Monday, April 4, 2016

Nutri-Run 20K {A Race Recap}

"Thanks everyone for coming out for a very tough Nutri-Run this year. Thanks to the volunteers, the sponsors Three Rivers Running Company and the Fort Wayne Running Club, and to all the runners who ran in some of the toughest conditions I've ever seen. I'll stick to my guns when I say if you survived this race with a good time, then you will be mentally and physically tougher for any other race you do for the rest of the year."

They're off at the Nutri-Run!  Good luck everyone!
Posted by Fort Wayne Running Club on Saturday, April 2, 2016

Affirmation. Validation. Hope. The words from the race director, via Facebook, about Saturday's race were all of those things. I had survived the 20K ... with a good time (an eight-and-a-half minute PR) ... and, most importantly, a good attitude.

But that doesn't mean it was easy.

There were sustained winds of 25 mph, gusts of 40 mph, temperatures in the low 30s and various forms of precipitation. The course is hilly for the first 2.5 miles and then turns onto country roads where the vast openness offer no protection from the elements.

No matter the conditions, the Nutri-Run – first and foremost –was a training run for the half marathon in Carmel (April 16). My plan called for a long run with 4 miles at race pace. No matter the conditions, taking it easy on the front half and picking it up for the second was my goal.

 photo 12671743_1098964700146274_2433621650271361275_o_zps5jxruvls.jpg
Man, I make Victoria's Secret Knockout leggings look sexy ... not. {Photo courtesy Fort Wayne Running Club}

At 11 a.m., the horn went off and we were off. The field was small, and it's easy to get caught up with the faster group. I repeated to myself, "Don't blow Carmel. Don't blow Carmel," as I tried to rein in the pace.

But the first mile beeped at 8:52 – a good 20 to 40 seconds than I was shooting for.

As if the universe was speaking to me, a fellow runner mentioned that she and her friend were going along at a faster clip than planned. Her friend asked about the pace plan and she said, "9 to 9:30." "Perfect," I thought. I could stick with them.

I cruised down the declines and stayed steady on the inclines, trying to stay conservative. The second mile clicked by in 9:10. Now that's a tad better, I thought.

It was about this time when I noticed the wind picking up. I had to turn my Nuun trucker hat backward to keep the gusts from catching on the bill and pulling it up off my head. I nearly tossed it at the aid station around mile 2.5, almost wondering if one of the friendly volunteers would hold it for me, but I thought better of it. I grabbed a drink and kept trucking.

That was until we made the turn. The turn out of the affluent neighborhood and onto the country road. The turn into the wind with nothing to block its attack.

My trucker hat would no longer stay on, though I so badly needed it to. While the wind was challenging, the rain/sleet/snow began around mile 3. Droplets of freezing precipitation pelted me in the face at 40 mph. I did my best to tuck in and keep going. But I went from a 9:12 pace for mile 3 to a 9:41 and 9:32 (miles 4 and 5, respectively) without changing my effort.

"I didn't train in the snow," one runner said as I came up next to her. "I didn't train in the wind either."

I felt bad. No one wants to train in that weather much less race in it. It's hard not to bemoan the conditions. But as her words reverberated in my head, I was reminded of two things: 1) I had trained in weather like this; and 2) I could control how I reacted to it.

Two years ago, I hadn't. The race was also in cold, windy conditions, and it was miserable for all 12.4 miles. I was miserable for all 12.4 miles. And I let the race beat me, walking a lot of the back half and falling farther and farther behind my friends. I decided right then that I would not let the event nor the weather defeat me again.

(Previous recaps: Nutri-Run 2015 - volunteer; Nutri-Run 2014 - 2:00:33; Nutri-Run 2012 - 2:00:05)

And so I passed the runner. Not out of malice or competition but because I knew I could be better than the day. I also knew that I just had to make it to the turnaround. The wind would be at my back, mostly, and I would have one focus – the goal pace miles. My split for mile 6 – 9:16 – reflected that attitude.

Miles 7-9: 8:40, 8:35, 8:52

At the 10K mark, we turned around and the wind did improve. It still came in from the west (I was running north) but I didn't feel like I had to fight it. I picked up the pace and focused on picking off runners. I was probably the creepiest person ever because I would come right up behind someone, pull back slightly and judge whether I could pass them. If I thought she would catch up to me, I fell back. Otherwise, I pulled ahead.

Just after the eight mile beeped in, we turned east and the wind was at our back. I grabbed a cup of water from the aid station, commented on my friend's not-so-sexy boot and picked up the pace to make up for the short walk break.

Miles 10-12.4: 8:41, 8:59, 9:01 and 8:56 pace for last bit

Once I finished mile 9, I knew that I needed to keep a strong effort for one more mile and then it was just a 2.4-mile jog to the finish. Knowing that I could back off was just the boost, mentally, as I tried to keep my stride strong and steady.

And when I was finished with that last goal pace mile, I was elated. Not because I had nailed it, which I had, but because I had gotten through the hardest parts of the race without cracking mentally. I had resolve and grit – two things that have been challenging for me.

A photo posted by Kimberly (@healthystrides) on

As a sweet reward, my effort garnered me second place in my age group. I had no expectation of this going in – it's usually a competitive field at this race – but I thought I might have a chance when I saw the women in front of me heading toward the turn around. My prize? A pineapple.

Hello, celebratory pina colada!

Now, it's time to take a step back and let the work set in for Carmel. The Nutri-Run was a huge confidence boost, and I'm hoping I can take the lessons and apply them there.


  1. you are seriously badass! big congrats on toughing it out in *terrible* conditions. and an AG award and PR too!

  2. You are gong to kill it at Carmel!!