Fit Foodie 5k Race Review – I got full on fun

The marketing and branding surrounding this event, or shall we say simply, the HYPE made me think that I wasn’t going to enjoy this race that much because it wasn’t “serious” enough about the running.

There was a VIP cocktail hour, Kate Hudson’s fitness brand Fabletics was a sponsor, and celebrity fitness instructors and chefs were touted as post-race entertainment.

Cate + Kate (top)

Cate + Kate, Beet salad shooters and WINE.

And sure, it wasn’t the Olympic Trials, but that wasn’t the point. What I can tell you is I had a blast out there, start to finish, including the racing part. It was a great experience being a race ambassador for this event.

I hadn’t run much since my last race at the Music City Distance Fest in Nashville on June 6, instead taking a short “down time” from running where I was letting myself off the hook from 6 a.m. alarms and gym sessions. The result is that I got to the starting line of the race fresh and excited to run, with relatively low expectations for myself – which I think is exactly how you want to go into a race (especially after a particularly high pressure race like the one before).

And once the gun went off, I just ran for pure fun. I ran 5:14 for the first mile (what?! Spicy), 5:30 for mile 2 and 6:00 to finish up (there was some gravel trail and sidewalks thrown in). But get this, it wasn’t even hard. I felt great!  For going into this race with only with the expectation of enjoying myself, slowing down that much from mile to mile was a great strategy. Foolproof, I might venture! Start fast and feel good, then slow down when the going gets hard…? Just don’t actually follow that advice for trying to set any PRs. That’s what’s happened to me in a lot of races in my life and it sucks. Don’t be like me.
Anyway, I took first place for the women, and my friend Kate sailed into the finish soon after. We enjoyed a chatty cooldown, and then set out for the post-race expo. This blew your normal post-race bananas and bagel halves out of the water. Living up to the foodie name, there were local and national foodie brands with vendors set up in two huge areas. There were a ton of samples to snack and sip, with everything from a maple bacon granola to beet salad and steak fajitas, and then even more packaged treats to take home like chocolate-covered macadamia nuts and black bean pasta. I had a Tito’s + green juice mini cocktail as well as some red wine … all before 10 a.m.
The food and fitness celebrities were there as promised (there was a plank challenge I did not attempt, for those who did, good work), there was a photo booth, and everyone just seemed to be having a great time. 

2015-06-13 09.17.38 HDR

2015-06-13 09.36.43

Look out, other races, the STEAKS have been raised

So now I’m sitting at home sipping from my bright blue, double-walled insulation mason jar tumbler with a flavor infuser (this was another post-race prize, and it was filled with cold water, watermelon and fresh mint!) and I’m thinking that this is precisely the type of product I would have despised before for its seeming uselessness and tackiness … but actually, I love it. Sometimes it’s good to let the hair down and try new things, like the Fit Foodie 5k, that you think you might be above. Because they’re a lot of freaking fun.
drink up, y'all

drink up, y’all

 There will be other races when it’s time to get serious, and that’s great. But I have to hand it to the Fit Foodie for creating a well-rounded, well-run event with simply a ton of energy and fun. It was a completely approachable event for experienced and newbie runners alike, as well as a rewarding foodie experience. Win-win. Thanks for everything, Fit Foodie Run!

Fit Foodie 5k – say what?

I don’t write a lot about food anymore, because there are so many other people who do it a whole lot better than me, but I am happy to say I still cook a bunch. I fortunately married a foodie husband as well, so we have a lot of fun cooking for each other. We have a small kitchen so we mostly take turns cooking, but sometimes we combine forces – like for this awesome Easter brunch at my parents’ house.

easter brunch

That said, I’m forever a foodie, which is why I’m so stoked about this fun event at Mueller in Austin this Saturday, June 13. It’s the Fit Foodie Run, a 5k with a sweet finisher’s village all focused on food.

Picture your local 5k’s post-race offerings… some cut-up oranges, bananas, maybe bagel halves if you’re lucky. Now destroy that image in your mind completely.

This is going to be like those upscale grocery stores with their bonanza of fancy samples. At a recent day at Central Market (the fancy older cousin of HEB), I tasted a roasted red pepper panini fresh off the press, a bunch of cheeses, fresh multigrain bread with butter, and fresh fruit. Needless to say my love can be bought with food.

