Floppin’ Flounder 5K, the comparison trap, and feeling discouraged…

Hello everyone and happy Sunday!

I hope everyone had a great week and weekend- it’s been a very challenging one here. Those of you who live and run in Charleston/Mt. Pleasant know how rough it’s been this week with 9-year-old Peyton Moore’s tragic death, and while you’re reading this, I’m out participating in a massive group run in his honor. I love running for causes and can’t think of a better way to spend my Sunday run.


Spoiler alert… post-race tweets from this morning:

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Yesterday, I ran the Floppin’ Flounder 5K on Sullivan’s Island, which is just off the coast of Mt. Pleasant. I hadn’t planned to do this race and was hoping to get a long run in Saturday morning, since I’m trying to train for a Fall marathon that I haven’t 100% decided if I want to do. It seemed like all my friends were running this, and when my friend and run clubber, Ed, had to go out of town unexpectedly at the last minute, he transferred the entry to me.

One positive note of not signing up for a race until the day before… you don’t spend the days before worrying or getting nervous about your race. I obviously didn’t run on Friday (then again, I never run on Friday- it’s my universal rest day before long run or race), I ate a decent dinner and half a Clif bar for breakfast the next day and took off for Sullivan’s Island.

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Sponsored by the Charleston Running Club, the Floppin’ Flounder 5K is a race with cash prizes, so all of the local fast people show up for it with hopes of winning money. The course goes through neighborhoods on Sullivan’s, so no actual beach running, and is basically a figure 8. This is Charleston and we have bridges and speed bumps, not hills- so the course is flat and fast.

Since this is Charleston… we have heat and humidity, so that makes up for the advantage of “flat and fast” anywhere else.

I got to the race early and did a warmup jog- I warm up before most races (and many runs) now because it helps get my blood flowing after a night of sleep. I didn’t run too long of a warmup, probably not even a full mile, and I said hi to a bunch of TrySports Run Club friends- almost the entire Saturday morning crew, either as a runner, volunteer, or spectator.

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And, while pre-race meals, hydration, and driving to Sullivan’s went well… the warmup is where I mentally lost it. Feeling short and overdressed, I saw the local elites in their flats, sports bras, short shorts, and obviously, legs much longer and thinner than mine.

I try not to compare myself to others in racing and just compare my times to what they have been, are, and what I want them to be, as well as my potential. Anyone can purchase and wear certain running clothes, and often body type isn’t a sign of running performance, but sometimes it’s hard to believe that. I love my reputation as “The Tiny Terror”, but deep inside, the out-of-place, unfashionable, confidence-lacking, chubby kid who couldn’t run a mile in middle school gym class still exists.

Unfortunately, that’s the person who showed up today at the Floppin’ Flounder 5K.

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I ran and finished the race in 23:33. Thinking of most 27-year-old females, 23:33 is a very respectable 5K time since not many people run, or do a 5K race, or finish in under 30, let alone 25 minutes. Plenty of ladies dream of running a 5K in this time, and I’m not in any way implying that this is a “bad” time.

I’m not sure if I’m in a slump or what, but I can’t seem to break out of the running rut that is 23 minutes. Workout goal or any other goal, it stinks to work your butt off at something and not see the improvements you’re expecting. Long runs, weekly interval workouts, training in the heat, and going to the track don’t seem to help all that much. I trained my butt off for 8 weeks to PR at the Race for Taylor 10k– and while I’m quite stoked about my PR, in reality… I trained super hard to shave off less than a minute off. Theoretically, with more training volume and faster training runs, I should race faster.

Sad thing is, I let myself get in the way of any potential success I could’ve had today. If not success, at least a happier drive back to West Ashley.

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Back to the race… the course was well marked with lots of volunteers and had one water stop. I really can’t complain about the race course or how the race was operated- didn’t seem like they had any problems. After all, it’s a Charleston Running Club race and if anyone should know how to organize a race, it’s a running club, right?

Once my 3.1 miles on the Pain Train were done, I hung out with a bunch of friends and enjoyed breakfast burritos from Triangle Char-N-Bar. Triangle Char-N-Bar is definitely one of my favorite places in Charleston to eat- I love their black bean burgers, appetizers, and sweet potato fries. I have never seen a veggie burrito on their menu and have only had them at races but they’re super tasty!

