I feel like I’ve finally truly settled into my new home of Charlotte – I had an absolutely AMAZING race!  I love the race atmosphere of this city!


Did I mention I smashed my goal by a full 2:09?!  Speedwork sessions REALLY do pay off!  And I actually had FUN pacing an average of 8:10 – it wasn’t tortuous.  It felt GREAT.  I was all smiles the entire time.


And hey – this is my first 4.0 mile race, which means my time of 32:51 is an automatic Personal Record (PR)!!! I love PRs!  🙂


My race morning started off like every other – I jolted awake at 4:30 AM, mumbling, “DID I MISS THE RACE?”  Then I fell back asleep for another hour, woke up, and made breakfast.  I had 1/2 cup oatmeal with a banana,  maple syrup, and sunflower seeds.  Plus coffee!


A big group of bloggers + friends met at my place, and then we drove over together.  I was REALLY excited to see the setup.  Orlando has absolutely amazing races that are well-organized and fun, so I was a little afraid that Charlotte would disappoint me.  However, everything was great!  There were tons of booths with food and drinks (and it was a small race!), the course was perfectly measured, the chip system was organized, and the route was well-planned and challenging.  What more could you ask for?


We arrived 20 minutes or so before the race.  That gave me a little bit of time to calm down, collect my thoughts, and hydrate. 


All the girls taped Operation Beautiful signs to their backs.  Everyone got lots of smiles, waves, and high-fives throughout the race! 


From left to right:  Jen, new friend Emma, Kath, Emily, and me!  Michelle and Kelly also did the race.


Before I knew it, it was time to line up at the start!


I always study the course map for the following potential traps:


  • Whether the course is multiple loops or one loop
  • How many water stations there are and where they are located
  • Whether there are any significant elevation changes


After checking out the course map last week, I knew I needed to bring my own water bottle (there was only one water station at Mile 2.25 and I cannot go 4.0 miles with only a sip of water).  I also knew that there were going to be several larges hills that I had to be smart about.


The course started with rolling hills, but nothing too major to climb.  I tried to hold back a little bit and start off slower because I REALLY did not want to burn out.


I also made an effort to minimize weaving around slower people at the beginning.  I’ve noticed that weaving significantly slows my time and adds to my distance, and I just don’t think it’s worth it.


My Garmin beeped right as I came up on the official Mile 1.0 sign – I was so HAPPY (I HATE when courses are ‘long’ compared to my Garmin).  As we turned onto East Boulevard, we entered a downhill stretch that lasted for nearly an entire mile!  It was AWESOME.  I tried to ride the downhill out as much as possible without wearing myself thin.  I managed to run Mile 2.0 in 7:50.


At the water station at Mile 2.25, I caught site of Kath – she was right in front of me!  We both slowed to walk through the water station and then we began to run together.


We came up on Diana and Matt shortly afterwards!


Kath and I ran together for about 0.75 miles, and then I decided to take a short walking break up another hill and let her get about 20 feet in front of me.  Running with friends (especially faster friends) during a race can really be my nemesis.  I’ve burnt out on many races (check out this 15K recap for a case in point) by trying to keep up with friends.  The race is really just against myself, after all! 


Using Kath as a “rabbit” actually helped me a great deal because she motivated me to stay at a steady pace.


My tactic for the hills was simple:  climb them slowly, ride down as fast as possible, and then stay steady on the flat surfaces.  I was CONSTANTLY looking ahead to see if I was about to come up on a hill and adjusting my pace accordingly.  I actually really enjoyed running such a hilly course because it was tactical challenging – and they say running is boring! 🙂


Since I was basically already in sprint mode, I decided not to pick up my pace until I could actually SEE the finish line, even though I knew it was right around the corner.


The secret to sprinting at the end?  Focus on making your stride L-O-N-G.  Stretch out each step – you’ll fly!  I hit a 6:23 pace!


Kath was still only 15 feet ahead of me, but I didn’t think she knew I was on her heels.  I started to creep up on her and hoped to ambush her (in a friendly way, of course!).  She saw me just as began to pass and also started to sprint.  We crossed the finish line together, laughing and smiling!


Here are my statistics!  I’m so proud of myself.  I ran a hard, smart race, and my speedwork training has DEFINITELY paid off.  This is the fastest race I’ve ever run (besides the local 5K that I won)! 


