fun and actually has a pretty good course.  I chatted with a few high school friends and toed the line, Altra Instincts and all.  I had no plans on “racing” this 5K AT ALL!  I was just going to run with Emily and round out the 6 mile run for the day.  Of course, I have a problem standing at a start line with nothing between me and the finish but bodies to pass 🙂  If I was going to run this race slow, I needed external motivation, but she was at band practice!!!!!  Now I was all alone in these great shoes………..What’s a girl to do???? 😉

I ran and ran hard.  I hate 5Ks!  They hurt!  Everyone starts out of the gate at a blistering pace that is impossible not to get sucked into.  The worst part about a 5K is that when you just finally feel like you have warmed up and your heart rate has settled in, the race is over.   I know some of you out there LOVE your 5Ks.  Yeah…..Yeah……I’m just more of a distance girl who can go long at a pretty good clip…….you are welcome to take your 5Ks 🙂

The gun (or lack thereof) went off and we were headed down the first mile.  The course skirts the foothills of Parowan on a mix of dirt, gravel and pavement.  The first mile is a fast downhill dirt stretch.  The dirt was not very packed and was actually a bit dusty and sandy in spots……..My poor new Altra’s!!!!…….All the young kids took off like bats out of hell and I just tried to keep upright on the dirt and tired to find some hard-pack.  At the bottom of the hill the course turns around and heads right back up the hill you just came down and continues for just over a mile

This climb is not necessarily steep, but you are climbing.  As nice as the downhill of mile one just was, the second mile is a beast.  You are hardly warm and your entire body has to switch gears to get up this hill.  I was passing herds of other people.  I had made my way close to the front of the pack with only a few high school cross country boys still ahead blazing the trail.  I passed the final female that was ahead of me just as we were cresting the hill.  Once on top of Mile 2 you start to cruise a flat then descending mile to the finish.  I just kept running and tried to run hard.  I knew I was in first place, had no idea where anyone else was……and honestly didn’t care…….this wasn’t suppose to be a race and really I just wanted to slow down.  🙂

One blue ribbon for each of the kids (they gave me overall AND age-group) 🙂

I crossed the finish line in a time of 19:54 (the course is just a bit short).  I honestly don’t know if that is my fastest 5K, but it is definitely close.  I really shouldn’t win 5Ks…..I’m just not that kind of runner………but that’s what we all love about small, local races.  Everybody gets a fair shot at the finish and there are lots of winning spots to go around.  I went home happy, a nice Wal-Mart Gift Card in my wallet and a Blue Ribbon for each of my kids.  Not too shabby 🙂

My Altra’s did great!  I had no intention on pushing so hard in them so soon, but I was pleasantly surprised.  They performed awesomely on the 5K and I didn’t even have much lower leg soreness (definitely expected as you transition to zero drop).  Little stiffness in the left calf, but that is it!  I’m excited to fully transition into to these shoes and really put them to the test.

Emily (in her white band shirt), Ashly w/ Jake, Adam, and Me w/ Sydney. Happy Labor Day!

So Labor Day is over and the unofficial start to Fall has begun.  Here’s to Fall…….and finding another 5K for Emily and I to run TOGETHER this time 🙂

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