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We took some pictures and celebrating quite a few PRs and age group awards. Krystal and Karen PRed and a few people won age group awards. One of the best things about being in a running group is that when someone PRs or places, you can celebrate with them because everyone trains together and encourages one another, so we all contribute to everyone’s PRs.

Running a certain time in a race isn’t accomplished in that time on the clock- it’s accomplished through months or years of hard work and determination- and it’s great to have a group of running friends to share that with. It’s the same group of running friends who pick you up when you are down, still love you when you’re injured, and happily wait for you when your 10 mile long run requires two porta john stops.

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Hopefully, my next race in a few weeks goes better than this one. It’s a beach 10K, which I’ve never done before, so I don’t have any time expectations- I hope I can run my best race, finish with my head held high, and not feel bad about whatever happens.

After all, today is a new day and a new reason to run. Let’s train for life.

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This entry was posted in 5Ks, Back of the Pack, Believe Achieve Run Club, IOP/Sullivan's, Race Recaps. Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to Floppin’ Flounder 5K, the comparison trap, and feeling discouraged…

  1. I know it isn’t my place to say and you write the race reports like you want, but you honestly said nothing about your actual race. Just once the 5k pain train was done…Was it muddy, warm, hot, humid? All play a part (especially heat and humidity…which I think Charleston has a lot of?).

    Summer isn’t the time for PRing as much as that stinks because there are so many 5ks during this time. I do hope the next one is better for you Amy and I’m glad you had fun at everything else during the race.

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Yeah, I realize that. I originally sat down last night to write this as a race recap, but then after writing it out, figured that it was more mental diarrhea than a race recap, so I took that part of the title.

      And well… I didn’t want to rewrite the post. I’ll rewrite things and try to make sure my writing is good for my job, but it was Saturday night and I was mentally checked out of the Pain Train Motel.

      It was hot and humid… it is Charleston. It’s hot and humid most of the year here, and I know that paid a part. The race itself was good and well organized… and honestly, there was not a whole lot to say about it. It wasn’t an overly impressive race with tech shirts or personalized bibs, it was a pretty cheap race (I think $20) so it was good for the price point. For a large race it was very… simple.

      • I was just referring to the race in your mind. I understand though, we all have those races that were just kind of…meh. I know you are due for another great race soon so I hope you are able to break the 5k funk.

      • Amy Lauren says:

        You know, it is a good point, meaning what was going through my head when it was going on. It was a pretty big race so I was never really alone. I didn’t wear an ipod or watch- I race 5Ks naked (lol). I do know my splits were probably very positive… about 2.5 I was ready to be done like crazy.

        Also, this was kind of weird and I’ve never seen it before… but there was a guy amongst the runners running, a leisurely pace for him, just snapping pictures with a point and shoot camera or either a phone. I think he took a few bad pics of me. He was talking to runners and just taking pictures… mostly I just didn’t want my pic taken and wanted him to run the other way or something. Not sure if he was racing it, doing it as a part of the race, or just being a creeper.

  2. Steph says:

    That’s definitely frustrating. It’s hard not to get down on yourself when do don’t perform as well as you know you can. But I also know that all that heat and humidity will drag you down faster than anything! Just think of those summer races as speedwork for winter PRs!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Yeah, I’ve heard running in the heat here has the same effects as running at altitude, hopefully that is true… I definitely want to hit some PRs this far and get under 45 in a 10K. I’d honestly take that over a 5K PR!

  3. I hope your 10k goes well. 23 is still a great time, but I hope you can break free of your rut! You can do it! Found you on running bloggers!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Thanks- yeah the 10K is on the beach and it is very noncompetitive. This one had a competition atmosphere to it, which is one thing I didn’t care for. The 10K doesn’t have cash prizes (it does have cute trophies for overall finishers).

      I’m hoping if I run through the heat my times will be better once it cools down. That’s how it went last Fall (amazingly better, like 3 minutes faster for a 5K better). Not saying I think I can drop 3 minutes off my current 5K time running through this summer, but hopefully if I do a 5K in September or so, I’ll have much better results.