  • Distance: 4.04 miles
  • Duration: 32:51 (Chip time; Garmin time was 32:58)
  • Average Pace: 8:10
  • Mile 1: 8:14
  • Mile 2: 7:50 <— Epic downhill portion
  • Mile 3: 8:38 <— Included three walking breaks.  See?  Walking does NOT necessary mean you’re going slow!
  • Mile 4: 8:03


Afterwards, we checked out our official times.  Another cheer for organized racing!  The stats were up in minutes.


And I snagged some cinnachip bread from the Great Harvest tent!


After the race, I invited everyone back to my house.  I set up our tailgate tent in the yard and we had a picnic. 


Everyone brought something to share.  This was the perfect breakfast #2 (#3?).  I had 1/2 a whole wheat bagel with PB and fruit.  I also tried a bite of Emily’s special quinoa breakfast bars.


Maggie and James loved getting attention from everyone! They love sweaty runner hugs.


All in all – a wonderful way to kick off my Charlotte 2010 – 2011 race season!  I hope every race is as fabulous as this one!  :)  Bring it on!



  • Courtney (delightful devours) July 24, 2010, 12:20 pm

    Congratulations on the race! I absolutely love the idea of the inspirational signs on your back. I know if I were to see something like that during a race it would help me to pick up my pace. Great idea!

  • Megan@EatScrapRun July 24, 2010, 12:24 pm

    Congratulations on a great race! I love that you already have so many friends after living in Charlotte such a short time. Looks like it was a fun way to start the day.

  • Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine July 24, 2010, 12:25 pm

    Awesome job on the race! I’ve been reading awhile, and watching your times improve is such a great motivator to kick my own butt. Looks like a great morning!

  • Me-Linh @ Sweet and Sweat July 24, 2010, 12:26 pm

    Congrats! I knew you’d do great!!

  • Rachel @ Fit Fun and Fabulous July 24, 2010, 12:26 pm

    Congrats!!!! Sounds like you had a WONDERFUL time!

  • Freya @ Brit Chick Runs July 24, 2010, 12:27 pm

    BRILLIANT recap and it sounds like a fantastic race! I can’t believe how fast you went – that’s super! You should be so proud of yourself 🙂

  • Maria @ Oh Healthy Day July 24, 2010, 12:29 pm

    Thank you for your encouragement yesterday for me to sign up for my first 5K. I’m so doing it now!

    You really captured here how inspiring a race can be and most importantly that running is FUN! Words that I thought would never come out of my mouth. Congrats! Eat up the cinnachip – well deserved!

  • amanda July 24, 2010, 12:29 pm

    way to go!! i love the signs on your backs, awesome idea!

  • Katie (Sweet Tater) July 24, 2010, 12:34 pm

    emma! that’s my friend emma from work! my brain did a flip when those two worlds just collided. awesommme.

    • Caitlin July 24, 2010, 12:45 pm

      Oh she’s so fun!!! we must all hang out.

      • Emma July 24, 2010, 12:58 pm

        Agreed!! 🙂

  • Exercise and Eat July 24, 2010, 12:36 pm

    Congrats! I’m glad you feel more at home:)

  • Kelly July 24, 2010, 12:38 pm

    Awesome race! That is an incredible time, haha you blew my 4 mile time from this morning out of the water!

  • Erika @ Food, Fitness, & Fun July 24, 2010, 12:41 pm

    Congrats on a great race! It looks like you had a lot of fun and I loved the signs you were wearing on your backs – so cute and so inspiring! 🙂

  • Michelle @ Give Me the Almond Butter July 24, 2010, 12:41 pm

    You had such a great strategy. Thank you for sharing your tips. I never know how to run hills properly.

  • Joanna Rowell July 24, 2010, 12:41 pm


  • Janna July 24, 2010, 12:42 pm

    I love reading your race recaps! This one looks like it was a blast. You were smiling the whole times 🙂

    Everytime I read about one of your races it makes me want to lace up my shoes and get out there!!!

  • Amara July 24, 2010, 12:44 pm

    Congratulations! I love your racing posts. I’m recovering from an injury but can’t wait to get back into it!

