The Winter Park 10K Road Race

On Saturday, March 12th, I forced myself out of my warm, cozy bed to lace on my sneakers and head out to run the Winter Park 10K Road Race.

I remember lying there, trying to come up with a valid excuse to skip, desperate to go back to sleep. Despite my better judgment, I had stayed up late watching House of Cards with my hubby, and I knew I would regret it when the alarm rang at 5am.

Somehow, I forced myself out of bed. Honestly, I don’t know what made me do it. I could have easily lied and told my husband I overslept or, to be frank, told him the truth: I didn’t want to go.

But why didn’t I want to go?

I had registered for the race months in advance. I had stepped up my cardio at the gym, and I had no one to impress: my friends and family weren’t running it with me, so I had signed up to do it all on my own.

So, why didn’t I want go to?

I was scared I couldn’t do it.

Not physically unable, but mentally. I knew I could do 90 minutes of cardio at the gym (absorbed in a movie on my ipad), but could I run with 35,00 other people with nothing but my thoughts and the asphalt?

I didn’t trust my will power. I didn’t trust my resolve. I didn’t trust myself.

I was scared to see myself fail, even though no one else would ever know. And I almost skipped the run.

But, somehow, I did it. I got up. I got dressed. I choked down a protein bar and sipped some water, and I drove to Winter Park while my husband and puppies slept peacefully.

I was anxious when I parked. I felt nauseated when I picked up my race number and t-shirt. I debated heading back to the car a hundred times, but as I saw runners of all shapes and sizes arrive, eager to run, I realized that I was focusing on the wrong thing.

It didn’t matter if I had to stop and walk. It didn’t matter if I was slower than the other women my age.

I was already winning.

I was here. I was willing to try. I was doing more than the other quarter of a million people living in the Orlando-area who weren’t up at 6am, stretching their calves on a curb. I was going to run, or jog, or run/jog, or run/walk, or whatever it was that I was going to do – I was here.

I sang along to the Star Spangled Banner and took off with the gun shot, and I ran.Well, jogged quickly, as I was working my way through 3,500 people just to get to the real starting line.

Before we’d gone half of a mile, people started to walk. I passed people younger than me, and people who looked like they lived in the gym. I felt a little stronger with each person I passed.

When I hit the one mile mark, the clock read 10:08.

Now, 10:08 isn’t a record mile by any means, but everyone knows the first mile is always inaccurate, as the real race clock starts when you cross the starting line, so seeing 10:08 meant my real first mile was likely closer to 9:30 or so. That was a good pace for a 10K (6.2 miles, in case you’re not into the metric system), but was it sustainable? Most of my 5Ks were around 28 minutes, so a 9:30/mile for a 10K didn’t seem realistic.

At mile two, the clock read 19:35.

Wait a second. Did I get faster? That couldn’t be right. I must have misread it.

Before I hit mile three, I realized a lot of people had “dropped off” from the run. Not quit the race, of course, but they’d stopped to walk along the way. The people I was pacing with now were in it for the long haul. I spotted a middle-aged man, maybe in his early 50s, who was in great shape and holding almost the exact same stride as me. I decided he would be my mental-pacer, the person I would try to stay with throughout the rest of the race.

At the 5K (3.1) mark, the clock read 28:04.

Wait, what? I AM getting faster.

At mile four, there was a hill. Now, for anyone who knows Florida, we don’t have hills. At all. But Winter Park has a few baby ones, and one happened to be at mile four. It may have been small, but it BURNED. But I kept with my pace-buddy (did he think I was stalking him?), and I made it.

At mile five, the clock read 48:37. I have never run five miles in less than 50 minutes in my life. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I wanted to cry, but then I realized how silly it would be to start crying during a 10K and I kept going.

Did I mention I hadn’t stopped? I had kept running –and kept up with my pacer– for the entire time so far.

Mile six gave me a jolt of excitement. I could see the finish. I could hear the music. I had very few people around me now, and most of the “droppers” were gone. I was with the runners.

I crossed the finish line at 56:46. I ran 6.2 miles in 56 minutes and 46 seconds. How? What? Holy shit.

Race 56.46

Sorry about the ridiculous watermarks, but I can’t pay $28.99 for a single JPG. Seriously, Track Shack??

Come to find out, my official race time was 56:10. I ran the 10K at a 9:02/mile average pace, faster than I normally run my 5Ks.

Let’s summarize this a bit:

I woke up anxious. I spent the entire morning afraid I couldn’t run the race (regardless of pace). I had to give myself a pep talk just to start the run, and yet I set a PERSONAL RECORD?