  4. Erin says:

    Long version:
    In regards to breaking the 23 minute rut, I felt like I was in a similar place from last summer – this April with breaking 22 minutes. I didn’t run a whole lot of 5ks, but two in particular I remember were 22:00 and 22:04… it was really frustrating to just be on that brink and seemingly unable to get through. In April I was doing a 5k with friends and was feeling pretty blah, and explicitly told them I had no plans to PR. Then, during the second half of the race when I was fading, I saw a girl a bit ahead of me who was running just a /little bit/ faster than me. I made it my goal to catch her… then to stay right behind her… then about a 1/2 mile from the end I moved up and ran next to her… and we finished the race sprinting side by side to the finish. I have no idea who she was, but we high-fived after the race. And time: 21:55 😀 I really think just focusing on catching her helped me mentally get through the pain. I told myself “That girl is going to break 22 minutes. All I have to do it stay with her.” And I knew if she got away from me, I probably wouldn’t get the time I wanted… so I hung on.

    Short version:
    You can break 23 minutes; as you said in your post, a lot of it is mental.

    • Amy Lauren says:

      I have a couple friends and running buddies who are in the 21 minute range and hoping when I get back to run club, I can try to just run with em and hang on for dear life for a bit. Maybe that’ll help.

      I think once you’re shape to complete a race, it’s 75% mental and 25% specific training/workouts to hit your goals.

  5. Sorry you weren’t feelin’ it this race, chica. There will be plenty more and you always do so well. Like others said, the heat is no joke and don’t try to push for a PR in it.

    Also, when I have been signed up for a 5K and am marathon training, I try to add a long warm-up and cool down to my race to try to make it up to 9 or 10 miles that day. But if I had a group of friends there and burritos were an option…not sure I could turn that down!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      I actually think that’s a cool idea to add a long warmup and cooldown to your day so that you can still do 5Ks when marathon training. It’s definitely tough at a race where you know people though- I almost felt bad warming up because I missed out on all the pre-race socialization! So I would’ve felt even weirder missing out on the post race socialization.

      I do tend to run back down the course and cheer for people I know finishing after I finish, which adds about a mile or so. It works for me to get a cool down in and encourage them :). I did that yesterday.

  6. spectacuLAUR says:

    I’m sorry to hear you had a bad race 😦 It is hard to train for something and end up doing worse than you planned on doing from all of your hard work. I felt this way throughout college when I stayed up studying for hours to get a not-so-high score on a test. Like you said, it’s a really hot and humid time of the year (especially in Charleston) and maybe you just weren’t getting enough oxygen in your lungs or your body just wasn’t feeling it. Don’t let it bother you too much!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Yeah- the test analogy- that’s exactly how it feels. It feels like studying tons and then getting a C when you really needed a B+. It’s just dismal.

  7. Amy says:

    I would love to get in the 23’s 🙂 But I know where you are coming from ,,, your 23 is my 26.. so I know what you mean. Nice post!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      I was actually running 26 minute 5Ks last summer. You may be able to get there, don’t underestimate yourself :).

      My other disappointment in is mostly that I let all the super thin, fit, lean girls psych me out before I even took off. It was just a very… competitive… atmosphere.

  8. Sorry you were not feeling happy about your running time– I hope the other satisfactions of running will tide you over.

  9. Sorry you had a bad run. Wish I could have been there cheering you on. I really wanted to volunteer for this race, since I am not running yet, to try and become part of the running community. Then I got stuck with a teacher workday on Saturday from 8-4.

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Bah, that sucks about having to work on a Saturday from 8-4. I mean those are the worst possible Saturday hours because it kills your whole day :(.

      If you still want to volunteer for something, I will definitely keep my eyes and ears open for you. There will be other races needing volunteers soon, I’m sure!

      It does suck to have a bad run… I am going to just take a couple days to cross train and rest a bit. I figure in 3-4 days I’ll be antsy to run again and maybe things will be better.

