I stepped on the starting line for the first time in exactly 1 year on November 26th, 2017. The Navesink Challenge is a 15k that starts right across the street from my parents house (so convenient). I won the race last year and soon after went into a downward spiral of not feeling well, which, if you are just tuning in you can read about in my first blogs. I went in prepared, knowing the course like the back of my hand and having done a couple of tempos on the course with GP over the past couple of months.I completed my full warm up, stepped to the line and in a flash, we were off ! This year the wind was pretty gusty but my team mate and training partner EJ, was also racing so we were able to trade off the lead and help each other for the duration of the race. Mile two consists of what the locals call “kick ass hill” because it does just that! On a dirt road, traction is challenging at best and after ascending this really tough early hill, a great deal of the course still remains. The biggest and toughest hill comes around mile six, a long, steep incline which forces even the best of runners to shorten one's stride slowing to a near crawl relative to their normal speed. Looking up from the bottom, it seems as it will never end…but it does eventually leaving you with one more challenging hill left at mile just prior to mile eight. This final hill, a long steady incline coming at the end of a very challenging course will makes or breaks many of the racers. EJ and I climbed this final hurdle in pretty strong fashion but at this point EJ was starting to pull away from me but I continued to race my own race. I crossed the finish line in first place for the women to make it a "4 peat". More importantly, I took off 1:30 mins/secs from my time last year.
In the build up to the Navesink Challenge I faced a few challenging workouts. I learned something very valuable from each session and it may not be what you think! Hydration plays a huge roll in our ability to perform in hot summer months but also is equally essential in the colder winter months. I recently went into a workout unknowingly dehydrated. I warmed up, felt fine, and did a 150 meter interval at a pace I can typically hit comfortably but on this particular day I was quite slow relative to the perceived effort. Even though I didn’t feel terrible, I knew something was off but I gave the workout a chance because some days your body comes around and you go from feeling just OK to great by the second interval. I did not feel great by the second interval, in fact, I didn’t even make it to the second interval. I was off my mark from the start and just kept going down from there. I called GP and we decided to just have me walk away and 'live to fight another day' making the mutual decision to come back the following day and try again. So I went back the next day and tried again. Same thing. I walked away again which was extremely tough to do mentally but I knew my body just wasn’t right. I hydrated well that night at GPs recommendation and by the following day I felt so much better! My running picked right back up and I felt fine. I am happy it was such an easy fix and it was also an important lesson to hydrate well even in the colder months! This takes me back again to the ending of my last blog…
All of our runs have a snowball effect. A run may not seem like much today but over time, that run, plus all the other ones are what get you to where you are or where you want to be. Even though we may go off plan every so often just because we are human and make mistakes, learn from them and do your best to train intelligently and stick to the plan!....and…..Remember to stay hydrated!
Pictured below is a short section of a flat part of the course. It is also featured in Weird NJ as being haunted. I have yet to see any ghosts!