I’m glad I didn’t let my mind hold me prisoner on Saturday morning, for I never would have known just how strong I could be.

Bon appetit, my friends!

~ Tori


A Basic Guide to Runner’s Etiquette

I feel like I’ve been ranting on here more than usual, but with the beautiful Spring weather comes a lot more traffic outdoors. The more people I encounter, the more humanity surprises me with its entitlement-issues.

My current gripe revolves around runners.

As I mentioned earlier this month, I’ve been participating in a lot of 5Ks recently. Last night, I ran in the Corporate 5K, an evening (7:15pm) run through Downtown Orlando.

The IOA Corporate 5K attracts a HUUUUUGE crowd with nearly 17,000 registered runners and walkers in attendance.

I'm short, so I couldn't even get a third of the attendees into the photo.

I’m short, so I couldn’t even get a third of the attendees into the photo.

I have NO PROBLEM with crowds. What I have a problem with are people that do not know the basic rules of etiquette for running events.

I understand that this is a combination of people who’ve just never run publicly before (good for you for joining!) and those that honestly don’t really care about others around them (really, it’s shameful, but it’s the climate of the 21st century).

I encountered every type of annoyance last night, from bad manners to blatant disregard for the safety of themselves and other people. To help ease the runners-entitlement epidemic growing around me and also help those that may be nervous about joining a group/public running event, I’ve decided to make a handy guide for runners joining the spring circuit.


  • If you need to run at a slow pace or you prefer to walk, DO stay to the right. Much like a highway, slower traffic needs to keep to the right to ensure that everyone is able to move efficiently and safely through the “herd.”
  • If you see someone on their own, DO go with your instinct to encourage them. One of the BEST memories I have from an athletic event was from the Savage Race I did in October 2012. My three friends had overslept, so I was ALL alone for my very first obstacle run. Less than a mile in and facing my first DIFFICULT obstacle, I was ready to quit. Fortunately, an AWESOME couple saw me struggling and offered encouragement – then invited me to run/pace with them. I ended up doing the full 7 miles and 25 obstacles by their side and we’re still friends, two years later. A kind word or two  (“You’ve got this, girl! Keep going!”) can really make someone’s day.
  • DO use verbal queues. As a fellow runner, I am not a mind-reader. These Nikes didn’t come with ESP. If you are going to pass me (left or right), call it out. If you’re running and are about to stop suddenly (such as getting a cramp or spotting a friend you want to join), call it out. It can be as simple as shouting, “I’m passing on your left!” or “BRAKES!” – some audio queue you will be a huge courtesy to your fellow runners. At last night’s Corporate 5K, I nearly PLOWED over multiple runners who short-stopped (out of nowhere) or tried to pass me (without sufficient space) and it wasn’t pretty.

    To use an analogy all Floridians should recognize: if you slam on your brakes on I-4, you WILL get rear-ended. The same concept applies to a crowded 5K run, so please be aware and use your VOICE.

  • DO wear appropriate clothing. I’m all for looking cute (and I’ve rocked my share of tutus and costumes at certain athletic events), but make sure you’re outfit is safe, comfortable, and appropriate for a 3+ mile run. If your shorts ride up and you will constantly need to adjust them while running, they’re probably not the best choice for working out. You should want to be comfortable. I just participated in a Super Hero themed run and I wore a fun costume – but I put it on OVER my running tights and sports bra. This ensured I was comfortable (no chaffing) and appropriate (your fun-bags popping out at a public event is never ideal) but still looked adorable for all the fun pictures.



  • DO NOT spit. Just don’t. I don’t care how hard you’re working out and the phlegm you’re producing in consequence, never hack a loogie while running a 5K with other participants, especially a crowded event. If you spit on me or I step in a puddle of your spittle, we’re going to have a MAJOR problem.
  • If you’re running with friends/family, DO NOT run side-by-side. While I appreciate your group “representing,” you create an impenetrable barrier for other runners to pass you and end up slowing down others who may be aiming for a personal record.
  • If at all possible, DO NOT throw your trash on the ground. While I recognize your desire to keep your physical momentum while passing through a water station, there are DOZENS of trash cans available. There is NO REASON – unless you’re an athlete focusing on a world record – to toss your trash on the ground when a trash receptacle is two steps away. These events are manned by VOLUNTEERS – people donating their time so you can enjoy your run with cold water and lots of clapping – so please don’t abuse them.
  • Please, for the love of all that is holy and good in the world, please DO NOT ignore the pace-dividers at the starting line. Most races break up the starting line based on the pace of the runners: i.e. if you’re under a 6 min/mile, you tend to be the first at the starting line, and then there are pace-markers for each range. Walkers and those slower than 12:30 min/mile are typically at the back. This isn’t to make you feel bad if you’re not as fast as the other runners – this is for the SAFETY of everyone involved. It allows those that are fast to get off the line quickly without the obstacle of strollers, walkers, and those not paying attention. It also helps you find runners with a similar stride/pace to you, which will improve YOUR pacing and make you a better runner.