  • Anya @ Fitness & Sunshine July 24, 2010, 12:44 pm

    Aww congrats! Looks like so much fun! 🙂 I’m glad this race was fun, challenging and overall awesome.

  • Lisa @ Early Morning Run July 24, 2010, 12:44 pm

    Looks like such a fun time! Congrats on a great first race in Charlotte! I love that you had a picnic afterwards; great idea!

  • Lizz @ Leading the Good Life July 24, 2010, 12:47 pm

    Congrats! This looked like SUCH a good time. I love how you have a huge smile on your face in every picture – even when you’re kicking butt!

  • Janna@Janna's Keeping it Real) July 24, 2010, 12:48 pm

    What a great recap! I’m glad your race went so well (epic even?) it looks like a ton of fun!!:0)

  • Wendy July 24, 2010, 12:48 pm

    Congrats on an awesome race! I love hills too. I almost always run faster in the residential section of my hometown that if full of small rolling hills. My 5K PR is even from a race in that part of town. 🙂

  • Angela (The Lady Loves to Eat) July 24, 2010, 12:54 pm

    AMAZING! Congrats! What a great race! This was really inspiring makes me want to go out a race right now!

  • Stacey July 24, 2010, 12:58 pm

    Way to go!!! You are a stud and totally make me want to sign up for some short races to see how hard I can truly push myself. Love this recap!

  • Molly @fuelherup July 24, 2010, 12:59 pm

    Congrats on an awesome race! That speedwork must have paid off though!

    I just want to mention, since I struggle with it in daily running, that long strides are really inefficient, energy-wise! They feel really fast (so in high school I was always trying to lengthen my stride) but as soon as I got to my college, my coach was like, “Long strides are the most inefficient. Keep your feet underneath you for speed.” The sprinters on my team always tell me not to lift my feet up more than when I’m walking and not to stretch out in front or in back.

    • Caitlin July 24, 2010, 1:00 pm

      huh, that’s interesting! i feel so much faster when i stretch my legs out.

      • Nadine July 24, 2010, 1:37 pm

        short strides are totally appropriate for running distance, and long strides are better for sprinting!

  • Niki (Running in Pink) July 24, 2010, 12:59 pm

    Nice job on the race! You deserve to be super proud!

  • Emma July 24, 2010, 1:01 pm

    Loved meeting you and everyone else this morning! Awesome job on the race and we definitely should run together again soon!

  • Marisa July 24, 2010, 1:01 pm

    Way To Go Caitlin!!! You did awesome! I am so glad that your first race experience in Charlotte was such a good one! Congratulations! You are so inspiring!!

  • Anne July 24, 2010, 1:04 pm

    Great job, girlfriend!!!

  • Carly (Swim, Run, Om) July 24, 2010, 1:12 pm

    I loved reading this recap … it’s energetic and inspiring! I want to go run a race now.

  • Lana July 24, 2010, 1:14 pm

    Congrats on the new PR!!! You rock!!

  • Cate July 24, 2010, 1:19 pm

    Great job on the race! It sounds like it was lots of fun and you certainly did well! Thanks for the tip on sprinting at the end too. 🙂
    and I have to say that I am insanely jealous that you get to eat all that wonderful Great Harvest Bread! It is sooo good and it stinks that there is not one here in Orlando….

  • Jo July 24, 2010, 1:36 pm

    You are effing amazing! I’m so proud of you Caitlin, you did amazingly. And you have made me want to enter another race – aarrrgghhh!

  • sarah July 24, 2010, 1:36 pm

    Congrats on a great race!! Nice job sprinting at the end 🙂

  • Ronja July 24, 2010, 1:36 pm

    Congratulations on the race! You definitely inspire me to improve my running so that I’ll be able to take part in a race some day.

  • Marissa July 24, 2010, 1:37 pm

    glad your race was awesome! i don’t know much about running, but i’m wondering if the cooler temps in nc will help your running in general? i’m sure it was hotter in fl, and has to be more pleasant to run with slightly cooler temps in nc. i’m from new orleans, and don’t think i could bare to run in our summer heat!

    • caitlin July 24, 2010, 5:09 pm

      I sure hope so!!!

