Friday, September 28, 2012

Catalyst Couch to 5K: Summer 2012

Back in July, I met up with four gals at Catalyst Activewear (HERE).  I started our newest Couch to 5K journey.  I love the excitement of new runners!  And, Melissa, Jennifer, Jennie and Katie didn't disappoint.  Over ten weeks, they trained together every Wednesday evening.  We met at the store and would run together for a half an hour.  They started with alternating one minute of running and one minute of walking for twenty minutes.  By the end, they were running thirty minutes or more consecutively.

We survived one tough and HOT Wisconsin summer.  I only cancelled one class, due to the 101 degree temperatures that evening.  Otherwise, we ran through it all.  The girls really developed a great bond (most likely due to the small size of the group) and even met on the weekends, to get their other runs in together.  A support system really is everything. 

I loved watching their outlook on running transform, then their confidence, workout wordrobe and everythign else that goes with starting something like this.

Unfortunately, Melissa's foot/ankle was really bothering her.  The determined, tough cookie had to put her journey on pause half-way through the program.  And sadly, the rest of us continued without her.

Katie wrote on a blog, Fun Fearful Female (HERE) and you will really enjoy her insights on running and life.  She has a very positive vibe about her, this girl.  And, I'm so glad that our paths have crossed.

We met up the week before the race and tryed to venture the course on our own.  The race started and ended at Willow Island in Madison.  The map was not easy to read, so we ended up going an entire mile off-course to begin with.  Jenny was sick, the weather was extremely windy and the course was a bit hilly. But, we survived 3.1 (plus miles) and "somewhat" ran the course.  It HAD to be easier on race morning! I kept telling them that.  There were some really sketchy areas that we ran through on our own and storm was brewing.  It was great that the girls ran the course and were now familiar with it.  There was a pretty large hill around mile 1.5.

We choose the Run/Walk for Wishes (HERE) at Willow Island (for the Make a Wish Foundation), because the date fell well with our training program (end of September).  However, the Zoo Run Run at Henry Vilas.  Therefore, the run was not well attended at all.  It was pretty sparse.  There were quite a few walkers though.
The girls showed up race morning and each of them had their husbands and family and friends there to support them.  It was the best support I've seen in these groups.  Katie had a whole entorage and some of them even made these classy shirts ... may need to make one of my own!
Ten minutes before the race was supposed to start, we gathered in our royal blue Catalyst shirts.  And a few minutes later they told us to get to the start line.  It was eight minutes early ... huh?!  OK, we'll get prepared.  And then someone yelled "Go!".  No gun.  No warning.  Runners were still wandering over to the startline.  And we were off ... seven minutes early.  Everyone ran off in pure confusion.
We ran out of Willow Island and onto a bike path, which backed up to a dog park.  Some of the dogs ... and owners ... were confused.  Could possibly be trouble.  The course was flat for the first mile and then there was a water station.  Jennifer was going to give it all she had and she took off ... I wasn't going to try to chase her.  Jennie was running with a friend and alternated running with them and Katie, who was in the middle of the pack.  I head up the huge hill with Katie and then headed back down for Jennie.  Jennie was right behind us, so I thanked her for not making me go all the way to the bottom.  We headed out on the Beltline's frontage road, which is not the most scenic route.  And, then we headed behind the Alliant Energy Center and back onto some more of the path at the dog park.  There was another water station during the last mile. 
Jennie was keeping a really great pace.  Her friend had run off ahead of her and passed Katie and I.  Katie was dealing with a really bad side stitch and was going over breathing techniques with her.  I carried her water during the last mile or so, anything to help her along.  Jennie was in good spirits as she headed into the finish line.  Katie was a little bummed, because her side stitched had slowed her down.  But, I told her that you have to give yourself a benchmark and something to compete against the next time.  This girl has been through a lot .. and conquered it all.  So, I know that she will head back out on another race course really soon to improve her pace and time.
They all finished between 27 and 37 minutes.  There were three very happy ladies at the finish line.  In ten weeks they had gone from alternating one minute of running and one minute of walking for twenty minutes ... to running 3.1 miles without stopping.  We stood by the beautiful willow trees on Willow Island for some shots from our paparazzi.
We did a little celebrating as "Jump Around!" came on.  They certainly had something to celebrate.  Jennifer found out that she won a second place ribbon in her age group (Can we say - Natural?!?!). She later received first place, because the overall female was in her age group.  And, The Boyfriend received third in his age group.  Sometimes small races aren't all that bad.

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