OK, it’s not a complete list, but I would definitely say that these are my top DOs and DON’Ts regarding running at public events.

Please note, I am NOT being cynical of new runners. I love new runners. I was one just a few years ago! All I ask is that, like with any new hobby or endeavor, you educate yourself before you dive in . You wouldn’t jump off of a mountainside as a new cliff-diver without learning about the sport, so why join a crowded, public 5K run without first understanding the basic rules and etiquette of running?

So… get out there! Start running! And be nice (and courteous) to your fellow athletes!

Bon appetit, my friends!

~ Tori

Running in April!

Keeping up with my resolutions for the new year, I’ve been doing no less than one 5k per month since January. I’ve tried to pace them out every 2-3 weeks, as getting up at 5:30am on a Saturday morning is not something I’m able to do on a daily basis (without massacring a small village).

Fortunately for me, with the month of April comes a lot of EVENING 5ks! YES!

As the Florida days get longer and the evenings are still cool, several events are moving to PM-time slots. I don’t know about you, but running at 6:30pm is a LOT better than running at 7am – my legs are already warm, I’m well fed and watered, and chances are I’ve got some steam to burn off from a stressful day at work.

Excited for all of the evening possibilities, I accidentally signed up for FOUR runs this month. Whoops! Looks like it’s going to be a busy, running-filled April!

Here’s my calendar —

The Tijuana Flats Just in Queso Super You 5k!
Where: Baldwin Park, FL.
When: Thursday, April 3rd @ 6:30pm

SuperMom 5K Orlando
Where: Baldwin Park, FL.
When: Saturday, April 12th @ 8am (will need coffee, but this is reasonable!)
What I’m Most Excited About: I’m running in place of my sister-in-law, Lindsey Perez, one of the coolest moms I know!

IOA Corporate 5K
Where: Lake Eola, FL
When: Thursday, April 17th @ 7:15pm
What I’m Most Excited About: Racing with the Full Sail University team!

Run for the Trees Memorial 5K
Where: Winter Park, FL
When: Saturday, April 26th @ 7:30am (feed me coffee!)
What I’m Most Excited About: I get a free tree at the end of the run! Too bad I kill every plant I touch. 😦

WHEW! I’m exhausted just LOOKING at this schedule. I’ve got a run every single week! This is the best time of year to be a runner in Florida (dry season + longer days of sunshine + the temperature doesn’t match the pits of Hell yet) so I plan to capitalize on the climate and get out there as much as possible.

Not really FAST (is that false advertising?), but I'm committed!

Not really FAST (is that false advertising?), but I’m committed!




Who wants to join me? 🙂 There’s still plenty of time to sign up!

Bon appetit, my friends, and happy running!

~ Tori


Track Shack Ladies 5k – Saturday, 2.1.2014

Track Shack Ladies 5k - Saturday, 2.1.2014

Bright and early on Saturday morning, I ran a 5k as part of the Track Shack Winter Series and to follow through with my New Year’s Resolution to get out of the GYM and back to the outdoors!

It was a cool, humid morning and a scenic route through Mead Gardens made the run unusually easy. In fact, I set a PR of 28:14, the fastest time I’ve ever recorded – and that’s counting treadmill runs!

I took this picture immediately post-race (I tried to capture the massive crowd at the finish line behind me) because I wanted to remember this moment: how PROUD I felt of myself for setting a goal (get outdoors & run under a 29 minute 5k) and achieving it.

As my fellow yo-yos will likely attest, it’s easy to forget the successes you have on your journey to fitness, but oh-so-easy to linger on your setbacks and failures. To help remind myself of how far I’ve come, I’m making a conscious effort to take photos (even if they have to be the baneful selfies, like this one), just to ensure that I can’t deny myself the joy of this memory.

My next run is coming up on February 15th: The Run Around the Pines! It’s the best course in Winter Park as it’s flat, scenic, and not overly crowded. My goal is to break the 28:00 minute mark! Wish me luck!

Bon appetit and happy journey, my friends!

~ Tori