  • Michelle July 24, 2010, 1:37 pm

    That was a fast 4 miler! So amazing! Plus, it looks like you are having so much fun. Congrats 🙂

  • Diana July 24, 2010, 1:38 pm

    Yay! So glad we put our Operation Beautiful signs to good use! Everyone loved them! One of these times, if I can work up the courage, I’m going to be running instead of just taking pictures! 🙂

  • Nadine July 24, 2010, 1:38 pm

    congrats on a great race..it must feel fabulous to run without all the humidity!

  • Kelly July 24, 2010, 1:42 pm

    Looks like an awesome race! Congrats on such a fast time 🙂 I can’t believe how many new friends you’ve already made!

  • Hillary [Nutrition Nut on the Run] July 24, 2010, 1:46 pm

    The pic of you and Kath running is so great! Congrats on a great race, you speedy thing!! =]

  • Diana @ frontyardfoodie July 24, 2010, 1:51 pm

    whoa that’s so awesome! Way to work it sister! What a great race.

    I love you Operation Beautiful back tabs!

  • Cathleen (Sweaty Kid.) July 24, 2010, 1:52 pm

    Awesome race! I’ve been creeping this blog for awhile and adore it. Your positive attitude is such a lift-up to me. Sounds like you did a great job negotiating the tactical challenges presented by the hilly course. LOVE the signs!

  • Nicole, RD July 24, 2010, 2:05 pm

    Too cute! Love the pictures and OB signs! Congrats on an awesome PR…even if the only one!

  • Tina July 24, 2010, 2:06 pm

    Wow that speedwork really does pay off! Great job. And what a cool way to race – with so many friends and promoting Operation Beautiful.

  • Megan @ The Oatmeal Diaries July 24, 2010, 2:09 pm

    I’m so glad you are loving Charlotte! It is a great city and I’ve loved every race I’ve done here! This whole post made me smile, from your awesome race attitude to the breakfast at your house afterwards. 🙂

  • Jen July 24, 2010, 2:10 pm

    Yay, I’m so happy for you! Way to kick your goal’s butt! I do think you’re a little crazy for not thinking it was hot though. Can’t wait for more races 🙂

  • Heather @ Side of Sneakers July 24, 2010, 2:33 pm

    Woohoo Congrats on your awesome run!! That’s great you guys finished together, yet still ran your own race. 😉

  • Heather (Heather's Dish) July 24, 2010, 2:42 pm

    sweet race! congrats on the new PR and the fun time…so awesome that you got to run with friends 🙂

  • Amy @ Amy Starts To Run July 24, 2010, 2:47 pm

    I think I got out of breath reading this! Super fast running and very impressive! I can’t wait til it cools down here and I can get to running again. Great job!

  • Sarah (Running to Slow Things Down) July 24, 2010, 3:11 pm

    What an awesome run! I love those types of laid-back, uncompetitive types of runs sometimes. I need to find a local 5k in my area to sign up for soon. 😀

  • Mindy July 24, 2010, 3:21 pm

    Great run (and even greater times!)…good for you, girl!

  • Little Bookworm July 24, 2010, 3:31 pm

    Congrats on the race! 😀

  • AngelaOSG July 24, 2010, 3:47 pm

    Cnograts!!! Epic times. Even more Epic you tried to ambush Kath…hehe!! 🙂 Fun race.

  • Jackie (Peaces of Earth) July 24, 2010, 3:48 pm

    AWESOME race!!! I love watching you improve!! The OB signs are EPIC, love that you all wore them. I’m sure they brought lots of smiles to people.

  • Courtney July 24, 2010, 4:03 pm

    CONGRATULATIONS! Love the idea of putting encouraging notes on your backs! =)

  • Becky July 24, 2010, 4:18 pm

    Congrats on a great race! Love the strategies – you are definitely inspiring me to incorporate speed sessions into my training.

  • Faith @ LovelyAsCharged July 24, 2010, 4:27 pm

    Congrats on the race! It’s seriously making me hate my bum ankle…I really want to get my butt registered for a run!

  • tanyasDaily ProductViews July 24, 2010, 4:51 pm

    great job!