Anyway, after the Fit Foodie Run there will also be celebrity chef demos and tastings, mingling with other like-minding foodie-runners, fitness demos (run. eat. repeat.), beer and wine tastings, giveaways, and delicious bites from swanky restaurants and sponsors. SIGN ME UP.

I’ve got a discount code from the race organizers that’s good for half off registration, but only until the end of today, so hop on it – it’s “CATERUNS”.

Register here.

See you there.


Simultaneous success and failure

16:55. That was my finishing time at Music City Distance Carnival, the track 5k I raced two  weekends ago in Nashville, which works out to be about 5:27 per mile.

To put this in context, it was my first track 5k in three years, and 40 seconds faster than any road or cross country 5Ks I’ve done in this time as well. It felt great; I’ve run slower races that are much more painful than this. This also capped a full season of consistent training and competitive racing, which I haven’t had since 2012. These are big wins for me.

At the same time, a 16:55 5k was 15-25 seconds slower than my realistic goal, which I’d been training for all spring. It was also 42 seconds off my personal best, and over a minute away from what I would need to run to qualify for the USA Track and Field Championships in 2016.


I’m trying to figure out if it’s possible to be simultaneously thrilled and crestfallen at a performance. Did I win or did I fail?

I love how running forces you to measure yourself against a standard, to lay it all out there with a concrete objective that you either hit or miss. But I also hate it.

It bites when you don’t meet your goal, which I didn’t last Saturday. Sometimes, if you’re lucky enough, you can even begin to experience the feelings of disappointment at failing BEFORE THE RACE IS OVER! This delightful condition doesn’t do a lot to spur you on to work any harder, and is probably best ignored. I’m both fascinated and flummoxed by the mental techniques of racing and do not consider myself great at them even after being in this sport for 8 years.

There’s an upside to failing too, though: it instills a fire in you to keep going. Squandered opportunity, or “missed” to speak more lightly, is motivating, and shows you where you can improve.

I know I can improve by turning off my brain during racing much more. At the Nashville 5k, I was with a pack of girls who were running consistent 78-second laps (16:15 pace). This was just a hair quicker than my goal of 79-80 second laps, which is almost exactly a perfect race set-up.

But about halfway through the race, with 6 laps to go, I let that pack go and slowed down. I was mentally fatigued from hanging on to a faster pace than I wanted for the first half of the race. Logically, if I would have run with them longer, they could have pulled me to a faster time – as long as I could have hung on. We won’t know how long that would have been, but based on how easy I felt I think I could have made it a couple laps longer, at least. Running with a pack has myriad advantages though, and getting a pack of competitive runners was exactly why I traveled to Nashville in the first place. I’m upset I didn’t make it happen when I had the opportunity.

An aside… As I’m about to apologize for that whole last paragraph as “pardon my track geekiness here, distinguishing between 78 and 79 second laps on a track,” thinking an average person wouldn’t distinguish between these paces, I realize maybe I shouldn’t try to distinguish between those paces either. Extra proof for “quit thinking so much, Cate!”

I’m tempted to think I’m weak, that I’m not as tough as other runners, but after about five years of thinking that about myself when I don’t meet my racing goals, I’m sick of believing that. I’m sick of believing there’s something that other people have that I don’t. I just need time, and as cheesy and simple as it sounds – belief.

Post-race high fives. This gal set a huge PR and won in 16:15. Just being there, being part of this world  again is exciting. Stoked for her.

Post-race high fives. This gal set a huge PR and won in 16:15. Just being there, being part of this world again is exciting. Stoked for her.

Outcome – maybe failure. Learning from an experience – win.

Pre-race musings: Music City

I’m sitting in a park in Nashville, still 4 hours away from my last race of the season, THE RACE, the focus one I’ve been training for since, I guess, my last track 5k in 2012.

my prowess was not limited to setting PRs that year; I also took up hurdling

2012 was my senior year of college, and my last year of running for Baylor. I set PRs in everything from the 800 to the 5k that year, and it was hard to feel too bad about choking in the final race of the year at regionals. You’ll get ’em next year, champ. I trotted up to Colorado for my summer job as a camp counselor and focused on 2013.

Injuries always suck, but the one I got in Colorado that dragged through fall was the worst I’d faced. I didn’t handle it too well (you can read all about it and the resulting mental breakdown in the archives here though … Yay writing) but suffice it to say, I didn’t do a lot of running that next year. In fact, I didn’t run a step for six months. When I came back, at the urging of a wisened running coach who visited the store where I worked, the first 10 minute jogs around the Twin Lakes golf course in Waco were almost surreal. I felt like myself again.