  10. We all go through slumps for sure and you’ll break out of this one. The body progresses when it wants to progress no matter what you want. We all have bad runs and sometimes those show up on race day. Keep training and you’ll shave off time!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Thanks girly. I hope to get back to doing speedwork soon, but I am thinking about just cross training for a few days to get my mental mojo back…

      Hopefully my next race is better and I don’t psych myself out. Maybe I won’t show up until the very last minute so I don’t see the “competition”…

  11. Sorry the race wasn’t quite what you had hoped for. I know you mentioned that 23 minutes is a good/fantastic time for others (like me) but we all have our own levels of what’s a good run or not so good run. Don’t apologize for being a bit disappointed, this is your blog, your race, your feelings. Living in south Mississippi, I can definitely vouch that the heat/humidity issue doesn’t make it any easier to hit the marks you want. Good luck on your upcoming 10k!!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Thanks girly. Yeah, I do hate when people ask me what a “good time” is, because that’s subjective and depends on the person, their fitness, and even how they feel on that particular day. I’m pretty good about not comparing my time to someone else’s time, for those reasons. I just have to stop comparing my body to someone else’s body…

      Heat and humidity are crazy… I do know that training through them helps your times drop, so I’m hoping to see progress once it cools down in September-ish.

  12. Nerri says:

    I 100% feel ya on the comparison trap! You ran an awesome time, though, on so little notice and while doing more distance than speed training! There should be no shame in your game 😉 Especially in the brutal heat/humidity combo that we know and love here in the south! Like you said before – it’s only going to make you a stronger runner in the end. Thanks for sharing!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Oh definitely :). And when it cools down and we’re all bundled up running (or at least it’s cool enough to warrant tank tops for some runners…), hopefully things won’t be as bad for me on the comparison front when it comes to other ladies. I know ultimately it’s about what your body and training does rather than what you look like… but geez it’s hard when someone is fast.

  13. I know this isn’t what you want to hear but I am in awe of your 5k time. In awe. I am still trying to break 30 minutes lol! But I know how it can be, when you’re working hard towards something and not quite reaching it. I believe you’ll get there soon – can’t wait to read all about it! 🙂

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Thanks girly. I still remember the first time I broke 30- it was in September 2010 after I recovered from severe anemia, and it was very special to me. I know when you do… notice I say when not if… it will mean a lot to you as well :).

      I’m hoping it’s one of those things where the discouragement comes right before the breakout performance, ya know?

  14. Amy,
    I have always looked up to you… when we posted on eachothers “kiwibox” entries, or when we blog, or when we facebook. But I want you to know that I LOOK UP TO YOU. Because of you I have wanted to fix my knee problem, and I have wanted to take the steps to work out. I may not run anytime soon— but I’m considering (seriously) joining a gym, working on my zumba skills (because I have NEVER done zumba) and getting back into boxing because not only is it a great work out but an amazing stress reliever. So THANK YOU. For being an amazing person. For being someone that EVERYONE looks up to (Adults and Kids alike) and just remember… Always have FUN 🙂

    -Mel

  15. allieksmith says:

    Aw, Amy. I am so sorry you had a tough time mentally. I always love reading about your running adventures, and I especially love your attitude about running because I know you firmly believe in the long term happiness from running (if that makes sense..). I guess what I mean is that you look at the “big picture.” I do know that it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture sometimes. Maybe that’s what happened? Anywho, I’ll always see you as the Tiny Terror 🙂

    Thanks for sharing about your struggles on your blog. I appreciate your honesty because I know it’s not easy!

  16. silkandtofu says:

    Not everyone can be their best everyday, but at least you’re consistent! I was never talented but hard work and dedication is how I got to where I am. I envy those who don’t work hard enough or don’t care to train but they are extremely talented and put it to waste. Just keep doing what you’re doing and you’re day will come! Have you ever checked to see if your iron & ferretin was at a good level? Just a though! 🙂

    • Amy Lauren says:

      I actually suffered from severe anemia pretty badly 3 years ago and basically had to take a summer off. My hemoglobin level was almost at transfusion level (7.3). I take a supplement each night now, so hopefully things are okay. I do need to get back to the doc for bloodwork again soon though- I have to go every 6 months due to the severe anemia.

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