  • Miranda @ MirandasJeans July 24, 2010, 4:59 pm

    That is awesome. Some really great tips, that I will try to implement in my running. Congrats on the amazing race, the great operationbeautiful messages, and the 4mile PR. 🙂

  • Liza July 24, 2010, 5:02 pm

    Congratulations! Looks like a fun time all around 🙂
    PS, I had some leftover pumpkin and used it to make your pumpkin yogurt– SO GOOD! 🙂 Thanks!

  • sarah (this is it) July 24, 2010, 5:06 pm

    way to spread the message for Operation Beautiful! How cool also to have your husband there with signs!

  • Jennifer@knackfornutrition July 24, 2010, 5:16 pm

    Congratulations on your race! Those splits are amazing!!!

  • holly @ couchpotatoathlete.wordpress.com July 24, 2010, 5:39 pm

    What a great accomplishment! I love automatic PRs too! Great time — you should be so proud. I loved reading all of the race recaps from everyone — seemed like a great race all around.

  • Rosey Rebecca July 24, 2010, 7:12 pm

    Awesome job, Caitlin! Glad you had such a great time! I can’t wait to run my first race. You make it look amazing!

  • Annie@stronghealthyfit July 24, 2010, 7:35 pm

    Impressive race! I wish I was that fast… 🙂

  • Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin July 24, 2010, 7:37 pm

    Congrats on the race! I love how happy you look throughout it! You’re such an inspiration. 😀

  • Erin @ A Girl & Her Mutt July 24, 2010, 7:44 pm

    I’m so glad that your first Charlotte race went so well. how great that you were able to run with friends and get cheered on my even more friends!!! You look so happy. Awesome!

  • Mary July 24, 2010, 8:03 pm

    Congrats on an amazing race!! was it super hot where you were today? it reached about 93 by 8am this morning in Raleigh for the 5k my boyfriend and I ran. It was bruuutal!

    • Caitlin July 24, 2010, 9:52 pm

      Yes it was so hot!

  • Dori July 24, 2010, 8:28 pm

    Congrats on such a great race! You really got so fast, I am impressed! Love the picture of you in midair.

  • Holly July 24, 2010, 8:58 pm

    Congratulations on the great race! What an awesome pace! The photos are really great. 🙂

  • Sarah July 24, 2010, 9:18 pm

    Congratulations! Sounds like an amazing (dare I say epic?) race. You really seem to be settling into Charlotte and loving it!

  • jenn July 24, 2010, 9:29 pm

    you look jacked in that last pic!!

  • Eric July 24, 2010, 9:49 pm

    Do you save your race numbers? I have mine posted on the wall with the dates and my times written on them so I remember. I only have 4 so far, you probably have enough to wallpaper a room with, but I saw you had taken a picture of it and it got me thinking how I keep mine.

    • Caitlin July 24, 2010, 9:51 pm

      no 🙁 i wish i had saved them all. it makes me sad that i didn’t.

    • Caitlin July 24, 2010, 9:51 pm

      no 🙁 i wish i had saved them all. it makes me sad that i didn’t….

  • Julie @ pickley pear July 24, 2010, 10:26 pm

    Super fun race! Way to go! I love the little party in your yard after!

  • Heather July 24, 2010, 10:41 pm

    sounds awesome, youdid such a great job!

  • Jolene (www.everydayfoodie.ca) July 25, 2010, 1:05 am

    I love the pics of you sprinting!!!

  • Julie July 25, 2010, 10:13 am

    Yay You! I LOVE the Operation Beautiful back stickers. Gonna get you book, girl, can’t wait! Anyway, can you share the recipe for the Quinoa breakfast bars? those look yumm.

  • jessica July 25, 2010, 2:26 pm

    Congratulations! You did awesome! I can just tell how happy you are from the tone in your post and I’m so happy for you 🙂

  • Heather @ For The Health Of It! July 25, 2010, 11:15 pm

    Great post! And I am TOTALLY posting a Operation Beautiful sign on my back for my next race….come to think of it, I may start posting them at my Body Pump classes….on my sign in sheet and I’m not skeered to wear a big sign right on front of me when I’m on stage teaching! That’s it. I’m doing it!

  • Terri July 26, 2010, 10:17 am

    Reading your blogs about your races is so motivating for me. It’s funny to see that you run so fast with walk breaks…especially since I’m slow as Moses running all the time. But, that’s what I love about running…I feel like a winner every time I finish a distance I set out to do!

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