I started running with my cross country team again, although I was the old, weird one who kept showing up even though she was in grad school.

they even let me do a race! thanks grrls

The next year, I finished school and moved home, and Steve Sisson at Rogue Athletic Club in Austin let me on his team. I was majorly outclassed for my fitness, coming off six months of 35 miles per week, but my stale PRs and collegiate “pedigree” gave me hope that sticking around would eventually not be as weird as starting. Most of all, Steve looking  me in the eye once or twice and saying “I think you can do this,” encouraged me to keep going even when it seemed dumb to me.

racing the 3k this year. Back on the literal track feels pretty good.

Everyone has to answer “why are we doing this?” Why expend so much of our time, energy, our money, our resources, and our hearts in this sport?

I used to think that if I was better at running, my choice to keep doing it would somehow validate it. “Yes… But she’s an All-American! See? It’s not a waste of time. You can put that on a resume.” I never got one of those spots. Next, I thought being a pro would validate it. Then I made it on Rogue AC, and I still have to ask why I’m doing this. I’m not on our sponsored team, so there is another level of “pro” to achieve here, but even my teammates deal with the questions of meaning in running.

They still have to navigate being twenty something in our world, as an athlete, working or at least considering other careers, pursuing relationships, and living on their own. They’ve achieved more than me in running, but I’ve seen behind the Emerald City curtain in pro running and it’s not another world apart from what I do now. It’d be nice to achieve at a higher level, and I sure don’t know what it’s like to run at a USA championship or represent Team USA in a world meet, but at the end of the day you’re still you.

I’m 25, and I’m still running. It makes just about as much sense as it ever did. I run because I like pushing myself, and the daily successes and progress towards a goal makes me feel pretty damn good about myself. Vain as this may be, it’s the best way I can sum it up.

In 2014 my spring season consisted of a trail race and a road 5k where I barely broke 18:00. The main wins that year were showing up every day and not quitting in the face of discouragement.

I got hurt last fall, and you know, married, so I guess that was a good enough distraction. My first run back was on the honeymoon, and I haven’t missed a day (that I wanted to run) since then. I’ve raced one each of a road 5k, a half marathon, a 1500, a mile, a 10k, a trail race, and a 3k, and with the exception of the 10k have been really happy with my progress.  My fitness has taken a seemingly impossible amount of time to return, but I’m consistent, healthy, and having fun, so it’s going as well as I can ask.

pro photo by Azul Ox, very un-pro screenshot. Photo from the Rogue Trail Series race this year

This year is the first year I’ve run anything close to a track season since 2012. And hey, it’s going pretty well. I PR’d in the half marathon and ran a 4:34 in the 1500. Considering I never broke 4:30 in the 1500 until senior year, I was happy to even be in striking distance this year.

So that’s why I’ve traveled to Nashville – pro title be damned, I’m here because I’ve trained for this and I belong. We all are.

15 years of running and Mom

I started running when I was 8 years old, with my mom. She said she could tell I had a knack for it, so she started bringing me along on her daily three mile runs. We trained during my brother’s soccer practices, and she’d ask me about my day as she led me around our suburban routes. I would cut corners and cul-de-sacs and complain, but she kept getting me out there day after day. We ran local 5ks together in the spring, which was my favorite part.

When I started cross country in high school and got more serious about running, we learned about the sport together. She knew all my times, all my competitors, and even all the online message board gossip of the Texas high school track scene.

She was there at every high school race, driving me to the ends of the earth (Ok, the Woodlands) when I was a homeschool kid with no team.

She was there at every college race that didn’t require a plane trip (and some of those too), cheering loud enough for me to pick her voice out of the crowd at an indoor track stadium.

She’s still there now, coming to watch me run my road races. I’m on Rogue AC, a professional / post-collegiate group based here in Austin. Mom holds my bag and water and gives me a good luck kiss at the start.

Mom still runs too. She’s on her steady 5 days-a-week plan, waking up at 5 a.m. and running in the dark to get her mileage in. On Saturdays she sleeps in until 7, and I get to cheer for her starting her long run.

Running has been a consistent thread in my life for the last 15 years and so has my mom’s support. Cliché but true – wouldn’t be where I am without her.

A very happy mother’s day to you, Mom.

Mothers day